Arts & Culture

Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Tiny Desk Concert

Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the Tiny Desk on Dec. 3, 2013.
John W. Poole John W. Poole

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 4:14 pm

Our goal for this special holiday Tiny Desk Concert is simple: to bring you joy. Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a hot and historic outfit from New Orleans, and its members brought us a tuba-wielding Santa and some original holiday cheer and praise — what they call a Cajun Christmas from the French Quarter.

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Best Music Of 2013
6:03 am
Sat December 21, 2013

The Top 10 Folk And Americana Albums Of 2013

Jason Isbell performs at the 2013 Newport Folk Festival.
Meagan Beauchemin for NPR

The best folk music released in 2013 was, almost without exception, of the intensely personal variety. These remarkable albums struggled with addiction and death, coming of age, faith and the unstoppable rhythm of change. Three of these releases came from well-loved artists making music in ways that nobody saw coming. But all of the recordings listed below challenged us to open our minds and consider things differently, find beauty in small places and discover possibility in life's many challenges.

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Music Interviews
4:20 am
Sat December 21, 2013

War Stories From Petula Clark

Petula Clark's new album, Lost In You, features a reworking of her signature hit "Downtown."
Clement Schneider Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 10:30 am

Petula Clark's show business career spans more than 70 years, from the time of the Blitz to the era of the blog. She found signature hits, including "Downtown" and "I Know a Place," in the 1960s and '70s.

But she began her career decades earlier, as an 8-year-old girl in a London theater, in the early years of the Second World War. The BBC had been using the theater as a studio because of its strategic location: underground.

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4:18 am
Sat December 21, 2013

The Brighter Side Of Darkness: For Some, The Night Inspires

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 12:13 pm

Saturday is the winter solstice — the longest night of the year. For many, winter's darkness is depressing. But others seem to bloom, thrive, even come alive in the dead of night.

It's not just vampires who seek the dark: it's poets, painters, musicians and artists of all kinds.

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Bonus Round: Ask Me Another
4:15 am
Sat December 21, 2013

The Crossword Turns 100 (Across): Celebrate By Playing Our Puzzle

John Chaneski

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:46 am

  • Hear Will Shortz Prove His Anagram Prowess On Ask Me Another

The first published crossword puzzle was printed on December 21, 1913, in the The New York World. It was written by Arthur Wynne, a British journalist who moved to the United States at age 19 and wound up in New York City. His puzzle, diamond-shaped and identified as a "Word-Cross," first appeared in the "Fun" section of the Sunday paper.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
6:58 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

'Queen Of Memphis Soul' Carla Thomas Plays Not My Job

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 1:14 pm

We recorded our show in Memphis, Tenn., this week, where Carla Thomas is a soul legend. Born in Memphis, Thomas scored her first hit single for Stax Records at the age of 18, and had many more, including duets with Otis Redding and other stars.

We've invited her to play a game called "Thomas, meet Thomas." Three questions about other people who are also named Thomas.

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5:49 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Say Cheese! Nine Picks for Your Party Plate

Beehive's Barely Buzzed cheese is infused with coffee and lavender.
Credit Beehive Barely Buzzed

Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci interviews cheese writer Jeanette Hurt.

If you're planning a holiday or New Year's party in Wisconsin, chances are a cheese plate is in order. But what to put on it?

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Book Reviews
5:34 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

This British Spy Thriller Shows How Thrill-Less Spying Can Be

Then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte walks the hallways of the Threat Operations Center inside the National Security Agency in 2006.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 5:46 pm

Thanks to the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, a panel appointed by President Obama, the practice of spying has been thrust back into headlines this week. The panel recommended that the NSA should stop collecting nearly all phone records, suggesting that a third party take responsibility instead for the database of records.

Tapping phones, searching records, international intrigue — these acts are not new events unfolding with the NSA. In fact, all this espionage has been a staple in novel and film for the better part of a century.

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World Cafe
5:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Oscar Isaac On World Cafe

Oscar Isaac as the titular character in the upcoming Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis.
Alison Rosa Courtesy of the artist

Before Guatemalan actor and singer Oscar Isaac auditioned with the Coen Brothers for the title role in their new film, Inside Llewyn Davis, his friends told him that he would love the brothers — and that he wouldn't get the part or ever hear back from them. They were right about him loving the filmmakers, but not so much when it came to Isaac getting a call.

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World Cafe
4:52 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Carey Mulligan On World Cafe

Carey Mulligan (left) and Justin Timberlake in a scene from the upcoming Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis.
Alison Rosa Courtesy of the artist

British actress Carey Mulligan plays a tough-skinned woman by the name of Jean Berkey in the new Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis. In the movie, she sings alongside Justin Timberlake in the duo Jim and Jean, but has issues with the film's title character.

On Friday's episode of World Cafe, Mulligan talks with host David Dye about how playing the part was liberating, and how the challenge to sing live proved to be an enjoyable experience.

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