Arts

Around the Nation
4:48 am
Sat December 15, 2012

No Orcs Allowed: Hobbit House Brings Middle Earth To Pa.

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Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's descriptions and drawings, Lord of the Rings fan Vince Donovan built a hobbit-hole to house his collection of Middle Earth memorabilia.
Emma Lee NewsWorks

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 11:43 am

In rural Chester County, Pa., about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia, thick fog swirls around the trunks of knotty trees. This piece of 18th-century farmland could, by all outward appearances, be one of the misty forests of Middle Earth, the setting of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings fantasy novels.

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Movie Reviews
4:48 am
Sat December 15, 2012

Hathaway, Jackman: No Complaints From These 'Miserables'

In the first act of Les Miserables, factory worker Fantine (Anne Hathaway) loses her job and is forced first to sell her hair and then become a prostitute in order to support her daughter, Cosette.
Universal Pictures

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 1:29 pm

You may have heard of a little movie called Les Miserables, coming to many, many theaters on Christmas Day. It's based on a 27-year-old musical that was in turn based on Victor Hugo's classic 150-year-old novel about a man, Jean Valjean, who stole a loaf of bread and served 19 years on a chain gang. After his parole, he takes on a new identity and finds happiness and prosperity — until he's tracked down by his old jailer. The epic story plays out over decades, eventually peaking against the backdrop — and the barricades — of the French student rebellion of 1832.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:42 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

NIH Director Francis Collins Plays Not My Job

NIH

Originally published on Sat December 15, 2012 9:25 am

Dr. Francis Collins is the director of the National Institutes of Health, which among other things means he's going to outlive us all. We've invited him to play a game called "OWWW!" Three questions about athletes and the surprising ways they find to injure themselves, inspired by Bleacher Report's list of The 50 Weirdest Injuries in Sports History.

Movie Reviews
12:52 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Looking For Bin Laden In 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Stationed in a covert base overseas, Maya (Jessica Chastain) is a member of the elite team of spies and military operatives who secretly devote themselves to finding Osama bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty.
Jonathan Olley Sony Pictures

Kathryn Bigelow's kill-bin-Laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty is cool, brisk and packed with impressively real-sounding intelligence jargon. It presents itself as a work of journalism — just the facts, ma'am — but there's no doubting its perspective. It's the story of America's brilliant, righteous revenge.

The prologue is a black screen with sounds of Sept. 11: a hubbub of confusion and then, most terribly, the voice of a woman crying out to a 911 operator who tries vainly to assure her she'll be OK. The recording is genuine.

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Movie Reviews
11:49 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Behind The Scenes Of The Beatles' 'Magical Mystery Tour'

The Beatles look out of the Magical Mystery Tour coach skylight, on location in England in September 1967.
Apple Films Ltd Channel Thirteen

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:01 pm

On Friday night on PBS, Great Performances presents a documentary about the making of a Beatles TV special from 1967 — Magical Mystery Tour — then shows a restored version of that special. Magical Mystery Tour has the music from the U.S. album of the same name, but it's not the album. It's a musical comedy fantasy about the Beatles and a busload of tourists taking a trip to unknown destinations.

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Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers
11:20 am
Fri December 14, 2012

NPR Bestsellers: Hardcover Nonfiction, Week Of December 13, 2012

Calvin Trillin's Dogfight sends up the 2012 presidential election. It debuts at No. 7.

Monkey See
10:18 am
Fri December 14, 2012

'Trouble Man' At 40: A Classic, But Where's Its Cult?

Robert Hooks is Mr. T, the abrasive detective hero of Trouble Man, a 1972 blaxploitation classic that gets less than its due these days.
JDF/B Productions The Kobal Collection

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Monkey See
8:56 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Is Everything Worse Than Ever? And A Gift Guide!

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

You can't fill your end-of-the-year season with nothing but good cheer, or you'll turn into a candy cane. (That's science.) So we chose to tackle a slightly darker topic this week: Is everything worse than ever?

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Movie Interviews
1:21 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Laura Linney, Keeping History Hush-Hush In 'Hyde Park'

Linney's Daisy was on hand, along with Eleanor Roosevelt (Olivia Williams), to support the president on the weekend of a momentous visit by the king and queen of England in June of 1939, as Europe teetered on the brink of World War II.
Nicola Dove Focus Features

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 3:33 am

For presidential-film buffs, this holiday season has some high-profile offerings. First, there was Steven Spielberg's biopic Lincoln. And out now, there's Hyde Park on Hudson, a peek behind the curtain and into the life of America's longest-serving president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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Movie Reviews
3:25 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

A 'Hobbit,' Off On His Unhurried Journey

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) takes a fantastic adventure across Middle-earth in Peter Jackson's prequel to his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
James Fisher Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 6:01 pm

The Hobbit's path to the screen may have started out as tortuous as a trek through the deadly Helcaraxe, filled with detours (Guillermo del Toro was initially going to direct), marked by conflict (New Zealand labor disputes) and strewn with seemingly insurmountable obstacles (so many that the filmmakers threatened to move the shoot to Australia).

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Movies
3:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

A 'Love' Letter To The Blonde Everyone Preferred

Marilyn Monroe's life has captivated the public's imagination for decades, and most recently has been given voice by today's famous actresses in Love, Marilyn.
HBO

We're long past the point where, at least among half-sentient beings, we need to make a case for the intelligence and sensitivity of Marilyn Monroe. Even when cast as a dumb blonde, she was never just your stock ditzy dame: She always showed a breezy self-effacement that was too sly to be purely accidental.

And to look at her, of course, is to love her, particularly now that her sad story has become part of the cultural landscape: How can you not want to protect such beauty and vulnerability from the cruelty of the world?

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Movies
3:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

A Queens Chronicle That's A Little Too Lifelike

Without a supportive family, a rebellious teenager (Zoe Kravitz) must take care of herself in a troubled neighborhood.
MPI Media

The O'Haras don't talk much about what's wrong, but the members of this biracial Queens family — the central characters of Yelling to the Sky -- are bedeviled by alcoholism (dad), mental illness (mom) and adolescent defiance (the two daughters). Indeed actress-turned-director Victoria Mahoney barely explains her characters' circumstances, which makes the movie obliquely intriguing. But whenever the story comes into focus, it's revealed as fairly conventional.

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Movies
3:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

'Save The Date': Something Borrowed, Not Much New

When she leaves her boyfriend, Sarah (Lizzy Caplan) quickly rebounds with Jonathan (Mark Webber).
Elisha Christian IFC Films

You might know Lizzy Caplan, eternal sidekick, as Jason Segel's girlfriend on television's Freaks and Geeks. Or as the struggling comedienne from Party Down, or the vampire vegan on True Blood, or from the movie The Bachelorette earlier this year?

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

A 'Girl' Deconstructed, And Rebuilt To Last

A series of mishaps and bad choices leaves the impetuous, impoverished Ashley (Abbie Cornish) caring for a young Mexican immigrant (Maritza Santiago Hernandez).
Brainstorm Media

Using illegal immigration as a frame to explore the slow awakening of a tough-shelled young Texas woman, The Girl is a patient chamber piece about the emotional bruises left by poverty and neglect.

Even before we fully know her circumstances, Ashley (Abbie Cornish) introduces herself as a victim of race and class discrimination. A sullen single mother and minimum-wage drone in a south Texas supermarket, she opens the film with a request for a raise. When denied, she refuses to accept her supervisor's criticism of her attitude.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Fighting For Their Family, One Day At A Time

When a boy with Down syndrome (Isaac Leyva) is abandoned by his mother, a neighbor couple (Garret Dillahunt and Alan Cumming) takes him in.
Music Box Films

It would take a heart of stone — or zero tolerance for soap — to resist Any Day Now, a full-throttle weepie about a West Hollywood gay couple trying to adopt a neglected boy with Down syndrome.

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Food
1:28 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

A Sweet Bread, A Wash Basin And A Shot Of Whiskey

Cookbook author Marilynn Brass says eating Virginia Lima's traditional Portuguese Sweet Bread is like biting into a cloud.
Andy Ryan

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 4:45 pm

For the holidays, why not give a gift that tastes like a cloud? Portuguese Sweet Bread may be as close as you can get, according to Marilynn Brass, one-half of the cookbook duo the Brass Sisters.

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Best Books Of 2012
11:06 am
Thu December 13, 2012

10 Books To Help You Recover From A Tense 2012

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 12:48 pm

2012 has been a very jittery year — what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and the looming "fiscal cliff." In response to these tense times, some readers seek out escape; others look to literature that directly confronts the atmospheric uncertainty of the age. I guess I'm in the latter camp, because many of my favorite books this year told stories, imagined and real, about ordinary people who felt like they didn't have a clue what hit 'em.

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Games & Humor
9:49 am
Thu December 13, 2012

Arab American Comedienne: No Apology For Jokes

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 6:50 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Switching gears now, the issues of Palestinians, both in the U.S. and abroad, are often in the news, but not, I think it's fair to say, because of the comedy scene, which is where Maysoon Zayid comes in.

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Arts & Life
9:28 am
Thu December 13, 2012

Maureen Corrigan Picks Her Favorite Books Of 2012

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 11:08 am

2012 has been a jittery year, what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and, now, the looming "fiscal cliff." Not surprisingly, many of my favorite books told stories, imagined and real, about people who felt like they didn't have a clue what hit them.

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Monkey See
9:04 am
Thu December 13, 2012

The 'Calm Act' Will Quiet Down Commercials, So What Should Congress Do Next?

iStockphoto.com

COME RIGHT DOWN RIGHT NOW BUY SOME FURNITURE EVERYTHING MUST GO WE ARE LIQUIDATING MERCHANDISE FOR THE THIRD TIME SINCE LAST FEBRUARY AND THIS TIME WE REALLY MEAN IT WE ARE GOING OUT OF BUSINESS ANY REASONABLE OFFER WILL BE ACCEPTED OR MY NAME ISN'T CRAZYPANTS MCGILLICUDDY.*

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Arts & Life
1:25 am
Thu December 13, 2012

Letters From 'Peanuts' Creator Reveal Bittersweet Romance

The collection's estimated price is $250,000 to $350,000.
Courtesy of the Claudius Family

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 7:03 am

On Friday, Sotheby's is putting up for auction 44 letters and 35 drawings from Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, to a young woman he was courting.

