Arts/Life

Author Interviews
9:24 am
Wed May 16, 2012

Just What's Inside Those Breasts?

Breasts are getting bigger and arriving earlier. They're also attracting chemicals and environmental toxins, which are getting passed along in breast milk.
Photographer: B-D-S iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu May 17, 2012 11:31 am

When writer Florence Williams was nursing her second child, she read a research study about toxins found in human breast milk. She decided to test her own breast milk and shipped a sample to a lab in Germany.

What came back surprised her.

Trace amounts of pesticides, dioxin and a jet fuel ingredient — as well as high to average levels of flame retardants — were all found in her breast milk. How could something like this happen?

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Remembrances
7:04 am
Wed May 16, 2012

A Fleeting Memory Of Carlos Fuentes

Mexican write Carlos Fuentes at the Hay Festival Cartagena in January.
Claudio Rubio AP

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 2:43 pm

When I heard that the Mexican literary legend Carlos Fuentes died Tuesday at 83, I remembered a long, easygoing interview I did with him years ago. We talked about many things — including what epitaph he wanted carved on his tombstone.

It was the autumn of 1995 and I was a reporter at The Washington Post, assigned to write a profile of the elegant, eloquent Fuentes. I draw on that story now, for twice-told tales worth telling.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed May 16, 2012

'The Chemistry Of Tears' And The Art Of Healing

iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 3:28 pm

Peter Carey's dazzling new novel, The Chemistry of Tears, encompasses heartbreak, the comfort of absorbing work, the transformative power of beauty and the soul of an old machine. If you've never read the Australian-born, two-time Booker Prize–winning author of Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang — or, most recently, Parrot and Olivier in America — his 12th novel is a terrific introduction to his work.

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Remembrances
7:48 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

In Writing, Fuentes Shed Light On Poverty, Inequality

Mexican author Carlos Fuentes poses for a photo after a news conference in Mexico City on March 12. Fuentes died Tuesday at a hospital in Mexico City. He was 83.
Alexandre Meneghini AP

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 8:08 am

Carlos Fuentes was the son of a Mexican diplomat and spent years living abroad, including in the United States. But Mexico — the country, its people and politics — was central to his writing.

Fuentes, one of the most influential Latin American writers, died Tuesday at a hospital in Mexico City at the age of 83. He was instrumental in bringing Latin American literature to an international audience, and he used his fiction to address what he saw as real-world injustices.

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Remembrances
3:41 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Remembering Mexican Writer Carlos Fuentes

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 3:46 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

One of Mexico's greatest writers has died: Carlos Fuentes. He was 83. Fuentes was a central figure in the Latin American literary boom of the 1960s and '70s. And he was publishing fiction and essays until the end, including an essay published today in the Mexican newspaper Reforma. Our own book critic Alan Cheuse knew Fuentes and reviewed many of his novels. Hi, Alan.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.

SIEGEL: And first, give us a sense of the broad sweep of Carlos Fuentes' career, and what made his work so important?

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Monkey See
2:36 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Home Video Picks: 'Being John Malkovich'

John Cusack and Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich.
Criterion Collection

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 3:46 pm

Time now for a home viewing recommendation from our film critic Bob Mondello. This time Bob urges taking the plunge from the seven-and-a-half-th floor into the Criterion Collection's Blu-ray release of Being John Malkovich.

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The Salt
1:16 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Vermont Beer Makers Bring Back Old-Time Maple Sap Brews

This farmer, pouring maple sap into his pail near Wilmington, Vt., in 1954, may have turned the dregs of the season's sap into beer.
Robert F. Sisson National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 6:33 am

In Vermont, the last sap in the spring maple sugaring season isn't considered good for much. It's too dark and strong to use for commercial maple syrup — people tend to like the light and clear stuff.

But long ago, that late season sap was used in a potent dark beer that offered some cool relief to farmers when the hay was cut in the heat of summer.

Now some local microbreweries are bringing the historic drink back from extinction.

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Kitchen Window
12:56 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Even Your Mother Will Approve Of Vegetable Chips

Susan Russo for NPR

Originally published on Sun May 20, 2012 12:17 pm

We know we need to eat more vegetables. The challenge is to do it with flavor and variety. So we've become creative.

