Arts/Life

The Picture Show
5:07 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

Rare Photos: One Of Woody Guthrie's Last Shows

A rare set of 1950's photographs show one of Woody Guthrie's last performances before his decline with Huntington's disease.
Leonard Rosenberg Music Inn/Barber Family

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 7:25 am

After the dust of the Dust Bowl settled down, American folksinger Woody Guthrie moved to New York City and played more for the leftist East Coast intelligentsia than for migrant workers. Among these performances, one of the better documented was an informal concert in a remarkable carriage house in Lenox, Mass.

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Author Interviews
2:31 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

'Sunny Chernobyl': Beauty In A Haze Of Pollution

Garbage litters the banks of India's holy Yamuna River on World Water Day 2010. For decades, the Yamuna has been dying a slow death from pollution. According to Blackwell, even its most ardent defenders refer to it as a "sewage drain."
Manan Vatsyayana AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 2:04 am

In some of the dirtiest places on Earth, author and environmentalist Andrew Blackwell found some beauty. His book, Visit Sunny Chernobyl, tours the deforestation of the Amazon, the oil sand mines in Canada and the world's most polluted city, located in China.

Blackwell says his ode to polluted locales is a bid for re-engagement with places people have shrunk away from in disgust.

Radioactive To Its Core

His first stop was the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl.

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The Salt
12:16 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

Let Them Eat Kale: Vegetarians And The French Revolution

The execution of Marie Antoinette. Artist unknown.
Wikimedia

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 8:29 am

Saturday was Bastille Day, the French holiday commemorating a pivotal moment of the French Revolution: The storming of the Bastille prison. But in addition to remembering the revolutionaries with a spirited verse of "Do You Hear The People Sing?"* should we also celebrate with a plate of veggies?

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Food
3:51 am
Sat July 14, 2012

Three Beers To Cheer Your Summer Suppers

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:58 am

When the mercury's soaring, a cold, refreshing beer can be the best part of summer. As part of our occasional Taste of Summer series, we asked beer expert Graham Haverfield to recommend a few of his seasonal favorites.

Haverfield is the beer director for the Wine Library in Springfield Township, N.J. He's also a certified cicerone, or beer server. "Summer beers are typically lighter in body, they're typically a little lower in alcohol," he tells NPR's Scott Simon.

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History
3:51 am
Sat July 14, 2012

Winston Churchill's Way With Words

Fox Photos Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 2:54 pm

Winston Churchill is best remembered as the British prime minister whose speeches rallied a nation under a relentless Nazi onslaught in World War II. But few people know that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature — in part for his mastery of speechmaking.

Now, a new exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York City, Churchill: The Power of Words, holds a megaphone to Churchill's extraordinary oratory.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:11 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Actress Brooke Shields Plays Not My Job

Originally published on Sat July 14, 2012 10:10 am

Brooke Shields landed her first modeling job at 11 months old. When she was 16, she famously appeared in an ad for Calvin Klein jeans with the tagline: "You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing."

We've invited her to play a game called, "OK, what about these Calvins?" Three questions about Calvins who are not Calvin Klein.

Opinion
1:55 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Wish You Were Here: The Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk

The Dolle's sign is part of the magic of the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware.
Steve Snodgrass Flickr

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 2:16 pm

David Rowell is an editor with The Washington Post. His first novel, The Train of Small Mercies, is just out in paperback.

When I was growing up in North Carolina, my family went to the same beach every year; it had the sand, the water and pretty much nothing else. Mostly that was OK, but the idea of a boardwalk, which I caught glimpses of on TV or in movies, seemed wondrous to me — like a carnival rolled out from a wooden carpet.

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The Salt
11:45 am
Fri July 13, 2012

An Olympic-Sized Outrage Grows Over French Fry Sales At The Games

McDonald's and the American flag — ruling the London Olympics?
Keoni Cabral Flickr.com

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 8:24 pm

When McDonald's cut a deal to make itself the exclusive purveyor of french fries and the similar (but please don't say matching) chips at the 2012 Olympic Games in London later this month, it may not have anticipated the flurry of responses. Foodies raged, nutritionists nagged, and many called it another example of an American cultural takeover.

