Arts

Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
8:02 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Day 12: It's A New Year, So Keep Your Brain Sharp

Puzzle guru Art Chung has a question or two for you.
Steve Petrucelli
  • Listen to 'Replacement Math'

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

What do you get when you add Jay-Z's 'Problems' to Three Dog Night's 'Loneliest Number'? In this Season One bonus round, titled "Replacement Math," puzzle guru Art Chung challenges contestants to solve simple arithmetic problems using numbers found in pop culture. Calculus is a lot less scary when it involves your favorite band.

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Author Interviews
6:59 am
Sun January 5, 2014

A Novice Reporter Begins His Journey In The Congo

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:13 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Anjan Sundaram had all kinds of options in the late summer of 2005. He had a master's in mathematics from Yale, a lucrative job offer from Goldman Sachs; and he was just about to begin a Ph.D. But he left all that behind and made a dramatically different choice. He headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the worst conflict zones in the world, to try to start a career in journalism. At the time, the death count in that war was more than 4 million people. That number continues to rise.

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Sunday Puzzle
6:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Two Times Harder

NPR

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:13 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a pair of two-syllable words. The first syllable of the word answering the first clue has the letters A-R, pronounced "are." Change these phonetically to "er," and you'll get a new word that answers the second clue. For example, given "hair-cutter" and "a North African," the answer would be "barber" and "Berber."

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Author Interviews
6:01 am
Sun January 5, 2014

'On Such A Full Sea': A Fable From A Fractured Future

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:13 am

Fast-forward to a few hundred years into the future: Resources in the United States are scarce. The government has fallen apart and most of the population has left, looking for a better life somewhere else.

Immigrant laborers — many from China — have come to fill the labor void, and life in the new America is divided into three distinct societies. First, the Charters, walled-off cities populated by the elites. Next are the working-class cities where the laborers live, and last are the lawless and wild places in between.

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Three Books...
5:02 am
Sun January 5, 2014

When Modernism Met Science Fiction: Three New Wave Classics

The original paperback cover for Joanna Russ' 1975 novel The Female Man (detail above) called the book "startling."

A fan named Peter Graham once said that the golden age of science fiction is 12. That's true for me, although like many other fans I'd insist that my first exposure to SF happened during the real golden age. The decade from 1965 to 1975 was science fiction's so-called New Wave, when the genre took on both the turmoil of the '60s and the literary techniques of high modernism. The mix of the two created spectacular results, as dozens of energized writers penned scores of wonderful books. To this day their impact is being recognized; 2014 will see Samuel R.

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Fine Art
2:32 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Robert Indiana: A Career Defined By 'LOVE' No Longer

Robert Indiana first emerged as a pop artist in the early 1960s, but he was quickly defined by his 1966 signature work, LOVE, shown behind Indiana in this 2013 photo.
Lauren Casselberry AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 9:13 am

In 1968, Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art bought a painting called LOVE — and made artist Robert Indiana famous. It became a sculpture, a stamp, greeting cards.

And it obliterated the rest of Indiana's career. The artist has been pretty much ignored by the art world for the past few decades. Not sneered at, he says – just ignored.

"I wasn't aware that I was disrespected," he says, in a raspy baritone. "I've only been neglected."

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Poetry
3:16 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

Jimmy Santiago Baca, From Prison To Poetry

When Jimmy Santiago Baca was 20, he was convicted of drug charges and sentenced to prison. He was illiterate when he arrived at the Arizona State Prison. When he got out five years later, he was well on his way to becoming one of America's most celebrated poets.

Baca writes about oppression, love and migration, and his poems range from just a few lines to many pages.

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Fine Art
3:16 pm
Sat January 4, 2014

Conserving Priceless Chinese Paintings Is An Art All Its Own

Zhao Mengfu was the preeminent painter and calligrapher of the early Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). His Sheep And Goat scroll is estimated to be worth $100 million.
Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 1:33 pm

Outside of China and Taiwan, U.S. museums hold the world's best collection of Chinese paintings. It's worth billions of dollars, but it's also fragile: Over time, these paintings fall apart. In the U.S., there are only four master conservators who know how to take care of them, and they're all approaching retirement.

