Arts

Book Reviews
3:23 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Nancy Pearl Turns Back The Pages With Picks From The Past

Steve Debenport iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 10:32 am

There has been no shortage of noteworthy new books this year. In fact, the prospect of choosing just a few of them to recommend to NPR's Steve Inskeep "kind of overwhelmed" librarian Nancy Pearl. So, "out of a sense of desperation," she says, Pearl combed through her own personal library stacks for some of her favorite titles from years past that readers might have missed the first time around.

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Movie Reviews
6:57 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

In 'Lone Survivor,' Heroics Extend Only As Far As Survival, Solidarity

Mark Wahlberg plays Marcus Luttrell in Lone Survivor.
Universal Pictures

We are awash in war films, and why is it that nonfiction films such as Dirty Wars or Iraq in Fragments increasingly resort to the dramatizing techniques of narrative film, while fiction films strain toward procedure, as if to avoid the sticky business of interpretation altogether?

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Arts & Life
10:21 am
Thu December 26, 2013

The Surprising Vision of Artist Faith Ringgold

Legendary artist Faith Ringgold began her career in 1963 — the same year as the March on Washington. She talks to guest host Celeste Headlee about her life, work and why no one originally wanted to hear her story.

Books
10:19 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Civil Rights Turmoil In Verse: Retelling Medgar Evers' Story

Medgar Evers was the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi. The civil rights leader was killed in 1963.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 10:46 am

A new book of poetry narrates the life and death of civil rights leader Medgar Evers through a series of imagined monologues. Evers was the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi. In that role, he organized boycotts, investigated and brought attention to the murder of Emmett Till, and helped James Meredith integrate the University of Mississippi.

Evers was gunned down in his Jackson, Miss., driveway by KKK leader Byron De La Beckwith in 1963. But it took more than 30 years for De La Beckwith to be convicted of his murder.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
9:11 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Day 2: An 'Ask Me Another' Holiday Puzzle

Art Chung

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:45 am

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

Keep your mind sharp over the holidays with this quiz, which pays homage to some of the great pop cultural icons surrounding Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus and more.

Email us your finished puzzle at askmeanother@npr.org, or tweet it to us @NPRAskMeAnother.

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Photography
3:16 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Portrait Show Brings Photographer-Subject Encounters Into Focus

Untitled (Kate #18) by Chuck Close.
Chuck Close Courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:45 am

When someone takes our picture, we usually deliver a mile-wide grin, but there's not a smile in the room at the Phillips Collection's photography show in Washington.

The exhibit mostly consists of portraits of inner lives, taken by various photographers, and it's about the encounter between the two participants. Susan Behrends Frank curated the small show, called "Shaping a Modern Identity," which is running through Jan. 12.

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Arts & Life
4:47 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
4:47 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 8:26 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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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
8:41 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
7:53 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 11:20 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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