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Strange News
6:42 am
Sat April 4, 2015

Pondering The Popularity Of The Pet Rock — And Other Fads

Pet Rock creator Gary Ross Dahl became a millionaire from his rock sales in the 1970s. Each rock came in a special box (bottom left) with a detailed instruction manual.
San Francisco Chronicle AP

Originally published on Sat April 4, 2015 8:30 am

The Hula Hoop. The pogo stick. The Tamagotchi.

Fads, crazes and must-have toys all sweep the country from time to time. But in the annals of faddish toys, one achievement stands tall — or rather, sits small: the Pet Rock.

It was exactly what it sounds like: a rock (a Mexican beach stone, to be precise) marketed in the mid-'70s as a pet. Each came in its own box with air holes and a detailed owner's manual.

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Author Interviews
3:13 am
Sat April 4, 2015

Just 'Between You & Me,' Here Are Some Handy Grammar Tips

Originally published on Sat April 4, 2015 12:37 pm

In radio, we don't punctuate — at least, not on the air. Nevertheless, we're honored to meet a woman who is at the pinnacle of punctuation. Mary Norris is a copy editor at The New Yorker, a magazine justly famous for the care it takes with words. The work of very well-known authors has felt the authoritative pressure of her pencil since 1978 — and after a lifetime of improving the words of others, she has written her own book, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.

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The Salt
5:07 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Straight Out Of Brooklyn: 'Encyclofoodia' Pokes Fun At Foodies

Bloomsbury Publishing

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 10:55 am

If you're trying to feed some of the lumberjack hipsters of Brooklyn, you might try serving up some Huevos Machismos. And if you're seeking the next cleanse trend, look no further than the Ultimate Gushy Protein Sewage Blast. Like any balanced smoothie, it incorporates one ounce of "pure, uncut cocaine (for the boost)."

These are the recipes and advice you'd receive from the Mizretti brothers, two fictional restaurateurs who just published an "encyclofoodia" and cookbook called FUDS.

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The Salt
9:41 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Celebrating Passover: The History And Symbolism Of Matzo Balls

Matzo ball soup with dill. Matzo represents the unleavened bread the Jews ate while fleeing Egypt.
Jessica and Lon Binder/Flickr

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 1:21 pm

Nothing says Passover like a good bowl of matzo ball soup. That's according to Joan Nathan, chef and grande-dame of Jewish cooking, who spoke to Steve Inskeep of NPR's Morning Edition about the importance of the tradition.

The Jewish holiday of Passover celebrates the Biblical story of the Exodus, or the freeing of Hebrew slaves from Egypt.

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Author Interviews
2:00 am
Thu April 2, 2015

In Bhutto's 'Crescent Moon,' Pakistan 'Demands A Sacrifice From Its People'

Fatima Bhutto is also the author of Whispers of the Desert, Songs of Blood and Sword and 8.50 a.m. 8 October 2005.
Paul Wetherell Courtesy of Penguin Press

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 8:22 am

Fatima Bhutto is a member of one of the most famous families in Pakistan — a family that produced two prime ministers, her aunt Benazir Bhutto and her grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. And yet her latest book explores the lives of people who feel alienated from her country.

The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is about Pakistan's remote tribal regions. The country's national flag includes a white crescent moon against a green background.

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Remembrances
3:12 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Centenarian Poet Was A Fearless Guide To 'The Country Of Old Age'

Margaret Howe Freydburg — seen here at 104 — was still writing and publishing well past her 100th birthday.
Mark Lovewell Vineyard Gazette

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 6:00 pm

Old age is in the news today — very old age. According to media reports, a 117-year-old Japanese woman has died; she was said to be the world's oldest person.

So we're going to take a moment to remember poet and author Margaret Howe Freydberg, who died last week at the age of 107. She was was young at heart — but also very honest about her thoughts on aging. "I think growing old, I think old age is disgusting," she told a historian in 2009.

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Author Interviews
3:12 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Artist Goes Outside The Lines With Coloring Books For Grown-Ups

A spread from Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book by Johanna Basford.
Sam Brill Courtesy of Laurence King Publishing

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 5:51 am

We've learned about a secret some of you have — a secret that involves crayons, markers and colored pencils. Last week, we asked our Facebook followers to tell us if they were an adult who likes to color, and we received hundreds of responses saying, "yes," and, "I thought I was alone."

