Arts

Ask Me Another
8:25 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Peter Sagal: The Oddly Informative Quiz Show Host

Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg chats with Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! host Peter Sagal onstage at The Bell House in Brooklyn, N.Y., about how to host the perfect public radio game show.
Josh Rogosin NPR

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 3:59 pm

  • Bonus 1: Peter Sagal reveals his inner (and outer) nerd
  • Bonus 2: Peter Sagal on rebellion, motorcycles and parenting

When NPR listeners want to test their knowledge of current events β€” and laugh in the process β€” they tune in to Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, NPR's news quiz. In every episode, host Peter Sagal quizzes panelists and contestants on a smattering some of the week's most oddball events, from the eccentricities of world leaders to failed robberies.

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Krulwich Wonders...
6:33 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Wild Things Hanging From Spruce Trees

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 8:45 am

Stanley Kunitz, one of our great poets, planted a spruce tree next to his house in Provincetown, Mass., and over the years that tree attracted some tenants, a family of garden snakes. I didn't know garden snakes climb trees, especially needly ones like a spruce, but they do.

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Author Interviews
5:03 am
Thu September 5, 2013

We're All Completely Alone: A Chat With Novelist Kevin Maher

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 1:15 pm

A father's illness, a girlfriend's mental breakdown and abuse by a priest, all set against a background of class conflict and nationalist tensions: Jim, the 14-year-old protagonist of The Fields, faces catastrophe after catastrophe. But Kevin Maher's debut novel is hardly dour. Instead, the jokes β€” simultaneously funny and brave β€” never stop coming.

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Author Interviews
1:25 am
Thu September 5, 2013

'Winter's Bone' Author Revisits A Tragedy In His Ozarks Hometown

Daniel Woodrell's novel Winter's Bone -- a dark family saga set in the Ozarks β€” was adapted into a film in 2010. Woodrell returned to his hometown of West Plains, Mo., about 20 years ago and has been writing there ever since.
Alexander Klein AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 4:42 pm

The Ozarks mountain town of West Plains, Mo., is the kind of town where a person can stand in his front yard and have a comfortable view of his past.

"My mom was actually born about 150 or 200 feet that way, and my grandfather's house is I guess 200 yards that way," says Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone, and most recently, The Maid's Version.

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The Salt
3:05 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

A Farm-To-Table Delicacy From Spain: Roasted Baby Pig

Roel Basalm Alim, a cook at Restaurante Botín, displays a plate of cochinillo asado, or roast suckling pig.
Lauren Frayer/NPR

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 4:52 pm

On the windswept plateau where Madrid is perched, it's too dry to raise cattle and most crops. So pork has long been a mainstay, from jamΓ³n ibΓ©rico and charcuterie tapas to stews of pigs' ears and entrails.

But when locals want a really special treat, they go for an entire piglet roasted whole β€” head, hooves and all β€” on an oak wood fire.

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Ask Me Another
2:49 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

All In The Cards

Originally published on Sun May 4, 2014 8:24 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

We've got our next two contestants - Melissa Kawlanaski and Lisa Richter.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Melissa, what is your card game of choice?

MELISSA KALWANASKI: Poker, I guess.

EISENBERG: Poker is a good one. Yeah, I like that. You play a little poker?

KALWANASKI: I won a small tournament once.

EISENBERG: Really? How small?

KALWANASKI: Like 20 people.

EISENBERG: What did you win?

KALWANASKI: Two hundred dollars.

EISENBERG: That's real money.

KALWANASKI: Yeah.

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Ask Me Another
2:49 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Mind In The Guttural

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 8:25 am

Get ready to give your mind and your mouth a workout. In this game led by host Ophira Eisenberg, all the answers have a guttural "ch" sound in them. For instance, the painter that had an eye for sunflowers but cut off his left earlobe is Vincent Van Gogh.

Plus, Jonathan Coulton concludes the game with a version of The Beatles' "Help!" that is also quite guttural.

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Ask Me Another
2:49 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Mister-y Men

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 8:25 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Now we're going to crown this week's grand champion. Let's bring back from Mind in the Gutteral Scott Bergeron; from All in the Cards, Melissa Kalwanaski; from Charming Old Moviehouse Justin Sheen; from I Am Not the Walrus, Jonathan Firestone; and from Down With O.P.P, Stacey Molski.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I'm going to ask our puzzle guru Art Chung to take us out.

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Ask Me Another
2:49 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Down With 'O.P.P.'

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 8:25 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Up next are contestants Stacey Molski and Dan Welch.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Well, hello, Dan, Stacey. Dan, are you a trivia player?

DAN WELCH: Occasionally. Yes.

EISENBERG: Do you have a specialty?

WELCH: A little bit of everything, I hope.

EISENBERG: A little bit of everything. OK. That's good. That's going to help you. Stacey?

STACEY MOLSKI: Same.

EISENBERG: Little bit of everything?

MOLSKI: Yeah, a little bit of everything.

