Arts

Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

LaBute's 'Velvet Morning': Nothing Soft About These Surfaces

When Fred (Stanley Tucci) shows up on the doorstep of his former lover (Alice Eve) ready to resume their relationship, it doesn't necessarily go smoothly.
Rogier Stoffers Tribeca Film

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:43 am

I'll say this for Neil LaBute: The man sticks to his guns. Critics may carp about his sour vision of human nature, but he keeps plugging away at his micro-studies of the cruel struggle for interpersonal domination.

LaBute is a master of stagecraft, of course; I'm not sure why he works in film at all, other than to broaden his audience. Aside from the substantially more cinematic Nurse Betty, almost all of his movies are essentially stage plays, ably transposed to the screen but with minimal concession to the switch in medium.

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Movie Interviews
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

From 'Crash Reel' To Recovery, And Everything In Between

Snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a severe brain injury after an accident on the halfpipe in 2009. His road to recovery is the subject of director Lucy Walker's documentary The Crash Reel.
Christian Stadler HBO Pictures

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

In 2009, snowboarder Kevin Pearce was riding high, soaring skyward, twisting his body into breathtaking acrobatics. He was 22, one of the world's top halfpipe riders, and a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team for the 2010 Vancouver Games.

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Movie Interviews
12:36 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

The Coen Bros. On Writing, 'Lebowski' And Literally Herding Cats

Joel (left) and Ethan Coen wrote and directed Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man and True Grit. Their latest film is Inside Llewyn Davis.
Stuart C. Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:21 pm

If you ask the Coen brothers about how they write their films, you might not get a straight answer. "It's mostly napping," Ethan tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

"We go to the office, we're there, we're in a room together," Joel adds. "We take naps, but, you know, the important thing is that we're at the office, should we be inspired to actually write something."

The brothers don't split up writing responsibilities — they "talk through" the dialogue and "work it out together," Joel explains.

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Around the Nation
10:06 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Have A Very Merry Faux Pas-Free Holiday

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:17 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And for many of us, the week will kick off the final round of holiday parties. And that's the time for connecting with friends, celebrating the season and, in some cases, really messing up. So here to help us keep our holiday parties happy and faux pas free is Harriette Cole. She writes the nationally syndicated advice column "Sense and Sensitivity." Harriette Cole, welcome back. Thanks so much for joining us once again.

HARRIETTE COLE: Great to be with you. Happy holidays.

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Ask Me Another
10:03 am
Tue December 17, 2013

John Hodgman: 'Twas The Night Before This Day

Comedian John Hodgman helped lead a game, then picked up the ukulele for a rendition of "Auld Lang Syne."
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

  • John Hodgman and Jonathan Coulton perform "Auld Lang Syne"

"A Visit from St. Nicholas," popularly known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," is a favorite poem among many who celebrate Christmas. But when it comes to holiday verse, why should Dec. 25 get all the attention?

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Cinema Synonyms, Holiday Edition

Contestants await puzzle guru Art Chung's series of mind-bending, quick fire questions.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

In this final round, puzzle guru Art Chung re-titles other holiday films with some less festive words. The titles have been rewritten as synonyms of the original titles. For example, The Section of a Contract About the Spanish Word for Saint is the rewritten title for The Santa Clause. (It should be noted that we are using "synonym" quite loosely.)

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

A.J. Jacobs: Traditional Holiday Traditions

A.J. Jacobs reads a list of ... something, but we don't want to spoil the surprise.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

Did you know that every Dec. 7, Guatemalans gather trash from their homes into a giant pile, throw an effigy of the devil on top and then light it on fire? This practice, known as "the burning of the devil," may sound a bit far-fetched, but it's actually true.

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

A Holiday Story From Ophira Eisenberg

"Red alert! Jew in the lap! Red alert! Jew in the lap!"
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

Ophira Eisenberg, host of Ask Me Another, grew up Jewish, but maintained an obsession with Santa Claus. Hear Eisenberg share a story about her first childhood encounter with Father Christmas, at a shopping mall in Canada.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Are We There Yet?

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

Prepare to answer a child's age-old question during road trips. Given a starting point and a list of three destination cities by host Ophira Eisenberg, a phone contestant must put the cities in order of driving distance from the starting point, from shortest to longest. If you left New York after a visit to the Empire State Building and drove west, which city would be the closest: Cleveland, Chicago, or Seattle?

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

The Chris In Christmas

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

At Ask Me Another, we're no strangers to messing with tradition, especially in the form of song. Instead of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," how about "Rockin' Around the Big Blue Sea"? House musician Jonathan Coulton performs some classic holiday tunes with the lyrics rewritten to be about famous people or fictional characters named Chris, like Christopher Columbus or Christina Aguilera. For what it's worth, we're also including names that can be shortened to Chris.

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Lizz Winstead: What's That Sound?

