Arts

Monkey See
9:31 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Billy Joel, Popular Song, PBS, And Needing A Piano

Billy Joel
Courtesy of Myrna Suarez

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 12:36 pm

I don't know when people started to think they could successfully make fun of you for being a person who grew up listening to a lot of Billy Joel — and perhaps still does — but they can all forget it.

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Movie Reviews
8:33 am
Fri January 2, 2015

'Leviathan' Shows A Film And Filmmaker Unafraid Of Big Questions

Alexey Serebryakov as Kolya in Leviathan.
Anna Matveeva Sony Pictures Classics

In Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev's melodrama about a motor mechanic's desperate struggle to hang on to home and family in the New Russia, a photograph of Vladimir Putin gazes impassively down from a wall in the office of a corrupt mayor.

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Monkey See
8:08 am
Fri January 2, 2015

The Madly Uneven 'Downton Abbey' Turns Its Eye From Money To Sex

Allen Leech as Tom Branson and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary.
Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Masterpiece

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 12:12 pm

[This piece assumes you've seen the first four seasons of Downton Abbey. As to the fifth, it avoids specific spoilers, but does talk about themes and threads enough that you might be 20 percent less surprised by a couple of developments. It's the best balance I could strike.]

Let us get this out of the way right off: Particularly after its first two seasons, Downton Abbey has been enormously uneven. It's satisfying in some moments, dull in others, and always prone to falling so in love with a particular story beat that it cannot move past it.

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Movie Reviews
8:03 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Murder, Cows And Bad Funerals In The Absurd Comedy Of 'Li'l Quinquin'

Quinquin.
Kino Lorber

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 8:16 am

Although set in Bruno Dumont's home region of northern France, L'il Quinquin finds the writer-director in unexpected territory. The film is a arguably Dumont's first comedy, and was made as a four-part TV miniseries.

Yet with its relaxed pacing, inconclusive plot and elegant widescreen cinematography, the movie doesn't feel much like TV. And its humor is less a matter of overt gags than bemused attitude, which shows that the Dumont of Humanite and Hors Satan has barely relocated at all.

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Monkey See
7:07 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: From Sixth And I, Quizzes And Questions

NPR

In early December, we had a live show at the Sixth & I synagogue, the first part of which you've already heard. But sometimes, we like to top off our live events with a little bonus madness, so that's what's on tap this week.

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Movie Interviews
7:03 am
Fri January 2, 2015

'Life Itself': An Unflinching Documentary Of Roger Ebert's Life And Death

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 2:08 pm

In late 2012, filmmaker Steve James and Roger Ebert began talking about filming a documentary based on Ebert's memoir. Ebert's wife, Chaz, agreed. They didn't know that he would die within months.

Originally broadcast July 3, 2014.

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

Transcript

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The Salt
3:43 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

A 40-Day Vegan Fast, Then, At Last, A January Christmas Feast

Abebe, the owner of Abyssinia, a popular Ethiopian eatery in Nairobi, Kenya, shows some of the foods permitted during the pre-Christmas fast. Orthodox Ethiopians typically eat just one vegan meal per day for 40 days before the Christmas feast on Jan. 7.
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 2:48 pm

An Ethiopian kitchen can be a place of both succulence and self-denial.

In the kitchen of Abyssinia, a popular Ethiopian eatery in Nairobi, the owner, Abebe, demonstrates how his cook prepares the dish called kitfo. It's raw minced beef whipped together with cardamom and chili and a spicy butter, with a texture and taste closer to delicate cheese than to steak tartar.

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Book News & Features
2:24 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

When It Comes To Furry Muses, Cats Are For Brevity And Dogs Are For Books

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 8:34 pm

Ernest Hemingway once said that a cat has absolute emotional honesty: Human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.

So Hemingway might have appreciated Francesco Marciuliano's best-selling book, I Could Pee On This: And Other Poems By Cats, a collection of poems written in the very forward voice of a feline. The book became something of a phenomenon when it was released in 2012 and was followed by a book of dog poems. Here's a taste of Marciuliano's cat wisdom:

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The Salt
1:49 am
Thu January 1, 2015

Pastry With Soul. It's That Simple

Grilled lemon pound cake topped with slow-roasted nectarines, basil gelato and olive oil drizzle. Yum.
Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin Courtesy of W.W. Norton & Co. Inc.

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 7:02 am

NPR's David Greene enjoyed a little time in the kitchen just before the holidays with Brooks Headley, a punk-rock musician and award-winning pastry chef at New York's Del Posto. Other chefs may revel in fancy technique, but Headley prefers keeping things simple. He says he never wanted to be so obsessed with presentation that the conversation at the dinner table stopped when dessert arrived.

