Arts

Arts and culture

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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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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If you're planning to become an artist, here's one nice way to do it: be independently wealthy, easily pay your bills without needing to sell your own work, buy up the paintings of your marvelously talented friends, and then give their works to the nation. A little-known 19th-century artist named Gustave Caillebotte did just that, and there's a big show devoted to him at the National Gallery right now.

Examining Hollywood's Pay Disparities

Jul 19, 2015
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Actress Amanda Syefried caused a stir in Hollywood this past week for telling an interviewer with Britain's Sunday Times she had been paid just 10 percent of what her male co-star received for a movie made a few years ago, but she didn't say which movie.

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez is best known for his 2013 blockbuster novel The Sound of Things Falling. But more than a decade before that book vaulted him onto the international literary stage, he published a well-reviewed collection of short stories in Spanish.

Now, that collection, Lovers on All Saints' Day, is getting an English translation.

The Turkish television industry is booming.

During Ramadan, which ended this week, many Muslims — around the world — tuned in to watch Turkish TV in massive numbers.

But Turkey isn't just presenting religious programming. The country is second only to the U.S. in producing and exporting secular TV dramas — and they're becoming global hits

A 'Captive Audience' During Ramadan

Many families watch as they gather as they wait to break their Ramadan fast after sundown, says Pinar Tremblay, a columnist for the online newspaper Al-Monitor.com.

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle has a bit of wordplay. Change one letter in each word provided to make two new words. The letter you change must be in the same position in each word of the pair. And the letter you change each of them to will be the same letter of the alphabet.

For example, "relief" and "mallet" become "belief" and "ballet."

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(SOUNDBITE OF L'ANARCHISTE SONG, "SHAKER")

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It begins with that cord - again and again. Then it builds.

(SOUNDBITE OF L'ANARCHISTE SONG, "SHAKER")

MARTIN: Layer after layer, a baseline emerges and ultimately, lyrics.

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: A play on an iconic New Orleans dish to get supreme flavor from shrimp without heads.

The Chef

In her debut novel Ex Utero, Laurie Foos tells the story of a woman who misplaces her uterus at a shopping mall, "somewhere between the shoe store and the lingerie counter." After her womb goes missing her husband feels utterly lost, and others are quick to deem her careless. While fantastical on the surface, it's also a striking commentary on the nature of feminism, desire and society's obsession with presumed gender roles.

Flowers, bugs and bees: Stephen Buchmann wanted to study them all when he was a kid.

"I never grew out of my bug-and-dinosaur phase," he tells NPR's Arun Rath. "You know, since about the third grade, I decided I wanted to chase insects, especially bees."

These days, he's living that dream. As a pollination ecologist, he's now taking a particular interest in how flowers attract insects. In his new book, The Reason for Flowers, he looks at more than just the biology of flowers — he dives into the ways they've laid down roots in human history and culture, too.

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Like all great comedians, Tig Notaro started out small: at open mic nights in coffee shops and one-nighters in Holiday Inn lounges.

A singer, a soldier, and a scientist walk onto Bar Beach.

In many ways, Bar Beach was a perfect sample of Nigerian society. It was a place of mixing. The ocean mixed with the land and the wealthy mixed with the poor. Bar Beach attracted drug dealers, squatters, various accents and languages, seagulls, garbage, biting flies, tourists, all kinds of religious zealots, hawkers, prostitutes, johns, water-loving children and their careless parents.

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There are two things that have put El Rito on the map. In the little village in northern New Mexico, there's a tiny cafe that serves the best red-chile Frito pie in the world. And then there's the santeroNicholas Herrera.

"This is where I live," says Herrera. "This is my studio."

The U.S. and Europe are in the midst of negotiating a historic trade deal that will create the world's largest consumer market: some 800 million people. Despite promises that the agreement will create thousands of new jobs, there's fierce resistance to it in Europe, especially when it comes to food.

Many Europeans say they want to preserve a way of life and eating that they say America's industrial farming and multinational corporations threaten. A smaller version of that battle is being fought in one Paris neighborhood known as "the belly of Paris."

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Director Antoine Fuqua's films - blockbusters like "Training Day," "Olympus Has Fallen" and last year's hit, "The Equalizer" - feature heroes who are handy with a weapon and not squeamish about revenge.

To be a lead in a Hollywood romance — especially a female lead — is to be told what's wrong with you. A lot. There's always an assistant or a best friend or, of course, the guy himself to fix you or coach you, because you are broken.

The fact that Amy Schumer's character in Trainwreck — also named Amy — is the reason it's called Trainwreck would make you think she's in for similar treatment. But that's not as much the case as it might seem.

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