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Pop Culture
5:25 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

Die-In, Vortex, Selfie Stick: What's The Word Of 2014?

Die-ins, like this one at Union Station in Washington, D.C., on December 6, were conducted across America to protest the non-indictment of the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Linguist Ben Zimmer says that while the word "die-in" isn't new, its increased use makes it a strong candidate for the American Dialect Society's 2014 Word of the Year.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 6:02 pm

In January, linguists will gather for the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society in January to vote on the 2014 Word of the Year.

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Author Interviews
5:25 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

From Her Dad To Her 'Jamish' Roots, A Poet Pieces Her Story Together

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 6:02 pm

Growing up in 1970s England, Salena Godden stood out. Her mother was Jamaican and her father was an Irish jazz musician who mysteriously disappeared from her life when she was very young.

In her memoir, Springfield Road, the writer, poet and musician tells the story of finding her personal identity, beginning with the word she made up to describe her race: Jamish.

"It's kind of ... a mix of being Jamaican, Irish, English," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "It's the name I gave myself."

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Author Interviews
7:39 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Jamie Oliver, Up To His Elbows In Mashed Potatoes With 'Comfort Food'

Holly Farrell ABC-TV

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 11:07 am

Jamie Oliver is a food superstar β€” he's produced and presented hugely popular TV programs on cooking, notably The Naked Chef and more recently Jamie's Food Revolution. He's written more than a dozen cookbooks, many to accompany the TV shows. He's written about English food, Italian food, fast food, American food, school food and has campaigned for a healthier diet for kids, built around introducing children to a wider range of things to eat β€” including the dreaded vegetables.

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Music
6:01 pm
Sat December 27, 2014

John McNeil, A Trumpeter Robbed Of His Breath, Blows Again

Trumpeter John McNeil (far right) rejoins Hush Point, a group of friends from the New York jazz scene, on the new album Blues and Reds.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 8:26 pm

John McNeil may be the most important trumpet player you've never heard of.

Many aspiring musicians know him as an educator, through his many instructional books like The Art of Jazz Trumpet. But getting to know McNeil as a performer or recording artist hasn't always been easy: his records could be tough to find.

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Author Interviews
5:45 pm
Sat December 27, 2014

Comedian Andrea Martin: 'I Don't Think Age Has Anything To Do With It'

Comedian Andrea Martin performs at New York's 54 Below in 2012. She published her memoir Lady Parts in September.
Michael Loccisano Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 6:54 pm

In her memoir Lady Parts, comedy star Andrea Martin writes that in the 1970s, comedians weren't as easy to come by as they are now. "Comedians were much more rare," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. They were "like rock stars, really celebrated."

Over the course of her career, Martin has appeared on-stage and on screens both big and small β€” she won a Tony for her role in Pippin, performed in the films My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and stars in the NBC TV series Working the Engels.

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Around the Nation
3:58 pm
Sat December 27, 2014

Help (Still) Wanted: A Plumber For A Rural Town In Maine

Something's missing in the small town of Jackman, Maine. They've have an electrician and some carpenters among their 800-odd residents, but no plumber β€” even after establishing a scholarship for local students to become certified.
Ruediger Wittmann iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 9:55 am

In August, a couple in Jackman, Maine, created a scholarship for a high school student willing to train as a plumber and come back to work in the rural town. Months later, the search continues.

"From the school standpoint, we haven't had anyone terribly interested," says Denise Plante, the principal of Jackman's Forest Hills Consolidated School District.

There have been inquiries from people around the country and even overseas, but because the town is so isolated, the scholarship's goal is really to get a student familiar with the area to train and come back.

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Movie Reviews
3:31 am
Tue December 23, 2014

A Vital Chapter Of American History On Film In 'Selma'

David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. and Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King in the new movie Selma.
Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 3:47 pm

It's hard to believe, but there has never been a major motion picture that centers on one of this country's most iconic figures: Martin Luther King Jr. But that's about to change, with Selma, which opens Christmas Day.

