Arts

Theater
9:44 am
Thu December 6, 2012

'Pullman Porter Blues' Travels Back In Time

Left to right: Actors Cleavant Derricks (as Sylvester), Warner Miller (as Cephas) and Larry Marshall (as Monroe) star in Pullman Porter Blues.
Kevin Rosinbum Arena Stage

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 3:01 pm

Today, people board jets or hybrid minivans to travel cross-country. But from the late 19th to mid-20th century, people traveled by train. And that's where they met the legendary Pullman porters.

Read more
Best Books Of 2012
5:03 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Time Passages: The Year's Best Historical Fiction

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 10:04 am

Long dismissed as genre fiction, the historical novel has now established itself in the literary mainstream, thanks in part to heavyweight authors like two-time Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel. For me, more than any other medium, historical fiction brings the past to life and makes it matter.

Read more
Movies
1:44 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Revisiting, Reappraising Cimino's 'Heaven's Gate'

Jeff Bridges as John L. Bridges, Isabelle Huppert as Ella Watson and Kris Kristofferson as James Averill in the 1980 Western Heaven's Gate, a director's cut of which was released in November.
Criterion Collection

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 7:38 am

The director Francois Truffaut once remarked that it takes as much time and energy to make a bad movie as to make a good one. He was right, but I would add one thing: It takes extraordinary effort to make a truly memorable flop.

The best example is Heaven's Gate, the hugely expensive 1980 movie by Michael Cimino that is the most famous cinematic disaster of my lifetime. It's part of that film's legend that it not only took down a studio, United Artists, but was the nail in the coffin of Hollywood's auteur filmmaking of the 1970s.

Read more
Monkey See
10:22 am
Wed December 5, 2012

The Spatter Pattern: Does All The Good Television Have To Be So Bloody?

Aaron Paul plays Jesse Pinkman on AMC's Breaking Bad.
Ursula Coyote AMC

[This piece contains information about the plots of lots of contemporary TV dramas, probably most notably a context-free discussion of an incident during the most recent season of Breaking Bad, as well as general comments on the plot of the film The Grey.]

Read more
The Salt
9:19 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Why Drinking Tea Was Once Considered A Dangerous Habit

Tea a dangerous habit? Women have long made a ritual of it, but in 19th century Ireland, moral reformers tried to talk them out of it. At the time, tea was considered a luxury, and taking the time to drink it was an affront to the morals of frugality and restraint.
iStockphoto.com

Given tea's rap today as both a popular pick-me-up and a health elixir, it's hard to imagine that sipping tea was once thought of as a reckless, suspicious act, linked to revolutionary feminism.

Read more
Monkey See
9:14 am
Wed December 5, 2012

40 Years After 'Free To Be,' A New Album Says 'It's Okay To Do Stuff'

Rooftop Comedy Productions

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 8:29 am

Read more
Monkey See
7:43 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Jimmy Fallon And The Roots Help Restore The Charm Of Mariah Carey's Christmas Classic

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 10:40 am

You'd really think that last year's weird, distasteful Mariah Carey/Justin Bieber video-slash-Macy's-commercial that made a creepy slop out of "All I Want For Christmas Is You" would have killed that number for good.

But you'd be leaving out the Jimmy Fallon and The Roots factor.

Read more
PG-13: Risky Reads
5:03 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Feminism Turns Fatal In A 1970s Classic

Mary Stewart Atwell is the author of Wild Girls.

This may be an exaggeration, but as I remember it, I spent all of the early '90s on the living room couch, drinking Diet Coke and diving into one book after another. I was 13, then 14, then 15, but even as the years progressed, the grown-up world made no more sense to me than it ever had.

Read more
Best Books Of 2012
5:03 am
Wed December 5, 2012

The Year's Best Sci-Fi Crosses Galaxies And Genres

Nishant Choksi

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

This was a good year for cross-genre pollination. It was packed with brilliant books that stretched the boundaries of what counts as science fiction and fantasy — and even what counts as fiction itself. Authors like Ken MacLeod and G. Willow Wilson spun tales that begin as near-future dystopian science fiction, only to turn abruptly into fantastical tales of supernatural creatures. Call it magical cyberpunk realism.

Read more
Books
12:21 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Susan Straight: One Home Town, Many Voices

Courtesy of McSweeney's

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 7:09 am

Think of all the great writers who have made their hometowns literary history — William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Thomas Wolfe, to name a few. Now, Susan Straight is getting the same praise for her portrayal of Riverside, Calif. It's a small town at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains, an hour east of Los Angeles.

Read more
Kitchen Window
12:08 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Learning To Cook Under Pressure

Dave Scantland for NPR

Depending on your age and how much time you spent in the kitchen with your mother or grandmother, you may remember a big scary pot on the stove with what looked like a small weather vane on top. As it heated up, the top would begin spitting, hissing and wheezing like an asthmatic cobra.

