Arts/Life

Author Interviews
4:05 am
Sat March 2, 2013

'Born On A Mountaintop' Or Not, Davy Crockett's Legend Lives On

Davy Crockett represented Tennessee for three terms in Congress before moving to Texas and fighting in the Battle of the Alamo.
AP

Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 9:04 am

There's a new book about an American hero that's not just about the man behind the myth, but about the myth behind that myth.

Davy Crockett really was from Tennessee, really was a skilled frontiersman and really killed American Indians in battle. (When he became a congressman, however, he opposed President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act.) And then, after losing a re-election campaign, Crockett really lit out for Texas and eventually died at the Battle of the Alamo — more or less

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Author Interviews
4:05 am
Sat March 2, 2013

A 'Negative' Message: Don't Just Hope, Work

Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 12:50 pm

A few names come to mind when you say Hoosier basketball: Larry Bird, Gene Hackman, who was in a movie — and Bob Knight, about whom they make movies. Bob Knight coached three Indiana University teams to three NCAA championship titles and — a record of which he's equally proud — almost all of his players graduated. He left Indiana after a controversy involving his treatment of players, went on to coach at Texas Tech, and is now retired from coaching and a featured commentator for ESPN's college basketball coverage.

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Author Interviews
4:07 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Man Turned Fly Seeks Revenge For Bad Reincarnation

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 6:01 pm

A Parisian Jew who dies in 1773 reappears in the 21st century as an angel, fluttering gently down to Earth — or, so he thinks. He imagines himself as "a fully formed Christian seraph, a Viking with blond hair, a beautiful chiseled torso, hairless feet, and eyes the color of whiskey." So imagine his shock when he realizes he's no angel — he's actually been reincarnated as a common housefly.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
3:27 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Sportscaster Jon Miller Plays Not My Job

Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 10:07 am

Jon Miller is a Hall of Fame broadcaster who did the play-by-play on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball for 20 years. He is a former radio and television announcer for the Baltimore Orioles and has been the voice of the San Francisco Giants since 1997.

We've invited Miller to play a game called "You gonna eat that?" Three questions based on science writer Mary Roach's new book, Gulp: Adventures in the Alimentary Canal.

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Movies
1:32 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Fairy Tales For Grown-Ups? More Are On The Way

Rachel Weisz plays the witch Evanora in director Sam Raimi's upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful. The film is one of nine upcoming Oz adaptations and tackles more frightening and adult themes than those that came before it.
Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 6:01 pm

Adaptations of fairy tales are everywhere you look. The TV show Once Upon a Time and the police procedural Grimm are in their second seasons. Hansel and his sister Gretel are at the cineplex hunting witches with machine guns. Jack, of beanstalk fame, starts slaying giants today. And those aren't the only bedtime stories that have been redesigned to keep 20-somethings up at night.

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Ask Me Another
8:06 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Keli Goff: The One About Law And Order

Keli Goff.
Robert Calderone

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 8:03 am

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TED Radio Hour
8:06 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Are We All A Little Psychopathic?

"Being not normal is the new normal." — Jon Ronson
James Duncan Davidson/TED

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 9:50 am

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Unquiet Mind.

About Jon Ronson's Talk

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TED Radio Hour
8:06 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Where Do Mental Illness And Creativity Meet?

"Everyone is just a little bit mad. How much depends on where you fall in the spectrum. How much depends on how lucky you are." — Joshua Walters
James Duncan Davidson/TED

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 7:34 am

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Unquiet Mind.

About Joshua Walters' TED Talk

Comedian Joshua Walters, who's bipolar, walks the line between mental illness and mental "skillness." He asks: What's the right balance between medicating craziness away, and riding the manic edge of creativity and drive?

About Joshua Walters

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NPR Story
8:04 am
Fri March 1, 2013

The Unquiet Mind

"Being not normal is the new normal." — Jon Ronson
TED

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 12:21 pm

We've all had that moment where you might see or hear something and you wonder: am I going crazy? In this hour, TED speakers share their experiences straddling that line between madness and sanity — and question if we're all in the gray area between the two.

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

Fine Art
12:38 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Vermeer's 'Woman In Blue' Brings Her Mystery, Allure To L.A.

The Getty Museum is the last€” and only U.S. stop on the world tour of Woman in Blue Reading a Letter.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. On loan from the City of Amsterdam (A. van der Hoop Bequest) Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 3:41 am

Johannes Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring is easy to fall in love with — she's young, dewy, beautiful (Scarlett Johansson played her in the 2003 movie about the painting), and she looks right at you. But the 17th-century Dutch master's Woman in Blue Reading a Letter is different — her face is shadowed and she stands in profile, totally absorbed in her letter.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
3:37 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

March Kids' Book Club Pick: 'The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz'

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 6:50 am

Our next book club adventure takes us on a journey that is familiar to people across generations: We will be taking a trip down the yellow brick road with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first published in 1900. It is one of the most beloved stories in popular American culture, but over the decades, the book has taken a back seat to the wildly successful Wizard of Oz film.

