Arts

Movie Reviews
4:18 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

At Home, With Mom And Her Murderous Beau

Depressed single mother Adele (Kate Winslet) and her son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith), give the wounded and desperate Frank (Josh Brolin) a ride, only to realize that Frank is an escaped convict being hunted by local police.
Dale Robinette Paramount Pictures and Indian Paintbrush

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 5:51 pm

So here's the setup: It's 1987. Frank, a convicted murderer, has escaped from a New Hampshire prison, and he's holding Adele, a fragile divorcee, and her 12-year-old son, Henry, captive in their own house until they eat his chili.

Turns out it's good chili — so good that it inspires Adele, whom the handsome convict has tied up very gently and tenderly, to reminisce about a conversation she and her son had about his sex education class. Seriously, it's some good chili. And did I mention that Frank is handsome?

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Movie Reviews
3:32 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

On Urban Streets, Off-Roaders Stir A Noisy Conversation

The Kickstarter-funded 12 O'Clock Boys, director Lotfy Nathan's first film, examines whether dirt bikes keep kids from joining gangs or if they just invent new problems for urban Baltimore.
Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

"This is our tradition, our culture, our release."

So says one of the 12 O'Clock Boys — a large group of dirt bike and ATV enthusiasts who, depending on your perspective, either grace or terrorize the streets of Baltimore each Sunday with acrobatic feats on their motorbikes. They weave through the city traffic, popping extended wheelies, the line of their bikes almost at vertical, approximating the hands of a clock at noon.

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Movie Reviews
3:02 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

'Charlie Victor Romeo': In Crisis In The Cockpit

Sam Zuckerman, Noel Dinneen and Nora Woolley play various airplane pilots in Charlie Victor Romeo, a white-knuckle docudrama with dialogue taken from the voice recorders of six planes that crashed between 1985 and 1996.
Collective: Unconscious

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 3:24 pm

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Movie Reviews
3:02 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

On Campus, Two Weary Souls Find A Spark To Kindle

Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga star as two weary strangers who meet — and spark mutual midlife awakenings — while taking their kids on a college tour.
Anchor Bay Films

Long after many another serviceable movie premise has gone to its grave, the brief encounter will live and be well.

Talk about an unbeatable package: Nothing more urgently captures the disappointment of lives congealed by routine than does the sudden midlife romance; nothing so pointedly speaks to the undying desire for completion by another who understands and accepts us as no one else does; nothing so completely resounds with the fantasy of escape. And nothing so neatly contains all that unruly desire within the 11th-hour return to common sense and responsible self-sacrifice.

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Music
12:53 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

'Spirit Of Family' Unites Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Darren Phillip Jones

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 9:58 am

For fans of world music, South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo needs no introduction.

The group has been singing a capella together for 50 years, brought together by Joseph Shabalala, a young farmhand turned factory worker from the town of Ladysmith. He had a dream of tight vocal harmonies and messages of peace.

That dream developed, and the band came to the attention of Paul Simon, who had it record "Homeless" on his album Graceland. It introduced the group to the world.

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Book Reviews
10:02 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Historical Trauma Makes For Thrilling Fiction In 'Officer And A Spy'

promo image

For the historical novelist, the past sometimes seems like one great filing cabinet of material that may lend itself to successful novelization. And in the case of France's so-called "Belle Epoque," the gifted English writer Robert Harris seems to have opened the right drawer. His latest novel, An Officer and a Spy, is set during this period of peace and prosperity between the end of the Franco-Prussian war and the lead-up to the First World War.

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The Salt
9:33 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Grade Inflation In The Maple Syrup Aisle: Now Everything Is An 'A'

The old and new maple syrup grading systems compared.
Courtesy of Butternut Mountain Farm

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 3:03 pm

Why would you choose a B grade if you can get an A?

Ask a baker. They'll tell you that if you like richer, darker, more intense maple syrup, you should pick Grade B.

But the idea that B beats A seems counterintuitive to lots of consumers who are just looking for something sweet to pour on their morning pancakes.

