Arts

Book Reviews
5:08 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Opening The Literary Liquor Cabinet In 'Echo Spring'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 10:09 am

Remember Brick's frequent trips to "Echo Spring" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Echo Spring, Olivia Laing reminds us in her illuminating new book, is a nickname for the liquor cabinet, drawn from the brand of bourbon it contains. Symbolically, she adds, it refers to something quite different: "perhaps to the attainment of silence, or to the obliteration of troubled thoughts that comes, temporarily at least, with a sufficiency of booze."

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All Tech Considered
1:17 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

5 New Year's Resolutions From Women To Watch

Maya Penn
Marla Aufmuth TED

New Year's resolutions: Sometimes we make them; usually we break them. The annual goals are intended to bring out the best in us — but what if you're already extremely accomplished?

These five women have worked hard to help others, through businesses, innovation and writing. Four of them were speakers at the TEDWomen conference earlier in December in San Francisco (Katrina Alcorn was an attendee).

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Monkey See
10:40 am
Mon December 30, 2013

What Monkeys Eat: A Few Thoughts About Pop Culture Writing

iStockphoto

When I was first explaining what I wanted this blog to be like in 2008, I shared with some folks at NPR a theory I have had for some time about writing about popular culture. It goes like this: If you think monkeys are fascinating and you want to understand and be of value to them, it's not enough to be an expert on what monkeys should ideally eat. You have to understand what monkeys actually eat.

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Music Interviews
9:52 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Muslim Pop Star Yuna Climbs The U.S. Charts

Yuna doesn't just make music but also runs a fashion boutique where she sells funky but modest clothes.
Autumn de Wilde

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 2:43 pm

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Race
9:52 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Redefining Philanthropy: How African-Americans Give Back

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation released a study in 2012 showing that African-Americans give a larger share of their income to charities than any other group. Tracey Webb, founder of The Black Benefactors and BlackGivesBack.com, talks to host Michel Martin about African-American philanthropy.

Monkey See
8:48 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Remodeling With Canadians

'Property Brothers' Drew Scott and Jonathan Scott at the Scripps Networks Upfront in April 2013.
Donald Bowers Getty Images

My holiday break last week took an unexpected detour when a broken bone (not mine) changed our plans for a full family get-together. Thus, I was left with a few days of unanticipated free time on my own, which led me to the obvious conclusion: if I can't be fully relaxed and immersed in holiday joy the entire time, this is the perfect time to clean out my closets.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
7:17 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Day 6: In This Game, Things Might Get 'Weird'

House musician Jonathan Coulton has a laugh while performing on Ask Me Another.
Becky Harlan NPR

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 10:11 am

  • Listen to 'Two Tickets To Parodies'

This is the sixth day of Ask Me Another's 12 Days of Xmas series.

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The Salt
2:52 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Cinnamon Can Help Lower Blood Sugar, But One Variety May Be Best

Studies suggest cinnamon can help control blood sugar, but if you want to incorporate more of this spice in your diet, consider using the Ceylon variety.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 10:47 am

If I say cinnamon, you say ... sugar? It's a popular combination, of course.

But if you're interested in the health-promoting effects of cinnamon, you may want to think anew about the spice.

For instance, says John Critchley, executive chef at Bourbon Steak Restaurant in Washington, D.C., why not add it to savory dishes? He uses cinnamon to create a spice and herb rub for lamb loin. He also whips up a great spinach salad with raisins, pine nuts and cinnamon.

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Code Switch
1:21 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Films With Black Actors, Directors Go To 11 In 2013

Monica Calhoun (left), Melissa De Sousa and Nia Long star in The Best Man Holiday, one of this year's eleven top-grossing films starring black actors and by black directors.
Michael Gibson Universal Pictures

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 9:33 am

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year — numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we're living in, right now. You'll hear the stories behind numbers ranging from zero to 1 trillion.

When it comes to race and film, the number of the year is 11.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
4:17 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

Day 5: Is That Jonathan Coulton?!

Can you spot Jonathan Coulton? Sorry, "Jonathan Coultron."
John Horn

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 7:17 am

This is the fifth day of Ask Me Another's 12 Days of Xmas series.

Please enjoy this yearbook photo of the 1993 Whiffenpoofs—the premier collegiate a cappella group of Ask Me Another house musician Jonathan Coulton. Sorry, Coultron. Can you spot him?

Author Interviews
3:42 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

Booking A Flight For The 'Golden Age Of Hijacking'

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 4:43 pm

Imagine air travel in the 1960s when flying the skies meant luxury. You could light up a cigarette on board and enjoy a five-star meal.