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Movie Reviews
3:13 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

'Jack The Giant Slayer': A Fun, Fractured Fairy Tale

Nicholas Hoult plays the young Jack, who must wage battle against an ancient race of giants in Jack the Giant Slayer.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Great deeds start out as current events, move on to history, and eventually, with some craft and embellishment, become folklore and legend. This process is central to the structure of Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer, which merges elements of the familiar folktale of "Jack and the Beanstalk" with the less ubiquitous "Jack the Giant Killer." It sets the story as a kind of midpoint between one "true" story that has become a legend for Jack, just as the events of Jack's "true" story have supposedly passed into the realm of a simple folk story.

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Movie Reviews
3:12 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Adolescent Angst Turns Deadly In 'Stoker'

Evelyn and India Stoker (Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska) slowly descend into icy paranoia after their family patriarch dies through suspicious circumstances in the horror thriller Stoker.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

It's a mark of a great filmmaker when a movie is felt first and understood later, allowing audiences to intuit their way through a fog of mystery and sensuality before finally getting a clear view of the landscape. Best known for an operatic trio of revenge thrillers — the second, Oldboy, won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2004 and a fervent cult following — South Korean genre maestro Park Chan-wook expresses florid emotion in cool, impeccable, gothic language.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

'Hava Nagila: The Movie' Pays Homage To Unlikely Jewish Touchstone

Young newlyweds are serenaded with the strains of "Hava Nagila." The unlikely origins of the popular Jewish standard are explored in Roberta Grossman's documentary feature Hava Nagila: The Movie.
International Film Circuit

Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 6:47 am

I grew up on "Hava Nagila," and I'll admit it's not the catchiest of tunes. The ingenuous Hebrew lyrics ("Come! Let us rejoice and be happy!") don't wear well in our age of knowing irony and ennui.

Hip young Israelis wince at the very mention of the song, and for many Diaspora Jews, a few bars of the tune are all it takes to recall that excruciating moment late in a fancy wedding or bar mitzvah, when the band invites all remaining guests (tipsy uncles included) to kick up their heels — and then go home already.

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Movies
3:03 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Soviet Ghosts Resurface In Soggy 'Phantom'

Grizzled Soviet submarine captain Demi (Ed Harris) fights crew subversion and personal pain in a losing Cold War struggle against American opponents.
RCR Distribution

Explosions rattle the crew. The air is turning fetid. And the captain has ordered a descent toward "crush depth." Yet everything is on course in Phantom, the newest model of the old submarine-from-hell picture.

But the predictability of writer-director Todd Robinson's film is, well, predictable. There are only so many things that can happen in the close quarters of an imperiled sub. What Robinson purports to do is show those familiar undersea events from a different vantage point. All the characters in Phantom serve in the Soviet navy of the 1960s.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

'Leviathan': Of Fish And Men, Without Chats

The dingy commercial fishing boats that dot the waters off the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and Canada have lives all their own in the new documentary Leviathan.
The Cinema Guild

Undersea things — iridescent creatures, mossy rocks, silky-slimy plants — are just weird. They're fascinating by their very nature, often barely resembling anything we have on land. Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel's half doc, half art project Leviathan capitalizes on that strangeness while linking it to the more prosaic world of commercial fishermen plying their trade off the coast of New Bedford, Mass.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
3:01 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

A Young Artist Finds Solace In Creatures Of The Sea And Sky

Courtesy James Prosek and Waqas Wajahat, New York

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 11:30 am

In February, NPR's Backseat Book Club read a novel about a troubled kid who finds both strength and solace in the artwork of the renowned naturalist John James Audubon. The novel, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, takes place in 1968 in a little town in upstate New York where middle-schooler Doug Swietek is drowning in life's complications.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
2:32 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

With Audubon's Help, Beat-Up Kid Is 'Okay For Now'

Courtesy The Audobon Society

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 4:30 pm

Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. He has just moved to a new town, where he doesn't have any friends, and where his teachers — and the police — think of him as nothing more than a "skinny thug."

So it's easy to understand why Doug, the protagonist of our latest book for NPR's Backseat Book Club, Okay for Now, is anything but a happy-go-lucky kid.

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The Two-Way
2:27 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

A Quvenzhane by Any Other Name... (Storified)

Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis is interviewed on the red carpet at the Academy Awards Sunday, when several journalists struggled with the young actress's name.
Joe Klamar AFP/Getty Images

After a weekend that saw journalists on the Oscars red carpet struggling to pronounce the name of 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, we decided to ask the Twitter masses for their funniest or most annoying stories about people mispronouncing their "unconventional" or "ethnic" names.

Here's a few of the best:

Do you have any similar stories? We'd love to hear them in the comments.

Arts & Life
12:05 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

The Case For Being Concise: Short Poems That Speak Volumes

In poetry, sometimes less is more.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 1:03 pm

Brad Leithauser likes to look for poetry in graveyards. A novelist and poet himself, there's something he values greatly in tombstone epitaphs: brevity.

