Arts

Arts and culture

YA Author Wisdom: Sandra Cisneros

Aug 14, 2016
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ALLISON AUBREY, HOST:

It's the dog days of August, a time when the excitement of summer vacation gives way to boredom, baking in the heat and waiting for the next school year to start. So we thought it would be a good time to talk movies, specifically kids' movies.

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

ALLISON AUBREY, HOST:

It's the dog days of August, a time when the excitement of summer vacation gives way to boredom, baking in the heat and waiting for the next school year to start. So we thought it would be a good time to talk movies, specifically kids' movies.

Have you ever been to a party where you knew, beyond all shadow of a doubt, that everyone was smarter than you? Like maybe you accidentally wandered into some meeting of past Nobel winners, a MENSA cocktail hour where no one could talk about anything but his IQ, a conclave of artists who spoke so completely in their own cant that it sounded to your ear like code?

China Miéville's newest novel, The Last Days Of New Paris, is exactly that, but in book form.

Rarely has an actor not seen or heard made such a big impact.

Kenny Baker, the actor who played R2-D2 in six of the Star Wars films, died Saturday, his agent confirms to NPR.

Standing at 3 feet 8 inches tall, the British actor also appeared in The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon, among other films.

"He was just a lovely guy," said agent Johnny Mans, "and I shall miss him terribly."

Katie Couric has done it all in broadcast journalism — she's hosted the Today Show and her own daytime talk show, she's anchored CBS Evening News, and has been a correspondent for 60 Minutes. Now, she's working on a brand new podcast.

Graham Moore's new novel opens in 1888 with a jolt: Its main character, Paul Cravath, witnesses a Western Union worker being electrocuted in the sky above Broadway while trying to repair a live wire. Blue flame shoots from his mouth and his skin falls from his bones.

Later that day, Paul meets Thomas Edison, an inventor who is racing against archrival George Westinghouse to electrify the United States from coast to coast. The success of Edison's inventions hinges on the U.S. adopting DC electricity, while Westinghouse's innovations rely on AC power.

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In 'Harmony,' Women Are Mysteries, Men Are Open Books

Aug 13, 2016

Carolyn Parkhurst's fourth novel, Harmony, is told entirely from female perspectives. Alexandra Hammond and her two daughters each get their own chapters to develop the story: Alexandra fills in the past, while prosaic 11-year-old Iris narrates the present. And Tilly, a mercurial 13-year-old on the autistic spectrum, invents wild futures where the Hammonds have become the subjects of wild theorizing and lost lore. But the strange and fascinating thing about Harmony is how it uses its female points of view to turn the male characters into evocative mysteries.

Jake Reiss, owner of Alabama Booksmith in Homewood, Ala., recommends James McBride's Kill 'Em and Leave, Don Keith's Mattie C.'s Boy: The Shelley Stewart Story and Joshua Hammer's

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There's nothing more luxurious than time - time to just dig into that stack of books that have been waiting for you. To help build the perfect stack, we're talking to booksellers from all over the country this summer to help you Pack These Pages.

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JULIUS CAESAR")

The perils of misplaced confidence animate the story of Florence Foster Jenkins, both in real life and in the various fictions built around her.

The New York Review Of Children's Books

Aug 12, 2016

Contestants guess the piece of classic children's literature based on imagined hoity-toity reviews.

Heard On Ira Sachs, Jennifer Ehle, Garance Doré: New York Or Paris?

Heating Up The Competition

Aug 12, 2016

Every answer contains an object that can be found in a kitchen. For example, if we were to say, "Star of Legally Blonde who won an Academy Award for her role in Walk the Line," you'd say, "Reese WitherSPOON."

Heard On Ira Sachs, Jennifer Ehle, Garance Doré: New York Or Paris?

For Ira Sachs and Jennifer Ehle, moviemaking is less of a job than it is a way of life. Sachs' fascination with the film world began while attending Sundance Film Festival in his early teens. After college, he spent three months in Paris, where he saw three films a day — one hundred and ninety-seven films in total.

The Long And The Short Of It

Aug 12, 2016

'E' is the most commonly-used letter in the English language, but you can never have too much of a good thing. In this game, contestants insert the letter 'E' into a common phrase to turn it into a completely different phrase. For example, if we said, "After an hour of Soulcycle, I learned a lot about the bones in my back," you would answer, "SPINE class."

Garance Doré: New York Or Paris?