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Author Interviews
1:52 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Scott Simon: 'We Don't Fully Grow Up' Until We Lose Our Parents

Courtesy of Flatiron Books

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 3:22 pm

In July 2013, some 1.2 million Twitter users followed a remarkable series of tweets from NPR's Scott Simon. He was sending updates from the hospital room where his mother was living the last days of her life.

Simon's mother died on July 29, 2013, just shy of her 85th birthday.

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Author Interviews
3:02 am
Tue March 31, 2015

'Publicly Shamed:' Who Needs The Pillory When We've Got Twitter?

cover crop

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 10:47 am

Writer Jon Ronson has spent a lot of time tracking people who have been shamed, raked over the coals on social media for mostly minor — but sometimes major — transgressions. He writes about some of them in his new book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed.

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Books
4:44 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

Understanding The Dark Side Of Enlightenment On 'Diamond Mountain'

cover image

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 11:37 am

In 2012, Ian Thorson was found dead in a cave in Arizona. He and his wife had been kicked out of a silent Buddhist retreat that was supposed to last three years, but they decided to finish out the time alone in the desert — and that extreme quest for spiritual enlightenment eventually killed him.

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Author Interviews
3:43 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

Searching For Buried Treasure In China, A Writer Discovers Himself

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 12:57 pm

Writer Huan Hsu's great-great-grandfather Liu Feng Shu was a scholar in China's Qing dynasty during the late 1800s and early 1900s. As a patron of the arts, he built up an immense porcelain collection.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese landed near his village on the Yangtze River. As the army approached, Liu and one of his workmen dug a giant hole in their garden, to keep the collection safe.

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My Big Break
3:43 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

For 'Dexter' Star David Zayas, Acting Was A Long Shot Away

Zayas is best known for his role as Sergeant Angel Batista on the Showtime drama Dexter. "The one through line of all 8 years of that character was his integrity and honesty," Zayas says.
Randy Tepper Showtime

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.

David Zayas used to dream of being an actor. And he made it: he played Enrique Morales, the infamous inmate on HBO's Oz, as well as his most notable role, Sergeant Angel Batista on the Showtime drama Dexter.

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Afghanistan
6:43 am
Sun March 29, 2015

Afghan Chief Executive: Leaders Set Aside Egos To Rally For Nation

Afghanistan's Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah (left) stands with President Ashraf Ghani, Vice President Joe Bidden, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns on Tuesday.
Andrew Harnik AP

Originally published on Sun March 29, 2015 8:33 am

Afghanistan's leaders were in Washington last week asking for more assistance from the U.S. They got what they wanted: President Obama announced he would postpone the withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops this year. Those forces are needed to help Afghanistan troops battle the Taliban as the spring
fighting season heats up.

President Ashraf Ghani was accompanied on this trip by Abdullah Abdullah, the chief executive of the Afghan government. They were bitter rivals in Afghanistan's presidential election last year and are now sharing power in a unity government.

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Television
3:32 am
Sun March 29, 2015

In The TV Show 'Younger,' You're Only 26 Twice

With the help of her friend Maggie (Debi Mazar), single mom Liza (Sutton Foster) recasts herself as a 26-year-old in order to get a coveted publishing job. The new TV Land comedy Younger, made by Sex and the City creator Darren Star, premieres March 31.
Photo courtesy of TV Land

Originally published on Sun March 29, 2015 8:33 am

Tony award-winning actress Sutton Foster just turned 40, but in the TV Land show Younger she gets to be 26 again. Foster plays Liza, a middle-aged woman who needs to get back into the job market. The last time Liza applied for jobs, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram didn't exist. Now, she's convinced that no one wants to hire someone her age. So she moves to Brooklyn, gets a few highlights, learns how to tweet, and applies for a job as an assistant to a fancy New York publisher.

