A holiday gift of sorts came early in more than 20 countries over the weekend, as volunteer photographers shot free, studio-quality portraits of more than 16,000 people who otherwise couldn't have afforded them.
A working-class neighborhood of Shanghai was among the more than 130 sites where the photo shoots took place, part of a global project inspired by Help-Portrait, a U.S.-based nonprofit.
Writer James W. Hall is remarkably prolific. For the past two decades, he's averaged nearly one new book a year. Most are taut thrillers often set in the searing South Florida heat. Reviewer Alan Cheuse says Hall's latest novel, titled "Going Dark," proves he's one of the best genre writers working today.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 4:19 pm
For most of its two-year run on NBC, the series Smash was pretty much a hot mess. Ostensibly about the creation of Broadway musicals, it only tangentially resembled the real thing. And its plots and characters got soapier and soapier as the show went on.
In the opening chapter of her latest book, novelist Delia Ephron writes that losing her older sister, writer Nora Ephron, was like "losing an arm, it's that deranging." Nora, who wrote When Harry Met Sally, died of acute myeloid leukemia in June 2012. Delia and Nora were writing partners; they co-wrote the movies You've Got Mail and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as well as the off-Broadway hit Love, Loss and What I Wore. Delia was an assistant producer on Nora's film Sleepless in Seattle.
Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 9:36 am
The meat on your dinner table probably didn't come from a happy little cow that lived a wondrous life out on rolling green hills. It probably also wasn't produced by a robot animal killer hired by an evil cabal of monocle-wearing industrialists.
Truth is, the meat industry is complicated, and it's impossible to understand without a whole lot of context. That's where Maureen Ogle comes in. She's a historian and the author of In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 1:46 pm
It's hard out here for a How I Met Your Mother fan these days.
I mean, it's always been hard. The show has had its share of ups and downs, from how often it was on the brink of cancellation to its rocky creative track record in recent years. But the ninth and final season of the show — set in the 50-odd hours before a wedding we've already seen bits and pieces of — has become downright exhausting.
In the Arab world, TV watchers were buzzing this weekend about the finals of a popular contest show, "Arab's Got Talent." Runner up was the competition's dark horse contender, Jennifer Grout, a young American. She's not an Arab. She just loves Arabic music. And the presence of a Westerner in the running for this prize caused a bit of a stir. NPR's Deborah Amos was at the finale Saturday in Beirut and she sent this postcard.
Local band Epsom is Steven Sgro on vocals and guitar, Scott Faingold on vocals, Timothy Harte on drums, and Kristopher Zander on guitar. The group describes their music as "gratuitous shock rock." They joined us recently in the Suggs Studio for this set of performances and an interview:
As the holiday season approaches, the TV cupboard may seem a bit bare; the industry winds down like everything else, filling cable and broadcast networks with holiday specials, reruns and also-ran reality shows.
But there are bright gifts, too: TNT offers Mob City, a three-week, lavishly produced noir-ish TV show about cops and crooks vying for control of 1947-era Los Angeles, airing Wednesdays.
On Dec. 8 and 9, A&E presents a four-hour miniseries on Bonnie and Clyde, retelling the story of the Depression-era outlaws and lovers.
In 2007, Benazir Bhutto — twice prime minister of Pakistan and then-leader of the Pakistan People's Party — was killed in a suicide bombing attack that claimed 38 lives. The factors at play in her assassination, however, reached deeper than many imagined.
In his new book, Getting Away With Murder, Heraldo Munoz portrays the tense political climate that surrounded Bhutto's return to politics and examines the circumstances of her death.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 8:54 am
Aside from racial and ethnic slurs, there aren't many words that prompt a more immediate and visceral response than "hipster." Many associate the term with craft beer, smugness and, of course, Brooklyn. Modern-day hipsters have inspired a huge number of Tumblrs, memes and trend pieces in the media.
It may seem like hipsters sprang up out of nowhere sometime in the late 1990s, but the original hipsters were around several generations before that. And they were strongly associated with another uniquely American phenomenon — jazz.
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?
Race is a delicate and complicated subject in this country. Jacqueline Jones confronts it head on in her new book " A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama's America." Jones, who teaches history at the University of Texas, uses the stories of six Americans to illustrate her point - that race is just that, a myth.
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.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 9:11 am
When I was 13, sex was something I was very interested in, but in a studious way. I wanted to know what had been done to me, as someone researches the keyhole surgery on their knee, after the event.
I had entered the second year of the six years when I didn't speak of the-thing-that-happened-to-me-when-I-was-11, and I was looking for explanations of that thing. And I was looking for ways to introduce the subject to my parents, so they would say, "Oooh, I understand," in an unemotional, chatty way, and we could get that thing out into the open.
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.
Goli Taraghi writes about life in Iran — about love, loss, alienation and exile. She is particularly equipped to the task, as her own exile from the country began in 1980 at the outset of the Iranian Revolution.
In 1979, she was a professor living in Tehran with her two young children, and initially supported the movement.
"Of course the turmoil started, and then the executions, and the university was closed, and I thought the best thing is to go abroad and stay just one year," says Taraghi.
Since the death of anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, tributes and memorials have poured in from around the globe. Mourners count among their number leaders from dozens of countries, including American presidents and Iran's Hassan Rouhani.
When writers finish a book, they may think they've had the last word. But sometimes another writer will decide there's more to the story. The madwoman Bertha from Jane Eyre and the father in Little Women are just two examples of secondary characters who have been given a fuller life in a new work of fiction based on a classic novel.
There's been a string of unsolved murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland, so they have to bring in the heat from London. Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson appears to be the embodiment of what people in Belfast often don't like about London: She seems cool, correct, fiercely intelligent, but icy.
Nick Lowe was one of the founders of the Great British rock explosion of the 1970s, writing songs like "Cruel to Be Kind and "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding." He's just released a new album of Christmas songs called Quality Street — A Seasonal Selection For All The Family.
Since Lowe's lyrics would lead us to believe there isn't anything funny about peace, love or understanding, we'll quiz him on three hilarious instances of human kindness.
Growing up in apartheid South Africa with widespread state censorship, it was hard to get to know our political leaders. The first time I actually saw a photograph of Nelson Mandela was in high school in the mid-1980s.
A braver classmate had managed to sneak a few grainy images into our school — a full-face, younger Mandela, his fellow Robben Island inmate Walter Sisulu and the South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo.