Arts

Arts and culture

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Finding The Humor In Desparation In 'Samba'

Jul 25, 2015
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Six years ago I picked up a book called Sandman Slim by an author, Richard Kadrey, whose name was only vaguely familiar to me. I bought it on a whim. I'm happy I did. Turns out Kadrey wrote Metrophage — a book I'd heard about but never actually got around to reading — back in the '80s, during the golden age of cyberpunk.

Sonya Lea and her husband Richard Bandy had a 23-year marriage filled with ups, downs and memories. In 2000 Bandy developed a rare form of appendix cancer and had an operation which was successful — sort of.

Bandy lived, but he was almost a different man. He had suffered a post-surgical complication called "anoxic insult" that cut oxygen to his brain and cleared much of his memory. He called his wife "Sweetness," but could not remember how they met, when they got married and the births of their two children. Twenty-three years more or less vanished from his mind.

Imagine discovering a blog written by an attractive, vivacious woman who lives in a city torn by civil war. Imagine corresponding with that woman, falling in love with her, and receiving erotic messages and nude photos from her. Then imagine hearing that this online lover has been kidnapped, probably by her repressive country's secret police.

It's high summer, and for a lot of us that means it's time to go camping. This summer, we're celebrating one particular camping trip.

Way back in 1858, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great philosopher and poet, set out into the Adirondack Mountains in New York. On the famous journey, he took with him some of the most famous artists, scientists and thinkers of his day.

This year, I set out early in the morning in my canoe with a company of my own: environmental activist and writer Bill McKibben and our guide, Mike Carr with the Nature Conservancy.

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Two movies are up to bat this week for our conversation with our pal and producer emeritus Mike Katzif, and the bottom line: we like 'em both.

First up is Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow's Trainwreck, which I wrote about last week (and talked about on the air), but which we have more time to explore here. We talk about the movie's stance toward monogamy, its unavoidable Apatovian looseness, the charms of Bill Hader, the bold (and, for some of us, tear-inducing) vulnerability of Amy Schumer, and lots more. It's a good movie.

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Now let's take a swing at "Southpaw." That's a new boxing film which picks up the themes of every other boxing film according to our critic, Kenneth Turan.

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Remember that Chris Farley character from "Saturday Night Live?" The motivational speaker who lived in van down by the river.

Well, visitors to New York can now spend the night in a van down by the East River.

A listing on AirBnB is offering bed space in several vans in Long Island City.... ranging in price from $22 to $99.

The vans lack almost all amenities. One guest commented that "not being able to shower was definitely a negative ... seeing as New York isn't very clean."

Emotional Maps And 'Paper Towns'

Jul 23, 2015

As the current king of teen lit, author John Green is a barometer for what young readers respond to. His 2012 bestseller The Fault in Our Stars, about two teenagers who fall in love in a cancer support group, and its smash hit movie last year helped signal that teens were ready for big-hearted realism in their fiction after so many years of fantasy.

Don't call it a comeback: The grimy boxing melodrama Southpaw is so old-fashioned and unsophisticated it's almost new. Initiated as a remake of 1979's sap-soaked The Champ with Eminem in the lead role, it morphed into yet another opportunity for Jake Gyllenhaal to prove he's a contender. When he finally gets that Oscar he so clearly covets, it'll likely as not be a make-up award for his spooky turn as a sociopathic TV news cameraman in Nightcrawler last year.

When Christian Petzold makes a thriller, it's nothing like the jokey, disclaiming neo-noirs we see so much of these days. His movies, set in critical periods of German history, are also love letters to the classic film noirs of Hollywood's Golden Age: The Postman Always Rings Twice looms over his 2008 film Jerichow, which features his longtime muse, Nina Hoss, as a woman with a crippling secret who plots murder with an Afghanistan war veteran.

