Here's a partial list of things that happened in 1876:
It was, of course, the nation's 100th birthday. George Armstrong Custer met his fate at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call. A giant squid, 18 feet long, washed up on a beach in Newfoundland.
And James Boyle's great-great-grandmother grew a very special cucumber in her Illinois garden. She put the sprouting vine in an old medicine bottle, so the cucumber grew inside it.
And not just any dessert ... the oldest dessert in New York City. No, not those rock-hard doughnuts from the corner coffee cart. We're talking about the kinds of sweets people would have been eating 500, 1,000, even 2,000 years ago.
By the late 1960s, classic horror movies pioneered by Vincent Price and Boris Karloff had run out of steam. What took their place in the period after that was something different, edgier and altogether more terrifying.
"To some extent you could say that modern horror started with the Universal classics, but I do think there is this significant turning point starting in 1968," says Jason Zinoman, author of the new book Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror.
<p>Aman Mojedidi, who grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to Afghanistan in 2003 because he thought his homeland was finally on the mend. The guerrilla artist is also known as the Jihadi Gangsta, and he has provoked controversy and laughter with his work.</p>
The stereotypical Fantasy Football fan is a 30-something suburban man-child. And the FX program The League is about their ilk. But even though fantasy football is what brings several friends together in the TV show, you don't have to be a fantasy football fan to enjoy it.
Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer is this year's winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. Transtromer has been mentioned as a candidate for the award for years. His work often walks a line between concrete reality and dreams — he's worked as a psychologist and social worker in addition to his writing.
I went looking for a bubble the other day. I'd heard that prices for American farmland were spiking – up thirty percent over the past year, and double what people were paying five or six years ago. It sounded like irrational exuberance.
I flew to Iowa, drove to the town of Colo, an hour north of Des Moines, and dropped in on a land auction. It was a great scene: A hushed crowd of farmers, an auctioneer with a voice made for opera, and a climactic duel between rival bidders, one of whom raised the price with a wink, the other with a slight nod.
Guy Raz, talks with Alexander Nazaryan about his rant in Salon.com, excoriating the American literary world. He explains that Americans don't deserve a Nobel Prize because their work is too interior. Nazaryan is on the editorial board of The New York Daily News.
Across the world, admirers of Apple Computers are constructing impromptu shrines outside Apple Stores. Guy Raz hears from people in Santa Monica, Calif., and Washington, D.C., about what Apple means to them.
Radiohead's first hit, "Creep," was everywhere in 1993. The band could have reacted as many other modern-rock acts did in the '90s: by repeating the same old sound, album after album, before fading into the background. Instead, the group made each record a reinvention, from the spare and haunting Kid A to In Rainbows, which sounded, well, sexy. It's all helped make Radiohead one of the most inventive and important bands in the world.
Sarah Palin says she will not run for the 2012 GOP nomination for president. The former vice presidential nominee made the announcement on the syndicated Mark Levin radio show. For more, I'm joined by NPR's Don Gonyea. And, Don, what reasons did Palin give?
The future of the The Simpsons hangs in the balance as negotiations continue between 20th Century Fox Television, which makes the animated series, and the actors who supply the characters voices. How does a TV classic that's been on the air a record 23 seasons find itself at death's door?
Well, the cartoon Simpsons aren't rich, but the real people who bring them to life sure are. Six main actors are responsible for everyone from Homer to Lisa to bartender Moe, and you won't believe how much each makes to do voices for these characters. Try $8 million a season.
Remember reading, as a child, and feeling the fine mesh of words catch you up so completely that you became enjoyably muddled about which was the real world and which the world of the book? For me, it was as though I gulped down the language of the story and grew fat with its cadences — they rang in my ears, colored my vision and pulsed in my throat.
As I got older, I lost some of that easy susceptibility. What had once been a permeable membrane between fiction and life solidified.
<p>An Egyptian man sits watching as others take part in a sit-in at Tahrir Square demanding further reforms in Cairo, on July 27, 2011, months after the country's revolution which brought down the government.</p>
This summer I spent a month in Egypt doing research for the public radio program Afropop Worldwide. In October, Afropop will begin airing a series of programs looking at Egypt — past and present — through the eyes of musicians. In one episode Egyptians are asked to imagine how the revolution will affect their popular music?
<p><strong>Before the <em>Honeymoon:</em></strong> The classic cast is Art Carney and Joyce Randolph as Ed and Trixie, Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows as Ralph and Alice Kramden. But in some early "lost" episodes, Alice was played by Pert Kelton — and Trixie by future Broadway and cabaret star Elaine Stritch. </p>
Time for our movie critic Bob Mondello to suggest something for home-viewing. Today, he's exploring a 15-disk collection of classic TV comedy that nobody's seen for a while: The Honeymooners: The Lost Episodes.
Commentator Dennis O'Toole is a writer and improv performer from Chicago.
Today, Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam G. Riess won the Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering that expansion in the universe is speeding up. That's great news for me, since I had Riess and Perlmutter in my fantasy league.
Honestly, I could have gotten Schmidt too, but I drafted Nathan Seiberg, mainly because he's worked with both supersymmetric gauge theories and with discrete light-cone quantization. That was a hedge.
I first came across Sultana's Dream while doing research for a novel set in Bangladesh. I had traveled to Dhaka, the capital city, and stumbled on the Liberation War museum, where my visit coincided with an exhibition on the story.
I became fascinated by the life of its author, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, when I learned that, like me, she had been raised by a progressive Muslim family and actively encouraged to seek an education.
When I was a kid, I assumed that in the future things would get better and better until we were all driving flying cars and playing badminton with space aliens on top of 500-story buildings. Frankly, I kind of counted on this happening. But now I don't assume that we'll just keep going up anymore.