Arts

Arts and culture

Blood-spattered thriller The Wailing is, in part, a two-and-half-hour sit-down at Korea's spiritual smorgasbord. The exuberantly desolate movie opens with a verse from the Gospel of Luke, and the characters include a traditional shaman, a Christian deacon, and a mysterious Japanese newcomer who's reputed to be either a Buddhist monk or a demonic ghost.

This is a big weekend for Alexi Pappas. Tracktown — the feature film she co-wrote, co-directed and stars in — is premiering at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The film follows a young runner named Plumb Marigold as she chases her dream of qualifying for the Olympics.

Pappas tells NPR's Ari Shapiro that there have been some problems ahead of the premiere. "I may have actually slept through the opening night red carpet," she says.

What is it with poets and birds? Edgar Allan Poe had his raven. Ted Hughes had his crow. Wallace Stevens his blackbird. Keats his nightingale. Helen MacDonald her hawk. For Emily Dickinson, hope was the thing with feathers.

Three kids meet in junior high, grow up skateboarding, doing graffitti and shooting stuff on home-video cameras, then eventually get jobs together on Saturday Night Live. It sounds like an adolescent fantasy, but for former SNL cast member Andy Samberg and former SNL writers Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, it actually happened.

"We were not ambitious," Schaffer tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "We were just kids who liked comedy, and we liked music, and we were nerds about that stuff."

Raise A Glass To Perry, Craft Cider's Pear Cousin

Jun 1, 2016

It was a cool morning in the spring of 2004 when Charles McGonegal, owner of AEppeltreow Winery in Burlington, Wis., bit into his first "perry" pear. Crunching into the tough, tannin-suffused fruit, he was smacked with such astringency that he instantly spit it out, letting the juice dribble down his chin. "Later that day, my lips were peeling and my throat was sore," he recalls. "There's a reason why medieval folks thought perry pears were poisonous — they're full of acids and tannins. They are not for eating.

NBC hyped its new Maya & Marty variety series, starring Maya Rudolph and Martin Short, as a sort of whimsical variety show. What actually emerged Tuesday night, on the other hand, was a slack Saturday Night Live imitator for the prime-time summer nights where reruns used to live.

'Possession' Charts The Tangled Paths Of Art And Antiquities

Jun 1, 2016

"Antiquities have rough afterlives."

The Koh i Noor diamond is back in the news this spring, including a telling quote about it from 2010, when Prime Minister David Cameron explained his decision not to return the diamond: "If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty."

Science writer Mary Roach is not easily repulsed. While researching her latest book, Grunt, Roach learned all about the medicinal use of maggots in World War I. She also purposely sniffed a putrid scent known as "Who me?" that was developed as an experimental weapon during World War II.

For Roach, it's all in the name of research. "I'm kind of the bottom-feeder of science writing," Roach jokes to Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I'm just someone who is OK with being very out there with my curiosity."

At long last — the first episode of the Code Switch podcast! We decided to start off with a question we've been fixated on over the past few months: Why is it so hard to talk about whiteness?

Neil Gaiman is best-known for his fictional creations, but he's no slouch in the nonfiction department. Barely a week goes by without the appearance of a foreword to a reissued book, an introduction to an album, an essay about genre fiction, a speech about the state of literature, a keynote address to one event or another, or a eulogy for a fallen writer that's been penned by him.

How does an artist know when a work is finished? Sometimes it's a deliberate decision. Other times, the decision is made by fate or circumstance. Now, an extensive exhibition at The Met Breuer Museum in Manhattan is exploring great works of unfinished art.

The Unfinished show has an intriguing subtitle: "Thoughts Left Visible." The exhibit showcases works made over some 600 years, which offer glimpses into the creative process and sometimes reveal artists' anger or despair.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

From the moment you hear Laurence Fishburne's mesmerizing opening narration, intoned over sweeping visuals of a lush African forest, it's obvious History's new Roots miniseries has spared no expense to reinvent a TV classic.

But that also begs the question: Why do this at all? Why does the world need a new version of Roots?

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

You could call it the parenting trap. Being a parent comes part and parcel with being judged by other parents. And parents aren't always shy about giving their opinions on others' parenting style — be it on parenting blogs, articles, books or at the playground.

Last year the major controversy was over "free-range parenting." This year, two parenting writers are offering new, and sometimes opposing, ideas.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

At the beginning of Stephanie Danler's new Sweetbitter, there's an image of a girl, Tess, driving over the George Washington Bridge. We don't really know much about her. She's come to New York City to leave her past behind — a common experience. She falls into a job at a landmark restaurant, loosely modeled on Union Square Cafe.

When we talked with British adventurer Levison Wood back in 2015, he had recently completed an epic, nine-month journey, along the length of the Nile River. When we asked him where he was headed next, Wood told us he did have another big expedition planned but that it was "top-secret."

After devouring Touch last year, I was fiercely excited for Claire North's next book, all the more so when I learned its premise: Hope Arden is a young woman who cannot be remembered, except by animals or people whose brains have been damaged. Turn away from her, and everything about her and your interaction with her fades from your mind's view.

It has been nearly a month now since National Poetry Month wrapped up, but don't let the calendar fool you: All Things Considered still has some unfinished business with the month that was.

That's because, just a few weeks ago, NPR's Michel Martin checked in with the Words Unlocked poetry contest. The competition — launched in 2013 by the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings — drew more than 1,000 poem submissions from students in juvenile correctional facilities across the country.

This week we've invited Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to the show. (So if a giant asteroid crashes into Earth while he plays our quiz, you're on your own.)

We've invited Fugate to answer three questions about Zima, a terrible alcoholic beverage from the 1990s and an actual Federal Emergency.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

'Sweetbitter' Sings With Innocence And Experience

May 28, 2016

For Keats, joy was a grape bursting in the mouth: sudden, flooding, and sweet. And, of course, impermanent. Food and feeling are natural partners; this debut novel, set in a Manhattan restaurant, is a feast of both.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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

By the time his first memoir, Fresh Off The Boat, came out in 2013, Eddie Huang was really hitting his stride. His New York restaurant, Baohaus — which serves gua bao, or Taiwanese hamburgers — was doing really well. His TV show, Huang's World, was taking him all over the world.

So, this is happening: Some white supremacists have anointed Taylor Swift an "Aryan goddess," claiming that she secretly espouses far-right beliefs and is waiting for Donald Trump's ascension to the presidency to make her true views known.

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