Arts

Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed May 20, 2015

'Seveneves' Blows Up The Moon — And That's Just The Beginning

Courtesy of William Morrow

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 10:43 am

"The moon blew up with no warning and with no apparent reason."

That's the beginning of Neal Stephenson's newest epic, Seveneves. And in terms of opening hooks, it's up there. I mean, he isn't destroying LA or merely reducing some single nation to slag. No, Stephenson goes old-school mad scientist — straight for the pulp main vein and buried Saturday morning memories of Thundarr the Barbarian still ticking along in the heads of his audience, and blows up the moon.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed May 20, 2015

The Science Of 'Collected Fiction' Is Pure Magic

Courtesy of Tachyon Publications

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 10:51 am

I have just finished Hannu Rajaniemi's Collected Fiction and I am still recovering.

My mind feels constellated. I am keenly, weirdly, expansively aware of explosions still taking place inside my head. The world has shifted while I read, and the quartz in the necklace I wear is full of super computers breathing sentience against my skin. There are eyes threaded through scarves over the windowsill. I want to learn everything.

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The Salt
4:39 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: Cold Weather, Gogol And The Rise Of The Russian Samovar

A late 19th-century samovar made in Tula, Russia, a metalworking town south of Moscow. The very first samovar factory opened in Tula in 1778. As demand for samovars grew, the town became almost synonymous with the production of the giant hot-water urns.
Sheldon Luskin Collection The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis

Originally published on Tue May 26, 2015 4:17 pm

There are two drinks most people associate with Russia — vodka and tea, prepared in a giant hot-water urn known as a samovar.

Yet while vodka may have actually originated in Russia (Poland is another contender), tea is a thoroughly foreign product.

Most historians believe the Chinese first brought tea to Russia sometime in the 1600s. As for the samovar? "The origins are shrouded in mystery," says Maria Zavilova, curator at the Museum of Russian Art in Minnesota.

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Author Interviews
4:09 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

In 'Out Of Line,' The Many, Many Acts Of Jules Feiffer

Jules Feiffer Courtesy of ABRAMS Books

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 5:22 pm

A critic once called Jules Feiffer "one of the best cartoonists now writing" and "the best writer now cartooning." That quote is in Out of Line, a new book about Feiffer, a man who does both words and pictures.

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The Salt
11:03 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Saving The Sweetest Watermelon The South Has Ever Known

Nat Bradford holds a Bradford watermelon, known for its sweet, fragrant red flesh. The melon was created by Bradford's forefathers around 1840 and was once one of the most important and coveted melons of the South.
Heather Grilliot Courtesy of Bradford Watermelons

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 1:44 pm

The most luscious watermelon the Deep South has ever produced was once so coveted, 19th-century growers used poison or electrocuting wires to thwart potential thieves, or simply stood guard with guns in the thick of night. The legendary Bradford was delectable — but the melon didn't ship well, and it all but disappeared by the 1920s. Now, eight generations later, a great-great-great-grandson of its creator is bringing it back.

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Book Reviews
8:03 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Fun, Fast-Moving 'Nimona' Is A Perpetual Surprise

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 3:48 pm

Over the course of the collected Nimona, it's possible to watch artist Noelle Stevenson blossom from a student to a superstar. Nimona originated as a two-page art-school experiment that expanded into a webcomic, published biweekly on Stevenson's website over the course of two years. What began in a visually and narratively simple style in June 2012 rapidly became more elaborate and sophisticated, expanding into a showcase for Stevenson's rapidly evolving talents.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue May 19, 2015

'Sophie Stark' Finds It Hard To Learn How To Be Human

Ariel Zambelich NPR

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 7:40 am

Toward the beginning of The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, an actress reflects on her decision to leave West Virginia for New York City. Her first few days in the city are disastrous; she moves from bad job to bad job while living in a basement apartment with a dirt floor. "I felt like I'd come to a place for people who didn't know how to be people," she says, "and if I was there I must not really know how to be a person either."

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Parallels
1:23 am
Tue May 19, 2015

How Heroin Made Its Way From Rural Mexico To Small-Town America

Courtesy of Bloomsbury Press

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 3:58 am

To understand how heroin took hold in rural America, you need to go back two decades and look at the surge of prescription drug use in Portsmouth, Ohio, according to journalist Sam Quinones.

A Rust Belt town that had fallen on hard times by the 1990s, Portsmouth became a place where doctors dispensed prescription drugs more freely than anywhere else in the country, Quinones writes in his new book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic.

