Arts

Arts and culture

Bubble Tea Is Back — With A Vengeance

Mar 22, 2016

Whether you call it "boba" or "bubble" tea, the Taiwanese beverage that allows you to chew your drink is back with a vengeance. It first got its start in the 1980s, after an inventor thought to pour tapioca pearls into a glass of iced, sweet tea. Though Asian communities have been drinking boba tea in the United States for many years, the texturally exciting drink is finally reaching a wider audience.

And boba isn't just back — it's playing ambassador to a whole host of other foods and trends.

The heated debate between the FBI and Apple over the encryption of the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two people who massacred 14 people in San Bernardino in December, took an unexpected turn Monday when the FBI announced that a third party had come forward with a way to possibly unlock the phone without Apple's involvement.

True Love And Time Travel In 'Patience'

Mar 22, 2016

Daniel Clowes may be one of the most notable comic artists of our era, a pillar of the '80s-'90s scene who's continued to do great work up to the present day, but he does tend to fixate. His recent books have focused, laserlike, on a human type that's shown up repeatedly in his comics over the last 20 years: a lonely, self-hating man living in his own head, desperate for connection, yet sabotaging it when the chance comes.

So you walk into the new Korean joint around the corner and discover that (gasp) the head chef is a white guy from Des Moines. What's your gut reaction? Do you want to walk out? Why?

The question of who gets to cook other people's food can be squishy — just like the question of who gets to tell other people's stories. (See: the whole controversy over the casting of the new Nina Simone biopic.)

Take a look at the next box of strawberries you find in the store. Depending on where in the country you happen to be, it may have come from Florida. But it won't for much longer.

Why?

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Consider something we use every day but don't think about unless, of course, we lose them: keys. They lock doors, turn on cars, keep valuables safe. More poetically, they can open minds and hearts.

Writer Helen Oyeyemi has been thinking a lot about keys. In fact, she's written an entire book about them, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours — nine short stories (she says she could have written 900) about the power of keys.

A version of this story first ran in March 2014.

The first day of spring is cause for a celebration, especially after the winter many of us have been having. But it's hard to top the 13-day festivities of the Persian New Year, Nowruz.

Nowruz, or "new day" in Persian, is an ancient festival that marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the rebirth of nature. And naturally, it has a lot to do with fresh, green foods just beginning to poke out of the ground that remind us winter is not, in fact, eternal.

Alone In Berlin stars Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson as an ordinary middle-aged working class couple, Otto and Anna Quangel, just trying to keep their heads down in 1940s Berlin. But when their son is killed on the battlefield, grief sparks them into defiance. They begin writing anti-fascist postcards bearing small truths like "Mothers, Hitler Will Kill Your Son Too" and leaving them in public places.

They hope others will follow their lead.

During its original run from 1999 to 2006, The West Wing was critically acclaimed, racking up 26 Emmy wins. The drama created by Aaron Sorkin frequently appears on lists of the best television shows of all time.

A Love Story Rudely Interrupted By History

Mar 20, 2016

Historical novels make time travelers of all of us. Not just in the obvious way of riding on some character's shoulder through the streets of pre-war London or 1920's Berlin. In the best cases, it's more like a terrible, permanent deja-vu. Great historical novels give us a god's omnipotence, an all-knowing sense of what is coming and what has gone before. They don't coddle, but burden us with the sure knowledge that we can do nothing to alter the flow of time. That bad things are coming, and all we can do is watch.

On this Palm Sunday, Fox will air a show called The Passion. It's the latest in a string of live musical TV events, and this time network executives are taking a chance on the Bible.

The Passion is the story of the last hours of Jesus Christ, and Sunday's production will take place on location in New Orleans. Some of the scenes were taped in advance, but others will be live, including a procession of 1,000 people carrying a cross through the streets.

Actor Andre Royo was so good at playing an addict on HBO's The Wire that actual users on the street used to offer him drugs. Now that he's playing a lawyer on Fox's Empire, we assume people walk up to him and offer him $300 an hour, right?

