In this age of bland romantic comedy leads, when the feminine ideal seems to mix two parts sweetly smiling Jennifer Aniston with three parts saucer-eyed Rapunzel, nothing can bring more satisfaction than the antiheroine.
With the death of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, attention has turned to the successor he named before he died. Little is known about his third son, Kim Jong Un. Robert Siegel talks with an author who goes by the penname James Church. Church has written a series of fiction books set in North Korea, and he is a former western intelligence officer who has been to North Korea many times.
Days after it seemed Congress had struck a budget, tax cut and unemployment deal that would get it through the holidays, it is clear that they did not. House Speaker John Boehner Monday must deal with a restive House GOP caucus that signaled over the weekend that it had no interest in going along with the Senate's two-month plan. NPR congressional correspondent David Welna joins Lynn Neary with the latest.
Christmas tree growers are frustrated that politics are delaying a marketing campaign to promote real trees over artificial. Following four years of work to get it passed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the industry-sponsored real Christmas tree campaign in November. But conservatives quickly branded it as "President Obama's Christmas tree tax" and the program was delayed within days of its approval. There are 18 other commodities — like pork and eggs — with similar generic advertising programs. They show anywhere from a two-to-one to a ten-to-one return on investment.
As North Korea mourns the death of its leader Kim Jong Il, both South Korea and China have reacted to the risk of instability on their borders. The South Korean military has been placed on alert, and there are reports that the Chinese have closed their border with North Korea. Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Louisa Lim, who is watching events from the South Korean capital, Seoul.
As troops withdraw from Iraq, it's a bittersweet day for Brandeis University Professor Kanan Makiya. On April 9, 2003, Makiya watched the fall of Baghdad on television from the Oval Office, alongside President George W. Bush. The former Iraqi exile was an outspoken critic of Saddam Hussein's crimes against the Iraqi people and had advised the President on the invasion of Iraq. Makiya tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz he believes the war was worth it for the Iraqi people — but perhaps not for the Americans.
With just a few weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses, Newt Gingrich is leading the pack for the Republican presidential nomination.
Given the possibility that President Obama could be facing Gingrich in the campaign next fall, it seemed like a good time to check in with someone who has experience running against the former speaker of the House.
Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. caught a lot of people off guard when he opened his mouth to sing at his televised audition for America's Got Talent. The dreadlocked former car-washer is 6'4" and in his late 30s, but when he belted the first notes of the pop standard "I've Got You Under My Skin" like a certain blue-eyed crooner, audiences and judges alike delightedly voiced their surprise.
Murphy's own social circle was harder to win over. He tells NPR's Guy Raz that at first, his family members laughed at the thought of him singing Sinatra.
Dessa is best known as a member of Doomtree, a hip-hop collective based in Minneapolis. But there's much more singing than rapping on her latest album, Castor, the Twin, which puts a jazzy, melodic spin on some of her previous work.
Dessa says the title refers to the brothers Castor and Pollux from Greek and Roman mythology. Castor, she explains, is the milder of the two.
When William F. Buckley burst onto the national scene in 1955, conservatism was a dead letter in American politics.
"Lots of people thought that it was outdated, anachronistic, prehistoric, foolish, not very intelligent," Carl Bogus tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.
Bogus is the author of a new biography, called Buckley: William F. Buckley and the Rise of American Conservatism. He says that back in the 1950s and 1960s, there really was an established liberal elite in America, which controlled both political parties.
The Republican presidential contest remains fluid less than three weeks before the caucuses and primaries begin. Nationwide, nearly one in five GOP voters is still undecided. And in Iowa, candidates are making their final push before the Jan. 3 caucuses.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Friday told workers at a metal fabricating plant in Sioux City, Iowa: "I am running in this race because I understand how to get middle-class Americans prosperous again, working again, buying things, and putting more Americans back to work."
A few years ago, Jennifer Reese lost her job, so she decided it was the perfect time to save money by undertaking "all those exciting Little House on the Prairie cooking jobs" she'd been curious to try. Reese was an ambitious cook, and her enthusiasm knew no bounds: She wasn't just baking bread or grinding peanut butter. She fried potato chips, made Pop-Tarts, stretched curds into mozzarella, infused vermouth, fermented kimchee — and, while she was at it, raised her own chickens, turkeys and goats at her home in the San Francisco Bay area.
Every so often, an NFL player transcends the game. Think William "Refrigerator" Perry or Bo Jackson.
Tim Tebow, the quarterback who'll lead the Denver Broncos against the powerful New England Patriots on Sunday, has become a household name, thanks to his improbable come-from-behind victories combined with his prominent expressions of faith.
How does he do it? The Bears, Chargers, Chiefs, Dolphins, Jets, Raiders and Vikings would like to know.
Time For A Comeback
Tebow is a proper noun. Tebow is a verb meaning to genuflect.
Historical fiction invites us to experience the exotic and the unknown while confirming our common humanity. I do not believe that human nature has changed much over the centuries, and it is possible to identify with the emotions, passions, and fears of men and women long dead.
It's a big night in Iowa: The Republican presidential candidates are holding their final big debate prior to the Iowa caucuses, which take place on Jan. 3. Melissa Block talks with Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad about various candidates' strengths and weaknesses. In short, he says there's a lot of excitement, and he's reserving judgment on who the winner will be.
There's a world of activity between when online shoppers click the "place order" button and when a holiday package is delivered to their doorsteps. The National Retail Federation estimates that 38 percent of holiday purchases will be made online this year, which is keeping fulfillment centers large and small very busy.
Target.com runs five fulfillment centers. One of them, in Tucson, Ariz., stretches the length of 16 football fields.
President Obama doesn't have to worry about winning the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. He's almost sure to be the only Democrat in the first-in-the-nation contest. Yet, that hasn't stopped the Obama campaign from organizing its own effort to get out the vote.
"Hi, my name is Margaret, and I'm a volunteer with President Obama's grassroots team, Organizing for America," says Margaret LaBounty during a recent phone drive.
The founder of a venerable literary institution in Paris has died at 98. George Whitman founded the Shakespeare & Co bookstore, across from the Notre Dame cathedral. The shop was a magnet for English speakers in the French capital.
They're just everywhere. That's how a wildlife manager describes the mass casualties of Eared Grebes that crash landed in southern Utah on Monday night. Some 1,500 grebes died, another 3,000 have been rescued. The small water birds were migrating and apparently mistook a Walmart parking lot, highways and football fields covered with snow for bodies of water.
The Republican House and Democratic Senate pushed their game of chicken closer to the precipice Thursday, with a government shutdown threat looming at midnight Friday. Both maneuvered to be able to blame the other — should things fall apart and the government actually runs out of money to operate. NPR's Andrea Seabrook joins Lynn Neary with the latest.
2011 was a good year to be a reader of science fiction and fantasy, although lately every year has been a good year: Not only are the books getting more popular — thank you, Game of Thrones — they're getting more interesting, evolving and morphing in weird, fascinating ways.
They're also interbreeding with other genres to produce wild new hybrid forms, like historical science fiction romances and hard-boiled fantasy detective novels. They're commenting on current events and swapping DNA with literary novels.