Arts/Life

Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Amid Discord, A 'Quartet' Strives For Harmony

Members of a famous string quartet (Mark Ivanir, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener) fight to stay together despite internal conflict.
RKO Pictures

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 10:56 am

It's rare these days to see an old-fashioned, elegant chamber-piece movie about life and art β€” let alone one with Christopher Walken as, of all things, a steadying influence.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Eyeliner, Lipstick And Finding Your 'Place'

Aging musician Cheyenne (Sean Penn) and his wife, Jane (Frances McDormand), live a relatively normal life out of the spotlight.
The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 5:46 pm

A near-agoraphobic musician is an odd protagonist for a road movie, but then "odd" is the operative term for This Must Be the Place, Italian director Paolo Sorrentino's first English-language film. This mashup of genres and themes doesn't entirely succeed, but it is warm, funny and ably crafted.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

A Life And A Plane, In Free Fall From 20,000 Feet

Airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is hailed as a hero after averting disaster when his plane malfunctions β€” but as Flight goes on, it turns out he's anything but a shining example.
Robert Zuckerman Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 5:21 pm

For Whip Whitaker, the commercial airline pilot played by Denzel Washington in Flight, daily life is about achieving a practiced but tenuous equilibrium between the professional he's required to be and the wreck he really is. As the opening scene reveals, it involves keeping his poisons in harmony: Peeling himself off a hotel bed after a wild night, Whip guzzles the stale swill from a quarter-full beer bottle, does a couple of lines of cocaine as a pick-me-up and strides confidently out the door in his uniform. This is the morning routine.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Battered But Not Broken, Vets Seek 'High Ground'

Spc. Steve Baskis goes on patrol in Iraq.
Steve Baskis

Mountain climbing asks a lot of its devotees. One should ideally be in top physical condition, with all senses at peak performance, and possessed of a quality that, if it's not best described as fearlessness, is at least a willingness to ignore the natural instinct not to dangle precariously above a drop of several thousand feet.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

'Ralph': An 8-Bit Hero With Plenty Of Heart

Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) grows tired of being overshadowed by Fix-It Felix Jr., the "good guy" star of their game, and sets off on a quest to prove he's got what it takes to be a hero.
Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 10:15 pm

After a very long engagement that began with the original Toy Story, Disney finally made an honest woman out of Pixar in 2006, when it paid the requisite billions to move the computer animation giant into the Magic Kingdom. But Disney's spirited 2010 hit Tangled made it abundantly clear that Pixar had a say in the creative marriage: The story of Rapunzel may be standard Disney princess fare, but the whip-crack pacing and fractured-fairy tale wit felt unmistakably Pixar. From now on, it would seem, Mickey Mouse and Luxo Jr.

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Author Interviews
12:26 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Ricks: Firing 'The Generals' To Fight Better Wars?

Penguin Group USA

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 3:17 pm

When Thomas Ricks first learned that Terry Allen, the successful general in charge of the 1st Infantry Division during World War II's Sicily campaign, had been fired, he says, his jaw dropped.

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Opinion
11:30 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Even Americans Find Some Britishisms 'Spot On'

Geoff Nunberg says that, like a lot of the Britishisms peppering American speech these days, "spot on" falls somewhere in the blurry region between affectation and flash.
Zdenek Ryzner iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 1:26 pm

Mitt Romney was on CNN not long ago defending the claims in his campaign ads β€” "We've been absolutely spot on," he said. Politics aside, the expression had me doing an audible roll of my eyes. I've always associated "spot on" with the type of Englishman who's played by Terry-Thomas or John Cleese, someone who pronounces "yes" and "ears" in the same way β€” "eeahzz." It shows up when people do send-ups of plummy British speech. "I say β€” spot on, old chap!"

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
10:50 am
Thu November 1, 2012

November Kids' Book Club Pick: 'The Red Pyramid'

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 10:21 am

Mention the name Rick Riordan to adults, and they might say, "Huh?" But kids? They know. Riordan has been burning up the best-seller lists with three different series of books that all feature modern-day kids entangled in the lives of ancient gods. The Red Pyramid β€” the December pick of NPR's Backseat Book Club β€” features a brother and sister who have no idea they are descended from age-old sorcerers until their archaeologist father accidentally unleashes ancient gods into modern society.

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The Salt
7:49 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Day Of The Dead, Decoded: A Joyful Celebration Of Life And Food

Skeletons: Skeleton imagery pervades this holiday. In pre-Columbian times, the Day of the Dead was celebrated in August. It now takes place on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, coinciding with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.
Karen Castillo FarfÑn NPR

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 1:19 pm

Sugar skulls, tamales, and spirits (the alcoholic kind) β€” these are things you might find on homemade altars to entice those who've passed to the other side back for a visit. The altars, built in homes and around tombstones, are for Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, a tradition originating in central Mexico on Nov. 1 and 2.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu November 1, 2012

'Elsewhere' Has Beauty, But No Happy Ending

Knopf

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 6:07 pm

Richard Russo sits in his elderly mother's home, holding her hand. She's just been diagnosed with dementia, one more illness to add to the long list of ailments she's been battling for years. She wonders aloud whether she'll ever be able to read again, plainly scared at the prospect of a life without her favorite hobby. She takes a look around her small apartment, and tells her son that she hates it.

