Originally published on Sun April 21, 2013 10:10 am
These days, nothing says amateur hour quite like an alphabetical bookshelf. From lifestyle magazines to design blogs (admittedly a short distance), there are limitless suggestions for how you should treat your books. You can arrange them by genre, by time period, by size or by color (all well and good until you realize how strangely few books have purple spines). You can stack them in height order. You can angle them across the wall in gentle waves of Swedish manufacture. My own system of classification is one of emotional practicality.
Ursula von Rydingsvard makes huge sculptures out of red cedar. The 70-year-old is one of the few women working in wood on such a scale.
Her pieces are in the permanent collections of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art. And now they're also part of a new show at Manhattan's Museum of Arts and Design. It's called "Against the Grain" — a phrase that could just as well describe the sculptor's life and career.
In his systematic scrutiny of the modern American food chain, Michael Pollan has explored everything from the evolution of edible plants to the industrial agricultural complex. In his newest book, he charts territory closer to home — or rather, at home, in his kitchen.
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation surveys how the four classical elements — fire, water, air and earth — transform plants and animals into food. Pollan joins NPR's Rachel Martin to discuss the merits of slow home cooking and his adventures in fermentation.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials "J.R."
Last week's challenge from listener Sandy Weisz: Take a common English word. Write it in capital letters. Move the first letter to the end and rotate it 90 degrees. You'll get a new word that is pronounced exactly the same as the first word. What words are these?
A shorter version of this segment was originally broadcast on Feb. 14, 2013.
Since Al Gore's term as the 45th vice president of the United States ended in 2001, he has starred in an Oscar-winning documentary, won a Grammy Award and received the Nobel Peace Prize. But obviously he won't be satisfied until he wins the NPR news quiz, so we've invited him to play a game called "Maybe you can beat Bill Clinton at this."
Arne Duncan is President Obama's secretary of education, and if, while he's on this show, a disaster befalls the president, the vice president, the speaker of the House and every other member of the Cabinet except Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, he would be president.
Back in the early 1990s, Melinda French was a rising star at a software company when the boss asked her out on a date. This was complicated because he was her boss, and frankly, he was kind of a nerd. But they fell in love and got married, and decided to raise a family, retire from the business, and in their spare time give away more money to charity than anyone else in the history of the world.