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Weekend Edition Saturday

Saturdays, 8am - 10am

NPR's Peabody Award-winning correspondent Scott Simon captures the spirit of Saturday with an informative and worldly blend of news and analysis, and special features including the topics of sports, gardening, entertainment and more.

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Please, have a seat; it's time to talk about chairs. Thomas Jefferson collected chairs. Pee Wee Herman named his ' Chairy .' Archie Bunker's beloved wingback is now at The National Museum of American History. And when the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey sat on a swivel chair for the first time, she was in for a surprise . In the new book Now I Sit Me Down architect Witold Rybczynski traces the history of chairs. Take a close look at what you're sitting on, he says, and you'll learn about...

One of America's most distinguished men of letters says he believes that speech, not evolution, has made human beings into the creative, imaginative, deliberate, destructive, and complicated beings who invented the slingshot and the moon shot, and wrote the words of the Bible, Don Quixote , Good Night Moon , the backs of cereal boxes, and Fifty and Shades of Grey . The Kingdom of Speech is Tom Wolfe's first non-fiction book in 16 years. Wolfe tells NPR's Scott Simon that speech is "the...

Remember the toucan in Costa Rica who had its upper beak hacked off by a perpetrator who was never found? Well, here's an update to a story we first told you about last year. And, spoiler alert — it has a happy ending. Local residents brought the bird to a nearby animal rescue center. And thanks to its dedicated workers, amazing doctors and engineers, the toucan now has a prosthetic beak. That new beak and Grecia, as the bird's called, went on public display just this last week at ZooAve, a...

What's in a name? The Chicago White Sox, mired in in the middle of the American League Central division, announced this week they've signed a 13 year deal to rename the park where they play Guaranteed Rate Field. Guaranteed Rate is a home loan company, headquartered in Chicago. But as Rick Morrisey wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times , "Guaranteed Rate Field. You're kidding, right? Was Year End Clearance Sale Stadium already taken?" Ridicule broke out on social media. I sure joined in. What's next...

William James Stokes is the son of a church man, and on his first album he comes right out with it. The Preacher's Kid is the singer and rapper's debut as Sir the Baptist, a name he felt suited his origins in the Bronzeville district of South Side Chicago. "I grew up in a Chicago area where they called it 'Chi-raq' — and I felt like if I was gonna be the voice crying out in the wilderness, I would want to be John the Baptist," he says. Stokes spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about playing...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Texas has some of the best medical care facilities in the world, but a study in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Medical Journal singles out Texas for concern because its maternal mortality rate has doubled. From 2010 to 2014, the mortality rate for mothers dying from complications of childbirth has risen in the U.S. generally over a decade, but that increase has been sharpest in Texas where more than 600 women died...

It's a big summer for conventions, the Olympics — and Barbra Streisand . She's on tour in nine cities across North America, and has a new album of duets called called Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. Her collaborators include Anne Hathaway, Daisey Ridley, Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jamie Foxx, Melissa McCarthy, Antonio Banderas, and a host of other film stars. "The concept came to me when I was sent a version of a Marvin Hamlisch song called 'Any Moment Now,'" she explains. "It was such...

It looks like it could be a cartoon character, but it's real. And this little squid is making waves on the internet. Researchers from the Nautilus exploration vessel were cruising along the deep sea floor off California's coast when they came upon the bright purple creature with giant, stuffed-animal-like eyes. "Whoa!" they exclaim in unison. "It looks fake," one says. And those googly eyes? "It looks like they just painted them on," another says, to peals of laughter. In fact, the...

After making two solo albums, singer and guitarist Charlene Kaye hit a creative wall. She was stuck, mired in writer's block and self-doubt — until she went on the road as the frontwoman for the baroque-pop band San Fermin . Now, she's rediscovered her own voice on a new EP, Honey , released under the moniker KAYE. Among the five songs on Honey is "Porcelain." Kaye says she wrote the song to explore her identity "as an Asian-American woman in the music industry, always wondering whether I...

Security experts say that Russian hackers have broken into the computers of not only the Democratic National Committee but other targets as well. This has raised a new wave of concerns that on Election Day, the votes themselves could be compromised by hackers, potentially tipping the results. Most states have returned to paper-backed voting systems in recent years, but that still leaves vulnerable a number of states that rely solely on machines. Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University...

