Arts

Author Interviews
5:46 am
Sat December 27, 2014

Author Explores Armenian Genocide 'Obsession' And Turkish Denial

Earlier this year, protesters in Los Angeles called for recognition of, and reparations for, the 1915 Armenian genocide executed by Ottoman Turks.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 12:36 pm

Writer Meline Toumani grew up in a tight-knit Armenian community in New Jersey. There, identity centered on commemorating the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, a history that's resulted in tense relations between Armenians and Turks to this day.

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Book News & Features
5:03 am
Sat December 27, 2014

All The Writers You Love Probably Love Dorothy Dunnett

iStockphoto.com

The old fiction room at my high school was a small box of wonders, and no matter how long I spent investigating its seven and a half overstuffed shelves, I never stopped discovering treasures. When I was sixteen, the shelf which held authors A through D divulged a small, yellowing paperback with a splashily romantic cover: a long-limbed blond man in Renaissance dress, gripping both a woman and a rapier. The title was The Game of Kings, its author was Dorothy Dunnett, and reading it was going to change my life.

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Author Interviews
4:32 am
Sat December 27, 2014

'The Bishop's Wife' Tracks A Killer In A Mormon Community

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 9:10 am

Writer Mette Ivie Harrison is no stranger to struggles of faith; she says she spent six years as an atheist within the Mormon church.

"It wasn't something that I talked about openly," she tells NPR's Eric Westervelt. "I lost my faith, and I felt like I had made a promise to my husband and my children that I would continue to participate in the Mormon church. So I kept going."

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This Week's Must Read
2:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

For Wintry Weather, An Especially Cold And Snowy Tale

It's my favorite of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. It's also the strangest, and the one he wrote the fastest — in a rare burst of inspiration.

It's "The Snow Queen" — a tale that took just five days to create.

You can feel Andersen's excitement in the writing.

"All right! Now let's begin," he starts, "When we reach the end of the story, we'll know more than we know now, because there was an evil troll."

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Media
2:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

A Short List Of The Best 'Longform' Journalism Of 2014

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 2:53 pm

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

The Two-Way
10:58 am
Fri December 26, 2014

Book News: Egypt Bans Ridley Scott's 'Exodus' For 'Historical Inaccuracies'

Rameses (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Nefertari (Golshifteh Farahani) try to save their stricken child, a victim of one of the plagues, in Exodus: Gods And Kings.
Kerry Brown Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 12:06 pm

The daily lowdown on books, publishing and the occasional author behaving badly.

When a book makes the leap from print to the big screen, it's not uncommon for filmmakers to take a few liberties with the adaptation. When that book is the Bible, however, those liberties can attract a bit more attention.

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Code Switch
7:03 am
Fri December 26, 2014

Sony Hack Reveals Hollywood's Acceptance Of White Privilege

The Rev. Al Sharpton (left) and Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, speak to reporters after they met with Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal on Dec. 18.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 11:00 pm

It is, perhaps, the worst nightmare for those of us constantly trying to get a white-dominated Hollywood to widen its doors of opportunity for people of color: All those executives who say the right things in public and give to the right causes, just might think something much less admirable about diversity behind closed doors.

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Monkey See
6:03 am
Fri December 26, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Into The Woods' And How To Make A Franchise

NPR

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 12:09 pm

We at PCHH are not together this week for the holidays, as we are scattered hither and yon, literally from coast to coast. But before we scattered thusly, we sat down with our friend (and film critic and musical theater aficionado) Bob Mondello to talk about Disney's new adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods, starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and lots more.

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Found Recipes
2:29 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

After The Presents, A Buttery Tea Cake Tradition

Susan Tannewitz-Karnes grew up eating Mrs. Lawrence every Christmas. The tea cake was so beloved that Tannewitz-Karnes and her siblings would argue over who received more than their fair share.
Courtesy of Susan Tannewitz-Karnes

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 10:13 am

When listener Susan Tannewitz-Karnes was a child in Johnson City, Tenn., Christmas wasn't Christmas without an English tea cake baked by their neighbor, Mrs. Lawrence.

She would deliver it about a week before Christmas. "We would come home from school and my mother would just say, 'Mrs. Lawrence came by! We have Mrs. Lawrence!' And we'd say, 'Oh, yes! Yes!' We couldn't wait."

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Europe
2:29 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

In Britain, A Christmas Tradition Of Slapstick And Silliness

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 10:13 am

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Salt
2:29 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

What Would Jesus Drink? A Class Exploring Ancient Wines Asks

An illustration depicts Jesus Christ transforming water into wine during the wedding at Cana (John 2:7).
Joseph Martin Kronheim Kean Collection/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 10:20 am

Inside the Boston Wine School, Jonathon Alsop places empty glasses and plates of figs and cheese before a small group of students. Alsop, who founded the school in 2000, is doing a test run of a new class that poses the question: What would Jesus drink?

