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Pop Culture Happy Hour: Live From The Bell House, Part 2

Aug 29, 2014

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Linda Holmes

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Last week, we brought you the first half of the live show we recently held at the Bell House in Brooklyn, featuring producer emeritus Mike Katzif and a conversation about what we'll take away from this summer and what's to come this fall. This week, we have the second half, packed full of special guests and good pals and quizzes that are, in some cases, very difficult, apparently. You'll learn more than you wanted to know about television, shoes, teeth, Susan Anton, super dogs, fighting cats, and the deep, deep insecurities that lie within us all.

First up, we have a hard-fought battle between Stephen and Glen of Team PCHH and Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton of Team Ask Me Another. Can Stephen and I redeem ourselves from our humiliating performance at an AMA event here at NPR last year?

Oh, you never heard it? By all means, let us share it with you.

Next up, we invite my former Television Without Pity colleagues Sarah Bunting, now the east coast editor of Previously.TV, and Joe Reid, now entertainment editor at The Wire, to answer a bunch of questions about old and obscure television. Will they be able to tell the real variety show acts from the fake ones? Can they guess what a show called Small & Frye was about?

As if that weren't enough, we hold a competition between two media giants: our pal Parul Sehgal, an editor at the New York Times Book Review, and the marvelous Josh Gondelman, web producer (and Twitter voice) for Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

Finally, we wrap up with what you all really are eager to hear, which is a very difficult Glen quiz about superhero animals, with which a couple of audience members were kind enough to jump in and help out.

We are eternally grateful to everyone who came to the show, everyone who was in the show, everyone who listens to the show, everyone who helped us put on the show, everyone at the Bell House, everyone at NPR, everyone in New York, everyone in Washington, everyone on the internet, and especially the place where we got barbecue for dinner before the show, because that was really good.

Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: me, Stephen, Glen, Mike, and producer Jessica. We'll be back with regular shows starting next week, despite the fact that I'll be exploring the wonderful films of Toronto, and we hope you'll all be with us.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
A Syrian refugee child eats food which her mother collected from rubbish at Eminonu in Istanbul. (AFP/Getty Images)

U.N.: Syrian Refugee Crisis Is 'Biggest Humanitarian Emergency Of Our Era'

by Eyder Peralta
Aug 29, 2014

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The Syrian civil war has sparked "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era."

That's according to António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who added that while the world's response to the crisis has been "generous," it hasn't met the needs of refugees.

The U.N. agency released new numbers on Friday and the picture they paint is exceedingly grim. A few data points from the report:

— The total number of Syrian refugees will surpass 3 million people since the conflict began in 2011.

— Nearly half of all Syrians have been forced to abandon their homes.

— One in eight Syrians have fled the country.

— 6.5 million Syrians are displaced inside the country.

The situation is also growing more acute, according to the report. More than half of the refugees coming into Lebanon, for example, told the agency that they have moved at least once before. One in ten refugees in Lebanon say they have moved more than three times.

The U.N. also released a report on Thursday that assessed the conflict. As we reported, it found that both sides were indiscriminately killing and torturing civilians.

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Makoto Ozoné. (Courtesy of the artist)

Makoto Ozoné On Piano Jazz

Aug 29, 2014

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A world-class jazz composer and pianist, Makoto Ozoné began playing organ at age 2 and picked up piano at 12 after falling in love with the music of Oscar Peterson.

In this episode of Piano Jazz from 2002, Ozoné shows his mastery of the keyboard as he solos in his original "Lullaby for Rabbit." Host Marian McPartland performs a "Portrait of Makoto Ozoné," and together they enjoy musical jokes in Sonny Rollins' "Sonnymoon for Two."

Originally broadcast in 2002.

