You could say George Benson's latest album, Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole, was conceived decades ago. Benson was just a kid when he first mimicked Cole off the radio, singing his own version of "Mona Lisa" while accompanying himself on the ukulele. He even made a recording.
Many of the flowers at Hillwood are doing well despite the ever-changing local climate.
Credit Emily Files / NPR
Once the Washington, D.C., home of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, the Hillwood Estate has a number of gardens. Like home gardeners, professionals here are trying to adapt to a changing climate.
Credit Emily Files / NPR
Credit Emily Files / NPR
To keep the flowers healthy, gardeners have to check leaves for fungus and bacteria.
At the Hillwood Estate gardens in Washington, D.C., the new norm is: "Expect the unexpected." So says volunteer coordinator Bill Johnson, who has worked on property belonging to the heiress of the Post cereal fortune for 30 years.
Like home gardeners, the horticulturalists and professional gardeners at Hillwood are confronting an unpredictable climate.
The ouster of Mohammed Morsi puts the U.S. in an awkward position: By law, the administration is supposed to cut off aid to a country after a military coup, but Egypt's military has been a key to regional stability. As the administration considers its next steps, it's come under criticism from all sides in Egypt over how it's handling the situation.
Gun stores around the country have had difficulty keeping up with demand for ammunition in recent months. Fears of government tightening of gun and ammunition controls have meant that retailers, from Wal-Mart to mom-and-pop gun shops, haven't been able to keep bullets on the shelves.
Cliff Poser's gun shop, Cliff's Guns, Safes and Reloading in Boise, Idaho, is one of them. Business has been so crazy lately that he has to keep a special stash of ammunition, just so customers who buy guns from him can also buy bullets.
Long before the Civil Rights marches of 1963 thrust Birmingham, Ala. into the national spotlight, black families along one residential street were steadily chipping away at Jim Crow segregation laws — and paying a price for it. As part of our series looking back at the seminal events that changed the nation 50 years ago, NPR's Debbie Elliott paid a visit to Birmingham's Dynamite Hill.
Exorcistic, a rock parody inspired by a certain1971 novel and the William Friedkin film made from it, showcases Merlin as a rapping priest inspired by Max von Sydow's Father Merrin. Above, the show poster for the musical's Los Angeles fringe production.
Credit Thomas Hargis / Steve Allen Theater
In Re-Animator: The Musical, L.A.-based actor and opera singer Jesse Merlin plays Dr. Hill, a sex-obsessed surgeon who quite literally loses his head. (And, um, comes back from the dead.)
What do a reanimated deviant surgeon, a cannibalistic serial killer and a demon-plagued, vomit-spattered priest have in common? They're all characters in camp stage musicals inspired by horror films — and they're all played by the same classically trained opera singer.
His name is Jesse Merlin, and he looks a little like a young, untanned George Hamilton. But he has a bass-baritone voice that would be perfect for Gilbert and Sullivan.
Since that's not what Hollywood's looking for, Merlin had to scare up roles elsewhere.
Two years ago, in 2011, 90 percent of Lego's consumers were boys. A tough statistic to swallow for those of us who grew up playing with Lego's gender-neutral buckets of bricks. But the statistic came straight from Lego, which was then focused on boys with franchised sets based on properties like Star Wars and The Avengers after weathering a disastrous period in the 1990s that left the company on the brink of collapse.
President Obama may be in South Africa but his attention is also on Egypt. Mr. Obama said today, he's concerned about political protests and clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi which have left at least three people dead, including one American.
Joining us now is NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson from Cairo. Thanks for joining us, Soraya.
Smith Dobson was one of the most sought-after pianists of the Bay Area when he died in a car crash in 2001. He was part of a musical family — his wife, Gail, a jazz singer; his son a drummer. His daughter, Sasha Dobson, was a scat singer who followed the family's jazz muse until her dad's tragic death.
Richard Russo, the writer who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for his book Empire Falls, published a new novel six months ago. If you're wondering how you missed it, it might be because Russo chose not to publish with a traditional publisher. There are no hardcover or paperback copies of Nate in Venice -- it's only available by subscription on Byliner, a digital publishing service, where you can only read it on an e-reader, phone or tablet.
Susan Choi's previous novels have pulled from events in the headlines: the Korean War for The Foreign Student; the Patty Hearst kidnapping for American Woman; and the Wen Ho Lee accusations for A Person of Interest. But her latest book, My Education, was inspired by something else — youthful passion.