Put all your vegetables in a blender, pulverize and serve. There's a booth at my local farmers market dispensing cups of green slop to devotees of that religion. I've tried it. I haven't converted.

Another approach is to chop up whatever you find in your vegetable drawer and put it on lettuce. This is more viable but looks and tastes an awful lot like salad, something that's been around for a while.

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Monkey See
8:54 am
Tue May 15, 2012

Fox Rolls Out Its New Fall Shows, Including One From Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling stars in the new Fox comedy The Mindy Project.
Beth Dubber Fox

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Theater
8:45 am
Tue May 15, 2012

Audra McDonald: Shaping 'Bess' On Broadway

Audra McDonald.
Michael Wilson Courtesy of Nonesuch Records

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 11:23 am

Audra McDonald has starred in stage classics and on TV, where she played a leading role on the ABC drama Private Practice for four seasons. But the actress might be better known for her stunning voice and for her performances in the Broadway productions of Carousel, Master Class and Ragtime, which helped her rack up three Tony Awards before the age of 30. She won a fourth Tony for her performance in A Raisin in the Sun, putting her in the company of Broadway greats Gwen Verdon and Mary Martin.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue May 15, 2012

'Home': Toni Morrison's Taut, Triumphant New Novel

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders Courtesy Knopf

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 7:24 am

There are topics you may think you've had enough of — racism, slavery, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust — but then you read a book like Toni Morrison's new novel and realize, as Samuel Beckett put it, "All has not been said and never will be." Home is gorgeous and intense, brutal yet heartwarming — and could only have been written by the author of Beloved and Sula. Deceptively slight, it is like a slingshot that wields the impact of a missile.

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Monkey See
2:06 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Long-Term Investments On Shaky Stocks: 'New Girl' And 'Smash' End Their Seasons

Zooey Deschanel as Jess on Fox's New Girl.
Ray Mickshaw Fox

As the networks are currently rolling out their plans for the future courtesy of their upfronts, it just so happens that they're also winding down the current season of shows, the ones that they touted last year at this very time. It's a good time for television viewers to reevaluate the investments we've made in the shows we bought into at the beginning of the season.

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Television
10:23 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Johnny Carson Gets The 'Masters' Treatment

Fifty years ago, Johnny Carson became the host of The Tonight Show.
NBC/Photofest PBS

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 11:15 am

Johnny Carson walked away from The Tonight Show, after 30 years at the top of the late-night ratings, of his own volition. And except for a few fleeting TV appearances after he retired, he never looked back — and never went back. When filmmaker Peter Jones would send an annual letter to Carson, asking for his cooperation in a TV biography of him, the answer was always no. One year, Carson went so far as to explain why: Let the work, he said, speak for itself.

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Your Health
9:42 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Pounding Away At America's Obesity Epidemic

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In the United States, more than 78 million adults and 12 million children are obese.
Jessica Dimmock HBO

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 10:37 am

The numbers are staggering: One-third of Americans are obese; another third are overweight. Some 26 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes. An additional 79 million more are pre-diabetic. Thanks to these figures, the children of today have a good chance of becoming the first generation of Americans to die at younger ages than their parents.

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Remembrances
9:40 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Shooting Vietnam: Remembering Horst Faas

The sun breaks through dense jungle foliage as South Vietnamese troops, joined by U.S. advisers, rest after a cold, damp and tense night of waiting in an ambush position for a Viet Cong attack that didn't come, January 1965.
Horst Faas AP

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:47 am

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Horst Faas, who captured several iconic moments during the Vietnam War, died May 10. He was 79.

Haas was the chief of The Associated Press' Southeast Asia bureau from 1962 to 1974, where he covered the fighting and mentored dozens of young photographers who were sent out across Vietnam to capture images of the war's terror and inhumanity.

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Monkey See
8:10 am
Mon May 14, 2012

NBC Upfronts: Six New Shows, And 'Community' On Fridays

Crystal as Dr. Zaius and Justin Kirk as Dr. George Coleman on NBC's new fall comedy, Animal Practice.
Chris Haston NBC

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 8:34 am

"What are the upfronts, exactly?"

People who write about television get this question a lot. And we're getting it a lot right now, because this is upfronts week for the major networks.

