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Do The World's Oldest Jokes Still Hold Up?

Dec 17, 2016

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The Unsung Holiday Candies

Dec 17, 2016

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(SOUNDBITE OF TCHAIKOVSKY COMPOSITION, "DANCE OF THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY")

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Author Jeanette Winterson has wrapped up a holiday present between two covers. Christmas Days is a book of 12 stories and just about the same number of recipes.

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Wait, don't reach for another slab of peppermint bark just yet. We're back with a new holiday recipe from another one of our colleagues here at NPR. Kim Bryant works in the digital media department. Thanks very much for being with us.

They Told Us So: Fantagraphics Turns 40

Dec 17, 2016

Arrogance — embattled, victorious and punch-drunk on its own steamy brew — positively billows around Fantagraphics' 40th anniversary tome. There is, of course, the title. You can't get much more self-congratulatory than We Told You So, unless maybe you subtitle it Neener Neener.

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It's the season of cozy sweaters, festive gladness, winter cliches and giving.

SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN, BYLINE: Or, Audie, I would venture to say it's the season of gifting.

What do Pablo Neruda and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis have in common? Not much. He was a Chilean poet and Communist politician; she was the first lady at age 31 and a widow at age 34, when JFK was assassinated.

Barbara Massaad was watching a TV news program about the plight of Syrian refugees from her apartment in the suburbs of Beirut when she decided to visit a refugee camp herself.

"I just wanted to go and see what was happening," she told me. "So I went and started taking photographs and talking to people about food."

Jumbled Plots

Dec 16, 2016

Chris Pratt stars in "Disco Walrus Jr.," a movie in which he runs around a theme park whose genetic engineering produces a funky sea mammal. That's the gist of this game, where titles of recent movies are anagrammed to make new titles.

Heard on Tim Gunn: Make It Smirk!

We Are Families

Dec 16, 2016

This music game is fun for the whole family! Jonathan Coulton sings a parody of the Sister Sledge song "We Are Family" rewritten to be about real and fictional famous families.

Heard on Tim Gunn: Make It Smirk!

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Meet The Expert: Jason Porath

Dec 16, 2016

Jason Porath, author of the book "Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics," joined Ask Me Another in our "Meet the Expert" segment. The former Dreamworks animator told host Ophira Eisenberg that the book was born from a lunchtime discussion of Frozen's female characters.

In this installment of This, That or the Other, it's the age-old question--who is Beckett Fogg? A James Bond villain, fashion designer, or pro golfer?

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Noah's Lark

Dec 16, 2016

Why buy a fog machine when you can get a frog machine that covers the stage with amphibians? In this game, contestants add a letter to a common name, title, or phrase to turn one of the original words into an animal.

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Tim Gunn: Make It Smirk!

Dec 16, 2016

Project Runway mentor and fashion guru Tim Gunn owes his signature look to Hollywood costume designer Rita Ryack. Gunn shared the story on the Ask Me Another stage with host Ophira Eisenberg. Ryack was tasked with dressing Gunn for the 2011 film The Smurfs. "She pushes me into the dressing room, and I start looking at the labels of things and I see a shirt that's $450 and a suit that's $4,000, and a tie that's $250 and I shriek at her, 'I cannot wear these things! I'm not going to do it.'" She wasn't having it.

Dash To Victory

Dec 16, 2016

What's that French phrase for a two-person meeting where you put your heads together? If you said "tete-a-tete," then you'll enjoy this final round where every answer contains at least two hyphens.

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We're in the time of year where not only do potentially popular movies hit theaters, but so do potentially Oscar-winning movies. We brought Daoud Tyler-Ameen of NPR Music to our fourth chair this week for a chat about two of the biggest releases in a while.

On Feb. 20, 1962, John Glenn blasted off into space and became the first American to orbit Earth. Behind the scenes, thousands of engineers and mathematicians worked tirelessly to make NASA's Friendship 7 mission a success. Historical photos show them as white men in crisp white shirts and ties — but we now know there's more to that picture.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away — a slightly longer time ago, actually, than usual — there's a little girl named Jyn. She has a dad who was an important cog in the Empire's war machine until he went on the lam. As Rogue One starts, his Imperial overlord (Ben Mendelsohn, sneering up a dust storm) has caught up with him, and it's Jyn who must go on the lam.

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What defines a cuisine?

SARAH LOHMAN: When you think of food from anywhere on the planet, you can think about what spices, what flavorings are a big part of that cuisine.

All his life, playwright August Wilson resisted any efforts to mount a screen adaptation of Fences, his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1987 work, because he insisted it could only be helmed by a black director. Looking at the dynamics in the play, Wilson's need to see a filmmaker understand them as he did was understandable. Fences gives us a working-class black family in the 1950s, with particular focus on a father whose own rough go at life informs but doesn't fully excuse his behavior in his own household.

Back in 2008, it seemed entirely reasonable to expect that Will Smith's career would never get stranger than Seven Pounds, a film in which his character (spoiler) commits suicide-by-jellyfish as part of an elaborate Oprah-by-way-of-Oskar-Schindler redemption scheme. And yet here we are.

The new Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in point of fact a Star Wars backstory.

The eighth Star Wars is chronologically the fourth Star Wars. It is also, shockingly, the first to begin without that portentous John Williams fanfare and title crawl — the moviegoing equivalent of a roller coaster's slow, rickety climb up that first big slope.

America's attitude toward pain has shifted radically over the past century. Psychiatrist Anna Lembke says that 100 years ago, the medical community thought that pain made patients stronger.

"Doctors believed that pain was salutary," she tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "meaning that it had some physiologic benefit to the individual, and certainly some spiritual benefit."

"Ads For Nicer Living" are as simple (and as nice) as they sound. Between now and Jan. 15, NPR is inviting our listeners and readers to write ads for things that just make life better. They're noncommercial commercials — for experiences, ideas and other things money can't buy.

Interested? First, go check out examples of the original ads for inspiration.

In 1972, NPR asked its audience to take a moment to think of something that makes life brighterlike hearing a kid singing, or baking fresh pies, or riding your bike on a nice day.

Then, we said, sell it to us. You like going on walks? Write a jingle — and we just might persuade Linda Wertheimer to sing it ...

The "Commercials For Nicer Living" were written by listeners and produced by NPR into little audio nuggets of pure joy.

Every winter, Scandinavian-Americans gather in church basements, lodges and restaurants to feast upon the nearly see-through, white, gelatinous food known as lutefisk.

It's not an appetizing dish. Lutefisk is made from dried whitefish — usually cod— which has been rehydrated in baths of lye and cold water. The cook just has to heat and serve.

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