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Sports
4:35 pm
Sat March 28, 2015

The Cautionary Tale Of A Big-Time Bracket Bust

Oklahoma's Buddy Hield (right) and Denzel Valentine of Michigan State played in Friday's East Regional Semifinal of the 2015 NCAA tournament in Syracuse. If you've got money riding on this year's NCAA tournament, you might want to hear about what happened to John Bovary's football pool.
Maddie Meyer Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 6:22 pm

About 25 years ago, John Bovery started a modest football pool out of his home in New Jersey. It had 57 participants, all friends and co-workers.

But thanks to word of mouth — and the multiplying factor of email — Bovery's pool grew to staggering proportions. At one point, it got too large for Bovery to handle himself, so he contacted a software company to custom-build something suited to his needs.

By 2009, it included more than 8,000 entries from people around the globe, with a total payout of more than $800,000.

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Author Interviews
3:24 pm
Sat March 28, 2015

'Night At The Fiestas' Spins Stories Of Faith And Family

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 3:29 pm

When writer Kirstin Valdez Quade talks about her New Mexican roots, it's not just her own childhood, growing up in the region, that she means — it's a connection much deeper than that.

"My family has been in northern New Mexico for hundreds of years," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "My family's presence can be traced back to 1695 and some of the earliest conquistadors. So there's a long family history in the region."

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Author Interviews
5:39 am
Sat March 28, 2015

Hunting Mythical Monsters 'At The Water's Edge'

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 8:56 am

Maddie Hyde is a Sara Gruen heroine. She's bold, she's warm, and she's been cast out of Philadelphia polite society — in this case the family of her husband Ellis, who is 4F in the middle of World War II. To avoid the glares and scowls, and to earn their own way in the world after being cut off from a family fortune, they cross the Atlantic during a high tide of submarine warfare to try to burnish their family name by hunting down an older kind of monster in a Scottish village.

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The Salt
3:02 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Was Your Seafood Caught By Slaves? AP Uncovers Unsavory Trade

A 3,000-ton cargo ship at Thajeen Port in Samut Sakhon, Thailand, 15 days after it set sail from Benjina, Indonesia. The company that owns the ship said it is not involved with the fishermen. "We only carry the shipment and we are hired, in general, by clients," said owner Panya Luangsomboon. "We're separated from the fishing boats."
Wong Maye-E AP

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 5:16 pm

Some of the seafood that winds up in American grocery stores, in restaurants, even in cat food may have been caught by Burmese slaves. That's the conclusion of a yearlong investigation by The Associated Press.

The AP discovered and interviewed dozens of men being held against their will on Benjina, a remote Indonesian island, which serves as the base for a trawler fleet that fishes in the area.

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Goats and Soda
2:41 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Her Instagram Feed Finds The Fun In Long-Suffering Somalia

Ugaaso Boocow is back — and instagramming — in her homeland of Somalia.
Courtesy of Ugaaso A. Boocow

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 8:23 am

Ugaaso Abukar Boocow has become an Instagram sensation by sending out stunning visual messages from an unlikely place: poor, suffering Somalia.

She was just a toddler when her grandmother fled with her to Canada to escape Somalia's civil war, leaving her mother behind.

Then last year, she decided to go back, moving to the capital, Mogadishu, and reuniting with her mother, whom she hadn't seen in over two decades.

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Shots - Health News
1:38 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Critic Faults Alcoholics Anonymous For Lack Of Evidence

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 7:34 am

Founded by two men in Akron, Ohio, in 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has since spread around the world as a leading community-based method of overcoming alcohol dependence and abuse. Many people swear by the 12-step method, which has become the basis of programs to treat the abuse of drugs, gambling, eating disorders and other compulsive behaviors.

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The Salt
3:37 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Heinz And Kraft: Before They Were Food Giants, They Were Men

Henry J. Heinz
Library of Congress

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 6:00 pm

Heinz and Kraft.

When we hear those names we think ketchup and Velveeta, right?

But before they were products and companies that will merge to become a giant with $28 billion in revenue, Heinz and Kraft were men.

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It's All Politics
3:22 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Lessons In Moving Forward On Race From A 40-Year Mayor

"It's an intense job, you give it all, everyday, and I just don't want to get into another term where I say 'Gee, it would be nice to take it a little bit easier,'" Mayor Joe Riley says.
Richard Ellis Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 10:40 am

It might not sound newsworthy that Charleston, S.C., is getting a new mayor next year. But the last time the city elected a new mayor was 40 years ago, in December 1975.

