Arts

Goats and Soda
10:29 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Why Bill Gates Is Commissioning Fine Art

The birth of vaccines: Photographer Alexia Sinclair portrays Dr. Edward Jenner giving John Phipps the world's first vaccine, for smallpox, in 1796.
Courtesy of Alexia Sinclair

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 4:02 pm

Each year, about 6 million people die from diseases that are preventable with vaccines. And about 1 in 5 children around the world don't have access to life-saving vaccines.

But those are cold and dry statistics.

The Art of Saving A Life enlisted more than 30 artists to create images that bring those numbers to life — to spark conversations, interest and, ultimately, funding for vaccines.

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Monkey See
8:46 am
Thu January 8, 2015

'Parenthood' And The Strange Case Of The Missing Family Drama

Peter Krause as Adam Braverman and Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman on NBC's Parenthood.
Colleen Hayes NBC

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 2:13 pm

NBC's Parenthood, loosely based on the 1989 Steve Martin film, returns Thursday night for its final run of four episodes. Produced by Jason Katims, who's beloved by critics for helming television's version of Friday Night Lights, the show ran for six seasons and leaves a curious question behind: What happened to the network family drama?

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Ask Me Another
8:37 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Lewis Black: Which Is Worse?

"Eventually I learned to modulate [my rants] a little. Build some peaks and valleys. And now that I give them more valleys, and don't yell as much, they go, 'He got tired.' Idiots." - Lewis Black
Rick Diamond Getty Images for CMT

Early in his career as a stand-up comedian, Lewis Black received a call from the famed television producer Norman Lear. The man responsible for All In the Family and The Jeffersons was about to change Black's life--or so Black thought.

"Quite obviously he has written something, and wants me in it, and the sad days are over," Black told Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg.

But Lear's request was not quite what Black had hoped for: "The one thing his son wanted was for me to perform at his Bar Mitzvah."

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Ask Me Another
8:33 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Your Game Show Of Shows

Mash up the names of famous TV shows with the names of TV game shows to make them more fun. Because if someone isn't answering trivia questions for lots of money, we're not interested.

Heard in Stark Raving Mad

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Ask Me Another
8:33 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Just Kidding

Some people think they can say mean things, as long as it's followed by "Just kidding!" It's the verbal equivalent of a smiley-face emoticon. In this game, we say some sarcastic things about celebrities and historical figures who have the initials J.K.

Heard in Stark Raving Mad

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Ask Me Another
8:33 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Lewis Black: Give My Regards To Broadway

"I really thought I'd make a living at [playwriting]. Which was psychotic!" - Lewis Black
Jason Kempin Getty Images

Comedian Lewis Black once dreamed of being a playwright. After receiving his MFA from Yale Drama School, he moved to New York City and staged plays at the West Bank Cafe, including early works by Aaron Sorkin and Alan Ball and featuring then-unknown actors like James Gandolfini.

"We did more new, American one-act plays than any theater in the country. Nobody did more. And what we learned was--nobody cares."

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Ask Me Another
8:33 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Comparatively Speaking

A comparative adjective is a word used to compare two things, such as "I am hairier than the puzzle guru." This game is about nouns that only seem like they're comparative adjectives because they end in the letters i-e-r. What might you call a high chest of drawers with a more delicate whipped texture? A "chiffon-ier chiffonier."

Heard in Stark Raving Mad

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Ask Me Another
8:33 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Bad Information

In this final round, the answers are words, phrases and names that contain the letters "b-a-d" in order. Listen sharply, though, and the outcome will be g-o-o-d for you.

Heard in Stark Raving Mad

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

Transcript

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Ask Me Another
8:33 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Cookie Monster Vocals

Some death metal singers have a gravelly voice known as "Cookie Monster vocals." However, in this game we focus on Cookie Monster's habit of confusing "I" with "me," and convert pop songs to Cookie's grammatical tendencies--so, a certain Beatles hit becomes "Me Want to Hold Your Hand."

Heard in Stark Raving Mad

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Book Reviews
8:03 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Sound And Fury (And Then A Little More Fury) In 'Against The Country'

There are a fair number of people out there who've been waiting for this novel for a good, long time. Because of who Ben Metcalf is (an outspoken essayist, the former literary editor for Harper's Magazine, an all-around light of the word-slinging world), there were a lot of people waiting to hate it. Maybe an equal number waiting to love it. The good news? Both sides are going to be happy.

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Book Reviews
5:36 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Try On 'Black Suit' For A Beautifully Real Approach To Grief

Jason Reynolds' debut When I Was the Greatest put him on the radar of many YA readers looking for fresh new voices. His latest, The Boy in the Black Suit, begins in a place we've seen before: the senior lockers, the first day back at high school.

