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The Surreal Cookbook Of Salvador Dalí

Dec 4, 2016

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(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GILMORE GIRLS")

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Dava Sobel is as adept at spotting promising subject matter as the extraordinary women astronomers she writes about in The Glass Universe were at spotting variable stars. By translating complex information into manageable bites sweetened with human interest stories, Sobel makes hard science palatable for the general audience. Even more than her 1999 book Galileo's Daughter, this new work highlights women's often under-appreciated role in the history of science.

This week, we've invited Alan Cumming, actor, singer, author, director and proud son of Scotland, to play our quiz. He's currently on tour performing songs from his new album, Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs.

Since Cumming plays Eli Gold on the TV series The Good Wife, we're asking him to answer three questions about bad wives.

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Much of the world is getting to know the work of Kathleen Collins - all the more to regret that she's not around to hear the praise. Kathleen Collins was a writer and filmmaker who died in 1988 of breast cancer. She was 46 years old.

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Bonnie Mackay has written an unusual sort of memoir: Tree of Treasures is the story of her life, told through Christmas tree ornaments.

Mackay is something of an ornament aficionado — starting with the first tree she decorated with a friend from college.

"We called it the tree of disarray ... " she tells NPR's Ari Shapiro. They adorned it with unconventional objects, including jewelry, scarves and kitchen items.

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Let's pause now to remember a British actor best known for playing a Spanish waiter in a 1970s BBC series that lasted only 12 episodes - Andrew Sachs. He died at age 86. As NPR's Ted Robbins tells us, his relatively small role left a big impression.

This is a story about love and transformation. But first, it starts with resistance.

At 75, Chanjae Lee absolutely hated the idea of learning this bizarre thing called Instagram. He had never used the Internet before, never once owned an email account, and never understood the concepts behind Google or Facebook. Why did he have to learn Instagram?

It was because he missed his grandchildren, dearly.

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Epilogue

Dec 2, 2016

On a scale of one to ten of how she's doing, these days Lauren Weedman is a solid eight. But the author of Miss Fortune: Fresh Perspectives on Having It All From Someone Who Is Not Okay hasn't always been this 'okay.' In fact, she revealed to host Ophira Eisenberg, "When I started writing the book, I was way less okay. It was very much embracing ... what a mess [I am]."

Chapter One

Dec 2, 2016

There's nothing like retreating to your favorite secluded spot and indulging in a good book. Next best thing? Hearing Jonathan Coulton sing about other people who enjoy seclusion, too! Then, nonfiction books get the blockbuster movie trailer treatment. Finally, find the perfect reading snack with a mash-up game featuring book titles reimagined as foods.

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Prologue

Dec 2, 2016

The first step in choosing a great book to read? Check the reviews. Guess classic novels like Moby Dick from their actual one-star Amazon reviews. Then, see if you can tell the difference between a Choose Your Own Adventure book and a Weekly World News headline in one of the very first This, That, or the Others written for the AMA stage.

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We're lucky enough to be joined this week by Daisy Rosario and Margaret Willison for looks at two new girl-themed stories.

First, non-Gilmore Girls person Stephen Thompson sits out of our usual rotation as we cover the return of the people of Stars Hollow in four new movies available on Netflix. Did we get what we were hoping for from this reunion? Did we get too much of Logan's goofy friends, or not enough? And what of Jess and his duffel bag?

Last summer, Anna Pallai was leafing through her mom's cookbooks — sauce-splashed volumes of Robert Carrier recipes, issues of Supercook pinched together in a ringed binder — when she realized she'd stumbled across a gold mine. The books were full of meaty aspics and mousses coaxed into elaborate shapes: a crown made of blunted hot dogs, seafood mousse sculpted into the shape of a maniacally grinning fish.

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When you walk into the Smithsonian's "Art of the Qur'an" exhibition, you're met with a book that weighs 150 pounds. The tome, which dates back to the late-1500s, has giant pages that are covered in gold and black Arabic script.

Perspective is everything in horror films. The most important decision any scare flick can make is whether it expects the audience to identify with the villain or their victims. To see through the eyes of the prey (as in Rosemary's Baby, or this year's excellent Under the Shadow) requires only that the director make their situation realistically terrifying, so that we imagine we are frightened for our lives, too.

Late in mid-life Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert), a Paris high school philosophy teacher, suffers a string of punishing losses that threaten not just her well-being and sense of fulfillment, but her entire identity as a wife, daughter, mother and professional woman. Her husband (Andre Marcon) announces he's moving in with the mistress he's kept a secret for many years. Nathalie is forced to move the fragile mother (Edith Scob) she has propped up since childhood into assisted living; it doesn't go well.

The audacious biopic Jackie opens on the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts in 1963, merely a week after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Though she welcomes a journalist into one of the Kennedy residences along Cape Cod, the now-former First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, has no permanent home. History has shredded her lease at The White House, which she had controversially renovated during her husband's time in office, and her belongings had been hastily shuffled to storage, like a college kid taking a break between semesters.

One of the visual motifs of the stark and shocking Lao Shi (Old Stone) is a cigarette burning in the dark. As the movie's taxi-driving protagonist inhales, the tip pulses red like a warning beacon. It signals danger on the road.

The hazard is explained casually in the opening scene, in which Lao Shi (Chen Gang) waits while listening to a radio report about a driver who hit someone, but didn't kill him. Rather than be responsible for the victim's medical costs, the driver backed up and ran over him. In China, life can be cheaper than hospital bills.

Oshun Afrique is getting her 35th tattoo.

She has come to the Pinz-N-Needlez tattoo shop in Washington, D.C., where practically every inch of wall space is covered in artwork. While Afrique lounges on the sofa at the front of the small, quaint shop, owner Christopher Mensah sits at his desk and sketches her tattoo design.

Afrique came to the store after seeing Mensah's work in her Facebook news feed. She and Mensah both agree that anyone looking to get tattooed should scour online portfolios to find the right artist.

The display cases in New York's Museum of the Moving Image are crowded with manifest nostalgia: paper dolls, lunch boxes, the Ben Casey M.D. board game. And in one corner, amid a trio of unassuming but unexpected books: Ginger Rogers and The Riddle of the Scarlet Cloak.

Author Andrea Davis Pinkney used to sleep with a copy of The Snowy Day. "I loved that book — it was like a pillow to me," she says.

You can hear Harold Lopez-Nussa's training when he plays. The 33-year-old pianist is reluctant to admit the classical influence on his jazz playing, but he's quick to acknowledge that he, like many other great Cuban pianists, was classically trained. "This is the school that we have to learn music in Cuba; it's classical," he says. "I did all my stuff there from 8 years old to 25."

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