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Back in 1993, the Food Network was the Little Network that Nobody Really Thought Could. Cable TV was still, if not in its infancy, then enduring a difficult toddlerhood — no one knew what cable audiences were interested in, and no one thought a scrappy startup dedicated to food would go anywhere. Twenty years later, the doubters have been proved wrong; the Food Network is a global powerhouse that's made the names and fortunes of stars like Emeril Lagasse, Paula Deen, Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray.

At the end of the Korean War — a long, bloody, and under-memorialized conflict that claimed millions of lives — no real treaty was ever signed. Although there was an armistice in 1953, the nations of North and South Korea remain, technically, still at war. The Demilitarized Zone along the 38th parallel is one of the tensest borders on earth, with thousands of men, tanks and artillery pieces pointed at each other over minefields and barbed wire fences, fingers on triggers 24 hours a day.

For years I have wondered, albeit vaguely, about gefilte fish, a dish that appears in various guises in novels about Jewish families, almost always at points of celebration or domestic tension. Here's how to make it: Skin a whole pike, mince the flesh, mix with vegetables and bread. Sew the minced fish back into the skin and poach for three hours. Garnish with horseradish.

Actor Dean Norris took to Twitter the other day. "Missed last night's Breaking Bad," he wrote. "Heard it was intense. Filmed several alternate versions. Can't wait to see what they used."

Please note: There's a spoiler farther down this page.

Norris plays — played? — a drug enforcement agent on the acclaimed AMC series, which wraps for good after just two more episodes. His character's brother-in-law is a chemistry teacher with cancer who, at the series' outset, gets into cooking methamphetamine to pay for his treatment.

When it was time to create a new collection, Christian Dior had a ritual: He went to his garden and sat down among the flowers.

A revival of Harold Pinter's play Betrayal is in rehearsal now in New York. It's the story of an affair, and it unfolds backward in time, from the lovers sharing a post-romantic drink to the passion they first experienced seven years earlier. Along the way, much deception — betrayal, even — is revealed.

Daniel Craig, who stars as the jilted Robert, tells NPR's Robert Siegel that the show, first performed in 1978, still feels "surprisingly contemporary. ... When you have someone as good as Pinter, it remains timeless. And the themes are timeless. It's just good writing."

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. Stephen King has been scaring us to death for more than four decades and in his latest effort, he revisits one of his best, most terrifying novels, which also inspired this film classic.

(SOUNDBITE FROM FILM "THE SHINING")

JACK NICHOLSON: (As Jack) Here's Johnny.

A Latvian Photographer Never Lets Down His Guard

Sep 18, 2013

Latvia is in the midst of a financial transition. The country has had "the fastest growing economy in the EU for the last two years," Pauls Raudseps, an economics commentator for the Latvian news magazine IR, said recently on Morning Edition.

The House of Representatives is expected to take up a bill Thursday that would chart the course for federal nutrition programs for years to come.

The measure calls for $40 billion in cuts over a decade to the federal food stamp program, now known as SNAP. The measure's Republican backers say it attacks fraud, but advocates say it will hurt the poor.

Lots of listeners read all kinds of messages into The Beatles' White Album, but nothing compares to the album's impact on Charles Manson. He heard it as a message to him and his followers — known as "The Family" — that the world was on the verge of an apocalyptic race war in which blacks would rise up against their white oppressors and enslave them.

This battle would be set off by an event called Helter Skelter, after the eponymous Beatles song, and Manson planned to lead his followers into the desert, where they would hide until the chaos ended.

What Does 'American' Beauty Look Like?

Sep 18, 2013

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Regular Monkey See readers know that I've been a fan for some time of Rainbow Rowell, whose first book, Attachments, was a thoughtful romance that utterly charmed me. (Full disclosure: It was after I began reading her books that I got to know Rowell a bit, enough that we actually met in person for the first time Tuesday night for dinner, ahead of her Wednesday night event at Politics & Prose in Washington, where she'll be talking about her new book, Fangirl.)

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we'll hear about the songs that keep Cuban-American rapper Pitbull grounded, that is when he's not cranking out his own chart-topping hits. First, though, we want to tell you about a new documentary series that takes a look at the long, some might say, overlooked, history of Hispanics in this country. It's called "Latino Americans."