At that point in my mother's kitchen, she'd warn us, "Stand back, just in case the top blows." What? I thought. Pots exploding in the kitchen? Cooking was that dangerous?

Read more
Monkey See
3:20 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Home Video Review: 'Lawrence Of Arabia' On Blu-Ray

Peter O'Toole was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as the titular Lawrence of Arabia.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 4:50 pm

Time now for some home-viewing advice from our movie critic, Bob Mondello. This week, a 50th-anniversary Blu-ray release of the ultimate sand-and-sandals picture: Lawrence of Arabia.

Sand dunes for days, armies astride camels, and 29-year-old newcomer Peter O'Toole as British Army Lt. T.E. Lawrence, leading Bedouin warriors on a charge that would shake the Ottoman empire and shake up moviemaking for decades.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

An Aging 'Quartet,' Still Polishing Their Legends

Even after her final curtain, a diva is always a diva — as demonstrated by the flamboyant retired soprano Jean (Maggie Smith) in Quartet.
The Weinstein Co.

"Wrinklies," a widely accepted British term for elderly people, is by a generous margin more affectionate fun than the anodyne euphemisms we use here in the United States, where many of us fear crow's-feet almost as much as we do death. It's no accident that Americans have no equivalent term of endearment beyond the horribly neutered "senior citizen." Or that Hollywood movies mostly ignore the old — or consign them to the demeaning Siberia of crazy old coots (Jack Nicholson) or wacky broads (Jane Fonda, Betty White and so many more).

Read more
Television
11:06 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Boxes Of TV Fun, Old And New, For The Holidays

The new five-DVD, one-CD box set The Incredible Mel Brooks is crammed full with comedy gold — and includes Brooks and Carl Reiner (above) doing their iconic skit "The 2,000-Year-Old Man."
William Claxton Demont Photo Management, LLC

I'm biased, of course, because I'm a television critic — but to me, giving someone a gift of a TV show you yourself enjoyed tremendously is somehow very personal. You're giving something that you love, and that in many cases will occupy many hours, if not days, of their time. And during that time, they'll occasionally be reminded of you.

Read more
Author Interviews
11:06 am
Tue December 4, 2012

'Inventing Wine': The History Of A Very Vintage Beverage

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 11:40 am

Wine is our original alcoholic beverage. It dates back 8,000 years and, as Paul Lukacs writes in his new book, Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures, was originally valued more because it was believed to be of divine origin than for its taste. And that's a good thing, Lukacs tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, because early wine was not particularly good.

Read more
The Salt
10:33 am
Tue December 4, 2012

From Humors To Self Control: The Evolution Of A Well-Balanced Diet

How a wealthy table set with a second course in the month of January would look, according to Mary Smith of Newcastle, in her 1772 book, The complete house-keeper and professed cook.
British Library

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 1:11 pm

Chances are you're familiar with the phrase "a well-balanced diet." Two to three servings of meat, poultry or fish; three to five servings of vegetables — you know the drill. When we talk about being "well-balanced" today, we're usually talking about the specific nutrients we put into our body.

While this might seem like a relatively new development — a product of the past 50 years of fitness programs and diet regimes — as it turns out, this idea goes back much further.

Read more
Monkey See
7:51 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Sundance 2013: Who Cares About Ashton Kutcher? Bring On Jesse And Celine!

Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs in jOBS, directed by Joshua Michael Stern, which will close the Sundance Film Festival in January.
Glen Wilson Sundance Film Festival

The headline out of yesterday's announcement of the films that will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013 had to do with jOBS (if it is up to me, I will never obey that silly typography again), the Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher wearing '70s facial hair.

Read more
New In Paperback
5:03 am
Tue December 4, 2012

New In Paperback Dec. 3-9

Carola van Wijk AP

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Alex Berenson, Calvin Trillin, Beth Raymer, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.

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

Best Books Of 2012
5:03 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Recipe Rebellion: A Year Of Contrarian Cookbooks

Nishant Choksi

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

"Just throw the whole lemon in the food processor for lemon bars."
"Don't just soak your dried beans — brine them!"
"You don't need a whole day (or two) to make a good sauce."

Some of the things this year's cookbooks said to me as I tested them were downright contrarian. But that's the brilliant thing about cooking in a global, crowdsourced, Web-fueled world: People no longer cook according to some received wisdom handed down by a guy in a white toque. They figure it out as they go along, and if they stumble on a shortcut, it's blogged and shared in no time flat.

Read more
Art & Design
2:25 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Street Art Brings Life To A Miami Neighborhood

Greek artist B. calls his mural "a sea of objects." It was added to Wynwood Walls in 2011.
Greg Allen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:08 pm

One of the nation's largest art fairs, Art Basel, opens this week in Miami. But days before the fair launches in Miami Beach, the party had already started across the bridge, in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood.