The film explores the tumult and the tactics of the civil rights movement, from King's tense relationship with President Lyndon Johnson to the battle for voting rights for black Americans β€” a battle that reached a climax on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, as state police beat peaceful protesters trying to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

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Music Interviews
5:24 pm
Sun December 21, 2014

Anthony Hamilton Brings Home Holiday Funk

Anthony Hamilton's first Christmas album is called Home for the Holidays.
LaVan Anderson Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 9:30 am

Once a pop artist has been working long enough, the Christmas album feels like an inevitability. Soul singer Anthony Hamilton wanted to try it out, but he was wary of falling into clichΓ© and repeating the formulas that have shaped holiday records for years.

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The Salt
6:40 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

Want To Enhance The Flavor Of Your Food? Put On The Right Music

Researchers at the University of Oxford have been looking for a link between sound and taste.
iStockphoto.com

Here's an experiment: take a bite of whatever food you have nearby and listen to some music, something with high notes. Now, take another bite, but listen to something with low notes.

Notice anything?

Researchers at the University of Oxford have been looking for a link between sound and taste. They've found that higher-pitched music β€” think flutes β€” enhances the flavor of sweet or sour foods. Lower-pitched sounds, like tubas, enhance the bitter flavors.

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Food
5:16 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

How Tinseltown Got Tipsy: A Boozy Taste Of Hollywood History

iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 6:40 pm

If the bars of Los Angeles could talk, they'd have an awful lot of tales to tell β€” old Hollywood was full of famously hard drinkers. And while LA's watering holes are keeping their secrets, one author, Mark Bailey, has uncorked a slew of stories from the city's plastered past.

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Animals
9:13 am
Sat December 20, 2014

A Snail So Hardcore It's Named After A Punk Rocker

This spiky mollusk is called Alviniconcha strummeri, named after Joe Strummer, the late frontman for the Clash.
Taylor & Francis Online

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 11:39 am

Shannon Johnson, a researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, found that when she talked to youngsters about sea snails, she communicated a little more effectively if she skipped the technical description and called them "punk-rock snails."

"Their entire shells are covered in spikes," Johnson explains. "And then the spikes are actually all covered in fuzzy white bacteria."

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StoryCorps
4:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

NORAD's Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport

Col. Harry Shoup came to be known as the "Santa Colonel." He died in 2009.
Courtesy of NORAD

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:45 pm

This Christmas Eve people all over the world will log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through U.S. military radar. This all started in 1955, with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Col. Harry Shoup's secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.

Shoup's children, Terri Van Keuren, 65, Rick Shoup, 59, and Pam Farrell, 70, recently visited StoryCorps to talk about how the tradition began.

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The Salt
5:19 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Japan's Butter Shortage Whips Its Cake Makers Into A Frenzy

A customer picks up a block of butter at a food store in Tokyo on Nov. 10. Japanese shoppers are up in arms over a serious butter shortage that has forced Tokyo to resort to emergency imports, as some grocers limit sales to one block per customer.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 11:21 am

We are well into the Christmas season, and if you live in Japan, that means sponge cake.

The traditional Japanese Christmas dish is served with strawberries and cream, and it is rich, thanks to lots and lots of butter. But the Japanese have been using even more butter for their Christmas cakes this year, exacerbating what was already a national butter shortage.

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U.S.
3:26 am
Tue December 16, 2014

President's Task Force To Re-Examine How Police Interact With Public

President Obama announces the creation of a policing task force Dec. 1 as Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey (left) and George Mason University criminology professor Laurie Robinson look on.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:09 pm

Earlier this month, after the events in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y, the White House announced the creation of what it's calling a Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The group's job is to find ways to strengthen the relationship between police and the public, and to share recommendations with the president by late February.

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Goats and Soda
5:12 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Dr. Kent Brantly: Lessons Learned From Fighting Ebola

Dr. Kent Brantly speaks about the world's response to Ebola during the Overseas Security Advisory Council's Annual Briefing in Washington, D.C. last month.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 1:23 pm

Dr. Kent Brantly considers himself a lucky man.

He was diagnosed with Ebola five months ago while working with Christian aid group Samaritan's Purse at a hospital in Liberia's capital, Monrovia. He became so sick that he thought he was going to "quit" breathing.

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