"I just wish you could be happy, Mom," he says, heartbroken. "I used to be," she responds. "I know you don't believe that, but I was."

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Author Interviews
3:06 am
Thu November 1, 2012

'Smitten Kitchen' Takes The Fuss Out Of Cooking

Deb Perelman

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 1:26 pm

Think of the smallest kitchen you can imagine, and then take away a few square feet. That's Deb Perelman's New York kitchen. It's so small that the blogger, and now author, literally has to wedge herself between the stove and the refrigerator to cook.

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Arts
3:31 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

C.W. Ayon

KRWG Music Spotlight 109 - C.W. Ayon

Arts & Life
3:11 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

A 'Witch Queen' Who Casts Her Spells Year-Round

Courtesy of Faith in the Five Boroughs

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 1:53 pm

Lady Rhea is not the kind of witch you'll find in a pointy hat this Halloween. She is a real workaday witch, grinding out a living selling magic products in a booth at Original Products, a grocery store-sized botanica in the Bronx. She's been a practicing Wiccan for nearly four decades, making her one of the longest-serving high priestesses in New York City.

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PG-13: Risky Reads
12:43 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Possessed By 'The Exorcist': Are You Terrified Yet?

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 9:51 am

Mark Danielewski is the author of The Fifty Year Sword.

When I was 12, the movie was forbidden. What my parents matter-of-factly declared too scary, friends confirmed with added notes of hysteria: "Nothing more terrifying!" "The most horrifying film ever made!" "People pass out!"

In Provo, Utah, where I grew up, Mormon children β€” and in my world that meant all of my friends β€” reported how just a glimpse resulted in actual, irreversible possession.

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Monkey See
12:07 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

In 'Nobody Walks,' Lena Dunham's Lost 'Girls' Relocate To Heavier Drama

Martine (Olivia Thirlby) is either oblivious to or apathetic toward the chaos she causes in the lives of those around her.
Magnolia Pictures

A friend of mine β€” whose opinion is shared by hosts of viewers β€” has griped about Lena Dunham and the fame of Girls and its cast members: "Everybody talks like they're the voice of our 'lost generation,'" she said. "But their parents are all famous people." In other words, the complaint goes, the extent of the Girls cast's success comes from the connections available to them.

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Television
10:46 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Katey Sagal, Holding Court On 'Sons of Anarchy'

Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller Morrow in Sons of Anarachy on FX.
Prashant Gupta FX

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 1:59 pm

As Gemma, the fierce matriarch of the biker gang in the FX series Sons of Anarchy, Katey Sagal has shot and killed people, hit somebody with a skateboard, pulled a gun on a baby and done other horrible things. It's all part of the challenge of playing the character, Sagal says.

"She does things in the name of loyalty, which I relate to, but she goes way beyond anything I would do."

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First Reads
8:59 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Exclusive First Read: Ian McEwan's 'Sweet Tooth'

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 11:39 am

Ian McEwan's latest novel is an exercise in deception β€” the author of Atonement has created an engaging book that's as much suspenseful drama as it is romantic love story. At the center is Serena Frome, who after graduating from university as a math major (but with a reputation for being a lover of novels) lands a desk job with the intelligence agency, MI5. Early on Serena receives an assignment: She must pose as a representative for an arts foundation and begin to cultivate a young writer. Keeping her identity from him proves challenging.

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Monkey See
8:57 am
Wed October 31, 2012

What Makes A Horror Game Go Bump in the Night?

The Stauf mansion, as featured in the updated version of The 7th Guest.
Trilobyte Games

The first computer game that really frightened me to the bones was 1994's The 7th Guest. It's certainly primitive compared to today's games, but parts of it were indubitably scary. Even early on, when a kind of Steadicam slowly led me up a Victorian mansion's stairs, there was a feeling of uncomfortable dread. Don't go there, I said to myself. Yet, like so many ill-fated protagonists in the movies, I went there. And when ghosts moved about on the second floor β€” damn β€” that was eerie. It was like that "cold spot" in Robert Wise's The Haunting.

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The Two-Way
8:40 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Remembering Letitia Baldrige, The 'Doyenne Of Decorum'

Letitia Baldrige, when she was first lady Jacqueline Kennedy's social secretary.
JFK Presidential Library and Museum

We want to note the death of Letitia Baldrige, who as The Washington Post writes "was social secretary to first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and also became known as a 'doyenne of decorum' and chief arbiter of good manners in modern America."