"This is ... a cheese that Jesus might have eaten," he tells students. "It's called Egyptian Roumy — it was a cheese that was introduced to the Egyptians by the Romans. It's a sheep's milk cheese."

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The Salt
2:29 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

Why Bury Fig Trees? A Curious Tradition Preserves A Taste Of Italy

Michele Vaccaro buries a fig tree in the yard of Mary Menniti in Sewickley, Pa.
Hal Klein for NPR

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 5:42 pm

On a gray, chilly December morning in Sewickley, Pa., Michele Vaccaro and his assistant are digging a trench in a garden.

"It looks like we're burying somebody over here — a body," Vaccaro says.

Cast your old Godfather stereotypes aside, because this Calabrian immigrant is carrying on a much more wholesome tradition: He's burying a 12-foot fig tree.

"It's been done for years. Probably [since] the 1800s," he says, when Italians coming to America first started bringing fig trees over from the old country. "They would put them always in the ground."

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Parallels
1:28 am
Thu December 25, 2014

The French Go Crazy For 'An American In Paris'

The stage version of the Hollywood classic An American in Paris combines British, French and American artistic traditions and stars Leanne Cope and Robert Fairchild in the roles made famous by Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly.
Marie-Noelle Robert Courtesy of Theatre du Chatelet

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 1:49 pm

Parisians are going gaga over An American in Paris, the first-ever stage production of the 1951 Hollywood film starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron and with a musical score by George Gershwin.

The performance at Paris' Chatelet theater is getting rave reviews and has completely sold out. It's not hard to see why: The stage comes alive with the story of an American artist and the young French dancer he falls in love with. It's filled with fabulous dancing and all those great Gershwin tunes.

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The Salt
1:24 am
Thu December 25, 2014

A Punch Line In The U.S., Christmas Fruitcake Is Big In Calcutta

At Calcutta's famous New Market, vendors do brisk business in fruitcake as Christmas approaches.
Sandip Roy for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 5:00 am

Denzil Saldanha is over 80 but far from retired.

He takes orders on the phone, surrounded by workers, newspapers spread out in front of them, cutting slices of fruitcake with thick almond icing.

The family-run Saldanha Bakery and Confectionery is making 600,000 pounds of cake this Christmas. Denzil's daughter Debra Saldanha, who gave up banking to join the family business, says customers appreciate that it's all made to order.

"They get the smell of hot cake coming out of the oven and literally wafting in the air," she says.

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Movie Reviews
2:42 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

'Selma' Manages To Be Both Passion-Inspiring And Measured

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 3:23 pm

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

Books
2:42 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

The Perfect Family Book List

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 1:51 am

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We're going to do some last-minute shopping with our book critic Alan Cheuse. Needless to say, his friends and family can guess what they'll get from him. And this year he says he's proud of his selections.

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U.S.
2:42 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Independent Theater Owner In D.C. Gets Ready To Screen 'The Interview'

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 3:09 pm

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

Around the Nation
2:42 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

'Crabs For Christmas': A Tuneful Baltimore Tradition (Really!)

Every year, David DeBoy and The Hons (Wendy Savelle, center, and Karen Fitze) perform a live — and often sold-out — show in the upstairs cabaret of a Baltimore restaurant.
Courtesy of David DeBoy

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 3:09 pm

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Monkey See
2:02 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

50 Wonderful Things From 2014

Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy in Obvious Child.
Courtesy of A24

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 10:36 am

I am not a great maker of lists. Unless pressed, I will make exactly one each year, and this is it.

This is a list of 50 of the wonderful things that wandered through my field of vision in 2014. It is not a definitive list of the best things. It is not merely subjective but sublimely subjective. It leans away from (but doesn't entirely avoid) what's been most highly praised and what seems to have been most rewarded.

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Television
10:34 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Bianculli's Top 10: 2014 Was A 'Good Year For Programming'

Allison Tolman plays Deputy Sheriff Molly Solverson in the FX TV series Fargo. It's a breakout role for the actress who had done only theater and commercials.
Chris Large

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 12:47 pm

Although it wasn't a great year for the shows themselves, it was a good year for programming, says TV critic David Bianculli.

"In terms of what was happening on television, in terms of new and old formats and new, exciting players coming into the mix — [it was] another good year," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I'm actually kind of encouraged."

Bianculli reflects on how far TV has come.

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Movie Reviews
9:11 am
Wed December 24, 2014

In A 'Depressing' Year For Films, Edelstein Finds Some Greats

Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason in Boyhood, was 6 years old when director Richard Linklater picked him for the role. Made over the course of 12 years, the film is David Edelstein's favorite of the year.
Courtesy of Matt Lankes

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 12:06 pm

"This is a very, very depressing year for film," critic David Edelstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "because none of the great material came from Hollywood studios."

