Christmas falls on a weekend this year; a chance for many families to curl up with a good film that's stood the test of holidays past. But what if you've already seen "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Bad Santa?" What's left? Cameron Crowe joins us now from Los Angeles. Mr. Crowe is the esteemed screenwriter and director whose films include "Say Anything," "Almost Famous," "Jerry Maguire," the documentary "Pearl Jam Twenty," and the just-released, "We Bought A Zoo," starring Ben Affleck's best friend. Thanks for being with us, Mr. Crowe.
There's a Purple Heart in the window of the A-Z Outlet pawnshop in Holland, Mich., right between a silver necklace and an inexpensive watch.
Bryan VandenBosch says a young man walked into his shop just before Thanksgiving to pawn a medal that the U.S. government awards to soldiers who have been "wounded or killed in any action" while serving.
He says that he doesn't know why the young man needed or wanted to pawn his medal.
Korean pop music groups turned a corner in 2011, expanding their audience worldwide, despite the language barrier. Two of the most popular bands are 2NE1, whose music projects ideas of self-worth, and Girls' Generation, which has nine members.
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Australian actress Rachel Griffiths, best known in the U.S. for her work on HBO's Six Feet Under and ABC's Brothers and Sisters, has made an acclaimed Broadway debut in the new play Other Desert Cities.
Griffiths, who is well-known in Australia for her stage work, tells NPR's Scott Simon she would have been happy if all she had ever done was act onstage.
"Theater was where I began and what I really thought my career would be in Australia," she says. "That was my thing. ... The movies were an unexpected joy, and television even more unexpected."
This is the time of year that either has you humming about a one-horse open sleigh or bah-humbugging the various versions of "Jingle Bells" you've heard in stores, on hold and in commercials. Wherever you reside on the Christmas cheer spectrum, we have something to annoy even those who wear reindeer sweaters.
Former Major League Baseball star Barry Bonds was sentenced to 30 days of house arrest and two years probation on Friday for his federal conviction of obstruction of justice. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.
Gadgets, like cell phone cameras and digital tablets, can turn almost anybody into some kind of amateur journalist. But writer Gwen Thompkins wonders when the amateurs will realize that what the professionals already know - recording an event often stops people from experiencing what's right in front of them.
Lots of comments came in this week about host Scott Simon's remembrance of Laura Nyro. We also heard from several Krampus revelers, who celebrate the Christmas Krampus, a horned, mythical kind of dark sidekick to Santa Claus. Host Scott Simon reads listener reaction to last week's program.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
(SOUNDBITE OF CIRCUS MUSIC)
SIMON: When the bright lights beam under the Big Top of the Big Apple Circus, Grandma shuffles in. She's got a silver hair, a slow walk, a sly smile, and a purse so huge you think she might have New Jersey somewhere in there. I mean Grandma the Clown.
Coquito, an eggnog made with rum and coconut, is as integral to a Puerto Rican Christmas as presents under the tree.
In New York on Saturday, 12 coquito makers are battling to be this year's Coquito Masters champion. It's the 10th year of the contest. Trolleys will take fans to different locations in Spanish Harlem to sample coquito and vote for their favorite drinks in blind taste tests.
It may be telling that Christopher Hitchens should die in this season. I don't mean the holiday season but a contentious season in Congress and on the campaign trail, with politicians jabbing fingers and accusing each other of inconsistency.
When your grandfather is a bootlegger and your family runs an illegal small-town roadhouse, you must have a lot of stories to tell. Cam Penner does, and he tells them in his music. The Canadian singer-songwriter's latest album is titled Gypsy Summer.
Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 3:56 pm
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in cities across Russia today to protest alleged vote-rigging in recent parliamentary elections. Protests reportedly took place in more than 50 cities, but the largest by far was in Moscow. Reporter Peter van Dyk is in Moscow and joins us. Peter, thanks so much for being with us.
PETER VAN DYK, BYLINE: Thank you.
SIMON: You were in the crowds. What were they like?
Most of the names announced for induction to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame this week are familiar: Guns N' Roses, Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The name Laura Nyro may need some explaining.