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Movies
10:48 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Looking For The Megabucks? Think Megapixels

Ice Age: Continental Drift, which comes out July 13, is the fourth film in the animated franchise. Since Toy Story marked the beginning of the era of entirely computer-animated films, they've been a studio's safest bet for big earnings at the box office and beyond.
Blue Sky Studios & 20th Century Fox

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 8:30 pm

Imagine you're a movie producer, and you've got a couple of hundred million dollars to gamble on a single massive blockbuster. Which genre do you suppose will be your safest bet — superhero? Action-adventure? Sci-fi? All of those have had huge successes, but they've also all had hugely expensive failures.

There's one genre, though, that's hardly a gamble at all. It's been almost foolproof since it first came into being in 1995: computer animation.

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Monkey See
10:34 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Spiders And Kittens And Lots Of Gratitude

NPR

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 12:09 pm

  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

It's been a while since we were all at the table together, but this week, the PCHH team returns in force to talk about The Amazing Spider-Man, whether it matters whether a film is "necessary," and whether charming leads are enough to make up for certain story shortfalls, if we presume that they exist. What will happen? Who will compare Spider-Man to Hamlet? Who will call Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker "moist"? (Okay, that one is me.) There are some basic Spider-Man spoilers, but we did what we could not to blow plot points of this particular movie.

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Television
9:19 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Aaron Paul: Playing A Meth Dealer On 'Breaking Bad'

Aaron Paul plays a meth-making drug dealer on the AMC drama Breaking Bad. He also played a recurring character on the HBO series Big Love.
Ursula Coyote AMC

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 10:56 am

This interview was originally broadcast on September 19, 2011. Breaking Bad begins its fifth season on Sunday, July 15th at 10 PM EST.

Vince Gilligan's AMC drama Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston as a high school chemistry teacher named Walter White who turns to dealing drugs after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. White's partner-in-crime throughout the series is his former student Jesse Pinkman, played by actor Aaron Paul.

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Books
9:14 am
Fri July 13, 2012

This Week's 5 Must-Read Stories From NPR Books

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 9:56 am

When I was a kid I used to read all the time — at meals, in cars and even while walking around. I'd hold a book in one hand, and I'd use the other to feel my way along. It's a good method for getting a lot of reading done, but not so great for if you want to see what's in front of you.

But no matter where you're headed, NPR Books has got you covered. Here are the week's five most engrossing stories about books.

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The Salt
8:49 am
Fri July 13, 2012

An Eggplant Of A Different Color Can Be Just As Sweet

Move over, purple, make way for orange eggplants.
Maggie Starbard NPR

The Turkish eggplant (aka scarlet eggplant, or Ethiopian eggplant, depending on who you ask) has been in the spotlight at my house this week. When a friend brought them from a nearby farmers market, I mistook them for persimmons — until I sliced one open.

So what's inside? Lots of seeds. And, the more vibrant the orange color, the riper the plant, the more mature the seeds. So if you want to cook with them, it's best to buy them and eat them while still mostly green. They won't be as bitter.

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Monkey See
8:21 am
Fri July 13, 2012

A Plague On Both Your Houses: Can Anybody Win In A Cable Carriage Dispute?

When consumers can't get Stephen Colbert because of a dispute between DirecTV and Viacom, do they really care whose fault it is?
Scott Gries Picturegroup

DirecTV and Viacom have been unable to reach a carriage agreement for the former to carry the programming of the latter to its customers. What that means for regular folks is that people with DirecTV have lost their access to Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, and other channels.

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Books
4:57 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Original Fiction In All The 'Shades' Of Fandom

courtesy of Vintage/Anchor Books

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 8:17 am

This Friday the 13th, fans of horror films and hobbits, science fiction and fantasy are descending upon the San Diego Convention Center. They're gathering for the annual explosion of pop culture fandom that is Comic-Con. One of the biggest phenomena in pop culture at the moment will be making an appearance, and it's not a man of steel or a boy slinging webs.