If you'd just delivered a no-holds-barred Tarzan yell, you'd be celebrating, too. Comedian Lizz Winstead (right) and Julia Lunetta are not shy.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

Ah, the sounds of the holidays: Jingle bells. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The sound of reindeer landing on the roof. Or are those zombies with chains about to attack? Hopefully you have a keen ear for this game. Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg welcomed back Lizz Winstead, comedian and co-creator of The Daily Show, as a Very Important Puzzler. We pitted her against a contestant in a game in which they had to reproduce sound effects and music.

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Ask Me Another
9:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Don't Forget The Lah-Rics

Contestants Karen Sloan (right) and Rob Gilleece.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:20 pm

If singing holiday songs isn't your thing, would a carol about Las Vegas or La Toya Jackson change your mind? House musician Jonathan Coulton spices up the Christmas carol "Deck the Halls" with the lyrics rewritten to describe words or names that begin with a "la" sound. What do you call smoked salmon on a bagel? Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-lox!

After the game, Coulton used his clues and the contestants' answers to produce a gloriously weird recording of "Deck The Halls." Hear it in the web extra on this page.

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The Salt
1:15 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms

The Bucking Horse subdivision in Fort Collins, Colo., will include a working CSA farm, complete with historic barn, farm house and chicken coop.
Luke Runyon Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 8:00 am

When you picture a housing development in the suburbs, you might imagine golf courses, swimming pools, rows of identical houses.

But now, there's a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity.

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Movie Interviews
2:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Spike Jonze Opens His Heart For 'Her'

Joaquin Phoenix plays a man in love with an operating system in director Spike Jonze's latest film, Her.
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 6:49 pm

Writer-director Spike Jonze's latest movie, called simply Her, is about a lonely man who falls in love ... with his operating system. The two lovers — Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) — never meet face to face. In fact Samantha has no face, not even an avatar.

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The Salt
1:02 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Sandwich Monday: The Grinch Sandwich

The Grinch sandwich: It has the power to ruin Christmas.
CBS/Photofest

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 1:54 pm

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Remembrances
12:19 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

The Camels Were 'Impossible': Peter O'Toole Remembers 'Arabia'

Peter O'Toole rides across the desert in Jordan during the filming of Lawrence of Arabia in November 1961. He says that at first, learning to ride a camel was "impossible."
AP

"I have a host of memories which I see very clearly," actor Peter O'Toole told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1993. "And though I'm very aware of the tricks of memory, I'm also aware of the concrete nature of these brilliantly lit pictures in my mind. They're ineradicable."

O'Toole, who died Saturday at the age of 81, was instrumental in making many "brilliantly lit pictures" for movie lovers during his decades-spanning career. Nominated for eight Oscars, the tall, blond, blue-eyed actor captivated audiences, on-screen and onstage.

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Race
10:26 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Twitter Battle Over Sexy Stars

Actress Rashida Jones recently started a Twitter debate by calling out a number of female pop stars for their hyper-sexual performances.
Victoria Will AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 2:13 pm

Tell Me More goes behind closed doors to look at the increasingly open debate about how the sexuality of girls and women is being discussed on Twitter.

Parks and Recreation actress Rashida Jones recently got social media going with her Twitter takedown of a number of female pop stars for their hyper-sexual performances. She called on these stars to #stopactinglikewhores.

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Remembrances
12:59 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Peter O'Toole, Exuberant From 'Lawrence' To His Last Role

Peter O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, died Saturday. He was 81.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 8:35 am

Blond, blue-eyed and wearing blazing white robes in Lawrence Of Arabia, Peter O'Toole was handsome enough — many said beautiful enough — to carry off the scene in which director David Lean simultaneously made stars of both his title character and his leading man.

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The Salt
12:50 am
Mon December 16, 2013

When Craft Beer Goes Global: A Kansas City Brewery's Tale

Boulevard Brewing's lineup includes seven year-round beers, five seasonal beers and 13 beers in its Smokestack series.
Frank Morris KCUR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 6:07 am

Kansas City residents are proud of their barbecue, their Chiefs football, their national champion soccer team and Boulevard Brewing, a local brewery that has built up quite a local following since its launch in the late 1980s.

"It's our thing. You know, like la cosa nostra, it's our thing," says Char O'Hara, a Kansas City, Mo., resident who, like thousands of other local 20-somethings, grew up with Boulevard.

But soon, it will be a Belgian thing, too. Any day now, Belgian beer maker Duvel is expected to finalize its purchase of the Kansas City brewery.

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Code Switch
4:37 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

Zoinks! Tracing The History Of 'Zombie' From Haiti To The CDC

A still from the 1943 film I Walked With A Zombie.
RKO The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 8:14 am

Each week, we take a look at a word or phrase that's caught our attention, whether for its history, usage, etymology, or just because it has an interesting story. You can see past "Word Watch" entries here.

"Who doesn't like zombies?"

That was the subject line of an email blast that landed in my inbox recently from a major online retailer as it announced it was "bringing their Black Friday deals back to life."