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Author Interviews
1:22 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Cherokee Chief John Ross Is The Unsung Hero Of 'Jacksonland'

Cherokee chief John Ross battled the U.S. government for decades on behalf of his people.
The Art Archive

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 10:23 am

The nation's seventh president was a man of legendary toughness who made his name in America's second war against the British — and he's someone NPR's Steve Inskeep has come to know well: Andrew Jackson.

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Fine Art
3:45 pm
Mon May 18, 2015

Artist Shirin Neshat Captures Iran's Sharp Contrasts In Black And White

Shirin Neshat is an Iranian-born visual artist who has made her home country's turbulent history the subject of high art. The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., is hosting a retrospective of her work. Above, Neshat's 1999 Rapture Series.
Photograph by Larry Barns Courtesy Gladstone Gallery

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 9:22 pm

Shirin Neshat, the most famous contemporary artist to come from Iran, is playing with her rambunctious Labrador puppy in her airy Manhattan apartment. "Ashi, Ashi, come here!" she calls.

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Arts & Life
3:22 pm
Mon May 18, 2015

LA County Museum Of Art Presents Last Sculpture By Chris Burden

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 7:26 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Performance artist and sculptor Chris Burden died last week of cancer. He was 69. Today, his final completed work opens to the public at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

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The Two-Way
1:00 pm
Mon May 18, 2015

Google Wins Copyright And Speech Case Over 'Innocence Of Muslims' Video

A federal court has dissolved an order that forced Google-owned YouTube to take down the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" video. The ruling rejects copyright claims from Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress in the video.
Bret Hartman Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 1:58 pm

In a complicated legal battle that touches on questions of free speech, copyright law and personal safety, a federal appeals court has overturned an order that had forced the Google-owned YouTube to remove an anti-Muslim video from its website last year.

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All Tech Considered
12:10 pm
Mon May 18, 2015

Attention White-Collar Workers: The Robots Are Coming For Your Jobs

The German service robot Toomas was designed to welcome customers and help them find items in a store.
Joerg Sarbach AP

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 9:56 am

From the self-checkout aisle of the grocery store to the sports section of the newspaper, robots and computer software are increasingly taking the place of humans in the workforce. Silicon Valley executive Martin Ford says that robots, once thought of as a threat to only manufacturing jobs, are poised to replace humans as teachers, journalists, lawyers and others in the service sector.

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Monkey See
8:31 am
Mon May 18, 2015

'Mad Men' Ends, Singing A Familiar Song

Jon Hamm as Don Draper.
AMC

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 12:48 pm

[This discussion of the Mad Men finale gives away all kinds of information about the Mad Men finale, so if you don't want to know things about it, please stop reading.]

The hippies were probably inevitable.

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Television
5:22 am
Mon May 18, 2015

'Mad Men' Finale: A Love Letter To Fans Filled With Mostly Happy Endings

The cast of Mad Men: January Jones (from left), Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks and John Slattery
Frank Ockenfels 3 AMC

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 12:01 pm

From the beginnings of the Mad Men phenomenon, many of the show's fans wondered if superstar adman Don Draper was destined to write one of the iconic advertising catchphrases of the time.

So it's a testament to the skills of show creator Matthew Weiner that some regular viewers were still surprised by the show's series finale Sunday, which implies that Don invented the classic 1971 Coca-Cola campaign, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke." This, after he concluded a long, soul-searching trip through America with a trip to a California yoga retreat.

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My Big Break
4:04 pm
Sun May 17, 2015

A 13-Year-Old, A Burlap Dress And A Career Launch That Took 'Grit'

Hailee Steinfeld played Mattie Ross in the Coen brothers' 2010 version of True Grit.
Wilson Webb Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 10:38 am

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Hailee Steinfeld is a new face in the Barden Bellas; she's joined the college singing group for Pitch Perfect 2. But the 18-year-old actress is not new to cinema.

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Television
4:01 pm
Sun May 17, 2015

TV Thriller 'Wayward Pines' Offers Suspense — And An Ending

In Chad Hodge's new Fox series, Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) travels to Wayward Pines, Idaho, in search of two missing federal agents.
Liane Hentscher FOX

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 6:56 pm

The new Fox thriller Wayward Pines opens with a chilling scene. A man wakes up in the middle of the forest with cuts and bruises all over his body. Lost and confused, he stumbles into town. The audience soon learns the man is a Secret Service agent named Ethan Burke, played by Matt Dillon.

"He goes to the town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, looking for two other Secret Service agents who went missing there and pretty soon he finds out he can't leave," Chad Hodge, showrunner and creator, tells NPR's Arun Rath.

