Rectify is a dark, contemplative TV drama about a man released from prison after two decades on death row. It was also a critical favorite in its first season. For a glimpse into its creation, NPR's Elizabeth Blair talks to show creator Ray McKinnon and actors Aden Young and Abigail Spencer.
Ethan Swan, who runs an art gallery in downtown Los Angeles, believes that "so much of art is about the creation of meaning through image." He also believes that "tattoos are a great way to mark pain."
So Swan is naturally interested in how body ink plays out for others. It's become what he admits is a quest.
As the founder of the blog NBA Tattoos, Swan tells NPR's Michel Martin that in 2010, he got a new cable package and started watching a lot of basketball.
Allison Weiss has a handsome husband, a big house, a successful career and a worsening prescription pill addiction.
At first, Allison's pill habit is decidedly well-mannered: She takes an Oxy before dealing with the snobby parents from her daughter's private school or mean comments on a newspaper feature about her. But suddenly, under the pressure of a screaming 5-year-old, a father with Alzheimer's and a distant husband, the pills become a necessity and Allison ends up in rehab.
When Mary Pope Osborne wrote the first set of stories in the Magic Tree House series in 1992, she had a contract for four books, and she figured that would be it. But then she began getting letters from teachers, parents and kids.
"Those letters are priceless," she says. "I've memorized so many of them, like: 'Dear Mrs. Osborne, Your books almost made me smart!' or 'Dear Mrs. Osborne, I'm working on my own novel. ... It's not finished yet, it's scary, it's called The Septic System.'"
Staring into the mouths of his patients all day, the dentist in Joshua Ferris' new novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, becomes obsessed with decay and death. He wishes he had religious faith and could believe in something larger than himself, but to him church is "a dark bus station of the soul."
A bearded man lurks beneath the surface of a famous Picasso painting. That's the image brought to us by curators who used new technology to find details of a portrait the artist painted over when he created his famous The Blue Room in 1901.
The painting's surface depicts a scene in Pablo Picasso's studio in Paris, with a woman bathing between a window and a table. But a different scene lies underneath, as infrared and other analysis shows a man in a bow tie staring out from the canvas, his head propped on his hand.
If you teach an aboriginal man (or woman) to make a cappuccino, can you feed his career for a lifetime?
That's the hope at Yaama Dhiyaan, a cooking and hospitality school for at-risk indigenous young people in Australia.
Students there are learning the skills to be cooks, restaurant and hotel workers, and caterers. The school is also helping to reconnect them to their culture, disrupted when many of their grandparents were kidnapped off the land, forced into missionary schools and denied the right to vote until the 1960s.
She had three apartments on New York's Fifth Avenue, all filled with treasures worth millions, not to mention a mansion in Connecticut and a house in California. But the enigmatic heiress Huguette Clark lived her last 20 years in a plainly decorated hospital room â€” even though she wasn't sick.
I confess that I never did make it past the first few episodes of the universally acclaimed TV series Mad Men. For all its stylistic innovation (yes, the clothes were great), the casual, relentless misogyny, even if artfully crafted, was exhausting. I had read Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls as a teenager, and it always seemed sensible to me that so many women took to "little helpers" to see them through those dark ages.
Ever since Eli Whitney invented the Beef Gin in 1793, hamburgers have basically been the same: an all-beef patty, eaten as quickly as possible. But now, new technologies are allowing burgerologists to expand the medium. Chef's Burger Bistro in Chicago has created the B50 Burger, with a patty that's 50 percent ground beef, 50 percent ground bacon. And then there's a fried egg thrown on top, just for fun.
The season finale of the FX TV series Fargo airs Tuesday. The series is an "original adaptation" of Joel and Ethan Coen's 1996 film, a dark comedy set in the wintry landscape of rural Minnesota. Nearly 20 years ago, the film won Oscars for best screenplay and best actress.
The 10-episode TV series has a different story and characters, but critics agree that it captured the look and tone of the film, mixing eccentric characters and deadpan humor with sudden and savageviolence.
This is FRESH AIR. Now that the late-night talk show wars have settled down again, our TV critic David Bianculli says there's a talk show we should be watching that's not broadcast by CBS, NBC or ABC or even Comedy Central. It's "The Graham Norton Show," imported by BBC America and shown on Saturday nights. Here's David's review.
Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 12:53 pm
The fact that Casey Kasem, the 82-year-old co-creator and host of the American Top 40 Countdown, reportedly died peacefully while surrounded by his three children, despite a previous tug-of-war between his children and second wife, seems not only fortunate but apt. It means his death can honor his career's great achievement.
Now we're going to hear from Andy Marra - a transgender activist who writes about different kind of freedom - freedom from wondering about her roots and fear of not being accepted. She spoke to us about finding her birth mother in Korea after coming out as transgender. For a regular segment we call In Your Ear, she shared some of the songs that helped her write that story.
ANDY MARRA: My name is Andy Marra and I am listening to "Lullabies" by Yuna.
Despite watching a great deal of television â€” highbrow, lowbrow, middlebrow â€” I don't watch Game of Thrones. I have never been a fantasy fan, I can't tolerate extensive world-building without nodding off, I don't gravitate toward stories about epic wars, and I'm not particularly drawn by either nudity or innard-splattering. I watched more than half of the first season, I think, but I eventually reached a point in which my brain emphatically said, "This is not going to get better for us."
SCOTT SIMON, BYLINE: And back when the U.S. was preparing to invade Iraq in 2003, a young reporter was getting his start in the world of magazines. Michael Hastings went on to report from the war in Iraq and became best known for a 2010 Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was then head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The article ultimately ended Gen. McChrystal's military career.
Douglas Kearney's new book of poetry, Patter, is not something you pick up casually. It demands a lot from its audience â€” one reviewer wrote that the book's readers must be "agile, adaptive, vigilant and tough."
But the payoff is worth it. Kearney takes his readers into an extremely private struggle, shared with his wife: their attempt to conceive a child. The poems trace a journey through infertility, miscarriage, in vitro fertilization and, finally, fatherhood.
When you mention quilts to non-quilters, many think of chintz and florals, pastel ducks and alphabet blocks. It's true that many quilts are like that, in novels as well as in junk shops and craft shows.
However, some novels use quilts in a much darker, more robust way, the writers mercifully avoiding the temptation to blithely suggest that "life is a patchwork quilt."
So forget the chintz. Here are three books where quilts and quilters kick butt.
Tracy Chevalier's most recent novel is The Last Runaway.
For most of us, even one bite of chocolate is enough to send our taste buds into ecstasy. Now, scientists have concocted a process to make these dark, dulcet morsels look as decadent as they taste.
Switzerland-based company Morphotonix has given traditional Swiss chocolate-making a colorful twist: It's devised a method to imprint shiny holograms onto the sweet surfaces â€” sans harmful additives. Which means when you tilt the goodies from side to side, rainbow stars and swirly patterns on the chocolate's surface dance and shimmer in the light.