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Remembrances
4:03 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

Peter O'Toole, A Life Even Larger Than 'Lawrence'

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

Peter O'Toole, the Hollywood legend who was made famous in his title role in Lawrence of Arabia, died on Saturday in a London hospital. The 81-year old Irishman was nominated for eight Oscars in his distinguished career, and was known as a bit of a hellraiser.

To those who hadn't seen the actor perform on the London stage, O'Toole was seemingly catapulted into fame. But it may be more accurate to say he charged into it. As T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, O'Toole was tall, handsome and sensitive.

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Author Interviews
2:59 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

A Personal 'Report From The Interior' Of Author Paul Auster

A prolific author, Paul Auster has published dozens of works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.
Lotte Hansen Courtesy of Henry Holt & Co.

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 11:32 am

Fans of the writer Paul Auster know an enormous amount about him. His novels often draw on autobiographical details, and he has written five books that are explicitly about his own life.

Last year, he published a memoir called Winter Journal that tells the story of his life through the story of his own body — every scar and blemish. Now Auster has published a companion autobiography of his intellectual self, called Report from the Interior.

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Pop Culture
9:27 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Our Favorite TV Parties

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

So, those are the fabulous soirees of fiction, but what about those lower-brow shindigs - the parties on our favorite TV shows that we'd love to crash? There is, of course, Elaine's epic dance fail at her office party on "Seinfeld."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW)

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS: (as Elaine) All right. Who's dancing? Come on, who's dancing? Want me to get it started?

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From Our Listeners
9:27 am
Sun December 15, 2013

A Diamond, A Motorcycle, A Wooden Ring: Best Gifts Ever

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Author Interviews
9:27 am
Sun December 15, 2013

StoryCorps: A Decade Of 'Ties That Bind'

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you've listened to NPR much over the past decade, you've heard StoryCorps conversations; those intimate interviews between two people that make you as a listener feel like you've been invited in to witness something special transpire. Dave Isay is the man behind StoryCorps. And he and his team have collected over 50,000 interviews over the years. The next iteration of the storytelling project is a book. It's called "Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps."

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The Salt
6:43 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Sriracha: First, The Crisis. Now, The Movie

Can't get enough of Sriracha? Now it can fill your belly and your screens.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 12:20 pm

Lately, it seems as if news about Sriracha has been as ubiquitous as the much-loved hot sauce itself.

First, there was the panic over a potential shortage, after a judge ordered the California factory where Sriracha is made to partially shut down, as our friends on the Two-Way blog have reported.

Now, this red hot culinary phenomenon is starring in its own documentary.

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Author Interviews
6:29 am
Sun December 15, 2013

54 Days In The Eternal City: A Christian 'Pilgrimage' For Lent

Rome's St. Zeno chapel was built by Pope St. Paschal I in honor of his mother. The ceiling, a gold mosaic, was intended as an interpretation of heaven.
Stephen Weigel Courtesy of Basic Books

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Each year, millions of people from different faiths make religious journeys. They travel far, to Mecca, Jerusalem, the Ganges River or Lourdes, France, to walk the paths of prophets, saints and martyrs.

"Pilgrimage is something built into the human condition," says George Weigel, author of Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches. "There seems to be something hardwired into us, spiritually, that the idea of a journey from A to B becomes part of the rhythm of the spiritual life."

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Author Interviews
6:23 am
Sun December 15, 2013

New Princesses Rescue Girls From A Distressed Damselhood

Princess Vinnea and the Gulavores." href="/post/once-upon-time-princess-saved-environment" class="noexit lightbox">
Princess Vinnea, guardian of plant life (left), and Princess Terra, protector of the land, examine one of many "gulavores" plaguing the land of Hortensis in the children's book Princess Vinnea and the Gulavores.
Courtesy Setsu Shigematsu

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

The princess industry is lucrative: DVDs, dresses, crowns, theme parties. But the story of going to the ball and waiting for Prince Charming is outdated.

So one Southern California mom has created a new princess series with modern sensibilities. Creator Setsu Shigematsu recasts princesses as environmentally conscious and not waiting around to be rescued.

At the heart of her series, The Guardian Princess Alliance, is what animates any fairy tale: simple storytelling.

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Sunday Puzzle
6:23 am
Sun December 15, 2013

When Push Comes To Shove

NPR

Originally published on Sun December 15, 2013 1:04 pm

On-air challenge: Every answer is a five-letter word. You'll be given a clue for the word. Besides giving you a direct hint to the answer, the clue will also contain the answer in consecutive letters. For example, given "push over hard," you would say "shove."

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You Must Read This
5:03 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Surprising And Skillful, 'Yellow Dog' Deserves A Second Look

I came to Amis late. I wasn't born when he published his most esteemed book, Money, and I was a 4-year-old with no great passion for Holocaust novels when Time's Arrow was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Amis has always divided critics (all writers worth their salt do), and by the time I read him in the late-noughties the naysayers were beginning to form a grumbling consensus. I quickly found that loving Amis meant having to fight his corner.

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