Arts/Life

Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Can This Hypercomplex 'Leopard' Change Its Spots?

What's a reader to believe, especially when confronted with an unreliable narrator? Which of the many versions spun by the self-confessed liar and aspiring writer in Kristopher Jansma's far-flung, deliberately far-fetched, hyper-inventive first novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, should we buy? Does the seductive actress he pines for marry a) an Indian geologist on the edge of the Grand Canyon; b) a Japanese royal; or c) a Luxembourg prince?

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Around the Nation
1:26 am
Tue March 26, 2013

'American Winter' Families Struggle To Survive Fall From Middle Class

Pam Thatcher and her family ultimately moved into her mother's two-bedroom apartment because they couldn't make rent.
Courtesy Devon Terrilll Viewfilm productions/HBO

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 7:57 am

It's a visual no parent wants to picture: a child describing what it's like to live in a house with no power for lights, heat or cooking. For many middle-class American parents, it's hard to imagine their family ever facing a situation like that. But a new HBO documentary suggests that many seemingly prosperous parents are only a few misfortunes away from dark houses and empty refrigerators.

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All Tech Considered
1:23 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Why Are TV Remotes So Terrible?

The buttons, symbols and signs on many modern TV remotes make for one confusing user interface.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 8:25 am

Let's call it the baby sitter's dilemma.

If you go to someone's house and pick up the TV remote, chances are, you won't know how it works. You know the situation's bad when even a tech writer who also majored in physics at an Ivy League school is confused by her own TV remote.

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Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court
3:29 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

How Ellen DeGeneres Helped Change The Conversation About Gays

Ellen DeGeneres during a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2011 in Burbank, Calif.
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros. AP

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 3:59 pm

In 2008, during the brief window when it was legal for same-sex couples to get married in California, perhaps no couple drew more attention than Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi.

After their wedding, photos of the couple were everywhere; DeGeneres, beaming, in a white suit and holding hands with de Rossi, the very picture of the princess bride so many young girls dream of being one day. It was a cultural touchstone, and Dietram Scheufele, a communications professor at the University of Wisconsin, says it was neither the first nor the last time DeGeneres has played that role.

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The Salt
3:00 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Forget Fish Fridays: In Louisiana, Gator Is On The Lenten Menu

Tastes like chicken, but it's OK for Lent: Fried alligator, as served at New Orleans' Cochon restaurant.
Chris Granger Courtesy of Cochon

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 3:59 pm

Is it OK to eat alligator on Fridays during Lent? That question isn't just rhetorical in Louisiana, which has large populations of both Catholics and gators.

"Alligator's such a natural for New Orleans," says Jay Nix, owner of Parkway Bakery, which serves a mean alligator sausage po boy sandwich. "Alligator gumbo, jambalaya. I mean, it's a wonder that alligator isn't our mascot, you know?"

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Author Interviews
1:30 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

In A World That's Always On, We Are Trapped In The 'Present'

Erikona iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 3:59 pm

By now, you've probably heard people call themselves "slaves" to their phones or their computers. We all know what that means — but why are we allowing ourselves to be slaves to the very instruments of technology we've created?

Douglas Rushkoff, who spends his days thinking, writing and teaching about media culture, says it's time for people to stop chasing every ping and start using technology in a way that makes us feel more free. Rushkoff's latest work is called Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. He joined NPR's Audie Cornish to talk about the book.

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NPR Story
12:44 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

'Mary T. and Lizzy K.': History's Unlikely Friendship

Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris plays Elizabeth Keckly and Naomi Jacobson plays Mary Todd Lincoln in Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater's production of Mary T. & Lizzy K.
Scott Suchman

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 3:03 pm

More than a century before Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln offered an intimate portrait of the 16th president and his family, a memoir from the first lady's dressmaker offered a glimpse into the Lincoln White House.

Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln's seamstress and maybe her closest friend, told her story of slavery and self-emancipation, and her relationship with the Lincolns in a tell-all memoir called Behind The Scenes.

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The Salt
12:36 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Sandwich Monday: The McCamembert

An awkward introduction.
NPR

McDonald's in France is offering the McCamembert — a burger with Camembert cheese. Here's what one review had to say, once I ran it through Google Translate:

We, on the bottom rather than the goat!

Makes sense to me.

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Fresh Air Interviews
10:39 am
Mon March 25, 2013

How And Why The Hollywood Star Machine Made 'Gods Like Us'

promo image
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:25 pm

As a film critic for The Boston Globe, Ty Burr has met a lot of movie stars and is often asked what they're really like. What he has realized is that often, the actor's image has little to do with their actual personality, but that's not what interests him; Burr is more curious about why we ask that question to begin with. Burr wants to know "why we respond to these people who we think are larger than life [and] that are — especially in the classic days — manufactured and all their irregularities sanded off and presented to us as some kind of perfection."

