Arts

Arts & Life
8:19 am
Tue December 25, 2012

No Sugar Plums Here: The Dark, Romantic Roots Of 'The Nutcracker'

E.T.A. Hoffmann's original story, "Nutcracker and Mouse King," is darker and spookier than the ballet version most people know.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 2:20 pm

This is the time of year when one man's work is widely — if indirectly — celebrated. His name used to be hugely famous, but nowadays, it draws blank stares, even from people who know that work. We're speaking about E.T.A. Hoffmann, original author of The Nutcracker.

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Books
8:18 am
Tue December 25, 2012

Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual 'Christmas Book Flood'

A shopper browses in a branch of the Icelandic book chain Penninn-Eymundsson.
Courtesy of Bryndís Loftsdottir

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 12:46 am

In the United States, popular holiday gifts come and go from year to year. But in Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book — and it has been that way for decades.

Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. But what's really unusual is the timing: Historically, a majority of books in Iceland are sold from late September to early November. It's a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the "Christmas Book Flood."

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The Salt
7:33 am
Tue December 25, 2012

'Canadian Peanut Butter' Connects Mainers To Their Acadian Roots

Robert Bisson of Bisson and Sons Meat Market in Topsham, Maine, with his granddaughter. The butcher shop sells traditional cretons during the holidays.
Lauren McCandlish NPR

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 12:08 pm

Last Christmas, we told you about tourtières, the savory meat pies Canadians serve around the holidays. Now, we bring you cretons, a Québécois delicacy found throughout Canada and parts of New England this time of year.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Tarantino's Genius 'Unchained'

Django confronts Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the man who owns his wife.
Andrew Cooper The Weinstein Co.

There's a wordless sequence in Quentin Tarantino's anti-bigotry neo-Spaghetti Western exploitation comedy Django Unchained in which Jamie Foxx, as recently freed slave Django, hitches up his horse and, along with the man who bought him his freedom — Christoph Waltz's Dr. King Schultz — sets off on an elegiac amble through a snowy western landscape. It's one of the most gorgeous sequences of any film this year, a reverie borrowed, with love, from rare snowscape Westerns like McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Sergio Corbucci's 1968 The Great Silence.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

In Paris, Misery And Music Blended For The Big Screen

Jean Valjean and young Cosette (Isabelle Allen), two of the most iconic characters in contemporary musical theater, come to the big screen.
Laurie Sparham Universal Pictures

Half an hour into Tom Hooper's adaptation of the long-running stage musical Les Miserables, he fixes his camera on Anne Hathaway's tortured, tear-streaked face, and she delivers what ought to become one of the great moments in musical cinema history — right up there with Dorothy singing wistfully of a land far away, Gene Kelly swinging happily around damp lamp poles, and a problem like Maria singing to the grassy Austrian hillsides. She's that good.

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Television
1:51 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Beyond 'Downton': BBC Imports That Got Away

Trixie (Helen George, left), Chummy (Miranda Hart), Jenny (Jessica Raine) and Cynthia (Bryony Hannah) are midwives serving London's poor East End in the 1950s.
Laurence Cendrowicz PBS

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 5:50 am

There was so much great stuff in arts and entertainment this year that we just couldn't report on all of it as it was happening. So we're playing a little catch-up on the ones that got by us.

In 2012, the BBC delivered some thrilling new TV dramas to its two primary outlets in the U.S.: PBS, which has been programming its shows for decades, and the cable channel BBC America.

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The Salt
1:51 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Christmas A Busy Season For Tamale-Makers

Tamales in Ofelio Crespo's home on Dec. 20.
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 3:18 pm

For Christmas, Central and Mexican-American families don't crave a holiday turkey; they want a plate of steaming hot tamales.

Gustavo Arellano, author of the book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, says that to him, tamales are more than food. They transmit Latino culture during Christmas.

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Movie Interviews
1:51 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Fact-Checking 'Hitchcock:' The Man, The Movie And The Myth

Alfred Hitchcock pictured with his wife, Alma Reville. The couple's romance stands at the center of the 2012 film Hitchcock.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 6:22 pm

It's awards season for Hollywood as the film industry starts doling out accolades. And this year, some of the films hoping to grab the attention of voters will have these words in common: "inspired by true events."

Think Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty — and, of course, Hitchcock.

In the film, Anthony Hopkins plays the legendary film director, and Helen Mirren plays his wife, Alma Reville.

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Race
11:58 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Descendants Of Slaves, Slave Traders Come Together

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. And a Merry Christmas to you, if you celebrate. Your kids might've gotten a visit from jolly St. Nick last night, but did you know St. Nicholas was a real guy? We'll talk with the man who traveled the world in search of the man who would become Santa Claus. That's just ahead.

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Food
11:56 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Father Leo On How To 'Spice Up' Married Life

Spicing Up Married LIfe

Mixing spiritual and culinary nourishment might seem like an odd pairing to some. But it all comes naturally to Father Leo Patalinghug. He's a priest of the archdiocese of Baltimore, and the author of multiple cookbooks. His latest is called "Spicing Up Married Life," where advice about strengthening your marriage sits side by side with recipes for romantic meals.