Read more
Monkey See
2:07 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

PBS Remixes 'Reading Rainbow,' Delights Map And Book Nerds Everywhere

LeVar Burton and 7 year old Shane Ammon exploring the all Reading Rainbow adventure app at the "Reading Rainbow Relaunch" event in June.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 2:48 pm

Read more
The Salt
1:06 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Sandwich Monday: The CBO

Cheddar*, Bacon, Onion.
NPR

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 8:05 am

Joining the McDLT in the great history of abbreviated McDonald's sandwiches is the CBO burger. "CBO" stands for Cheddar, Bacon, Onion, but as you can see below, they had to put an asterisk after "cheddar."

Peter: The asterisk should lead you to the bottom of the box where there's a little message saying TOO LATE, YOU'RE DEAD.

Mike: The asterisk really changes the menu. Not sure I want a Filet-O-F*** or a Sham**ck Shake.

Read more
The Two-Way
10:15 am
Mon December 3, 2012

'Three Cups Of Tea' Co-Author Took Own Life, Medical Examiner Says

Viking Press

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 1:51 pm

David Oliver Relin, a journalist who had reported from around the world before gaining fame — and getting mired in controversy — as co-author of the best-selling Three Cups of Tea, took his own life when he died on Nov. 15 in Oregon, The New York Times reports.

It got that word from Relin's family.

Read more
You Must Read This
6:56 am
Mon December 3, 2012

A Gruesome 'Sabbath': Roth's Vile, Brilliant Masterpiece

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 8:03 am

Matthew Specktor is the author of the forthcoming novel American Dream Machine.

Some books love to be loved. They make their moves on us softly, they butter us up. Who doesn't love Atticus Finch or Franny Glass? These people resemble our better selves, and it's easy, from there, to love the books that contain them. So why is it that whenever someone asks me what they should be reading, I steer them instead toward one of the most loathsome characters in contemporary fiction, Philip Roth's Mickey Sabbath?

Read more
Best Books Of 2012
5:03 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Finder's Keepers: 2012's Stories To Hang On To

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 10:05 am

Part of a book critic's challenge is to sift through piles of new publications, panning for literary gold. In a way that makes us what one of my favorite children's book heroines, Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking, called a "turnupstuffer" — "Somebody who finds the stuff that turns up if only you look." Or like Dickens' optimistic Mr. Micawber, who was always sure something good would turn up.

Read more
Monkey See
1:23 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson Helps His New 'Bud' Superman Get A Glimpse Of Home

From Action Comics 14, Neil deGrasse Tyson greets Superman to help him with a problem.
DC Comics

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 6:29 am

On Monday's Morning Edition, Hayden Planetarium director and pop-culture go-to science guy Neil deGrasse Tyson tells NPR's David Greene the story of how he came to lend a hand to Superman.

Read more
Author Interviews
1:12 pm
Sun December 2, 2012

'Bartholomew Biddle': A Writer's 15-Year Adventure

Candlewick

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 3:06 pm

Gary Ross has penned and directed some big Hollywood hits like Big, Pleasantville and The Hunger Games. But for the past 15 years, his obsession has been something much more personal: a Dr. Seuss-ian children's book called Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind.

It started when Ross got a call in 1996 from fellow screenwriter David Koepp. Koepp was up against a tight budget and approaching deadline with his debut directorial effort, The Trigger Effect. Its heroine had to read an as-yet-unwritten bedtime story to her child.

Read more
The Picture Show
10:10 am
Sun December 2, 2012

Remembering A Rock Star: Photographer Ken Regan

Photographer Ken Regan with the Rolling Stones, 1977
Courtesy of Ken Regan/Camera 5

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 2:21 pm

If you've been around longer than me, perhaps you were already familiar with Ken Regan's photography.

Read more
Music Interviews
3:58 am
Sun December 2, 2012

Dozens Of Covers Later, 'Hallelujah' Endures

In 1994, a cover by the late Jeff Buckley helped save "Hallelujah" from musical obscurity.

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 9:55 am

There are songs, and then there are anthems.

One of those anthems is the subject of music journalist Alan Light's new book, The Holy Or The Broken.

Read more
Monkey See
3:58 am
Sun December 2, 2012

The High And The Low In Holiday Movies

Matchmaker Santa is only one of many cornball films in which Santa (Donovan Scott) helps a woman (Lacey Chabert) find a boyfriend (Adam Mayfield). This is the one where the vanilla extract was key.
Carin Baer Hallmark Channel

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 3:59 am

My well-documented weird affection for Hallmark movies brings me — along with NPR.org movies editor Trey Graham — to Weekend Edition on Sunday to talk to NPR's Rachel Martin about the high-profile theatrical holiday film as well as the corny basic-cable incarnations that are appropriate to this season.

Trey was in charge of the high parts.

Read more

Pages