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Arts and Culture

In 1946, Nat King Cole became the first recording artist to wrap his lush vocals around what would become a standard of the holiday season, "The Christmas Song." But that song was written by a different crooner: Mel Tormé.

NPR's Noel King spoke with Mel Tormé's youngest son, James — an accomplished jazz singer himself — to get the story behind the creation of this Christmas classic.

A24 Films

Greta Gerwig's solo directorial debut, Lady Bird, is a coming-of-age comedy/drama that stars Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, and Lucas Hedges. Oh, and it's currently at 99% on the Tomatometer. So here's the question: Can a movie that's at 99% on the Tomatometer really ever be anything other than a letdown?

And then: Is the English translation of the Lord's Prayer actually a mistranslation? The Pope thinks it might be.

arinahabich/iStock / Thinkstock

It’s the holiday season -- the perfect time to kick back and get lost in a new podcast... or two... or three... or four. But how do you decide what to listen to?

Frontiers Conferences / flickr

Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, etc. These are just the beginning of what experts believe will be a future filled with verbally interactive, digital and robotic assistants. And as we become more accustomed to interacting with machines, the machines are becoming more life-like.

The Battle For Butter

Dec 19, 2017
Creative Commons

We tend not to think much about that pat of butter we put on our morning toast, including how the store-bought sweet cream butter we're eating likely pales in comparison to the rich, nutty flavor of  the cultured butter not found in many stores.

Merely Torres-Garcia has been living in a hotel room in Hartford, Conn., with her husband and two kids after losing part of her house in Puerto Rico to Hurricane Maria. She said spending the Christmas season in the northeastern cold has been hard for her family. But on Saturday night, in the noisy atrium of Hartford City Hall, it felt a little bit like Christmas on the island.

"My kids are happy. We feel like home in here right now," she said.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Merely Torres García ha vivido en una habitación de hotel en Hartford, Connecticut, con su esposo y sus dos hijos luego de perder parte de su casa en Puerto Rico por el Huracán María. Ella dijo que pasar la época de Navidad en el frío del noreste ha sido duro para la familia. Pero el sábado en la noche, en el ruidoso atrio del City Hall de Hartford, se sintió un poco como en las navidades en la isla.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

For once in our lives, it's actually kind of obvious what this week in pop culture has been all about.

Star Wars's Episode VIII -- the ninth live-action Star Wars movie -- is out. The Last Jedi officially opens today, and it's projected to take in nearly half a billion dollars this weekend. The Nose stayed up late last night to catch a midnight showing. Or something like that.

And this week saw what is quite possibly the world's first viral short story. The New Yorker's "Cat Person" happens to be about just the right topic at just the right cultural moment. Perhaps not surprisingly, some men are missing the point.

After the storm blew out her windows, Maria Enid Rodriguez lost water, Internet, power and her entire home office. Her company offered her a one-way ticket to be with family in New Britain, Conn. Rodriguez refused. She said that it was a round trip ticket or nothing. She wanted to come back.

"I went to New Britain for 10 days," she said, through her tears. "Not for me. For them. For my daughters. They have to see me, that I was okay."

Evan Kalish / Postlandia

When Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the early 1830's to gather observations that he would later put on the pages of Democracy in America, he was impressed with the efficiency of our American Postal Service.

Brandon Carson / Creative Commons

Patti Smith wasn't seeking fame when she landed in Manhattan in 1969.  She was a fan of the greats of the day - like Dylan, Mapplethorpe, Pollock, Ginsberg - who she followed and emulated, hoping to find her own creative space next to those she most admired. 

Diane Sobolewski

Nearly 175 years after it was first published, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens remains a holiday classic. The story has been retold many times in movie, TV, and stage adaptations.

Mmmm, Donuts

Dec 7, 2017
Gabriel Kronisch / Creative Commons

My mom would take me and my brothers to the beach on summer days when I was a little kid. I couldn't yet swim but I could stand in Long Island Sound when the tide was low and my brothers were close enough to save me if I fell. I loved it. On the way home, we'd pile into the back of our station wagon, roll down the windows and stop at the donut shop for a dozen sugar-coated jelly donuts.  We'd eat them with our heads out the window and I'd end up with my hair stuck in the jelly on my face by the time I got home. Mmmm donuts.

David Torcivia / flickr creative commons

Jaws, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones. Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan. Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. And the list goes on.

Steven Spielberg is very simply the most successful filmmaker in the history of filmmaking.

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