Arts

Book Reviews
4:27 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Written In Secret Behind The Iron Curtain, 'Corpse' Is Revived

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 7:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The fiction work of Soviet era writer Zigizmund Krzhizhanovsky never saw the light of day in his own time. He was known mostly as a theater, music and literally critic, but he also wrote fables and fiction for more than 20 years, none of which appeared in print until 1989. Well, a new volume of that work called "Autobiography of a Corpse" has just come out here in the U.S. It's translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull, and Alan Cheuse has our review.

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Arts & Life
3:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

The Dark Roots Of 'The Nutcracker' And The Man Who Wrote It

This is the time of year when one man's work is widely - if indirectly - celebrated. His name used to be hugely famous, but nowadays, it draws blank stares, even from people who know that work. E.T.A. Hoffman, who lived from 1776 to 1822 in the Kingdom of Prussia, was responsible for a work that is a staple the holiday season, the original author of The Nutcracker. You can read more about the story, which aired last Christmas, here.

Movies
3:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Another Life For The Surprisingly Multifarious Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller has revisited James Thurber's henpecked daydreamer Walter Mitty in a new film that lets him become more conventionally heroic. NPR's Bob Mondello charts the character's changing fortunes over the years.
Wilson Webb 20th Century Fox

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 7:26 pm

A short story, a radio show, a Danny Kaye vehicle — no, really — even an off-Broadway musical: James Thurber's nebbishy daydreamer Walter Mitty has had plenty of incarnations in his nearly 75 years. He's back again, this time in an expensive, effects-fueled drama from actor-director Ben Stiller, and we thought that rather than reviewing it, we'd have NPR's Bob Mondello survey the range of public lives lived by the character. Have a listen.

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Movies
3:47 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

How Close Did 'Captain Philips' Get To The Real Life Piracy Tale?

The film Captain Phillips is "based on a true story" of the 2009 hijacking of an American ship by Somali pirates. But how faithfully does the movie capture real events? Robert Siegel puts that question to Colin Freeman, chief foreign correspondent with Britain's Sunday Telegraph. Freeman covered the 2009 incident and has himself been kidnapped by Somali pirates.

Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
7:41 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Day 1: Sing Along With 'Chiron Beta Prime'

Jonathan Coulton performs live from the Ask Me Another stage at The Bell House in Brooklyn, NY.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR
  • Listen to 'Chiron Beta Prime' by Jonathan Coulton

This is the first day of Ask Me Another's 12 Days of Xmas series.

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Books
6:53 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Writing 'Rudolph': The Original Red-Nosed Manuscript

In 1939, Montgomery Ward in Chicago asked one of its admen to write a story for the department store's own children's book.
Rauner Special Collections Library Dartmouth College

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 10:20 am

Everybody knows Rudolph was the last reindeer to join Santa's crew, but few people know about the department store copywriter who brought his story to the world.

The year was 1939, the Great Depression was waning and a manager at Montgomery Ward in Chicago decided that the store should create its own children's book for the annual holiday promotion.

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The Salt
5:03 am
Wed December 25, 2013

When Is Cinnamon Spice Not So Nice? The Great Danish Debate

Ah, the cinnamon swirl: They're beloved by the Danish, but the traditional recipe for these pastries may be too spice-laden for European Union law.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 10:15 am

Who doesn't love a Danish pastry?

And in Denmark, they like their pastries sprinkled with plenty of cinnamon.

But now, Denmark's bakers are being told that their time-honored recipe for the beloved kanelsnegle — or cinnamon swirl — may be unhealthy and against the law. Recent testing by the Danish government found that a large number of the rolls had too much cinnamon — more than the recommended limits set by the European Union.

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NPR Story
3:48 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Fiennes Brings Dickens To 'Perfect' Life In 'Invisible Woman'

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 8:35 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. Time to hear from our film critic, the Kenneth Turan. He says the works of Charles Dickens have been made into literally hundreds of films and TV episodes, but almost nothing has been done with the great author's life. Until now and the film "The Invisible Woman."

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The Salt
2:21 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Why We Hold Tight To Our Family's Holiday Food Traditions

Mark Karney found the recipe for his mother's Hungarian nut roll in a dusty recipe box after she passed away. After lots of experimentation, he figured out how to make it and has revived it as a Christmas tradition.
Courtesy of Mark Karney

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:58 am

Around Thanksgiving, The Race Card Project brought us the story of a woman who grew up in a Filipino family but desperately wanted to be anything but Filipino. When Melanie Vanderlipe Ramil was a child, she shied away from her family's traditional meals, including the rice that's a staple in Filipino cooking.

But recently, she's become committed to keeping those food traditions alive.

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Arts & Life
2:20 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Detroit Needs Money. Can A 'Grand Bargain' Save The City's Art?

Gladioli, Claude Monet, ca. 1876, oil on canvas.
Detroit Institute of Arts

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 6:04 pm

Can wealthy art lovers help save Detroit's pension funds — and one of its museums?