The Freer and Sackler Galleries — one of the huge, stone Smithsonian buildings on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. — employ one of those masters.

Invisible Conservation

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Music News
6:52 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Hip-Hop's Aboriginal Connection

Two turntables carved from wood scratch out the sound of Beat Nation artist Jordan Bennett learning his native Mi'kmaq language.
David Sommerstein / NCPR

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 12:38 pm

At the entrance of a new exhibit at Montreal's Musée d'Art Contemporain, visitors are greeted with a red neon glow and a ping-pong of sounds. A dubstep groove thumps. A high-hat skitters. A pow-wow chant echoes from another room.

Beat Nation: Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture has become something of an art sensation in Canada. Featuring more than two dozen artists using beats, graffiti, humor and politics to challenge stereotypes, the exhibit coincides with the growth of Idle No More, an indigenous political movement in Canada.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Comic Artist Yumi Sakugawa On Friend-Love, Identity And Art

Yumi Sakugawa's book I Think I Am In Friend Love With You helps define the joys of modern friendships.
Yumi Sakugawa

About a month ago, I asked my followers on Twitter if they had any recommendations for a comic artist whose work I should check out. Person after person brought up Yumi Sakugawa, a California-based artist. And I was familiar with her work: she's the brains behind the ever-nostalgic strip, "Claudia Kishi: My Asian-American Female Role Model Of The 90s."

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Poetry
3:57 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Ice Cube Sculptures, Tulips And Death: A 2014 Poetry Preview

Matthea Harvey's upcoming collection mixes poetry with visual art — like this image. Faces drawn by Monika Zarzecna.
Matthea Harvey Graywolf Press

What's in store for us in 2014? Season 3 of Girls and Homeland sans Brody. The dawning of the smart watch. Smoother sailing for healthcare.gov? Growing tensions in Russia and Syria. It's enough to make one giddy and terrified all at once — thankfully, we have poetry to express all our powerful and conflicted feelings.

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Author Interviews
3:53 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Lovebirds + String + Watering Can + Dog = Rube Goldberg Magic

Rube Goldberg drew many of his devices, like this one for a machine that disposes of cigarette ashes, for his series, "The Inventions of Professor Lucifer G. Butts, A.K," published in Colliers magazine between 1929 and 1931.
Copyright Heirs of Rube Goldberg Abrams ComicArts

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 12:38 pm

Many people know Rube Goldberg as an adjective — a shorthand description for a convoluted device or contraption. But Rube Goldberg was a real person — one who earned a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning and who captivated imaginations with drawings of complex chain reactions that completed the simplest of tasks.

Goldberg died in 1970, but Jennifer George, his granddaughter, has collected the zany world he created in a coffee table book, The Art of Rube Goldberg: (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius.

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This Week's Must Read
2:43 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Tough Commute This Morning? Your 'Journey' Could Have Been Worse

Members of Robert Falcon Scott expedition's at the South Pole pose for the camera: Robert F. Scott, Lawrence Oates, Henry R. Bowers, Edward A. Wilson, and Edgar Evans.
Herbert George Ponting Library of Congress

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 7:10 pm

Jynne Martin is a poet who recently served as Antarctica's writer in residence.

If like many East Coasters, you had a miserable commute today through the blinding snow, just remember that it could be worse. You could've been one of the 74 passengers and crew aboard the ship trapped in Antarctica sea ice on Christmas Eve, who waited a week to be rescued, then got stuck again, enduring high winds, freezing cold, and what must have been a painful number of Crazy Eights games.

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Arts & Life
2:43 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

'Playboy' Gets Pranked: Group Flips The Script On Sex

You can't buy these panties at your local Victoria's Secret. While they mimic the look of that brand's Pink line, they're actually part of a project by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture.
Courtesy of FORCE

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 6:43 pm

Rebecca Nagle sometimes finds herself asking the question: What would Hugh Hefner say?

