Arts/Life

From The NPR Bookshelves
5:03 am
Sun February 17, 2013

5 Presidential Stories That Might Surprise You

You've probably heard the story of Washington crossing the Delaware or FDR hiding his wheelchair from the public eye; but do you know about Teddy Roosevelt's life-threatening expedition down the Amazon, or Grover Cleveland's secret surgery on a yacht? In honor of Presidents Day, NPR Books dove into the archives to find new ways of thinking about our nation's former leaders.

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Three Books...
5:03 am
Sun February 17, 2013

3 Books About House Hunting In The Gilded Age

iStockphoto.com

Interiors intrigue me. Like many New Yorkers, I am often tempted to see what is inside those great doorman-barricaded buildings that line Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue. Step into the marble lobby, ride the elevator to the penthouse and let your imagination be carried aloft. What would it be like to live in a vast suite overlooking Central Park, with its parquet floors, coffered ceilings, and handsome antiques? Surely, dwelling here means being beautiful, rich and glamorous.

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Author Interviews
4:13 am
Sun February 17, 2013

'Above All Things' Tells The Story Of A Mountain, A Marriage

George Mallory's final moments remain a haunting, hotly-disputed mystery. Did the dashing young mountaineer manage to reach the summit of Mount Everest, making him the first man to ever do so? Or did he and his climbing partner, Sandy Irvine, perish heart-breakingly close to their unfulfilled goal?

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Art & Design
3:20 am
Sun February 17, 2013

'Armory Show' That Shocked America In 1913, Celebrates 100

Marcel Duchamp's Cubist-inspired Nude Descending a Staircase was famously described by one critic as "an explosion in a shingle factory."
Philadelphia Museum of Art Copyright succession Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2013

Originally published on Sun February 17, 2013 6:02 am

On Feb. 17, 1913, an art exhibition opened in New York City that shocked the country, changed our perception of beauty and had a profound effect on artists and collectors.

The International Exhibition of Modern Art — which came to be known, simply, as the Armory Show — marked the dawn of Modernism in America. It was the first time the phrase "avant-garde" was used to describe painting and sculpture.

On the evening of the show's opening, 4,000 guests milled around the makeshift galleries in the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue.

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Author Interviews
3:20 am
Sun February 17, 2013

Control The Chaos With 'Secrets Of Happy Families'

Bruce Feiler and his family; daughters Tybee and Eden Feiler, and wife Linda Rottenberg. Feiler is a New York Times columnist and the author of several books, including The Council of Dads and Walking the Bible.
Kelly Hike HarperCollins

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:49 am

Bruce Feiler's house was in chaos. He and his wife, Linda, have twin daughters, and every morning was a madcap rush to get everybody dressed, fed, and out the door in time. Such hectic mornings aren't unusual; the scene probably sounds familiar to many busy families. But Feiler kept wondering if things could be better — easier, smoother, happier. In addition to the daily stresses, Bruce and Linda were grappling with more fundamental questions: How could they impart values and responsibility to their girls, and still have fun as a family?

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Movie Interviews
3:06 am
Sun February 17, 2013

Jacki Weaver, Looking For Oscar Gold With 'Silver Linings'

Jackie Weaver, pictured here with costar Robert De Niro, plays the rock-solid matriarch of a troubled clan in Silver Linings Playbook.
The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 1:44 pm

To put it simply, Silver Linings Playbook, which is nominated for a handful of Oscars, is a romantic comedy about mental illness.

We peer into the life of one Philadelphia family with a son whose bipolar disorder has led him to some very troublesome outbursts — and a father, meanwhile, who lives in denial of his own untreated obsessive-compulsive disorder and gambling addiction. And when arguments break out, the mother, Dolores, has to keep things together.

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Games & Humor
2:36 am
Sun February 17, 2013

Dear Mr. President, What's Your Name?