It's a 40-something woman who writes... wait for it... steamy romance.

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Television
1:18 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Sigourney Weaver: No Damsel In Distress

In Political Animals, Sigourney Weaver plays Elaine Barrish, a secretary of state and former first lady whom Weaver says is based on many former residents of the White House — not just on Hillary Clinton.
David Giesbrecht USA Network

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 9:04 am

There's no culture more distinct than the political circles of Washington, D.C., and Sigourney Weaver is taking it on in Political Animals, a new television series where she plays a former first lady and current secretary of state.

Over the course of a distinguished acting career, Weaver has battled intergalactic aliens and befriended gorillas in the mist. In Political Animals, Weaver's character, Elaine Barrish, finds her biggest adversary in a hyperambitious political reporter by the name of Susan Berg.

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Ask Me Another
7:53 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

You Wouldn't Like Him When He's Angry

Greg Pak visits Ask Me Another at The Bell House in Brooklyn, NY.
Eric Nuzum NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:19 pm

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

In A Conflicted India, A Doomed Romance Unfolds

Trishna (Freida Pinto) is the titular character in Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, which lends the novel's deteriorating romance a feeling of inevitability.
Marcel Zyskind IFC Films

"Do you think you'll have to pay a high price for your mistakes?"

That line is spoken on an Indian game show watched by Trishna, the title character of Michael Winterbottom's subcontinental rethink of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

The penalties for mistakes on the game show are only monetary in nature, of course. For Trishna, the costs of her errors in judgment are measured on an entirely different scale. This being a Hardy story, you can count on this: They'll be high, and they'll be unpleasant.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

For The Grieving, A Thin Lifeline To The Departed

Mont Blanc (Aris Servetalis) leads a group of people who offer a peculiar service: the replacement of departed loved ones. Imitating hairstyle and favorite quotes is normal, though some in his group go so far as to re-enact more private events.
Kino Lorber

Alps, the tightly controlled burn from Dogtooth director Giorgos Lanthimos, begins with a simple image: a girl twirling a ribbon. Practicing her routine in a large gym, the rhythmic gymnast (Ariane Labed) moves powerfully, spinning and tumbling across the mats in choreography set to "O Fortuna." She finishes, but as she complains to her coach, a middle-aged track-suit-wearing type (Johnny Vekris), the routine just isn't working — she'd rather be doing a pop song. She's ready for pop, she insists.

The coach disagrees.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Two Fractious Sisters, Reunited But Still At Odds

In Union Square, Jenny (Tammy Blanchard, left) gets a surprise visit from her estranged sister, Lucy (Mira Sorvino), an emotional train wreck whose outsize personality clashes with Jenny's carefully constructed self-image.
Gerardo Somoza Reunion Pictures

The Mira Sorvino who won an Oscar for her full-bodied twist on the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold type in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite resurfaces in Union Square, a micro-budget indie that calls for a similar brand of New York brassiness.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Science And The Paranormal, At Odds To The Finish

In Red Lights, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) is a psychic who comes out of retirement and poses a threat to two academics, Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), who are wary of all claims to the supernatural.
Millennium Entertainment

Of all the hustlers who present cheap tricks as "magic," few are more shameless than filmmakers. Under the cover of "It's only a movie," directors and screenwriters exhort the gullible to believe in ghosts, telekinesis, extraterrestrials and such.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

'The Imposter': Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Frederic Bourdin, played here by Adam O'Brian in a reenactment, is the subject of The Imposter, a movie about how the French-born Bourdin pretended to be missing Texan Nicholas Barclay, a boy six years younger.
Indomina Releasing

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 2:38 pm

On June 13, 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay went missing from his home outside San Antonio, Texas.

Nearly four years later, his family received a phone call from Linares, Spain, informing them that their son had been found, scared and confused; the U.S. Embassy made arrangements for the Barclays to reunite with him and bring him back home.