"The only sex that is good is when it's good for everyone," she says, laughing. "And I've only ever had good sex."

Hefner didn't actually say that. Nagle wrote it.

"But you can really imagine Hugh Hefner saying that," she insists.

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Book Reviews
12:40 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

A Critic Tours 'Echo Spring,' Home Of Beloved Boozy Writers

nito100 iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 2:19 pm

It's the quintessential "dog bites man" story. I'm talking about a new book I just read about a group of famous writers who — get this -- drank too much! I know, right? That's pretty much the equivalent of saying I just read a book about a group of famous writers who used commas in their sentences.

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The Salt
10:15 am
Fri January 3, 2014

'Cut Food': Take A Peek At The Beauty Inside Everyday Edibles

A hotdog and ice cream cone from Beth Galton and Charlotte Omnes' "Cut Food" series.
Courtesy of Beth Galton

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 9:18 am

Let's assume you've got a beautiful stuffed turkey, some time to kill and a hacksaw just itching to slice things apart. This could be the ingredient list for a real culinary disaster. But if you're Beth Galton and Charlotte Omnes, what you get is a peek inside the beauty baked into everyday foods.

They're the duo behind "Cut Food," a photo series that literally cleaves into edibles — hot dogs, ice cream, fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy — to reveal gorgeous geometric patterns tucked within.

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TED Radio Hour
8:48 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Is It Possible To Live With The Voices In Your Head?

James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 12:48 pm

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Overcoming.

About Eleanor Longden's TEDTalk

Eleanor Longden was a normal college student — until she began hearing voices. Longden recounts her journey with schizophrenia and how she came to listen to and live with her voices.

About Eleanor Longden

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TED Radio Hour
8:48 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Can One Girl Challenge The Traditions Of Her Village?

"It doesn't matter, your background. What matters is what you take from the opportunity you're given, where you go with that." — Kakenya Ntaiya
Ray Ortega TED

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 12:48 pm

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Overcoming.

About Kakenya Ntaiya's TEDTalk

Kakenya Ntaiya tells the fearless story of challenging ingrained traditions, insisting on continuing school, and becoming the first girl to leave her Maasai village for college.

About Kakenya Ntaiya

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TED Radio Hour
8:48 am
Fri January 3, 2014

What's It Like To Be Young And Bullied?

"I can't let my life be this. Because if I give up now, that's what my life will be. I'll never walk out the front door." — Shane Koyczan
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 12:48 pm

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Overcoming.

About Shane Koyczan's TEDTalk

Shane Koyczan describes growing up endlessly tormented by bullies. When he turned to spoken-word poetry to cope, he found that millions related to his anti-bullying message.

About Shane Koyczan

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
7:49 am
Fri January 3, 2014

The Complete Jonathan Coulton Recordings, Season Two

Jonathan Coulton, Ask Me Another's versatile house musician, has a song to play for any occasion.
Steve McFarland NPR

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 8:59 am

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

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Monkey See
7:47 am
Fri January 3, 2014

The 'Veronica Mars' Trailer Has Arrived

On March 14, just about a year after it was funded by a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, the Veronica Mars movie will come to theaters, and you can now see the trailer.

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Monkey See
6:29 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Silly Questions Live, For Special Guests

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

In part one of our live show from December, you heard us talk about culture and the end of the year, as we often do. You heard us explain what's making us happy this week — it was pretty much a regular show, with the addition of our terrific live audience.

This week, in part two, you'll hear something very different.

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The Two-Way
5:02 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Book News: 'Cazalet' Author Elizabeth Jane Howard Dies

English novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard is pictured in 1978.
Michael Fresco Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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

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Theater
1:26 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Don't Call Him Theo: Malcolm-Jamal Warner On Life After 'Cosby'

Malcolm-Jamal Warner plays Dr. John Prentice in Arena Stage's production of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
Amy Ta NPR

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 6:53 am

Actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner is best-known for the role he played in the '80s, as Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show. He's so well-known for that role, in fact, that even now — at age 43 — he still gets called by the wrong name.

