Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, occasionally joins Morning Edition to talk about what she's been reading for a feature we call "Word of Mouth." This month, she recommends a trio of stories on people who've led hidden and often extraordinary lives — a businesswoman and technological giant who started life in Chinese re-education camps, a billionaire investor and education reformer whose personal experiences are too big for a series of ghostwriters, and a CIA agent whose job was to find a story among piles of forgotten documents.
How do you get picked to bake the inaugural cake? Is there a long application process that involves standardized tests, or is it more like the Publishers Clearing House, where someone surprises you at your door with a camera crew?
Duff Goldman says he's still not sure how it happened.
"They called us out of the blue," he says. "I got a text message from my office manager saying, 'Hey, we're making the official inaugural cake.' "
After the first Obama inauguration, everybody talked about three things: the historic moment, the Arctic weather — and Aretha Franklin's hat.
If it is possible for a piece of millinery to steal the thunder of one of the most-watched moments in recent memory, the Queen of Soul's hat managed to do it. Her gray felt cloche was topped with a giant, matching bow, outlined in rhinestones that flashed in the chill sunlight as she sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee."
George Saunders has been writing short stories for decades.
Saunders, a professor at Syracuse University, was once a geological engineer who traveled the world; he now crafts stories that combine the absurd and fantastic with the mundane realities of everyday life. One story about a professional caveman inspired those Geico commercials.