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Movie Interviews
2:57 pm
Sat February 14, 2015

Filmmaker David Cross Says It's No Wonder We All Want Fame

David Cross makes his directorial debut with the dark comedy Hits.
Larry Busacca Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 14, 2015 4:32 pm

If you know comedian David Cross, chances are you recognize him from his role as Tobias in the TV comedy Arrested Development. Now Cross is making his directorial debut with the dark comedy Hits, a film that explores how easy it is to become famous in our celebrity-obsessed culture.

The movie was released Friday on BitTorrent, an online file-sharing system that's often associated with piracy. The film's producers are asking downloaders merely to pay what they want.

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Author Interviews
5:32 am
Sat February 14, 2015

Dangerous Freedoms And Fading Memories In 'Find Me'

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:13 am

Laura Van Den Berg is one of the most admired short story writers in the country, and readers have been eagerly awaiting her first novel, Find Me. The book opens with a sickness sweeping the country: It obliterates memory, then kills. In the middle of this is Joy, a lonely young woman who works at a Stop & Shop outside of Boston. Her chief impulse in life seems to be to swill cough syrup (by the way, there's a lot of product placement in this book) — but Joy also seems to be untouched by this sickness. Is she somehow immune?

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Movie Interviews
5:32 am
Sat February 14, 2015

Hugh Grant On Smart Romantic Comedies And Standing Up To The Tabloids

In The Rewrite Grant plays a washed-up Hollywood screenwriter who takes a job teaching at a university in upstate New York.
Anne Joyce RLJE/Image Entertainment Films

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:12 am

Hugh Grant is a British fish out of water — again. In The Rewrite he plays Keith Michaels, a screenwriter who won an Oscar 15 years ago, but hasn't done much since. Divorced and nearly broke, he reluctantly takes a one-semester teaching job at Binghamton University in upstate New York.

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Author Interviews
5:32 am
Sat February 14, 2015

A Berkeley Student Comes Home In 'Braggsville,' With Consequences

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:14 am

D'aron Davenport feels like a catfish out of his pond when he leaves his Georgia town of about 700 people to go to school in Berkeley, Calif. But within just a few months, it's his hometown that becomes a little hard to understand in his own, changed eyes.

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Code Switch
11:02 am
Fri February 13, 2015

A Black Mississippi Judge's Breathtaking Speech To 3 White Murderers

U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves, for the Southern District of Mississippi.
Courtesy of cleoinc.org

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 9:14 am

Here's an astonishing speech by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, who in 2010 became the second African-American appointed as federal judge in Mississippi. He read it to three young white men before sentencing them for the death of a 48-year-old black man named James Craig Anderson in a parking lot in Jackson, Miss., one night in 2011. They were part of a group that beat Anderson and then killed him by running over his body with a truck, yelling "white power" as they drove off.

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StoryCorps
1:30 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Chapel Hill Shooting Victims Were 'Radiant,' Teacher Says

Yusor Abu-Salha was one of the victims in Tuesday's shooting in Chapel Hill, N.C. She sat down with her teacher, Mussarut Jabeen, at StoryCorps last May.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 9:54 am

Yusor Abu-Salha was one of the young students killed in Tuesday's shooting in Chapel Hill, N.C.

She and her former third-grade teacher, Mussarut Jabeen, spoke to StoryCorps in May. In fact, all three victims in the shooting — Abu-Salha, 21, her husband, Deah Barakat, 23, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19 — attended the Al-Iman School in Raleigh, N.C., where Jabeen taught.

Jabeen returned to StoryCorps Wednesday to talk about that 2014 conversation with Abu-Salha.

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Author Interviews
3:04 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Tumultuous Relationships, But Not Much Gossip, In Langston Hughes' Letters

Langston Hughes, pictured above in 1961, was a poet, novelist, playwright and "inveterate letter writer," says editor Arnold Rampersad.
AP

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 4:27 pm

In addition to poems and plays and stories, Langston Hughes also wrote letters — a lot of letters. The letters — compiled for the first time in Selected Letters of Langston Hughes -- offer insight into a man deeply devoted to his craft, and chronicle his often tumultuous personal and professional relationships.

"He was an inveterate letter writer," Arnold Rampersad, co-editor of the compilation, tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "He would write sometimes 30 or 40 working late into the night, into the early morning. He believed in letters and he also saved them."

