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On Russian Call-in Show, Putin Maintains Hard Line Against West

Apr 17, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes he won't have to move troops into Ukraine to protect the local Russian-speaking population, but he reserves the right to do so. He made the comments on a televised call-in show.

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Kumail Nanjiani (from left) Martin Starr, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods and T.J. Miller star in Silicon Valley, Mike Judge's new sitcom about young programmers trying to hit it rich. (HBO)

'Silicon Valley' Asks: Is Your Startup Really 'Making The World Better'?

Apr 17, 2014 (Fresh Air)

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Mike Judge created the animated series Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, and wrote and directed Office Space, Idiocracy and Extract.

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Mike Judge is no stranger to workplace comedy — back in 1999, he wrote and directed the cult classic Office Space, which poked fun at desk job-induced ennui in a 1990s software company.

Now, more than a decade later, Judge continues to find humor in the tech industry. In his new HBO sitcom, Silicon Valley, Judge explores what happens when young computer geeks become millionaires.

"The tech world has become really interesting to me, especially in recent years," Judge tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. Judge recognizes certain personality types from his college days and from his brief Silicon Valley engineering career in the '80s. "Just knowing those types and seeing them suddenly have billions and billions of dollars — there's just something funny about it to me," he says, "and it's something I hadn't really seen explored that much."

Judge created the animated series Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, and wrote and directed Idiocracy and Extract.


Interview Highlights

On the trope of Silicon Valley startups saying their work is "making the world a better place"

I suppose some of the stuff they're doing is making the world a better place, it's just what's interesting to me is it always seems to me to be this obligatory thing that they have to throw in there and that's why we made fun of it in the series. Some people are making the world a better place, some maybe aren't, but it's just funny that most of it, it's just capitalism. They're trying to make their companies as big and profitable as possible, which is fine, but it's always shrouded in this, "we're making the world a better place" stuff. ...

Like a company trying to put Internet in all these third world African countries and ... maybe they are making the world a better place ... they're also making a ton of money doing it. They don't talk about that as much.

When we got green-lit to series I took all the writers, we went to an incubator and they bring out their first company and it's a company and it's five guys ... and then they pitch their app and at the end of it the guy kind of throws in, "You know, and making the world a better place." Like, "Oh yeah, I almost forgot." I think that's kind of funny; it's almost a religion where you have to say "amen."

On the success of Office Space

I think if I hadn't done animated shorts and if I hadn't had two hit TV shows back-to-back that movie never would've happened. ... I guess I just kinda wanted [Fox] to trust me. ... When it didn't do well at the box office right away it was like, "OK, I guess we shouldn't trust you," but now it's made them lots of money, it has been a profitable movie... To be fair to them, some people say, "Oh, Fox didn't promote it well." That was a hard one to cut a trailer from, especially. I think you could now, but it's a weird movie.

On the famous boss character in Office Space and his tagline of "Hmm ... yeah ..."

It wasn't [based on] any specific person. It kind of came a few different ways. I worked at Whataburger which is a Texas-New Mexico chain, of a burger place, and I worked at Jack-in-the-Box, this is when I was young. ... The worst thing ever at both of those jobs is to change the fryers and the way that someone will say, "Yeah, um, Mike, why don't you go ahead and change the fryers?" To say "go ahead" it's like you were just chomping at the bit to go do it and I'm just gonna cut you loose and go ahead — now it's so common place. ...

In the '50s a boss would say "Hey Milton, move your desk. Thanks." I don't know if it's the baby boom generation where everyone has to be cool, suddenly in the '70s and '80s it turned into, "Yeah ... if I could get you just go ahead and move your desk." And it's this kind of "I'm casual, I'm cool. I'm not your '50s boss."

I would just prefer someone just coming up and telling you what to do. I would respect [that] more. ... Even over the years just noticing the "yeah" that means "no." Like if you say, "Can I have Friday off?"

"Hmm ... Yeah ..."

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Kumail Nanjiani (from left) Martin Starr, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods and T.J. Miller star in Silicon Valley, Mike Judge's new sitcom about young programmers trying to hit it rich. (HBO)

Why Israel Is Staying On The Sidelines In Ukraine Crisis

Apr 17, 2014 (All Things Considered) — Israel has been largely silent about Russia's muscling in on Ukraine. The tiny country -- with a Russian Jewish foreign minister -- seems to want to preserve its good relations with Moscow.

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Mike Judge created the animated series Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, and wrote and directed Office Space, Idiocracy and Extract.

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Peas in a can. (iStockphoto)

Consider The Can: An Unlikely Twist On A Louisiana Dish

Apr 17, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Beware the fresh peas. The key to this tasty, hearty dish comes straight from a can. Out of the can and into the roux: The key to this hearty, simple dish can't be found at a farmer's market.

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If you're under 10 years old, the ingredients to an Easter meal are probably self-evident: chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and Peeps. If you're older, the usual suspects may (or may not) be less sweet, but they're likely no less traditional.

Poppy Tooker, host of New Orleans Public Radio's Louisiana Eats, is no stranger to dinner table traditions — even if her favorite was a year-round affair. When Tooker was a child, her great-grandmother was still cooking, and her go-to side dish was something that, at first glance, might sound pretty typical: peas.

But, being a Creole who had grown up speaking French, her great-grandmother always gave them a distinctive Louisiana twist. She called her simple dish "Peas in a Roux," and she served it often with meaty main course.

Peas in a Roux may have been one of Tooker's favorite family dishes, but it took her years to get the recipe just right. She knew well how to make a roux, a tasty combination of oil and flour, but she was hamstrung by her taste for fresh veggies. "I kind of have a snobby attitude about my vegetables," Tooker admits.

It wasn't until she dispensed with the farmer's market and turned to canned peas that she had her epiphany. "I was in the grocery store, and I passed a big end cap of canned petit pois — those little, teeny, tiny peas that are canned. And I thought, 'You know, I bet that's what Mamman was actually using. I think I'll give that a try.' "

Finally, after turning to the petit pois — tossing in the peas, the juice, everything but the can itself — she rediscovered the taste she remembered so well. "Suddenly, I had completely and properly, finally recreated my great-grandmother's recipe."


Peas In A Roux

1 can of petit pois peas

4 tablespoons bacon grease

4 tablespoons flour

1 large onion, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter

Make a dark roux with the bacon grease and flour: Melt the bacon grease in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and continue stirring over medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the roux turns a chocolate color.

Add the onions and saute 5 minutes. Sprinkle sugar on the onion and cook 2 minutes. Add the peas (including the packing liquid in the can), cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer peas for 10 minutes. Stir in butter and serve.

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Peas in a can. (iStockphoto)

Following Enrollment Deadline, Health Care Focus Turns To States

Apr 17, 2014 (All Things Considered) — President Obama met Thursday with insurance company executives and a separate group of insurance regulators from the states, discussing their mutual interest in administering the new health care law.

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Beware the fresh peas. The key to this tasty, hearty dish comes straight from a can. Out of the can and into the roux: The key to this hearty, simple dish can't be found at a farmer's market.

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Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

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