Arts

Arts and culture

If you're reading this section of the site, there's a better than good chance that at one time, you've read a book that changed your life. For literature lovers, that's not hyperbole — occasionally, books have a way of finding you when you most need them; they really can alter the way you look at things, the course of your life. It can feel a lot like magic.

Known for freeways more than forests, Los Angeles isn't the first place one thinks of when it comes to foraging for food in the wilderness. But for Pascal Baudar, the city is a treasure trove of hundreds of varieties of wild plants and insects that he uses in unusual culinary creations.

Ah, the cardigan: your granny's cozy go-to used to be available year-round, but in limited quantities and colors. It was considered the sartorial equivalent of flossing: necessary, but not glamorous.

"The cardigan used to be something to keep you warm in the work place," explains Teri Agins, who covered the fashion industry for the Wall Street Journal for years. "It was not really an accessory you left on—unless you wore it as part of a twin set."

That look, sweater upon sweater, was considered too prim for a lot of young women. It was their mother's look.

We're taping the show in Providence this week, and we can't help but notice — Rhode Island isn't actually an island. So we've invited the state's first female governor, Gina Raimondo, to answer three questions about real islands.

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

On the second floor of an old Bavarian palace in Munich, Germany, there's a library with high ceilings, a distinctly bookish smell and one of the world's most extensive collections of Latin texts. About 20 researchers from all over the world work in small offices around the room.

They're laboring on a comprehensive Latin dictionary that's been in progress since 1894. The most recently published volume contained all the words beginning with the letter P. That was back in 2010.

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

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

Not long after publishing his first book, London designer Thomas Thwaites found himself with no real job and in relationship trouble. His book, The Toaster Project — about his attempt to build a toaster from scratch — was a huge success, but he found the whole business of being a celebrity thinker a hard act to follow.

To be human is to worry about getting by, doing better, finding love and accepting the march of mortality. Thwaites decided to try to escape the burden of being human — and he would do it by becoming a goat.

In a telling 2014 interview, Alejandro Jodorowsky opens up about — among other things — losing his son ("It destroyed me") and the healing power of art. "If I cannot heal my son who died," he says, "I will heal the other son. My goal for art now is to heal." One gets the feeling that, through his many books and films, a vision of healing has always been part of the plan.

Dating is plenty complicated as things stand. But suppose romance came with deadlines, and a penalty for not meeting them. That's the dilemma Colin Farrell faces in filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos' latest weirdness. The maker of Dogtooth, which takes home schooling to comically absurd extremes, and Alps, which does much the same for the process of grieving, is tackling notions of romance in The Lobster, and let's just say that rom-coms don't come much stranger.

Here's a minor philosophical puzzle to ponder this Friday: The "see no evil," "hear no evil" and "speak no evil" monkey emojis.

One monkey, three faces? Or three monkeys, each making a different face?

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

The writer-director Whit Stillman's Love & Friendship is an improvement on its source, Jane Austen's novella Lady Susan.

That's not quite as heretical as it sounds. Austen wrote the book early in her career, before Pride and Prejudice. It wasn't published in her lifetime. The title isn't even hers — it didn't have one.

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

This week's show finds Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon and Gene Demby (Gene Demby, that is, of NPR's coming-soon Code Switch podcast, and this is where I would insert a praise-hands emoji if we did that in blog posts around here) chatting about Captain America: Civil War. They talk about the action, the Bucky situation, the Tony situation, the kissing, and much, much more.

This weekend, the Italian city of Naples wants the world to know that it is the heart and soul of pizza. And to prove it, 100 chefs are teaming up for 11 hours to make the planet's longest pizza – 2 kilometers, to be exact.

"Pizza was born in Naples," says Alessandro Marinacci, who helped organize the smackdown with Caputo flour, "but the record was made in Milan." Last year, Milan's pizza clocked in at just over 1.5 kilometers.

Jodie Foster has entertained audiences on screen for decades, but more recently, she's been behind the camera, directing. And in her newest film, Money Monster, it's a behind-the-scenes character who gets to call the shots.

George Clooney plays financial guru Lee Gates, who dishes out stock market tips and money advice on his hit TV show. It's business as usual until an intruder arrives on set and takes Gates hostage during a live broadcast. From that point on, it's his longtime producer Patty Fenn — played by Julia Roberts — who's really in charge.

