If you want to learn how to write a song — one that's built to last, with vivid characters and images that plant you squarely inside a scene — listen to Guy Clark.
Songwriters who revere Clark will tell you he crafts songs with the same precision and attention to detail he uses when he builds guitars. But Clark has a simpler, blunter explanation, as he told me with a glint in his eye when I visited him recently at his home in Nashville, Tenn.
Who needs jocks when you've got Jennifer Hudson and Amy Poehler?
That seems to be the message coming out of the White House following a star-studded meeting yesterday led by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Its mission: Figure out how to help promote the Affordable Care Act.
Vermont, New Hampshire and Delaware get a notable benefit of being small: faster Internet connections. In the latest Akamai State of the Internet Report, they top the list of states with the fastest average connection speeds, and make the top 10 states with fastest peak connection speeds, too.
Check out the rankings, which include download speeds measured in megabits per second, and the year-on-year change for those numbers.
On this week's episode of All Songs Considered: Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton offer up huge premieres, including a preview of '90s lo-fi rock pioneer Sebadoh's first new album in 14 years. There's also new music from folk duo The Civil Wars, which finished its new album just before going on hiatus, and pianist singer Lucy Schwartz.
If every era gets the historical fiction it deserves, we have been good indeed. From the transcendent psychological rummagings of Hilary Mantel to the gooey pleasures of Philippa Gregory, we can set aside flowery bodice-rippers (not that there's anything wrong with those) and view the dusty figures through lenses literary, pop culture-y, or near-pornographic.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
Billionaire Steven Cohen is fighting back. He faces federal charges that he didn't do enough to prevent insider trading at his hedge fund SAC Capital. As The Wall Street Journal reported this morning, Cohen's firm issued a rebuttal, claiming that he never saw an email that's an important part of the government's case.
In India, police have widened their hunt for the principal of an elementary school. It's the place where 23 children died last week after eating a toxic school lunch. The principal has been missing, along with her husband, since the day the children fell sick. An arrest warrant has been issued for her. In the meantime, parents of the victims are trying to cope with the tragedy. NPR's Julie McCarthy visited some of the families who live in one of India's poorest states.
It's been a bad month in U.S.-Afghan relations and efforts to negotiate a long-term security pact have been sidelined by a series of controversies and rhetorical bombshells. As the end of the NATO mission creeps closer, Afghans are increasingly worried that the bad atmospherics between Washington and Kabul could leave the Afghan people without enough U.S. support and vulnerable to predatory neighbors.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, has outlined the costs and benefits of the military options the U.S. is considering for Syria. The options include training rebels, military strikes and establishing a no-fly-zone. Dempsey offered his assessment in a letter to the top Senator on the Armed Services Committee. He noted there would be "unintended consequences" to any action, a reference to the past decade of military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
More than two million Americans fought in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the vast majority of U.S. veterans, about 20 million, served in earlier wars - World War II, Korea, Vietnam. And they are the vets who filled up the hall today at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
JOHN HAMILTON: Comrades, I present to you a fellow combat veteran.
BLOCK: That's Vietnam vet John Hamilton, the head of the VFW, introducing another Vietnam vet.
This week, NASA is trying to do its part to raise science literacy. To give people a better understanding of Earth's position in the solar system, the agency's posted a picture of our planet taken from a billion miles away, give or take 100 million miles or so. And joining me now to talk about the picture, and why NASA took it, is NPR's Joe Palca. Joe, good to see you.
Almost all the states and Washington, D.C., are grappling with a big challenge as the new school year nears: getting teachers up to speed on the Common Core, a sweeping set of new education standards for English language arts and math.
The Common Core will soon apply to most of America's students from kindergarten through high school. The policymakers behind the Core know that it could fail if they don't help teachers make the change. So this summer, the state of Maryland has been hosting what it calls "academies" to do just that.
The line to see the thing that was supposed to smell like rotting flesh wrapped around the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., on Monday night. Most folks who braved the heat and hourlong wait weren't greeted with the overwhelming stench of death, but rather the smell of sweat and intense, intense humidity.
Get Howard Buffett into the cab of a big ole' farm tractor and he's like a kid — albeit a 58-year-old, gray-haired one. He's especially excited when it comes to the tractor's elaborate GPS system, which he describes as "very cool."
"I'm driving hands-free," says Buffett, the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
He says that the tractor has been automatically set to plant 16 perfect rows of seeds, "so it makes everything more efficient. And it's going to give you a better crop in the end."
The online health insurance marketplaces can't open soon enough for Chris and Kristi Petersen. Enrolled in the Iowa high-risk insurance pool because insurers on the private market won't cover them, the couple pays more than $1,300 each month for a plan with a $2,500 annual deductible and a 20 percent copay for medical services. It's more than they can afford.
"At the end of this year, these exchanges are either going to have to offer some relief, or I'm just going to quit working and let the welfare take care of us," says Chris. "I'm fed up with it. I'm fed up with insurance."
At the center of David Gilbert's new novel & Sons is a famous and famously reclusive writer in the J.D. Salinger model. It's a book about the writer as author of books, and as the father of sons — sons who don't feel nearly as warmly toward him as readers do. When & Sons begins, the writer, Andrew Newbold Dyer — or A.N. Dyer as he's known to his readers — is nearing 80.
Is Ryan Braun just the leadoff hitter for a lineup of stars who, like him, will soon be suspended by Major League Baseball for their dealings with a Miami-area clinic that allegedly sold performance enhancing drugs?
Pioneering musician Carline Ray died July 18 at age 88. In the 1940s, when it was difficult for women to be accepted as jazz musicians, Ray found a home in the all-female band The International Sweethearts of Rhythm as the guitarist and a featured vocalist. She was also a bass player who performed with Sy Oliver, Mercer Ellington and Mary Lou Williams.
Ray was born in Harlem in 1925 during the Harlem Renaissance. She graduated from Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music. Her husband, Luis Russell, led his own band and worked as Louis Armstrong's music director.
It's no secret that the middle school experience can be not so fabulous, and that's particularly true for the teen at the center of Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life. The book, the first in the Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell, is the July pick for NPR's Backseat Book Club.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, it's the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. And wouldn't you know, there's an app for that. Our regular contributor Arsalan Iftikhar, founder of the blog TheMuslimGuy.com, will tell us more about them in just a few minutes. But first, to matters of personal finance. You might remember that last week we talked about how the summertime is a good time to do a mid-year check-in on your personal finances.
When a woman slipped between a train and a station platform just north of Tokyo on Monday, about 40 commuters and railroad employees worked together to tilt the 32-ton subway car enough to one side so that she could be pulled to safety.
The Associated Press writes that the train car's suspension system "allows it to lean to either side, according to the Yomiuri newspaper, Japan's largest daily."
The number of part-time workers has roughly doubled in the last few years. For most of those employees, that means short hours, erratic schedules and low pay. Host Michel Martin talks with NPR's Marilyn Geewax, and fast-food worker Amere Graham, about the high costs of part-time work.