Quvenzhane Wallis was just 5 years old when she auditioned for a role in the Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild, and 6 when she shot the movie. Now, at age 9, she is the youngest ever to receive a best actress Oscar nomination.
In the film, Quvenzhane plays a wild child named Hushpuppy, who lives with her sick father in a ramshackle, isolated community called the Bathtub, on the fringes of the Louisiana coast.
"I just got the phone call one day," is how poet Richard Blanco describes to Fresh Air's Terry Gross how he learned he had been selected to write and read the inaugural poem for President Obama's second swearing-in on Jan. 21.
Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 1:02 pm
If you want to see what George Washington might have munched on, then Sandy Levins is your gal. All the foods she whips up look scrumptious, but if you sneak a bite, you'll get a mouthful of plaster or clay.
Levins is one of a handful of frequently overlooked artisans who craft the replica meals you see in the kitchens and dining rooms of historic houses and museums. Adding faux food to a historical site can help visitors connect to the past, she tells The Salt.
"It's something everyone immediately identifies with, because everyone eats," she says.
Dutch author Herman Koch's new novel The Dinner is one meal you may feel a little strange after. The titular dinner is one planned by two couples — two brothers and their wives — at which they must discuss a terrible crime most likely committed by their sons. The crime is not yet public, but grainy video footage exists — and both sets of parents know it depicts their offspring.
As the European editor of Rolling Stone, Jonathan Cott spent his time interviewing legendary musicians like Mick Jagger and Pete Townshend. But in 1968, he finally got the opportunity to meet his hero, John Lennon. Cott was nervous.
"He said, 'There's nothing to be nervous about,'" Cott recalls. "'It's going to be OK, and we're doing it together, and that's what really matters.'"
Let's make this perfectly clear at the outset: I don't work for NPR, and what I'm about to say doesn't represent NPR. I'm but a lowly freelancer they're dumb enough to publish a bunch, and what I say now I say as me, which is to say:
1. An inveterate Superman nerd, and
2. A gay dude.
DC Comics has hired Orson Scott Card to write the first two issues of a new digital-first Superman comic. I won't be reading it.
You've probably heard the story of Washington crossing the Delaware or FDR hiding his wheelchair from the public eye; but do you know about Teddy Roosevelt's life-threatening expedition down the Amazon, or Grover Cleveland's secret surgery on a yacht? In honor of Presidents Day, NPR Books dove into the archives to find new ways of thinking about our nation's former leaders.
Interiors intrigue me. Like many New Yorkers, I am often tempted to see what is inside those great doorman-barricaded buildings that line Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue. Step into the marble lobby, ride the elevator to the penthouse and let your imagination be carried aloft. What would it be like to live in a vast suite overlooking Central Park, with its parquet floors, coffered ceilings, and handsome antiques? Surely, dwelling here means being beautiful, rich and glamorous.
George Mallory's final moments remain a haunting, hotly-disputed mystery. Did the dashing young mountaineer manage to reach the summit of Mount Everest, making him the first man to ever do so? Or did he and his climbing partner, Sandy Irvine, perish heart-breakingly close to their unfulfilled goal?
On Feb. 17, 1913, an art exhibition opened in New York City that shocked the country, changed our perception of beauty and had a profound effect on artists and collectors.
The International Exhibition of Modern Art — which came to be known, simply, as the Armory Show — marked the dawn of Modernism in America. It was the first time the phrase "avant-garde" was used to describe painting and sculpture.
On the evening of the show's opening, 4,000 guests milled around the makeshift galleries in the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue.
Bruce Feiler's house was in chaos. He and his wife, Linda, have twin daughters, and every morning was a madcap rush to get everybody dressed, fed, and out the door in time. Such hectic mornings aren't unusual; the scene probably sounds familiar to many busy families. But Feiler kept wondering if things could be better — easier, smoother, happier. In addition to the daily stresses, Bruce and Linda were grappling with more fundamental questions: How could they impart values and responsibility to their girls, and still have fun as a family?
To put it simply, Silver Linings Playbook, which is nominated for a handful of Oscars, is a romantic comedy about mental illness.
We peer into the life of one Philadelphia family with a son whose bipolar disorder has led him to some very troublesome outbursts — and a father, meanwhile, who lives in denial of his own untreated obsessive-compulsive disorder and gambling addiction. And when arguments break out, the mother, Dolores, has to keep things together.
