Arts/Life

Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

After The Recession, An American Versailles On Hold

When they outgrew their 26,000-square-foot mansion, David and Jackie Siegel set out to build their dream home, which was to be the biggest in the U.S. The Queen of Versailles looks at what happened when the recession ruined that dream.
Lauren Greenfield Magnolia Pictures

When director Lauren Greenfield started filming The Queen of Versailles, a documentary about 74-year-old David Siegel, a billionaire timeshare magnate from Orlando, and Jackie, a trophy wife 30 years his junior, they had outgrown their 26,000-square-foot home.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

It's Little Guy Vs. The Man, Never Mind The Issues

In Grassroots, Seattle music critic Grant Cogswell (Joel David Moore, right) runs for city council with the help of his campaign manager, unemployed journalist Phil Campbell (Jason Biggs). Cogswell and Campbell were real-life campaign partners in Seattle.
Hilary Harris Samuel Goldwyn Films

Maybe we have Frank Capra to thank for the notion that in politics, at least as it plays out in the movies, the little guy is always the good guy. Stephen Gyllenhaal swallows that idea hook, line and sinker in Grassroots, in which an out-of-work Seattle music critic (Joel David Moore) runs for city council without bothering to think the issues through: He assumes he'll automatically change the status quo by donning a polar-bear costume and making an impassioned plea for extending the city's monorail system.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

'Hara-Kiri': A Samurai's Bluff Hides A Revenge Plot

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai is set in an era in which some underemployed warriors would bluff their willingness to commit ritual suicide, hoping for money or employment from wealthy families who didn't want to deal with the mess. Hanshiro's (Ebizo Ichikawa) own bluff in the film, however, goes deeper.
Tribeca Film

Japanese cinematic extremist Takashi Miike is known for movies that go too far — often because they can't figure out where else to go. So it was revealing when last year's 13 Assassins, a remake of a 1963 samurai adventure, demonstrated a traditionalist streak in Miike's tastes. But that movie is a crystal-meth freakout compared with the director's latest effort, the stately Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai.

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Books
2:01 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Terrible Virus, Fascinating History In 'Rabid'

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 4:38 pm

Here's your vocabulary word for the week: zoonosis. It describes an infection that is transmitted between species. For example, the disease that the husband and wife team of Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy have written about in their new book, Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus.

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Opinion
1:56 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Wish You Were Here: Sunrise In Laos

A sunrise ritual draws Pam Houston to Luang Prabang, Laos.
Allie Caulfield

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 4:38 pm

Pam Houston directs the Creative Writing Program at U.C. Davis. Her most recent novel is Contents May Have Shifted.

Luang Prabang, Laos, is so close to the equator that daybreak happens at the same time each day. Also each day, a few dozen women set up rice cookers on small collapsible tables on street corners next to the more than 30 monasteries that grace this riverside town. If you get up with them and walk the silent streets in the misty Mekong predawn, you smell, under the sweetness of the frangipani blossoms, the thick odor of cooked starch.

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Books
1:52 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Staying Up Late: 5 Picks For The Ravenous Reader

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 6:47 am

It's late. The clock is ticking. You have to be awake again in 6 hours. You're exhausted.

But you just really want to finish this one chapter.

One of your eyes starts to close — that's OK, you'll rest it for a minute, and then you'll rest the other one. You just want to stay awake to finish the next couple of pages.

This book is too good. You can't stop; you must know what happens.

Sometimes a book is better than sleep. Here are five recommendations for reads that will keep you up late.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:07 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Cartoonist Misha Dichter (He Plays Piano, Too)

Misha Dichter's sketch of a pianist at work.
courtesy of Misha Dichter

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 1:19 pm

Misha Dichter is a man of many talents, though you probably know him as the gifted pianist who won the silver medal at 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition, spurring an international career that has lasted more than 40 years.

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Joe's Big Idea
10:48 am
Thu July 19, 2012

When Art Meets Science, You'll Get The Picture

Student scientist Araw Akram discovered that fruit flies that eat nonorganic produce have lower reproduction rates than insects that eat organic food.
Manuel Guzman Intel

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 11:15 am

Scientists often struggle to explain their work to us nonscientists. Art to the rescue!

In a new collaboration, artists are taking the inventions of teenage scientists and turning them into posters. Science inspires art. And the art inspires questions.

Why are umbrellas shimmering under the stars?

Because a teenager in Sri Lanka figured out how to use the positions of the starts to accurately predict rainfall.

Why is paint slithering across the canvas in a sinuous brushstroke?

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Remembrances
10:34 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Fresh Air Remembers Actress Celeste Holm

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 11:44 am

Celeste Holm, the actress of stage and screen, passed away of a heart attack on July 15. She was 95 years old.

Made famous on Broadway for her role as Ado Annie in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, Holm earned more fans for her performances in All About Eve (1950), The Tender Trap (1955) and High Society (1956).

