Arts

Monkey See
9:03 am
Tue May 27, 2014

'Mad Men' Pauses At The Half-Season With A Song And Dance

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, who ended the first half of Mad Men's last season in a state of uncertainty — as always.
Justina Mintz AMC

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 2:38 pm

A death, a divorce, a song and dance number and a sale; must be the end of another Mad Men season.

Creator Matt Weiner has a reputation for ending seasons on a melodramatic note. And even though this year's run of Mad Men episodes was cut in half by AMC to set the series finale next year, Sunday's "Waterloo" still managed to close 2014's seven-episode run with a jolt.

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The Two-Way
6:33 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Book News: U.K. Plan To Cut American Lit From Tests Prompts Fierce Backlash

Britain's Education Secretary Michael Gove, seen here in 2013, has been forced to respond to critics of his plan to pull classic American novels from a major British standardized test.
Alastair Grant AP

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Book Reviews
5:22 am
Tue May 27, 2014

'Delicious!' ... Isn't

Originally published on

The exclamation point in its title is a clear tipoff: Delicious!, Ruth Reichl's first novel, is about as subtle as a Ring Ding. It's an enthusiastic but cloyingly sentimental story about a 21-year-old who finds happiness by making peace with her past — namely, her crippling, self-deprecating hero-worship of her older sister. After much angst, she comes to realize that "it was finally time to stop running from the best in me."

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Tom Robbins Takes A Bite Out Of Life In 'Peach Pie'

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 11:37 am

In years past, if someone asked me, "Hey, I found this Tom Robbins book lying around, so should I read it?" I would've said yes. No hesitation. No equivocation. "That guy," I'd say, "is a stylist. And I mean that in the best possible way."

Because that's what Tom Robbins is, was, forever shall be: He's the god young writers pray to when they're lost and trying to find their voice. He's the mountain every working writer surveys when they're trying to put a sentence together that's more complicated than subject-verb-predicate.

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The Salt
1:22 am
Tue May 27, 2014

How Soviet Kitchens Became Hotbeds Of Dissent And Culture

A typical Russian kitchen inside an apartment built during the early 1960s, when Nikita Khrushchev led the Soviet Union — what later became known as Khrushchev apartments.
Courtesy of The Kitchen Sisters

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 12:45 pm

When Nikita Khrushchev emerged as the leader of the Soviet Union after Stalin's death in 1953, one of the first things he addressed was the housing shortage and the need for more food. At the time, thousands of people were living in cramped communal apartments, sharing one kitchen and one bathroom with sometimes up to 20 other families.

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Around the Nation
3:17 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Celebrating 100 Years Of Ham Radio

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 8:34 am

This month marks the centennial of the American Radio Relay League, the largest ham radio association in the United States. That means it will be a special year for the hundreds who converge annually on W1AW, a small station known as "the mecca of ham radio" in Newington, Conn., to broadcast radio signals across the globe.

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Movie Reviews
3:17 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Multiplexes Heat Up For Summer Blockbuster Season

Originally published on Mon May 26, 2014 3:43 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. The long Memorial Day weekend usually marks the start of Hollywood blockbuster season. But it's been well underway with "Godzilla" and "X-Men" already in theaters. That said, there are another 87 would-be hits scheduled before Labor Day. We asked critic Bob Mondello for a selective preview.

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Photography
8:17 am
Mon May 26, 2014

'Frontcountry' Wanders Through A Changing American West

Adam Killing a Cow, Mortensen Family Farm, Afton, Wyoming 2010
Lucas Foglia

Originally published on Mon May 26, 2014 12:31 pm

The American West is sometimes characterized in simple, iconic images: the cowboy, the miner, the farmer. "This book is edited against that," says Frontcountry photographer Lucas Foglia. "The pictures wander on purpose."

Foglia spent seven years with his camera, jumping from town to town, from New Mexico to Montana. He captures moments that distinguish the West from the rest of the country, as well as moments that could have happened anywhere in America. And then he mixes them all together.

