Rebecca Hall, a veteran of films like Vicky Cristina Barcelona and The Town, is the star of the new surveillance-state thriller Closed Circuit, playing an English barrister charged with monitoring top-secret, closed-to-the-public evidence hearings involving a terrorist bombing.
Kristen Johnson is no "lovely" magician's assistant. She's Lady Houdini, an escape artist who has successfully performed thousands of public feats and has broken Harry Houdini's record for most water escapes ever.
The hour continues as host Ophira Eisenberg and puzzle editor Art Chung unearth notorious stumpers from the Ask Me Another archives. How well do you know your "qwertyuiop"? We ask contestants to create words using letters found on the "Top Row" of a computer keyboard. Mental math meets pop music in "Algebraic Music" (with an assist from house musician Jonathan Coulton) and the names of esteemed world leaders get reduced to animal-related puns in "Imperial Pets."
This hour, revisit some of Ask Me Another's hardest games with host Ophira Eisenberg and puzzle editor Art Chung. If Nietzsche and Kierkegaard were actually hacky comedians, their jokes might sound a little like those told by puzzle guru John Chaneski in "The Philospher's Comedy Club." Find out from Art the original conceit of this game (hint: it involved people in tights), then try mashing up notable names in "Presidential Middle Names"--it may prove to be more brain-melting than enlightening.
It's late-night week on FRESH AIR. One of the big late-night changes scheduled for early next year is Seth Meyers moving to NBC's "Late Night," replacing Jimmy Fallon when Fallon moves to "The Tonight Show." Seth Meyers has been the head writer and co-anchor or anchor of "Weekend Update" since the fall of 2006.
For an introduction to India's cultural and culinary delights, you might hop a flight to Delhi or book a trip to Mumbai. But to meet the country sans passport free of airport indignities, you could just curl up with the crime novels of Tarquin Hall.
Vish Puri, Hall's opinionated private investigator, is a 50-something Punjabi super sleuth with a fondness for family and food. The mustachioed detective cracks open India's underbelly with a caseload that delves into forbidden love, corruption in Indian cricket and the deadly clash between science and superstition.
All week, we've been talking about dumplings â€” from tortellini's sensual origins in Italy to kubbeh's tasty variations in Israel.
But perhaps no country has a longer history or greater variety of dumplings than China. Dumplings come in all shapes and with every imaginable filling. They are served at everything from a humble family meal to elaborate works of culinary art.
Before Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert became establishments in news satire, there was The Onion. Thursday, "America's Finest News Source" turns 25.
Two college students founded the fake news organization, which began as a newspaper in Madison, Wis. "It really started as something very local that was intended mainly to ... sell pizza coupons," Editor-in-Chief Will Tracy tells Morning Edition host Renee Montagne..
A massive explosion rocks a covered market, but Central London still looks mighty handsome in the British thriller Closed Circuit. So does the actress Rebecca Hall. Decked out in blacks, creams and grays, she and her city both are sleek, elegant and more than a little forbidding, even if they're softened by pockets of olde worlde soul.
Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 6:34 am
When you go to the Dead Sea for a float in its extraordinarily buoyant waters, signs warn you not to drink a drop. "Did you swallow water?" one Dead Sea do's and don'ts list asks. "Go immediately to the lifeguard."
It's easy to make fun of a certain kind of therapeutic language â€” the kind you hear all through the movie Short Term 12.
That title comes from the name of a group home for abused and/or unstable teens. Early on, a young counselor named Grace (Brie Larson) tells one smart-mouthed kid that "your attitude is not helping either one of us" â€” which would tend to make her a repressive drag in a typical Hollywood teen picture.
Originally published on Sat August 31, 2013 10:57 am
A week without water can easily kill the average person.
But a garden that goes unwatered for months may produce sweeter, more flavorful fruits than anything available in most mainstream supermarkets â€” even in the scorching heat of a California summer. Commercial growers call it "dry farming," and throughout the state, this unconventional technique seems to be catching on among small producers of tomatoes, apples, grapes, melons and potatoes.
Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 11:15 am
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 â€” both for illumination, andfor some of the most intelligent entertainment you can find.
Western movies usually film Tokyo through a lens clouded by preconceived notions. California documentarians John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson sidestep that pitfall by downplaying human views. Their Tokyo Waka: A City Poem looks at the Japanese megalopolis from the vantage point of its abundant crows.
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."
Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 9:03 am
The government's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER) tracks state cancer incidence and mortality rates. So it was only natural that George Johnson would pore over their latest data to gain some insight for his incisive new book, The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery. "Concentrating on overall cancer rates can smear over some interesting details," he writes, "and I wondered what might be lurking underneath."
Tortellini â€” small circles of rolled dough folded around a filling â€” are one of the most renowned members of the Italian pasta family. In the land of their birth, the region near the Italian city of Bologna, they're strictly served as broth-like dumplings.
Possibly no foodstuff in Italian cuisine is surrounded by so much history and lore.
Nelson Mandela is officially "improving," though still in critical condition at a South African hospital. His long battle with a lung infection has South Africans anxiously contemplating their "post-Mandela" future in a still racially divided country. In a unique strategy, one man is hoping to help heal those divisions with a pair of barbecue tongs.
Jan Scannell is a 32-year-old former accountant with a dream: To establish a national holiday in South Africa like July 4 called Braai Day.
Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 1:33 pm
There is still debate as to whether the hot dog evolved from lesser sandwich forms or is the work of an intelligent designer, but everyone can agree it's a marvel of simplicity. At the Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff earlier this summer in Chicago, though, five chefs were challenged to reinterpret the humble tube steak, and we were challenged to eat them all.
The chefs were told to "start with Vienna Beef hot dogs" and "use them in any way imaginable." Those instructions, when you think about it, are frighteningly open to interpretation.
When we first started thinking about dumplings for NPR's Dumpling Week, we presumed that there wasn't much to the little balls of dough. They seemed simple, universally beloved and unencumbered by controversy.
But the semantics of the dumpling turns out to be far more fraught that we imagined. This became clear when we started wondering whether tamales, or samosas, counted as dumplings. The deeper we waded into the pool of quasi-dumpling snacks, the more we realized we needed some expert input to set us straight.
Imagine David Letterman sitting in the reception area where you work, going virtually unrecognized. That's how it was in 1981 when Letterman visited WHYY in Philadelphia to be interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air, then a local program.
Patina Miller first got noticed on the theater scene in 2009 as the star of Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy. She earned rave reviews for playing the accidental nun who led a choir to stardom. Now she's center stage again in the Broadway revival of Pippin, the musical first launched in 1972. Miller takes on the role of Leading Player, the circus artist who guides a young prince in finding meaning and magic in his life. She won this year's Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical. You can also hear her on the newly released CD of the show's songs.
A stream of fiction and stories written by reclusive author J.D. Salinger will be published between 2015 and 2020, according to a new biography about the writer of The Catcher in the Rye, who died in 2010. Some of the books will reportedly revisit beloved Salinger characters such as Holden Caulfield.
The claims come from David Shields and Shane Salerno, co-authors of the biography Salinger, which will be published next week. Days later, Salerno's documentary film of the same name will be released (and in January, it will air on PBS).
From Warsaw to Wuhan, people around the world love dumplings. They're tasty little packages that can be made of any grain and stuffed with whatever the locals crave. But where did they come from?
No one knows for sure, but Ken Albala, a food historian at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., thinks dumplings have been around for a very long time. "Almost without doubt, there are prehistoric dumplings," he says.