Going to the airport wasn't a hassle. There were no security screenings, and boarding a plane was just as easy as getting on a bus.

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Sunday Puzzle
6:02 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Now You Know Them

NPR

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 10:16 am

On-air challenge: You will be given some names that you probably never heard of before 2013, but that were in the news during the past 12 months. You name who the people are. These names were compiled with the help of Kathie Baker, Tim Goodman and Sandy Weisz.

Last week's challenge from listener Andrew Chaikin of San Francisco: Think of a well-known filmmaker, first and last names. Add "S-U-N" before this person's first name and last name. In each case, you'll form a common English word. Who is the filmmaker?

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Rediscovering The Intricate Verse Of Federico Garcia Lorca

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 10:19 am

Federico Garcia Lorca, the Spanish surrealist, wasn't just any writer. The poet and playwright was also a revolutionary who penned some of the most intricate and arresting verse of the twentieth century. Out now from New Directions, Selected Poems is perhaps the best introduction to the poet's oeuvre — and one of the foremost works of poetry in translation released this year. This edition, featuring a host of translators from Langston Hughes to Ben Belitt and W. S. Merwin, should have a place in any growing library.

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Arts & Life
3:08 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Winging It: Biking Around Again In Margaritaville

NPR's Petra Mayer has finally learned how to ride a bike.
Izolda Trakhtenberg

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 9:53 am

I love Key West, and I go there as often as possible: pina coladas, drag queens, shady hammocks, feral chickens — it's the best. There's just one problem: everyone gets around the island by bike, and I've never learned to ride one. Obviously that had to change.

Why didn't I learn? I really don't remember, and neither did my mom, when I asked her about the one time my parents tried to teach me. "You got on a big bicycle that was so big you couldn't really turn the wheels and got discouraged."

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Monkey See
3:03 am
Sun December 29, 2013

This Is (Not) The Most Important Story Of The Year

News of Justin Bieber's retirement sent shockwaves across the Internet.
Powers Imagery AP

Have you spent much of the holiday season debating whether Justin Bieber really intends to retire?

No? Well, what about the question of whether Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson was rightly suspended for making bigoted remarks, or was in fact suppressed for giving voice to traditional values?

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Arts & Life
3:02 pm
Sat December 28, 2013

The Trouble With Assessing 'Black Films'

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 4:54 pm

This year was lauded by many news outlets as an incredible year for black films. CNN heralded "Hollywood's African-American Renaissance;" The New York Times called 2013 a "a breakout year for black films." Shani Hilton, deputy editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, talks to NPR's Arun Rath about why she think those assertions are overstated.

Arts & Life
6:55 am
Sat December 28, 2013

As The Lead Cools, Some See Their New Year Take Shape

Is that a cross? A ship with a figurehead? What future do you see in these lead shapes? In one New Year's tradition, fortune-seekers drop molten lead into cold water and guess what the shapes portend.
Deena Prichep for NPR

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 2:31 pm

As we approach the threshold of a new year, it's only human to wonder what's ahead. In Germany and a few nearby countries, the answer to this age-old existential question is found in molten lead.

When Gesine Krätzner had some scraps of lead left over from a roofing project last winter, she knew just what to do with them. Krätzner lives in Portland, Ore., but grew up in Germany. As a kid, she would melt bits of lead with her family for a New Year's Eve tradition called Bleigiessen.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
6:37 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Day 4: Mind Your Out-of-Date Manners

Ophira Eisenberg doesn't need your stinkin' etiquette rules. She makes up her own.
Becky Harlan NPR
  • Listen to 'Mad Men's Guide To Etiquette'

This is the fourth day of Ask Me Another's 12 Days of Xmas series.

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PG-13: Risky Reads
6:08 am
Sat December 28, 2013

A Young Seminarian Found Comfort In 'Giovanni's' Melancholy

I was a shy boy of 11, soon to be withdrawn from a Catholic Seminary where I had been bullied and lonely and unhappy, when I found Giovanni's Room. I was on summer holiday; I used to spend my days reading from my parents' extensive library, usually on the rattan lounger on the second-floor porch of our house in the small town of Afikpo. I remember feeling a kinship with James Baldwin — not so much with his characters, whom I couldn't often relate to, but with this melancholy that seeped through his pages.

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Author Interviews
3:02 am
Sat December 28, 2013

'Havisham' Offers A Peek Behind That Decaying Wedding Veil

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:35 am

The enigmatic Miss Havisham has haunted the popular imagination for more than 150 years. She appeared in Great Expectations, one of Charles Dickens' best-loved novels: It's been read widely since its publication, and was made into several immensely popular movies.

