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Professor: Chimney sweep scene in ‘Mary Poppins’ promotes blackface

Never need a reason, never need a rhyme: Mary Poppins is out of step with the times.

>> Read more trending news 

That’s according to an Oregon professor who wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times that asserts the 1964 film, “Mary Poppins,” promoted blackface in the famous chimney sweep scene. The movie was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won four, including best actress (Julie Andrews), best editing, best visual effects and best original musical score.

Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, who teaches English, gender studies and Shakespeare studies at Linfield College, wrote that nanny Mary Poppins, played by Andrews and adapted from books written by P.L. Travers, “blacks up” when her face is covered in soot as she scrambles onto the chimney. Rather than wipe her face, Pollack-Pelzner suggests that Mary Poppins covers her face even more, according to the opinion piece.

The magical nanny then takes Jane and Michael Banks on a dancing excursion across London rooftops with Bert, played by Dick Van Dyke.

Pollack-Pelzner’s article comes as “Mary Poppins Returns” picked up four Academy Award nominations last week. He calls the new film “an enjoyably derivative film that seeks to inspire our nostalgia for the innocent fantasies of childhood, as well as the jolly holidays that the first ‘Mary Poppins’ film conjured for many adult viewers.”

Pollack-Pelzner cautions, however, that the new film is “bound up in a blackface performance tradition” that persists throughout the “Mary Poppins” genre.

The professor, who graduated from Yale University with a history degree in 2001 and earned his doctorate in English from Harvard University nine years later, also notes that “minstrel history” associated with blackface and racial commentary is not limited to “Mary Poppins.” He says it is “a mainstay” of Disney musicals, including the jiving blackbird in the 1941 film, “Dumbo,” and a 1933 Mickey Mouse short, “Mickey’s Mellerdrammer,” which parodies “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

“Disney has long evoked minstrelsy for its topsy-turvy entertainments,” Pollack-Pelzner writes. “A nanny blacking up, chimney sweeps mocking the upper classes, grinning lamplighters turning work into song.”

Pollack-Pelzner’s opinion piece caused several fans of the movie to kick their knees up:

French author Yann Moix, 50, calls women over 50 'too old' to love, sparks outrage

A 50-year-old French author is under fire on social media for saying he couldn’t love a woman his own age.

According to USA TodayBBC News and other outlets, Yann Moix made the controversial comments in a recent interview with Marie Claire France.

>> Read more trending news 

"I'm telling you the truth," the TV host and "Rompre (Breaking Up)" writer said in French. "At 50 years old, I am incapable of loving a 50-year-old woman."

When asked to explain, he said: "I find that too old. When I'm 60 years old, I'll be able to do it. Then 50 years old will appear young to me." 

But for now, women his own age are "invisible" to him, he continued.

“The body of a 25-year-old woman is extraordinary,” he said. “The body of a 50-year-old woman isn't extraordinary at all.”

Outraged women flocked to Twitter to slam Moix, calling his words sexist.

"Say that this 52-year-old woman doesn't have a chance with Yann Moix. Poor Halle Berry," comedian Amelle Chahbi quipped in French.

>> See the tweet here

"Women over 50 breathe a sigh of relief, warn 25-year-old women to avoid creepy French author Yann Moix," radio host Mary Dixon wrote.

>> See the tweet here

Moix responded to his critics Tuesday in an interview with RTL Radio.

"I like who I like, and I don't have to answer to the court of taste," he said, according to the BBC

"Fifty-year-old women do not see me, either," he conceded.

Read more here or here.

Michelle Obama has some choice words for the 'Lean In' movement

Michelle Obama is ready to tell us how she really feels.

The former first lady didn't hold back Saturday during a book tour stop in Brooklyn, New York, sharing some candid criticism of the "Lean In" philosophy as she spoke about the challenges women face while balancing work and home life.

>> Michelle Obama cancels Berlin, Paris book tour dates to attend George H.W. Bush's funeral

"That whole, 'So you can have it all.' Nope, not at the same time," said Obama, who was promoting her best-selling memoir "Becoming," according to The Cut. "That's a lie. And it's not always enough to 'lean in' because that [expletive] doesn't work all the time."

>> Read more trending news 

Glamour reported that the audience "went wild" as Obama apologized, telling her fans, "I thought we were at home, y'all. I was getting real comfortable up in here. All right, I'm back now. Sometimes that stuff doesn't work."

"Lean In," a popular 2013 book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, encouraged women to be more assertive at work.

Read more here or here.

Gisele Bündchen opens up about panic attacks, suicidal thoughts: 'I felt powerless'

From the outside looking in, Gisele Bündchen has the life most women can only dream of having.

As one of the highest-paid supermodels in the world, married to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, mother of two beautiful children, Bündchen's life seems picture-perfect – but not everything is as flawless as it seems.

In a brand new tell-all memoir, Bündchen reveals she's struggled with panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts.

"Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life" is a raw, honest confession from Bündchen where she details how her life as a supermodel began to add up and began to have mental and physical effects on her.

>> Read more trending news 

Her first panic attack happened on a bumpy flight back in 2003, which eventually led to a fear of tunnels, elevators and enclosed spaces. 

In an interview with People magazine, Bündchen said:

“I had a wonderful position in my career, I was very close to my family, and I always considered myself a positive person, so I was really beating myself up. Like, ‘Why should I be feeling this?’ I felt like I wasn’t allowed to feel bad. But I felt powerless. Your world becomes smaller and smaller, and you can’t breathe, which is the worst feeling I’ve ever had."

Bündchen says that, when the panic attacks started happening inside her own home, she began thinking about killing herself, saying, “I actually had the feeling of, ‘If I just jump off my balcony, this is going to end, and I never have to worry about this feeling of my world closing in.’” 

When she was prescribed Xanax for her anxiety, Bündchen took a different approach and completely changed her lifestyle, which now includes yoga, mediation and a more health-conscious diet.

"Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life" hits the stores Tuesday, Oct. 2.

Philip Roth dead at 85: Writers, public figures remember Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Philip Roth – the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "American Pastoral" and other highly acclaimed works such as "Portnoy's Complaint," "The Human Stain" and "The Plot Against America" – has died of congestive heart failure, The Associated Press reported late Tuesday. He was 85.

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths 2018

Fellow writers and public figures took to Twitter to share their condolences and reflect on Roth's novels. Here's what they had to say:

>> Read more trending news 

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

GQ magazine calls Bible 'foolish,' lists it among books 'you don't have to read'

The Bible’s been around for centuries, but GQ magazine is like, eh? What’s so great about it? 

>> Rev. Billy Graham chose John 14:6 to be placed on his grave marker

The Good Book makes the mag’s list of “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read.” While allowing “there are some good parts,” the post calls the Bible “repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish and even at times ill-intentioned.”

Instead, GQ suggests, how about “The Notebook" by Agota Kristof? It’s billed as “a marvelous tale of two brothers who have to get along when things get rough.”

>> Read more trending news 

The Bible finds itself in the company of works by J.D. Salinger, Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway on the list of books that GQ is just not that into. “Catcher in the Rye” is dinged as being “without any literary merit whatsoever.” “Huckleberry Finn” is tedious, meandering and hamfisted, GQ says. Hemingway’s sentences? Too short. Even Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” makes the roster of books to skip.

Here’s the entire list, which includes contributions by various writers.

Michelle Obama announces November release for ‘deeply personal’ memoir

Former first lady Michelle Obama announced the title and release date of her upcoming memoir, People reported Sunday.

>> Read more trending news

The book, “Becoming,” will be released Nov. 13 and will be published in 24 languages worldwide, People reported. Obama tweeted Sunday that writing the book was “a deeply personal experience,” 

“I talk about my roots and how a girl from the South Side found her voice,” Obama tweeted. “I hope my journey inspires readers to find the courage to become whoever they aspire to be. I can't wait to share my story.”

“Becoming” is Obama’s second book. Her first, “American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America,” was published in 2012, Rolling Stone reported.

The book will be published by Penguin Random House. Markus Dohle, the company’s CEO, said in a statement that Obama’s book “will stretch the confines of a traditional first-lady memoir.”

“Becoming is an unusually intimate reckoning from a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations — and whose story inspires us to do the same,” Dohle said.

Kids who read ‘Harry Potter’ are less prejudiced and more mature, study says

Did you read “Harry Potter” books as a kid? You’re a better human being than most, scientists say. 

» RELATED: ‘Pawgwarts': Animal shelter gets inspiration from Harry Potter 

Researchers from universities in Italy published a paper in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology that explored how story reading can be a powerful strategy in improving human attitudes.

