NPR Staff

Author Jeanette Winterson has wrapped up a holiday present between two covers. Christmas Days is a book of 12 stories and just about the same number of recipes.

In hundreds of cities across the U.S. –- and a few abroad, too –- tuba and euphonium players are gathering for an annual tradition: TubaChristmas. The mandate of the event is simple: Gather a group of tuba and euphonium players and play holiday songs. Its scope, however, is large: These gatherings can include hundreds of tuba players, and this weekend alone, there are more than 60 TubaChristmas events from Hattiesburg, Miss, to Las Cruces, N.M. to San Ramón, Costa Rica.

What do Pablo Neruda and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis have in common? Not much. He was a Chilean poet and Communist politician; she was the first lady at age 31 and a widow at age 34, when JFK was assassinated.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

What defines a cuisine?

SARAH LOHMAN: When you think of food from anywhere on the planet, you can think about what spices, what flavorings are a big part of that cuisine.

"Ads For Nicer Living" are as simple (and as nice) as they sound. Between now and Jan. 15, NPR is inviting our listeners and readers to write ads for things that just make life better. They're noncommercial commercials — for experiences, ideas and other things money can't buy.

Interested? First, go check out examples of the original ads for inspiration.

When Donald Trump won the presidential election, he made a pledge to every citizen: that he would be president for all Americans. In the weeks before Trump's inauguration, we're going to hear about some of the communities that make up this nation, from the people who know them best, in our series Finding America.

The No. 48 bus runs through the Central District of Seattle.

In principle, music makers have agreed to a certain order — a certain way of doing things. First, pop artists work hard to put out finished albums with polished tracks. Second, music critics get those albums ahead of the release date so they can listen to and review them. Finally, albums come out on Fridays — they're events to look forward to and items to spend your money on at the week's end. And yet, says NPR Music's Daoud Tyler-Ameen, in 2016 it appeared those rules were made to be broken.

The path of the Ohio River snakes southwest out of Pittsburgh and forms the border between Ohio and West Virginia. Here, the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains rise along its banks, and beneath that Appalachian soil lie the natural resources that have sustained the valley's economy: coal — and now, natural gas.

To people far away, who consume goods made with energy fueled by the Ohio Valley, coal and gas may be harmful agents of global warming.

But to people in Ohio coal country, a good life on the ground is paid for by what's underneath it.

Jon Batiste has two big gigs –- he's the band director for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and he's an artistic director at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. And now, he also has his very own holiday album: Christmas With Jon Batiste.

Tara Clancy has made a career sharing honest, funny tales about her life. Now she's put those stories into a new memoir called The Clancys of Queens. Clancy comes from a big, New York, Irish-Italian family. She was the sole only child in her extended family, and she spent her childhood bouncing between her maternal grandparents' house, her dad's converted boat shed and her mom's boyfriend's Hamptons estate (which she often traveled to via stretch limo).

Sebastian Bach has sung, screamed and strutted for fans around the world as the frontman for the band Skid Row. When grunge overtook metal in the '90s and the band kicked him out, he found ways to keep on singing; that's been his passion since his days as a choir boy at All Saints Anglican Church.

Damien Chazelle's new movie, La La Land, is very different from his first one, Whiplash — which was about a jazz drummer and his abusive mentor.

La La Land is also about struggle and jazz, but instead of dimly lit rooms and a grey color palette, it's a brightly colored modern musical.

Dr. Joseph Linsk grew up on Atlantic Avenue in the uptown section of Atlantic City, N.J., in the early 1930s. It's an area where he's spent most of his life and where he practiced medicine starting in the 1940s, specializing in cancer and blood diseases.

Now 94 years old, the former hematologist and oncologist is failing in health, as he battles Parkinson's disease. This grave illness, however, is only one part of a perennial struggle Linsk faces. For more than 80 years, he has kept a secret. And it's one about which we're kindly requesting your help.

It's been nearly a year since Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency in Flint, Mich.

Before she became mayor, the city switched its water supply to the Flint River in a cost-cutting measure. The water wasn't properly treated, which caused corrosion in old pipes — leaching lead and other toxins into the city's tap water. People were afraid to drink or even bathe in the water.

Since then, a lot has happened.

Thirty years ago, a new face debuted on daytime television: Oprah Winfrey.

The new podcast, "Making Oprah," produced by member station WBEZ, chronicles Oprah's rise to stardom. Journalist Jenn White tells Oprah's story from her early days on her first talk show, AM Chicago, through to the biggest, most outrageous moments when 40 million people a week were watching her national show.

Fake news played a bigger role in this past presidential election than ever seen before. And sometimes it has had serious repercussions for real people and businesses.

That's what happened to a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., recently, when an armed man claiming to be "self-investigating" a fake news story entered the restaurant and fired off several rounds.

We like to think our brains can make rational decisions — but maybe they can't.

The way risks are presented can change the way we respond, says best-selling author Michael Lewis. In his new book, The Undoing Project, Lewis tells the story of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two Israeli psychologists who made some surprising discoveries about the way people make decisions. Along the way, they also founded an entire branch of psychology called behavioral economics.

More and more of the things we use every day are being connected to the Internet.

The term for these Internet-enabled devices — like connected cars and home appliances — is the Internet of things. They promise to make life more convenient, but these devices are also vulnerable to hacking.

Security technologist Bruce Schneier told NPR's Audie Cornish that while hacking someone's emails or banking information can be embarrassing or costly, hacking the Internet of things could be dangerous.

Minneapolis vocalist Lizzo grew up deep in the Pentecostal church, so it seemed natural to title one of her songs "Worship." But the track, like most of what the rapper and singer writes, would never have played in her childhood home. As she tells it, the family's attitude on secular music was clear.

Bonnie Mackay has written an unusual sort of memoir: Tree of Treasures is the story of her life, told through Christmas tree ornaments.

Mackay is something of an ornament aficionado — starting with the first tree she decorated with a friend from college.

"We called it the tree of disarray ... " she tells NPR's Ari Shapiro. They adorned it with unconventional objects, including jewelry, scarves and kitchen items.

Katie Melua has become one of the U.K.'s most popular young musicians, with six studio albums already to her name. She began her life in the ex-Soviet Union country of Georgia, on the coast of the Black Sea.

For years, Americans have been eager to visit Cuba, not just for its Caribbean warmth, but to seek out the roots of the island's music, to watch its films, to thumb through its books and meet its writers.

Fidel Castro's death Friday has again spiked interest in the country among Americans. And, with diplomatic relations thawing between the U.S. and Cuba, now more than ever it's possible to explore the island's culture at its origin.

But where to start?

H.G. Wells' eerie writing brought us time machines, aliens and a submarine, long before a real one was seen in the world. Still, one of his short stories spent decades unseen by his avid readers.

Until now, that is.

His long-unpublished story "The Haunted Ceiling" is making its way into print for the first time. In its new issue, The Strand Magazine is publishing the story — which features a man driven mad by the image of a dead woman, with her throat slit, appearing on his ceiling.

For the second year in a row, the annual All Things Considered Thanksgiving music chat is a multi-part conversation. Host Ari Shapiro welcomes four musicians, each of whom was named by one of his or her fellow guests as an artist to be thankful for.

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