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Author Interviews
12:44 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Twice Kidnapped, Photographer Returns To War Zone: 'It's What I Do'

Lynsey Addario is a photojournalist who has worked in war zones for well over a decade.
Kursat Bayhan Courtesy of Penguin Press

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 7:07 am

In March 2011, photojournalist Lynsey Addario was kidnapped in Libya while covering the fighting between dictator Moammar Gadhafi's troops and rebel forces. She was with Anthony Shadid, Tyler Hicks and Stephen Farrell in the town of Ajdabiya, all on assignment for The New York Times.

Looking back, Addario says she had a premonition that something bad would happen.

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All Tech Considered
3:07 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Q&A: Sen. Ed Markey On Protecting Data Our Cars Are Sharing

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., says our cars are becoming increasingly vulnerable to hacking.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 4:27 pm

Cars and trucks today are computers, and a new report overseen by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., comes with a warning: As more vehicles have wireless connections, the data stored in them is vulnerable to stealing, hacking and the same invasions faced by any technical system today.

How safe are we in our connected cars?

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Around the Nation
5:19 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

To End Solitary Confinement, Rikers Steps Out Of The Box

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tours and meets with youth Dec. 17 at Second Chance Housing on Rikers Island in New York City. Second Chance Housing is an alternative for incarcerated adolescents, instead of punitive segregation, also known as solitary confinement.
Susan Watts Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 11:09 am

New York's Rikers Island is the second-largest jail in the U.S., and one of the most notorious.

But with a single move, Rikers has taken the lead on prison reform on one issue: Last month, the prison banned the use of solitary confinement for inmates under 21 years old.

Amy Fettig, senior staff counsel for the ACLU's National Prison Project, says the use of isolation is too widespread and that it's being used for the wrong reasons. Often young people are even isolated for their own protection.

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Code Switch
4:40 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

Korean Dictator, All-American Dad: One Actor's 'Very Unique Year'

Randall Park and Constance Wu co-star as husband and wife Louis and Jessica Huang in Fresh Off the Boat.
Gilles Mingasson ABC

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 7:53 am

When Randall Park realized just how big a deal Fresh Off The Boat was going to be, he got cold feet. The stakes were high for the first network sitcom in 20 years to feature an Asian-American family.

But he'd already filmed the pilot, in which he starred as family patriarch Louis Huang, a Taiwanese immigrant and firm believer in the American Dream. (The sitcom, which centers on Louis' son Eddie, begins as Louis uproots his young family from Washington, D.C., to suburban Orlando to open a steakhouse.)

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Code Switch
3:56 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

100 Years Later, What's The Legacy Of 'Birth Of A Nation'?

Actors dressed in full Ku Klux Klan regalia for scenes in 1915's The Birth of a Nation.
Hulton Archive/ Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 5:56 pm

One hundred years ago Sunday, the nascent film industry premiered what would go on to be its first blockbuster: The Birth of a Nation.

As the house lights dimmed and the orchestra struck up the score, a message from director D.W. Griffith flickered on the screen: "This is an historical presentation of the Civil War and Reconstruction Period, and is not meant to reflect on any race or people of today."

But its effects on race relations were devastating, and reverberations are still felt to this day.

Epic Film, Embedded Bigotry

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Music Interviews
3:35 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

Bird Of A Feather: Rudresh Mahanthappa On Learning From Charlie Parker

Rudresh Mahanthappa's latest album is Bird Calls.
Jimmy Katz Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 7:53 am

In the early 1980s, when a young sixth-grader in Colorado first heard Charlie Parker, his life was transformed. Now a world-class saxophonist, Rudresh Mahanthappa is paying homage to Parker with his new album, Bird Calls. Mahanthappa says it's a tribute to Charlie Parker — but there are no Charlie Parker songs here.

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Monkey See
3:25 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

Live-Blogging The Grammy Awards

Beyonce performs onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. The singer is up for six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
Mark Davis Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 8, 2015 7:42 pm

UPDATE: Perhaps it's a sign that we have to give up our nostalgic attachment to live-blogging, but technical difficulties and a totally broken live-blog have sent Stephen and me back to Twitter, where we — at @nprmonkeysee and @idislikestephen — will be tweeting at the hashtag #NPRGrammys. Thanks for your patience.

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Author Interviews
2:55 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

Obama's 'Body Man' Looks Back On His Presidential Education

Barack Obama hands a gift from a supporter to his assistant Reggie Love during his 2008 campaign for presidency.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 11:54 am

Reggie Love was Barack Obama's body man during his first campaign for president and into his time in office. It was a demanding job: part personal assistant, part aide, part whatever the boss needs you to do, whenever he needs it.

