Arts/Life

Author Interviews
12:57 am
Tue July 17, 2012

African Politics, And Afros, In 'My First Coup D'Etat'

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 10:17 am

John Dramani Mahama is the vice president of Ghana and the author of a new memoir with one of the most eye-catching titles you'll see all year — My First Coup d'Etat: And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa.

The title refers to the 1966 military coup that overthrew Ghana's first president. Mahama was 7 years old, and his father, a minister in the government, was imprisoned for more than a year. Mahama tells NPR's Renee Montagne that Africa's "lost decades" lasted from the late 1960s to the 1980s, after the initial euphoria of independence passed.

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Books
3:27 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Encyclopedia Brown: The Great Sleuth From My Youth

cover detail

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:35 am

Donald Sobol, the creator of the beloved character Encyclopedia Brown, died last week of natural causes, his family says. He was 87. The first in the Encyclopedia Brown series book was published in 1963, and the series has never gone out of print.

Crime novelist and forensic pathologist Jonathan Hayes has this appreciation of the character Sobol gave young readers.

While other boys got hooked on books about sports legends and race car drivers, there was something about Donald Sobol's boy detective Encyclopedia Brown that spoke to me right away.

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The Two-Way
11:42 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Stephen Covey, Author Of '7 Habits,' Dead At 79

Stephen R. Covey, the motivational speaker best known for the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, died Monday in Idaho three months after a serious bicycle accident in Utah. He was 79.
Ric Feld AP

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 1:02 pm

Stephen Covey, whose book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People became a seminal guide to leadership, died this morning.

In a statement, the family said Covey died due the "residual effects" of a biking accident he suffered in April. He was 79.

The Salt Lake Tribune gives us a bit of his biography:

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Arts & Life
9:48 am
Mon July 16, 2012

A Writer's 'Cold, Calculated Acts Of Kindness'

After he was laid off in 2008, writer T.M. Shine adopted a unique approach to finding a job. He says his new goal is being nice to people, and he put that right at the top of his resume. Host Michel Martin speaks with Shine about his journey from unemployment back to work, which he wrote about for this week's Washington Post Magazine.

The Picture Show
9:36 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Mad? Sad? Try The Screamotron3000

Photo from the Screamotron3000 portrait series.
Courtesy of Billy Hunt

Billy Hunt wants you to yell and scream. At your cheating spouse, that insatiable boss, your dad who missed the baseball game. And do it for the camera.

His Screamotron3000 is a converted karaoke boombox that automatically takes a picture when triggered by the sound of a scream.

"It can be a little rough having people yell at you all day," he says, "but I find it so interesting how human emotion plays out."

Though the contraption sounds a bit technical, for Hunt it's more of a psychology experiment:

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Television
9:09 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Aaron Sorkin: The Writer Behind 'The Newsroom'

Aaron Sorkin's work includes A Few Good Men, The American President, The West Wing, Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Charlie Wilson's War and The Social Network.
HBO

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 10:16 am

Aaron Sorkin's new HBO drama The Newsroom follows the inner workings of a fictional cable network trying to challenge America's hyperpartisan 24/7 news culture. It's a typical Sorkin drama, complete with fast-paced dialogue, witty scenes and a strong ensemble cast.

So why a newsroom?

"It suits my style," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I like writing about heroes [who] don't wear capes or disguises. You feel like, 'Gee, this looks like the real world and feels like the real world — why can't that be the real world?' "

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Three Books...
5:03 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Fight Like A Girl: 3 Books That Pack A Deadly Punch

Olympian Diana Lopez (in blue) — not to be confused with the author Diana Lopez — competes in the 2012 Taekwondo Olympic Trials.
Marc Piscotty Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 7:00 am

In seventh grade, I broke my finger pretending to be a Harlem Globetrotter with the neighborhood boys. Until then, I'd been their equal in sports, but suddenly their shoulders were battering rams, and I was the house of straw from the Three Little Pigs. I hated being a puny, weak-armed girl. But then I saw Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton going mano a mano with aliens and cyborgs, and I realized that I didn't have to be a damsel in distress. Those ladies can pummel any guy on the planet — or in outer space. Here are three books with girls who know how to fight.

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Crime In The City
1:22 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Big Crime, Little State: Murder, Mystery In R.I.