Many of the fictional groups in “Harry Potter,” including muggles, were marginalized much like immigrants, homosexuals and refugees are in the real world. That’s why scientists wanted to use the novels to examine the “perception of stigmatized groups” among elementary, high school and university students. 

>> Read more trending news

First, they administered a six-week course on “Harry Potter” to 34 fifth-graders. By the end of the course, the students were asked to fill out a questionnaire on immigration. They found that those who read the book discussed topics such as bigotry and prejudice, while those who didn’t read it did not. 

Next, they studied 117 high school students and discovered that those who dived into “Harry Potter” had more positive perceptions of the LGBT communities than those who did not.

Lastly, they assessed college students. They noticed that those who read it had less of an emotional connection with Voldemort, the villain of the series, and had "improved attitudes toward refugees," the study read.

» RELATED: There's now a Harry Potter wizarding school in Central Texas

“Results from one experimental intervention and two cross-sectional studies show that reading the novels of ‘Harry Potter’ improves attitudes toward stigmatized groups among those more identified with the main positive character and those less identified with the main negative character,” the authors wrote. 

“Participants reading about Harry Potter's interactions with characters belonging to stigmatized groups may have learned to take the perspective of discriminated group members,” they said, adding, “and in turn, applied this enhanced ability to understand disadvantaged groups to real-world out-group categories.”

» RELATED: 2 new Harry Potter-related books coming this fall

Since their findings demonstrated that reading “Harry Potter” books yielded positive attitudes among children, they believe their studies could help reduce prejudices against disadvantaged groups. 

For future experiments, they hope to test other popular novels that may have similar effects. 

» RELATED: The kids of 'Harry Potter:' Then and now

Kiss frontman Gene Simmons fires up Twitter after comments that women can’t balance career, family

Gene Simmons, the facepaint-clad frontman for the legendary band Kiss, has riled up some fans thanks to his views of women in the workplace.

Simmons wrote in his new book, “Gene Simmons On Power,” that women should “get over your biological urges,” The New York Post reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Simmons went on to explain, “It’s natural to want to have kids, but, sorry, you can’t have it both ways. You have to commit to either career or family. It’s very difficult to have both.” 

His comments ignited a fire on Twitter. 

Donna Brazile criticizes Barack Obama's 'titanic ego' in her new book

Former interim Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile apparently had much to say about former President Barack Obama in her revealing book.

An excerpt from Brazile’s newest book, “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House,” focused heavily on the relationship between certain high-profile Democrats and how certain egos and competencies affected the DNC’s debt, reports The Daily Caller.

>> Donna Brazile tells critics of her new book to 'go to hell'

“We had three Democratic parties: The party of Barack Obama, the party of Hillary Clinton, and this weak little vestige of a party led by [Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz] that was doing a very poor job getting people who were not president elected,” Brazile wrote, criticizing the former DNC chairwoman for incompetence. Her criticisms focused primarily on the three. She even wrote at one point, “[Obama] left it in debt. Hillary bailed it out so that she could control it, and Debbie went along with all of this because she liked the power and perks of being a chair but not the responsibilities.”

Brazile accused Obama of caring “deeply about his image” and using the DNC to fund “his pollster and focus groups.” This was especially odd considering Obama was in his second term as president, so he was unable to run for the position again, she said.

>> On Rare.us: President Trump uses Democratic primary 'rigging' allegations to blast his Justice Department

“As I saw it, these three titanic egos – Barack, Hillary and Debbie – had stripped the party to a shell for their own purposes,” she added.

Brazile said Obama, Clinton and Schultz loved the Democratic Party dearly and sincerely but “leeched it of its vitality and were continuing to do so.”

In another portion of the book, which was highly publicized, Brazile stated that she found “proof” that the DNC rigged the nomination process in favor of Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Several Democrats shared their support of Brazile’s claim, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Warren told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday, “What we’ve got to do as Democrats now is we’ve got to hold this party accountable.”

>> Read more trending news

Brazile walked back her statements on Sunday, telling George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s “This Week,” “I found no evidence. None whatsoever.”

Brazile took over as interim chair for the DNC in July 2016 after Schultz was forced to step down, the result of an email leak that revealed DNC staffers aided Clinton’s campaign over Sanders’ in the primary. Schultz later argued that the primary was “by the books” and “followed the rules.” A WikiLeaks email leak a few months later revealed that Brazile provided Clinton's team with some key details of the presidential debate questions ahead of time.

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