On-air challenge: You will be given some names that you probably never heard of before 2013, but that were in the news during the past 12 months. You name who the people are. These names were compiled with the help of Kathie Baker, Tim Goodman and Sandy Weisz.
Last week's challenge from listener Andrew Chaikin of San Francisco: Think of a well-known filmmaker, first and last names. Add "S-U-N" before this person's first name and last name. In each case, you'll form a common English word. Who is the filmmaker?
Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 10:19 am
Federico Garcia Lorca, the Spanish surrealist, wasn't just any writer. The poet and playwright was also a revolutionary who penned some of the most intricate and arresting verse of the twentieth century. Out now from New Directions, Selected Poems is perhaps the best introduction to the poet's oeuvre — and one of the foremost works of poetry in translation released this year. This edition, featuring a host of translators from Langston Hughes to Ben Belitt and W. S. Merwin, should have a place in any growing library.
I love Key West, and I go there as often as possible: pina coladas, drag queens, shady hammocks, feral chickens — it's the best. There's just one problem: everyone gets around the island by bike, and I've never learned to ride one. Obviously that had to change.
Why didn't I learn? I really don't remember, and neither did my mom, when I asked her about the one time my parents tried to teach me. "You got on a big bicycle that was so big you couldn't really turn the wheels and got discouraged."
This year was lauded by many news outlets as an incredible year for black films. CNN heralded "Hollywood's African-American Renaissance;" The New York Times called 2013 a "a breakout year for black films." Shani Hilton, deputy editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, talks to NPR's Arun Rath about why she think those assertions are overstated.
As we approach the threshold of a new year, it's only human to wonder what's ahead. In Germany and a few nearby countries, the answer to this age-old existential question is found in molten lead.
When Gesine Krätzner had some scraps of lead left over from a roofing project last winter, she knew just what to do with them. Krätzner lives in Portland, Ore., but grew up in Germany. As a kid, she would melt bits of lead with her family for a New Year's Eve tradition called Bleigiessen.
I was a shy boy of 11, soon to be withdrawn from a Catholic Seminary where I had been bullied and lonely and unhappy, when I found Giovanni's Room. I was on summer holiday; I used to spend my days reading from my parents' extensive library, usually on the rattan lounger on the second-floor porch of our house in the small town of Afikpo. I remember feeling a kinship with James Baldwin — not so much with his characters, whom I couldn't often relate to, but with this melancholy that seeped through his pages.
The enigmatic Miss Havisham has haunted the popular imagination for more than 150 years. She appeared inGreat Expectations, one of Charles Dickens' best-loved novels: It's been read widely since its publication, and was made into several immensely popular movies.
We want simple things from books in winter — or at least I do. I want a vindication of my desire to loaf, laze, retreat from the world, the assurances, in short, of The Wind in the Willows, whose edicts are sane and just: "No animal, according to the rules of animal-etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter."
As we close out 2013, we're returning to some of the year's films that were "inspired by a true story" and taking a look at the true-to-inspired ratio. Turns out, 42 — a biopic that portrays Jackie Robinson's 1947 integration of Major League Baseball — gets a lot of things right.
Arnold Rampersad, a professor of English at Stanford University who wrote a biography of Robinson, says the film really rings true.
You might think going through a divorce and losing your home to foreclosure would be hard to bounce back from, and they are, but Tell Me More caught up with a woman who beat the odds and built a new home for herself.
Macy Miller, an architect from Idaho, built the home with her own two hands at a cost of only $11,000. The house is less than 200 square feet.
There has been no shortage of noteworthy new books this year. In fact, the prospect of choosing just a few of them to recommend to NPR's Steve Inskeep "kind of overwhelmed" librarian Nancy Pearl. So, "out of a sense of desperation," she says, Pearl combed through her own personal library stacks for some of her favorite titles from years past that readers might have missed the first time around.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 4:57 pm
We are awash in war films, and why is it that nonfiction films such as Dirty Wars or Iraq in Fragments increasingly resort to the dramatizing techniques of narrative film, while fiction films strain toward procedure, as if to avoid the sticky business of interpretation altogether?
