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Author Interviews
2:54 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

If Drugs Could Talk: In 'Delicious Foods' They Do

person cover detail

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 6:00 pm

There's a certain type of supporting character that author James Hannaham has always wanted to put into the spotlight. Critics call this character the "Magical Negro" — and you may recognize him from movies or TV shows. He's someone who "has incredible abilities and has been through some kind of hardship but it's usually a little vague ..." Hannaham tells NPR's Audie Cornish. "Whenever I see that character, I want the book or the movie or the TV show to take a detour and tell me that story."

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The Salt
3:03 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: The Scottish Spy Who Stole China's Tea Empire

Robert Fortune was a 19th-century Scottish botanist who helped the East India Trading Company swipe the secrets of tea production from China.
Apic/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 9:44 am

Editor's Note: A version of this story originally ran in March 2010.

In the mid-19th century, Britain was an almost unchallenged empire. It controlled about a fifth of the world's surface, and yet its weakness had everything to do with tiny leaves soaked in hot water: tea. By 1800, it was easily the most popular drink among Britons.

The problem? All the tea in the world came from China, and Britain couldn't control the quality or the price. So around 1850, a group of British businessmen set out to create a tea industry in a place they did control: India.

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Latin America
2:19 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Explorers Discover Ancient Lost City In Honduran Jungle

A view of part of the vast Mosquitia jungle in Honduras. A team of explorers, guided by scans made from airplanes, recently discovered an important ancient city in the region.
Courtesy of UTL Productions

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 11:43 am

For almost a century, explorers have searched the jungles of Honduras for a legendary lost city known as the White City, or the City of the Monkey God.

A team of explorers — including archaeologists and a documentary filmmaker — have just returned from an expedition in person, after using a new technology to search for evidence of ruins by plane.

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Author Interviews
3:24 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Forget Big Sky And Cowboys: 'Crow Fair' Is Set In An Unidealized Montana

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 6:07 pm

"I think there's only one interesting story ... and that's struggle," says writer Thomas McGuane. Loners, outcasts and malcontents fill the pages of McGuane's latest book — a collection of short stories titled Crow Fair. There's a divorced dad who takes his young son out for an ill-fated day of ice fishing; A restless cattle breeder who takes a gamble on a more lucrative and dangerous line of works; A guy who abandons his blind grandmother by the side of a river to go get drunk, and chase after a corpse he's spotted floating by.

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Author Interviews
4:27 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

Author Explores The Ripple Effects Of A Kidnapping In Mexico

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 7:52 am

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho's new book Barefoot Dogs is billed as a collection of short stories, but it could easily be called a novel. Each piece provides a perspective on one horrific event: the abduction of the patriarch of a wealthy Mexican family by a drug gang.

Throughout the book, readers see how this affects children, grandchildren, mistresses and others, as the tragedy follows the family through exile in the United States and Europe

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Movie Interviews
3:01 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

No Joke: Hollywood Comedy Producer Finds Career In Prison Reform

Scott Budnick (second from left) stands with (from left) Jimmy Wu, who served 16 years in prison and is now a mentor; Jesse Aguiar, former gang member and now a counselor; and Franky Carrillo, who was freed by the Innocence Project after 21 years in prison.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 8:03 pm

Los Angeles has been good to Scott Budnick. He arrived more than 15 years ago as an aspiring film producer. He found a home in comedy, and eventually became the executive producer of the Hangover trilogy — the wildly popular, profane buddy movies that are still the highest grossing comedy franchise ever made.

Now, he lives in the Hollywood Hills. He drives a fancy car, lives in a beautiful house and has lots of famous friends.

But in 2013, Budnick decided to leave Hollywood for a very different field: prison reform.

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Television
3:01 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

Cyberpsychologist: Online, 'Every Contact Leaves A Trace'

The Avery Ryan character is based on Mary Aiken (above) a real-life cyber psychologist and director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre.
Courtesy of CBS

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 6:25 pm

The CSI franchise has a new lead investigator: Special Agent Avery Ryan.

Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette plays the head of the FBI's Cyber Crime Division on CSI: Cyber, which premiered this week on CBS.

The unit is called in on cyber stalking, identity theft, even cases involving hacked baby cams and ride-sharing services.

Agent Ryan's character is based on real-life cyber psychologist Mary Aiken, the director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre in Dublin, Ireland. She's also a producer on the show.

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All Tech Considered
3:36 pm
Sat March 7, 2015

Grace Hopper, 'The Queen Of Code,' Would Have Hated That Title

Grace Hopper joined the Navy during World War II and served on and off until 1986.
Courtesy of ESPN Films

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 6:45 pm

In today's male-dominated computer programming industry, it's easy to forget that a woman — Grace Hopper — helped usher in the computer revolution.