And that's exactly what happened: Nicholas' sister hopped on a plane, drove to the orphanage and embraced a reticent teenager who'd been changed profoundly by age and some unknown, unspeakable trauma.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

A Humble Servant, Watching As The Throne Totters

Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen, left) is the close, possibly intimate, friend of Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger) — and the two are the bane of the approaching revolutionaries in Farewell, My Queen.
Carole Bethuel Cohen Media Group

In 1995's A Single Girl, probably his best known film in the U.S., Benoit Jacquot tracks a young chambermaid through one workday as she ponders a big decision. The French writer-director's smart and ultimately wrenching Farewell, My Queen takes a similar course — only this time the protagonist toils for Queen Marie Antoinette, and the story opens on July 14, 1789.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

'Margaret': The Tortured Journey Of A Girl, On Screen

Sarah Steele, Anna Paquin and Matthew Broderick in Margaret. The DVD release of Kenneth Lonergan's long-delayed second film includes the theatrical version and an extended 186-minute cut.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 10:56 am

"A fiasco with a great first half" is what I called Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret when it was dumped in one New York theater last fall, five years after it was shot, amid a legal battle between Lonergan and a producer.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Whatever The Country, No Such Thing As 'Easy Money'

Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) is the enforcer for a Serbian drug cartel that controls business in Sweden, and one of three characters who clash in Easy Money.
Weinstein Company

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 7:57 am

Easy Money is a fine title for a film, but to truly savor the tang of this top-drawer Scandinavian thriller, try rolling its original Swedish title off your tongue. Say hello to Snabba Cash.

Director Daniel Espinosa starts his splendid crime story all in a rush, throwing us right into the middle of a trio of chaotic situations.

Introduced first is Jorge, a Chilean living in Sweden — in fact in a Swedish prison. Making his escape, Jorge promptly goes into hiding, as much from other local bad guys as from the police.

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The Salt
2:44 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Three Secrets To Crispy Pickles, And A 'Lost Recipe' Found

Pickling spices, ready for their close-up
Marissa McClellan Food In Jars

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 4:10 pm

Whether you're a veteran canner or you've just discovered this hot trend and want to get in on National Can It Forward Day this weekend, you know that the ultimate test of a good pickle is whether it's got some crunch to it.

As part of All Things Considered's Lost Recipes series, host Melissa Block talks with listener Joanie Vick, of Nashua, N.H., today. (You can hear the full interview above.)

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Music Interviews
10:03 am
Thu July 12, 2012

Fresh Air Celebrates Woody Guthrie At 100

Woody Guthrie
Smithsonian Folkways

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 10:52 am

Lots of people know Woody Guthrie's classic 1940 ballad "This Land Is Your Land," but the story behind the tune may not be as familiar.

Guthrie, who would have turned 100 this week, wrote "This Land" as a response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," a song he felt was overly patriotic and not directed at ordinary Americans like himself.

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Television
8:03 am
Thu July 12, 2012

The 'Political Animals' Running Washington, D.C.

In Political Animals, Sigourney Weaver plays Elaine Barrish, the current secretary of state and a former first lady.
USA Networks

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 1:36 pm

If you only knew about America from watching TV, the last few months might lead you to think that women here wield enormous political power. First you had Game Change, the story of Sarah Palin's attempt to become vice president. Then you had Veep, in which Julia Louis-Dreyfus's character has accomplished just that. Now comes Political Animals, a new USA network series about a strong female secretary of state who I suspect even a Martian would realize is based on Hillary Clinton.

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Book Reviews
5:04 am
Thu July 12, 2012

How He Became A Bat: Once More, With Feeling

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 2:26 pm

Seventy-three years after he first appeared, Batman is beginning again. That is to say, yet again. Still. Some more.

Back in 1939, readers of the very first Batman adventure in Detective Comics No. 27 weren't privy to his origin. For that, they had to wait six months for Detective No. 33 and the two-page, 12-panel story, "The Legend of the Batman — Who He Is And How He Came To Be!"

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Movie Interviews
1:06 am
Thu July 12, 2012

Watch This: Lisa Kudrow Recommends Golden Oldies

Lisa Kudrow, seen here in 2010, stars in Showtime's Web Therapy, a show she also created.
Jason Kempin Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 10:21 am

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