Arts

Arts and culture

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.

To read one of Shirley Jackson's signature works is to live in a house built on sand. From novels like We Have Always Lived in the Castle to the iconic "The Lottery," Jackson's worlds carve some essential, uncanny instability out of the everyday, and any of us can sink without warning into something consuming we can't understandor, worse, that we understand all too well.

What do Michael Jackson, Zac Efron, Bette Midler and Patrick Swayze have in common? They've all worked closely with choreographer Kenny Ortega — a veteran song and dance man who has inspired generations of performers.

On July 31, the Disney Channel premieres his new movie Descendants, starring a number of young, new actors as well as veterans like Kristin Chenoweth and Kathy Najimy.

It's a muggy summer day, and Joe Rubino is at the train station in Baltimore, taking pictures of a stranger and asking some deeply personal questions. Later, he'll post this portrait online, along with snippets from the conversation.

"I think that people are hungry for a more real, emotional connection to people," Rubino says.

His street photography project, Close Up Baltimore, was inspired by photographer Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York blog.

E.L. Doctorow used to tell a story about a journalism class he took as a high school student in the Bronx. As he told NPR back in 2003, he wrote a profile of a doorman at Carnegie Hall who was beloved by all the performers there. His teacher, apparently, loved the story so much, she wanted to publish the story in the school paper — so she told Doctorow to get a photo of the man.

There was just one problem.

"I hadn't expected that kind of enthusiasm," Doctorow recalled, "and I said, well, 'Not exactly, there is no Carl.' I made him up."

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Actor Jake Gyllenhaal knows what it feels like to take a punch. "It doesn't feel great, you know," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I don't like getting hit, but it was important for the movie. At least that's how I justify when I would get hit: 'That was good for the movie.' "

The movie in question is Southpaw, in which Gyllenhaal stars as a boxer who grew up in the foster care system and is struggling to be a father to his daughter.

The next time you pop a Popsicle in your mouth, think about this: You're enjoying the fruits of an 11-year-old entrepreneur's labor.

Back in 1905, a San Francisco Bay Area kid by the name of Frank Epperson accidentally invented the summertime treat. He had mixed some sugary soda powder with water and left it out overnight. It was a cold night, and the mixture froze. In the morning, Epperson devoured the icy concoction, licking it off the wooden stirrer. He declared it an Epsicle, a portmanteau of icicle and his name, and started selling the treat around his neighborhood.

Archie Comics Cartoonist Tom Moore Dies At 86

Jul 22, 2015

Artist Tom Moore, who gave life to the teen angst of Archie and his Riverdale pals from 1953 to the late 1980s, has died of lung cancer in El Paso, Texas.

The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei finally got his passport back today, four years after it was seized by government authorities.

Ai made the announcement on Instagram, posting a selfie of him holding his red and gold passport with a simple caption: "Today, I picked up my passport."

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Juan Gabriel Vasquez opens Lovers on All Saints' Day with a line that's almost a thesis statement.

"I didn't leave Belgium much during that season," says the narrator at the start of "Hiding Places," the first story in the collection. "I spent the time observing the people of the Ardennes and participating in their activities, and then learning to write what I'd seen in such a way that as little of it as possible would be squandered."

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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's take a moment now to remember a Grammy-winning songwriter.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALWAYS ON MY MIND")

ELVIS PRESLEY: (Singing) Maybe I didn't love you.

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

For connoisseurs of wonderfully bad television, there is a fine line between stuff that's so bad it's great fun to watch and stuff that's just bad.

And Syfy's latest Sharknado movie — the third one based on tornadoes filled with killer sharks terrorizing America, if you can believe it — has finally, unfortunately, fallen into that last category.

Novelist E.L. Doctorow, best known for his works of historical fiction set in the early 20th-century United States, died Tuesday at the age of 84, his agent confirmed late Tuesday.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The Mattress Factory hasn't been an actual mattress factory for a while now. Built on a hillside in the Central Northside neighborhood of Pittsburgh, back at the turn of the last century, it was used as a warehouse and showroom for Stearns & Foster until the 1960s.

Today, it's one of the country's more unusual art museums. Filled not with paintings or sculptures — and certainly not with mattresses — it is now, four stories of ... well, of "stories" in a way. Installations that take you places you don't expect to go in an art museum.

Actor and musician Theodore Bikel, whose talents landed him memorable roles on the stage and screen, has died at age 91. His manager Robert Malcolm confirmed the news to NPR's Neda Ulaby, who says Bikel "died last night at a hospital in Los Angeles after a long illness."

Some of Bikel's most notable work took place on stage — starting with an early breakthrough in the London staging of A Streetcar Named Desire, in which he starred opposite Vivien Leigh.

When film director Sean Baker moved to Los Angeles three years ago, he found himself drawn to one of the city's most infamous intersections. The corner of Highland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard is "an unofficial red light district," Baker tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. But Baker's interest in the area went beyond the usual transactions: "I thought there must be some incredible stories that take place on that corner."

Dorothée Goffin's lab in Belgium is outfitted with 3-D printers and digital milling machines. It's also a kitchen. And, one day a week, the doors open to anyone who feels like walking in to mess around with the equipment. These days, the tech geeks, chefs and curious folk that inhabit the lab are focused on 3-D printing. Instead of spouting plastic doodads, the printers exude chocolate.

Even those of us who can't tell the difference between a pinot noir and a merlot are probably familiar with the basic rule of wine pairing: white wine with fish and red wine with steak. But when it comes to tea pairings, we're stumped.

Yet it turns out there is an art to unlocking new flavors in your food by pairing it with tea. Sipping oolong with a buttery, citrusy madeleine can highlight the flowery and milky notes of the tea, while a hot cup of green tea melts the texture of goat cheese and enhances its creamy notes.

Each Wave Tells A Story In 'Barbarian Days'

Jul 21, 2015

"It wasn't that the waves beggared language. It was more that they scrambled it." Longtime New Yorker staff writer William Finnegan is being modest here, relating one of many spiritually resonant surfing experiences on Fiji's Tavarua Island in 1978. In fact, there is no wave in his memoir Barbarian Days that Finnegan can't describe in intimate detail. Honolulu, LA, Fiji, Australia, Madeira, San Francisco. Finnegan lovingly remembers every break, treating them like old friends who only occasionally tried to brutally murder him.

William Finnegan is a New Yorker journalist, but his new memoir doesn't focus on the wars or controversies he's covered. It's about surfing.

Finnegan traces his love of surfing back to his childhood, when he used to watch surfers in Ventura, Calif. He remembers being 10 years old, sitting with his family in a diner, watching waves break on the coast.

It seemed "like they were arriving from some celestial workshop ... carved by ocean angels," he writes. "I wanted to be out there, learning to dance on water."

In 1849 an American farmer watched a sow give birth and was moved to record a diary entry: "Pigs! Pigs! Pork! Pork! Pork!"

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