Throwing a perfect holiday party is no simple task. Do you want a swanky cocktail party, an intimate dinner party, or a huge New Year's bash? A whole host of decisions revolve around the menu — and don't forget your gluten-free or vegan invitees. Then there's the decor (is tinsel too much?), the music (festive, but not cheesy) and, of course, the guest list.
Most of us like to think we comport ourselves with a certain level of civility. But apparently, phone calls with customer service representatives of all stripes can lead us into more colorful speech. And some people like to track it.
"There's just something about big data and sailor-cursing that complement each other — like peanut butter and mothereffing jelly," writes Megan Garber of The Atlantic.
On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a famous person whose first and last names start with the same consonant or group of consonants. You're given rhymes for the two names. You name the people. For example, if given "cycle four," the answer would be "Michael Moore."
Last week's challenge: Name a dance. Change one of the letters to a U. The resulting letters can be rearranged to name an event at which this dance is done. What is it?
While baptizing 827 adults one day, evangelical pastor Rick Warren says he literally felt the weight of America's obesity problem. Host Rachel Martin speaks with Warren and psychiatrist and physician Daniel Amen about getting healthy and their new book, The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life.
What's the best way to pick a sport's ultimate champion? Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Mike Pesca about the fickle nature of competitions, from the World Cup to the NFL playoffs to college football playoffs.
In the new drama Out of the Furnace, a young man (Casey Affleck) gets involved with a group of criminals and then goes missing. Determined to find him, his ex-con brother (Christian Bale) grabs a shotgun and sets off.
Actor Woody Harrelson, perhaps best known for his role as the bartender on Cheers, steps away from comedy to play a member of that group of criminals, a viscous meth addict and bookie named Harlan DeGroat.
Harrelson spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin about the movie and preparing for a role that required letting loose a lot of anger.
An early morning commuter train derailed in New York City on Sunday, killing at least four people and injuring 63. Five cars went off the track as the train took a large curve in the Bronx burough of the city. Host Rachel Martin gets the latest from NPR's Jim Zarroli.
An early morning commuter train derailed in New York City on Sunday, killing at least four people and injuring 63. Five cars went off the track as the train took a large curve in the Bronx burough of the city. Host Rachel Martin speaks with Joe Stepansky of the New York Daily News, who's at the scene.
On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is a game of categories based on the word "thank," in honor of Thanksgiving weekend. For each category, name something beginning with each of the letters T, H, A, N and K. For example, if the category were "U.S. States," you might say Tennessee, Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada and Kentucky.
Last week's challenge: Name a tree whose letters can be rearranged to spell two herbs or spices. Hint: The tree has a two-word name. What tree is it, and what are the herbs or spices?
In 1961, at the height of the civil rights movement, Langston Hughes wrote the musical play "Black Nativity." It featured an entirely black cast, and it was the first play to incorporate a real gospel choir.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
CHOIR: (Singing) I'm coming home for you, you think (unintelligible).
NPR's Jennifer Ludden recently traveled to the African nation of Malawi, one of many countries in the developing world where child marriage remains prevalent. She found girls like Christina Asima, who was married at 12 and became a mother at 13. She is now divorced and caring for her infant son on her own. You can read Jennifer's full report here. Below are a few more things she learned while reporting on child marriage.
American pioneers saw the endless stretches of grassland of the Great Plains as a place to produce grain and beef for a growing country. But one casualty was the native prairie ecosystem and animals that thrived only there.
Some biologists are trying to save the prairies and they've picked a hero to help them: the black-footed ferret. In trying to save this long skinny predator with a raccoon-like mask, the biologists believe they have a chance to right a wrong that nearly wiped a species off the planet.
The man who painted the Mona Lisa, and was the first to sketch out the helicopter and the submarine, also dabbled in music. So here's the question: What musical instrument did Leonardo da Vinci design?
Think Taj Mahal and then try to imagine what came before it. What was the inspiration for that masterpiece?
Archaeologists and architects say a 16th century tomb tucked in the southeast corner of Delhi presaged the jewel of Muslim art in India.
The recent restoration of the mausoleum built to memorialize the Muslim emperor Humayun has created a sensation in the city, drawing sightseers, schoolchildren and history buffs to the site that is now a showcase for India's architectural patrimony.
Voters go to the polls in Honduras to elect a new president on Sunday. It's the first open election with all parties participating since a coup overthrew the left-leaning government in 2009.
The elections come at a difficult time for the longtime U.S. ally. Two-thirds of its people live in poverty, unemployment is soaring and the murder rate is one of the highest in the world due to drug traffickers and gang violence.
Iranians are used to bad news, so word of an international deal to halt the nation's nuclear program and the lifting of some sanctions was something extraordinary. Host Rachel Martin speaks with New York Times Tehran Bureau Chief Thomas Erdbrink.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
In a diplomatic breakthrough, Iran has agreed to temporary limits on its nuclear program. In exchange, the U.S. and its allies have agreed to relax some of their crippling economic sanctions on Iran. The six-month agreement is designed to buy time to negotiate a more lasting deal that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It's already drawn a skeptical response in Israel and from some lawmakers here at home.
A grand assembly of Afghan tribal elders and civil society leaders — the Loya Jirga — resoundingly approved an agreement to allow 3,000-9,000 U.S. troops to stay in the country after the NATO mission ends next year.
However, it remains unclear when — or if — President Hamid Karzai will sign the agreement.
As you're thinking about this year's Thanksgiving menu, you might be feeling a bit bored. Green bean casserole? Been there. Turkey and stuffing? Meh. Pumpkin pie? Cliché.
We were looking for a little Thanksgiving inspiration, so we reached out to culinary legend Patricia Wells. The veteran restaurant critic and cookbook author has been teaching French cooking for nearly two decades in Paris and Provence.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a made-up, two-word phrase in which the vowel in the first word is a short "e" and the vowel in the second word is a long "o." For example: A place to meditate would be a "zen zone."
Last week's challenge: There is a politician today, sometimes known by his or her full three-word name, whose initials are also the initials of a popular chain of restaurants. Who is the politician and what's the restaurant?
He is a Grammy Award winner, an international music superstar, New York Times best-selling author. And now Ricky Martin has yet another accomplishment to add to his already impressive resume: children's author. Ricky Martin has just released his first children's book. It is called "Santiago the Dreamer: Land Among the Stars." Martin joins us from New York City. Thanks so much for being with us.
RICKY MARTIN: Thank you so much for having me. How are you, Rachel?
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. The tone and pace of "Nebraska," Alexander Payne's latest film, is set from the very beginning. The opening scene - an elderly man, bundled up in a well-worn coat is lumbering down the shoulder of a freeway on the outskirts of Billings, Montana. He could be lost in a dementia-fueled haze or on a clearly defined mission. The truth about that man, Woody Grant, turns out to be a bit of both. Here's director Alexander Payne.
MARTIN: Well, we've got a whole day of football ahead of us. But let's face it, all eyes are on one game in particular. The Kansas City Chiefs go to Mile High Stadium to play the Denver Broncos. Just one loss between the two of them, seems like a big deal. But is it, really?
The man with the answers, as usual, is NPR's Mike Pesca. Good morning, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hi. You've set up this question. Will I puncture it just by saying, yeah, it's a big deal.
John Legend has a way of writing songs that create a sense of intimacy. The Grammy-winning soul singer recently performed at one of NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts. The performances are exactly what they sound like: just a musician in a cubicle with an audience that's really, really close — no frills, no fuss.