Talk about opening with a bang: at the beginning of Julia Pierpont's debut novel, Among the Ten Thousand Things, an 11-year-old girl named Kay Shanley enters the lobby of her New York City apartment building. We readers have already been clued into the fact that Kay is the kind of awkward, shy, pre-teen other girls ridicule. We just want her to get safely into her family's apartment and back to watching the Harry Potter movies she loves. But, just as the elevator doors are closing, the doorman signals for her to hold up.

Journalist Jessica Grose is no stranger to criticism of her voice. When she was co-hosting the Slate podcast, the DoubleX Gabfest, she would receive emails complaining about her "upspeak" — a tendency to raise her voice at the end of sentences. Once an older man she was interviewing for an article in Businessweek told her that she sounded like his granddaughter.

"That was the first moment I felt [my voice] was hurting my career beyond just irritating a couple listeners," Grose tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

A lot of people seem to want to bite Donald Trump's head off these days. For those riled up by the Republican presidential candidate's incendiary comments of late, artist Lauren Garfinkel offers up this food for thought:

Yep, that's the Donald's likeness carved into a circus peanut — those marshmallow candies shaped like the legume. The orange hue, Garfinkel says, reminded her of Trump's signature tan.

No monsters. No killer plagues, vampires or nuclear war. No war of any kind, actually. Really, no unkindness. No hunger. No want. No consequences that can't be undone with a kind smile, a little nap and, of course, the needle.

One-Word One-Hit Wonders

Jul 23, 2015

The airwaves of the 90s were full of one-hit wonders, and in this music game, we're paying homage to some of them--specifically, the ones that had a single word as a title. Spike your hair, tie on your puka shell necklace, and get ready to sing along with our rewritten lyrics!

Heard in Curtis Sittenfeld: Fifty Shades of Jane

Cinematic Bookends

Jul 23, 2015

The end of "Casablanca" might have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but do you remember the very first line of the film? In this game, we challenge our contestants to identify famous films by their "bookends"-- their first and last lines.

Heard in Curtis Sittenfeld: Fifty Shades of Jane

Compound Fractures

Jul 23, 2015

With a little imagination, any word can be a compound word. In this game, contestants must fracture ordinary words into separate phrases. What combination of words forms the answer to the clue, "I like to change the places of everything on the back part of the stove"? Rearrange and "rear range"...obviously.

Heard in Curtis Sittenfeld: Fifty Shades of Jane

Ask Me, Ant Hero

Jul 23, 2015

We love our anagrams--this time, we're going a bit easier on our contestants and anagramming only the last word of well-known TV shows. What fantasy drama takes place on the continent of Westeros, where warring swarms of stinging insects fight to control the best hives?

Heard in Curtis Sittenfeld: Fifty Shades of Jane

Close to Homer

Jul 23, 2015

D'oh! You might be facepalming during this game, in which we give the Homer Simpson treatment to celebrities whose names end with the syllable "oh." It's the most fun you can have while talking about Henry David Thoreau, we promise.

Heard in Curtis Sittenfeld: Fifty Shades of Jane

True or false — Ho Chi Minh invented Boston Cream Pie? Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton find out.

Heard in Curtis Sittenfeld: Fifty Shades of Jane

Show Me First

Jul 23, 2015

In this final round, it's not all about you--in fact, it's all about "M-E." In honor of our visit to the Show Me State, every answer begins with these two letters. What's a three-letter slang word used to express a lack of interest or enthusiasm?

Heard in Curtis Sittenfeld: Fifty Shades of Jane

Curtis Sittenfeld: Fifty Shades Of Jane

Jul 23, 2015

Author and St. Louis resident Curtis Sittenfeld is best known for her first novel Prep, which was published when she was only 29. Ten years later, Sittenfeld thinks the novel still holds up. "There's plenty of horrible things I've written before and since, but I stand by Prep. If I hadn't written it, I'd still enjoy reading it," Sittenfeld told host Ophira Eisenberg on the stage of the Pageant in St. Louis.

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