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "LATINO AMERICANS")

Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, took the crown in this year's Miss America beauty pageant. It was the 87th year of the competition, and Davuluri was one of two Asian-Americans in the final round. Although she's just a few days into her reign, Davuluri has already made history. She's the first Indian-American Miss America.

Her win highlights how far the U.S. has come, but also how far the country has to go: Racist tweets flooded in on Twitter right after her victory.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

If you're a dutiful fan of Stephen King's work — myself, I'm an off again, on again follower — you will have read The Shining, King's hit 1977 novel about a haunted resort in the Colorado Rockies. Depending on how recently you immersed yourself in that story, you'll have a sharp or vague recollection of a young child with the power of "shining," or mind-reading mixed with telekinesis.

For the past few weeks, the culinary arts students at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., have been working with some less-than-seasoned sous chefs.

One of them, Clinton Piper, may look like a pro in his chef's whites, but he's struggling to work a whisk through some batter. "I know nothing about baking," he says.

'Don't Know'? Just Admit It

Sep 18, 2013

We've all faked our way through conversations before — whether about books we haven't read, movies we haven't seen or concepts we don't understand. In her new book, I Don't Know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance (Except When You Shouldn't), Leah Hager Cohen explores moments in history and everyday life when "I don't know" can have a big impact.

While NPR's Melissa Block is in Brazil, we'll be showcasing the work of several Brazilian writers. Today: Tatiana Salem Levy, whose short story "Blazing Sun" was featured in the literary magazine Granta. Levy splits her time between Rio de Janeiro, where she's spent most of her life, and Lisbon, where she was born. She calls "Blazing Sun," which is excerpted below, her love letter to Rio.

Fox's new sitcom Dads features unflattering images and jokes about Asian-Americans, Latinos and women. Fox is promoting the film by embracing all the criticism that calls it offensive.

With a career that spans rock, pop, country and everything in between, Linda Ronstadt knows no genre, only what her voice can accomplish. Her most famous recordings include "Heart Like a Wheel," "Desperado," "Faithless Love," and many more. But last month, Ronstadt revealed that she has Parkinson's disease and can no longer sing.

Tufts University announced Tuesday that one of its researchers broke ethical rules while carrying out a study of genetically modified "golden rice" in China.

Health, cultural assimilation and language are some of the top concerns on the minds of a group of Latino parents, social media influencers and regular contributors to Tell Me More. Health was something first lady Michelle Obama highlighted in July, when she addressed the National Council of La Raza, the nation's leading Hispanic civil rights organization.

Nicholson Baker has become a sort of poet of the particular and the peculiar. His books are filled with people who focus minutely on what captivates them – in other words, obsessives. A positive way of looking at obsession is as passion taken to an extreme. The danger, of course, is that the object of one person's intense fascination — such as the broken shoelaces in his unforgettable first novel, The Mezzanine, or the disquisitions on Debussy, dance music, and drones in his latest, Traveling Sprinkler — may spell another's total snore.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

I approached this review with a little bit of dread. How do you write about the iconic novelist Thomas Pynchon, whose books are strange and difficult things, and whose die-hard readers gather online to wax poetic, and use words like Pynchonian, Pynchonalia and Pynchonesque? They are just so into him, and often so articulate about their love. If you read the thoughtful and detailed writing by Pynchon devotees, they make a very persuasive case.

On July 18, 1863, the Union Army's famed 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry — a black military unit — made a desperate assault on Confederate forces at Fort Wagner near Charleston, S.C. In the end, they were unsuccessful and lost almost half of their forces. Escaped slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman bore elegiac eyewitness to the terrible day: "We saw the lightning and that was the guns," she said later.

The French novelist Marcel Proust immortalized the connection between food and memory when the narrator of his novel Remembrances of Things Past bit into a madeleine and was transported to thoughts of his childhood.

But what if that madeleine were poisoned, so to speak?

That is the question underlying Russian American writer Anya von Bremzen's new memoir, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. Though it contains recipes, this is not a cookbook but rather, a history of a family and of Soviet Russia.

Thanks to donations from the community, the Hoogland Center for the Arts in 2012 dodged foreclosure and landed on firmer financial ground.  

That means the staff can now plan longer term.  Executive Director Gus Gordon says he's now selling full season ticket packages for the very first time.

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