Arts

Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
3:15 am
Sat December 21, 2013

The Crossword Turns 100 (Across): Celebrate By Playing Our Puzzle

John Chaneski

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:46 am

  • Hear Will Shortz Prove His Anagram Prowess On Ask Me Another

The first published crossword puzzle was printed on December 21, 1913, in the The New York World. It was written by Arthur Wynne, a British journalist who moved to the United States at age 19 and wound up in New York City. His puzzle, diamond-shaped and identified as a "Word-Cross," first appeared in the "Fun" section of the Sunday paper.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
5:58 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

'Queen Of Memphis Soul' Carla Thomas Plays Not My Job

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 12:14 pm

We recorded our show in Memphis, Tenn., this week, where Carla Thomas is a soul legend. Born in Memphis, Thomas scored her first hit single for Stax Records at the age of 18, and had many more, including duets with Otis Redding and other stars.

We've invited her to play a game called "Thomas, meet Thomas." Three questions about other people who are also named Thomas.

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Book Reviews
2:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

This British Spy Thriller Shows How Thrill-Less Spying Can Be

Then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte walks the hallways of the Threat Operations Center inside the National Security Agency in 2006.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Thanks to the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, a panel appointed by President Obama, the practice of spying has been thrust back into headlines this week. The panel recommended that the NSA should stop collecting nearly all phone records, suggesting that a third party take responsibility instead for the database of records.

Tapping phones, searching records, international intrigue — these acts are not new events unfolding with the NSA. In fact, all this espionage has been a staple in novel and film for the better part of a century.

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Movie Interviews
2:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Ben Stiller, Spinning Daydreams In 'Walter Mitty'

Ben Stiller stars as a man who escapes his humdrum life by daydreaming in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which he also directed.
Wilson Webb Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — originally a two-page James Thurber story published in The New Yorker in 1939 — is about the reveries of a henpecked husband who became transformed, in his imagination, into an intrepid fighter pilot or a world-famous surgeon.

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Shots - Health News
10:11 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Angelina Didn't Help Educate People About Breast Cancer Risk

A celebrity's efforts to educate the public about health risk may have very limited effects.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:47 pm

Remember when Angelina Jolie decided to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer? The Hollywood star revealed her experience in The New York Times in May.

Her story got a lot of people talking about preventive mastectomies. But it didn't do much to increase people's understanding of breast cancer risk, a study found.

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Movie Reviews
9:28 am
Fri December 20, 2013

For An Actress In Eclipse, 'All The Light' She Can Grasp

Jane Adams, who played a poet turned pimp on the HBO series Hung, takes on the part of a conflicted actor grappling with age in All the Light in the Sky.
Factory 25

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 12:24 pm

"I wish I had this other layer all the time," says a woman offhandedly, zipping up a form-fitting protective wetsuit.

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The Salt
9:04 am
Fri December 20, 2013

They're Back! Chesapeake Oysters Return To Menus After Rebound

A plate of Sweet Jesus oysters grown in Chesapeake Bay by Hollywood Oyster Co. in Hollywood, Md.
Katy Adams Courtesy Clyde's Restaurant Group

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 10:44 am

The history of the Chesapeake Bay oyster hasn't always been a pure one. So you could forgive a chef for being skeptical about the big bivalve comeback being staged in D.C. and the surrounding area this winter as oyster season gets underway.

But many mid-Atlantic chefs are actually cheering. That's because a major public-private effort to re-establish the oyster as a quality local food product — as well as a weapon against water pollution — seems to be working.

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Monkey See
7:18 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Love In The Time Of Hollering: The Age Of Enthusiasm

Mark Evans iStockphoto

There have been Ages of Innocence and Iron, of Jazz and Bronze and Ice. We've had Golden Ages of all kinds, though we note them less by experiencing them and more by debating whether they have started, whether they are over, and whether we will ever see their like again.

And now we are in the Age Of Enthusiasm.

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Movie Reviews
6:05 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A Man And His Machine, Finding Out What Love Is

In the sci-fi romance Her, a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) finds love in a rather unexpected place — with a computer operating system named Samantha.
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:24 pm

Her is the best film of the year by a so-wide margin. It's gorgeous, funny, deep — and I can hear some smart aleck say, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" Let me tell you, I'd like to!

