Arts

Author Interviews
3:42 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

Booking A Flight For The 'Golden Age Of Hijacking'

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 4:43 pm

Imagine air travel in the 1960s when flying the skies meant luxury. You could light up a cigarette on board and enjoy a five-star meal.

Going to the airport wasn't a hassle. There were no security screenings, and boarding a plane was just as easy as getting on a bus.

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Sunday Puzzle
6:02 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Now You Know Them

NPR

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 10:16 am

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?

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Rediscovering The Intricate Verse Of Federico Garcia Lorca

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.

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Arts & Life
3:08 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Winging It: Biking Around Again In Margaritaville

NPR's Petra Mayer has finally learned how to ride a bike.
Izolda Trakhtenberg

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 9:53 am

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."

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Monkey See
3:03 am
Sun December 29, 2013

This Is (Not) The Most Important Story Of The Year

News of Justin Bieber's retirement sent shockwaves across the Internet.
Powers Imagery AP

Have you spent much of the holiday season debating whether Justin Bieber really intends to retire?

No? Well, what about the question of whether Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson was rightly suspended for making bigoted remarks, or was in fact suppressed for giving voice to traditional values?

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Arts & Life
3:02 pm
Sat December 28, 2013

The Trouble With Assessing 'Black Films'

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 4:54 pm

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.

Arts & Life
6:55 am
Sat December 28, 2013

As The Lead Cools, Some See Their New Year Take Shape

Is that a cross? A ship with a figurehead? What future do you see in these lead shapes? In one New Year's tradition, fortune-seekers drop molten lead into cold water and guess what the shapes portend.
Deena Prichep for NPR

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 2:31 pm

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.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
6:37 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Day 4: Mind Your Out-of-Date Manners

Ophira Eisenberg doesn't need your stinkin' etiquette rules. She makes up her own.
Becky Harlan NPR
  • Listen to 'Mad Men's Guide To Etiquette'

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

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PG-13: Risky Reads
6:08 am
Sat December 28, 2013

A Young Seminarian Found Comfort In 'Giovanni's' Melancholy

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.

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Author Interviews
3:02 am
Sat December 28, 2013

'Havisham' Offers A Peek Behind That Decaying Wedding Veil

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:35 am

The enigmatic Miss Havisham has haunted the popular imagination for more than 150 years. She appeared in Great Expectations, one of Charles Dickens' best-loved novels: It's been read widely since its publication, and was made into several immensely popular movies.

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This Week's Must Read
3:01 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

As Winter Rolls In, One Critic Recalls 'The Wind In The Willows'

Paul Bransom's illustration from a 1913 edition of The Wind in the Willows shows Otter traveling through the snowy woods.
Public Domain

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 5:15 pm

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."

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Movie Interviews
2:21 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

'42' Gets The Story Of Jackie Robinson Right

Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) acknowledges the crowd in 42.
Warner Bros

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 5:15 pm

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.

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Architecture
10:00 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Architect's Dream House: Less Than 200 Square Feet

Macy Miller

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 11:35 am

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.


Interview Highlights

On building the home

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Book Reviews
1:23 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Nancy Pearl Turns Back The Pages With Picks From The Past

Steve Debenport iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 8:32 am

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.

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Movie Reviews
4:47 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

In 'Lone Survivor,' Heroics Extend Only As Far As Survival, Solidarity

Mark Wahlberg plays Marcus Luttrell in Lone Survivor.
Universal Pictures

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?

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Arts & Life
8:21 am
Thu December 26, 2013

The Surprising Vision of Artist Faith Ringgold

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.

Books
8:19 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Civil Rights Turmoil In Verse: Retelling Medgar Evers' Story

Medgar Evers was the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi. The civil rights leader was killed in 1963.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 8:46 am

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.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
7:01 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Day 2: An 'Ask Me Another' Holiday Puzzle

Art Chung

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:45 am

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

Keep your mind sharp over the holidays with this quiz, which pays homage to some of the great pop cultural icons surrounding Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus and more.

Email us your finished puzzle at askmeanother@npr.org, or tweet it to us @NPRAskMeAnother.

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Photography
1:16 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Portrait Show Brings Photographer-Subject Encounters Into Focus

Untitled (Kate #18) by Chuck Close.
Chuck Close Courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:45 am

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 a Modern Identity," which is running through Jan. 12.

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Arts & Life
2:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

The Dark Roots Of 'The Nutcracker' And The Man Who Wrote It

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.

Movies
2:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Another Life For The Surprisingly Multifarious Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller has revisited James Thurber's henpecked daydreamer Walter Mitty in a new film that lets him become more conventionally heroic. NPR's Bob Mondello charts the character's changing fortunes over the years.
Wilson Webb 20th Century Fox

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 6:26 pm

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.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
6:41 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Day 1: Sing Along With 'Chiron Beta Prime'

Jonathan Coulton performs live from the Ask Me Another stage at The Bell House in Brooklyn, NY.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR
  • Listen to 'Chiron Beta Prime' by Jonathan Coulton

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

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The Salt
4:03 am
Wed December 25, 2013

When Is Cinnamon Spice Not So Nice? The Great Danish Debate

Ah, the cinnamon swirl: They're beloved by the Danish, but the traditional recipe for these pastries may be too spice-laden for European Union law.
iStockphoto.com

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.

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The Salt
1:21 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Why We Hold Tight To Our Family's Holiday Food Traditions

Mark Karney found the recipe for his mother's Hungarian nut roll in a dusty recipe box after she passed away. After lots of experimentation, he figured out how to make it and has revived it as a Christmas tradition.
Courtesy of Mark Karney

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:58 am

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.

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Arts & Life
1:20 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Detroit Needs Money. Can A 'Grand Bargain' Save The City's Art?

Gladioli, Claude Monet, ca. 1876, oil on canvas.
Detroit Institute of Arts

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:04 pm

Can wealthy art lovers help save Detroit's pension funds — and one of its museums?

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History
1:18 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Writing 'Rudolph': The Original Red-Nosed Manuscript

In 1939, Montgomery Ward in Chicago asked one of its admen to write a story for the department store's own children's book.
Rauner Special Collections Library Dartmouth College

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:20 am

Everybody knows Rudolph was the last reindeer to join Santa's crew, but few people know about the department store copywriter who brought his story to the world.

The year was 1939, the Great Depression was waning and a manager at Montgomery Ward in Chicago decided that the store should create its own children's book for the annual holiday promotion.

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Kitchen Window
10:03 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Come Back For A 2nd Helping Of This Year's Favorites

Susie Chang's story on the versatility of buttermilk was a hit with Kitchen Window readers. Or maybe it was this mouthwatering photo of "double fluffy" biscuits that reeled them in.
T. Susan Chang for NPR

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.

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Movie Reviews
1:21 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

A Wall Street Predator With An Appetite For Excess

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a profoundly corrupt stock-market manipulator in The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the real-life story of convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort.
Mary Cybulski Paramount Pictures

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.

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Movie Reviews
1:15 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Orbiting Dickens, An 'Invisible Woman' Or Two

Felicity Jones plays Nelly Ternan, longtime mistress of author Charles Dickens, in The Invisible Woman.
David Appleby Sony Pictures Classics

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.

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Movie Reviews
1:03 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

In 'Osage County,' A Family Consuming Itself

Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Julianne Nicholson are three of the warring Weston women in a blistering film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County.
Claire Folger The Weinstein Company

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.

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