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Television
11:12 am
Mon December 24, 2012

David Bianculli Says 2012 Brought No New TV Favorites

Aaron Paul plays a meth-making drug dealer on the AMC drama Breaking Bad.
Ursula Coyote AMC

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 12:57 pm

Rounding up his favorite shows from 2012, Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli says that when it came to television, it was another good year for cable and another so-so year for networks. Nor were there any new shows, he says, that wowed him. All the shows he watched and liked in 2012 were shows that have been around for at least a season.

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Movie Reviews
11:12 am
Mon December 24, 2012

David Edelstein's Top 12 Movies of 2012

In Friends With Kids, Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) play two best friends who decide to have a baby together while keeping their relationship platonic — so that the baby doesn't interfere with their own romantic relationships.
JoJo Whilden Roadside Attractions

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 12:47 pm

It's time for end-of-year lists. Fresh Air movie critic David Edelstein stubbornly refuses to either place his top picks in numerical order or make his list an even number of 10. Instead, he places his 12 favorite films from 2012 in alphabetical order, from Amour to Zero Dark Thirty.

Of the 12 films he picked for 2012, not one, Edelstein says, would he call the "M"-word — a masterpiece. That designation he reserves for the new extended DVD cut of Kenneth Lonergan's film Margaret.

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History
9:30 am
Mon December 24, 2012

'Mad Science' Looks At Groundbreaking Inventors

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:56 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Switching gears now. When you think of inventors, you probably think of Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, Nikola Tesla. But of course there are many people, especially people of color, who've created things that we used every day and yet we might not have heard of them. It was an African-American, for instance, who helped develop the modern traffic light and a Japanese man who thought up instant coffee.

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Three Books...
5:03 am
Mon December 24, 2012

The American Sublime: 3 Books On Faith In The U.S.

Bob Thomas iStockphoto.com

In light of the often tortured interweave of faith and politics in American life, we sometimes forget that our country was first settled by those seeking freedom not from religion but to practice their own versions of it: French Protestants and English Puritans. In many ways, religion is our founding fact. These books explore the vital undercurrent of faith in the expression of American life.

New In Paperback
5:03 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Dec. 24-30: A Spy, A Marshal, An Eavesdropper And A Guantanamo First

Fiction releases from Elmore Leonard, Ellen Ullman, Thomas Caplan and Alex Gilvarry.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Author Interviews
4:25 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Oscar-winner Emma Thompson Revives 'Peter Rabit'

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 4:34 am

After more than 80 years, Emma Thompson's The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit brings Beatrix Potter's beloved character back for a romp around the Scottish countryside — and lots of rule breaking. Thompson says Peter Rabbit's "disrespect for authority" is one of the things she loves about him. (This piece initially aired on October 11, 2012 on Morning Edition.)

NPR's Holiday Favorites
1:17 am
Mon December 24, 2012

David Sedaris Reads From His 'Santaland Diaries'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 4:30 am

You might not expect "Santa's Helper" to be a career-altering gig, but for David Sedaris, it changed everything. The writer and humorist spent a season working at Macy's as a department store elf. He described his short tenure as Crumpet the Elf in "The Santaland Diaries," an essay that he read on Morning Edition in 1992.

Instantly, a classic was born. Sedaris' reading has become an NPR holiday tradition. Click the "Listen" link above to hear Sedaris read his tale.

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Movies I've Seen A Million Times
3:02 pm
Sun December 23, 2012

The Movie Guy Raz Has 'Seen A Million Times'

Jack Black in Richard Linklater's School of Rock
Andrew Schwartz PARAMOUNT

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:43 am

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

On his last day hosting weekends on All Things Considered, Guy Raz tells us about the movie that he could watch a million times, Richard Linklater's School of Rock.

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Sunday Puzzle
2:55 am
Sun December 23, 2012

Unwrap 'Christmas' For Your Gift

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun December 23, 2012 10:41 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a word that can be formed from the letters of "Christmas." You'll be given two words as clues. The first one can precede the answer word, and the second one can follow it — in each case to complete a compound word or familiar two-word phrase. For example, given "forward" and "madness," the answer would be "march" (as in "forward march" and "March Madness").

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The Salt
3:11 pm
Sat December 22, 2012

The 'Bitter' Tale Of The Budweiser Family

August A. Busch (center) and his sons, Adolphus III (left) and August Jr., seal the first case of beer off the Anheuser-Busch bottling plant line in St. Louis on April 7, 1933, when the sale of low-alcohol beers and wines was once again legal. Prohibition didn't officially end until Dec. 5 of that year.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 7:05 am

For nearly 150 years the world-renowned beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch was a family company. It was passed from father to son for five generations. A couple drops of Budweiser were put onto the tongue of each first-born son before he even tasted his mother's milk. That trademark brew, Budweiser, is known to the world as the "King of Beers," and the Busch family wasn't too far from American royalty.