"You really don't want to go on at great length," he tells NPR's Neal Conan. "There's something very touching ... in seeing how they are meant to be commemorated, often in little bits of verse here and there."

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Movie Interviews
11:12 am
Thu February 28, 2013

'The Gatekeepers' Offer Candid Assessment Of Israel's Security

Director Dror Moreh was nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary The Gatekeepers.
Mika Moreh Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 11:30 am

Six former heads of the Shin Bet — Israel's security agency — speak to director Dror Moreh in his Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers. They are men who have signed off on brutal interrogations and targeted killings. They have given their lives to the cause of Israeli security.

What is striking is that all articulate their shared conviction that the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories will not lead to peace or a political solution for the future of the state of Israel.

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Ask Me Another
9:59 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Answer In The Form Of A Question

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 8:03 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Right now, we're about to get down to business with Nick Hudak and Curtis Dunn. They are our first two fabulous contestants.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Nick, you're a trivia guy.

NICK HUDAK: I generally like to think so.

EISENBERG: Do you watch any "Jeopardy?"

HUDAK: I do. My father actually was on "Jeopardy." He did very well until the very end, and then we lost. But we won a lovely refrigerator and a signed home edition.

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Ask Me Another
9:59 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Top Row

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 8:03 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games, and trivia. I'm your host Ophira Eisenberg and this hour we're featuring some of the most mind-bending games we have ever played. In the studio with me is our puzzle editor Art Chung and our next number is called Top Row, which unfortunately has nothing to do with top shelf. It has everything to do with QWERTYUIOP.

ART CHUNG: I don't think QWERTYUIOP is a word.

EISENBERG: Check your computer.

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Ask Me Another
9:59 am
Thu February 28, 2013

But Did You Read the Book?

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 8:03 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Finally, what we've all been waiting for. Let's bring back the winners of our previous rounds to play our Ask Me One More final round.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: From Answer in the Form of a Question: Nick Hudak. From Top Row: Lorna Jordan. From the Philosopher's Comedy Club: Stan Lee. From Call Me M.B.: Peter Hoffman. And from Buy a Vowel: Jessica O'Connell.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And I'm going to ask our puzzle guru John Chaneski to take us out. What do we got, John?

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Ask Me Another
9:59 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Buy A Vowel

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 8:03 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

All right, let's welcome our next two contestants: Billy Zayac and Jessica O'Connell. Welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Billy Zayac, you have a degree in library science.

BILLY ZAYAC: Yes, I do.

EISENBERG: What is your dream library job?

ZAYAC: I would like to work in a special library doing something with cataloging, hopefully.

EISENBERG: That sounds reasonable. I like that.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAYAC: I'm very open.

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Ask Me Another
9:59 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Call Me M.B.

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 8:03 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Have no fear, we're about to dumb it down here a little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We are taking a departure from philosophy and going to pop music.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I'm sure our next two contestants are excited about that. We have Noel Camacho and Peter Hoffman, and I believe they can handle that. Let's find out. They are behind their puzzle hot seats, although they're standing, so it's more like puzzle hot spots. Noel, you have some big things that you do with your life.

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Ask Me Another
9:59 am
Thu February 28, 2013

The Philosopher's Comedy Club

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 8:03 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

From NPR and WNYC, this is ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, your host and over the next hour, we are going to try to stump you. That's right listener, smarty pants, I'm talking to you. Get ready to use more than 10 percent of your brain because this is our Really Hard Edition. Joining me in the studio is our occasional puzzle guru and puzzle editor Art Chung.

ART CHUNG: Hey, Ophira.

EISENBERG: Hey, Art. Now, I know I work with you but I actually don't know the answer to this. What do you do, exactly...

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Book Reviews
9:52 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Dorothea Lange's 'Migrant Mother' Inspires The Story Of 'Mary Coin'

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 11:00 am

I shied away from Marisa Silver's new novel because of its book jacket: a reproduction of Dorothea Lange's iconic Depression-era photograph called "Migrant Mother." You know it: the woman's strong face is worn and worried; her children lean protectively into her. Lange took the photo at a pea-pickers' camp in California in 1936; the name of the destitute mother of seven, who wasn't identified till the 1970s, is Florence Owens Thompson. The photo on Silver's book jacket is colorized.

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The Two-Way
5:39 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Book News: 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Author Says Next Book Will Be Tamer

Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James on the set of the French TV show Le Grand Journal.
Kenzo Tribouillard AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 8:25 am

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

  • Queen of kink E.L. James told the New York Post that her next book "won't be nearly so raunchy" as Fifty Shades of Grey, and that she will "probably write it under another name." Her "inner goddess" is probably tired after all of that merengue-ing.
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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Beaming Up Haywire History In 'Teleportation Accident'

For anyone who's read Christopher Isherwood or even just spent a few hours in front of the History Channel, a novel that opens in 1930s Berlin raises certain expectations: There will be decadent parties, and then one day a Nazi killjoy will turn up and soon the music stops, windows are smashed, Jews rounded up and everyone's lives subsumed by historical forces. The end.

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