Arts

Beauty Shop
10:28 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Is Beyonce Still The Queen?

Pop star Beyonce's new surprise album has been getting a lot of buzz, but is it all it's cracked up to be? Beauty shop ladies Bridget Johnson, Aisha Harris, Danielle Belton and Anne Ishii weigh in.

Games & Humor
10:28 am
Wed December 18, 2013

African-American Woman To Run Humorous 'Harvard Lampoon' Magazine

The humor magazine The Harvard Lampoon was founded in 1876, but for the first time, an African-American woman will run things. Host Michel Martin talks with President-elect Alexis Wilkinson and Vice President-elect Eleanor Parker about their plans for the magazine.

Monkey See
8:07 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Two Ways Of Seeing An iPhone Christmas

Screen shot

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:44 pm

Apple recently released a Christmas ad it calls "Misunderstood."

In it, a kid — maybe 14 or so? — spends Christmas with his family. He seems to be always looking at his phone when everybody else is decorating the tree, making a snowman, skating, or whatever else they're doing. He smiles, but he sets himself apart.

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The Two-Way
7:24 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Book News: New 'Dragon Tattoo' Novel Coming From New Author

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

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Television
4:37 am
Wed December 18, 2013

'60 Minutes' Criticized For NSA Report

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:02 am

CBS is once again facing criticism over a story aired on 60 Minutes — this one about the National Security Agency. This new controversy over the show's journalism comes on the heels of a false story the show aired on the attacks against the U.S. diplomatic installation in Benghazi, Libya.

Food
2:03 am
Wed December 18, 2013

The Stars Come Out For Holiday Bakers

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:21 pm

As a young woman, I had an attack of nostalgia for a possibly imaginary cookie. It was prompted by a walk up New York's Third Avenue, where I saw in the bakery case of a local delicatessen a stack of small round cookies, covered in the tiny rainbow sprinkles known as nonpareils. Instantly, I was ambushed by a flashback to the tiny Italian pastry shop of the small riverside town just north of Manhattan where I grew up, and where, I felt sure, I had been given star-shaped sprinkle cookies of a similar kind as a reward for my excellent behavior.

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Books News & Features
2:02 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Hear, Here: Four Audiobooks With A Brand-New Sound

Think a graphic novel is too visual to make a good audiobook? Think again. The audio version of Civil War uses sound effects, music and a full cast to bring the superhero story to life.
Courtesy of GraphicAudio

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

If your holiday shopping trip includes a stop at the bookstore, you might consider adding audiobooks to your gift list. And this year, as you slip on headphones to sample the offerings, what you hear might surprise you.

According to Robin Whitten, the founder and editor of AudioFile magazine, the genre has far surpassed the conventions of the taped readings of yore.

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Movie Interviews
4:17 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

From 'Crash Reel' To Recovery, And Everything In Between

Snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a severe brain injury after an accident on the halfpipe in 2009. His road to recovery is the subject of director Lucy Walker's documentary The Crash Reel.
Christian Stadler HBO Pictures

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:31 pm

In 2009, snowboarder Kevin Pearce was riding high, soaring skyward, twisting his body into breathtaking acrobatics. He was 22, one of the world's top halfpipe riders, and a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team for the 2010 Vancouver Games.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Ron Burgundy, Still A Legend In His Own Tiny Mind

Great Odin's Raven! Will Ferrell's cheerfully idiotic Ron Burgundy and Christina Applegate's whip-smart Veronica Corningstone are back for a comedy sequel that critic Ian Buckwalter says is essentially an avalanche of one-liners.
Gemma LaMana Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:13 pm

Make no mistake, Ron Burgundy is a terrible human being. In 2004's Anchorman, it's true, he learned a lesson (sort of) about the dangers of his overinflated ego and the lies of his culturally inherited misogyny. But everything came out OK in the end, and he ended things as a semi-likable rogue — casually misogynist, lackadaisically racist, generically insensitive and oblivious, but still a guy who loves his dog, his lady and his Scotch, and who isn't afraid to cry.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

LaBute's 'Velvet Morning': Nothing Soft About These Surfaces

When Fred (Stanley Tucci) shows up on the doorstep of his former lover (Alice Eve) ready to resume their relationship, it doesn't necessarily go smoothly.
Rogier Stoffers Tribeca Film

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 9:43 am

I'll say this for Neil LaBute: The man sticks to his guns. Critics may carp about his sour vision of human nature, but he keeps plugging away at his micro-studies of the cruel struggle for interpersonal domination.

LaBute is a master of stagecraft, of course; I'm not sure why he works in film at all, other than to broaden his audience. Aside from the substantially more cinematic Nurse Betty, almost all of his movies are essentially stage plays, ably transposed to the screen but with minimal concession to the switch in medium.