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Books
4:59 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Stories Of Loss, Brightened By Luminous Language

iStockphoto

Elizabeth McCracken is a former public librarian best known for her quirkily endearing 1996 novel, The Giant's House, about an unlikely romance kindled at the circulation desk between a petite librarian and a freakishly tall boy. Over time, her work — filled with misfits, giants, and oddballs — has become darker. Loss dominates the triple-trinity of stories in her new collection, Thunderstruck, though she continues to slyly celebrate resilience and unlikely connections.

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Fine Art
1:51 am
Mon May 26, 2014

From Yellowstone To Grand Canyon, WPA Posters Celebrate National Parks

Yellowstone serigraphs, circa 1939.
Courtesy of Doug Leen and the Interior Museum

Originally published on Mon May 26, 2014 5:23 am

If you've ever been to a national park and stopped off in the gift shop, you may have seen drawings of iconic park sights for sale as posters or post cards. The brightly colored print reproductions showcase the parks' impressive vistas, such as Yellowstone's Old Faithful geyser and the Grand Canyon's overlooks.

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Author Interviews
3:22 pm
Sun May 25, 2014

Obscure Producer's Clear Impact On 'The Dirty Business' Of R&B

Originally published on Sun May 25, 2014 4:57 pm

Many of the hit-making songwriters of the 1960s are remembered by name: Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Lennon-McCartney, Holland-Dozier-Holland. But the man who wrote (or co-wrote) classics like "Twist and Shout," "Piece of My Heart," "Hang on Sloopy," "I Want Candy" and "Here Comes the Night" remains unknown to all but the most ardent music fans.

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Author Interviews
3:22 pm
Sun May 25, 2014

World War II In A New 'Light': Empathy Found In Surprising Places

Originally published on Sun May 25, 2014 4:57 pm

In the world of fiction, World War II is well-trod territory. Author Anthony Doerr will freely admit that.

"There are so many books written about the war, supposedly if you drop them on Germany it would cover the whole country," he jokes. He even says that he worried about that as he was writing his new novel, All The Light We Cannot See.

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Arts & Life
2:21 pm
Sun May 25, 2014

Jeff Goldblum Plays A Jazz Show Almost Every Week. No, Really.

Jeff Goldblum performs with his band The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra on Wednesdays at Rockwell club in L.A.
Hayley Bartels for NPR

Originally published on Sun May 25, 2014 4:57 pm

Did you know the theme music to Jurassic Park has lyrics?

Well, according to Jeff Goldblum, who played "Dr. Ian Malcolm" in the film, here they are:

In Jurassic Park
Scary in the dark
I'm so scared that I'll be eaten.

At least that's what Goldblum said — or, rather, sang — at a recent performance of the jazz show he plays in Los Angeles almost every week. He's been playing there since the 1990s.

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Arts & Life
9:51 am
Sun May 25, 2014

A Literal Truce Over The Misuse Of 'Literally'

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to take a moment now to talk about a word - yep, one word. Maybe you use it all the time, or maybe you hear people use the word, and it drives you up the wall. I'm talking about the word literally.

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Author Interviews
6:02 am
Sun May 25, 2014

Talking Stick In Hand, Tom Robbins Tells His Own Story

Originally published on Sun May 25, 2014 9:51 am

Acclaimed writer Tom Robbins has a new book out, and it's as fantastical and philosophical as anything he's ever written — but this time he's made himself the main character. It's called Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life, and Robbins tells NPR's Rachel Martin that writing a memoir is like driving down a once-familiar road, "but there are potholes in it now, and some fast-food franchises sprung up along the way, and there's occasionally a blind curve that you might not remember. But it's still familiar," he says.