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Books
6:22 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Exclusive First Read: 'Gone Girl' By Gillian Flynn

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 4:28 pm

  • Part One "Boy Loses Girl"

Darkly funny, suspenseful and cunningly plotted, Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl will be published June 5. In this exclusive selection from the book's opening, we meet Nick and Amy, the seemingly perfect couple whose alternating chapters soon reveal them to be as unreliable as spouses as they are as narrators.


NICK DUNNE

THE DAY OF

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You Must Read This
5:03 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Mamma Mia! A Mother Tougher Than The Godfather

cover detail

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 4:11 pm

Zoe Ferraris' latest book is called Kingdom of Strangers.

I grew up in frank adoration of The Godfather, entranced by Don Corleone's dark charisma. He reminded me of the Italian men in my own family, the kind who could silence you with a dead-eyed look and who seemed to have some deep, silent, absolute authority. It would either inspire you or crush you, but either way it kept you in line.

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Fine Art
1:28 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Even Under Threat, Syrian Artists Paint In Protest

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"I cared about what was happening around me, so I went to be with the people," says Syrian artist Hiba Akkad. "Whatever the people were doing, I wanted to be with them." Above, Akkad's 2012 mixed media on canvas work, Untitled.
Courtesy Galerie Tanit

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 4:44 am

In Syria, anyone who speaks out against the regime of President Bashar Assad risks harassment, detention and sometimes worse. One famous cartoonist who'd lampooned Assad was pulled out of his car last summer by pro-regime thugs and had his hands broken.

Public figures like singers and actors are under much pressure to keep silent. Even a small and critically acclaimed group of Syrian painters is not immune — but that might be attracting buyers outside Syria to their work.

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Movies
3:41 pm
Sun May 13, 2012

Johnny Carson: 'King Of Late Night,' A Man Unknown

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962 - 1992 NBC) c. 1970's
NBC/Photofest

Originally published on Sun May 13, 2012 4:52 pm

Fifty years ago, Johnny Carson became the host of The Tonight Show. During his 30 years as host, he reached a nightly audience of 15 million people and became one of the most trusted and famous men in America.

But Carson was intensely private off-screen, and very few people — including members of his own family--really knew him. Documentary filmmaker Peter Jones wanted to try and change that. Once a year, for 15 years, Jones sent Carson a letter, begging him for permission to make a documentary on his life.

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Arts & Life
3:15 pm
Sun May 13, 2012

Latest Readings From Three-Minute Fiction

Originally published on Sun May 13, 2012 4:52 pm

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF CLOCK TICKING)

GUY RAZ, HOST:

OK. We are very close to the end of Round 8 of Three-Minute Fiction where we ask you to write an original piece of fiction that can be read in about three minutes.

Next weekend, our judge this round, the novelist Luis Alberto Urrea, will finally announce the winner. Now, remember, this time, the first sentence had to begin: She closed the book, placed it on the table and finally decided to walk through the door.

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Strange News
3:15 pm
Sun May 13, 2012

Art Asks What To Do 'Before I Die'

Originally published on Sun May 13, 2012 4:52 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

One week ago today, an enormous chalkboard popped up on a busy street here in Washington, D.C. And at the very top corner painted in huge letters, just three words: Before I Die. The board was like a magnet to passersby to write their greatest wishes, their wildest dreams, the things they want to accomplish before they die. Think of it as a crowd-sourced bucket list.

DAN MEREDITH: Write the great American novel.

SOPHIE MILLER: Run a marathon.

MEREDITH: Teach my son to be a good person.

MILLER: Achieve owner...

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Author Interviews
2:18 pm
Sun May 13, 2012

Lessons In Counterterrorism From The Octopus

iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Sun May 13, 2012 4:52 pm

In 2002, Rafe Sagarin was working in Washington, D.C., as a science adviser. It wasn't long after the Sept. 11 attacks, and Sagarin started paying attention to the security measures on Capitol Hill.

"I'd watch these other Capitol Hill staffers and I noticed that they'd just put their hand over the keys in their pockets so they didn't have to waste 30 seconds putting it on the conveyer belt though the security screening — and that didn't set off the alarm when they did that," Sagarin tells host of weekend All Things Considered Guy Raz.