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Kitchen Window
11:03 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Come Back For A 2nd Helping Of This Year's Favorites

Susie Chang's story on the versatility of buttermilk was a hit with Kitchen Window readers. Or maybe it was this mouthwatering photo of "double fluffy" biscuits that reeled them in.
T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 11:41 pm

As a Christmas gift to readers, Kitchen Window has compiled some of the most popular stories of the year for another look. As always, you were interested in a variety of subjects, from the simple procedure to the leap of faith, and showed an interest in trending topics — like gluten-free and DIY.

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Book Reviews
3:35 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Gene Wolfe Spins A Kafkaesque Travelogue To A Fictional 'Land'

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 7:02 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Gene Wolfe is a novelist in the spirit of Jonathan Swift or Ursula K. Le Guin. He is an inventor of imaginary lands. His latest book, "The Land Across," is about an unnamed Eastern European country and reviewer Alan Cheuse says it would be a better place to visit than to live.

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Movie Reviews
2:12 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Orbiting Dickens, An 'Invisible Woman' Or Two

Felicity Jones plays Nelly Ternan, longtime mistress of author Charles Dickens, in The Invisible Woman.
David Appleby Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 4:40 pm

The Invisible Woman is slow to build — but worth its wait in gold. A little over halfway through, this terrific drama bears fiercely down on the steep cost of being two of the significant women in the gilded life of Charles Dickens.

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Movie Reviews
2:03 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

In 'Osage County,' A Family Consuming Itself

Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Julianne Nicholson are three of the warring Weston women in a blistering film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County.
Claire Folger The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 4:34 pm

"We shouldn't be here."

That's the sense you get watching August: Osage County -- that you're peering in on moments so intimate and painful that no one should witness them, perhaps not even those who are a part of it.

In fact, that's what many characters in the movie — an adaptation of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play — decide for themselves. They don't want to be part of it, either. In this story of an uncomfortable family reunion, time is marked by cars pulling out of their dusty Oklahoma driveway at regular intervals, never to be seen again.

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Movie Reviews
2:03 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

A Wall Street Predator With An Appetite For Excess

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a profoundly corrupt stock-market manipulator in The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the real-life story of convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort.
Mary Cybulski Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 2:21 pm

Several times during The Wolf of Wall Street, the wolf himself turns to the camera and offers to explain some stockbroker term or strategy. But then he stops himself and says it doesn't really matter.

It sure doesn't — not in this exuberant but profitless bad-behavior romp. It's based on the career of former penny-stock magnate Jordan Belfort, but might as well be about Keith Richards in the '70s or Robert Downey Jr. in the '90s.

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Arts & Life
1:06 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

How Blind Voice Over Artist 'Reads'

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 9:30 am

Pete Gustin has voiced over national ads but he can't read scripts - he's legally blind. As he tells Tell Me More guest host Celeste Headlee, he didn't let his disability deter his talent.

Health
1:06 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

After A Cancer Diagnosis, Lessons In Priorities

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 9:30 am

Teaching high school English came naturally to David Menasche but a terminal brain cancer diagnosis forced him to leave the classroom. So he visited some of his former students to see what impact he's had on them. He writes about the experience in his forthcoming book, The Priority List.

Movie Reviews
12:16 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

In A 'Miraculous Year' For Movies, Edelstein Picks His Favorites

In the sci-fi romance Her, a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) finds love in a rather unexpected place — with a computer operating system named Samantha.
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 3:44 pm

"It was a miraculous year," film critic David Edelstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. At a time when Hollywood is churning out Blockbusters and superhero movies that are guaranteed to make money at home and overseas, "it's really great when so many interesting movies, somehow or other, manage to bleed through," he says. " ... You really feel as if directors are taking chances in their storytelling. They are creating a new syntax for every story."

Here are his favorite movies this year:

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Television
12:13 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

David Bianculli's Top 10 Shows: 2013 Was A 'Good Year For TV'

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Kevin Spacey (left) and Robin Wright star in House of Cards, directed by David Fincher. The Netflix series, which follows a Machiavellian politician, is an adaptation of a BBC series of the same name. Hear an interview with Spacey and Fincher.
Patrick Harbron Netflix

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 3:44 pm

This was a good year for TV, says critic David Bianculli, and that had a lot to do with two new shows from Netflix: House of Cards, the American adaptation of the BBC political thriller series, and Orange Is the New Black, a dramatic comedy which takes place in a women's federal prison. "I was very impressed with the overall quality of what Netflix gave us," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "... That was quite a string of good shows."

So, without further ado, here's Bianculli's top-10 TV list for 2013:

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The Salt
11:07 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Hair Dryer Cooking: From S'mores To Crispy Duck

Ready for a blowout: Blasting the duck with the dryer before roasting dehydrates the flesh so the skin gets firm and crispy.
Michaeleen Doucleff NPR

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:54 am

This past year, we've introduced you to some wacky cooking methods. We've made an entire lunch in a coffee maker and even poached salmon and pears in the dishwasher.