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun February 17, 2013 10:14 pm

On-air challenge: In honor of Presidents Day, every answer is the last name of a U.S. president. You will be given a word or phrase that is a president's last name with two letters changed. You name the president. For example, given "Carpet," the answer would be "Carter."

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Poetry
2:42 pm
Sat February 16, 2013

Pentametron Reveals Unintended Poetry of Twitter Users

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 3:03 pm

That hesitation right before a kiss

I don't remember ever learning this

I've never had a valentine before

I'm not a little baby anymore

It's poetry — rhyming couplets written in perfect iambic pentameter, those ten-syllable lines of alternating emphasis made famous by authors of sonnets and blank verse. But unlike your average metered rhyme, these lines were written by Twitter ... with some help from a program called Pentametron.

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Author Interviews
2:42 pm
Sat February 16, 2013

'Noble Savages': A Journey To Break The Mold Of Anthropology

Cover of Noble Savages

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 8:44 am

When Napoleon Chagnon first saw the isolated Yanomamo Indian tribes of the Amazon in 1964, it changed his life forever. A young anthropologist from the University of Michigan, he was starting on a journey that would last a lifetime, and take him from one of the most remote places on earth to an international controversy.

That controversy would divide his profession and impugn his reputation. Eventually he would come to redefine the nature of what it is to be human.

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Books
4:41 am
Sat February 16, 2013

Uncovering A Dead Father's Secrets In 'After Visiting Friends'

peeterv iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 1:22 pm

Michael Hainey was 6 years old when his uncle came to his house and told him and his brother that their father was dead. Bob Hainey was just 35. He was the slot man — a high-pressure, high-profile position overnight on the Chicago Sun-Times, a newspaper that in 1970 was the quintessence of roustabout Chicago journalism. Bob Hainey had died of a heart attack on a North Side street, as one of the obits put it, "while visiting friends."

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Movie Interviews
3:17 am
Sat February 16, 2013

'Argo': What Really Happened In Tehran? A CIA Agent Remembers

Ben Affleck played CIA agent Tony Mendez in Argo. The real Mendez says the movie is mostly spot on, even if the rescue at the end wasn't quite what the film depicts.
Claire Folger

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 4:43 pm

The movie Argo, up for seven Oscars at this year's Academy Awards, is based on the true story of the CIA rescue of Americans in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Missing from most of the coverage of this movie? The actual guy who ran the mission, played by Ben Affleck in the movie.

Movie aficionados — and historians — know that the movie sticks pretty close to what really happened during the Iranian Revolution. In 1980, a CIA agent named Tony Mendez sneaked into Iran and spirited away six American diplomats who were hiding with Canadians.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
7:30 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Al Gore Plays Not My Job

Axel Schmidt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 8:35 am

Since Al Gore's term as the 45th vice president of the United States ended in 2001, he has starred in an Oscar-winning documentary, won a Grammy Award and received the Nobel Peace Prize. But obviously he won't be satisfied until he wins the NPR news quiz, so we've invited him to play a game called "Maybe you can beat Bill Clinton at this."

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Book Reviews
3:52 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Tales Of Transformation Make 'Vampires In The Lemon Grove' A Stunner

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 5:54 pm

In one of the eight stories in Karen Russell's new collection, a group of dead presidents has been reincarnated as horses. Rutherford B. Hayes, a skewbald pinto, frantically licks the palm of a girl in a secret code that he's worked out, revealing his true identity and asking her to alert the authorities. "Ha-ha!" the girl laughs. "That tickles."

I know, you're probably thinking: "Dead presidents reincarnated as horses? Oh, come on, Meg, that sounds like the plot of so many short stories."

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The Salt
11:18 am
Fri February 15, 2013

How To Make A Chinese New Year-Worthy Potsticker

The finished dumplings, properly fried to a light crisp. The half-moon shape was meant to resemble ancient Chinese currency. Eating the dumplings was believed to bring fortune and prosperity.
Daniel M.N. Turner NPR

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 12:59 pm

Even though he estimates he's made hundreds of thousands of them, Scott Drewno says pork potstickers never get old. In fact, they are the food the executive chef of The Source by Wolfgang Puck, a fine dining Asian fusion restaurant in Washington, D.C., says he would take to a desert island.