"People kind of have a misconception, because when someone calls me Theo and I correct them, say, 'No, my name is Malcolm,' they think I have an attitude about it and I don't want to be associated with the show," Warner explains to NPR's David Green.

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Theater
1:26 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Broadway's 'Spider-Man' Musical Turns Off The Lights At Last

Reeve Carney (right) handed off the lead role in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark to successor Justin Matthew Sargent in September 2013. The show closes Jan. 4, and the Smithsonian Institution announced today that it's acquiring Carney's costume.
Rob Kim Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 7:23 am

Regardless of how critics and audiences eventually responded, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was always going to be one of the most-discussed shows in Broadway history. It had songs by U2's Bono and the Edge; it was directed by The Lion King's Julie Taymor; it was based on a hit Marvel franchise; there were going to be flying stunts right over the audience's heads.

And then somehow it all went very wrong, from injured actors to huge cost overruns.

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Architecture
1:25 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Bjarke Ingels: An Architect For A Moment Or An Era?

Ingels stands in the middle of what will become a giant, twisted wedge of an apartment building in New York City.
Dan Bobkoff For NPR

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 6:25 am

In a business that's often poorly paid and anonymous, 39-year-old Bjarke Ingels has become something rare, especially at his age: a "starchitect" in demand.

Now, the Danish architect, who has museums, apartment buildings and parks around the world, is taking his talents to New York City.

'Cracks In The Asphalt'

Models fill his firm's New York City office, including a design for a public pier in Brooklyn that looks like a sea creature.

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Art & Design
4:02 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Tiny Museum Preserves Proof Of Creators' Crazy Stories

Other exhibits on display at the Museum include "Silicon Body Part Piercing Displays," "Cambodian Menu Photo Rejects" and "New York City Tip Jars."
Naho Kubota for Mmuseumm

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 5:38 pm

Imagine a museum that's only 6 square feet. It's called, simply, Museum and it's housed in an old elevator shaft in an alley near New York City's courts. It has some odd exhibits on 18 small shelves, and only about four people can fit into the space at a time.

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Book Reviews
4:01 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

'Before I Burn' Uses Autobiography To Tell A Crime Story

Burning House
John Rich iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 5:14 am

My favorite crime novels always combine more than one genre. Like a detective mystery that's really psychological. Or a police captain who happens to be a gourmet. Honestly, most travel books don't even get going until a body or two is discovered.

In the case of Before I Burn by Gaute Heivoll, the mashup is suspense meets memoir. It sounds a little gimmicky, but I promise it's absolutely not. Instead we have a semi-autobiographical novel that's poetic, gripping and at times even profound.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

In 'Open Grave,' Plenty Of Open Questions

Josie Ho plays a character called Brown Eyes, who's the only one with any memory of what has transpired — but who can't communicate with the others.
Vermes Kata Tribeca Film

It's never a good sign when a character in a mystery has to give a speech at the end explaining exactly what's just happened. You know, just in case the story itself didn't actually manage to make it clear.

Sure, Hitchcock gets away with it at the end of Psycho, but only because the whodunit portion of that movie isn't the thing that makes it so great. Also, he's Alfred Hitchcock; the masters can get away with breaking some rules, because they can make up others that work just as well.

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The Salt
1:49 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Cork Versus Screw Cap: Don't Judge A Wine By How It's Sealed

Winemakers are increasingly turning to screw caps. Now consumers are learning to get over their prejudice for cork, too.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 4:18 pm

Step aside, cork.

If you're a wine drinker, you've probably noticed that screw caps are no longer considered the closure just for cheap vino. Increasingly, bottles of very good wines are unscrewed, rather than uncorked.

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