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Movie Interviews
6:02 am
Sun May 25, 2014

What Makes R2-D2 The 'Most Beloved Robot In The Galaxy'

Originally published on Sun May 25, 2014 9:51 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It is time now for a celebrity guessing game. Who is cute and smart, a smidge sarcastic, but not overly so, can save the day and never need to take credit for it? Need a hint?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS")

MARTIN: We're talking about R2-D2, of course, the shorter, and I would argue more lovable, of the two droids from the Star Wars films. And I am apparently not alone.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Sun May 25, 2014

At Home In The Strange Latitudes Of 'Man With The Compound Eyes'

It is so rare to find yourself at home in any book.

I mean, that's the soft sell, right? The promise, rarely fulfilled, of every story: That it will, for a moment or an hour, lift you effortlessly from where you are and deposit you somewhere completely elsewhere. Like dreaming. Like flying cross-country under the influence of pharmaceutical grade narcotics.

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Digital Life
2:58 pm
Sat May 24, 2014

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do When You're Still In My Profile Picture

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 10:16 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ARUN RATH, HOST:

From NPR West, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Arun Rath.

It's time for the New and the Next.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos.

CARLOS WATSON: Arun, good to be here, and an early Happy Memorial Day.

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Movie Interviews
2:58 pm
Sat May 24, 2014

'Bring Out The Gimp': The Man Behind The Mask In 'Pulp Fiction'

The Gimp character in Pulp Fiction, clad head-to-toe in studded black leather, has no lines in the film but still manages to be memorable.
Screenshot of "Pulp Fiction," produced by Miramax

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 4:29 pm

The Cannes Film Festival awarded of its highest prize, the Palme d'Or, to the Turkish film Winter Sleep on Saturday. Twenty years ago, Pulp Fiction took that same award and triggered writer-director Quentin Tarantino's ascent to the A-list.

The movie introduced the world to a number of now-legendary characters, including a very mysterious one: the Gimp.

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Monkey See
7:03 am
Sat May 24, 2014

The Bending Of Time And The Elasticity Of 'X-Men'

James McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Patrick Stewart ... also as Charles Xavier in X-Men: Days Of Future Past.
Alan Markfield Twentieth Century Fox

It's no secret that X-Men: Days of Future Past — the fifth X-Men picture in 14 years, give or take a couple of solo Wolverine movies, and the fourth good one — is a time-travel movie. It borrows its title and much of its premise from a well-loved story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne published in The Uncanny X-Men Nos. 141 and 142, back in 1981.

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Movie Interviews
5:49 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Eva Marie Saint: At 89, 'You Have More To Give'

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 12:09 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

One of the greatest American films of all times hit screens 60 years ago. "On the Waterfront," directed by Elia Kazan, written by Budd Schulberg, starring Karl Malden and Rob Steiger and a brooding guy named Brando. Joey, a good kid, has told on his corrupt union boss and falls mysteriously - well, maybe not so mysteriously - from the roof of his apartment building. A brave priest tries to comfort Joey's beautiful young sister, Edie.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ON THE WATERFRONT")

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Author Interviews
5:49 am
Sat May 24, 2014

A Woman Of Action Finds Freedom In The Outback In 'Untold'

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 12:09 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Jesse is on the run. She's been a horse wrangler and a horse thief, a trick rider, a cattle wrestler, and a fugitive in the Australian outback. Two men seek her now - Jack Brown, a hired hand who is half aboriginal and who worked for the horse trader who once abused Jesse and enslaved her in marriage - and Sergeant Andrew Barlow, an Australian lawmen serving in the remote outback because of a habit he cannot break.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Before She Was 'Girl, Interrupted' She Was A Girl From Cambridge

Courtesy of Random House

Twenty years after the publication of Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen's excoriating memoir about the nearly two years she spent in a psychiatric institution at the end of her teens, she's written a sort of prequel. Cambridge, her unflinching, elegiac, quasi-autobiographical new novel, takes us back to the mid-to-late 1950s with a portrait of Susanna as a difficult, contrary 7-to-11-year-old miserably at odds with her family, her teachers and herself. The result is both fascinating and heartbreaking, because we know where her abiding unhappiness is going to land her.