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Book Reviews
11:30 am
Wed September 4, 2013

From McDermott, An Extraordinary Story Of An Ordinary 'Someone'

The main character of Alice McDermott's Someone grew up in 1920s and '30s New York.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 1:27 pm

Endurance, going the distance, sucking up the solitude and the brine: I'm not talking about the glorious Diana Nyad and her instantly historic swim from Cuba to Key West, but of the ordinary heroine whose life is the subject of Alice McDermott's latest novel, Someone. "Ordinary" is a word that's used a lot to describe McDermott's characters, mostly Irish and working class, mostly un-heroic in any splashy way.

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The Salt
10:37 am
Wed September 4, 2013

A Greener Way To Cool Your Foods On The Way To The Grocery Store

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 3:13 pm

Your produce and frozen foods could soon arrive at grocery stores in trucks that release fewer emissions. Researchers are developing a clean technology to keep your food cool while it travels.

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The Two-Way
5:13 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Book News: Malala, Girl Shot By Taliban, Calls Books 'Weapons That Defeat Terrorism'

Malala Yousafzai, shown here in March 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for supporting education rights for girls.
T. Mughal EPA/Landov

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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New In Paperback
5:03 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Sept. 2-8: An 'Idiot' Heart, A Fringe History And 'The End Of Men'

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 11:59 am

* Some of the language in the summaries above has been provided by publishers.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed September 4, 2013

A Dying Man's Memory-Laden Search For Revenge In 'The Return'

Michael Gruber began his fiction career as a ghostwriter for a well-known American judge. A former federal civil servant, chef, environmentalist, and speechwriter, Gruber had a varied career before he took up writing his own novels, and it shows in his work, in the broad and capacious subject matter and cast of thousands.

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All Tech Considered
1:05 am
Wed September 4, 2013

For Biographers, The Past Is An Open (Electronic) Book

Digital ephemera can capture things that don't appear in official accounts of events β€” but the material's in danger of disappearing if it's in obsolete formats.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 11:00 am

For centuries, biographers have relied on letters to bring historical figures to life, whether Gandhi or Catherine the Great. But as people switch from writing on paper to documenting their lives electronically, biographers are encountering new benefits β€” and new challenges.

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Kitchen Window
10:03 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Making A Case For Corn Off The Cob

Laura Weiss for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 5:38 pm

OK, people, I do not love corn on the cob. Yes, I know this tags me as vaguely un-American. And yes I know the summertime staple is a beloved culinary icon. And I'm also aware that corn on the cob fans often rhapsodize over the pairing of fresh, sweet corn and melted butter.

But when I'm offered an ear, I politely decline. That's the point at which family and friends look at me as if I'm slightly daft. "What? You don't want any?" No, sorry. Just pass me the potato salad, please.

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The Two-Way
5:28 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Book News: Seamus Heaney's Last Words Were 'Don't Be Afraid'

Irish poet Seamus Heaney is pictured in 2010.
Paul McErlane EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 5:33 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue September 3, 2013

An Alternate Universe Delights In Complex, Perplexing 'Duplex'

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 3:04 pm

You're walking your dog in a suburb that may or may not exist in this dimension. The dog whines. You ignore him. Anyway, you're too busy looking out for that sexy, evil sorcerer. Suddenly, a gray rabbit appears, and you realize: the world is ending.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue September 3, 2013

'At The Bottom' Of A Friendship, How Far Would You Go To Help?

Ben Dolnick's previous two books β€” Zoology (2007) and You Know Who You Are (2011) β€” have mostly dealt with young people coming of age. In his latest novel, At the Bottom of Everything, the writer's youthful coming-of-age tales start to themselves come of age. As teenagers, the waifish, ascetic Thomas Pell is the smartest kid at school, but socially awkward. Adam has just moved to Washington D.C. with his mother and new stepdad. The two boys quickly become fairly inseparable, getting up to fairly standard young person shenanigans.

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Books
1:01 am
Tue September 3, 2013

For F. Scott And Zelda Fitzgerald, A Dark Chapter In Asheville, N.C.

Zelda Sayre and F. Scott Fitzgerald pose for a photo at the Sayre home in Montgomery, Ala., in 1919, the year before they married.
Bettmann Corbis

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 1:30 pm

Asheville, a mountain town in North Carolina, is known for at least two important native sons: writers Thomas Wolfe, whose 1929 novel Look Homeward, Angel eviscerated some locals, and Charles Frazier, whose 1997 civil war novel Cold Mountain is set in the nearby hills. But there is also a little-known story of another writer β€” F. Scott Fitzgerald β€” who, along with his wife Zelda, had devastating connections to the town.

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The Salt
2:50 pm
Mon September 2, 2013

Tlacoyos: A Mexican Grilled Snack That Tempted The Conquistadors

Tlacoyos can be filled with beans, potatoes, mushrooms or cheese and are often topped with grilled cactus, onions, cilantro, and salsa.
Jasmine Garsd for NPR

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 12:10 pm

For the last in a summer series of grilled food from around the world, we head to Mexico, where a small doughy treat is found everywhere from street corner grills to high-end restaurants. It's called a tlacoyo (pronounced tla-COY-yo) and although it may sound novel, it's an ancient food that's older than Hernan Cortes.

