Arts/Life

Kitchen Window
11:54 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

In Praise Of The Humble Lentil

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 8:01 am

The year I discovered lentils, I was broke and lonely and didn't know how to cook. Lentils, it turned out, would have gone a long way toward providing the solution to some of these problems. However, when I first had them, they were a mystery.

They also were the cheapest thing on the menu at the Middle Eastern deli around the corner. The dish was mudardara, I was told. "What's that again?" I said, unable to untangle the knot of plosive consonants. It was repeated.

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Music News
1:41 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Women Of Grunge Reclaim Rock History In 'These Streets'

Ron Nine, Mitch Ebert, Eden Schwartz, Fiia McGann and Gretta Harley perform in These Streets, a new play based on a series of interviews with Seattle musicians.
Courtesy of These Streets

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 5:05 pm

Gretta Harley arrived in Seattle in 1990, when grunge was redefining the city. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were turning Seattle into the epicenter of the music world. Harley was a punk rock guitarist searching for her tribe, and in Seattle's thriving music scene, she found it.

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Commentary
1:05 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Historical Vocab: When We Get It Wrong, Does It Matter?

Linguist Geoff Nunberg finds that in the film Lincoln, screenwriter Tony Kushner oscillates between old and modern meanings of "equality."
DreamWorks/Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 5:12 pm

Has there ever been an age that was so grudging about suspending its disbelief? The groundlings at the Globe Theatre didn't giggle when Shakespeare had a clock chime in Julius Caesar. The Victorians didn't take Dickens to task for having the characters in A Tale of Two Cities ride the Dover mail coach 10 years before it was established. But Shakespeare and Dickens weren't writing in the age of the Internet, when every historical detail is scrutinized for chronological correctness, and when no "Gotcha!" remains unposted for long.

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The Salt
12:23 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

How The Food Industry Manipulates Taste Buds With 'Salt Sugar Fat'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 10:46 am

Dealing Coke to customers called "heavy users." Selling to teens in an attempt to hook them for life. Scientifically tweaking ratios of salt, sugar and fat to optimize consumer bliss.

In his new book, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss goes inside the world of processed and packaged foods.

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All Tech Considered
11:47 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Among Oscars Fanfare, Visual Effects Industry Faces Difficult Times

Bill Westenhofer, winner of best visual effects for Life of Pi, said backstage that the business model of the visual effects industry needs to change.
Vince Bucci AP

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 5:37 pm

In a business where effects-laden movies helped Hollywood make a record-setting $10.8 billion last year, many of the studios that create those effects are barely staying afloat.

Visual effects have been a part of the movie industry ever since Georges Melies went on his famous Trip to the Moon in 1902. These days, VFX studios do everything from putting a tiger in a lifeboat on an ocean voyage to choreographing the destruction of a New York City being defended by Earth's mightiest heroes.

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Book Reviews
6:31 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Echoes Of Orwell In 'The Office Of Mercy'

It was no less than the master of dystopian fiction, George Orwell, who noted in a 1946 essay that "political language has to consist largely of euphemism. ... Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air ...

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The Two-Way
5:36 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Book News: 50 Poems From Rudyard Kipling Discovered

Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling wrote novels, poems and short stories, mostly set in India and Burma during British rule.
Evening Standard Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 2:15 pm

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

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The Salt
12:24 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Sandwich Monday: Fish McBites

Two Fish McBites, which are not the Chicken of the Sea.
NPR

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 12:22 pm

The McDonald's menu is a sacred document, like the Constitution. You can't just add things willy-nilly. It took hard work and sacrifice to add the Fourth Amendment, the McRib, and the Twenty-third Amendment, the Snack Wrap. Now, a new item called Fish McBites seeks ratification.

Miles: Fish McBites — for the bottom feeder in all of us.

Ian: I can't wait to wash this down with McDonald's new Chumrock Shake.

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Author Interviews
11:38 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Whitey Bulger Bio Profiles Boston's Most Notorious Gangster

FBI AP

The remarkable story of gangster Whitey Bulger begins in the housing projects of South Boston and ends with his capture by the FBI in 2011 after his 16 years on the lam. By then, Bulger was wanted for 19 murders, extortion and loan sharking for leading a criminal enterprise in Boston from the 1970s until 1995. During much of that time he was also an informant and being protected by the FBI.

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Books
9:39 am
Mon February 25, 2013

The Science Of Being 'Top Dog'

ManoAfrica iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 11:16 am

"To compete well means to take risks that are normally constrained by fear," Po Bronson tells NPR's Michel Martin.

Following their best-selling book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, Bronson and Ashley Merryman teamed up again for Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing.

Bronson says "risk-taking is a crucial quality of competitiveness." Science shows that "if you focus on the odds, you tend not to take the risk," he says.