Baldrige died Monday at a nursing facility in Bethesda, Md. She was 86.

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Monkey See
7:21 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Twenty Stories That Will Absolutely Run The Week 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Is Released

In this Oct. 15, 2011 file photo, "Darth Vader" accepts the Ultimate Villain award from Star Wars creator George Lucas during the 2011 Scream Awards.
Chris Pizzello AP

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 7:59 am

Well, now that Lucasfilm is being bought by Disney and a new set of Star Wars films is allegedly on the way, there's only one thing to do: look into the future and realize that we already know what a lot of the coverage will look like when the next film comes out in 2015.

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Book Reviews
5:23 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Spooky Puppets, Slow Pacing In 'Catechism'

Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Mike Mignola's occult adventure comics B.P.R.D. (that's short for Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) and Hellboy (about a demon who fights for the side of Good) combine furious action set pieces on a literally biblical scale with a wry and nuanced understanding of very human emotions. The novelist Christopher Golden has written many popular works of dark fantasy.

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Kitchen Window
1:26 am
Wed October 31, 2012

The Hard-Boiled Truth About Egg Soups

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 7:38 am

The chicks arrived five months ago β€” eight gray, blond, black and tawny puffballs no bigger than the eggs they'd been hatched from a day earlier. They had a slavishly devoted audience within minutes and names within 24 hours. Every couple of weeks they doubled in size, and over the summer they ballooned from 2 ounces to 7 pounds as we furiously worked to complete their permanent coop.

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The Salt
1:26 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Oregon State's New Cheese Plant Aims To Break The Rind

Oregon State University food science and technology students mix a batch of havarti cheese in a cheesemaking class.
Lynn Ketchum OSU

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 5:04 pm

It's football season at Oregon State University, and that means tailgating, grilling, and ... cheese?

When we think of Oregon, we don't necessarily think of cheese β€” maybe a nice Pinot Noir, but not cheese. But this fall, Oregon State University's new cheese plant rolled out its first batch of product: a specialty alpine cheese (like Swiss, Comte or Gruyere) dubbed by the students "Beaver Classic." It's a mild cheese, with nutty flavors like caramelized onions.

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Author Interviews
8:59 am
Tue October 30, 2012

'Sutton': America's 1920s, Bank-Robbing 'Robin Hood'

Hyperion

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 2:35 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Sept. 26, 2012.

After the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer was so angry at banks, he says, he decided to write about the people who rob them β€” in the form of fiction, since he's not an economist.

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Book Reviews
5:27 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Vonnegut 'Letters' Hilarious And Heartbreaking

Marty Reichenthal AP

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 3:11 pm

In his introduction to Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, Dan Wakefield, the book's editor and a longtime Vonnegut karass member, writes of the late author's aspiration to be a "cultivated eccentric." Over the course of six decades of letters to family, friends, admirers, detractors and fellow writers, Vonnegut shows himself to be so much more, both in terms of ambition and accomplishment.

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Author Interviews
1:59 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Resenting And Respecting Mom In Russo's 'Elsewhere'

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 8:16 am

Author Richard Russo has been writing about the burned-out mill town of Gloversville, N.Y., for years. In one Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, he called it Empire Falls, Maine; in another novel, it was Thomaston, N.Y.

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Books
2:51 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Weather The Storm With 6 Stories From NPR Books

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 1:41 pm

As the East Coast hunkers down for the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, NPR Books dug back into the archives to find stories about keeping safe β€” and sane β€” when disaster strikes. Here you'll find memoirs of past storms, novels about future storms and interviews with authors who've written about severe weather and climate change.

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The Salt
1:38 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Sandwich Monday: The PB&P

A look within.
NPR

The Peanut Butter & Pickle Sandwich dates back to the Great Depression. It's great if you're transported back in time to 1930 and you forget to bring Powerbars, or, say, if you're stuck in your house with limited pantry options as a big hurricane heads your way.

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New In Paperback
9:21 am
Mon October 29, 2012

New In Paperback Oct. 29-Nov. 4

Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 12:17 pm

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Matthew Quick, Anthony Horowitz, Darrell Hammond, Craig Marks, Rob Tannenbaum and Regis Philbin.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Three Books...
6:44 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Trust Me: Three Books With (In)credible Narrators

Many of my all-time favorite novels have a common (if slightly unsettling) thread: They feature an unreliable narrator at the helm. The term was popularized in the 1960s by the literary critic Wayne C. Booth, but the unreliable narrator herself has been around at least as long as the Wife of Bath in The Canterbury Tales. An unreliable narrator is one who tells a tale with compromised credibility, whether the narrator herself understands that or not. The reader usually finds this out only slowly, as cracks in the narrator's version of events begin to appear.

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