But a few weeks ago, we stumbled upon a crazy culinary appliance that may be the most legitimate of them all: the hair dryer.

Now, before you think we've fallen off the kitchen stool from too much eggnog, check out the science and history behind the idea.

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Food
11:00 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Spicing Up Your Holiday Drink List

General Harrison's Eggnog No. 3
David Kressler

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 1:24 pm

When it comes to holiday drinks, there's always the traditional recipes for mulled wine and eggnog. But what about a taste of something new and different?

James Beard Award-winning mixologist Dale DeGroff has some surprising ideas to spice up your drink menu this season. He is widely credited with reviving the art of the cocktail. He's also president and founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail.

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The Two-Way
7:10 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Book News: Efforts To Ban Books On The Rise

Joe Songer AL.COM/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 9:03 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Code Switch
6:57 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Hey Hey Hey! Historian Draws Attention To '70s Black Animation Art

An original production cel from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. The show was among a burst of 1970s-era Saturday morning cartoons that featured positive African-American characters.
Courtesy of Pamela Thomas/Museum of UnCut Funk!

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 12:34 pm

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First Reads
6:03 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Exclusive First Read: Chang-rae Lee's 'On Such A Full Sea'

Chang-rae Lee won the PEN/Hemingway award for best first novel for 1995's Native Speaker. His most recent book was 2010's The Surrendered.
Annika Lee

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 8:37 am

Chang-rae Lee's new novel, On Such a Full Sea, opens in a surprisingly contented dystopia: Hundreds of years in the future, the world has unraveled; in America, the government has crumbled and the population has fled. But its abandoned cities have been given new life by immigrant workers, moved in by big multinational corporations to provide pristine fish and produce to elite enclaves. In B-mor (once known as Baltimore), workers from China have built a relatively stable and prosperous community — though outside the walls of B-mor, the open counties are still lawless and rough.

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All Tech Considered
1:56 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Check Out These Gorgeous, Futuristic Tech Company Headquarters

Architect's rendering of Apple's new facility
Courtesy of City of Cupertino

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 6:24 am

This past year, many of the best known technology firms were actively designing and building new corporate offices. It's the first time Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Google and Facebook have done so from the ground up. The same is true for Amazon, which is building in Seattle.

All of these projects are still in their early stages, but perhaps the most talked about and architecturally ambitious project that broke ground this year is the Apple headquarters building in Cupertino, Calif. It was a project near and dear to the late Steve Jobs.

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Movies
4:15 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

'12 Years' Gets Story Right But Context, Some Details May Be Off

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 4:56 pm

The film 12 Years a Slave tells the real-life story of Solomon Northup. In 1841, Northup, a free black man, was drugged and then sold into slavery. How faithfully does the movie capture Northup's life? As part of our week of truth-squadding some of this year's film biopics, Robert Siegel talks with William Andrews, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He wrote To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1760-1865.

Technology
4:15 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

It's Never Been So Easy, Or Complicated, To Stream Video To Your TV

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 4:56 pm

Robert Siegel talks with technology columnist Farhad Manjoo of The Wall Street Journal about the various ways to watch online video on your television. Manjoo says it's never been so easy or more complicated to do.

The Salt
3:32 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

How To Build An Indestructible Gingerbread House

With our design, gingerbread families everywhere can enjoy the holidays without having to worry about their roofs caving in.
Morgan Walker NPR

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:56 am

Here's the thing about gingerbread houses. You labor over them for hours. You painstakingly decorate them with gumdrops and candy canes.

And then, someone shakes the table it's sitting on, and boom! It all comes crumbling down, leaving a huge, house-shaped hole in your heart.

Never again, we said.

This year, we were determined to build a stronger gingerbread house. One that wouldn't crumble, no matter what. One that could withstand an earthquake.

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Digital Life
3:18 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

A YouTube Powerhouse Looks Beyond Its Gamer Base

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One of Machinima's signature offerings is a series called Christopher Walkenthrough, in which creator Jason Stephens, in character as actor Christopher Walken, navigates his way through popular video games. You kind of have to see it to understand.
Machinima.com

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:53 pm

One of the most popular channels on YouTube is aimed toward people who play video games. It's got tons of content — thousands of game reviews, how-to videos of people gaming away enthusiastically, even little homemade movies that people have made using video-game software.

That last format is a user-generated phenomenon called machinima — "little m" machinima. "Big M" Machinima is a company, and it wants to be a new media empire. It's the entity behind that YouTube channel.

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Movie Reviews
1:08 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Great New DVD Box Sets: Blasts From The Past And 'Breaking Bad'

A new MDV Entertainment boxed set called Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection features the widow of Ernie Kovacs, in shows from her 1962-64 ABC variety series, which was televised just after her husband's death.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:01 pm

Here's a short list of some of the most exciting recent TV offerings on DVD. These are sets you can still order and receive in time for the holidays — and regardless, they're perfect to dive into over the vacation period, enjoying an episode or two a night.

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