Roger Williams, memorialized with a statue in Prospect Terrace Park, founded Providence in 1636. According to crime writer Bruce DeSilva, corruption set in not long after.
Will Hart via Flickr

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 8:20 am

Providence, R.I., has a history of mob violence rivaling that of New York or New Jersey, but it comes with a gritty intimacy that could only be found in the nation's littlest state. Author Bruce DeSilva says that's what makes Providence the perfect place to set his crime fiction.

"It is big enough to have the usual array of urban problems," he says. "But it's so small that it's claustrophobic. It's very hard to keep a secret in places like that."

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Movie Interviews
3:44 pm
Sun July 15, 2012

'Dark Knight Rises,' But Saga Ends For Director Nolan

Christopher Nolan on the set of The Dark Knight Rises, drawing some Batman graffiti.
Ron Phillips Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 6:05 pm

The new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, is perhaps the most anticipated movie of the summer. It's the last film in the Batman trilogy that writer-director Christopher Nolan has crafted over the past 7 years.

Nolan wanted The Dark Knight Rises, which will be released in theaters July 20, to feel like a historical epic. As he tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz, he looked to films like Fritz Lang's Metropolis, David Lean's Dr. Zhivago, and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.

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Author Interviews
1:57 pm
Sun July 15, 2012

Chewing Chia Packs A Superfood Punch

The chia plant is "a petite nutrient-packed powerhouse" writes Wayne Coates. There is evidence that the Aztecs used the seeds as early as 3,500 B.C.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 4:10 pm

When you hear the word chia, you probably think of chia pets. Maybe you even mutter that catchy slogan: "ch-ch-ch-chia."

Or maybe not, but lately, chia seed has been getting buzz beyond those terra cotta figurines. It's becoming a popular health food. Rich in fiber, protein and the highest plant source of Omega 3s, the little seeds pack a major nutritional punch.

Wayne Coates grows and sells chia seeds and has a book called Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood.

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Games & Humor
1:41 pm
Sun July 15, 2012

Bring Us To Your Party, The Finale

Take Ask Me Another to your next party with this downloadable game.
NPR

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 3:56 pm

In our final edition of downloadable party puzzles, we offer you an Ask Me Another favorite: This, That or The Other. It's a a game where you can play host and quiz the know-it-alls in your life. This particular one is a game we've played several times in the first season. One incarnation involved offering a name, and you'd have to guess whether it belongs to a former world leader, a disease or an NPR reporter. In this iteration, we ask: Is it a cheese, a dance move or a character from Moby Dick?

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Remembrances
11:43 am
Sun July 15, 2012

'Oklahoma!' Actress Celeste Holm Dies At 95

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 4:10 pm

Academy Award-winning actress Celeste Holm has died. A star on both stage and screen, Holm was best known for roles in Gentleman's Agreement, All About Eve and Oklahoma! She was 95.

Holm died early Sunday morning in her Manhattan apartment with her husband, family and close friends by her side. She had been hospitalized a couple weeks ago following a fire in actor Robert De Niro's apartment in the same building.

If there was one role that put Holm on the map, it was as the coquettish Ado Annie, in the 1943 hit musical, Oklahoma!

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Arts & Life
5:22 am
Sun July 15, 2012

Comic-Con Gives Fans A Glimpse At Creative Process

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 9:11 am

Guest host David Greene takes a tour of the largest comic book convention, the giant Comic-Con in Los Angeles.

Theater
4:30 am
Sun July 15, 2012

Intiman Theater Returns For A Shrunken Second Act

Miracle!, a drag version of the Helen Keller drama The Miracle Worker created and directed by Dan Savage, is a highlight of the Intiman Theater's comeback summer festival in Seattle.
Chris Bennion Intiman Theater

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 9:11 am

Forty years ago, the founders of Seattle's Intiman Theater envisioned a company devoted to Western classics: Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen and the like. But over the decades, Intiman also earned national recognition as an incubator of new work.

In 1991, it premiered The Kentucky Cycle, which went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. A decade later, it produced the first workshops of the Tony Award-winning musical The Light in the Piazza.

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Books News & Features
4:12 am
Sun July 15, 2012

In 'Red Chamber,' A Love Triangle For The Ages

The romance between star-crossed lovers Jia Baoyu (left) and Lin Daiyu, depicted here in a relief panel, meets a tragic end in the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber.
IvanWalsh.com Flickr

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 12:48 pm

Before most readers in China learned of Romeo and Juliet, they were captivated by a love triangle between a boy and his two female cousins.