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Fresh Air Interviews
10:39 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Remembering Chinua Achebe And The Importance Of Struggle

To remember Chinua Achebe who died last Thursday, Fresh Air listens back to an interview with the great African writer that originally aired on May 10, 1988. In it, Achebe talks about the literary trope of the white explorer or missionary living amongst the savages, and the importance of struggle.

The Two-Way
5:16 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Book News: Willa Cather's Letters To Be Published Against Her Wishes

Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Willa Cather wrote such novels as My Antonia and O Pioneers!
Hulton Archive Getty Images

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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New In Paperback
5:03 am
Mon March 25, 2013

March 25-31: Freedom, Peace And Pilgrimages

Penguin Books

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 1:45 pm

* Some of the language in the summaries above has been provided by publishers.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Movies I've Seen A Million Times
3:01 pm
Sun March 24, 2013

The Movie Chris O'Dowd Has 'Seen A Million Times'

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in a scene from the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing.
Archive Photos Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 7:41 am

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

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Author Interviews
3:01 pm
Sun March 24, 2013

For Toms River, An Imperfect Salvation

Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:03 pm

In 1953, the Swiss chemical company Ciba came to Toms River, N.J. By all accounts, the community was delighted to have it. The chemical plant for manufacturing textile dye brought jobs and tax revenue to the small town on the Jersey shore. The company invested in the town's hospital and donated land for a golf course.

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The Picture Show
7:34 am
Sun March 24, 2013

Drawing Artistic Inspiration From C-SPAN's Talking Heads

(Left to right) Sketches of Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama
Courtesy of Michael McCutcheon

Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 11:49 am

A few months ago, Reid Cherlin, a GQ magazine contributor and former White House spokesman for President Obama, was sent a link to a website with what he says was "a sort of grotesque sketch" of his face.

It was the website of Michael McCutcheon, a 73-year-old retiree who draws sketches of all of the guests on C-SPAN's morning programming. Cherlin was a guest on C-SPAN last year, a pretty normal thing for D.C. pundits.

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PG-13: Risky Reads
4:05 am
Sun March 24, 2013

Beyond Teen Spirit: Learning From Kurt Cobain's Mistakes

Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 9:00 am

Nicole J. Georges' latest book is Calling Dr. Laura.

My mother picked me up from school in early April 1994. I was barely a teenager, lips stretched over braces as I focused my attention on the radio dial, seeking an alternative station when my mom delivered some news: "Oh, your buddy died."

"Who is 'my buddy?' "

"Uhhh ... whatshisname ... the screaming, you know, the blonde. ..."

She was talking about Kurt Cobain.

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Arts & Life
3:33 am
Sun March 24, 2013

Where To Sit To Keep A Big Dinner Interesting

Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 6:05 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Here's a scenario you have probably faced.

ALEX CORNELL: Sometimes you go to dinner with a lot of people you know, but then there's some friends from out of town and you end up sitting next to the, you know, the roommate of the friend who doesn't know anyone...

MARTIN: Who you're never going to see again.

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Sunday Puzzle
3:33 am
Sun March 24, 2013

Finding The Answers Within

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 6:05 am

On-air challenge: You'll be given clues for some five-letter words. In each case, the letters of the answer can be found consecutively somewhere inside the clue. For example, given "Some teenagers' language," the answer would be "slang"(hidden inside "teenagerS' LANGuage").

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Author Interviews
3:33 am
Sun March 24, 2013

Love, Roughhousing And Fifth Position In 'Brothers Emanuel'

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 7:40 am

The brothers in the Emanuel family are known for their success and for their chutzpah. The youngest is Ari Emanuel, a high-powered Hollywood agent. The HBO show Entourage actually based a character on Ari, and that character is a bit, well, blunt — threatening, for example, to rip out someone's tongue and serve it to his son's pet lizard.

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Author Interviews
3:04 pm
Sat March 23, 2013

Integrated Baseball, A Decade Before Jackie Robinson

Hake's Americana & Collectibles/Atlantic Monthly Press

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 3:05 pm

In 1947, Jackie Robinson famously broke the color line in baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, ending racial segregation in the major leagues.

That moment was a landmark for racial integration in baseball, but there's another moment few may be aware of, and it happened more than a decade before Robinson, in Bismarck, N.D.

Tom Dunkel writes about this Bismarck team in his new book, Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball's Color Line.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
7:33 am
Sat March 23, 2013

Professional Pickpocket Apollo Robbins Plays Not My Job

Douglas Sonders

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 8:52 am

Apollo Robbins may be one of the few people in the world to proudly identify as a professional pickpocket. He shows off his skills in Vegas and elsewhere, and works as a consultant to help all kinds of organizations protect themselves from people like him.