The letters were written during an eight-month period starting in 1970 when Schulz's first marriage was deteriorating and before he met his second wife. During this time, Schulz, 48, wrote Tracey Claudius, 25, poignant, funny, even innocent notes in pictures and words, often using Charlie Brown to stand in for himself.

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Best Books Of 2012
1:18 am
Thu December 13, 2012

Great Reads In Store: Indie Booksellers Pick 2012's Best

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 7:03 am

Books for the holidays — whether they're hardcovers or digitized — are always good gifts. NPR's Susan Stamberg talked with some of our go-to independent booksellers — Lucia Silva, former book buyer at the now-closed Portrait of a Bookstore in Studio City, Calif.; Daniel Goldin of Boswell Book Co. in Milwaukee; and Rona Brinlee of The BookMark in Neptune Beach, Fla. — to find out what's on their Best of 2012 lists.

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Author Interviews
11:13 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Joseph Kennedy, 'Patriarch' Of An American Dynasty

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 2:03 pm

By the time he turned 40, Joseph Kennedy was a millionaire many times over and the head of what would soon become one of America's greatest political dynasties. In his new biography of the senior Kennedy, The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, David Nasaw charts Kennedy's life and trajectory from Boston society boy to Hollywood bigwig to controversial ambassador to Great Britain as World War II unfolded on the European stage.

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Wisdom Watch
9:45 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Africa's Wisdom, Woes Occupy Soyinka's Existence

Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka.
Glen Gratty Yale University Press

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 6:28 am

"First of all, it meant for me money, which I had never had."

Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka tells NPR's Tell Me More host Michel Martin that being the first black African to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1986 was extremely lucky, especially for his pocket. The $290,000 in prize money gave him a life he had never dreamed of before. But that fame came with a cost.

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The Two-Way
9:14 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Spain's Infamous 'Art Restorer' Hits EBay

Cecilia Gí­menez's handiwork: the Ecce Homo ("Behold the Man") fresco of Christ, left, and the "restored" version, dubbed Ecce Mono ("Behold the Monkey") at right. Now, the artist is trying her hand at selling her own art work.
AP

Cecilia Gímenez strikes again.

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The Picture Show
8:53 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Mom And Pop And Hoboken: Portraits In Mile Square City

Giorgio Pasticcerie Italian bakery is owned by a father-and-daughter pair: Giorgio, who moved to Hoboken from Italy, and his daughter, Mary Grace, a first-generation American.
John Delaney

Exactly 97 years ago today, Frank Sinatra was born in Hoboken. A few decades later, On the Waterfront, starring a young Marlon Brando, was filmed there. The small New Jersey city, which sits on the Hudson just across from Manhattan, has a storied past of which locals are fiercely proud.

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Three Books...
5:03 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Country Cousins: 3 Books About Rural Living

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iStockphoto.com
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 9:31 am

As a small-town girl, I love depictions of rural living when they've got a little style and sass in their makeup. Replete with enough quirks and quaintness to choke a mule, small towns are timelessly fertile ground for writers. But the best authors ignore — or even play with — stereotypes to tell truly compelling stories.

Best Books Of 2012
5:03 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Now You're Talking! The Year's Best Book Club Reads

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 9:04 am

A young boy seeks justice. A young woman wants to stay alive. A friendship is tested. The child of a commune comes of age. A solitary man gives himself over to love. These are the bare actions underpinning the novels that I'm suggesting for book clubs this year. Some are first novels; others the work of well-known writers. Some might touch your heart; others might challenge the way you think. At least one will make you laugh — and a couple might make you cry. They are all good reads. And they are, above all, books you'll want to talk about with your friends.

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Books
1:04 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Oprah's Book Club Turns Over A New Page

Oprah Winfrey's revamped book club uses her magazine and OWN cable network as platforms.
Chris Pizzello AP

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 3:58 am

Oprah Winfrey became a publishing powerhouse when she started her book club in 1996. Her picks went to the top of best-seller lists — and stayed there for weeks. But when Winfrey's daily talkfest went off the air, the book club ended as well.

Now she is reviving it: Winfrey has just announced her second pick for the Book Club 2.0: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, a novel by first-time author Ayana Mathis about the Great Migration of African-Americans out of the rural South.

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Kitchen Window
1:02 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Belgian Sweets Not Just For 'Sinterklaas'

Emily Hilliard for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 6:34 am

Though my grandmother Georgette was born in the United States, she is half Belgian (Flemish) and half French. On top of the cabinets in her blue kitchen you'll find a little Dutch village of porcelain houses. Above the sink are miniature figures of the Statue of Liberty, Manneken Pis and the Eiffel Tower — representations of her three nationalities. In her Delft cookie jar you'll find speculaas (also called speculoos) — the Dutch windmill-shaped gingersnap-like cookie traditionally eaten on St. Nicholas Day.

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