On-air challenge: In honor of Presidents Day, every answer is the last name of a U.S. president. You will be given a word or phrase that is a president's last name with two letters changed. You name the president. For example, given "Carpet," the answer would be "Carter."
It's poetry — rhyming couplets written in perfect iambic pentameter, those ten-syllable lines of alternating emphasis made famous by authors of sonnets and blank verse. But unlike your average metered rhyme, these lines were written by Twitter ... with some help from a program called Pentametron.
When Napoleon Chagnon first saw the isolated Yanomamo Indian tribes of the Amazon in 1964, it changed his life forever. A young anthropologist from the University of Michigan, he was starting on a journey that would last a lifetime, and take him from one of the most remote places on earth to an international controversy.
That controversy would divide his profession and impugn his reputation. Eventually he would come to redefine the nature of what it is to be human.
Michael Hainey was 6 years old when his uncle came to his house and told him and his brother that their father was dead. Bob Hainey was just 35. He was the slot man — a high-pressure, high-profile position overnight on the ChicagoSun-Times, a newspaper that in 1970 was the quintessence of roustabout Chicago journalism. Bob Hainey had died of a heart attack on a North Side street, as one of the obits put it, "while visiting friends."
The movie Argo, up for seven Oscars at this year's Academy Awards, is based on the true story of the CIA rescue of Americans in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Missing from most of the coverage of this movie? The actual guy who ran the mission, played by Ben Affleck in the movie.
Movie aficionados — and historians — know that the movie sticks pretty close to what really happened during the Iranian Revolution. In 1980, a CIA agent named Tony Mendez sneaked into Iran and spirited away six American diplomats who were hiding with Canadians.
Since Al Gore's term as the 45th vice president of the United States ended in 2001, he has starred in an Oscar-winning documentary, won a Grammy Award and received the Nobel Peace Prize. But obviously he won't be satisfied until he wins the NPR news quiz, so we've invited him to play a game called "Maybe you can beat Bill Clinton at this."
In one of the eight stories in Karen Russell's new collection, a group of dead presidents has been reincarnated as horses. Rutherford B. Hayes, a skewbald pinto, frantically licks the palm of a girl in a secret code that he's worked out, revealing his true identity and asking her to alert the authorities. "Ha-ha!" the girl laughs. "That tickles."
I know, you're probably thinking: "Dead presidents reincarnated as horses? Oh, come on, Meg, that sounds like the plot of so many short stories."
Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 12:59 pm
Even though he estimates he's made hundreds of thousands of them, Scott Drewno says pork potstickers never get old. In fact, they are the food the executive chef of The Source by Wolfgang Puck, a fine dining Asian fusion restaurant in Washington, D.C., says he would take to a desert island.
"They're everything you want in a dish — salty, savory, filling," says Drewno, as he lovingly holds up one of three bowls of ground pork he planned to season and stuff into dumplings before our eyes.
Tony Kushner spent years writing the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln, but that wasn't the only heavy lifting he had to do. It also took some effort to overcome Daniel Day-Lewis' reluctance to play the title role.
Director Wes Anderson has many credits to his name — The Royal Tenenbaums,The Darjeeling Limited,Bottle Rocket and Fantastic Mr. Fox among them — but Moonrise Kingdom was his first film to open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Anyone who's taken a high school science class knows the name Isaac Newton. You remember this tale: He's sitting under a tree, an apple falls on his head, he figures out gravity, or so the story goes. Not really true.
Many people believe that happiness comes from money or youth or beauty, but Dan Buettner would respectfully disagree. Buettner visited some of the happiest places on Earth and argues that the real keys to happiness lie in fundamental, permanent changes to the way we live.
The HeLa cell line — one of the most revolutionary tools of biomedical research — has played a part in some of the world's most important medical advances, from the polio vaccine to in vitro fertilization.
This week's show was taped while Stephen and I were still recovering from live-blogging the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, so that was still fresh in our minds. Trey and Glen saw the show as well, so we spend some time this week talking about the awards, the performances, and whether we learned anything. You will experience my new way of tormenting Stephen, and perhaps you'll want to join in!
Alaya Dawn Johnson has written a number of novels for adults (including the delightful Zephyr Hollis series), and now she's venturing onto the young adult shelves with The Summer Prince, a complex science-fiction narrative set in post-apocalyptic Brazil. The action takes place in the city of Palmares Tres, which is entirely contained in a giant pyramidal structure on a bay, surrounded and fed by giant algae vats.