Six former heads of the Shin Bet — Israel's security agency — speak to director Dror Moreh in his Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers. They are men who have signed off on brutal interrogations and targeted killings. They have given their lives to the cause of Israeli security.
What is striking is that all articulate their shared conviction that the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories will not lead to peace or a political solution for the future of the state of Israel.
You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games, and trivia. I'm your host Ophira Eisenberg and this hour we're featuring some of the most mind-bending games we have ever played. In the studio with me is our puzzle editor Art Chung and our next number is called Top Row, which unfortunately has nothing to do with top shelf. It has everything to do with QWERTYUIOP.
Finally, what we've all been waiting for. Let's bring back the winners of our previous rounds to play our Ask Me One More final round.
EISENBERG: From Answer in the Form of a Question: Nick Hudak. From Top Row: Lorna Jordan. From the Philosopher's Comedy Club: Stan Lee. From Call Me M.B.: Peter Hoffman. And from Buy a Vowel: Jessica O'Connell.
EISENBERG: And I'm going to ask our puzzle guru John Chaneski to take us out. What do we got, John?
Have no fear, we're about to dumb it down here a little bit.
EISENBERG: We are taking a departure from philosophy and going to pop music.
EISENBERG: I'm sure our next two contestants are excited about that. We have Noel Camacho and Peter Hoffman, and I believe they can handle that. Let's find out. They are behind their puzzle hot seats, although they're standing, so it's more like puzzle hot spots. Noel, you have some big things that you do with your life.
From NPR and WNYC, this is ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, your host and over the next hour, we are going to try to stump you. That's right listener, smarty pants, I'm talking to you. Get ready to use more than 10 percent of your brain because this is our Really Hard Edition. Joining me in the studio is our occasional puzzle guru and puzzle editor Art Chung.
ART CHUNG: Hey, Ophira.
EISENBERG: Hey, Art. Now, I know I work with you but I actually don't know the answer to this. What do you do, exactly...
I shied away from Marisa Silver's new novel because of its book jacket: a reproduction of Dorothea Lange's iconic Depression-era photograph called "Migrant Mother." You know it: the woman's strong face is worn and worried; her children lean protectively into her. Lange took the photo at a pea-pickers' camp in California in 1936; the name of the destitute mother of seven, who wasn't identified till the 1970s, is Florence Owens Thompson. The photo on Silver's book jacket is colorized.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 8:25 am
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
Queen of kink E.L. James told the New York Post that her next book "won't be nearly so raunchy" as Fifty Shades of Grey, and that she will "probably write it under another name." Her "inner goddess" is probably tired after all of that merengue-ing.
For anyone who's read Christopher Isherwood or even just spent a few hours in front of the History Channel, a novel that opens in 1930s Berlin raises certain expectations: There will be decadent parties, and then one day a Nazi killjoy will turn up and soon the music stops, windows are smashed, Jews rounded up and everyone's lives subsumed by historical forces. The end.
Credit Allen Ginsberg LLC/Corbis | The National Portrait Gallery
A split image shows Allen Ginsberg in 1953 and 1967.
Credit The National Portrait Gallery
A 1854 engraving by Samuel Hollyer and an 1872 photograph by G. Frank E. Pearsall show Walt Whitman in his trademark cocked hat. "I wear my hat as I please indoors or out," he wrote in "Song of Myself."
Credit The National Portrait Gallery
Langston Hughes' first publicity photo, taken in 1925, showed him as a bellhop. The same year, German painter Winold Reiss depicted a more sophisticated, powerful Hughes.
Credit The National Portrait Gallery | The Estate of Esther Bubley
A 1935 photograph of Marianne Moore by George Platt Lynes depicts the young poet as elegant and powerful, while a picture taken almost 20 years later by Esther Bubley reflects Moore's intensifying eccentricity.
Credit Allen Ginsberg LLC/Corbis | The National Portrait Gallery
When William S. Burroughs photographed Allen Ginsberg in 1953, the young poet bore almost no resemblance to the bearded countercultural icon that he would become in the 1960s.
If you've ever shot the breeze, had a heart-to-heart or bent somebody's ear — in fact, if you've ever talked at all — odds are you've used an idiom. These sometimes bizarre phrases are a staple of conversation, and more than 10,000 of them are collected in the latest edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, which came out this week.
