Arts

Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
4:15 am
Sat December 21, 2013

The Crossword Turns 100 (Across): Celebrate By Playing Our Puzzle

John Chaneski

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:46 am

  • Hear Will Shortz Prove His Anagram Prowess On Ask Me Another

The first published crossword puzzle was printed on December 21, 1913, in the The New York World. It was written by Arthur Wynne, a British journalist who moved to the United States at age 19 and wound up in New York City. His puzzle, diamond-shaped and identified as a "Word-Cross," first appeared in the "Fun" section of the Sunday paper.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
6:58 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

'Queen Of Memphis Soul' Carla Thomas Plays Not My Job

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 1:14 pm

We recorded our show in Memphis, Tenn., this week, where Carla Thomas is a soul legend. Born in Memphis, Thomas scored her first hit single for Stax Records at the age of 18, and had many more, including duets with Otis Redding and other stars.

We've invited her to play a game called "Thomas, meet Thomas." Three questions about other people who are also named Thomas.

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Movie Interviews
4:42 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Ben Stiller, Spinning Daydreams In 'Walter Mitty'

Ben Stiller stars as a man who escapes his humdrum life by daydreaming in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which he also directed.
Wilson Webb Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 5:46 pm

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — originally a two-page James Thurber story published in The New Yorker in 1939 — is about the reveries of a henpecked husband who became transformed, in his imagination, into an intrepid fighter pilot or a world-famous surgeon.

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Book Reviews
3:53 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

This British Spy Thriller Shows How Thrill-Less Spying Can Be

Then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte walks the hallways of the Threat Operations Center inside the National Security Agency in 2006.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 5:46 pm

Thanks to the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, a panel appointed by President Obama, the practice of spying has been thrust back into headlines this week. The panel recommended that the NSA should stop collecting nearly all phone records, suggesting that a third party take responsibility instead for the database of records.

Tapping phones, searching records, international intrigue — these acts are not new events unfolding with the NSA. In fact, all this espionage has been a staple in novel and film for the better part of a century.

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Architecture
1:35 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Makeover USA: Short, 'Dowdy' D.C. Considers High Heels

The skyline of Washington, D.C., including the Capitol building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and National Mall. The tall buildings in the distance are in Virginia.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 3:06 pm

The powers that be in Washington are typically, though certainly not always, wrestling with weighty issues.

Recently, they've also been debating height, and whether they prefer a stout, familiar dowager, or a taller, sleeker model.

Building heights, people: We're talking building heights in your nation's capital, where for more than a century the 1910 Building Height Act has kept the city's profile low.

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Paperback Nonfiction Bestsellers
11:29 am
Fri December 20, 2013

NPR Bestsellers: Paperback Nonfiction, Week Of December 19, 2013

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:13 pm

In time for winter celebrations, David Sedaris' essay collection Holidays on Ice rises to No. 12.

Shots - Health News
11:11 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Angelina Didn't Help Educate People About Breast Cancer Risk

A celebrity's efforts to educate the public about health risk may have very limited effects.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:47 pm

Remember when Angelina Jolie decided to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer? The Hollywood star revealed her experience in The New York Times in May.

Her story got a lot of people talking about preventive mastectomies. But it didn't do much to increase people's understanding of breast cancer risk, a study found.

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Barbershop
11:07 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Fair To Hate 'Papa Duck' For Being Authentic?

The Barbershop guys weigh in on the Duck Dynasty dust-up: should television patriarch Phil Robertson be punished for anti-gay comments? Or should people be more tolerant of his views? Host Michel Martin hears from writer Jimi Izrael, and journalists Corey Dade, Ammad Omar and Christopher Ave.

Paperback Fiction Bestsellers
11:03 am
Fri December 20, 2013

NPR Bestsellers: Paperback Fiction, Week Of December 19, 2013

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:10 pm

The Aviator's Wife, at No. 12, is Melanie Benjamin's retelling of the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers
11:03 am
Fri December 20, 2013

NPR Bestsellers: Hardcover Nonfiction, Week Of December 19, 2013

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:03 pm

Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger describe a band of spies in George Washington's Secret Six, at No. 10.

Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers
11:03 am
Fri December 20, 2013

NPR Bestsellers: Hardcover Fiction, Week Of December 19, 2013

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:02 pm

At No. 4, Mitch Albom's The First Phone Call From Heaven tells the story of an ex-con single father.

NPR Bestseller List
11:03 am
Fri December 20, 2013

NPR Bestsellers: Week Of December 19, 2013

The lists are compiled from weekly surveys of close to 500 independent bookstores nationwide.

Movie Reviews
10:28 am
Fri December 20, 2013

For An Actress In Eclipse, 'All The Light' She Can Grasp

Jane Adams, who played a poet turned pimp on the HBO series Hung, takes on the part of a conflicted actor grappling with age in All the Light in the Sky.
Factory 25

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:24 pm

"I wish I had this other layer all the time," says a woman offhandedly, zipping up a form-fitting protective wetsuit.

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The Salt
10:04 am
Fri December 20, 2013

They're Back! Chesapeake Oysters Return To Menus After Rebound

A plate of Sweet Jesus oysters grown in Chesapeake Bay by Hollywood Oyster Co. in Hollywood, Md.
Katy Adams Courtesy Clyde's Restaurant Group

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 11:44 am

The history of the Chesapeake Bay oyster hasn't always been a pure one. So you could forgive a chef for being skeptical about the big bivalve comeback being staged in D.C. and the surrounding area this winter as oyster season gets underway.

But many mid-Atlantic chefs are actually cheering. That's because a major public-private effort to re-establish the oyster as a quality local food product — as well as a weapon against water pollution — seems to be working.

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TED Radio Hour
8:37 am
Fri December 20, 2013

How Do You Get People To Pay For Music?

Musician Amanda Palmer says she learned about trust and giving when she was a street performer.
James Duncan Davidson TED

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Giving It Away.

About Amanda Palmer's TEDTalk

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TED Radio Hour
8:37 am
Fri December 20, 2013

How Can You Give A Community Better Health?

Ron Finley, renegade gardener, says food is both the problem and the solution.
James Duncan Davidson TED

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Giving It Away.

About Ron Finley's TEDTalk

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys."

About Ron Finley

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Monkey See
8:18 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Love In The Time Of Hollering: The Age Of Enthusiasm

Mark Evans iStockphoto

There have been Ages of Innocence and Iron, of Jazz and Bronze and Ice. We've had Golden Ages of all kinds, though we note them less by experiencing them and more by debating whether they have started, whether they are over, and whether we will ever see their like again.

And now we are in the Age Of Enthusiasm.

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The Two-Way
6:40 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Book News: 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' Author Dies

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

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Movie Reviews
4:22 am
Fri December 20, 2013

'Her,' Another Quirky Film For Director Spike Jonze

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 10:13 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. You just heard a reference to socializing being good for you. What if you're not socializing? What if you're blocked? That's a subject for the movie director Spike Jonze. He's known for directing quirky, emotionally resonant films like "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation." And Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION critic Kenneth Turan reviews his new film, "Her."

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NPR Story
3:35 am
Fri December 20, 2013

'Duck Dynasty' Attracts Christian Conservatives

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 10:13 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Fans of "Duck Dynasty" know this. It is a popular reality TV show about a family that found success selling products to hunters. Well, now the patriarch of the family has been suspended indefinitely from the show; this is after he made remarks about homosexuality to GQ magazine. The show is a huge hit for the A&E cable channel, spawning a multimillion dollar industry of related products and books. NPR's Lynn Neary has this look at the family and where they might be headed.

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The Two-Way
7:42 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Pa. Man Wins $1 Million Picasso With $140 Raffle Ticket

Picasso's 1914 cubist drawing L'homme au Gibus, or Man in the Opera Hat, is presented at Sotheby's auction house in Paris.
Remy de la Mauviniere AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 12:50 pm

A Pennsylvania man who bought a raffle ticket for $140 has won the top prize — a Picasso worth $1 million.

Jeffrey Gonano, 25, entered a raffle put on by Sotheby's in Paris offering "1 Picasso for 100 Euros" as a fundraising event for the International Association to Save Tyre, an ancient Phoenician city in Lebanon.