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Arts & Life
9:39 am
Mon February 25, 2013

High Honors for Actress Deavere Smith

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 11:56 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, we turn to a giant in the arts world. You probably know the name, Anna Deavere Smith. You might know her from her role on "The West Wing" or as the no-nonsense old school hospital administrator, Gloria Akalitus, on the Showtime series, "Nurse Jackie."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "NURSE JACKIE")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How do you sleep at night putting someone out of a job?

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Movies
9:39 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Who Won Oscar Gold Last Night?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. In a few minutes, we will speak with an artist who just won one of the American art world's biggest prizes. It was endowed by the famous sisters of silent movie fame. It comes with $300,000 attached. It was just awarded to Anna Deavere Smith, and we will speak with her in just a few minutes.

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Movies
7:11 am
Mon February 25, 2013

'Argo,' 'Life Of Pi' Win Top Oscars

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 2:26 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Okay. The movies "Argo" and "Life of Pi" and the actors Daniel Day Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence were among the winners at last night's Academy Awards. NPR's Mandalit Del Barco was backstage.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO: It wasn't a Hollywood star who announced this year's Best Picture. That honor went to First Lady Michelle Obama via satellite from the White House.

MICHELLE OBAMA: And the Oscar goes to "Argo."

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Monkey See
6:42 am
Mon February 25, 2013

What You Didn't See At The Academy Awards

Actress Jennifer Lawrence stumbles as she walks on stage.
Chris Pizzelo AP

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 6:06 pm

NPR's Sam Sanders and Mandalit del Barco were backstage at the Oscars on Sunday, covering the awards show. They sat in the press room, where winners go for interviews during and after the show. Here's a roundup of what they saw that you didn't see, in senior superlative form.

Most Likely To Stand By Her Man Until The End Of All Natural Time: Jennifer Garner

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The Two-Way
5:25 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Book News: 'Life Of Pi' Author Strips Down For Charity

Canadian author Yann Martel smiles for photographers after winning the Man Booker Prize.
John Li Getty Images

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

  • A group of prominent Canadian authors are stripping down for a (mostly) nude calendar. Proceeds from the Bare It For Books project will go to PEN Canada, an organization that promotes freedom of expression. The (actually kind of hunky) Life of Pi author Yann Martel will be Mr. December.
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New In Paperback
5:03 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Feb. 25-March 3: Unlikely Healers, Chinese Planes And An Orphan's Revelation

Courtesy of Vintage Books

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Peter Cameron, Mohammed Hanif, Kathryn Harrison, James Fallows and Stephen Dau.

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

Monkey See
11:43 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

The Oscars Broadcast, Zooming Way Past Cheeky To Land Squarely On Crass

Adele performs the theme song to "Skyfall."
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 2:36 pm

If you like Argo (which won Best Picture), the movie Chicago (which made a couple of appearances) and jokes about women (which just kept coming), you probably had a substantially better night than the average viewer, who was subjected to Seth MacFarlane's delivery of one of the worst hosting performances in Oscar history.

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Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!
4:36 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

'Wait Wait' Live On The Red Carpet!

Seth MacFarlane's father (second from left), wife, sister and "an unknown man," according to the photo's original caption.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 11:14 am

Style commentary from people who have none! And find @waitwait on Twitter, where we'll be following the ceremony.

We're not going to say "Twilight: Breaking Foot." We're not going to say it.

Tommy Lee Jones showed up either to collect a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, or TO FIND GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS DADGUMMIT!

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Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
3:56 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

Behind The Camera With Short-Doc Oscar Nominees

HBO

Haven't had a chance to watch the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts? All Things Considered is here to help. In the week leading up to the Academy Awards, NPR's Audie Cornish talked with the directors of the five short films nominated for best documentary short.

The films tell a range of stories — about a preventable disease that's ravaging Africa and the quiet loneliness of Florida retirees, the vibrant art of a homeless teenager and the hard life of "canners," and finally a salon that helps women with cancer cope with their scars.

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Author Interviews
1:48 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

Historical Fiction Gets Personal in 'Philida'

Random House

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 3:44 pm

André Brink is one of the most well-known anti-apartheid writers in South Africa. His latest novel Philida, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is set in 1832 in the South African Cape, just two years before emancipation.

The title character lodges a complaint against her master, Francois Brink, who is also the father of her four children. He'd promised her freedom, but then backs out and marries a wealthy white woman.

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Author Interviews
4:36 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Literary Idol Comes To Life in 'Farewell, Dorothy Parker'

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 10:43 am

What would you do if your literary idol came to life — came into your life — and then you couldn't get rid of her? Violet Epps, heroine of the new novel Farewell, Dorothy Parker discovers being a fan isn't the same as being a roommate when Dorothy Parker's spirit rematerializes from an ancient Algonquin Hotel guestbook — and then follows her home.