She was the daughter of a New York jazz trumpeter, who took her along to his gigs. She sold her first song, And When I Die, to Peter, Paul and Mary for $5,000 when she was just a teenager; left New York's School of Music and Art; and became a star at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival at the age of 20.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Diplomats in the United Nations climate talks in Durban, South Africa are still struggling to bring that meeting to some sort of close. Still no deal from the talks, which was supposed to coordinate international efforts on global warming. Diplomats are hoping that all the talk won't prove to be just a lot of carbon emissions. We're joined now from the talks by NPR's Richard Harris. Richard, thanks for being with us.
The nation's oldest black church reopens to the public this week after a $9-million restoration fueled in part by federal stimulus funds, and completed in painstaking detail despite the recession. Shannon Mullen tours Boston's African Meeting House with the woman who led the project.
Last week, we spoke with artist John Morse. He creates traffic warning signs complete with haikus for the New York City Transportation Department.
JOHN MORSE: (Reading) Cyclist writes screenplay. Plot features bike lane drama. How pedestrian.
SIMON: Michael Haslam, in Bellows Falls, Vermont, asks: Is there a potential downside to the New York City haiku signs for pedestrians and bicyclists? Crossing street downtown, signs catch attention, enthrall; fatal distraction.
While Newt Gingrich may not have universal appeal among Tea Party voters, he seems to be drawing wide support from a key Republican constituency, Christian conservatives. The religious right has significant influence in many early voting states, including Iowa, which has its caucuses coming up on January 3rd.
Novelist Anita Desai is a professor of humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has also written <em>Journey to Ithaca</em>, <em>Village by the Sea</em> and <em>Clear Light of Day</em>.
Anita Desai's new collection of stories, The Artist of Disappearance, reads a bit like three symphonic movements in a minor key. They're three novellas, set in modern India, where the past is giving way. In one story, a government official inspects the forgotten treasures left behind in a fated mansion. In another story, a translator becomes a little too creative; and in the third, a man living in solitude finds his world upset by roving visitors.
"There was no pianist breathing or cueing me," cellist Zuill Bailey says. "The good news is that he was very consistent." Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian adds, "It's absolutely true — it takes a little bit of adjusting."
Bailey and Bayrakdarian are talking about their accompanist: the late — very late — Manuel de Falla, who died in 1946. With the help of new recording technology, the two have performed de Falla's Seven Popular Spanish Songs for a new release, The Spanish Masters.
Back in the 1930s, Boyd Lee Dunlop taught himself to play music on a broken piano left out on the streets of Buffalo, N.Y. Only half the keys worked.
He also taught his little brother Frank to play the drums while they were growing up. Frankie Dunlop went on to record with Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, among other jazz greats. Boyd Lee Dunlop went to work in the steel mills and rail yards of Buffalo, occasionally playing piano at local clubs.
Herman Cain is appearing before his supporters in Georgia now, and NPR's Don Gonyea is going to join us. He's speaking but, in fact, he hasn't reached what we would call the hard news lead to announce whether he's staying in the race for the Republican nomination for president, or getting out. Don, are you there?
And we're going to end with some breaking news today. Moments ago, Herman Cain announced that he is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Here is what Mr. Cain said moments ago; his wife, Gloria, standing behind him outside of his Georgia campaign headquarters.
HERMAN CAIN: Today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign.
Celebrity auctions have become common, but once in a while there's an event that will make almost anyone stand up and take notice. After a world tour, the entire collection of Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry, clothing and memorabilia is on view starting Saturday at Christie's auction house in New York City.
After 10 days, there will be a four-day auction. Some 2,000 objects from the film star's life will be on the block, both at Christie's and online.
Jon Klassen's latest book, I Want My Hat Back, is the delightful story about a bear who loses, and then finds, his hat. Scott talks with Weekend Edition's ambassador to the world of children's literature, Daniel Pinkwater, about the story and the importance of art in children's books.
We received hundreds of comments on our segment last week on predictive policing, which uses statistics and algorithms to deploy police where crimes are most likely to occur. Also, many listeners wrote to thank us for our chat with Doris Day. Host Scott Simon reads listeners' comments.
So many end-of-the year lists detail something trivial. But sometimes those lists can help us appreciate something obvious.
BabyCenter.com has just released their list of the most popular names for American babies in 2011.
The most popular girl's names: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, and Ava, which sound like they could be lifted, letter by letter, from 1960s movie marquees. The most popular boy's names: Aiden, Jackson, Mason, Liam and Jacob, which could be the name of a Boston or Chicago law firm.