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Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page

Kidnapper’s Foil: Forty Years of the Same Film

In History, NPR, On the Media, Pop Culture on February 25, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Stories like this is why I love NPR.

Melton Barker spent 4 decades traveling the US filming the same movie in any town willing to pay to see their name and residents on the big screen. The film, The Kidnapper’s Foil, loosely centers around the kidnapping of character “Betty  Davis”…but then somehow turns into a town talent show (cue the townies eager to show off of their tap-dancing skills). There are hundreds of versions of The Kidnapper’s Foil dating from the 1930’s to the 70’s.

Caroline Frick, Executive Director of the The Texas Archive of the Moving Image speaks to On the Media about her research and obsession(?) with Melton Barker.

There is no script for the interview, but the 9min audio is well worth it. You can view several versions of The Kidnapper’s Foil and search for your home town here.

From African Mummies to the Harlem Shake

In All Things Considered, History, International, Music, Pop Culture on February 22, 2013 at 1:33 am

I’ll admit, I was late to the Harlem Shake phenomenon. A 30-second video where one person dances to a dubstep beat surrounded by people seemingly going about a task not paying attention, then 15 seconds in the video cuts to everyone dancing with obscure costumes and props. Here NPR speaks with Jay Smooth, Harlemite and host of the hip-hop video blog Ill Doctrine, about the origin of the Harlem Shake and how it has evolved into the popular meme.

Also worth a read: Long Before the Harlem Shake, We Did the Shimmy

Are you in on the secret? Menus that is.

In Food, Morning Edition, NPR, Pop Culture on February 21, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a “secret” item before…but am I really missing out? 8 patties, really?!

NPR reveals the latest restaurant to go hidden.

In & Out is probably the best known "secret menu" fast food restaurant

In & Out is probably the best known “secret menu” fast food restaurant

For your curiosity:

18 Secret Menu Items [via Business Insider]

The Best Hidden Menus [via Ranker]

Baby Boxes

In All Things Considered, Health, International, NPR on February 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Eeeegh, how terribly sad. Listen to this report on the spreading use of  “Baby Boxes” in Europe where family members – or in some cases, pimps and sex trade workers – anonymously drop off newborns they cannot care for.

European "Baby Box"

European “Baby Box”

“When the infant is placed inside and the door is closed, it can’t be opened from the street again. Meanwhile, an alarm goes off inside and a neonatal team rushes to care for the infant.”

baby box 3

Baby Box instructions

Baby Box instructions

The IKEA Effect

In Morning Edition, NPR, Science on February 6, 2013 at 5:44 pm

What if it isn’t love that leads to labor, but labor that leads to love? That is the question Tulane University marketing professor Daniel Mochon cheerfully discusses on Morning Edition today – and how IKEA plays a role in our sense of competence.

People made to feel incompetent may be more vulnerable to the Ikea Effect.

People made to feel incompetent may be more vulnerable to the Ikea Effect.

“…people attach greater value to things they built than if the very same product was built by someone else. And in new experiments, researchers have discovered why it happens: Building your own stuff boosts your feelings of pride and competence, and also signals to others that you are competent.”


“Give me a child until he is 7, and I will show you the man.”

In Fresh Air, International, NPR, Pop Culture, Television on February 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

The  monumental British documentary series, 7 UP, first followed 14 seven-year-olds from varying economic backgrounds in 1964 – and has continued checking in every seven years thereafter. This year marks the 7th follow up, the cute and candid 7-year-olds are now 56…and after 49 years, the personalities and social statuses haven’t skewed much.

Fresh Air’s Terry Gross spoke with the director, Michael Apted, and one of the 14 subjects, Nick Hitchon, on their experience with the series and thoughts on the latest installment. Listen to the interview here.

“[T]he idea was that we would get some 7-year-old children from different backgrounds — from rich backgrounds, from poor backgrounds, from rural backgrounds … and have them talk about their lives … and see whether that told us anything. And of course it did, because it was both very funny and also chilling, showing that, in fact, the class system was very active, and that people in certain backgrounds had a real vision of their future, and others really didn’t know what day it was.”

Also worth reading:

○ They Grow Up, but They Remain a Lifetime Pursuit [NY Times]

What “56 UP” Reveals [New Yorker]

Maurice Sendak Posthumous Farewell

In Morning Edition, News, NPR, Pop Culture on February 5, 2013 at 1:14 am

Fifty years after Where the Wild Things Are, beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak has a new book, even though he passed away last year. Morning Edition spoke with Tony Kushner, long time friend of Sendak, about My Brother’s BookA touching conversation about Sendak, his last work, and the meanings behind so many of our favorite stories.

“There’s a lot of consuming and devouring and eating in Maurice’s books. And I think that when people play with kids, there’s a lot of fake ferocity and threats of, you know, devouring, because love is so enormous, the only thing you can think of doing is swallowing the person that you love entirely.”

Published posthumously, Maurice Sendak's My Brother's Book combines poetry and art in an elegy to Sendak's brother. []

Published posthumously, Maurice Sendak’s My Brother’s Book combines poetry and art in an elegy to Sendak’s brother. []

Gluttony useful response to scarcity

In Food, Health, NPR on February 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

An evolutionary look at why, in times of economic hardship, we may be “hard-wired” to eat foods higher in fat and calories – even though we know better. Read more here.



“Evolutionary biologists have long speculated that in prehistoric times, when the blueprint of modern human behavior was created as our ancestors struggled for survival, gluttony may have been a useful response to scarcity: If you knew — or feared — a famine was coming, it made sense to tuck away as many calories as possible to prepare for it.”