On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials "J.R."
Last week's challenge from listener Sandy Weisz: Take a common English word. Write it in capital letters. Move the first letter to the end and rotate it 90 degrees. You'll get a new word that is pronounced exactly the same as the first word. What words are these?
Originally published on Sun April 21, 2013 8:10 am
These days, nothing says amateur hour quite like an alphabetical bookshelf. From lifestyle magazines to design blogs (admittedly a short distance), there are limitless suggestions for how you should treat your books. You can arrange them by genre, by time period, by size or by color (all well and good until you realize how strangely few books have purple spines). You can stack them in height order. You can angle them across the wall in gentle waves of Swedish manufacture. My own system of classification is one of emotional practicality.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison knows what it means to be a pioneering female figure in her home state. In 1993, she became the first woman elected to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate.
Now, the former senator has written a book about the women who came before her, Unflinching Courage: Pioneering Women Who Shaped Texas.
In the book, Hutchison profiles several women who broke barriers and made history in the Lone Star State. Many of those women left a life of luxury and "moved to nothing," she tells All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden.
Back in the early 1990s, Melinda French was a rising star at a software company when the boss asked her out on a date. This was complicated because he was her boss, and frankly, he was kind of a nerd. But they fell in love and got married, and decided to raise a family, retire from the business, and in their spare time give away more money to charity than anyone else in the history of the world.
A shorter version of this segment was originally broadcast on Feb. 14, 2013.
Since Al Gore's term as the 45th vice president of the United States ended in 2001, he has starred in an Oscar-winning documentary, won a Grammy Award and received the Nobel Peace Prize. But obviously he won't be satisfied until he wins the NPR news quiz, so we've invited him to play a game called "Maybe you can beat Bill Clinton at this."
Arne Duncan is President Obama's secretary of education, and if, while he's on this show, a disaster befalls the president, the vice president, the speaker of the House and every other member of the Cabinet except Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, he would be president.
When Superstorm Sandy hit New York City last fall, the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, like most everything else, totally shut down. It was a week before power returned to FSG, according to Brian Gittis, a senior publicist. When he got back to his office, he began sorting through galleys — advance copies of books. And one of them caught him off guard.
Its cover had an illustration of the Manhattan skyline half-submerged in water.
"It was definitely sort of a Twilight Zone moment," Gittis recalls.
This is not an ordinary day. It has not been an ordinary week. We taped this week's podcast on Monday at 6:00 p.m., in the first hours of coverage of the bombings in Boston. We are posting it on Friday, in the first hours of coverage of a series of events that currently have many of our good pals — and many of our listeners — "sheltering in place" at home.
And now the latest in our series, Muses and Metaphor. We've been celebrating National Poetry Month by hearing your tweet poems. Those are poems of 140 characters. We just talked about how complicated and charged the issue of immigration is, but for listener Su Layug, her immigrant story is all about - well, stories.
Was Francis Bacon a 16th-century pioneer of the scientific method, or a 20th-century painter known for his raw graphic imagery? The answer is: both! In this game, Ophira Eisenberg quizzes contestants about famous people who share the same first and last name. Extra credit if you can link the two celebrities in six degrees or less. After the game, hear house musician Jonathan Coulton get sassy with a cover of the Destiny's Child hit "Bills Bills Bills."
Welcome back to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and with me on our stage is our very important puzzler, Michael Ian Black.
MICHAEL IAN BLACK: Hello.
EISENBERG: So Michael, we thought that before we throw you in the puzzle pit, we'd make you run a game with us. We're going to first, welcome our contestants that are going to play this game. Let's welcome Andrew Sommerfeld and Erica Pietricola.
A story, a work of art, a face, a designed object — how do we tell that something is beautiful? And why does it matter so much to us? Designer Richard Seymour explores our response to beauty and the surprising power of objects that exhibit it.
Cameron Russell admits she won "a genetic lottery": She's tall, pretty and an underwear model. But don't judge her by her looks. In this fearless talk, she takes a wry look at the industry that had her looking highly seductive at barely 16 years old.
Denis Dutton has a provocative theory on beauty — that art, music and other beautiful things, far from being simply "in the eye of the beholder," are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins.
Psychologist Nancy Etcoff joins philosopher Denis Dutton to explain why beauty inspires and motivates us. Etcoff says our response to beauty is visceral, and we use strong words — like "bombshell" — when we talk about it.
"Beauty draws us in. We can't stop looking or listening or touching. It takes us outside ourselves and it motivates us. It's essential to life and to happiness." — Nancy Etcoff
Beauty surrounds us, draws us in, gives joy and creates conflict. In this hour, TED speakers conjure up beauty both ancient and modern, and suggest reasons why humans are hardwired to crave and respond to beauty.
Originally published on Fri April 19, 2013 1:38 pm
Among the semi-literate journals submitted by his high-school students, jaded French literature teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini) is jazzed to find a rough diamond from a new pupil, Claude (Ernst Umhauer).
In weekly installments, the ingratiating but enigmatic teenager, who looks as though he just stepped out of a Pasolini movie, chronicles his efforts to insinuate himself into the family of one his classmates, an amiable but awkward underachiever named Rapha (Bastien Ughetto).
The best documentaries about filmmaking are the ones that show it at its worst.
Movie sets are fundamentally boring places, where there's mostly a lot of waiting around going on. But when disaster strikes with millions of dollars on the line, the tension and drama are suddenly amped up to levels that often equal those in the movie being filmed.
The enigmatic Julia (Olga Kurylenko) surfaces from the mysterious past of Victoria's husband, Jack (Tom Cruise), a repairman tending drones on a largely abandoned Earth.
Credit Universal Pictures
The sterile, futuristic gloss of the post-apocalyptic living spaces in Oblivion are a perfect setting for Andrea Riseborough's icy Victoria — whose humanity, showing occasionally through the odd crack in her reserve, informs some of the film's strongest moments.
The score for Oblivion was composed by M83, a superb French electronic outfit that derives its name from one of the spectral pinwheels known as spiral galaxies. I point this out because it's the best element of the movie — a cascade of dreamy synthesizers that registers as appropriately futuristic (at least the future as suggested by '80s pop) while allowing an undercurrent of romantic yearning.
Artist Jackie Sumell set out to build a dream home for bank robber Herman Wallace, whose additional conviction for killing a prison guard is the subject of a long-running dispute.
Credit First Run Features
A 3-D rendering of Wallace's dream house; Sumell's juxtaposition of the house and Wallace's 6-by-8 prison cell is a statement on the severity of solitary confinement in Louisiana's notorious state penitentiary.
The off-screen protagonist of Herman's House, Herman Wallace, already has a dwelling for his body: a 6-foot-by-8-foot cell at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, aka Angola. But the documentary's on-screen protagonist, Jackie Sumell, wants him also to have a place for his soul: a dream house for a man who desperately needs dreams.