Author Ellen Meister tells NPR's Rachel Martin that she first encountered Parker's work as a teenager.

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Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
4:36 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Real-Life Shipwreck Survivor Helped 'Life Of Pi' Get Lost At Sea

Steven Callahan survived for 76 days adrift in an inflatable life raft. This 2002 photo shows Callahan with an improved life raft he designed after his ordeal. While enduring shark attacks, rain and helpless drifting, Callahan dreamed of a better survival vessel. Once he returned to land, he spent almost two decades designing this one, featuring a rigid exterior, a removable canopy and a sail.
Pat Wellenbach Associated Press

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 6:06 am

In Life of Pi, one of the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture this year, a boy suffers a shipwreck and is lost at sea. It's a fictional story, of course, based on a novel, but director Ang Lee nevertheless wanted the movie to have depth and realism. But how do you add a realistic edge to someone drifting alone in the sea? For most people, even those in the imaginative business of movie-making, it's hard to picture the perils and isolation of months without rescue.

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PG-13: Risky Reads
4:03 am
Sun February 24, 2013

These 'Great Tales Of Terror' Live Up To Their Promise

Duncan P Walker iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:40 am

Michael Dirda's latest book is On Conan Doyle.

When I was a boy growing up in the working-class steel town of Lorain, Ohio, I used to ride my beloved Roadmaster bicycle to the branch library. Located in the Plaza Shopping Center, this former storefront was just around the corner from the W.T. Grant's and Merit Shoes. Inside there were perhaps six small tables, a couple of reading chairs, the librarian's checkout desk, and light oak bookshelves along three walls. There can't have been more than one- or two-thousand books.

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Sunday Puzzle
2:29 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Rolling R's Into Wise Words

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 5:03 am

On-air challenge: You will be given some words starting with the letter R. You name a proverb or saying that contains each one.

Last week's challenge from listener Gary Alvstad of Tustin, Calif.: Name a well-known movie in two words with a total of 13 letters. Each of the two words contains the letter C. Drop both C's. The letters that remain in the second word of the title will be in alphabetical order, and the letters that remain in the first word will be in reverse alphabetical order. What movie is it?

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Author Interviews
3:35 pm
Sat February 23, 2013

Craving Solitude In 'Ten White Geese'

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 4:40 pm

Gerbrand Bakker's new international best-seller, Ten White Geese, opens with a mysterious woman alone on a Welsh farm. Humiliated by an affair with a student, she turns up alone at the farm, looking for nothing and no one. She answers to the name Emily, but that is actually the first name of the American poet about whom she is writing her doctoral dissertation. Her husband has no idea where she is.

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Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
11:56 am
Sat February 23, 2013

The Four Biggest Best Picture Oscar Upsets, Statistically Speaking

The cast of Crash celebrates after its surprise upset of Brokeback Mountain for best picture, at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 12:28 pm

By the time the curtains rise on the Academy Awards ceremony each year, Oscar-watching prognosticators are already reasonably sure which films are going to take home top prizes.

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The Record
7:57 am
Sat February 23, 2013

Clive Davis: A Life With A 'Soundtrack'

Clive Davis poses with Whitney Houston, then a rising star, shortly after Houston signed a contract with Arista Records in 1983.
AP

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 9:55 am

If Columbia Records hadn't signed Bruce Springsteen in the early 1970s, there's a chance The Boss could have just been a small-stakes act, playing gigs around Asbury Park.

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Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
7:03 am
Sat February 23, 2013

EW's Oscar Guy: Predictions, Backstage Tales

Anthony Breznican is a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly and its chief Oscars correspondent.
Anthony Breznican

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 4:40 pm

Like millions of Americans, Anthony Breznican will be watching the Oscars this Sunday night. But unlike the rest of us, Breznican, a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, will be watching from backstage. As EW's chief Oscars correspondent, he escapes the confines of the press rooms for a more intimate look at the ceremony — the kind of view most journalists can only dream of.

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Art & Design
3:31 am
Sat February 23, 2013

'Nordic Cool' Illuminates D.C.'s Kennedy Center

Nordic Cool Facade.
Yassine El Mansouri Courtesy: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 11:18 pm

What is Nordic cool?

Right now, it's a massive festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., with artists and designers displaying art and culture from their very top sliver of the globe.

The festival arrives at what seems like just the right moment for Americans.

From the Danish modern furniture of the 1950s to the omnipresence of Ikea, Americans have long been attracted to the austere design of Nordic countries.

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Arts
4:05 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Sofia Talvik

Pages