The years of his papacy had seen "moments of joy and light, but also difficult moments," Pope Benedict XVI told some 100,000 spectators gathered in St. Peter's Square Wednesday during his final address. "There have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us ... and the Lord seemed to sleep."
As Benedict becomes the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years and cardinals gather in Rome to choose his successor, a series of scandals — child sex abuse, mismanagement at the Vatican bank, the leaking of secret church documents — has left the Vatican reeling.
Now we want to talk about fashion, but a very specific type of fashion that's taken a big step forward in recent years. We're talking about maternity fashion. Pregnancy is a special time in most women's lives. But even the happiest moms used to dread those Peter Pan collars, those giant bows, and do I even need to mention, the T-shirts with the, you know, arrow pointing to the belly.
Novelist Mohsin Hamid lives in Lahore, Pakistan, quite some distance from the Long Island of Jay Gatsby. But his new novel — his third and, I think, best so far — reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald's quintessential American work. As I read this novel about the dark and light of success in a world of social instability, I kept asking myself how much I might be inflating the value of Hamid's novel by rating it so highly. After all, this story takes the form of a gimmick, and gimmicks usually work against real quality.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 8:01 am
The year I discovered lentils, I was broke and lonely and didn't know how to cook. Lentils, it turned out, would have gone a long way toward providing the solution to some of these problems. However, when I first had them, they were a mystery.
They also were the cheapest thing on the menu at the Middle Eastern deli around the corner. The dish was mudardara, I was told. "What's that again?" I said, unable to untangle the knot of plosive consonants. It was repeated.
Gretta Harley arrived in Seattle in 1990, when grunge was redefining the city. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were turning Seattle into the epicenter of the music world. Harley was a punk rock guitarist searching for her tribe, and in Seattle's thriving music scene, she found it.
Has there ever been an age that was so grudging about suspending its disbelief? The groundlings at the Globe Theatre didn't giggle when Shakespeare had a clock chime in Julius Caesar. The Victorians didn't take Dickens to task for having the characters in ATale of Two Cities ride the Dover mail coach 10 years before it was established. But Shakespeare and Dickens weren't writing in the age of the Internet, when every historical detail is scrutinized for chronological correctness, and when no "Gotcha!" remains unposted for long.
Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 5:37 pm
In a business where effects-laden movies helped Hollywood make a record-setting $10.8 billion last year, many of the studios that create those effects are barely staying afloat.
Visual effects have been a part of the movie industry ever since Georges Melies went on his famous Trip to the Moon in 1902. These days, VFX studios do everything from putting a tiger in a lifeboat on an ocean voyage to choreographing the destruction of a New York City being defended by Earth's mightiest heroes.
It was no less than the master of dystopian fiction, George Orwell, who noted in a 1946 essay that "political language has to consist largely of euphemism. ... Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air ...
Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 12:22 pm
The McDonald's menu is a sacred document, like the Constitution. You can't just add things willy-nilly. It took hard work and sacrifice to add the Fourth Amendment, the McRib, and the Twenty-third Amendment, the Snack Wrap. Now, a new item called Fish McBites seeks ratification.
Miles: Fish McBites — for the bottom feeder in all of us.
Ian: I can't wait to wash this down with McDonald's new Chumrock Shake.
The remarkable story of gangster Whitey Bulger begins in the housing projects of South Boston and ends with his capture by the FBI in 2011 after his 16 years on the lam. By then, Bulger was wanted for 19 murders, extortion and loan sharking for leading a criminal enterprise in Boston from the 1970s until 1995. During much of that time he was also an informant and being protected by the FBI.
Now, we turn to a giant in the arts world. You probably know the name, Anna Deavere Smith. You might know her from her role on "The West Wing" or as the no-nonsense old school hospital administrator, Gloria Akalitus, on the Showtime series, "Nurse Jackie."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "NURSE JACKIE")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How do you sleep at night putting someone out of a job?
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. In a few minutes, we will speak with an artist who just won one of the American art world's biggest prizes. It was endowed by the famous sisters of silent movie fame. It comes with $300,000 attached. It was just awarded to Anna Deavere Smith, and we will speak with her in just a few minutes.
Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 6:06 pm
NPR's Sam Sanders and Mandalit del Barco were backstage at the Oscars on Sunday, covering the awards show. They sat in the press room, where winners go for interviews during and after the show. Here's a roundup of what they saw that you didn't see, in senior superlative form.
Most Likely To Stand By Her Man Until The End Of All Natural Time: Jennifer Garner