Aug 12, 2016

Ten years ago, Garance Doré was a struggling illustrator and street style photographer in Paris. When she would ask someone with great fashion on the street to take their photograph, they would decline. "I was thirty and broke and my mom wouldn't talk to me anymore," she recounted to host Ophira Eisenberg. Her last-ditch effort was her style blog, which she started in 2006. At first, Doré's blog was the subject of much skepticism from the fashion world.

Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Aug 12, 2016

We took the Tears for Fears hit "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and rewrote it to be about power-hungry fictional characters and organizations. You might think you're trivia royalty, but don't let the power go to your head.

Heard On Ira Sachs, Jennifer Ehle, Garance Doré: New York Or Paris?

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Part Zwei

Aug 12, 2016

The German language has a lot of long, crazily specific words. For example, "kummerspeck" literally means "grief bacon," and refers to the weight you gain from eating your feelings. We give contestants words and their definitions, and they have to figure out: are these real German words, or words we made up?

Heard On Ira Sachs, Jennifer Ehle, Garance Doré: New York Or Paris?

Summer has a way of sending the Pop Culture Happy Hour team hurtling across the country, so this episode required a bit of logistical maneuvering: We actually recorded it several weeks ago, just as Linda Holmes and I were about to jet off on separate West Coast jaunts. Glen Weldon wasn't yet back from Comic-Con, the rest of us aren't in Historic Studio 44... everything's topsy-turvy!

Food talks in the new computer-animated comedy Sausage Party, and it does a hell of a lot more than that. This hard-R supermarket saga is pure, unprocessed Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the folks behind filthy fare like This Is the End and Pineapple Express, so you can expect to see copious substance use, unspeakably foul language, and heavy attention paid to everyone's favorite male organ. What you won't expect is getting all of those things from a talking hot dog with little Mickey Mouse gloves.

One way you know it's August at the multiplex is that the many unextraordinary virtues of the thoughtful crime drama Hell or High Water — a plot that kicks off in the first scene instead of the fourth or fifteenth; "heroes" and "villains" equally deserving of our empathy, and who come into focus through behavior rather than dialogue; a palpable sense of place; basic A-leads-to-B-causing-C narrative competence — make it feel like the pinnacle of cinematic artistry.

The economics of remakes tend to run counter to creative value: Studios eager to cash in on existing properties choose to revive their most beloved titles, which generally condemns remakes to be a pale shadow of established classics. It also handcuffs filmmakers significantly, because they can't paint too far outside the lines or risk alienating fans of the original. The ideal remake would take a flawed film with a strong premise and build something completely new and inspired around it.

After decades in which diversity of roles — and accents — seemed to guide her career, Meryl Streep has come to specialize in silver-haired divas. Since 2005, she's played a cookbook maven, a fashion magazine editor, and a British prime minister. Now, in Florence Foster Jenkins, she plays a real-life diva, albeit one who couldn't sing.

That doesn't seem to have fazed Jenkins and, of course, it doesn't fluster Streep. Coq au vin, Paris fashion week, the Falklands War, Mozart — she can handle them all, and at roughly the same pitch.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Japan is home to many local festivals, but some of the best known are the ones in which men run and jump around nearly naked — not for dirty reasons, but for ancient religious ones.

The hadaka matsuri or "naked festival" dates back centuries in Japan. Men perform in traditional fundoshi (loincloth) to purify themselves before gods, to bring luck and prosperity or to welcome new seasons.

Gold, Silver ... and Bronze.

As hierarchies of merit go, it's got long historical legs, stretching all the way back to the ancient Greeks.

Not — as many believe — to the ancient Olympic Games, however; those athletes just got olive wreaths for their trouble. (Well, olive wreaths and sunburn, one supposes, as competitors observed the tradition of gymnos, or nudity.)

There are waves and there are bubbles. In previous installations of Hip Hop Family Tree, his history of hip hop culture told through comics, Ed Piskor charted waves and the eddies that would build into waves. He depicted Grandmaster Flash's discovery of a beat box, Fab Five Freddy's epochal ad-lib on "Change the Beat," and the earliest roots of the L.A. scene. He told the story behind such key works as Whodini's Whodini, Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" and Run DMC's "Rock Box" video.

Welcome to the third installment of Read, Watch, Binge! our summer recommendation series. As you may recall from our first list, we were tired of algorithms that only matched books to books or movies to movies. So this month, we've enlisted the help of real live humans to pair TV series with movies, musicals, books, comics, podcasts and more.

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