Stephen Sondheim has written quite a few classic musicals — Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods — but he's had just one hit song, "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music. And, as he tells an audience in Six by Sondheim, it was a tricky one to write because the star who had to sing it, Glynis Johns, wasn't a singer with a capital "s."
It's hard to think of a social issue more certain to drive people into blinkered encampment than the question of sexual consent. There are times when "no means no" seems like an incomplete response to an enormously touchy problem — especially as it affects teenagers, a demographic not known for prudent lust management.
Both literally and thematically dark, Out of the Furnace simmers with manliness like a slow-cooking pot of venison chili. This is the sort of movie where character is revealed by what the protagonist decides to hunt and possibly kill.
A noble buck in the Pennsylvania woods? Maybe not. A murderous, meth-dealing bare-knuckle-boxing promoter? Bang!
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 1:47 pm
The title character of Inside Llewyn Davis starts and ends the film in a little Greenwich Village folk club in 1961, singing the gloomy traditional tune "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me." The song's world-weary protagonist resigns himself to his impending death, really bothered only by the eternity he'll spend trapped underground in the grave.
When you think of the world's great cuisines, Brazilian food doesn't spring to mind. But that is about to change.
Outside Brazil, the South American nation is most famous for its barbecue, or churrascaria. But inside the country, a new movement celebrating regional foods is booming. And ahead of the World Cup and the Olympics, Brazilians are hoping the world will get a new taste of Brazil.
Some years ago, I wrote a poem called "Why I Love Vermeer," which ends "I've never lived in a city without a Vermeer." I could say that until 1990, when Vermeer's exquisite painting The Concert was one of the masterpieces stolen from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It's still missing.
If you're going to a holiday party, there's a good chance you'll be sipping on an adult beverage of some sort. You can do that without looking over your shoulder for authorities because exactly 80 years ago today, Dec. 5, Prohibition came to an end and Americans were able to legally pick up their drinks again.
There are songs that express heartfelt emotions, telling stories of love or loss that are both universal and deeply personal. Then there are songs that are pretty much just lists of things. This game covers those songs, though house musician Jonathan Coulton and VIP Nellie McKay have cheekily swapped out some of the items. Raindrops on roses and what on what, again?
It has been noted that many of history's notorious assassins had three names: John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Mark David Chapman. It turns out that many other famous people with three names have committed far lesser (but still disturbing) acts, like popularizing the mullet or basically inventing cat videos. Guess the celebrities as host Ophira Eisenberg leads this game.
You may be familiar with Bruce Willis' endlessly quotable catchphrase from the action movie franchise Die Hard, though we can't reprint it in full here. This game asks contestants to "clean up" the famous line by swapping out the offending obscenity for other words that are commonly found after the word "mother." Yippee-ki-yay, Mother Nature!
In this game led by host Ophira Eisenberg, we've removed the "x" sound in various words and phrases. Your job is to put the "x" back, based on the clue. For example, if she said, "Put an "x" in "hagon" to get a six-sided geometric shape, you would answer "hexagon."
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Puzzle Guru John Chaneski leads this final round in which every correct answer is the name of a real or fictional doctor, most of whom you shouldn't go to for medical advice. Except maybe Dr. Who. Bonus trivia question: On The Muppet Show, who led the house band and played the keyboards?
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
This game is rather simple: each answer contains the name of a dog breed. For example, the Simon & Garfunkel song that begins, "I am just a poor boy though my story's seldom told," is "The Boxer." Of course, as house musician Jonathan Coulton will tell you, a boxer is a breed of dog, as well as a person who boxes. The song is not, however, about a person who puts things in boxes.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:22 pm
Telemundo recently announced that its telenovelaEl Señor de los Cielos (Lord of the Skies) will be back for a second season; production began this week in Mexico City. This resurrection sets it apart from almost every other telenovela because, unlike American soap operas, telenovelas have a clear beginning and a definitive ending, airing for a set number of episodes.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 9:26 am
The first heavy rains of the season fell two weeks ago at Salt Point State Park, on the northern California coast, and now ranger Todd Farcau is waiting anxiously for the forest floor to erupt with mushrooms.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:06 pm
Three Norman Rockwell paintings sold for a combined total of nearly $58 million at a Sotheby's auction Wednesday. The three paintings, which had long been displayed in a Massachusetts museum named for the artist, were among 10 Rockwell works sold at auction today.
By far, the star of the bunch was the 1951 masterpiece Saying Grace, which sold for $46 million — a record for Rockwell's art. The price includes a buyer's premium. The AP says the artist's previous record of $15 million had been set by Breaking Home Ties at a 2006 Sotheby's auction.
Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 9:30 am
You love lists. We love lists. Everyone loves lists. And in the past five years, NPR has brought you more than 80 year-end book lists — the best book club books, the best cookbooks, the best gift books, the best guilty pleasures. We listed. You clicked. Everyone was happy.
In 2009, Mike Bender was horrified to find that his mother had hung a particularly embarrassing family photo.
"It was a vacation photo. It was my dad's 50th birthday. I was 13," he says. "My dad had my brother and I do a Rockette's kick with our skis. We were on top of a mountain, right by the lift, and I just remember feeling, you know, stuck in that pose: This. Is. Awkward."
But as an adult he realized that the photo was not only awkward — it was hilarious.
The leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees are meeting Wednesday as they continue to try to work out the differences between their respective farm bills. If they fail, the country faces what's being called the "dairy cliff" — with milk prices potentially shooting up to about $7 a gallon sometime after the first of the year.
Here's why: The nation's farm policy would be legally required to revert back to what's called permanent law. In the case of dairy, that would be the 1949 farm bill.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:03 pm
When I was growing up, my uncle Richard farmed mint. In the late summer, he and his crew would mow the mint fields like hay and collect the leaves in enclosed wagons, then drive them down to the still, where they would seal them and pump them full of steam. The steam caused the oil in the leaves to turn to vapor, which re-liquefied when pushed through a condenser.
Gold is assumed to have eternal, inherent value, but what makes it valuable? And what determines its value now that it's no longer the basis of our currency? In the book Gold: The Race for the World's Most Seductive Metal, journalist Matthew Hart examines the new gold rush driven by investors. He travels to gold mines — including the Mponeng mine in South Africa, where he descended into the deepest man-made hole on Earth — and investigates why gold and crime sometimes go hand in hand.
There are great ballplayers, and then there's Ted Williams. In a 22-year career, Williams accomplished things that give him a legitimate claim to being the greatest hitter who ever lived; but he was also a tormented soul who hurt a lot of people, including himself.