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Television
3:30 am
Sat May 24, 2014

'Normal Heart' Teaches New Generation About The Early Years Of AIDS

In the HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer's 1985 play, The Normal Heart, Mark Ruffalo (right) plays Ned Weeks, who begins to seek answers after he observes a mysterious disease claiming lives in his gay community. Joe Mantello plays a member of the AIDS service organization, Gay Men's Health Crisis.
Jojo Whilden HBO

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 12:09 pm

Why would Ryan Murphy, one of TV's hottest and most prolific producers, decide to adapt a 30-year-old play about the forming of an AIDS service organization for HBO? Because he thought the story of the outbreak of AIDS was being forgotten.

Murphy is the creative mind behind the shows Glee and American Horror Story, and he's remaking The Normal Heart — Larry Kramer's 1985 off-Broadway sensation which revealed the gay community's often fractious response to an epidemic that was then essentially ignored by the government.

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The Salt
3:28 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Gastrodiplomacy Gives Foreign Chefs A Fresh Take And Taste Of America

Participants of the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership try different foods at the State Department in Washington during a gathering of the American Chef Corps, a network of chefs from across the U.S.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 1:05 pm

When you think of the tools of diplomacy, food isn't always high on the list. But breaking bread together can be one of the most basic ways of finding common ground. Which is why, a couple of years ago, the State Department launched the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership.

The program created an American Chefs Corps, who represent the U.S. abroad, and invited foreign chefs and culinary professionals here to taste and talk food.

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This Week's Must Read
5:02 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

A Look At India's New Leader, Through The Lens Of Literature

Cover detail of India: A Million Mutinies Now

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 1:13 am

On Monday, Narendra Modi will be sworn in as India's prime minister. His rise to power is a remarkable story. A former tea vendor who speaks poor English, Modi is a distinct outsider to India's political and cultural establishment. His election signals the extent to which India is shedding its old hierarchies and class barriers, becoming a more meritocratic society.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:46 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Unbreak My Heart: Toni Braxton Gets Quizzed On Cardiac Surgery

Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 9:13 am

Toni Braxton is one of the best-selling R&B artists of all time, as well as a Broadway and TV actress, and star of her own reality TV show. Her new memoir, Unbreak My Heart, is named after her 1996 hit ballad.

We've invited Braxton to play a game called: "Unbreak my heart. No, really, I'm dying here ... Help!" Three questions about cardiac surgery.

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Book News & Features
4:23 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Kate DiCamillo's Picks For Summer Treehouse Reading

Scholastic Press

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 9:12 am

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer, and that means the tantalizing prospect of having more time for reading stretches ahead of us — long, lazy summer days curled up with a book.

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Photography And Memory
4:22 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

How To Stay Afloat In Your Infinite Stream Of Photos

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by our ability to create an infinite stream of images. But if you take the time to stop and be mindful before you click, your photo collection will become much more manageable.
Kainaz Amaria Instagram

On average, I make about 1,000 images each month on my iPhone. That's about 33.33333333333 (you get the idea) images a day. And that's just in an average month; if I'm on vacation or on assignment, that number might double or even triple.

It may sound extreme, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Photography is the language I am most comfortable speaking. Why bother describing a moment, when I can capture that feeling and share it instantly?

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Movie Reviews
2:43 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Seeing The New 'X-Men'? Take Along A Teenager To Explain

Professor Xavier and Magneto scheme to send Wolverine back to the Nixon-era past to avert a devastating war in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Alan Markfield/Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 4:36 pm

The final "X" in the 20th Century Fox logo glows for an extra second as X-Men: Days of Future Past gets started, but what follows is darker than dark — a bleak, dire future in which all of Manhattan is a mutant prison camp.

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