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Arts & Life
9:38 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Bill Bellamy: Full Throttle Family Man, Funny Man

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 7:53 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're continuing our series called Make Me Laugh. All summer long we're talking to some of the country's most popular entertainers, who have brought their unique comedy styles to film, television and standup.

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The Fresh Air Interview
9:21 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Sigourney Weaver's Stately Role In 'Political Animals'

Sigourney Weaver stars as Secretary of State Elaine Barrish in the USA Network miniseries Political Animals.
Andrew Eccles USA Network

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 3:56 pm

In the new USA Network miniseries Political Animals, Sigourney Weaver plays smart, tough Secretary of State Elaine Barrish. It's a role many critics have likened to current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Weaver says the show's creators were thinking beyond Clinton when they devised the role.

"We've had three remarkable women who've been our secretaries of state in our last three administrations, but somehow we're not willing as a country to elect a woman president," she says. "And I think this show partially investigates what that's about."

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The Picture Show
8:20 am
Thu July 19, 2012

This Is Not A Composite Photo

Palindromo Meszaros

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 9:20 am

This photo looks like two images stitched together; above is a normal forest, and below, a strange, Martian one. But it's a single image from a single place and time — the hills of western Hungary, six months after a devastating industrial accident.

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New In Paperback
3:03 am
Thu July 19, 2012

New In Paperback July 16-22

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 9:49 am

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Cheryl Strayed, Elaine Sciolino and Elissa Schappell.

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

Books
1:08 am
Thu July 19, 2012

A Network Head Reflects In 'Interview'

David Westin was the president of ABC News from 1997 to 2010.
Rene Macura AP

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 8:10 am

On Nov. 7, 2000, producers and editors at ABC News prepared to make a very public decision.

It was election night, with George W. Bush facing off against Al Gore. And it was, memorably, undecided until the early hours of the following morning, when other TV networks began calling the election for Bush.

David Westin, then the president of ABC News, recalls the agony as his network's elaborate election unit was beaten on the call — they had held back.

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Movie Reviews
3:55 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

As Class Warfare Brews, A 'Dark Knight Rises'

The Dark Knight Rises begins eight years after The Dark Knight, with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) living a reclusive life at his mansion alongside Alfred (Michael Caine). The movie is the finale of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.
Ron Phillips Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 9:54 am

The canvas is epic, the themes are profound, the execution is ... clunky. Welcome to Christopher Nolan's third and allegedly final Batman picture, The Dark Knight Rises — that so-called rising taking hours, by the way. No Batman film ever had less Batman.

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Arts & Life
1:48 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Seinfeld Hits The Web, Still Talking About Nothing

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 5:30 pm

Jerry Seinfeld's new series is called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and the promos promise exactly that. The comic toodles around in his vintage wheels, drinking java with his pals Alec Baldwin, Michael Richards and Larry David, and discussing (among other things) the effrontery of ordering herbal tea when invited out for coffee.

But the next act from the man behind the most popular sitcom on television won't be on television. It's a webseries.

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The Salt
1:42 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Discarded Food Cans Turn Into Canvas For British Street Artist

mydogsighs

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 1:32 am

Those eyes grab you first. Only after a couple of beats do you realize you're looking at the painted bottom of a flattened metal can left on the street, and not some mysterious fairy.

These can art people come from the imagination of a British artist known as My Dog Sighs, who has left a piece of art on the street for someone to find every Friday for the last 10 years.

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Monkey See
11:52 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Emmy Nominations Are Tomorrow, So Let's Overanalyze Our Favorites

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in AMC's Breaking Bad.
Gregory Peters AMC

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 12:27 pm

Thursday morning, TV critics will report, with a little (in the case of east coast critics) or a lot (particularly in the case of west coast critics up at 5:00 in the morning) of grumpiness, who's gotten Emmy nominations. Some of my thoughts about the Emmys came out in a chat I recently had with several of my critic colleagues, graciously hosted by The Hollywood Reporter, which has posted the unedited chat.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Inside America's 30-Year Conflict with Iran

David Crist's father, George (left), discusses operations against Iranian attack boats with Navy Lt. Paul Hillenbrand. George Crist, a Marine Corps general, was commander of CENTCOM from 1985-1988.
Courtesy of David Crist

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:27 am

Iran Says It Has Plan To Close Strait Of Hormuz. Iran Reports Long-Range Missile Launch Exercise. New Sanctions Targeting Iranian Oil. All these headlines appeared on NPR.org over the past month, but if they give you a sense of deja vu, there's a reason.

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Books
5:03 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Exclusive First Read: 'The Dog Stars'

istockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 8:28 am

  • Listen To Chapters Four And Five Of 'The Dog Stars'

Set in the Rocky Mountains after an epidemic has killed off most of society, The Dog Stars, by outdoor-adventure writer Peter Heller, casts an unusual mood as it alternates between elegiac reflection, lyrical nature writing and intense, high-caliber action. In a world where isolated survivors must fend off attacks from marauding bands, our heroes are an odd couple whose complementary skills have, so far, kept them alive. Hig, an amateur pilot, maintains the perimeter, flying patrols in his Cessna with Jasper, his dog, as co-pilot.