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The Salt
3:46 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Luck Be A Lentil Tonight! What The World Eats To Welcome The New Year

"Lechon," or roasted pig, is often served at Philippine festivities, especially during Christmas and New Year's celebrations.
Noel Celis AFP/Getty Images

Many cultures greet the new year with a feast that symbolically sets the table for the year ahead. As they sit down to traditional dishes, people often try to metaphorically eat their hopes and goals for the coming year.

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Found Recipes
3:20 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

A Cure For The Common Hangover, Found On The Stove

After a long night, don't head to the medicine cabinet — head directly to the stove and a simmering pot of posole.
Jesse Hendrix Inman Courtesy of Estes PR

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 9:52 am

On New Year's Day, there's one comfort food that could be your magical hangover remedy, according to chef Anthony Lamas.

"If you're cold, you're hung over, you've had a long night, posole is that Latino cure for you in a bowl," he says.

That's right — don't head to the medicine cabinet, head directly to the stove and a simmering pot of posole, a traditional hominy stew from Mexico, says Lamas, the owner of the restaurant Seviche in Louisville, Ky.

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Book Reviews
2:36 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Book Review: 'Waking Up: A Guide To Spirituality Without Religion'

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Movie Reviews
1:24 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Favorite Films Of 2014: Why Stop At 10?

Richard Linklater's daringly experimental Boyhood is Bob Mondello's favorite film of 2014.
IFC Productions

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 4:48 pm

Hollywood would just as soon forget 2014 when it comes to box-office numbers. Despite the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, and the arrival of the final Hobbit sequel, movie grosses are off about half a billion dollars from last year.

What about quality? This year's films were quirkier than usual — but still, my cup runneth over.

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The Salt
11:45 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Food Psychology: How To Trick Your Palate Into A Tastier Meal

Environmental cues — like the color, size and shape of the dinnerware, the music playing in the background and the lighting in the dining room — can alter how we experience food and drink. For example, research suggests that serving food on a red plate tends to reduce the amount diners eat.
Ariel Zambelich NPR

What makes the perfect meal?

Most of us might envision a specific dish, or a certain ingredient — a fine steak cooked medium-rare, grandma's chicken curry or mom's hearty ratatouille.

Charles Spence thinks about the food, for sure. But he also thinks about everything else: the color and size of the dinnerware, the music playing in the background and the lighting in the dining room.

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Book Reviews
11:25 am
Wed December 31, 2014

In 'Death By Pastrami,' Charming Stories Of New York's Garment District

Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 12:58 pm

No, it's not a posthumously published mystery novel by the late, great composer and conductor. Rather, Death by Pastrami by Leonard S. Bernstein is a collection of short stories mostly about life in the garment district of New York City. This Leonard Bernstein knows whereof he writes: He owned and managed a garment factory; now, in his 80s, he's published his first work of fiction, making him a veritable Grandma Moses of the garment district.

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Movie Reviews
10:03 am
Wed December 31, 2014

'A Most Violent Year,' But A Film With Restraint

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year.
Atsushi Nishijima A24

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 10:15 am

Abel Morales needs people to see him as a good guy. As the heating oil salesman in A Most Violent Year grows his mini-empire in 1981 New York City, he has several encounters with people he clearly despises — corporate rivals playing dirty, federal investigators, bankers denying loans — where he makes a point to "understand," "appreciate," or "respect the work that you do." He wants his enemies to feel the same way about him.

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Movies
10:03 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Grasping For Gravitas In 'A Most Violent Year'

Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain star in A Most Violent Year.
A24

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 10:33 am

J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year opens to the tune of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)." The song plays as Abel (Oscar Isaac) takes a morning run and the trucks at the heart of his ascendant heating oil business begin making deliveries across New York. "This ain't living," Gaye sings, and although the song cuts out before the lines "Crime is increasing/Trigger happy policing," we get a similarly contemporary ring from the newscast that follows right after, which includes a report on the shooting of five cops the night before.

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Monkey See
8:43 am
Wed December 31, 2014

'The Apprentice' Is Dead, Please Stop 'The Celebrity Apprentice'

Yup. That's Ian Ziering, Johnny Damon, and Kevin Jonas on The Celebrity Apprentice. And in the spirit of this dopey show, somebody using his phone.
Douglas Gorenstein NBC

It's hard to remember that The Apprentice was sort of fun once.

NO, DON'T LEAVE.

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Monkey See
6:33 am
Wed December 31, 2014

In 'The Rosie Effect,' An Unusual Romantic Hero Perseveres

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 12:54 pm

It's not an unfair generalization, I don't think, to say that identification with characters is fundamental to contemporary romantic novels. Most — not all, but most, by the numbers — are written for an audience of women, and they're emotionally centered on the romantic quest of a woman, often accompanied by another quest of some kind for career fulfillment, a peaceful relationship with parents, or the putting aside of past mistakes.

