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Updated: 1 hour 31 min ago

For A More Ordered Life, Organize Like A Chef

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 2:26am

The French phrase mise-en-place means to gather and arrange the ingredients and tools needed for cooking. But for many culinary professionals, its organizing principles are also a way of life.

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WWII POWs Build A Deathly Railway In 'The Narrow Road'

Sun, 08/10/2014 - 6:39am

NPR's Linda Wertheimer talks to Richard Flanagan, author of the new book, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

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'Blackboard' Chalks A Nostalgic Portrait Of School Days

Sun, 08/10/2014 - 6:03am

Lewis Buzbee's account of his idyllic youth in the California public school system is relentlessly positive, though bracketed with criticism of current school policy and a firm call for more funding.

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Albert Camus' Poker Faced 'Stranger' Became A Much Needed Friend

Sun, 08/10/2014 - 6:03am

At age 14, author Aaron Gwyn was lonely and angry. His dad was dead. His mom was addicted to pills. Then he discovered The Stranger, a novel of absurdity and detachment. Somehow, it helped him deal.

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Sept. 11 Changed Everything: Following Three Women In The National Guard

Sun, 08/10/2014 - 4:28am

In spring 2001, Desma Brooks, Michelle Fischer and Debbie Helton signed up for the National Guard expecting just a few days of drills each month. Soldier Girls tells the stories of their deployments.

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A Beautiful Book, Whether Or Not It Makes You 'Happy'

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 6:03pm

Eleanor Davis' gorgeous new How to Be Happy doesn't actually tell you how to be happy; rather, it dramatizes the promise of happiness, and the funny and tragic effects that follow on from it.

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'Building A Better Teacher': Dissecting America's Education Culture

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 4:12pm

Author Elizabeth Green argues that effective teaching is a craft, not a skill teachers have naturally. She says teachers need more mentorship — not just more mandates.

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Effort To Preserve Yiddish Works Not 'Bupkes'

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 7:49am

The preservation of Yiddish as a spoken language gets more attention, but Yiddish once had a vibrant written tradition as well, filled with plays, poetry, novels and political tracts.

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For A Proper Pretzel Crust, Count On Chemistry And Memories

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 7:03am

The key to getting a good soft pretzel to brown properly is to dip it in a lye solution, the same stuff that's used to make soap. But a German mom insists it takes much more than that.

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Lev Grossman: A 'Magician' Grows Up

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 4:03am

NPR's Petra Mayer sees the sights at San Diego Comic-Con with Magicians Trilogy author Lev Grossman — and discusses what happens when wizardly kids have to face an adult world, without mentors.

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In 'Dirty Work,' A Doctor Turns To Fiction To Talk About Abortion

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 4:02am

Gabriel Weston is an ear, nose and throat surgeon. She says writing Dirty Work — about an obstetrician-gynecologist who performs abortions — made her more sensitive to all sides of the debate.

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As Film Stocks Dwindle, Movie-Makers Weigh What May Soon Be Lost

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 3:05pm

Film isn't dead — not yet, at least. Kodak recently announced that it will keep making film stock for motion pictures despite a dramatic drop in sales, after a handful of high-profile directors advocated for it. But, since the medium's days may yet be numbered, it's worth asking what film can offer that digital media can't.

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Over 900 Authors Lend Their Names To A Letter Backing Hachette

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 3:05pm

Douglas Preston wrote an open letter supporting book publisher Hachette in its dispute with Amazon, which has since spread among his readers and throughout the literary community. More than 900 other writers have signed on, including John Grisham and Stephen King.

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The Shaggy Story Of A Real-Life 'Dog'

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 2:31pm

Critic Bob Mondello says The Dog, a quirky, eye-opening documentary about the bank robber who inspired Dog Day Afternoon, will leave you "alternately amused and slack-jawed in astonishment."

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In The Irish Film 'Cavalry,' A Priest's Crisis Of Faith Is Weirdly Jokey

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 1:43pm

John Michael McDonagh's new movie stars Brendan Gleeson as a priest who must eventually face off against a killer. It's excruciatingly obvious and inept, but Gleeson brings it alive.

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For Novelist Jonathan Lethem, Radicalism Runs In The Family

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 1:42pm

His new book, Dissident Gardens, follows three generations of an activist family. The book is fiction, but its characters were inspired by Lethem's own story. Originally broadcast Sept. 9, 2013.

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'The Knick': Cinemax's Quality Play Opens Its Eyes To Race

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 12:11pm

NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans says Steven Soderbergh's Cinemax medical show makes an unusual decision for a period drama: it looks seriously at race in America.

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What Are Those Parabens Doing In My Tortilla?

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 10:28am

Parabens are chemical preservatives. I've spent years trying to avoid them in beauty products, but I'm not sure why. When I saw them on a nutrition label recently, I decided to investigate.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' And So Bad It's Good

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 7:24am

On this week's show, we talk about the runaway success of Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy and tentatively poke around the matter of the "so bad it's good" film, including — yes — storms of sharks.

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