The massive container ships that ply the high seas bring us pineapples and mangoes in winter, and computers and cheap t-shirts all year round. But the shipping industry is a volatile, cyclical and ferociously competitive business. There are good years and bad years. And then there's this year. "This is likely to be one of the worst years ever in terms of losses," says Janet Porter, editor-in-chief of containers at Lloyd's List , a shipping industry news provider. She says over the years,...

Copyright 2016 North Country Public Radio. To see more, visit North Country Public Radio . SCOTT SIMON, HOST: The cutest little thing was found on the ocean floor this week - a little googly-eyed purple squid off the coast of California. It looks like a close friend of Nemo. I'm joined now by Samantha Wishnak, who's a science fellow on board the Nautilus ship that captured the endearing cephalopod on video. Thanks so much for being with us. SAMANTHA WISHNAK: Thanks for having us. SIMON: He's...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. FARAI CHIDEYA, HOST: The Hugo Awards are handed out each year for excellence in science fiction and fantasy writing. They've been awarded since 1955 in categories like best novel and best graphic story. Tonight, author Nnedi Okorafor is up for best novella for her story about a girl named Binti. NNEDI OKORAFOR: (Reading) I powered up the transporter and said a silent prayer. I had no idea what I was going to do if it didn't work. My...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR . SCOTT SIMON, HOST: The cutest little thing was found on the ocean floor this week - a little googly-eyed purple squid off the coast of California. It looks like a close friend of Nemo. I'm joined now by Samantha Wishnak, who's a science fellow on board the Nautilus ship that captured the endearing cephalopod on video. Thanks so much for being with us. SAMANTHA WISHNAK: Thanks for having us. SIMON: He's just adorable. Is it a he, a she? What is it?...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Before the summer goes, we want to pause to note the passing - (imitating Elaine Fantham) no, Scott, I can hear her reproach me, (imitating Elaine Fantham) say death - of Elaine Fantham - Lady Fantham, as we called her around here. Elaine, who was professor emerita of classics at Princeton University and at the University of Toronto before that, was our classics commentator. Now, news shows usually don't have a...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Online home rental sites such as Airbnb might be good for travelers, but many cities complain that they drive up prices and take away housing for residents. Berlin recently banned short-term rentals. Barcelona's mayor plans to stop people from letting out their homes on websites without a license. Airbnb's No. 1 destination is Paris. And that city's trying to strike a balance. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley sends this...

This summer marks my 25 th and final season as music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, Calif. What an amazing adventure this has been, working with living composers and being at the center of so many new creations. During my tenure, beginning in 1992, we have premiered 32 festival commissions, presented 85 non-festival commissioned world premieres, 18 U.S. premieres and 75 West Coast premieres. More than 150 composers-in-residence have attended the...

It's dusk at a park in Dallas, and white sheets are pinned up next to tall trees, fluttering like ghosts in the wind. They've been lit up with ultraviolet lights to attract moths. A handful of people are holding up their smartphones, zooming in on the small dark specks that fly to the cloth. "Bugs have become my obsession," says Annika Lindqvist. "And the more you look, the more you have to look at the tiny things, and when you blow them up you see that they are gorgeous."

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There was a time when people went to bars to talk to other people, maybe even meet someone new. But that was in the BC era — before cellphones. "I've been in the pub industry for a long time, and progressively it's become less and less social and more and more antisocial," Steve Tyler, the owner of the Gin Tub in Sussex, England, tells NPR's Scott Simon. And that's bad for business. So Tyler wanted to bring back the conversation, and he did by turning his bar into a Faraday cage — a 19th...

Dentist Protagonists In Literature

Jul 30, 2016

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. SCOTT SIMON, HOST: A correction now. Last week, we spoke with Dave Eggers about his fine new novel, "Heroes Of The Frontier." His protagonist - a dentist. The author and I agreed dentists are rarely major characters in literature. Boy, I was wrong. I'm glad I didn't have to see my dentist this week. He might've said, you have a huge cavity in your brain. George Bernard Shaw wrote a play, "You Never Can Tell," about a dentist. Doc...

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