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Author Interviews
4:46 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

'Cheated' Out Of An Education: Book Replays UNC's Student-Athlete Scandal

UNC basketball fans storm the court after a win over Duke in 2014.
Grant Halverson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 8:47 am

March Madness is college basketball's annual shining moment, and few schools have shone as bright or as long as the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have been in 18 Final Fours and won the national championship five times, most recently in 2009.

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SXSW Music Festival
3:37 pm
Sun March 22, 2015

From Kate Tempest To Torres, Female Artists Shone At SXSW

The crowd was all smiles during NPR Music's showcase at this year's South By Southwest music festival. We can't send you back in time to hear the shows, but you can listen to some of Bob Boilen's favorite performers from the festival.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 6:16 pm

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Author Interviews
3:23 pm
Sun March 22, 2015

'13 Men,' No Clear Answers: Digging Into An Indian Gang Rape Case

In 13 Men journalist Sonia Faleiro chronicles the real-life case of "Baby" — a 20-year-old woman from the tribal village of Subalpur in West Bengal, India. Baby falls in love with a Muslim outsider and, she tells police, is gang-raped as punishment. Villagers maintain that Baby's story was fabricated.
Picasa Sonia Faleiro

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 11:26 am

Last year, a 20-year-old woman left the Indian capital city of New Delhi and returned to the rural village where she grew up so she could take care of her sick mother.

The woman's name isn't public, but Sonia Faleiro — a journalist who's been investigating her case — calls her "Baby." She says Baby was known as a high-profile figure in her modest village.

"She became a somebody," Faleiro tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. "A landowner. An employed young woman. She had money to spend. And she refused to accept that she needed to be like everyone else."

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U.S.
3:23 pm
Sun March 22, 2015

Understanding Skid Row's Tensions After A Fatal Police Shooting

Many of LA's Skid Row residents live in makeshift tents.
Kelly McEvers

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 4:32 pm

Skid Row, in downtown Los Angeles, has long been known for its high concentration of homeless, drug- or alcohol-addicted and mentally ill residents. They live on the streets, in boxes and tents or in subsidized one-room apartments.

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Music
4:27 pm
Sat March 21, 2015

'We Wanted To Entertain': Jon Spencer On 25 Years In New York

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 6:21 pm

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's new album, Freedom Tower: No Wave Dance Party 2015, is all about New York City. As leader Jon Spencer explains, it was time to pay homage to the city the band has called home for almost 25 years, even though his love for the place is complicated.

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Author Interviews
4:01 pm
Sat March 21, 2015

Thanks To Chance (And Craigslist), A Writer Becomes A Carpenter

131Pixfoto iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 6:57 pm

Nina MacLaughlin always knew she wanted to be a writer. She studied English and classics in college, and after graduation, she landed a great job with Boston's weekly alternative newspaper, the Boston Phoenix.

But after a few years of editing the newspaper's website, the drudgery began to hit her. It involved so much clicking, she says, and so many empty hours scrolling through the Internet. It didn't feel like how she wanted to spend her life.

And then came the low point: web producing a "listicle" of the world's "100 Unsexiest Men."

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World
3:51 pm
Sat March 21, 2015

After Students Went To Wage Jihad, Teacher Highlights Youth Radicalization

Lamya Kaddor teaches Islamic studies in Germany. She's written a new book, Zum Toeten Bereit (Ready To Kill), about the experience of having five former students flee to Syria to join jihadist groups.
Andre Zelck Courtesy of Piper Verlag GmbH

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 5:41 pm

Lamya Kaddor, a German-Syrian religious studies teacher and expert on Islam, was horrified to learn in 2013 that five of her former students had departed Germany to join jihadist groups in Syria.

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My Big Break
3:33 pm
Sat March 21, 2015

'I'm Perd Hapley, And I Just Realized I'm Played By An Actual Newscaster'

Jay Jackson, as Perd Hapley, interviews Amy Poehler's character Leslie Knope during the sixth season of Parks and Recreation.
Colleen Hayes NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 5:41 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.

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