Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of his most famous paintings, but very little is actually known about it. The girl herself is a mystery who has inspired both a novel and a movie speculating on her true story.
On-air challenge: In recognition of the Super Bowl, the key word is "yards." You will be given some categories. For each one, name something in the category beginning with each of the letters Y, A, R, D and S. For example, if the category were "Girls' Names," you might say Yvonne, Alice, Rachel, Donna and Sally.
In 2008, reports of polar bears' inevitable march toward extinction gripped headlines. Stories of thinning Arctic ice and even polar bear cannibalism combined to make these predators into a powerful symbol in the debate about climate change.
The headlines caught Zac Unger's attention, and he decided to write a book about the bears.
A boy hitches a ride on a suitcase as he waits to board a train at Beijing West Railway Station during Chunyun travel peak on Feb. 8, 2007.
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A boy hitches a ride on a suitcase as he waits to board a train at Beijing West Railway Station during the peak of travel for the Chunyun Spring Festival, in February 2007.
Credit A. J. O'Brien / Fox Photos/Getty Images
Two holidaymakers amuse themselves with a porter's trolley as they wait for their train at Euston Station in London in August 1939.
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Chinese passengers line up to buy train tickets as the summer holiday starts in Hefei, in eastern China's Anhui province, in June 2012. China's railways transported some 453 million passengers during the first quarter of 2012.
Credit Gregorio Borgia / AP
Passengers wait for their train in Rome's Termini Station, in April 2011, during a transport strike that idled trains, buses and subways across Italy.
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Indian passengers wait on the platform of Sealdah train station for the resumption of services during a power failure in Kolkata in July 2012.
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A woman stands on a station platform, watching for her train.
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A sailor reads with his child as he waits for a holiday train at Waterloo station in London in 1927.
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A man and his child check out photos they took while waiting to board trains at the south train station in Beijing, in February 2010.
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Three French children wait on a railway platform with their toys and luggage in September 1962.
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Nuns wait together on a platform at Euston station in London.
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A party of holidaymakers waits for a train at Waterloo station in London, in July 1913.
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A Chinese boy wearing a People's Liberation Army uniform sits on his family's belongings while waiting for a train at the crowded Beijing railway station in December 1992.
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Jose, Oscar and Eduardo Aguilar, sons of a Venezuelan official, leave Waterloo station in London for home, wearing Eton suits and toppers in May 1936.
Credit Manish Swarup / AP
An Indian girl sits on her family's luggage as she waits for a train at a railway station in New Delhi, India, in January 2013.
Credit Ed Jones / AFP/Getty Images
Lunar New Year travelers wait for their train at the West Railway Station in Beijing on Jan. 31, 2013. Tens of millions of people across China board trains to journey home for Lunar New Year celebrations in the world's largest annual migration.
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Two young women wait for the train at a subway station in Mexico City during the worldwide "No Pants Subway Ride" on Jan. 13, 2013.
Credit William Thomas Cain / Getty Images
Andrew Michael, who had been waiting for hours, takes a nap as he waits for a train at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia in May 2006. Thousands of Amtrak passengers were stranded from Washington, D.C., to New York during a power outage along the Eastern corridor.
Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 3:30 pm
Grand Central Terminal, one of world's most iconic commuter destinations (or departure points, depending on which way you're going), celebrated a big birthday this week. Friday marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the largest railroad terminal in the world.
Manil Suri's new novel, The City of Devi, opens with India and Pakistan on the verge of nuclear war. India is roiled by factional violence between Hindus and Muslims. Bombers strafe citizens, vigilantes settle scores, and terrorists set off dirty bombs around the country as Mumbai boils over with fear and fury. And if that's not enough, it's also a sex comedy.
Author Mona Simpson is the judge for Round 10 of Three-Minute Fiction. She has written five works of fiction (among other short stories and essays): Anywhere but Here, The Lost Father, A Regular Guy, Off Keck Road and My Hollywood.
It's Round 10 of Three-Minute Fiction, the short story contest from weekends on All Things Considered. Here's the premise: Write a piece of original fiction that can be read in about three minutes (no more than 600 words).
Our judge for this round is author Mona Simpson, whose most recent book is My Hollywood. She most recently won a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among other prizes. Here's her twist for Round 10:
Write a story in the form of a voice-mail message.
In 1992, Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to fly in space when she served as a science mission specialist. We've invited Jemison to play a game called "Excuse me? When do we get to the Southwest terminal?" Jemison has flown in the space shuttle Endeavour, so we thought we'd ask her questions about a sometimes more unpredictable vehicle ... the airport shuttle.
In case a thousand thousands of internet words haven't informed you, last night was the final episode of 30 Rock, and in addition to taking a moment to appreciate the show itself, we decided to use it as a jumping-off point for a discussion of "meta" humor — what it is, when it works, and when it just comes off like a crutch. You might be surprised to hear meta traced all the way back to childhood, but hey, that's what we're here for.
The Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers centers on Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but from an unusual vantage — not the Palestinians or Israelis on the ground, but six men at the pinnacle of the country's security apparatus: the former heads of the security agency Shin Bet.
This week's versatile V.I.P. has had spells as an author, an ordained minister, a fortuneteller, and a bartender — which serves her well during a delectable drinking game. And with quizzes covering highfalutin children's literature, crossbred celebrities and a geologist's favorite Queen song, this week's contestants show a little versatility, too.
Friday marks the day that 100 years ago, Grand Central Terminal opened its doors for business for the very first time. The largest railroad terminal in the world, the magnificent Beaux-Arts building is in the heart of New York City on 42nd St. And while it no longer serves long-distance trains, it's still a vibrant part of the city's eco-system.
The Italian art-house film Caesar Must Die and the teen zombie-comedy Warm Bodies do not, at first glance, appear to have much in common. But they share a bit of creative DNA, both being inventive riffs that turn Shakespearean tragedies into something else entirely.
Dave Grohl has always been a joy to watch onscreen, whether bashing away at a drum kit like the heavy-footed, wild-haired spawn of John Bonham and the Muppets' Animal in Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video, or flashing an endearingly goofy grin in the Mentos-spoof clip for the Foo Fighters' "Big Me." And a big part of that appeal is the sense that no matter how long he's been in the business, Grohl is still a guy who is acutely aware that he's living out a teenage daydream every day of his life.
Intended as a victory lap for three great stars of advancing age, Stand Up Guys is another entry in the "old folks doing stuff" subgenre, which offers comic affirmation that life is not strictly for the young.
Adapted from a French graphic novel and outfitted with an ethnically diverse cast, Bullet to the Head is an artifact of a newly internationalized Hollywood. But that doesn't mean it feels especially new.
I have never considered Liz Lemon a feminist icon of any kind, nor have I ever considered 30 Rock especially strong when it comes to gender politics.
I don't care forthe obsessive joke-making about how Liz is ugly/mannish/old/awkward, and I haven't always been comfortable with the way some of the "she's baby-crazy!" or "she's relationship-crazy!" comedy has played. I was ambivalent about the way the Jezebel parody and the "women aren't funny" storylines were executed.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later in the program, we will pay tribute to the late Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner. The leader of the funk band, The Ohio Players, died earlier this week at the age of 69 and we will tell you more about him in a few minutes.