I certainly identify with the protagonist, Theodore Twombly, who falls in love with his computer operating system, his OS, which calls itself — sorry, I gotta say "who calls herself" — Samantha, and who sounds like a breathy young woman.

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Monkey See
3:46 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Infectious Collections: Stories And Poems To Convert Any Reader

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 6:57 am

This post is for everyone who passes right by the poetry section; all the bookish types who haven't read a short story since graduation. We know you're out there — and you're not alone.

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Movie Reviews
3:01 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

'The Selfish Giant' Spins A Grim Modern Fairy Tale

Living in poverty and expelled from school, Arbor (Conner Chapman) turns to collecting scrap metal with a cart and horse in The Selfish Giant.
Agatha A. Nitecka Sundance Selects

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 5:08 pm

In Oscar Wilde's fairy tale The Selfish Giant, the title character brings eternal winter to his garden by banishing children from it. Writer-director Clio Barnard's film of the same name was inspired by Wilde's fable, yet is much different.

The original story was for kids; the movie is about kids, but its grim depictions of violence against innocents may be too harrowing even for some adults. Yet the movie is engrossing, and sure to linger long after its poignant culmination.

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Movie Reviews
3:01 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

From An Oscar Winner, A 'Past' Still Hauntingly Present

Asghar Farhadi's The Past focuses on the complex family dynamics between Marie (Berenice Bejo), her soon-to-be ex-husband, her new love (Tahar Rahim, above) and her children.
Carole Bethuel Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 4:46 pm

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi came to international attention last year when his film A Separation won the Oscar for best foreign language film. His latest picture, The Past, has been showered with awards, too — at the Cannes Film Festival and from critics groups in the U.S. I saw The Past in September at the Toronto Film Festival, and it has haunted me ever since.

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Movie Interviews
2:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A Town, A Team, And A Dream That Just Won't Die

The Medora Hornets, here with assistant coach Rudie Crain, are the centerpiece of the documentary Medora, from directors Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn.
Beachside Films

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 5:14 pm

In a high-school locker room in small-town Indiana, a coach is tearing into his basketball team. The Medora Hornets have scored zero points — none at all — in the game's fourth quarter.

In Medora, the hapless team becomes a kind of metaphor for the town itself — "a no-stoplight town," in the words of documentarian Davy Rothbart, one where the jobs have dried up and the population has dwindled.

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The Salt
11:36 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Geeky Gamers Feast Upon Settlers Of Catan Cookbook

The deconstructed, hexagonal salad nicoise: perfect for all your gourmand geek friends.
Courtesy of Chris-Rachel Oseland

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 8:15 am

We've discovered a text that could rank among the geekiest of all cookbooks. It's based on Settlers of Catan, that German civilization-building board game with the cult following.

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Movie Interviews
11:09 am
Thu December 19, 2013

A 'Kind Of A Big Deal' Gets Even Bigger In 'Anchorman 2'

Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate reprise their roles as competing news anchors in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
Gemma LaMana Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 12:43 pm

Way back in the 2004 film Anchorman, Ron Burgundy was a local TV-news host in '70s San Diego. Fast-forward to this year's sequel, and that epic haircut is national news: Set in 1980, Anchorman 2 follows Will Ferrell's vain, shallow character as he graduates to a CNN-style cable news network.

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Food
10:25 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Pat Neely Shares Holiday Comfort Food Ideas

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Commentary
9:26 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Narcissistic Or Not, 'Selfie' Is Nunberg's Word Of The Year

President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron pose for a "selfie" with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
Roberto Schmidt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 9:48 am

I feel a little defensive about choosing "selfie" as my Word of the Year for 2013. I've usually been partial to words that encapsulate one of the year's major stories, such as "occupy" or "big data." Or "privacy," which is the word Dictionary.com chose this year. But others go with what I think of as mayfly words — the ones that bubble briefly to the surface in the wake of some fad or fashion.

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Television
1:04 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Watch This: Vince Gilligan's Favorite Dark Corners

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, seen during an event for the show in July, shares some of his favorite TV shows.
Neilson Barnard Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

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Number Of The Year
3:51 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Hollywood Holding On To Its Summer Love

This summer, movie studios were up to their necks in big-budget blockbusters, including Disney's The Lone Ranger, which ended up a huge bomb.
Peter Mountain Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:34 pm

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. Over the next two weeks, you'll hear the stories behind these numbers, which range from zero to 1 trillion.