During World War II, Hopper left a teaching job at Vassar College to join the Navy Reserve. That's when she went to Harvard to work on the first programmable computer in the United States: the Mark I.

Gillian Jacobs, best known for her role as Britta Perry in the comedy television show Community, has directed a short documentary about Grace Hopper titled The Queen of Code.

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Television
3:08 pm
Sat March 7, 2015

'Kimmy Schmidt' Finds Optimism (And Jokes) In Dark Premise

Ellie Kemper, right, stars alongside Tituss Burgess in Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which follows a former doomsday cult member as she adjusts to life in New York.
Eric Liebowitz Courtesy of Netflix

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 6:45 pm

Two of the comedic minds behind 30 Rock, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, have returned to the world of half-hour comedies — this time, on Netflix.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a new 13-episode series originally developed by Fey and Carlock for NBC, debuted on the streaming service on March 6.

Actress Ellie Kemper plays the title character in the show, which shares 30 Rock's energy, but mines comedy out of a much darker premise: A group of young women escape from 15 years of captivity in an underground bunker run by a doomsday cult leader in Indiana.

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Author Interviews
3:48 am
Sat March 7, 2015

The Lusitania Mystery: Why British Codebreakers Didn't Try To Save It

A German U-boat sank the luxury ocean liner Lusitania, seen here in 1907, on May 7, 1915.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 8:29 am

One hundred years ago, 128 Americans died among more than a thousand in the sinking of what was then the greatest ocean liner in the world. In response, the U.S. entered World War I.

That's the story of the Lusitania, right? But Erik Larson, one of this country's most successful narrators of nonfiction, now retells the story a lot of people think they know. His new book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, has an appreciation for the lives that were lost and the impact the ship had on history.

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Performing Arts
3:29 am
Sat March 7, 2015

After 60 Years Of Fabulousness, Dame Edna Embarks On Her Farewell Tour

Dame Edna Everage — a character created by Australian comedian Barry Humphries — models a hat based on the Sydney Opera House. She is currently performing Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour.
Wesley Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 8:29 am

Dame Edna Everage says she's approaching 60 — but from the wrong direction. The housewife and superstar — a creation of Australian comedian Barry Humphries — has been making audiences laugh, weep, have acid reflux, and ruminate deeply on the human experience for six decades.

Now, she's embarked on Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour, which concludes in Washington, D.C., in April. Dame Edna tells NPR's Scott Simon that she's a "restless sprit" and it's not entirely clear what "retirement" will look like for her.

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First Reads
8:03 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Exclusive First Read: Erik Larson's 'Dead Wake'

It took just 18 minutes for the Lusitania to sink after it was hit by a German torpedo.
Charles Dixon/Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 12:30 pm

The luxury liner Lusitania departed New York City en route for Liverpool on May 1, 1915. World War I was raging in Europe, but the passengers on the world's fastest liner were sure they were in no danger — despite a warning from the German Embassy in Washington that "travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk." Even the Lusitania's captain, William Turner, said his vessel was too fast for submarines to pose a threat.

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Television
3:21 am
Thu March 5, 2015

'It Is About Truths': John Ridley On His New TV Show, 'American Crime'

Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton play two estranged parents whose son is murdered during a home invasion in ABC's American Crime.
Felicia Graham ABC

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 8:15 am

Writer and producer John Ridley has spent a lot of his career telling stories about the history of race in America. He won an Oscar for his screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, he's written movies about the Tuskegee Airmen and Jimi Hendrix, and now he's created American Crime, a new TV series about the events surrounding a racially charged home invasion in modern-day California.

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Parallels
1:44 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Boris Nemtsov: 'He Directed His Words Against Putin Himself'

Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead last Friday, was one of the most outspoken critics of President Vladimir Putin. No arrests have been made in his killing.
Ivan Sekretarev AP

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 8:11 am

Boris Nemtsov was just 37 when Russian President Boris Yeltsin named him deputy prime minister in 1997. Trained as a physicist, Nemtsov symbolized a new generation of young leaders who rose to power in the chaotic aftermath of the Soviet breakup.

But after Vladimir Putin became president, Nemtsov joined the liberal opposition and became an outspoken critic. He was arrested on several occasions, but continued his attacks on the Russian leader.

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Shots - Health News
2:03 am
Tue March 3, 2015

What Shapes Health? Webcast Explores Social And Economic Factors

Mitchell Funk/Getty Images/Harvard

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 10:14 am

Health is more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes in surprising ways, factors such as childhood experiences, housing conditions, poor diets and health care access drive who ends up sick — and who does not.