Studios, he says, direct their financial resources into sequels and comic-book movies, which leaves little room for "creative expression, and for doing something weird and potentially boundary-moving."

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The Two-Way
8:49 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Book News: It's Snowing Poet Laureates

Laurels: perfect for the poet laureate on your holiday list.
Grafissimo iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 9:19 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing and the occasional author behaving badly.

Lately, state governments have been waxing poetic. Showing their more aesthetic side, North Carolina has named its new state poet laureate, while both Ohio and Massachusetts are moving forward with plans to establish similar posts at home.

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The Salt
4:33 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Guyanese Christmas Gives A Whole New Meaning To Slow Food

Pepperpot, a traditional Guyanese Christmas dish, is basically a stew of aromatics and tough meat parts like shanks, trotters and tails that benefit from a long cooking.
Courtesy of Cynthia Nelson Photography

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 8:00 am

There are some Christmas foods you make far in advance that just get better and better with age and anticipation. Like British fruitcakes that age into their boozy ripeness, and German gingerbread cookies called lebkuchen that get softer and spicier as they mature.

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Art & Design
1:17 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Mother, Empress, Virgin, Faith: 'Picturing Mary' And Her Many Meanings

Curator Timothy Verdon says "Mary is unexpectedly fashionable" in Fra Filippo Lippi's Madonna and Child, painted in the 1460s.
Provincia di Firenze, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence National Museum of Women in the Arts

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 8:56 am

This Christmas, images of the Virgin Mary created over five centuries glow on the walls of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Mary's role as Woman, Mother and Idea is portrayed by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Rembrandt as well as other major and lesser-known artists from the 1400s through the 1900s.

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Dance
4:58 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

In Seattle, Maurice Sendak's 'Wild' 'Nutcracker' Reaches Its Final Act

Stowell (right) says Sendak (left) needed some convincing before he signed on to design a new Nutcracker. Their version of the ballet debuted in 1983.
David Cooper Pacific Northwest Ballet

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 5:32 pm

In Seattle, the Pacific Northwest Ballet performs The Nutcracker to that same ubiquitous Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky score. The ballet tells the story of Clara, a young girl whose grandfather gives her a nutcracker at a party. One night, Clara goes searching for her nutcracker and walks right into a battle between a regiment of toy soldiers and a wily team of oversized rodents.

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Movies
2:21 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

How To Compose Music For A Movie About Music

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 9:17 am

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

All week this week, we've been exploring the process of composing for film. It's a series we're calling Scoring the Screen.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE OF FILM SCORES)

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Arts & Life
11:06 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Serial Host Sarah Koenig Says She Set Out To Report, Not Exonerate

The Serial podcast is Sarah Koenig's reinvestigation of the murder of Hae Min Lee, a Maryland high school student who was strangled in 1999. Lee was found in Baltimore's Leakin Park. Her schoolmate and ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was convicted of the murder and is serving a life sentence.
Courtesy of Serial

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 4:32 pm

Sarah Koenig didn't expect her new podcast, Serial, to get so much press, but she says the attention helped keep her on her toes: "It was just a constant reminder of how careful we needed to be," Koenig tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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The Salt
9:45 am
Tue December 23, 2014

For Australian Christmas, Everything's Overturned But The Pudding

Australian Christmas today is characterized by gastronomic eclecticism. Many of us have abandoned the old British customs — except for the rich and alcoholic Christmas pudding.
Edward Shaw iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 9:58 am

Americans know Australia as the land Down Under, and one consequence of this geographical flip is that Christmas here falls at the height of summer.

Our 100-degree temperatures aren't exactly conducive to cooking with a hot oven — although early colonists gave it their best shot.

But it wasn't long before Australians began to rebel, ditching the formal dining room for the pleasures of a picnic spread at the beach or a shady glade. Over the years, many of us have abandoned the old British customs altogether.

Except for Christmas pudding.

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The Two-Way
9:01 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Book News: For A Deeper Sleep, Forgo The E-Reader Before Bed

It's clear from this child's reckless nighttime e-reading that someone has not kept up with their subscription to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Mari iStock

The daily lowdown on books, publishing and the occasional author behaving badly.

When picking up a book before bed, sleepy readers ought to give some thought not just to what they read but also how they read. It doesn't matter how boring the material may be; if you're plodding through it on an e-reader, a new study shows it'll likely be tougher to fall asleep — and to get a good rest while you're at it.

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Monkey See
5:03 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Videos Of Ray Rice, Eric Garner Among Biggest Media Moments Of 2014

Protesters in Boston during a December demonstration against the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers in New York City and Ferguson, Mo.
Charles Krupa AP

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 11:08 am

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