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Arts and culture

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Reading The Game: Red Dead Redemption

Jan 23, 2017

For years now, some of the best, wildest, most moving or revealing stories we've been telling ourselves have come not from books, movies or TV, but from video games. So we're running an occasional series, Reading The Game, in which we take a look at some of these games from a literary perspective.

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'The Bear And The Nightingale' Is A Rich Winter's Tale

Jan 22, 2017

I read this book of winter nights and northern forests at the turn of the year; snow swirled, ice glazed the trees and bent bare branches low. I'm writing the review now in the kind of unseasonable thaw that makes one want to grab climate change denial by the ear and rub its face in the slush. But I'm only the more grateful for The Bear and the Nightingale in consequence: I love winter with all my December-born Canadian heart, and I love stories that make me feel the full mythic majesty of it even when the weather's wounded and limping into spring.

On-air challenge: Today I've brought a game of categories based on the word COMBS. You probably know how this works. I'm going to give you a series of categories. For each one, name something in it starting with each of the letters C-O-M-B-S.

For example, if the category were "Three-Syllable Boys' Names," you might say Christopher, Oliver, Mathias, Benjamin and Sebastian. Any answer that works is fine, and you can give the answers in any order.

1. Musical instruments

2. Cities in Florida

3. Wild mammals in America

Author Julia Alekseyeva's great-grandmother Lola lived to be 100 years old, long enough to see the birth, and eventual collapse, of the USSR. In 1992, she and her family — including young Julia — moved from Kiev to Chicago.

Unbeknownst to her family, Lola began to write her memoirs, recording the stories of her life as a Jew in the Soviet Union, filled with vivid details and enlivened by a strong, independent spirit. Upon Lola's death, Julia discovered her great-grandmother's memoirs, and has now transformed them into her debut graphic novel, Soviet Daughter.

Children's book doyenne Margaret Wise Brown is having a big week.

A Couple Faces Collapse In Dark 'Futures'

Jan 22, 2017

Psychological research tells us that a surefire path to personal happiness is to make other people happy. In light of this, then Julia, the protagonist of The Futures, is doomed. With Julia and her boyfriend, Evan, debut novelist Anna Pitoniak has created a dark look at recent college graduates who embark on building a life for themselves in New York City. Julia makes a series of grievous mistakes that send her into solipsistic despair; Evan is trapped in a bubble of his own misery. Making anyone happy is beyond them.

With no shortage of material to work with, Saturday Night Live satirized a packed week in American politics, reiterating themes imparted by critics for months.

The episode kicked off by lampooning Russia's role in influencing the U.S. election.

Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer "radical empathy" and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.

It's not fair to compare the 2004 film Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events to the new Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events.

But let's do it anyway.

To revisit the box office numbers for 1988 is to remember when movies that made a lot of money looked entirely different than they do now. Rain Man grossed more money domestically than anything else that year. It was followed in the top 10 by Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Coming To America, Big, Twins, Crocodile Dundee II, Die Hard, The Naked Gun, Cocktail, and Beetlejuice. Only one sequel in the bunch. That's two adult dramas (if you count Cocktail, which ...

Mercy is a human impulse, but so is murder. In Human Acts, Han Kang's novel of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising and its aftermath, people spill blood, and people brave death to donate it. With a sensitivity so sharp that it's painful, Human Acts sets out to reconcile these paradoxical and coexisting humanities.

Back in 1999, a writer named Daniel Handler decided that kids books were too cheerful. So he adopted the pen name Lemony Snicket, and authored "A Series of Unfortunate Events" — now also a series on Netflix.

We've invited Handler to play a game called "What the hell happened to my Louis Vuitton valise, you monster?" Three questions about baggage handlers.

Elliot Ackerman's new novel Dark at the Crossing is about a man who escaped one conflict zone with his life, and now wants to break into a new one.

Haris Abadi — an Iraqi who worked for U.S. special forces during the Iraq War and later became a U.S. citizen — wants to put his new life on the line to free Syria from the cruel grip of Bashar al-Assad.

But Haris is turned back at the Turkish-Syrian border, then robbed, then taken in by Syrian refugees who make him look into his own commitment. Is it to Syria — or, ultimately, his own definition of himself?

At Goats and Soda we're always watching the developing world.

A group of international photographers is doing the same thing — but from a drone's perspective.

We mined the website dronestagram (think Instagram for drone pics) for the most riveting drone photos of the developing world from the past year. Here are a few of the eye-catching images we came across and the stories behind them.

An island home

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

One of the biggest-ever overseas successes for Disney is grounded in a real-life story out of India.

Eugene Mirman: Burger On A Sesame Seed Pun

Jan 20, 2017

For his most recent comedy album, I'm Sorry (You're Welcome), Eugene Mirman recorded "over 45 minutes of crying." What he didn't realize was that he'd have to listen to it several times over to make sure there were no audio flaws. "In a sense," he told host Ophira Eisenberg, "I mostly pranked myself."

Just Say No

Jan 20, 2017

Our finalists finally put their foot down in this game where every answer ends with the word "NO." If we asked, "What artist married John Lennon?" the answer would be "Yoko Ono."

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Easy Degrees

Jan 20, 2017

What do Pitbull and Celine Dion have in common? They both have honorary degrees! In this game we play a clip of a famous person accepting an honorary degree, and contestants buzz in to guess who else has joined the exclusive club.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Stuff By The Ocean

Jan 20, 2017

Grab some sunscreen and a time machine! Jonathan Coulton takes us all the way back to the summer of 2016 with a parody of "Cake By The Ocean," where each clue is about something you'd find--you guessed it--by the ocean.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Mystery Guest

Jan 20, 2017

This episode's mystery guest, Alan Drazen, joins us from the Philadelphia area. Alan created something "very, very cool." Can you figure out what he invented before Ophira and Jonathan do?

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Muppets, Beanies Or Mascots

Jan 20, 2017

In this week's edition of This, That, or the Other, contestants must decide: is it a Muppet, a Beanie Baby or a college sports mascot?

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Cereal Brawl

Jan 20, 2017

This word game is about cereal...the breakfast, not the podcast. We'll describe a brand, and you guess the name with one letter changed. If we said, "There's nothing like the 'snap-crackle-pop' of a bowl full of rodents," you'd say, "MICE Krispies."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch team is in our fourth chair this week as we start by trying to make sense of all our reactions to HBO's new drama The Young Pope. The cardinals! The intrigue! The smoking! The ... unexpected animal cameos! It's a really interesting show that has us a little perplexed in places, so please join us as we try to figure out whether we like it or not.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Why Is It Important To Be Touched?

Jan 19, 2017

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Five Senses

About David Linden's TED Talk

Neuroscientist David Linden thinks that of the five senses, touch is the most overlooked, and perhaps the most important for promoting psychological health.

About David Linden

How Do Pheromones Really Work?

Jan 19, 2017

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Five Senses

About Tristram Wyatt's TED Talk

Pheromones are mysterious compounds that can make a mammal smell more sexy--but that's not true for humans. Zoologist Tristram Wyatt says human pheremones are hard to find.

About Tristram Wyatt

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