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Author Interviews
1:36 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Ever Cheat At Monopoly? So Did Its Creator: He Stole The Idea From A Woman

Charles Darrow sold Monopoly to Parker Bros. in the 1930s.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 3:00 pm

Monopoly can be pretty addictive once you start playing it, right? Well, for author and journalist Mary Pilon, searching for the game's true origins proved just as consuming. She writes:

"In the process of reporting this story, I hacked off over a foot of hair in one anguished swoop, sold off many of my material possessions, was confronted by law enforcement for falling asleep in public places ... found Monopoly money in my linens when doing laundry, fretted about finances, [and] had nightmares about the various aspects of the story. ..."

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Goats and Soda
2:02 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Liberia's President: Ebola Re-Energized Her Downtrodden Country

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, photographed in Washington, D.C., on February 26.
Ariel Zambelich NPR

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 7:55 am

There's a lot to celebrate in Liberia: The number of new Ebola cases have been declining, kids are going back to school and life is returning to some semblance of normalcy.

Last year, Ebola struck the country and since then, it has killed more than 4,000 Liberians. But among the three hardest-hit countries in West Africa, Liberia has been the fastest at containing the outbreak. Just last week, the region reported 99 new cases of Ebola. Only one of those came out of Liberia.

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Music
10:00 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

Young Louisville Percussionists Love Led Zeppelin — And Jimmy Page Loves Them

David Williams (in the leopard hat) and Jonas Gordon (at right) play their xylophones with the rest of Kentucky's Louisville Leopard Percussionists.
Courtesy Tricia Williams

Originally published on Sun March 1, 2015 8:54 pm

"Too good not to share," Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page wrote Feb. 20 on his Facebook page. "Have a rocking weekend!"

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Movie Interviews
4:07 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

A Most Vibrant Year For Cinematographer Bradford Young

In Selma, director of photography Bradford Young wanted the camera to feel like a participant. "It was just about never retreating, always staying dangerously close to Martin Luther King," he says.
Atsushi Nishijima Paramount Pictures

Just two months into 2015, cinematographer Bradford Young is already having a big year.

Two acclaimed movies, Selma and A Most Violent Year, bear his name as Director of Photography.

"It's an interesting time," he laughs.

He sat down for a chat with NPR's Arun Rath, who started by asking about the striking depictions of violence in Selma.

"You have to be very delicate," Young says, "because as much as film has the ability to raise humanity, it also has the ability to put us down."

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Author Interviews
3:44 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

For An Author In India's Capital, 'Hope, In Many Ways, Is Fiction'

Monsoon clouds loom over New Delhi, the city at the center of Raj Kamal Jha's new novel.
Manan Vatsyayana AFP/Getty Images

As a newspaper editor in New Delhi, Raj Kamal Jha has a front row seat to the rapid changes in his hometown. New jobs and a strong economy have made the city a magnet for people across India.

His new novel, She Will Build Him a City, weaves the realities he sees as a journalist and resident in with what he calls the fiction of daily life. "I see more of that in a city like Delhi where you have people coming in every day with hope," he tells NPR's Arun Rath. "And hope, in many ways, is fiction. Hope is the fiction you write inside your head and you work towards that."

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Author Interviews
3:41 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

Robert Christgau Reviews His Own Life

"I think it's a terrible critical sin to try to be different," says Robert Christgau, whose memoir Going into the City is a look back at his five decades of music writing.
Joe Mabel Wikipedia

Originally published on Sun March 1, 2015 4:07 pm

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Around the Nation
3:29 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

A Standout Student, A Star At Goldman Sachs — And Undocumented

Julissa Arce's tourist visa expired when she was 14. She excelled in high school, college and at Goldman Sachs for years before she finally became a U.S. citizen.
Morrigan McCarthy for ELLE.com Courtesy Julissa Arce

Originally published on Sun March 1, 2015 5:58 pm

Julissa Arce was born in Mexico, and came to the United States on a tourist visa when she was 11. It expired a few years later — but Arce didn't leave. Instead, she excelled in high school and college, then secured a job at Goldman Sachs. Her ascent was dramatic: she rose quickly from analyst to associate to vice president.

But Arce was scared to go to work every day, worried that her undocumented status would be uncovered and she'd be escorted out.