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Movie Interviews
2:09 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

The Coen Bros. On Writing, 'Lebowski' And Literally Herding Cats

Joel (left) and Ethan Coen wrote and directed Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man and True Grit. Their latest film is Inside Llewyn Davis.
Stuart C. Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:21 pm

If you ask the Coen brothers about how they write their films, you might not get a straight answer. "It's mostly napping," Ethan tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

"We go to the office, we're there, we're in a room together," Joel adds. "We take naps, but, you know, the important thing is that we're at the office, should we be inspired to actually write something."

The brothers don't split up writing responsibilities — they "talk through" the dialogue and "work it out together," Joel explains.

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Ask Me Another
11:03 am
Tue December 17, 2013

John Hodgman: 'Twas The Night Before This Day

Comedian John Hodgman helped lead a game, then picked up the ukulele for a rendition of "Auld Lang Syne."
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:20 pm

  • John Hodgman and Jonathan Coulton perform "Auld Lang Syne"

"A Visit from St. Nicholas," popularly known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," is a favorite poem among many who celebrate Christmas. But when it comes to holiday verse, why should Dec. 25 get all the attention?

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Ask Me Another
10:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Cinema Synonyms, Holiday Edition

Contestants await puzzle guru Art Chung's series of mind-bending, quick fire questions.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:20 pm

In this final round, puzzle guru Art Chung re-titles other holiday films with some less festive words. The titles have been rewritten as synonyms of the original titles. For example, The Section of a Contract About the Spanish Word for Saint is the rewritten title for The Santa Clause. (It should be noted that we are using "synonym" quite loosely.)

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Ask Me Another
10:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

A.J. Jacobs: Traditional Holiday Traditions

A.J. Jacobs reads a list of ... something, but we don't want to spoil the surprise.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:20 pm

Did you know that every Dec. 7, Guatemalans gather trash from their homes into a giant pile, throw an effigy of the devil on top and then light it on fire? This practice, known as "the burning of the devil," may sound a bit far-fetched, but it's actually true.

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Ask Me Another
10:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

A Holiday Story From Ophira Eisenberg

"Red alert! Jew in the lap! Red alert! Jew in the lap!"
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:20 pm

Ophira Eisenberg, host of Ask Me Another, grew up Jewish, but maintained an obsession with Santa Claus. Hear Eisenberg share a story about her first childhood encounter with Father Christmas, at a shopping mall in Canada.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

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Ask Me Another
10:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Are We There Yet?

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:20 pm

Prepare to answer a child's age-old question during road trips. Given a starting point and a list of three destination cities by host Ophira Eisenberg, a phone contestant must put the cities in order of driving distance from the starting point, from shortest to longest. If you left New York after a visit to the Empire State Building and drove west, which city would be the closest: Cleveland, Chicago, or Seattle?

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Ask Me Another
10:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

The Chris In Christmas

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:20 pm

At Ask Me Another, we're no strangers to messing with tradition, especially in the form of song. Instead of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," how about "Rockin' Around the Big Blue Sea"? House musician Jonathan Coulton performs some classic holiday tunes with the lyrics rewritten to be about famous people or fictional characters named Chris, like Christopher Columbus or Christina Aguilera. For what it's worth, we're also including names that can be shortened to Chris.

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Ask Me Another
10:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Lizz Winstead: What's That Sound?

If you'd just delivered a no-holds-barred Tarzan yell, you'd be celebrating, too. Comedian Lizz Winstead (right) and Julia Lunetta are not shy.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:20 pm

Ah, the sounds of the holidays: Jingle bells. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The sound of reindeer landing on the roof. Or are those zombies with chains about to attack? Hopefully you have a keen ear for this game. Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg welcomed back Lizz Winstead, comedian and co-creator of The Daily Show, as a Very Important Puzzler. We pitted her against a contestant in a game in which they had to reproduce sound effects and music.

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Ask Me Another
10:17 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Don't Forget The Lah-Rics

Contestants Karen Sloan (right) and Rob Gilleece.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:20 pm

If singing holiday songs isn't your thing, would a carol about Las Vegas or La Toya Jackson change your mind? House musician Jonathan Coulton spices up the Christmas carol "Deck the Halls" with the lyrics rewritten to describe words or names that begin with a "la" sound. What do you call smoked salmon on a bagel? Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-lox!

After the game, Coulton used his clues and the contestants' answers to produce a gloriously weird recording of "Deck The Halls." Hear it in the web extra on this page.

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The Picture Show
8:52 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Photo Assignment: A Few Of Your Favorite Things

Beth Nakamura Instagram

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 3:16 pm

In case you missed it, we have an ongoing Instagram project with KPCC called Public Square. Each month we make a new assignment, and this month, we want to see some of your favorite things. Tell us what they are in the caption and tag the photo #PSMyFavoriteThings. You've got until the end of December.