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The Salt
5:08 am
Sun May 13, 2012

Bring On The 'Yabbies': Australia Ditches The Bad British Food

A fishmonger prepares her wares at the Sydney Fish Market.
Brendon Thorne Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 5:35 am

Travel often brings the unexpected. But I was unprepared to find some of the best food I've ever eaten in Australia.

On a recent trip, we stopped at a café for lunch. An Australian woman we had seen earlier at a sheep dairy ran over and recommended the marron salad. "What is marron?" I asked.

"Well," she said, "you know what yabbies are."

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Author Interviews
4:24 am
Sun May 13, 2012

History, Heartbreak And 'The Chemistry Of Tears'

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 7:51 am

In Peter Carey's new novel, The Chemistry of Tears, the hero and the heroine are separated by 150 years. It is an object — a piece of technology — that brings Catherine and Henry together: An enormous, 19th-century, mechanical duck.

Catherine, a horologist — an expert on the inner workings of clocks — is restoring it in the present day. It's a distraction from the sudden death of her married lover. Henry, more than a century earlier, commissions the duck as a giant toy for his beloved, but very sick child.

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Author Interviews
4:22 am
Sun May 13, 2012

Three Pilgrimages To Gain 'A Sense Of Direction'

iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun May 13, 2012 10:09 am

Gideon Lewis-Kraus was confused. A few years ago, the American 20-something was living in Berlin, hanging out in art galleries and nameless speak-easies, preoccupied with living a creatively meaningful life, but unsure what that meant or how to make it happen.

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Art & Design
4:21 am
Sun May 13, 2012

Steve Jobs Didn't Invent Design, But He Patented It

Steve Jobs filed more than 300 patents, now on display at the Smithsonian's S. Dillon Ripley Center in Washington, D.C.
Melisa Goh NPR

Originally published on Sun May 13, 2012 1:59 pm

U.S. Patent No. D486486 reads: "A display device with a moveable assembly attached to a flat panel display and to a base." Then there's Patent No. D469109, "the ornamental design for a media player, substantially as shown and described."

Those are just a couple of the more than 300 patents that bear the name Steven P. Jobs, the late CEO of Apple. A new exhibition opened on Friday at the Smithsonian's Ripley Center in Washington, D.C., titled The Patents and Trademarks of Steve Jobs: Art and Technology that Changed the World.

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Sunday Puzzle
10:03 pm
Sat May 12, 2012

You Two, Move To The Back Of The Line

Originally published on Sat May 26, 2012 7:21 pm

On-Air Challenge: The word "mother" has a surprising property. If you move the first two letters to the end, you get "thermo," the prefix for "heat." Every answer today is another six-letter word that, when you move the first two letters to the end, you get another word or phrase.

Last Week's Challenge from listener Gary Witkin of Newark, Del.: Using only the six letters of the name "Bronte," repeating them as often as necessary, spell a familiar six-word phrase. What is it?

Answer: "To be or not to be"

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Author Interviews
3:23 pm
Sat May 12, 2012

The 12 Days Of Disaster That Made Modern Chicago

Originally published on Sat May 12, 2012 4:05 pm

In 1919, Chicago was called the "youngest great city in the world." World War I had just come to a close, troops were coming home, industry was booming and crime was down. Chicago's mayor at the time, William Hale Thompson — known as Big Bill — had just been re-elected and was spearheading an ambitious urban improvement program.

But in mid-July of 1919, just about everything that could go wrong in Chicago did. Among the headlines were a deadly dirigible crash, a bizarre kidnapping, race riots and a major public transit strike.

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Television
2:30 pm
Sat May 12, 2012

How TV Brought Gay People Into Our Homes

The hit TV show Modern Family features a gay couple trying to adopt their second child.
ABC via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 12, 2012 4:05 pm

In one of the most talked-about moments from the hit TV show Glee, Blaine declared his love for Kurt and then — they kissed.

Glee is just one of many popular shows on television right now that feature gay characters. Those characters aren't just entertaining us, they're changing Americans' attitudes toward homosexuality.

In five separate studies, professor Edward Schiappa and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota have found that the presence of gay characters on television programs decreases prejudices among viewers.

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