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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

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

200 years of Mr. Darcy

In History, NPR, Pop Culture, Television on January 29, 2013 at 1:15 am

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is celebrating it’s 200th birthday. The BBC naturally had lots of coverage, which brought my attention to Austenland, a rom com/mockumentary about a young woman obsessed with Pride & Prejudice. Watch the movie trailer and Sundance review here.



Happy 200th Pride & Prejudice!

Happy 200th Pride & Prejudice!

• Also worth reading: “Janeites: The curious American cult of Jane Austen” [BBC]

• The Real Jane Austen, book review. [Fresh Air]

Chicago’s Cold War Missile Launch Sites

In Chicago, History, International, NPR, Politics, WBEZ on January 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm

WBEZ in Chicago recently launched Curious City, where Chicagoans submit their curiosities about the city and surrounding area – and CC does their best to answer. Recent inquiries have included “did Al Capone really have secret tunnels throughout the suburbs?” and  “where does all the Lincoln Park Zoo animal waste go?” (I’d never thought about it, but was indeed curious for the answer).

This week, Curious City discusses the question “What happened to the Nike Missile sites around Chicago?” During the Cold War, Chicago had several missile launch sites scattered about the lakefront, including at Belmont Harbor. The story of the Nike Missiles, how they got here and where they went, is a fascinating piece of forgotten Chicago history.

IFC Radar Towers at Promontory Point, 55th St & South Shore Drive[Courtesy of Michael Epperson /]

IFC Radar Towers at Promontory Point, 55th St & South Shore Drive
[Courtesy of Michael Epperson /]

1961 map of Chicago missile sites []

1961 map of Chicago missile sites

40 years after Roe V. Wade

In All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Health, History, Law, NPR, Politics on January 23, 2013 at 1:34 am

In recognition of Roe V. Wade’s fortieth anniversary,  NPR had several stories on one of the nation’s most controversial subjects. Terry Gross’s Fresh Air was especially horrifying: ‘We Have No Choice’: A Story of the Texas Sonogram Law. “What good is a law that adds only pain and difficulty to perhaps the most painful and difficult decision a woman can make?”



Also featured:

Roe V. Wade turns 40, but abortion debate is even older

States becomes battlegrounds for nation’s deep abortion divide

“…buying Jaguars and a $540,000 home with no down payment.”

In History, Morning Edition, NPR, Politics on January 23, 2013 at 12:34 am

On Morning Edition, Tina Brown recommended her three must-reads for the week. Her last pick peaked my interest – The New York Times obituary for  Jeanne Vertefeuille, a longtime CIA official who was instrumental in catching Aldrich Ames, “one of the 20th century’s most notorious moles.”

Jeanne Vertefeuille, center, and other members of the team that tracked down Aldrich Ames. [ / CIA]

Jeanne Vertefeuille, center, and other members of the team that tracked down Aldrich Ames. [ / CIA]

A look at Lincoln’s Inaugural menu

In Food, History, NPR, Politics, Pop Culture on January 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm

A day behind, but still worth sharing. Smithsonian Magazine writer Megan Gambino recently wrote about Lincoln’s menu for his second inaugural ball – which ended in some-what of a food fight.  Listen to the NPR story here.

“The floor of the supper room was soon sticky, pasty and oily with wasted confections, mashed cake, and debris of fowl and meat…”

Menu for Lincoln's 2nd inaugural ball, March 6, 1865 [Smithsonian Institution /]

Menu for Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural ball, March 6, 1865 [Smithsonian Institution /]

Inauguration 101

In History, NPR, Politics, Pop Culture on January 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm

5 interesting factoids about the inauguration that will surely help strengthen your Trivial Pursuit game.

And from ABC news, “12 surprising facts about Inauguration.” (quite fascinating, actually)

[MPI/Getty Images]

[MPI/Getty Images]