For the sweetest, smoothest strawberry jam, author Kevin West suggests staying as far away as possible from what he calls "Pamela Anderson fruit": the big strawberries found in regular supermarkets. He prefers picking small, red berries from farm stands, instead.
Credit Kevin West / Knopf
These snappy dill pickles were once Kirby cucumbers. The canning liquid is made with vinegar, fennel and coriander seeds that give them their distinct tart flavor.
Credit Josh Norris / Knopf
Kevin West is a "canning evangelist," and he's the author of Saving the Season, a colorful guide to preserving the bounty from a backyard vegetable harvest — or a compulsive farmers market shopping spree.
Shopping at a farmers market on a weekend morning can turn bittersweet if your eye for just-picked summer fruit is bigger than your refrigerator and appetite.
That's a crisis first-time cookbook author Kevin West found himself in a few years back. After one particular farmers market spree, West's buyer's remorse came from a big package of fresh strawberries.
NPR's Kelly McEvers struggled with intense, unexpected emotions during the Arab Spring, when friends were being kidnapped and worse. It made her wonder, why do otherwise intelligent people risk their lives to report on conflicts?
In early 2011, I started seeing things in slow motion. I cried unpredictably. It was the time of the Arab uprisings. Colleagues and friends were getting kidnapped. Some were getting killed.
Gay rights activists celebrated two big victories this week before the U.S. Supreme Court, as justices overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and cleared the way for same-sex marriages in California.
Now gay marriage opponents and supporters are turning their attention to individual states, like New Jersey, where polls show most residents support same-sex marriage. So far, one person, Gov. Chris Christie, has stood in the way.
Right now, 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. One of them is 73-year-old Pansy Greene. She's in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and she and her husband, Winston, want people to know that so far, their daily lives have changed little despite the diagnosis.
For many of us, a single cycling event — the Tour de France — defines athleticism on two wheels. The epic race was first organized by a French newspaper editor named Henri Desgrange in 1903. But Desgrange also had a hand in the creation of a very different style of cycling: the randonnée, a long distance-ride that prizes camaraderie and self-sufficiency over flat-out speed.
The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and on the big day, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture will be heard from coast to coast, complete with fireworks and cannons. But how did a Russian composition, depicting the rout of Napoleon's Army, end up as the unofficial soundtrack for our most quintessentially American holiday?
BILL SUPERNOR: I was in a business lounge at an airport in Newark. I look at my phone and I'm moving the buttons and it was definitely behaving a little strange, maybe it was a little slow. I ripped the back off the phone, I pulled the battery out. I mean, I got off the network quickly and I didn't turn the phone back on again until I was out of that airport.
Now, we're going to remember the man known as Mr. Valet. He pioneered valet parking in Los Angeles more than sixty years ago. He died this past week at the age of 93. NPR's Mandalit del Barco profiled Herb Citrin a few years ago, and we're going to hear a bit of her story right now.
Here in the United States, the NSA revelations are also prompting concerns about privacy as well as questions about the involvement of private companies in government spying. Robert O'Harrow, an investigative reporter with The Washington Post wrote in his 2005 book, "No Place to Hide", about what he calls the security industrial complex in this country. Mr. O'Harrow believes the NSA's dealings with private companies are much wider than what we've been told.
In the film Unfinished Song, Arthur is a curmudgeon of a man with a heart of crust who is married to Marion, a luminous woman who is gracefully confronting the end of her life. Actor Terrence Stamp joins Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon to talk about the new movie and working with actor Vanessa Redgrave.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. The U.S. Congress continues its hearings into the IRS flagging of Tea Party groups that apply for tax-exempt status. What may have been overlooked is the fact that this status would have offered little practical benefit to most of the groups that were targeted.
Joining us now to help explain all this is NPR's S.V. Date who coordinates campaign finance coverage for NPR. Shirish, thanks very much for being with us.
Tawny crazy ants are invading ecosystems and homes in states including Texas and Florida, wiping out other ant species and overwhelming homeowners. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon talks to Texas A&M research scientist Robert Puckett, who says the ants are "ecological steamrollers" that reproduce so fast they are nearly impossible to get rid of.
The great Nat King Cole had many firsts. He was the first African-American musician to have his own show — on network radio, then television. He was also one of the first, if not the first American artist to record an album in Spanish: Cole Español. It was a huge, rather unexpected hit in 1958, when Latin American music was still relatively unknown in the U.S. His success with Cole Español was so great, he recorded two more albums in Spanish.