The album Little Spark evokes a sound you might have heard 40 years ago, piercing through the static of your AM radio. The big string sections and angelic choruses are all there, echoing the hallmarks of classic orchestral pop. But Little Spark is the work of a modern singer-songwriter named Jessie Baylin.
If you're seriously into reading, chances are, if you're not a nerd, then you've at least got some nerdy DNA somewhere in your intellectual genome. I know I do. But as a reader I sometimes feel like I'm being asked to identify with a hero who isn't nearly geeky enough â a hero with uncorrected vision and excellent orthodontics and really good hair. Sure, he's nice, but I doubt I would have wanted to sit at his table in the cafeteria in high school.
In a presidential election that most expect will be all about the economy, South Carolina is a state where economic issues are front and center. The state's unemployment rate is 9.9 percent, well above the national rate. But even that number is deceptive. There are pockets around the state where the conditions are much more severe. In Lancaster County, for example, the rate is above 12 percent.
In 1978, the farmers in a small Chinese village called Xiaogang gathered in a mud hut to sign a secret contract. They thought it might get them executed. Instead, it wound up transforming China's economy in ways that are still reverberating today.
The contract was so risky â and such a big deal â because it was created at the height of communism in China. Everyone worked on the village's collective farm; there was no personal property.
"Back then, even one straw belonged to the group," says Yen Jingchang, who was a farmer in Xiaogang in 1978. "No one owned anything."
Whenever the late New York Times caricaturist Al Hirschfeld sketched Carol Channing â whether picturing her as an indomitable Dolly Levi, swathed in feathers and sequins, or as carbon-crazed Lorelei Lee, eyes sparkling like the diamonds that were that splendid creature's best friends â he always made her appear a creature composed entirely of lipstick, mascara and hairspray.
Rhoda Janzen is the author of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress.
Recently my friend Peggy and I decided to make a jaunt from my house in Southwestern Michigan, across the state to Detroit. We took her car. At day's end we pulled into my remote driveway on Lake Allegan. It was then I realized that didn't have my keys. They were in fact, hanging in the little key box in my laundry room.
Remember that movie Sarah's Key? Did you miss it? It was last year's highest grossing foreign-language film, but it made less than eight million dollars. The fact is that selling foreign language films to U.S. audiences is a notorious challenge. Nevertheless, Fox, one of the world's most powerful media conglomerates, is beefing up its investment in foreign films.
Johnny Otis was many things over his career, including a bandleader, producer, radio and TV host and composer. Additionally, Otis launched the careers of many of R&B's finest singers. Otis died on Tuesday at his home near Los Angeles. He was 90 years old.
Kathleen Edwards is a singer-songwriter from Canada who just released her fourth album, Voyageur. There's a lot of heartache and self-doubt on the record, and that makes sense â much of it was written around the time of Edwards' divorce from her husband and musical collaborator. The song "Pink Champagne" would seem to be a case in point: It takes place at a wedding where a young bride is second-guessing her decision. But Edwards says the message of that song isn't quite so literal.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich is most in his element when he's fighting against social injustice.
Wherever he sees an outrage against the little guy, you'll find the Ohio Democrat railing against it â like at a recent public meeting about a new trash-to-energy facility Cleveland wants to install in a west side neighborhood.
Brian Unger is the host of the History Channel show How The States Got Their Shapes.
When we talk about our moms, many of us end up crying. Barbra Walters made her career exploiting this universal weakness. Newt Gingrich proved it recently, very publicly, in Iowa talking about his mom.
I'm going to try to control my emotions as I discuss my mom.
Because I'm not ashamed to say â lately, there have been a few tears.
These days, memoirs are often the target of contempt. A scathing slam in New York Times Book Review this year inveighed against "oversharing"; and in the New Yorker, the memoirist was likened to "a drunken guest at a wedding... motivated by an overpowering need to be the center of attention." If the narrative deals with socially unacceptable matters like abuse, addiction, family dysfunction, or even poverty, the scorn gets even thicker.
When Joshua Bell was 21, he recorded an iconic piece of chamber music for piano and violin â the Sonata in A major by Cesar Franck. Today, Bell is 44 and he's recorded it again. It's on his new album, French Impressions, with pianist Jeremy Denk.
All Things Considered host Robert Siegel invited Bell to listen to his old recording for a little session of compare-and-contrast.
"Do you hear the same violinist?" Siegel asks, after playing for Bell the opening bars of his 1989 recording.
When we talk of inquisition it is usually prefaced with a definite article â as in, The Inquisition. But, as Vanity Fair editor Cullen Murphy points out in his new book, God's Jury, the Inquisition wasn't a single event but rather a decentralized, centuries-long process.
Murphy says the "inquisitorial impulse" is alive and well today â despite its humble origins with the Cathars in France, where it was initially designed to deal with Christian heretics.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: A story of greed, playing the system for a quick buck, a group of corporate raiders led by Mitt Romney, more ruthless than Wall Street.
RAZ: That's part of an anti-Mitt Romney ad now running in South Carolina. The video is being distributed by pro-Newt Gingrich superPAC. And its message may be a sign of a growing philosophical split among the GOP candidates.
Private equity firms are under the microscope this week as a pro-Gingrich superPAC hounds GOP candidate Mitt Romney for his role as head of Bain Capital. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks with Dan Primack, senior editor of Fortune Magazine, about how these firms operate and the legitimacy of these attacks.
Ten years after the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, there's still some debate about Mitt Romney's claim that he helped "save" the games â and about whether he used the Olympics to relaunch a fledgling political career.
In 1999, Romney accepted the job as CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC), five years after he failed to oust Sen. Ted Kennedy from his Massachusetts Senate seat.
A controversy, now, in our nation's capital. It's over plans for a memorial to President Dwight Eisenhower. As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, members of the Eisenhower family object to the design by architect Frank Gehry, and they now want to stop the process altogether.