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Movies I've Seen A Million Times
3:11 pm
Sat December 22, 2012

The Movie John Hawkes Has 'Seen A Million Times'

James Stewart, as George Bailey, hugs Karolyn Grimes, who plays his daughter Zuzu, in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life.
Hulton Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 5:28 pm

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

For actor John Hawkes, whose credits include Deadwood, Me And You And Everyone We Know, Winter's Bone and The Sessions, currently in theaters, the movie he could watch a million times is Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life.

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Arts & Life
3:39 am
Sat December 22, 2012

The Joy Of Salt Licking: Contest Turns Farm Animals Into Fine Artists

Sculptures entered in the Great Salt Lick Contest await the judging and auction.
Taki Telonidis

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:40 am

Whit Deschner stands in the middle of a pasture outside of Baker, Ore., probably 30 or 40 feet away from a black cow licking a white salt block.

To most of us, this may look like a bucolic scene from ranch country, a smattering of black cattle on a vast field that spreads toward distant mountains. But, for Deshner, it's art in the making.

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Recipes
3:39 am
Sat December 22, 2012

When Life Gives You Snow, Make Snow Cream

Snow cream, ice cream made from fresh snow, is a bit of a tradition in North Carolina, though snowfalls aren't common.
Courtesy of Chloe Tuttle

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 1:05 pm

There's snow across much of the country this weekend. In eastern North Carolina, where it doesn't snow a lot, snowflakes are an occasion for some folks to flock outside, scooping up what falls to make "snow cream."

That's ice cream made from fresh snow — but you have to mix it fast, before it melts.

Chloe Tuttle runs a bed and breakfast in Williamston, N.C., and she's a bit of an expert on snow cream. She tells Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon the trick is to use soft, freshly fallen snow.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
6:14 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Actor And Comedian Fred Armisen Plays Not My Job

Astrid Stawiarz Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 9:37 am

Fred Armisen is a cast member on Saturday Night Live, a star and writer of Portlandia on IFC, a former drummer in a bunch of punk rock bands, and for a while, the world's preeminent Barack Obama imitator.

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Movie Interviews
3:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Tom Hooper On The Magic Of 'Les Miserables'

Tom Hooper won an Academy Award for best director for The King's Speech last year.
Pascal Le Segretain Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 10:43 am

One of the world's most beloved musicals is now a movie. Les Miserables was spun from the epic 19th century novel by Victor Hugo. It's a story about the desperately poor underclass in Paris.

The protagonist, the ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, is hunted by the merciless Inspector Javert. It's about morality, revolution and, of course, love.

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Arts & Life
9:27 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Adding Some Shine To Your Holiday Manners

America's increasingly diverse society is rewriting many of the traditional rules of etiquette. Host Michel Martin gets tips from etiquette experts Harriette Cole, Phillip Galanes, and social commentator Firoozeh Dumas.

Monkey See
8:45 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Hobbit And The Habit Of Storing Your Stuff

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

On this week's show, we dive into Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Glen is an extra-extra-expert, Stephen and I are novices, and Trey is somewhere in between when it comes to Tolkien, so what happens when we all see the same movie? What about the super-crisp technical side? And what does this have to do with Les Miserables?

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Television
8:19 am
Fri December 21, 2012

HBO's 'Enlightened' Take On Modern Meditation

Laura Dern and series creator Mike White, shown together on the set of Enlightened, first worked together on White's 2007 film Year of the Dog.

Prashant Gupta HBO

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 12:00 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on October 10, 2011.

Can people really change? That's the question Laura Dern and Mike White ask in their HBO series Enlightened, the second season of which begins Jan. 13. The show features Dern as Amy Jellicoe, an ambitious executive who has a nervous breakdown at her workplace. She goes to a rehabilitation center in Hawaii, where she experiences an awakening.

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Monkey See
7:53 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Blame The Movies As We Mourn? Or Turn To Them For Comfort?

After a classroom tragedy, the title character of Monsieur Lazhar (played by the Algerian actor Fellag) comforts mourning students.
Music Box Films

In light of last Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, all explanations and ruminations for why Adam Lanza opened fire are on the cable-news pundits' table. Was it the lack of gun control? Untreated mental illness? Or was it an Aurora-style pop-culture revenge fantasy writ large? Did Hollywood's culture of raging, gun-slinging entertainment help fuel the mayhem? Nobody knows the shooter's motive, and yet the conversation and pontification remains incessant and unabated.

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Monkey See
5:35 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Last-Minute Box Sets: Home Video For Everyone On Your List

If you're running out of time for holiday shopping and you can't stand to buy another gift card, there's still hope.

Over the last few holiday shopping seasons, I've become something of a specialist in hunting down specific DVD and Blu-ray sets that will most appeal to friends and family on my list. I usually have a pretty good inkling of these things: My sister gets the art-house movies. My uncle gets the old-school sitcoms. My nephew gets anything that involves baseball, superheroes and/or ice road truckers (don't ask).

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