"They're everything you want in a dish — salty, savory, filling," says Drewno, as he lovingly holds up one of three bowls of ground pork he planned to season and stuff into dumplings before our eyes.

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Movie Interviews
11:11 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Wes Anderson, Creating A Singular 'Kingdom'

Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton and Bruce Willis star in the film — the story of a 12-year-old girl and boy who merge their imaginative worlds on an island off the coast of New England.
Focus Features

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 8:38 am

This interview was originally broadcast on May 29, 2012.

Director Wes Anderson has many credits to his name — The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, Bottle Rocket and Fantastic Mr. Fox among them — but Moonrise Kingdom was his first film to open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

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Movie Interviews
11:11 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Kushner's 'Lincoln' Is Strange, But Also Savvy

Tony Kushner based his screenplay for Lincoln in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography of the president, Team of Rivals — but he read many other histories and biographies, in addition to Lincoln's own writings.
DreamWorks/Twentieth Century Fox

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

Tony Kushner spent years writing the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln, but that wasn't the only heavy lifting he had to do. It also took some effort to overcome Daniel Day-Lewis' reluctance to play the title role.

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Author Interviews
10:16 am
Fri February 15, 2013

'Immortal' Cells Of Henrietta Lacks Live On In Labs

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 11:03 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 13, 2010.

The HeLa cell line — one of the most revolutionary tools of biomedical research — has played a part in some of the world's most important medical advances, from the polio vaccine to in vitro fertilization.

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Food
10:16 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Sometimes, Food Additives Are Pretty Innocuous

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 11:03 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

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Author Interviews
10:16 am
Fri February 15, 2013

How To 'Thrive': Short Commutes, More Happy Hours

"Many of us spend more than half our waking hours at work," writes Buettner. So he recommends you find the right job, limit your workweek to 40 hours, take vacations and go to happy hour for some satisfying socializing.

Richard Hume

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 11:03 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 19, 2011.

Many people believe that happiness comes from money or youth or beauty, but Dan Buettner would respectfully disagree. Buettner visited some of the happiest places on Earth and argues that the real keys to happiness lie in fundamental, permanent changes to the way we live.

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Monkey See
8:12 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Justin Timberlake, LL Cool J And The Presidency

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

This week's show was taped while Stephen and I were still recovering from live-blogging the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, so that was still fresh in our minds. Trey and Glen saw the show as well, so we spend some time this week talking about the awards, the performances, and whether we learned anything. You will experience my new way of tormenting Stephen, and perhaps you'll want to join in!

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First Reads
5:03 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Questions For Alaya Dawn Johnson, Author Of 'The Summer Prince'

Alaya Dawn Johnson lives and writes in New York City.
Alden Ford

Alaya Dawn Johnson has written a number of novels for adults (including the delightful Zephyr Hollis series), and now she's venturing onto the young adult shelves with The Summer Prince, a complex science-fiction narrative set in post-apocalyptic Brazil. The action takes place in the city of Palmares Tres, which is entirely contained in a giant pyramidal structure on a bay, surrounded and fed by giant algae vats.

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First Reads
5:03 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Exclusive First Read: 'The Summer Prince' By Alaya Dawn Johnson

Arthur A. Levine Books

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 9:55 am

Hundreds of years into the future, in a post-apocalyptic world, there's a beautiful city in a steel-and-glass pyramid, perched on a Brazilian bay. It's Palmares Tres, founded and run by women after men made a wreck of the world, and named for a famous 17th century city founded by escaped slaves. The city runs on a combination of futuristic technology and ancient, bloody ritual: Every five years, a Summer King is elected by the people and sacrificed at the end of the year.