Love, the author of the new memoir Power Forward: My Presidential Education, tells NPR's Arun Rath that he remembers the first time he met then-Senator Obama. He had traveled to Washington for a job interview.

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Law
8:12 am
Sun February 8, 2015

Next Witness: Will The Yellow Smiley Face Take The Stand?

Are these jokers ready to appear in court?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 12:21 pm

Emojis can be a lot of fun. Little pictures on our phones seem to express sentiments when words just fall short. Sometimes we need to punctuate our sentences with a sad cat, floating hearts, maybe an alien head.

They aren't complicated when they appear in our personal email or texts, but emojis are now popping up in a place where their meanings are closely scrutinized: courtrooms.

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Movie Interviews
3:48 am
Sun February 8, 2015

What Do We Do 'In The Shadows'? Dishes, Mostly

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi (top) play bloodsucking housemates struggling with mundane things like rent and chores.
Unison Films

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 4:31 am

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My Big Break
4:56 pm
Sat February 7, 2015

From Touchdowns To Takeoff: Engineer-Athlete Soared To Space

Leland Melvin with his dogs, Jake and Scout. "I snuck them into NASA to get this picture," Melvin says.
Courtesy of Leland Melvin

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 7:29 pm

As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

You may recognize retired astronaut Leland Melvin from his famous 2009 NASA portrait with his two dogs, Jake and Scout. Or maybe you've seen him on the Lifetime channel hosting Child Genius.

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Fine Art
4:23 pm
Sat February 7, 2015

'War Rugs' Reflect Afghanistan's Long History With Conflict

Afghan war rugs reflect the nation's long history of conflict through one of its most ancient art forms.
Courtesy of Kevin Sudeith

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 7:29 pm

Afghanistan has suffered through long decades of war; conflict with the Soviet Union, civil war and 13 years of a U.S.-led NATO combat mission. Among the political, economic and cultural impacts of this violence, there's an artistic transformation: the history of violence is reflected in the country's ancient art of rug making.

Kevin Sudeith, a collector, tells NPR's Arun Rath that he has long been impressed by the craftsmanship of Afghan rugs.

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Author Interviews
3:15 pm
Sat February 7, 2015

We Went From Hunter-Gatherers To Space Explorers, But Are We Happier?

Until about 30,000 years ago — around the same time these animals were drawn on the walls of France's Chauvet Cave — there were at least five other species of humans on the planet.
Jeff Pachoud AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 7:29 pm

In his book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, scientist Yuval Noah Harari attempts a seemingly impossible task — packing the entirety of human history into 400 pages.

Harari, an Israeli historian, is interested in tackling big-picture questions and puncturing some of our dearly held beliefs about human progress.

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Author Interviews
5:56 am
Sat February 7, 2015

An Expansive View Of Vietnam In 'She Weeps Each Time You're Born'

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 9:44 am

A woman named Rabbit is a kind of miracle: She was pulled out of her dead mother's grave beside the Ma River in Vietnam, on the night of a full moon — when folklore says that a rabbit walks the moon. Rabbit is the center of poet and author Quan Barry's new novel, She Weeps Each Time You're Born.

The Vietnam War is raging; American troops have just begun to pull out, and Rabbit grows up in a landscape of leveled homes, shattered lives, and barren, poisoned fields, her life slipping between present tense and parable.

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Author Interviews
3:47 am
Sat February 7, 2015

'Alphabetical' Tells The Story Behind Every Letter, A To Z

Counterpoint Press

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 9:43 am

There are 26 letters in the English alphabet. But how did they get there, and why do they look the way they do? Michael Rosen tackles these questions and more in his new book Alphabetical.

Nobody knows exactly why people started writing down sounds, Rosen tells NPR's Scott Simon. "All they can say is that certain peoples, around about 4,000 years ago, started to do it. They may have done it separately, or they may have communicated with each other, one way or another."