Legendary artist Faith Ringgold began her career in 1963 — the same year as the March on Washington. She talks to guest host Celeste Headlee about her life, work and why no one originally wanted to hear her story.
A new book of poetry narrates the life and death of civil rights leader Medgar Evers through a series of imagined monologues. Evers was the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi. In that role, he organized boycotts, investigated and brought attention to the murder of Emmett Till, and helped James Meredith integrate the University of Mississippi.
Evers was gunned down in his Jackson, Miss., driveway by KKK leader Byron De La Beckwith in 1963. But it took more than 30 years for De La Beckwith to be convicted of his murder.
When someone takes our picture, we usually deliver a mile-wide grin, but there's not a smile in the room at the Phillips Collection's photography show in Washington.
The exhibit mostly consists of portraits of inner lives, taken by various photographers, and it's about the encounter between the two participants. Susan Behrends Frank curated the small show, called "Shaping aModern Identity," which is running through Jan. 12.
This is the time of year when one man's work is widely - if indirectly - celebrated. His name used to be hugely famous, but nowadays, it draws blank stares, even from people who know that work. E.T.A. Hoffman, who lived from 1776 to 1822 in the Kingdom of Prussia, was responsible for a work that is a staple the holiday season, the original author of The Nutcracker. You can read more about the story, which aired last Christmas, here.
A short story, a radio show, a Danny Kaye vehicle — no, really — even an off-Broadway musical: James Thurber's nebbishy daydreamer Walter Mitty has had plenty of incarnations in his nearly 75 years. He's back again, this time in an expensive, effects-fueled drama from actor-director Ben Stiller, and we thought that rather than reviewing it, we'd have NPR's Bob Mondello survey the range of public lives lived by the character. Have a listen.
Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:15 am
Who doesn't love a Danish pastry?
And in Denmark, they like their pastries sprinkled with plenty of cinnamon.
But now, Denmark's bakers are being told that their time-honored recipe for the beloved kanelsnegle — or cinnamon swirl — may be unhealthy and against the law. Recent testing by the Danish government found that a large number of the rolls had too much cinnamon — more than the recommended limits set by the European Union.
Around Thanksgiving, The Race Card Project brought us the story of a woman who grew up in a Filipino family but desperately wanted to be anything but Filipino. When Melanie Vanderlipe Ramil was a child, she shied away from her family's traditional meals, including the rice that's a staple in Filipino cooking.
But recently, she's become committed to keeping those food traditions alive.
Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 10:41 pm
As a Christmas gift to readers, Kitchen Window has compiled some of the most popular stories of the year for another look. As always, you were interested in a variety of subjects, from the simple procedure to the leap of faith, and showed an interest in trending topics — like gluten-free and DIY.
Several times during The Wolf of Wall Street, the wolf himself turns to the camera and offers to explain some stockbroker term or strategy. But then he stops himself and says it doesn't really matter.
It sure doesn't — not in this exuberant but profitless bad-behavior romp. It's based on the career of former penny-stock magnate Jordan Belfort, but might as well be about Keith Richards in the '70s or Robert Downey Jr. in the '90s.
Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 3:40 pm
The Invisible Woman is slow to build — but worth its wait in gold. A little over halfway through, this terrific drama bears fiercely down on the steep cost of being two of the significant women in the gilded life of Charles Dickens.
Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 3:34 pm
"We shouldn't be here."
That's the sense you get watching August: Osage County -- that you're peering in on moments so intimate and painful that no one should witness them, perhaps not even those who are a part of it.
In fact, that's what many characters in the movie — an adaptation of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play — decide for themselves. They don't want to be part of it, either. In this story of an uncomfortable family reunion, time is marked by cars pulling out of their dusty Oklahoma driveway at regular intervals, never to be seen again.