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Ask Me Another
9:09 am
Thu January 30, 2014

W. Kamau Bell: After 'Totally Biased,' What's Next?

W. Kamau Bell.
Matthias Clamer Courtesy of FX

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 3:30 am

  • W. Kamau Bell, heckled by Barbara Walters: hear the story

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Ask Me Another
9:07 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Bad To The Future

Babe Ruth's famous "called shot" is an example of a freakily accurate prediction. But what about those that don't work out quite as well? In this game, house musician Jonathan Coulton asks our contestants about some historical predictions gone spectacularly wrong.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Ask Me Another
9:07 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Double Feature

Coming not-so-soon to a theater near you...In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg asks our contestants to imagine famous movie sequels that could be made by combining two real film titles that share a word or syllable in common. Who wouldn't want to see Denzel Washington take on Magneto in Malcolm X-Men?

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Ask Me Another
9:07 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Russian Dolls

Russian dolls nest inside of each other. Some words are like that as well: they contain one word nested inside of a different word. For example, a mother might urge her son to become a surgeon. (Tricky, we know!) Listen as host Ophira Eisenberg and house musician Jonathan Coulton challenge our contestants to assemble long words from a composite of two shorter ones.

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Ask Me Another
9:07 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Hi-Ho Elemental Metals, Away!

We all know about Silver, the Lone Ranger's trusty steed — but did you know that he had a whole herd of other stallions, also named after metals? House musician Jonathan Coulton tests our contestants' mettle in this musical game, in which the answers to his musical clues — sung to the theme song of The Lone Ranger — are all the names of other metals. Hi-ho, word games, away!

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Ask Me Another
9:07 am
Thu January 30, 2014

AM/PM

From morning until night, Ask Me Another contestants are always working on their puzzling skills. In this final round, puzzle guru Art Chung asks our contestants to come up with two-word phrases or proper nouns that have either the initials AM or PM. It's Positively Mesmerizing!

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

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Monkey See
8:40 am
Thu January 30, 2014

I Like Big Trucks And I Cannot Lie: Cars, Trucks, And The Lady Brain

Try not to get too excited, ladies.
John Morris iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 1:26 pm

You know, when it comes to studies about how women think, I must admit that I always plunge in with great and girlish (!) excitement, because as much as the stereotyping may officially bother me, let's face it: there is part of me that thinks, "Oh, this is going to be good."

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Kitchen Window
9:23 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Get Extra Points For Super Bowls Of Dips And Spreads

Laura B. Weiss for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 1:39 pm

I'm not a big football fan. However, I look forward every year to Super Bowl Sunday. Who can argue with a day that, let's face it, is as devoted to partying as it is to the matchup on the field. So every time another Super Bowl rolls around, we invite a bunch of friends over for some beer, some eats and, of course, some serious game-watching.

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The Salt
8:40 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Frogs And Puffins! 1730s Menus Reveal Royals Were Extreme Foodies

Britain's King George II: Snazzy dresser, adventurous eater.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 9:10 am

You think 21st century foodies will go to great lengths for a culinary thrill? (Lion meat, anyone?) Turns out, they've got nothing on 18th century English royals.

Frogs, puffins, boar's head and larks and other songbirds were all fair game for the dinner table of England's King George II, judging by a chronicle of daily meals served to his majesty and his wife, Queen Caroline.

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The Two-Way
5:34 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Book News: Nurse's Debut Novel Wins Prestigious Costa Award

Costa Book of the Year author Nathan Filer poses with his prize for his debut novel Tuesday in London.
Sang Tan AP

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

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Book Reviews
5:02 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Allende Creates Realism Without The Magic In 'Ripper'

Chilean writer Isabel Allende is the author of 20 books, including The House of Spirits and City of the Beasts.
Lori Barra Courtesy of HarperCollins

I've been wanting to read Isabel Allende's work for years now, for the praise it's received as an exemplar of the magical realist tradition (which I love) and for its focus on the lives of women (which I applaud). So it's with some bemusement that I discovered my first experience with it would be a crime novel about a San Francisco serial killer.

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Book Reviews
5:02 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Anna Quindlen Is (Still) The Voice Of Her Generation

Courtesy of Random House

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 11:04 am

Back in the 1980s, Anna Quindlen's New York Times column, "Life in the 30s," delineated — with humor and grace — what so many of her fellow newly liberated female Boomers were going through: the complications of using your maiden name after you have children. Check. The challenges of balancing a career with parenting. Check. Grocery shopping with small children in tow, "an event I hope to see included in the Olympics in the near future." Check again.