It's the "single most famous love triangle in Chinese literary history," says author Pauline A. Chen, who's written the latest retelling of the tale of Jia Baoyu and his cousins Lin Daiyu and Xue Baochai. The three characters form the central love story of the Chinese novel Hong Lou Meng, often translated as Dream of the Red Chamber in English.

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Americandy: Sweet Land Of Liberty
4:11 am
Sun July 15, 2012

Don't Cry Over Burnt Milk In South Texas; Savor It

There are many kinds of leche quemada, or "burnt milk." But in South Texas, the kind made of goat milk is king.
Melisa Goh NPR

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 9:16 am

Stepping into a La Michoacana Meat Market in South Texas is a lot like crossing into Mexico — except you don't need a passport.

This grocery chain caters to the Mexican immigrant population, and it's filled with the sounds, ingredients, brands and products from south of the border.

My wife, Yvette Benavides, and I head straight to the candy.

There are different kinds of leche quemada in Mexico, but in South Texas, one of the most popular forms is known as cajeta, and it's made from goat milk.

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Monkey See
10:03 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

The Id, The Ego And The Superhero: What Makes Batman Tick?

Christian Bale as Batman in The Dark Knight Rises.
Ron Phillips Warner Brothers Pictures

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 9:11 am

When you look at Batman with a coldly analytical eye — and he's hard to avoid these days, with The Dark Knight Rises set to come out Friday — a few things stand out as potential red flags: the secrecy, the lair, the attraction to danger, the blithe self-sacrifice, the ... cape.

It's unusual, all of it, you have to admit. Sure, he's handy to have around in an emergency, and you can't beat a fella who can be summoned with a giant light in the sky in the event you've got no cellphone reception.

But is he entirely ... well?

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Sunday Puzzle
10:03 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

Following The Trail

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 9:11 am

On-Air Challenge: For each category, name something in the category starting with each of the letters in the word "trail." For example, if the category were "books of the Bible," you might say Timothy, Ruth, Amos, Isaiah and Leviticus.

Any answer that works is correct. And you can give the answers in any order.

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The Picture Show
5:07 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

Rare Photos: One Of Woody Guthrie's Last Shows

A rare set of 1950's photographs show one of Woody Guthrie's last performances before his decline with Huntington's disease.
Leonard Rosenberg Music Inn/Barber Family

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 7:25 am

After the dust of the Dust Bowl settled down, American folksinger Woody Guthrie moved to New York City and played more for the leftist East Coast intelligentsia than for migrant workers. Among these performances, one of the better documented was an informal concert in a remarkable carriage house in Lenox, Mass.

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Author Interviews
2:31 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

'Sunny Chernobyl': Beauty In A Haze Of Pollution

Garbage litters the banks of India's holy Yamuna River on World Water Day 2010. For decades, the Yamuna has been dying a slow death from pollution. According to Blackwell, even its most ardent defenders refer to it as a "sewage drain."
Manan Vatsyayana AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 2:04 am

In some of the dirtiest places on Earth, author and environmentalist Andrew Blackwell found some beauty. His book, Visit Sunny Chernobyl, tours the deforestation of the Amazon, the oil sand mines in Canada and the world's most polluted city, located in China.

Blackwell says his ode to polluted locales is a bid for re-engagement with places people have shrunk away from in disgust.

Radioactive To Its Core

His first stop was the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl.

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The Salt
12:16 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

Let Them Eat Kale: Vegetarians And The French Revolution

The execution of Marie Antoinette. Artist unknown.
Wikimedia

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 8:29 am

Saturday was Bastille Day, the French holiday commemorating a pivotal moment of the French Revolution: The storming of the Bastille prison. But in addition to remembering the revolutionaries with a spirited verse of "Do You Hear The People Sing?"* should we also celebrate with a plate of veggies?

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Food
3:51 am
Sat July 14, 2012

Three Beers To Cheer Your Summer Suppers

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:58 am

When the mercury's soaring, a cold, refreshing beer can be the best part of summer. As part of our occasional Taste of Summer series, we asked beer expert Graham Haverfield to recommend a few of his seasonal favorites.

Haverfield is the beer director for the Wine Library in Springfield Township, N.J. He's also a certified cicerone, or beer server. "Summer beers are typically lighter in body, they're typically a little lower in alcohol," he tells NPR's Scott Simon.