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This Week's Must Read
3:01 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

As Winter Rolls In, One Critic Recalls 'The Wind In The Willows'

Paul Bransom's illustration from a 1913 edition of The Wind in the Willows shows Otter traveling through the snowy woods.
Public Domain

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 5:15 pm

We want simple things from books in winter — or at least I do. I want a vindication of my desire to loaf, laze, retreat from the world, the assurances, in short, of The Wind in the Willows, whose edicts are sane and just: "No animal, according to the rules of animal-etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter."

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Movie Interviews
2:21 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

'42' Gets The Story Of Jackie Robinson Right

Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) acknowledges the crowd in 42.
Warner Bros

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 5:15 pm

As we close out 2013, we're returning to some of the year's films that were "inspired by a true story" and taking a look at the true-to-inspired ratio. Turns out, 42 — a biopic that portrays Jackie Robinson's 1947 integration of Major League Baseball — gets a lot of things right.

Arnold Rampersad, a professor of English at Stanford University who wrote a biography of Robinson, says the film really rings true.

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Architecture
10:00 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Architect's Dream House: Less Than 200 Square Feet

Macy Miller

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 11:35 am

You might think going through a divorce and losing your home to foreclosure would be hard to bounce back from, and they are, but Tell Me More caught up with a woman who beat the odds and built a new home for herself.

Macy Miller, an architect from Idaho, built the home with her own two hands at a cost of only $11,000. The house is less than 200 square feet.


Interview Highlights

On building the home

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Book Reviews
1:23 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Nancy Pearl Turns Back The Pages With Picks From The Past

Steve Debenport iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 8:32 am

There has been no shortage of noteworthy new books this year. In fact, the prospect of choosing just a few of them to recommend to NPR's Steve Inskeep "kind of overwhelmed" librarian Nancy Pearl. So, "out of a sense of desperation," she says, Pearl combed through her own personal library stacks for some of her favorite titles from years past that readers might have missed the first time around.

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Movie Reviews
4:47 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

In 'Lone Survivor,' Heroics Extend Only As Far As Survival, Solidarity

Mark Wahlberg plays Marcus Luttrell in Lone Survivor.
Universal Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 4:57 pm

We are awash in war films, and why is it that nonfiction films such as Dirty Wars or Iraq in Fragments increasingly resort to the dramatizing techniques of narrative film, while fiction films strain toward procedure, as if to avoid the sticky business of interpretation altogether?

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Arts & Life
8:21 am
Thu December 26, 2013

The Surprising Vision of Artist Faith Ringgold

Legendary artist Faith Ringgold began her career in 1963 — the same year as the March on Washington. She talks to guest host Celeste Headlee about her life, work and why no one originally wanted to hear her story.

Books
8:19 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Civil Rights Turmoil In Verse: Retelling Medgar Evers' Story

Medgar Evers was the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi. The civil rights leader was killed in 1963.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 8:46 am

A new book of poetry narrates the life and death of civil rights leader Medgar Evers through a series of imagined monologues. Evers was the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi. In that role, he organized boycotts, investigated and brought attention to the murder of Emmett Till, and helped James Meredith integrate the University of Mississippi.

Evers was gunned down in his Jackson, Miss., driveway by KKK leader Byron De La Beckwith in 1963. But it took more than 30 years for De La Beckwith to be convicted of his murder.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
7:01 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Day 2: An 'Ask Me Another' Holiday Puzzle

Art Chung

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:45 am

This is the second day of Ask Me Another's 12 Days of Xmas series.

Keep your mind sharp over the holidays with this quiz, which pays homage to some of the great pop cultural icons surrounding Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus and more.

Email us your finished puzzle at askmeanother@npr.org, or tweet it to us @NPRAskMeAnother.

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Photography
1:16 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Portrait Show Brings Photographer-Subject Encounters Into Focus

Untitled (Kate #18) by Chuck Close.
Chuck Close Courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:45 am

When someone takes our picture, we usually deliver a mile-wide grin, but there's not a smile in the room at the Phillips Collection's photography show in Washington.

The exhibit mostly consists of portraits of inner lives, taken by various photographers, and it's about the encounter between the two participants. Susan Behrends Frank curated the small show, called "Shaping a Modern Identity," which is running through Jan. 12.

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Arts & Life
2:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

The Dark Roots Of 'The Nutcracker' And The Man Who Wrote It

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. E.T.A. Hoffman, who lived from 1776 to 1822 in the Kingdom of Prussia, was responsible for a work that is a staple the holiday season, the original author of The Nutcracker. You can read more about the story, which aired last Christmas, here.

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