Anyway. Since Royo starred in The Wire — a TV show more beloved to NPR listeners than their own children — we've invited him to play a game called "I keep my Wire DVD set right next to my Neko Case albums." Three questions about three other things NPR listeners won't shut up about.

Lots of people are fuming about Nina, an upcoming biopic about legendary singer Nina Simone. According to its critics, the filmmakers butcher important parts of Simone's biography (in part, by attributing much of her success to the men in her life), but that their larger sin was casting actress Zoe Saldana, who plays the lead role with the help of skin-darkening makeup and a prosthetic nose.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

Katie Roiphe's preoccupation with death goes back to her childhood, when she contracted virulent pneumonia at the age of 12. She was sick for a year and thought she was going to die.

Her terror of death was reignited many years later when her father died. It was then that Riophe found herself turning to great minds to see how they confronted mortality.

Dana Spiotta's fearless, ambitious new novel is the fourth in a remarkable series of deep dives into our culture's obsession with fame and technological change. Like her 2001 debut, Lightning Field, its main characters are shaped by Los Angeles, where the primary influence is film. Like Stone Arabia (2011) in which a woman watches her beloved brother, a never-famous rocker, document a faux career, Innocents and Others emphasizes the fragility of human connection in a world saturated with media and digital illusion.

In 1973, when journalist David Kushner was 4 years old, his brother Jon left for a short bike ride through the woods. He was going to buy some candy at a convenience store — but Jon never came home. A week after he disappeared, his body was found buried in a shallow grave. He was 11 years old.

Sink Or Swim: Poems On The Existential Terror Of Everyday Life

Mar 18, 2016

John Koethe is not a hip new poet writing about hip new things, but, at 70, he's deeply worth reading. His tenth collection takes its title—and the title of one of its best poems—from the seminal John Cheever story about a suburban man who decides to get home one day by swimming through his neighborhood pools, which he imagines as a river. Koethe reads the story as "A reimagining/Of a life from the perspective of disillusionment and age," and that is essentially what Koethe's book is, too.

Humor And Heart Fill 'The Nest'

Mar 18, 2016

Trillions of dollars will be passed from one generation to the other in the form of inheritance over the next few decades. In her funny debut novel, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney explores the idea of how one possible inheritance affects the four adult siblings of the Plumb family.

The Clan is a mostly true, occasionally comic thriller about an Argentine family that made kidnapping its family business. For a surprisingly long time in the 1980s, the upper-middle-class Puccios seemed sincerely convinced that the family that slays together stays together, although you'd never guess that backstory when you meet 20-something Alejandro Puccio on screen, scoring a goal in a championship rugby match.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Sometimes, it takes a while to bring a show into being, but we feel like this one was worth the wait. This is the week we get real super nerdy about music, theater, enthusiasm, hashtags, dancing, just ... lots of everything.

Last fall, when our treasured regular panelist Gene Demby started listening to the Hamilton cast album after it showed up over at NPR Music as a First Listen, he started saying things like this.

How Can Hidden Sounds Be Captured By Everyday Objects

Mar 18, 2016

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hidden

About Abe Davis' TED Talk

Computer scientist Abe Davis explains how you can turn a plant or a bag of chips into a microphone, and capturing the hidden sound vibrations on a high-speed camera.

About Abe Davis

Abe Davis is a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a musician.

What Hidden Underwater Worlds Are Left To Discover?

Mar 18, 2016

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hidden

About Robert Ballard's TED Talk

Ocean explorer Robert Ballard makes the case for exploring the deep oceans, where he is discovering new species, resources and mountain ranges.

About Robert Ballard

Could A Boiling River From A Childhood Legend Exist?

Mar 18, 2016

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hidden

About Andrés Ruzo's TED Talk

As a boy, Andrés Ruzo heard stories of a mythical boiling river. Years later, as a geoscientist, he recounts his journey deep into the Amazon to see if the river actually exists.

About Andrés Ruzo

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hidden

About Sarah Parcak's TED Talk

Sarah Parcak is a pioneer in space archaeology. She describes her method of using satellite images to locate lost ancient sites.

About Sarah Parcak

There may be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of undiscovered ancient sites — Sarah Parcak wants to locate them.

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