Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

American museum-goers can now get a rare glimpse of a painting that's been called a masterpiece — but has spent most of its life in storage. When The Fulbright Triptych was first shown in 1975, its future looked bright, but it didn't work out that way. It's a massive work — nearly 14 feet wide — with near life-sized portraits of the artist, Simon Dinnerstein, and his family.

Why Is Egg The Only Nog?

Dec 20, 2017

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This holiday season, we're tracking down the origins of some favorite holiday traditions - today, eggnog. The egg part is obvious. Traditionally, there's raw eggs in the drink - but nog?

ALTON BROWN: Historians argue a great deal about why we call eggnog eggnog.

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In the winter of 2006, the unthinkable happened. There was a shortage of aquavit, the Scandinavian spirit that's flavored with caraway and other botanicals like dill and anise. For Scandinavian-Americans who relied on aquavit to accompany the traditional julbord, or holiday buffet, it was a tragedy.

In 2004, after three decades of serving Slovakian-style holiday dinners, my grandmother declared that she was done. Since no single person could match Grandmom's culinary prowess, the rest of the family did our best to divide up her dishes. For our Christmas Eve meal, my father learned to make the opening course — a lima bean soup. We purchased the dessert, a nut roll called kolachi, from a nearby Ukrainian church. For our main course, pierogi, I took the lead. I was entirely unprepared.

We've done some holiday episodes of Pop Culture Happy Hour in the past. But very often, because many of us on the panel celebrate Christmas, we end up talking about that. This year, we wanted to talk a little about Hanukkah as both a religious and pop-cultural event, so we called in two of our favorite women who celebrate: Barrie Hardymon of Weekend Edition and Sarah Ventre of member station KJZZ in Phoenix.

Independent, graceful, agile, adorable when they're small — if cats are where it's at for you, the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery of Asian Art has you covered. Their new exhibition is called Divine Felines, and it features images of cats both big and small from the land that honored them as holy: Egypt.

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Twenty years ago today, the film "Titanic" opened in theaters. Titanic the ship sank in 1912. "Titanic" the movie was a huge success. NPR's pop culture critic Linda Holmes takes us back to 1997.

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This holiday season, we're tracking down the origins of some favorite holiday traditions. Today, we're talking Hanukkah and jelly donuts. In Hebrew, they're called sufganiyot. Why do Jews eat them on Hanukkah?

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real make exactly the kind of music you would hope for from a new generation carrying the country-rock torch — music with guitars muscular enough to reach the back of the bar or tender enough to play for fireflies on the front porch. And there are lyrics with plenty of humor, heartache and just plain heart.

Two years ago, news headlines blared, "Cheese really is crack," citing research that was widely misinterpreted as asserting cheese was addictive. Now, it's chocolate's turn.

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Ask any Swede and they'll tell you that a smörgåsbord table without herring is (gasp) unthinkable. While there are other foods they may rattle off as equally important — gravlax, cured ham, meatballs and rice pudding — it's these tiny, pickled fish that are the backbone of the elaborate buffet, which likely traces its roots back to high-society gatherings in the 1500s.

Return To 'B Planet' In this Timely New Anthology

Dec 19, 2017

"Are you woman enough to survive ... Bitch Planet?" There's a double meaning to the question that's been emblazoned across Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro's feminist comic since it debuted in 2014. DeConnick and De Landro aren't just asking the reader whether she thinks she could stay alive in a planet-sized women's prison. They're also asking whether the reader is willing to face up to the connections they make between contemporary America and the comic's universe of state-sponsored misogyny.

Whether it's hanging lights, baking dozens of cookie variations or just enjoying the plants, holidays are full of traditions. But like with any tradition, sometimes you've been doing it so long that you don't know why.

Why do we kiss under mistletoe and toast with eggnog? Who decided we should eat jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah? And where do poinsettias come from?

The three of us — NPR movie critic Bob Mondello, Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes and me, a writer for the NPR Arts Desk and Pop Culture Happy Hour panelist — didn't share our lists of favorite 2017 movies with one other beforehand, so it's interesting to see us all agreeing on so many great films (The Big Sick, Call Me By Your Name, The Florida Project and Get Out).

All social classes have unspoken rules.

From A-list celebrities to teachers, doctors, lawyers, and journalists — there are social norms that govern our decisions, whether we realize it or not.

3 Books That Capture America In Poetry

Dec 18, 2017

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Our poetry reviewer, Tess Taylor, is sharing some books that she says capture different voices from American life right now. One's by a poet from West Virginia, another an immigrant and a third an African-American woman. Hi, Tess.

TESS TAYLOR, BYLINE: Hi, Ari, how are you?

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My mother's side of the family is half Danish and my father's side half Norwegian. But at Christmastime, we feel 100 percent Scandinavian. Largely ignoring the English and Scottish bits of our heritage, we fill our Christmas table with treats such as crumbly Danish cookies and piquant pickled herring.

My favorite of all the Danish desserts is smør bullar. Small spheres of butter, flour, powdered sugar and nuts, dusted with more powdered sugar for good measure, these cookies are the flavor of Christmas for everyone in my extended family.

The plots of dystopian novels can be amazing. A group of teens in Holland, Mich., tells me about some of their favorites:

In Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Love is considered a disease. Characters get a vaccine for it. In Marissa Meyer's Renegades, the collapse of society has left only a small group of humans with extraordinary abilities. They work to establish justice and peace in their new world.

Mary Higgins Clark has made a good living off of murder. She creates characters that readers can identify with, then puts them in scary situations — and her fans love it.

Known as the "queen of suspense," Higgins Clark has sold 100 million copies of her books in the U.S. alone, but she didn't publish her first book until she was a widow in her early 40s. When Higgins Clark turns 90 on Christmas Eve, she'll still be turning out two books a year.

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