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Movie Reviews
7:05 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A Man And His Machine, Finding Out What Love Is

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 Fri December 20, 2013 2:24 pm

Her is the best film of the year by a so-wide margin. It's gorgeous, funny, deep — and I can hear some smart aleck say, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" Let me tell you, I'd like to!

I certainly identify with the protagonist, Theodore Twombly, who falls in love with his computer operating system, his OS, which calls itself — sorry, I gotta say "who calls herself" — Samantha, and who sounds like a breathy young woman.

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Monkey See
4:02 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Infectious Collections: Stories And Poems To Convert Any Reader

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 7:57 am

This post is for everyone who passes right by the poetry section; all the bookish types who haven't read a short story since graduation. We know you're out there — and you're not alone.

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Movie Reviews
4:01 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

'The Selfish Giant' Spins A Grim Modern Fairy Tale

Living in poverty and expelled from school, Arbor (Conner Chapman) turns to collecting scrap metal with a cart and horse in The Selfish Giant.
Agatha A. Nitecka Sundance Selects

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 6:08 pm

In Oscar Wilde's fairy tale The Selfish Giant, the title character brings eternal winter to his garden by banishing children from it. Writer-director Clio Barnard's film of the same name was inspired by Wilde's fable, yet is much different.

The original story was for kids; the movie is about kids, but its grim depictions of violence against innocents may be too harrowing even for some adults. Yet the movie is engrossing, and sure to linger long after its poignant culmination.

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Movie Reviews
4:01 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

From An Oscar Winner, A 'Past' Still Hauntingly Present

Asghar Farhadi's The Past focuses on the complex family dynamics between Marie (Berenice Bejo), her soon-to-be ex-husband, her new love (Tahar Rahim, above) and her children.
Carole Bethuel Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 5:46 pm

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi came to international attention last year when his film A Separation won the Oscar for best foreign language film. His latest picture, The Past, has been showered with awards, too — at the Cannes Film Festival and from critics groups in the U.S. I saw The Past in September at the Toronto Film Festival, and it has haunted me ever since.

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Movie Interviews
3:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A Town, A Team, And A Dream That Just Won't Die

The Medora Hornets, here with assistant coach Rudie Crain, are the centerpiece of the documentary Medora, from directors Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn.
Beachside Films

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 6:14 pm

In a high-school locker room in small-town Indiana, a coach is tearing into his basketball team. The Medora Hornets have scored zero points — none at all — in the game's fourth quarter.

In Medora, the hapless team becomes a kind of metaphor for the town itself — "a no-stoplight town," in the words of documentarian Davy Rothbart, one where the jobs have dried up and the population has dwindled.

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Television
3:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

'Duck Dynasty' Patriarch Suspended Over Anti-Gay Comments

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:42 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A controversy has plagued a powerful and lucrative multimedia empire: "Duck Dynasty."

(SOUNDBITE FROM TV SERIES "DUCK DYNASTY")

JASE ROBERTSON: Willie, do you even know how to fish?

WILLIE ROBERTSON: Son, I can catch any fish in that water.

ROBERTSON: Let's have a competition.

SI ROBERTSON: They compete in everything, whether it be horseback riding, throwing horseshoes, playing baseball, all that.

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The Salt
12:36 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Geeky Gamers Feast Upon Settlers Of Catan Cookbook

The deconstructed, hexagonal salad nicoise: perfect for all your gourmand geek friends.
Courtesy of Chris-Rachel Oseland

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 9:15 am

We've discovered a text that could rank among the geekiest of all cookbooks. It's based on Settlers of Catan, that German civilization-building board game with the cult following.

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Movie Interviews
12:09 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A 'Kind Of A Big Deal' Gets Even Bigger In 'Anchorman 2'

Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate reprise their roles as competing news anchors in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
Gemma LaMana Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 1:43 pm

Way back in the 2004 film Anchorman, Ron Burgundy was a local TV-news host in '70s San Diego. Fast-forward to this year's sequel, and that epic haircut is national news: Set in 1980, Anchorman 2 follows Will Ferrell's vain, shallow character as he graduates to a CNN-style cable news network.

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