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Remembrances
4:06 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Remembering 'Generation Mex' Writer And Proud Outsider Michele Serros

Serros, pictured here in February 2014, got her big break as a college student in 1993.
Rachel Buchan AP

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 4:17 pm

When Michele Serros burst onto the literary scene in the 1990s, she was a new kind of Latina writer: She didn't speak much Spanish, she listened to ABBA and she was a vegan who liked to surf and skateboard. Her success as a writer, poet and comedic commentator made her an inspirational voice for Chicanas of her generation and beyond.

Serros, who Newsweek once hailed as a "Woman to Watch for the New Century," died of cancer Sunday at her home in Berkeley, Calif. She was 48 years old.

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Television
11:22 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Matt LeBlanc Has Quietly Made 'Episodes' A Must-See Comedy

In Episodes, Matt LeBlanc plays an exaggerated version of himself, a self-centered womanizer who uses celebrity and money to coast through life, much like Larry David does in Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Des Willie Courtesy of Showtime

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 1:14 pm

After the holidays, it didn't take any time at all for TV to get back into the swing of things, at least on Sunday nights. Last Sunday, both The Good Wife on CBS and Downton Abbey on PBS returned with strong new episodes to start the New Year — and ABC premiered an odd little musical comedy series, called Galavant. All those shows are back with fresh episodes this Sunday, and this weekend, they're joined by a handful of returning cable series as well.

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Monkey See
10:23 am
Wed January 7, 2015

'Empire': A World Of Unbuttoned Shirts And Dishy Music Stories

Jamal (Jussie Smollett) welcomes home his mother (Taraji P. Henson), but she has about as much more on her mind as this look makes it seem like she does.
Chuck Hodes Fox

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 11:04 am

Empire comes to Fox with an interesting pedigree: It was created by Danny Strong (who's written multiple award-winning projects for HBO) and Lee Daniels, who made Precious and The Butler — both films with a sheen of prestige, but both films to which people reacted in complex ways. It stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, who are both past Oscar nominees. The executive music producer is Timbaland, who's worked with all kinds of folks, including Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake.

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Television
8:55 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Fox's 'Empire' Sets 'Dynasty'-Style Soap Opera To A Hip-Hop Beat

The stars of Fox's new drama Empire (clockwise from left): Bryshere Gray, Trai Byers, Jussie Smollett, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.
Michael Lavine Fox

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 1:02 pm

At times, Fox's new hip-hop centered family drama Empire feels like Dynasty by way of Jay-Z and Beyonce — or Glee with a beat.

Especially during scenes like the moment that pops up early in Wednesday night's debut episode, when two brothers improvise a song together during a house party that winds up sounding like it was pieced together over weeks in a Los Angeles recording studio.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Confident Tales Of 'Small Mammals,' Funny Videos And Childhood Ghosts

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 9:40 am

The first small mammal in Thomas Pierce's short story collection is Shirley Temple Three, "waist-high, with a pelt of dirty-blond fur that hangs in tangled draggles to the dirt." Shirley is a dwarf mammoth, a member of a species that hasn't been around for millennia, cloned for the sake of a television show called Back from Extinction.

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Arts & Life
3:29 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Art Installation Opens Passage To A Different World

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 2:00 pm

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

Book Reviews
2:54 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Book Review: 'Descent' By Tim Johnson

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 4:36 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The premise of "Descent," a new novel by Tim Johnston, is a familiar one. A teenaged girl disappears; her family agonizes over her fate. But reviewer Alan Cheuse says this is much more than your typical thriller.

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Code Switch
1:04 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Rewatching 'The Wire': Classic Crime Drama Seems Written For Today

Detectives Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters, left) and Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) kneel beside a body, befuddled.
Nicole Rivelli AP

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 1:36 pm

Like many devoted fans, I jumped on the release of newly reconfigured, high-definition versions of HBO's classic cop series The Wire, binge-watching much of the show's five seasons on the HBO GO streaming service over the holidays.

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Monkey See
11:48 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Small Batch: 'The Bachelor' Farms Iowa For Fresh Meat

Carly tries a song to charm The Bachelor, Chris Soules, on the premiere of ... well, The Bachelor, obviously. This really happened, see? We weren't lying.
Rick Rowell ABC

From the time we started Pop Culture Happy Hour, Stephen Thompson and I have occasionally heard a plaintive cry: "Why do you guys mention The Bachelor?" And it's true: we do. It comes up from time to time as a strange example of perplexing television, but we would never let it run roughshod over an entire episode.

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Author Interviews
11:36 am
Tue January 6, 2015

D.C. Author George Pelecanos Writes What He Knows In 'The Martini Shot'

George Pelecanos is a crime novelist who was a writer and producer for the HBO series The Wire and Treme.
Rosa Pelecanos Courtesy of Little, Brown and Co.