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Book News & Features
4:04 am
Sun March 1, 2015

This Weekend, Experience The Enduring Power Of 'The Millstone'

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 1:07 pm

For this week's installment of our occasional Weekend Reads series, what's old is new again, and we're talking about a book that was published back in 1965: The Millstone, by Margaret Drabble. It's set in 1960's London and centers on a young lady called Rosamund Stacey, who discovers she's pregnant after a one-night stand. And let's remember, pregnancy out of wedlock was not something that went over well with a lot of people in 1965.

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Code Switch
3:45 pm
Sat February 28, 2015

Diversity Sells — But Hollywood Remains Overwhelmingly White, Male

Gina Rodriguez stars alongside Justin Baldoni in The CW's Jane the Virgin.
Danny Feld The CW

Originally published on Sat February 28, 2015 4:39 pm

If you want an accurate picture of ethnic and gender diversity in the United States, don't look to Hollywood.

That's the conclusion of the "2015 Hollywood Diversity Report" conducted by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.

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My Big Break
2:59 pm
Sat February 28, 2015

'Whoa, Mama!': A Voice Actress's Road To Fame As A 10-Year-Old Boy

Nancy Cartwright voices the mischievous 10-year-old son, Bart, in the animated TV show, The Simpsons. "I don't know of any other character that has more catch-phrases than Bart," she says.
Courtesy of FOX

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 2:06 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.

Back in 1987, Nancy Cartwright drove to the FOX Studios lot to try out for a little animated short about a dysfunctional family known as "The Simpsons."

Specifically, she was there to audition for the studious, well-mannered middle child named Lisa.

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Author Interviews
6:04 am
Sat February 28, 2015

Pakistani Author Mohsin Hamid And His Roving 'Discontent'

Mohsin Hamid is also the author of three novels, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Moth Smoke.
Jillian Edelstein CAMERA PRESS

Originally published on Sat February 28, 2015 8:40 am

Mohsin Hamid has been called a water lily for the way he's drifted from place to place. The 43-year-old novelist and essayist, born in Lahore, has established roots, grown and thrived in places as disparate as Pakistan, London, California and New York.

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Author Interviews
4:08 am
Sat February 28, 2015

The Persistence — And Impermanence — Of Memory In 'The Buried Giant'

Kazuo Ishiguro is also the author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.
Jeff Cottenden Courtesy of Knopf

Originally published on Sat February 28, 2015 8:40 am

Kazuo Ishiguro has written his first novel in ten years — making it both a literary event and a news story. The Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day has gone even deeper into history to write a story that's both one couple's on-the-road tale, and a mystery for a great civilization. It's set in post-Arthurian England — but The Buried Giant is no Camelot, with noble royals, clever sorcerers, strutting steeds, and bold adventures.

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Movie Interviews
3:00 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Film About Campus Sexual Assault Tells Survivors: 'You Are Not Alone'

When Annie Clark was assaulted in 2007 she said the response from her university was victim blaming: "I talked to one campus employee and she gave me this extended metaphor about how rape was like a football game and I was the quarterback in charge and what would I have done differently in that situation," she says.
Courtesy of Radius

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 6:13 pm

A warning to listeners: This conversation may contain some disturbing content.

Andrea Pino was the first person in her family to go to college. When she found out that she had been admitted to the University of North Carolina she was thrilled. "Not only was I going to college — I was going to my dream school," she says. "... I was definitely one of those students that, you know, cried and threw their laptop on the floor and couldn't believe that I was going."

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StoryCorps
1:36 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Obama To Ambitious Teen: 'You Have This Strength Inside Yourself'

President Barack Obama participates in a "My Brother's Keeper" StoryCorps interview with Noah McQueen in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Feb. 20.
Chuck Kennedy The White House

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 9:01 am

Noah McQueen is part of "My Brother's Keeper," a White House program aimed at young men of color.

His teen years have been rough, and include several arrests and a short period of incarceration. But last week, he was at the White House. The 18-year-old sat down for a StoryCorps interview with President Obama, who wanted to know more about Noah's life.

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Goats and Soda
1:35 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Go Behind The Scenes With The Producer Who Made 'Life After Death'

Twins Watta and Fatta Balyon pose for a picture outside their guardian Mamuedeh Kanneh's house.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 6:54 pm

They hired a car and drove for 10 hours over the most rutted dirt roads you can imagine, dodging motorbikes, pedestrians and overloaded cars all the way.

It was December. NPR producers John Poole and Sami Yenigun had come to see what happens to a village after Ebola has struck.

Barkedu, in Liberia, is a beautiful place, green and forested. Tall hills start to rise near its border with Guinea. Cows and chickens roam around the village, which is built along the Lofa River. A small stream runs through Barkedu, where people bath and wash their clothes.

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