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History
3:51 am
Sat July 14, 2012

Winston Churchill's Way With Words

Fox Photos Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 2:54 pm

Winston Churchill is best remembered as the British prime minister whose speeches rallied a nation under a relentless Nazi onslaught in World War II. But few people know that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature — in part for his mastery of speechmaking.

Now, a new exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York City, Churchill: The Power of Words, holds a megaphone to Churchill's extraordinary oratory.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:11 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Actress Brooke Shields Plays Not My Job

Originally published on Sat July 14, 2012 10:10 am

Brooke Shields landed her first modeling job at 11 months old. When she was 16, she famously appeared in an ad for Calvin Klein jeans with the tagline: "You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing."

We've invited her to play a game called, "OK, what about these Calvins?" Three questions about Calvins who are not Calvin Klein.

Opinion
1:55 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Wish You Were Here: The Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk

The Dolle's sign is part of the magic of the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware.
Steve Snodgrass Flickr

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 2:16 pm

David Rowell is an editor with The Washington Post. His first novel, The Train of Small Mercies, is just out in paperback.

When I was growing up in North Carolina, my family went to the same beach every year; it had the sand, the water and pretty much nothing else. Mostly that was OK, but the idea of a boardwalk, which I caught glimpses of on TV or in movies, seemed wondrous to me — like a carnival rolled out from a wooden carpet.

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The Salt
11:45 am
Fri July 13, 2012

An Olympic-Sized Outrage Grows Over French Fry Sales At The Games

McDonald's and the American flag — ruling the London Olympics?
Keoni Cabral Flickr.com

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 8:24 pm

When McDonald's cut a deal to make itself the exclusive purveyor of french fries and the similar (but please don't say matching) chips at the 2012 Olympic Games in London later this month, it may not have anticipated the flurry of responses. Foodies raged, nutritionists nagged, and many called it another example of an American cultural takeover.

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Movies
10:48 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Looking For The Megabucks? Think Megapixels

Ice Age: Continental Drift, which comes out July 13, is the fourth film in the animated franchise. Since Toy Story marked the beginning of the era of entirely computer-animated films, they've been a studio's safest bet for big earnings at the box office and beyond.
Blue Sky Studios & 20th Century Fox

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 8:30 pm

Imagine you're a movie producer, and you've got a couple of hundred million dollars to gamble on a single massive blockbuster. Which genre do you suppose will be your safest bet — superhero? Action-adventure? Sci-fi? All of those have had huge successes, but they've also all had hugely expensive failures.

There's one genre, though, that's hardly a gamble at all. It's been almost foolproof since it first came into being in 1995: computer animation.

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Monkey See
10:34 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Spiders And Kittens And Lots Of Gratitude

NPR

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 12:09 pm

  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

It's been a while since we were all at the table together, but this week, the PCHH team returns in force to talk about The Amazing Spider-Man, whether it matters whether a film is "necessary," and whether charming leads are enough to make up for certain story shortfalls, if we presume that they exist. What will happen? Who will compare Spider-Man to Hamlet? Who will call Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker "moist"? (Okay, that one is me.) There are some basic Spider-Man spoilers, but we did what we could not to blow plot points of this particular movie.

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Television
9:19 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Aaron Paul: Playing A Meth Dealer On 'Breaking Bad'

Aaron Paul plays a meth-making drug dealer on the AMC drama Breaking Bad. He also played a recurring character on the HBO series Big Love.
Ursula Coyote AMC

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 10:56 am

This interview was originally broadcast on September 19, 2011. Breaking Bad begins its fifth season on Sunday, July 15th at 10 PM EST.

Vince Gilligan's AMC drama Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston as a high school chemistry teacher named Walter White who turns to dealing drugs after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. White's partner-in-crime throughout the series is his former student Jesse Pinkman, played by actor Aaron Paul.

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Books
9:14 am
Fri July 13, 2012

This Week's 5 Must-Read Stories From NPR Books

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 9:56 am

When I was a kid I used to read all the time — at meals, in cars and even while walking around. I'd hold a book in one hand, and I'd use the other to feel my way along. It's a good method for getting a lot of reading done, but not so great for if you want to see what's in front of you.

But no matter where you're headed, NPR Books has got you covered. Here are the week's five most engrossing stories about books.

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