You can understand a lot about how Hollywood works if you understand the number 17. That's the number of big, super-expensive movies that came out in the May to July summer movie season. And only about 10 of them were solidly profitable.

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Code Switch
2:30 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Seeking Wonderful Young Adult Novels That Deal With Race

What books about race or culture would you recommend to a not-so-bookish teen?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 2:49 pm

At Code Switch, we receive a whole bunch of emails and messages from readers and listeners. And many times, folks ask questions that get us buzzing during our editorial discussions.

One Code Switch reader sent us a note seeking book recommendations for a multiracial teen. The emailer described the teen as not very "bookish" but still a good reader.

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The Salt
1:23 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

The Man Who Duped Millionaires Into Paying Big Bucks For Fake Wine

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:32 pm

He was the man with "the nose of a blood hound," as one wine critic once put it.

Rudy Kurniawan was once the toast of the fine-wine world, renowned for his ability to find some of the rarest — and priciest — wines in the world.

He was also, prosecutors alleged, a fraud who duped some of the country's wealthiest wine purchasers with counterfeit bottles of wine that he manufactured in his home laboratory.

And on Wednesday, a Manhattan jury agreed, finding Kurniawan guilty of fraud in connection with selling counterfeit wines and of defrauding a finance company.

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Beauty Shop
9:28 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Is Beyonce Still The Queen?

Pop star Beyonce's new surprise album has been getting a lot of buzz, but is it all it's cracked up to be? Beauty shop ladies Bridget Johnson, Aisha Harris, Danielle Belton and Anne Ishii weigh in.

Games & Humor
9:28 am
Wed December 18, 2013

African-American Woman To Run Humorous 'Harvard Lampoon' Magazine

The humor magazine The Harvard Lampoon was founded in 1876, but for the first time, an African-American woman will run things. Host Michel Martin talks with President-elect Alexis Wilkinson and Vice President-elect Eleanor Parker about their plans for the magazine.

Monkey See
7:07 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Two Ways Of Seeing An iPhone Christmas

Screen shot

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:44 pm

Apple recently released a Christmas ad it calls "Misunderstood."

In it, a kid — maybe 14 or so? — spends Christmas with his family. He seems to be always looking at his phone when everybody else is decorating the tree, making a snowman, skating, or whatever else they're doing. He smiles, but he sets himself apart.

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Food
1:03 am
Wed December 18, 2013

The Stars Come Out For Holiday Bakers

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 11:21 am

As a young woman, I had an attack of nostalgia for a possibly imaginary cookie. It was prompted by a walk up New York's Third Avenue, where I saw in the bakery case of a local delicatessen a stack of small round cookies, covered in the tiny rainbow sprinkles known as nonpareils. Instantly, I was ambushed by a flashback to the tiny Italian pastry shop of the small riverside town just north of Manhattan where I grew up, and where, I felt sure, I had been given star-shaped sprinkle cookies of a similar kind as a reward for my excellent behavior.

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Books News & Features
1:02 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Hear, Here: Four Audiobooks With A Brand-New Sound

Think a graphic novel is too visual to make a good audiobook? Think again. The audio version of Civil War uses sound effects, music and a full cast to bring the superhero story to life.
Courtesy of GraphicAudio

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 9:08 am

If your holiday shopping trip includes a stop at the bookstore, you might consider adding audiobooks to your gift list. And this year, as you slip on headphones to sample the offerings, what you hear might surprise you.

According to Robin Whitten, the founder and editor of AudioFile magazine, the genre has far surpassed the conventions of the taped readings of yore.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Ron Burgundy, Still A Legend In His Own Tiny Mind

Great Odin's Raven! Will Ferrell's cheerfully idiotic Ron Burgundy and Christina Applegate's whip-smart Veronica Corningstone are back for a comedy sequel that critic Ian Buckwalter says is essentially an avalanche of one-liners.
Gemma LaMana Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 2:13 pm

Make no mistake, Ron Burgundy is a terrible human being. In 2004's Anchorman, it's true, he learned a lesson (sort of) about the dangers of his overinflated ego and the lies of his culturally inherited misogyny. But everything came out OK in the end, and he ended things as a semi-likable rogue — casually misogynist, lackadaisically racist, generically insensitive and oblivious, but still a guy who loves his dog, his lady and his Scotch, and who isn't afraid to cry.

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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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