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Movie Interviews
12:31 am
Fri February 15, 2013

The Story Of 'No' Is The Story Of Modern Chile

The bright colors and throwback feel of the Chilean drama No mask the very real political consequences of the 1988 plebiscite it depicts. (Pictured: Gael Garcia Bernal as Rene Saavedra)
Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 6:39 am

The film No revisits the moment in Chile's history when 56 percent of the country voted to oust a dictator from power. It's the tale of the ad campaign that helped persuade Chileans to cast their ballots against Gen. Augusto Pinochet in a national referendum.

"This is an epic story, the story of a triumph," says Director Pablo Larrain. "It's how they defeat a dictator — probably one of the biggest bastards that we ever had in humankind."

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Movie Reviews
3:08 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Say Yes To 'No': Retro Political Thriller Packs A Timely Punch

Brash ad man Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal) brings a youthful, positive energy to a campaign aimed at ousting a dictator in the political drama No.
Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 2:18 pm

In 1988, Chile's brutal military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was facing international pressure to legitimize his regime. Confident that the opposition was splintered, and that state-run media could control the political dialogue, his administration agreed to a simple yes-or-no vote on extending his rule.

It was a vote that even Pinochet's opponents expected to go his way — but it didn't, for reasons made both compelling and instructive in Pablo Larrain's rousing Oscar-nominated drama, No.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

'Shanghai Calling,' And The Answer Is, 'Why Not?'

Self-assured lawyer Sam (Daniel Henney) must learn to trust others and embrace life as an expat in the cheery fish-out-of-water film Shanghai Calling.
Americatown

As Ugly Americans go, Manhattan corporate attorney Sam Chao (Daniel Henney) has a lot going for him. He's a handsome dude with perfectly symmetrical features, a toned bod we get to peek at all but naked, and facile charm to burn.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Kiarostami Eyes Tokyo 'Like Someone In Love'

Akiko (Rin Takanashi) is a young call girl and university student in modern Tokyo who hesitantly befriends an elderly male client.
IFC Films

Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's Like Someone in Love opens far from Tehran, in a noisy Tokyo bar.

"When did I lie to you?" asks an unseen woman, ensnarled in a difficult cellphone exchange. The viewer is already trying to decipher this person, without even glimpsing her.

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Ask Me Another
2:42 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Spot the Mistake

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 7:54 am

Don't you just love pointing out when others are wrong? In this game, contestants hear fictitious reports from actual NPR correspondents, and must identify which piece of information is inaccurate. This game is unpossible!

Ask Me Another
2:42 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

SAT Analogies

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 7:54 am

Transcript

(APPLAUSE)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Audience, this is what we've all been waiting for. It's our Ask Me One More final round. This final elimination round will determine this week's ASK ME ANOTHER champion. So let's bring back the winners from all of our previous rounds.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: From "Happy and You Know it" we have Brice Gaillard. From "Forward and Backwards" Ken Stern. "Down at Downton Abbey," Tom Miller and "Spot the Mistakes" Sam Meyer.

(APPLAUSE)

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Ask Me Another
2:42 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Happy And You Know It

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 7:54 am

Jonathan Coulton quizzes contestants on the lost verses of "If You're Happy and You Know It," in which the lyrics hint to certain things. The song should really be re-titled, "If You're An Inanimate Object And You Know It." Clap your hands.

Ask Me Another
2:42 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Down at Downton Abbey

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 7:54 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Let's welcome our next two contestants.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Andy Duong and Tom Miller. Welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER, Andy, Tom. So, Andy, you have been to a huge number of countries.

ANDY DUONG: I have.

EISENBERG: How many?

DUONG: Twenty-eight.

EISENBERG: Twenty-eight. Do you have a favorite?

DUONG: The Netherlands actually.

EISENBERG: Oh yeah, yeah, [unintelligible].

DUONG: For many reasons.

EISENBERG: For many reasons? What's your second favorite reason?

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