Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 12:15 pm
Big questions about the origins of consciousness and culture may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if these are things you find yourself thinking about, there's nothing like a seriously composed and compelling novel about prehistoric life — both for illumination, andfor some of the most intelligent entertainment you can find.
More than 20,000 crows, by recent estimates, live alongside the 13 million human inhabitants of Tokyo; <em>Tokyo Waka</em> tells their story — and meditates on the meaning of their persistence in one of the world's greatest cities.
Conan O'Brien has probably had the most unusual career trajectory of any current late-night host. When he joined NBC's Late Night in 1993, replacing David Letterman, he had virtually no on-air experience. He did, however, have comedy-writing chops: O'Brien edited the humor magazine The Harvard Lampoon as a student, then wrote for Saturday Night Live and was a writer and producer for The Simpsons.
In 1992, when Jay Leno took over from Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, he was already a familiar presence, having served as one of Carson's regular substitute hosts. Despite that experience, Leno's first few years on Tonight were rocky.
"When he started, when he was up against Letterman, Letterman beat him for the first couple of years," critic David Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "But once Leno came ahead, he was unstoppable. He never lost that audience."