J.G. Ballard's classic 1975 science-fiction novel High-Rise is a caustic vision of modernity gone awry, witnessing a high-tech utopia of domestic convenience undone by class conflict. Located on the outskirts of London, the building of the title has 40 floors, and its amenities — a grocery store, a swimming pool and gym, high-speed elevators, and even its own primary school — discourage residents from ever leaving the premises. In other words, it's a self-contained vertical society, with the wealthy elites occupying the top floors and the cash-strapped plebeians toward the bottom.

In an achingly lovely scene in Terence Davies' 1992 film The Long Day Closes, a little boy rests his elbows on a windowsill and gazes out at the rain slanting past his cramped tenement house in England's industrial North. It's the 1950s, and on the soundtrack is Debbie Reynolds' honeyed "Tammy." To those of us who grew up in dreary post-War Britain (I remember that time in monochrome), the relentless grey of that scene, set off by the pop promise of a Golden Elsewhere, takes the measure of both our days and our yearnings for relief.

The financial legerdemain lampooned in The Big Short was designed to be opaque and arcane — so much so that even the supposed experts didn't really know what they were doing. The scenario of Money Monster is much simpler, which is both a strength and a weakness. The movie is easier to understand, but that's because, as with so many Hollywood conspiracy thrillers, the big payoff is actually pretty small.

Some of the best films about Christianity don't treat the Gospel as, well, gospel. The filmmakers don't view the act of moviegoing as a pilgrimage only for the devout to undertake, nor do they allow theological rigor (an expectation that biblical entertainment must adhere as closely as possible to the source material) to overtake the more necessary task of telling an engaging narrative.

Growing up, cartoonist Daniel Clowes liked to draw, but he never thought he'd make much of a career out of it. "I was expecting to work for Cracked magazine for four years, and then try to get work putting up aluminum siding or something, doing my prison drawings while I was down for a DUI," he jokes to Fresh Air's Sam Briger.

Sometimes a career in television is launched seemingly out of nowhere. That's how it was for Gary Cole. The actor currently appears in the HBO series Veep, but his first major TV role was in the 1984 miniseries called Fatal Vision.

Cole tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies that landing the part in Fatal Vision when he was 27 was "very fluke-ish." He estimates that he got the role only after eight other actors turned it down, adding, "It was all like a dream. It didn't make any sense to me, how I got there, but sometimes that's the way that it goes."

The best opening sentence in the history of modern science fiction belongs to William Gibson. And with his new novel, Central Station, Lavie Tidhar now holds the title for best opening paragraph:

Louise Erdrich's new novel LaRose opens with a tragedy: An Ojibwe man is out hunting for deer and accidentally shoots and kills his best friend's 5-year-old son, Dusty. The hunter has a 5-year-old son of his own, and so, in keeping with a practice from the Ojibwe tribe's past, 5-year-old LaRose goes to live with Dusty's family.

Renate Senter clearly remembers the first care package she received, in 1946. She, her mother and her sister had fled Poland. In the aftermath of World War II, they'd ended up in a small town, in the British-controlled section of West Germany. "It was my first day of school and all the children got one," she says. "And I remember it was a small package — burgundy. And in white letters, it said 'CARE' on it."

Shadows Under Water In 'Everything Is Teeth'

May 11, 2016

Anglo-Australian author Evie Wyld departs from traditional fiction with a graphic novel, Everything Is Teeth, illustrated by Joe Sumner. The darkly poetic voice she evoked in her previous work reveals itself in a different way here, working within the constraints of writing text for a cartoon frame. At times limitations can bring freedom, and the very terseness required here offers power, linguistic clarity and dramatic opportunities that draw the reader into an emotionally compelling world.

When Mariko Becker wants a particular kind of Japanese noodle, she can't find it near her northeast Ohio home.

"[I like the kind that] is tied, knotted, very convenient, but you can't get it," she says.

Becker is Japanese, and she's lived in various Ohio cities for more than 20 years. She says Asian markets are good for common things like soy sauce, but not specialty items.

"When you get into some Japanese brand, or specifically catered to some sort of cooking style, then it's a little bit harder," Becker says.

"Everybody's gotta have a little place for their stuff. That's all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff." — George Carlin

It's one of his most famous routines and, like all great comedy, contains more than a grain of truth.

Since he died eight years ago, the keeper of George Carlin's "stuff" has been his daughter, writer and performer Kelly Carlin. She says he kept everything: Scrapbooks. Arrest records. The pink slip to his first car, a Dodge Dart. VHS tapes.

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