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Women Who Count: 3 Smart STEM Romances

Jan 1, 2017

When Octavia Spencer first read the script for Hidden Figures — based on a book about the African American women who did the math for our early space launches — she thought it was fiction because it seemed too good to be true. Her disbelief reveals how conditioned we are to think that only white men make notable contributions to science, technology, engineering and math — and how important it is that we celebrate stories of the women who do.

As 2016 comes to a close, we wanted to take the time to hear from a few people whose words and actions influenced the nation this year.

One such person is actor and activist Jesse Williams. Many may know him as Jackson Avery, one of the many good-looking doctors on Shonda Rhimes' long running medical drama Grey's Anatomy.

In addition to starring in Grey's Anatomy, Jesse Williams dabbles in a lot of things: He's launched two mobile apps, hosts a basketball podcast and is in the midst of filing a remake of the 1990 thriller Jacob's Ladder.

Reading The Game: The Last Of Us

Dec 31, 2016

For years now, some of the best, wildest, most moving or revealing stories we've been telling ourselves have come not from books, movies or TV, but from video games. So we're running an occasional series, Reading The Game, in which we take a look at some of these games from a literary perspective.

It's that time of year again, when I atone for my failure to make top 10 lists by simply offering a collection of 50 of the many wonderful things I read, watched or heard in 2016. (Here's last year's list, for reference.)

Standard caveats: I don't watch everything! I am behind on many things. That's just the way the world is. So if something you loved isn't here, it is not a rebuke.

How big was the writer Ring Lardner? He helped create what's still called The Golden Age of Sportswriters, the ones who wrote about The Babe, The Ironman, Dempsey, DiMaggio, and Joe Louis. And he went on to write short stories, novels, songs, and plays. He was an inspiration to Ernest Hemingway, who read his columns growing up outside Chicago, and later a favored writer of Maxwell Perkins and confidant of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

A theater company in Brooklyn, N.Y., recently decided to do a social experiment: Put seven cops and seven civilians in a rehearsal room once a week to really get to know one another. Then, after 10 weeks, ask them to put on a show.

Remembering Debbie Reynolds

Dec 31, 2016

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The AP reported Friday that Simon & Schuster planned to move forward with publication of a book by Milo Yiannopoulos, in spite of harsh criticism. The forthcoming book, called Dangerous, is said to be about free speech.

Remembering Elie Wiesel, In His Words

Dec 30, 2016

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A number of influential people died in 2016, and we're taking a moment now to remember one of them, a man who dedicated his life to making sure the world would never forget.

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This is the time of year when everybody is making predictions for next year, and everybody is making resolutions for the things they plan to do. But it's a Pop Culture Happy Hour tradition that while we do these things too, we also revisit the ones from last year to see whether we have any ability to know what's going to happen (rarely!) and any tendency to follow through on our own plans (sometimes!). As she has for the last two years, Kat Chow of NPR's Code Switch team sits down with us to check in.

Is It Possible To Die Of Grief?

Dec 29, 2016

The actress Debbie Reynolds' death just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died has led some to speculate that grief from the loss might have been a contributing factor. There was similar speculation when actress Brittany Murphy's husband, Simon Monjack, was found dead at just 39, several months after the sudden death of his wife.

If Pablo Larrain is news to you, he won't be for long. The Chilean director, whose Tony Manero, No, and The Club won critical praise but only modest box office here, has two highly recommended new films in the awards spotlight this year. Like Jackie — a challenging and brilliant portrait of Jackie Kennedy in the aftermath of her husband's assassination — Larrain's Neruda engages in iconoclastic play with clichés that have clung to a national legend, in this case Chile's beloved poet-politician Pablo Neruda.

Ben Affleck made his debut as a director with 2007's Gone Baby Gone, a much-admired adaptation of a Dennis Lehane crime novel.

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Tonight is the fourth night of Kwanzaa. People who are celebrating the seven-day festival will gather around a candelabra called a kinara and light the black candle.

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About a year ago, tattoo artist Brian Finn began offering free tattoos to people to cover their scars from trauma: domestic abuse, human trafficking, self-harm.

Since NPR last visited with Finn, he's received what he estimates to be thousands up thousands emails, and attracted so many new followers on Instagram that he had to turn off notifications. He learned that tattoo artists around the world — Brazil, Australia, the United Kingdom — had taken up his idea.

Hollywood is in the process of closing out a record-breaking, $11.2 billion year. The big draws were talking animals — including a fish called Dory and a bear named Baloo — a slew of superheroes and a new batch of Star Warriors. The numbers have movie studios — especially Disney, which led the pack — celebrating.

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Born in Mongolia, raised in Japan, and settled firmly in Shanghai, Moe — her full name — runs one of the tiniest bars in Shanghai. But besides her name, Moe (pronounced "Mo-ee") has little in common with Homer Simpson's favorite barman.

She was 20 when she arrived in Shanghai, Moe says from behind the counter. "I went to many bars, I drank a lot, and I spent a lot of money. One day, I thought to myself: 'With all the money I've spent on drinking, I could open my own bar.' "

Updated at 1:39 p.m. Thursday

You might think the secrets to HGTV stardom lie in real estate savvy or creative design. But for shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, it's that hard-to-find combination of charm and chemistry that turns hosts into stars.

"They're fun — they make you feel like you could be friends," says Maggie Winterfeldt, editor of PopSugar Home. "These are people that you actually relate to. They're not living in mansions; they're not driving Escalades. They live an attainable lifestyle."

A Dad Joke is a funny thing. Well, not funny, exactly—that's the one thing a Dad Joke never is. Whether a dumb pun, a goofy accent, or a silly riff on a troubling event, this peculiar brand of attempted humor is passed on from a father to his offspring like family silverware. It exists to remind us that dads have a sacred duty to be silly and strange for their children's sake, to create a little shared universe of forced laughter and groans where both generations can retreat from the cold.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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It started with a cup of coffee, or more precisely, a hot beverage. Seven years later came fries, the now infamous eggplant and friends. Sandwich lovers waited for their time to come, while begrudgingly sending another drumstick, wishing it were barbecue.

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Cities are almost like characters in the films of director Jim Jarmusch — think of New Orleans in 1986's Down By Law, or Memphis in 1989's Mystery Train. In his latest film, Paterson, Jarmusch takes that idea one step further. The film takes its name from three things: its setting, Paterson, N.J.; its main character, a bus driver named Paterson; and William Carlos Williams' epic poem "Paterson," one of Jarmusch's inspirations.

Actress Carrie Fisher, beloved for her iconic role as Princess Leia, died on Tuesday at the age of 60.

She leaves behind her daughter, Billie Lourd, her brother, Todd Fisher, her mother, Debbie Reynolds — and her French bulldog, Gary.

Gary Fisher is a celebrity in his own right — he traveled widely with Fisher and was a star on Instagram and Twitter.

In Jim Jarmusch's 2013 film Only Lovers Left Alive the members of a vampiric odd couple live continents apart, but are linked by shared hipster tastes in music and literature. The writer-director's Paterson is essentially the same movie, except that this time the lovers live together in New Jersey, and have very different enthusiasms. Yet they're just as hip, in their gentle, domestic way.

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