We've invited Robbins to play a game called "Try to pick this pocket, hot shot!" He may know all about picking pockets, but what does he know about Hot Pockets? Three questions about microwavable turnovers.

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NPR Story
5:57 am
Sat March 23, 2013

From One Author To Another, Letters Of Praise

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 6:13 am

Host Scott Simon reads some of the best fan mail to authors, written by authors.

Author Interviews
4:24 am
Sat March 23, 2013

'Z' Tells The Fitzgeralds' Story From Zelda's Point Of View

St. Martin's Press

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 6:13 am

F. Scott Fitzgerald first saw his future wife from across a crowded room at a country club dance in Montgomery, Ala., where he was in basic training and she was waiting to be discovered by the world. They wed in 1920, and the two went on to have a famously turbulent marriage — tarnished by personal and professional jealousy, alcohol abuse and mental illness — which they both immortalized in their writing.

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Movie Interviews
4:23 am
Sat March 23, 2013

Maori-Mentored, Soul-Singing Mom Inspired 'The Sapphires'

In The Sapphires, an R&B-loving musician helps turn four Australian aboriginal women into a soul act. From left: Julie (Jessica Mauboy), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), Gail (Deborah Mailman) and Kay (Shari Sebbens).
The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 6:13 am

In the late 1960s, an all-girl singing group hit it big. But they didn't come from Detroit or Memphis — the four young aboriginal women hailed from the Australian Outback.

At the time, aboriginal people were just gaining basic civil rights, like voting and being counted as Australian citizens. The girls faced intense racism at home, but they took their act all the way to Vietnam to entertain American troops.

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Author Interviews
4:23 am
Sat March 23, 2013

At 80, Philip Roth Reflects On Life, Literature And The Beauty Of Naps

The Library of America recently published the ninth and final volume of a complete collection of Philip Roth's works, and a new documentary on PBS looks back on his prolific career.
Courtesy PBS

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 11:01 am

Philip Roth turned 80 years old this week, and his hometown of Newark, N.J. — a city he left long ago, but often returns to in his books — honored the man often acclaimed as America's greatest living novelist with a marching band, a birthday cake in the shape of books piled high and lots of symposia.

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Author Interviews
1:10 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

With Humor And Sorrow, 'Life After Life' Explores Death

Elderly and young person holding hands
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 5:17 pm

A woman who moves from Boston to be near the grave of her lover; the widow of a judge who keeps a scrapbook of murder and crime; an 85-year-old who has always seen the sunnier side of life; an old man feigning dementia. In the fictional Pine Haven retirement center, together and separately, these characters face the ends of their lives. They're the stars of Jill McCorkle's new novel, Life After Life, which balances humor and sorrow as it explores the moment of death.

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The Two-Way
12:42 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

Chinua Achebe And The Bravery Of Lions

Chinua Achebe, Nigerian-born novelist and poet speaks about his works and his life at his home on the campus of Bard College in 2008.
Craig Ruttle ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 1:30 pm

Chinua Achebe, the prominent Nigerian novelist and essayist who died on Thursday, said in a 1994 interview with the Paris Review, "There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."

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Movie Reviews
11:59 am
Fri March 22, 2013

With Vengeance And Violence, 'Olympus Has Fallen' Flat

Aaron Eckhart and Ashley Judd as the president and first lady in Olympus Has Fallen.
Phil Caruso Millennium Films

What surprises me about the ongoing discussion of violence in cinema and whether it influences violence in the real world is how people fail to engage with the male fantasy behind these films. There's a template for them, a theme; it hinges on violation and vengeance. A seminal action picture of the last 50 years is 1988's Die Hard, in which a lone male cop operates behind the scenes after an ingeniously orchestrated foreign attack on American soil. He's symbolically emasculated — he has no gun or even shoes, his wife is now going by her maiden name.

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Author Interviews
9:56 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Nathan Englander: Stories Of Faith, Family And The Holocaust

Nathan Englander grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family. He now splits his time between New York and Madison, Wis.
Juliana Sohn

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 11:59 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Feb. 15, 2012.

The stories in Nathan Englander's short collection that's out now in paperback are based largely on his experiences growing up as a modern Orthodox Jew with an overprotective mother.

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Remembrances
9:52 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Remembering Chinua Achebe, Who Defended Africa To The World

Chinua Achebe, widely considered the grandfather of modern African literature, has died at the age of 82. His popular book, Things Fall Apart, tackled the effect of colonialism on Africa, and has sold more than 10 million copies. Host Michel Martin is joined by NPR Africa Correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton to look back on his life and work.

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