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 1:46 pm

When writer George Pelecanos was growing up in Washington, D.C., he was chased by the police several times.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue January 6, 2015

'Descent' Is A Twisty Thriller-Plus

The premise of Descent may sound pretty straight-forward: One summer morning while vacationing with her family in the foothills of the Rockies, a young girl, a high-school athlete in her senior year, goes out for a run in the higher altitudes — and disappears.

And Moby-Dick's about the whaling industry.

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The Salt
2:42 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

In Spain, A Kingly Ring With A Hidden Surprise Wraps Up The Holidays

The classic Spanish roscón is an aromatic, citrus-infused brioche topped by sugar, flaked almonds and candied fruits – arranged like the jewels on a king's crown. It's ubiquitous on Spanish tables on Three Kings Day, Jan. 6.
James Badcock for NPR

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 4:27 pm

The first time I visited my in-laws in Spain, they fed me a sweet, doughy treat that, for a brief moment, made me wonder whether they were trying to kill me.

You see, it was Jan. 6, el Dia de Reyes – or Three Kings Day — which commemorates the visit of the magi to the baby Jesus. My hospitable in-laws had laid out a delicious roscón, a ring-shaped cake delicately flavored with orange blossom water. But as I tucked into this scrumptious offering, my teeth struck something very, very hard.

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Book Reviews
1:46 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

A Place That Can't Exist Again: Blondie's New York

Photographer Chris Stein in the reflection of Debbie Harry's sunglasses.
Chris Stein Chris Stein/Negative, Rizzoli, 2014

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 6:13 am

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The Salt
1:26 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Sandwich Monday: The Pretzel Dog

Don't call it "Long Pig in a blanket."
NPR

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 3:28 pm

Auntie Anne's logo is a pretzel wearing a halo. This is probably supposed to connote a pretzel that's good for you. Or heavenly, maybe? But when you look at it long enough, it makes you think: Pretzels can die. And there's an afterlife for them.

Is pretzel heaven the same as people heaven? Where do bad pretzels go? These are the things that go through your head when you're waiting for your Pretzel Dog — a hot dog wrapped in soft pretzel.

Ian: This is indistinguishable from a Nerf Blowgun.

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Shots - Health News
12:04 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

'America's Bitter Pill' Makes Case For Why Health Care Law 'Won't Work'

Steven Brill is a journalist who also founded Court TV, American Lawyer magazine, 10 regional legal newspapers and Brill's Content Magazine. He teaches journalism at Yale.
Courtesy of Random House

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 9:46 am

While reporting on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, journalist Steven Brill was diagnosed with a life-threatening condition that required heart surgery.

"There I was: a reporter who had made hospital presidents and hospital executives and health care executives and insurance executives sweat because I asked them all kinds of questions about their salaries and about their profit margins," Brill tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And now I was lying on a gurney in a hospital in real fear of my life."

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Monkey See
8:02 am
Mon January 5, 2015

From Patton Oswalt, A Movie Memoir That's Best Outside The Theater

Brad Barket Getty Images

The best of comedian and actor Patton Oswalt lies in his ability to truthfully observe what is small but important. That's true in his comedy, but it's true in his writing, too. Here he is in his new memoir Silver Screen Fiend, talking about his desperation to make an impression in his first movie role, a tiny part in the Kelsey Grammer comedy Down Periscope:

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The Salt
7:08 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Craft Brewers Are Running Out Of Names, And Into Legal Spats

With so many craft breweries now in operation, just about every beer name you can imagine is taken. That's making it harder for newcomers to name that brew without risking a legal fight.
Leif Parsons for NPR

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 2:49 pm

Columbia? Taken. Mississippi? Taken. Sacramento? El Niño? Marlin? Grizzly? Sorry, they're all taken.

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Parallels
1:33 am
Mon January 5, 2015

The Theater Company Is 1927; The Technology Is Cutting Edge

The British theater company 1927 performs its latest play, Golem, based on the character from ancient Jewish folklore. The troupe's trademark is vintage style combined with distinctive animation.
Bernhard Mueller

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 5:40 pm

Lots of theater companies use animation and video projection. None uses it quite like the British troupe called 1927. The company has combined vintage style with sophisticated technology to carve out a unique niche in the theater.

1927's newest play, Golem, has just opened in London to rave reviews.

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Author Interviews
4:25 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

How 'Star Wars' Helped Patton Oswalt Beat His Movie Addiction

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 7:37 pm

Before he made it big in Holloywood, actor, writer and comedian Patton Oswalt was a junkie — addicted to movies, as he explains in a new memoir, Silver Screen Fiend.

The word addiction gets thrown around a lot, but Oswalt tells NPR's Arun Rath that his relationship to movies was downright pathological.

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