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Author Interviews
12:48 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Entrepreneurs Looking For 'Windfall' Cash In On Climate Change

A boat skims through the melting ice in the Ilulissat fjord in August 2008, on the western coast of Greenland.
Steen Ulrik Johannessen AFP/Getty Images

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Monkey See
7:35 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger And The Public Choir

Pete Seeger performs during a concert marking his 90th birthday at Madison Square Garden in New York on May 3, 2009.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Much will be said and has been said about Pete Seeger, who died Monday at 94, as an activist and musician. Blacklisted, tireless, stubborn, and funny, he wrote a lot of songs that seem to have simply always existed: "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?", "If I Had A Hammer," "Turn, Turn, Turn."

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The Two-Way
5:22 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Book News: Mexican Poet Jose Emilio Pacheco Dies At 74

Mexican writer Jose Emilio Pacheco poses for the photographers after the Cervantes Prize ceremony on April 23, 2010, in Madrid.
Carlos Alvarez Getty Images

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

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New In Paperback
5:02 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Jan. 26-Feb. 1: Stanley McChrystal, Jeff Bridges And James Salter

Stanley McChrystal's new memoir, My Share of the Task, recounts lessons from his years in the military.
Penguin Books

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 9:51 am

*Some of the language in the summaries above has been provided by publishers.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Book Reviews
5:02 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Conflict And Colonization Under Alien Ice In 'A Darkling Sea'

A Darkling Sea, James Cambias' first novel, is the perfect action romp for people who miss old-fashioned stories of planetary colonization. It has all the gee-whiz wonder of a classic space opera tale, complete with weird aliens. But it also reflects contemporary concerns like environmental contamination, and the political problems that can arise from first contact between very different civilizations. The result is an exciting, if ultimately flawed, tale of first meetings between alien groups.

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Author Interviews
1:44 am
Tue January 28, 2014

'Founding Mothers' Helps Kids 'Remember The Ladies'

Deborah Franklin defended her home against a mob that was angry about the Stamp Act.
Courtesy of Harper

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 6:20 am

In 2004, Morning Edition contributor Cokie Roberts published a book about the ways in which the wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of America's Founding Fathers helped forge the nation. Now she's back with an illustrated version aimed at children. It's called Founding Mothers: Remembering The Ladies.

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Book Reviews
4:12 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

A New Look At George Eliot That's Surprisingly Approachable

English novelist George Eliot (1819 - 1880), pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans, poses for a photograph.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 11:17 am

Meg Wolitzer's latest novel is The Interestings.

I have to admit that the first time I tried to read Middlemarch by George Eliot, I ended up putting it aside after only 20 pages. My teenage self, feeding heavily at the time on Pearl S. Buck and Go Ask Alice, found the novel difficult and dry. But then one day, when I was older and more discerning and less antsy, I tried again, and this time I was swept in. This time, I guess I was ready.

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All Tech Considered
3:01 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

For Taiwanese News Animators, Funny Videos Are Serious Work

In their effort to make their animations seem more realistic, the Next Media team models various facial expressions it will use in a piece. These are models of singer Leslie Cheung.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 11:17 am

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Book Reviews
3:01 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Book Review: 'The Guts,' By Roddy Doyle

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 11:17 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

"The Commitments" was the first novel from Irish writer Roddy Doyle. The story introduced us to a young Dubliner named Jimmy Rabbitte, the founder of a neighborhood soul band. Subsequent books stayed with the Rabbitte family, detailing life's trials as they've aged. Well, now a new novel and we have the story of a middle aged Jimmy Rabbitte recovering from cancer surgery.

Alan Cheuse has our review.

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The Salt
12:58 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The White Castle Slider

Sliders come in five-packs, or as White Castle calls them, "swarms."
NPR

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 1:19 pm

Time magazine recently named The White Castle Slider the Most Influential Burger of All Time, above the McDonald's burger, the Burger King Whopper, and President Millard P. Burger, the first all-beef president of the United States.

Ian: I guess it's better than when the White Castle Slider won Time magazine's Person of the Year.

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The Salt
10:51 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Making Moonshine At Home Is On The Rise. But It's Still Illegal

A worker at New York's Kings County Distillery, which opened in 2010. Before going legit with the operation, co-founder Colin Spoelman (not pictured) learned to make moonshine in his Brooklyn apartment without a permit.
Courtesy of Valery Rizzo

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 3:26 pm

Within days after each season premiere and season finale of the Discovery Channel's reality show "Moonshiners," they come — a small but perceptible wave of people — to purchase suspiciously large amounts of corn, sugar and hardy strains of fermenting yeast at Austin Homebrew Supply.

"We know what they're up to," says Chris Ellison, the manager of the Texas store.

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