Set List

  • "Lullaby For Rabbit" (Ozoné)
  • "Here's That Rainy Day" (Van Heusen)
  • "Ill Winds" (Arien)
  • "Windows" (Corea)
  • "Asian Dream" (Ozoné)
  • "Free Piece" (McPartland)
  • Example from Twentieth Century (Ozoné)
  • "Portrait Of Makoto Ozoné" (McPartland)
  • "Sonnymoon For Two" (Rollins)
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Bruce Springsteen performs in May in Century City, Calif. (Getty Images for USC Shoah Foundation)

Book News: Born to Write? Bruce Springsteen To Publish A Children's Book

by Annalisa Quinn
Aug 29, 2014

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

  • Bruce Springsteen is writing a children's book about a bank-robbing baby called Outlaw Pete, based on his song of the same name. "Outlaw Pete is essentially the story of a man trying to outlive and outrun his sins," Springsteen said in a statement. The song "Outlaw Pete" was inspired by the 1950 children's book Brave Cowboy Bill. "When Bruce wrote 'Outlaw Pete' he didn't just write a great song, he created a great character," his co-author, cartoonist Frank Caruso, said in a statement. The book will come out from Simon & Schuster on Nov. 4.
  • For the Boston Review, Quyen Nguyen has an interview with Tobias Wolff. Asked about the relationship between literature and politics, Wolff said: "I think it is a political act to force someone to enter the mind, the spirit, the perspective of another human being. We are often resistant to this experience because it forces us to give up all our ideas about other people and actually enter their lives and see through their eyes. That's a radically political act to me."
  • Ivan Kreilkamp considers the "Against [X]" essay in The New Yorker: " 'Against [X]' is a symptom of a liberal culture's longing to escape its own strictures; it's the desire of thoughtful and nuanced people to shed their inhibitions and issue fearsome dicta. We feel that we must be fair and evenhanded in our prose, but in our titles we can fly a pirate's flag."
  • The D.C. Public Library has hired a social worker to work with homeless patrons. Mark Jenkins reports in The Washington Post: "Libraries in other cities have addressed homelessness in various ways. Philadelphia has a cafe and Seattle a coffee cart run by workers who were previously homeless; Dallas produces podcasts of interviews with its homeless regulars. But as far as [social worker Jean] Badalamenti knows, D.C. is only the second U.S. city to hire a library social worker, following San Francisco." Badalamenti told the Post, "Because the libraries tend to be gathering places for people without homes, it's important to be part of the citywide conversation about how we're going to address homelessness, health services and moving people out of homelessness."
  • At Flavorwire, Elisabeth Donnelly makes the case for a more inclusive literary culture: "Lots of people who are professionally writing about books are also snobs, and snobs to the point that they won't even consider what the specific alchemy and magic is that makes something like 50 Shades of Grey save the book industry for a year. ... Ignoring the biggest literary phenomenon of the decade is not good criticism."
  • For NPR, 2012 National Book Award Finalist Domingo Martinez describes his struggles with getting health care: "Last year, as I sat in a community health clinic, I wondered if I was the only New York Times best-seller who was waiting to get sliding scale treatment from an underfunded community project, so I wouldn't die from an asthma attack or have a stroke."
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Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
A Pro-Russian rebel walks in a passage at the local market damaged by shelling in Petrovskiy district in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. (AP)

Ukrainian Prime Minister Says Government Will Seek NATO Membership

by Eyder Peralta
Aug 29, 2014

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Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk says his government has sent parliament a bill that allows Ukraine to open a path toward membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"The main and only goal of Ukraine's foreign policy is to join the European Union," Yatsenyuk said in a statement.

Remember, it was the rejection of a trade deal with the European Union that sparked the protests that ultimately led to unrest and a new government in Ukraine.

And this is all happening, of course, just as NATO announced that about 1,000 highly-trained Russian troops had been deployed in eastern Ukraine. The Russian army, NATO said, is fighting alongside pro-Russian separatists.

NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow told Morning Edition that the thinking is that Russia is trying to create a land passage along the southern part of Ukraine into Crimea, which it annexed earlier this year.

Russia has denied that it is taking any direct involvement in Ukraine.

Vershbow said that NATO would continue to support Ukraine with its defense reforms and its to pursuit professionalize its military.

Morning Edition's David Greene asked Vershbow if there were more options for NATO.

Vershbow said that at this point, it will be up to individual members of NATO to decide how they want to help Ukraine. The new appeals for help from Kiev, he said, "will require some serious decision-making in NATO capitals."

David asked him if that included military action.

Vershbow said that President Obama had ruled out "direct NATO military involvement."

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