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Theater
3:45 am
Sat February 7, 2015

For John Cameron Mitchell, Midlife Crisis Means Returning To 'Hedwig'

John Cameron Mitchell will play Hedwig on Broadway until April 26.
Joan Marcus Courtesy of Boneau/Bryan-Brown

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 9:48 am

Hedwig and the Angry Inch got rave reviews when it premiered off Broadway in the late 1990s. Since then, Hedwig, a gender-bending East German rock musician, has been portrayed by the likes of Neil Patrick Harris and Michael C. Hall. But for the first time since the play's debut and 2001 film adaptation, Hedwig is once again being played by the man who created every punk and glam-rock inch of her — John Cameron Mitchell. Mitchell tells NPR's Scott Simon where he got the idea for Hedwig:

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Theater
3:10 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Much To His Chagrin, On Broadway Larry David Has To 'Wait And Talk'

Larry David hasn't been in a play since the eighth grade, but he's written and stars in a new comedy called Fish in the Dark, directed by Anna D. Shapiro. "I didn't think it was going to get any laughs at all," he says. "The first time we did it, like every laugh was a surprise to me because I was expecting nothing."
Joan Marcus Courtesy of Philip Renaldi Publicity

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 12:24 pm

These days, when Larry David leaves work at the stage door of the Cort Theater, fans are lined up for his autograph. At age 67, David is now a Broadway star — and that's new, scary territory for him.

David was co-creator of the TV sitcom Seinfeld and starred as himself — a cantankerous guy who says exactly what's on his mind — in the raucously funny HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. He hasn't been in a play since he was in eighth grade, but now he's written one called Fish in the Dark, and it's his name in lights.

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Author Interviews
1:54 am
Fri February 6, 2015

On Board A City Bus, A Little Boy Finds The Route To Gratitude

"Nana, how come we don't have a car?" CJ asks. "Boy, what do we need a car for?" Nana replies. "We got a bus that breathes fire."
Christian Robinson Courtesy of Penguin Random House Publishing

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:15 am

Last Stop on Market Street is a new picture book that takes children on a journey, not to an imaginary land far, far away but to a much more real place by way of a city bus. CJ is riding with his grandmother, Nana, and along the way, he encounters a variety of passengers — a man covered in tattoos, an elderly woman with a jar of butterflies, a blind man and his guide dog, teens listening to music.

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Parallels
4:23 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

In 'Red Notice,' Success Draws Treachery, Tragedy In Putin's Russia

Bill Browder crosses Red Square in 2004, at the height of Hermitage Capital Management's success.
James Hill Courtesy of the Browder Family Archives

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 9:48 am

William Browder's new book, Red Notice, is named for the type of warrant the Russian government has sought from Interpol in hopes of capturing him.

The hedge fund manager made huge profits with Hermitage Capital Management, a company he started in Russia in 1996. That, he says, drew the attention and machinations of a corrupt group of Russian officials.

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Around the Nation
2:03 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Stuck In Traffic? It's Likely To Be Worse In 30 Years, Report Says

Traffic clogs the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 11:27 am

Moving from crisis to crisis — for too long that's been America's strategy for dealing with the challenges of an aging transit infrastructure, from roads to bridges to ports. The result is a system that's crumbling and in desperate need of attention, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The massive study both looks at the current state of the country's transportation systems and forecasts the challenges that lie ahead.

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Author Interviews
2:43 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Drift Away Into The Not-Quite-Dreamy Logic Of 'Get In Trouble'

Get In Trouble is Kelly Link's new collection of short stories.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Tue February 3, 2015 4:28 pm

Author Kelly Link says her short stories are inspired by what she calls "night time logic." In fiction that strives for realism, she says, everything has a place. Everything makes sense. It's kind of like dream logic, she tells NPR's Audie Cornish, "except that when you wake up from a dream, you think, well, that didn't make sense. Night time logic in stories, you think, I don't understand why that made sense, but I feel there was a kind of emotional truth to it."

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My Big Break
4:19 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

From The Ivy League To 'The X-Files': David Duchovny's Big Break

David Duchovny says The X-Files was his biggest break — not because it was successful but because that's where he went from youthful ambition to an adult understanding of what it means to work.
Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 9:30 am

As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Here's something you probably know about David Duchovny: He played one of the 1990s' most iconic roles, FBI agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files.

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On Aging
3:24 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

As America Grays, A Call For Dignity In Aging And Elder Care

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 9:42 am

The baby boomers are getting older: This year, 4 million people in America will turn 65.

In her new book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, author Ai-jen Poo says that means the country is on the cusp of a major shift.

"The baby boom generation is reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 people per day," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "What that means is that by 2050, 27 million Americans will need some form of long-term care or assistance, and that's the basis for this book."

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