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The Salt
7:00 am
Sun May 17, 2015

South Carolina Distiller Promises To Make Kentucky Liquor Quicker

Jars of Terressentia bourbon wait for final production. Terressentia uses a process to artificially "age" its bourbon in a few hours, forgoing traditional aging, which takes years.
Courtesy of Terressentia

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 11:04 am

Kentucky bourbon is in high demand these days. Sales and production of the whiskey have surged in recent years.

The demand has created a problem: a shortage of barrels. Bourbon is typically aged for several years in wooden casks.

But one company has found a work-around. It's come up with a chemical process that ages bourbon not in years — but in hours. The innovation is unsettling an industry that is long-soaked in history and tradition.

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Author Interviews
6:32 am
Sun May 17, 2015

'The Gracekeepers' Sets Damplings Against The Landlockers

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 8:44 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Music Interviews
6:32 am
Sun May 17, 2015

Oak Ridge Boys Take Their Impeccable Harmonies 'On The Road'

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 8:44 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

There are a few musical riffs that are seared into my childhood memories - the opening bars of "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson, the big chorus from "Let's Get Physical" by Olivia Newton-John and this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELVIRA")

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Television
6:32 am
Sun May 17, 2015

'Mad Men' Writer: Show's Female Characters Aren't Thinking About Feminism

Watching Joan (Christina Hendricks, left) and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) navigate the sexism of a 1960s ad agency is part of what has kept audiences hooked on Mad Men.
MIchael Yarish AMC

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 8:44 am

Editor's note: This conversation discusses plot points from the seventh season of Mad Men.

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Sunday Puzzle
6:03 am
Sun May 17, 2015

A Puzzle That Takes You Around The Globe

NPR

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 8:44 am

On-air challenge: This week's on-air puzzle is similar to last week's, only a little harder. Every answer is the name of a country. For each word given, ignore the vowels. The consonants, in order from left to right, are the same consonants in the same order as in the country. For example, given the word "omelet," the answer is "Malta."

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Monkey See
3:48 pm
Sat May 16, 2015

Call It A Prose Ceremony: 'Bachelor' Host Writes A Novel

Ariel Zambelich NPR

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 9:12 am

When budding TV personality Chris Harrison walked into the offices of ABC back in 2000, he didn't expect much.

The network wanted to jump on the new trend of reality competition shows, and had asked him to host a dating show, where one man would cull through a group of 25 women through a series of dates and cocktail parties, ultimately proposing to one final suitor. It was called The Bachelor.

"I was hoping [the show] would last a few hours," Harrison jokes. "I would meet someone at the network, and it would lead to a real job."

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Music Interviews
3:40 pm
Sat May 16, 2015

In HBO's 'Bessie,' Queen Latifah Stars As Empress Of The Blues

Queen Latifah plays blues singer Bessie Smith in the HBO movie Bessie.
Frank Masi Courtesy of HBO

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 5:16 pm

A Mississippi car accident in 1937 cut short the life of Bessie Smith.

She was just 43 years old. But she'd already established her legacy as "Empress of the Blues" — a pioneering American performer who demanded respect and equal pay in a world dominated by men and controlled by whites.

She'd also achieved a degree of infamy for her boozing, her brawling and her sexual appetites.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
7:10 am
Sat May 16, 2015

Not My Job: Tony Robbins Gets Quizzed On Laziness

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins, shown in California in 2010, is the author of numerous self-help books. His latest is Money.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 3:12 pm

Tony Robbins has been traveling the world for decades giving his intensive three-day seminars on improving your life, and he's written a number of best-selling books.

The life coach is famous as a go-getter. So we invited him to answer three questions about stay-putters — incredibly lazy people.

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Music Interviews
6:46 am
Sat May 16, 2015

In 'Rhythm,' Bhi Bhiman's Music Isn't Limited By National Borders

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 9:23 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Bhi Bhiman grew up in St. Louis. He played baseball. He listened to Michael Jackson. He watched "Back To The Future." He grew interested in music, and today, Bhi Bhiman writes and sings songs that have an international character.

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Dance
6:46 am
Sat May 16, 2015

American Ballet Theater Turns 75

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 9:23 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Performing Arts
6:46 am
Sat May 16, 2015

Amy Poehler On Vinyl Designed To Catch Eyes Along With Ears

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 9:23 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Performing Arts
6:46 am
Sat May 16, 2015

Boston Pops Gives The Audience What It Wants

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 9:23 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Sat May 16, 2015

The Gates Of Liavek Are Open Again In 'Points Of Departure'

When I'm feeling low, there's a city I like to visit. This particular city is contained within a handful of shabby 1980s paperbacks around which I coil as protectively as a dragon around her hoard (though the city in question contains no actual dragons): The city of Liavek.

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