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Local Authors
3:49 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Local Teacher & Author Offers New Writings

Cover design for 'Figures in Blue' by Felicia Olin

Ted Morrissey teaches English to high school and college students in Williamsville and Springfield. He manages to write plenty of his own material in his free time. He joined us recently to talk about his unique writing style, what writings he has in the works - and his recently published novella titled 'Figures in Blue':    

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Movie Interviews
4:17 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Spike Jonze Opens His Heart For 'Her'

Joaquin Phoenix plays a man in love with an operating system in director Spike Jonze's latest film, Her.
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 7:49 pm

Writer-director Spike Jonze's latest movie, called simply Her, is about a lonely man who falls in love ... with his operating system. The two lovers — Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) — never meet face to face. In fact Samantha has no face, not even an avatar.

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Books
4:17 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Three Books Alan Cheuse Thinks You Should Read This Winter

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 7:06 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And we end this hour with a little help for your holiday shopping. It's time for our December don't miss booklist from reviewer Alan Cheuse.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: I wish instead of just recommending these books, I could set them down at your doorstep. "The Collected Stories of John Updike," the second volume of T.C. Boyle's collected stories, and Stanley Crouch's book about the rise and times of our genius saxophone player, Charlie Parker.

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Around the Nation
4:17 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

All Aboard! Real-Life Polar Express Chugs Through Michigan

The Pere Marquette 1225 rolls into view in Owosso, Mich. It's been a local favorite for decades and especially gained popularity after inspiring the look and sounds of the train in a 2004 film.
James DeVleeschouwer Jr. Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 5:12 pm

Every sight and sound of the magical Christmas train in the 2004 film The Polar Express is based on a real-life steam locomotive. The Pere Marquette 1225 has its own Christmas story to tell — and it involves a very close call with the scrapyard.

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The Salt
2:02 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Sandwich Monday: The Grinch Sandwich

The Grinch sandwich: It has the power to ruin Christmas.
CBS/Photofest

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 2:54 pm

Right there at the end of "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch," the narrator sings, "you're a three-decker toadstool and sauerkraut sandwich ... with arsenic sauce." So we made one, to celebrate/ruin the holidays.

Our local Whole Foods was fresh out of arsenic sauce, so we went with the next best thing, Sriracha.

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Remembrances
12:30 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

The Camels Were 'Impossible': Peter O'Toole Remembers 'Arabia'

Peter O'Toole rides across the desert in Jordan during the filming of Lawrence of Arabia in November 1961. He says that at first, learning to ride a camel was "impossible."
AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 1:19 pm

"I have a host of memories which I see very clearly," actor Peter O'Toole told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1993. "And though I'm very aware of the tricks of memory, I'm also aware of the concrete nature of these brilliantly lit pictures in my mind. They're ineradicable."

O'Toole, who died Saturday at the age of 81, was instrumental in making many "brilliantly lit pictures" for movie lovers during his decades-spanning career. Nominated for eight Oscars, the tall, blond, blue-eyed actor captivated audiences, on-screen and onstage.

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Race
11:26 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Twitter Battle Over Sexy Stars

Actress Rashida Jones recently started a Twitter debate by calling out a number of female pop stars for their hyper-sexual performances.
Victoria Will AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 3:13 pm

Tell Me More goes behind closed doors to look at the increasingly open debate about how the sexuality of girls and women is being discussed on Twitter.

Parks and Recreation actress Rashida Jones recently got social media going with her Twitter takedown of a number of female pop stars for their hyper-sexual performances. She called on these stars to #stopactinglikewhores.

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Monkey See
11:18 am
Mon December 16, 2013

5 By O'Toole: What To Watch Beyond 'Lawrence Of Arabia'

Lawrence of Arabia made Peter O'Toole an instant star, but his career was a long and varied one. Bob Mondello has recommendations for other movies well worth seeing him in.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 12:16 pm

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The Two-Way
8:54 am
Mon December 16, 2013

'Billy Jack' Creator Tom Laughlin Dies

"Billy Jack" — actor Tom Laughlin, who died last week.
TC Laughlin Public Relations
  • A bit of 'One Tin Soldier'

Tom Laughlin, who invented and played the movie character "Billy Jack" — a half-white, half Native American Vietnam veteran who used martial arts skills to battle racists — died last week.

Late Sunday, The Associated Press reported that Laughlin's daughter said "he died Thursday at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Laughlin was 82 and Teresa Laughlin, who acted in the Billy Jack movies, said the cause of death was complications from pneumonia."

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The Two-Way
6:46 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Book News: Trayvon Martin's Parents Talking To Publishers

Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin, during an April 2012 news conference.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

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

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