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Tina Brown's Must-Reads
1:04 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Tina Brown's Must Reads: Modern Warfare

Veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin, shown here in Cairo, was killed in February while reporting in Homs, Syria.
Ivor Prickett AP

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 6:42 pm

Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast and Newsweek, tells us what she's been reading in a feature that Morning Edition likes to call "Word of Mouth."

This month, Brown shares reading recommendations related to the changing nature of war, including a book on Obama's foreign policy and an article about the ongoing destruction of Timbuktu's ancient monuments.

A Reporter Who Wouldn't Quit

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London 2012: The Summer Olympics
1:03 am
Wed July 18, 2012

For Olympic Committee, Marketing Is No Game

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps signed an endorsement deal with Subway in 2008, but because Subway is not an Olympic sponsor, Phelps isn't allowed to appear in a Subway ad from July 18 to Aug. 15 2012.
via SubwayEatFresh365/YouTube

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 3:57 pm

One record expected to be broken at the London Summer Olympics is the size of its audience — an expected 4 billion people. For advertisers, that's a golden opportunity. But there are also strict rules about who can use the Olympics to promote their products.

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Kitchen Window
3:29 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Just Add Water: The Miracle Of Seaweed

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 5:41 am

A while back, a craze hit my kids' school. It seemed as though everyone in the lunchroom was bringing in those little green packs of seaweed from Trader Joe's — roasted, salted nori, sometimes flavored with wasabi. (Most of these kids like yogurt and olives, too.) Granted, our town has an idiosyncratic population, and many of the parents are health-minded. It was the kids, though, who couldn't get enough of them.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

At His Zenith, An Unlikely Rock Star Bows Out

James Murphy, frontman for the now-disbanded LCD Soundsystem, kneels on the Madison Square Garden stage. Shut Up and Play the Hits documents the band's final show at the landmark New York venue.
Oscilloscope Pictures

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 11:34 am

"This is our last song." You've probably heard words to that effect any number of times at concerts over the years, but when James Murphy said them on April 2, 2011, from the stage at Madison Square Garden, it was a little different.

This wasn't the last song before the encore. It wasn't the last song of the night, or the last song of the tour. This was to be the last song, period, that Murphy's band — the danceable indie-rock outfit LCD Soundsystem — would play together. Ever.

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The Picture Show
11:30 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Found On Flickr: Vintage Bromance?

Flickr

Two black men dance arm-in-arm on a beach. Are they gay? Are they straight? Does it matter?

The photos are part of a found photo collection on Flickr called "Hidden in the Open," curated by playwright Trent Kelley. The vintage photos show African-American men in various affectionate poses. Some seem to be friends, others lovers, but for Kelley the specific details aren't important. For him, the possibility that these images depict more than friendships is what matters.

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Monkey See
8:35 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Batman Really Begins: 'I Went From A Kid On The Farm To Robin'

Robert Lowery as Batman and John Duncan as Robin in 1949's Batman and Robin.
Columbia Pictures Photofest

Sure, The Dark Knight Rises may have cost a reported $250 million, but for all that money, will it have underground lairs, secret submarines, zombie henchmen and killer crocodiles? Will there be a chase every 15 minutes, and cliffhangers that leave you wondering if Batman died in the fiery car wreck, or just jumped out before it went off the cliff? Will our hero drive the Batmobile, or will he opt instead for a sleek, stylish Mercury?

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Critics' Lists: Summer 2012
5:03 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Laughing Matters: Five Funny Books With Substance

Harriet Russell

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 6:56 am

It's great to laugh, but so much of what is labeled "entertainment" is, well, toothless. I'm a carnivore where my humor is concerned — I want it to have meat and bite. The following books will give you plenty to chew on if you like a bit of nourishment along with your kicks.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue July 17, 2012

A 'Thumb' On The Pulse Of What Makes Us Human

The discovery in early July of a subatomic particle that may be the Higgs boson — also known as the God particle — puts physicists one step closer to unlocking the secrets of the universe around us. Sam Kean's dynamic, brainy new book, The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code, tells a story that's no less profound: how geneticists strive to unlock the secrets of the universe within us.

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Poetry
4:33 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Press-Play Poetry: 'Summer Song'

George Clerk / Michiel de Boer iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 8:57 am

Some poetry is meant to be heard as well as read. Press-Play Poetry is an occasional series that celebrates the power of the voice to bring lines on a page to life.

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

Author Interviews
12:58 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Addict To Activist: How Elton John Found His 'Cure'

Sir Elton John speaks at an Elton John AIDS Foundation benefit in 2010. The organization, which John founded in 1992, provides grants to support HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment programs.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 7:51 am

Sir Elton John is constantly remembering his life as a drug addict, whether he wants to or not.

"I still dream, twice a week at least, that I've taken cocaine and I have it up my nose," John tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "And it's very vivid and it's very upsetting, but at least it's a wake-up call."

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