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Games & Humor
1:23 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Banish 2014's Woes With Our Stand-Up Comedy Picks

NBC Ben Cohen/NBC

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 9:49 am

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Remembrances
2:20 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Actress Luise Rainer Made Hollywood History — Then Walked Away

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 4:30 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Television
2:20 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

In 'The Honorable Woman,' There's No One You Can Trust

Maggie Gyllenhaal says she had some reservations about taking on the role of Nessa Stein in the SundanceTV original series The Honorable Woman. Middle East conflicts are so sensitive, she says, "It's really complicated and it goes back so far."
Des Willie SundanceTV

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 6:39 pm

This is part of NPR's annual series "The Ones That Got Away," in which we look at some of the best entertainment we didn't report on this year.


"Who do you trust?" are the first words the audience hears in the political-psychological thriller The Honorable Woman. And as it turns out, the answer should be: No one.

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Television
11:38 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Louis C.K. On His 'Louie' Hiatus: 'I Wanted The Show To Feel New Again'

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Monkey See
8:50 am
Tue December 30, 2014

In 'Huckleberry Finn,' A History In Echoes

Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 1:47 pm

Is there anything left to say about Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn?

That is the question that animates big parts of Andrew Levy's Huck Finn's America: Mark Twain And The Era That Shaped His Masterpiece, a richly researched, copiously annotated, fascinating argument that in all the debates over the book's treatment of race and despite its position as both a widely banned book and a widely assigned book, we tend to miss some of the most important things it teaches.

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Book News & Features
1:59 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play: How Libraries Reach Kids Before They Can Read

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 10:17 am

Literacy begins at home — there are a number of simple things parents can do with their young children to help them get ready to read. But parents can't do it all alone, and that's where community services, especially libraries, come in.

On a recent morning, parents and children gathered in the "Play and Learn" center in the Mount Airy Library in Carroll County, Md. Jenny Busbey and her daughter Layla were using the puppet theater to go on an imaginary adventure. There are play-and-learn centers in all of the Carroll County libraries.

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Code Switch
8:33 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Diversity In Space: Tracking The First Asian Pilot In The Star Wars Movies

Lieutenant Telsij of Return of the Jedi is one of just a handful of Asian characters in the Star Wars film series.
Lucasfilm

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 8:00 am

"There's ... too many of them," a Y-wing pilot says as Imperial ships overwhelm the Rebel fleet in the climactic space battle in Return of the Jedi.

This scene is important because we've just learned that the Rebels have been lured to the forest moon Endor by the Emperor — it's a trap! It's also important for another reason: This is the first line spoken by an Asian character in the original Star Wars movies.

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Extras: TED Radio Hour
7:14 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Playlist: Journey To Far Off Places

Journey to some unusual places all without leaving your home.
iStock

Ever wanted to travel to the depths of the ocean? Or fly in a solar powered plane? Or time travel back to the big bang? Now's your chance. This TED Radio Hour playlist will transport you to some incredible places.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Extras: TED Radio Hour
7:08 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Playlist: Stories That Will Spark Your Imagination

TED speakers share their stories about intense curiosity.
iStock

In this playlist, stories about the curious nature of spaghetti, the power of quiet minds, and a quest to build a toaster from scratch. These TED Radio Hour stories will make you curious and maybe even ignite some creative ideas of your own.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Book News & Features
3:06 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Nonprofit Fights Illiteracy By Getting Books To Kids Who Need Them

First Book President and CEO Kyle Zimmer reads to children during a book distribution event.
Courtesy of First Book

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 2:41 pm

When it comes to learning to read, educators agree: the younger, the better. Children can be exposed to books even before they can talk, but for that a family has to have books, which isn't always the case.

There are neighborhoods in this country with plenty of books; and then there are neighborhoods where books are harder to find. Almost 15 years ago, Susan Neuman, now a professor at New York University, focused on that discrepancy, in a study that looked at just how many books were available in Philadelphia's low-income neighborhoods. The results were startling.

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The Salt
1:16 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Not Just A Man's Drink: Ladies Lead The Whiskey Renaissance

Women at a whiskey tasting at the W South Beach Hotel & Residences on May 3, 2012, in Miami Beach, Fla.
Aaron Davidson Getty Images for W South Beach Hotel & Residences

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 12:42 pm

What do Lady Gaga and Rihanna have in common with Founding Father George Washington? Whiskey.

Yes, our first commander in chief distilled the popular spirit. And these pop icons are helping to fuel a new female-driven whiskey renaissance.

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