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Author Interviews
2:14 pm
Mon September 2, 2013

From Peace To Patriotism: The Shifting Identity Of 'God Bless America'

American composer Irving Berlin sings his song "God Bless America" in front of Boy Scouts troop members and spectators gathered at a tent in Monticello, New York in 1940. Instead of collecting royalties from "God Bless America," Berlin created a fund that collected and distributed them to the Boy and Girl Scouts.
Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 8:47 am

In the fall of 1938, radio was huge. That Halloween, Orson Welles scared listeners out of their wits with his War of the Worlds. And on November 10, 1938 β€” the eve of the holiday that was known then as Armistice Day β€” the popular singer Kate Smith made history on her radio show. She sang a song that had never been sung before, written by the composer Irving Berlin.

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Crime In The City
1:26 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Hardcore With A Heart: Joburg Thrillers Star A Spunky P.I.

Jassy Mackenzie was born in Rhodesia and moved to South Africa when she was eight years old. She edits and writes for the annual publication Best of South Africa.
Soho Crime

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 3:54 pm

South Africa's commercial capital, Johannesburg, is a mixture of the old Wild West and a complex, modern African hub β€” at least, that's how crime novelist Jassy Mackenzie describes it. Mackenzie was born across the border, in Zimbabwe, but she moved to Johannesburg β€” Joburg for short β€” as a child, and she's a passionate champion of the city.

"I love the energy of Johannesburg," Mackenzie says. "People are open. People communicate. People are friendly in a brash, big-city way, which I love. ... [it's] the New York of South Africa!"

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Remembrances
3:04 pm
Sun September 1, 2013

Poems As 'Stepping Stones': Remembering Seamus Heaney

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 4:18 pm

The poet Seamus Heaney died Friday. Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 and has been described as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats." Heaney was 74 years old. Host Jacki Lyden spoke to Heaney in 2008, and has this remembrance.

Author Interviews
6:17 am
Sun September 1, 2013

The Private War Of J.D. Salinger

Salinger, seen here at right with his friend Donald Hartog in 1989, was sorry he ever wrote Catcher, says Salinger co-author Shane Salerno.
AP

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 1:54 pm

"J.D. Salinger spent 10 years writing The Catcher in the Rye and the rest of his life regretting it," according to a new book about one of America's best-known and most revered writers.

Salinger died three years ago at the age of 91, after publishing four slim books. But Catcher in the Rye has sold more than 65 million copies and has become a touchstone for young people coming of age around the world. It still sells hundreds of thousands of copies every year.

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You Must Read This
5:03 am
Sun September 1, 2013

A Return To Trollope: Did The Book Change β€” Or Did I?

Ann Kirschner is the university dean of Macaulay Honors College and the author of Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp.

I returned to reading Anthony Trollope's "Palliser" novels after more than 20 years. I was longing for a deep, luxurious Victorian bath, and immersion in these six long novels seemed a perfect prescription.

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Sunday Puzzle
3:56 am
Sun September 1, 2013

Shh! Listen Carefully

NPR

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 12:42 pm

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase with the consecutive letters of S-H-H. Specifically, the first word in the answer will end in SH, and the second will start with H.

Last week's challenge: Think of a business that's found in most towns. Its name consists of two words, each starting with a consonant. Interchange the consonants and you'll get two new words β€” neither of which rhymes with the original words. What business is it?

Answer: Car wash

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Author Interviews
3:47 am
Sun September 1, 2013

Restaurant Critic Finds Meaning At The Olive Garden In 'Grand Forks'

Marilyn Hagerty gained viral fame with her positive review of the Olive Garden in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
John Stennes

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 1:54 pm

"Can a cholesterol-conscious matron from the west side find happiness at the East Side Dairy Queen?" So begins Marilyn Hagerty's review of the national creamery franchise for her local paper, The Grand Forks Herald, in Grand Forks, N.D.

The 87-year-old Hagerty has reported on food, events, and local profiles at the Herald for more than 25 years, but she earned 15 minutes of national fame last year with a positive review of her local Olive Garden restaurant.

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Keys To The Whole World: American Public Libraries
3:41 am
Sun September 1, 2013

With Modern Makeovers, America's Libraries Are Branching Out

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., has opened a Digital Commons that features rows of desktop computers, portable electronic devices and even a 3D printer.
DC Public Library/The Freelon Group

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 1:58 pm

It's not exactly a building boom, but several public libraries around the country are getting makeovers. The Central Library in Austin, Texas just broke ground on a new building that promises such new features as outdoor reading porches and a cafe. In Madison, Wis., they're about to open a newly remodeled library that has, among other improvements, more natural light and a new auditorium. Historic libraries in Boston and New York City are looking at significant renovations.

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The Salt
2:58 am
Sun September 1, 2013

Discovering The Small Miracle Of The Soup Dumpling

A xiao long bao, or soup dumpling, in a large spoon.
Alyson Hurt NPR

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 3:48 am

The first I ever heard of soup dumplings was 15 years ago in this New York Times story, which described xiao long bao as "the star of the show" at Joe's Shanghai in New York's Chinatown. It was a different era of New York food, when Szechuan peppercorns were still contraband, and the selection of Chinese restaurants was less diverse.

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