Arts and culture

Letter Rip

Nov 12, 2015

Guest puzzle guru Cecil Baldwin leads our final round, "Letter Rip." All of the answers contain the sound of an alphabet letter. It's a B-dazzling good time!

Heard in Peter Sarsgaard: A Day In The Life

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit


A Day in the Life of Peter Sarsgaard

Nov 12, 2015

In his new movie Experimenter, Peter Sarsgaard plays Stanley Milgram, a psychologist who studied human behavior in the 1960s. In Milgram's most famous experiment, test subjects agreed to electroshock people in another room under pressure from an authority figure. Sarsgaard joined host Ophira Eisenberg on the Bell House stage to talk about the film, and the impact it had on him as a performer.


Nov 12, 2015

Guest house musician Julian Velard parodies Pharrell Williams' Happy to be about people, places and things associated with the preppy lifestyle. Get ready to sing along to everything from argyle socks to Ivy League schools.

Heard in Peter Sarsgaard: A Day In The Life

Based on a True Story

Nov 12, 2015

Inspired by VIP Peter Sarsgaard's new film Experimenter, this quiz is about movies based on a true story. Though we wish The Mighty Ducks were true, it turns out Cool Runnings was based on real-life events.

Heard in Peter Sarsgaard: A Day In The Life

Meet the Expert is Ask Me Another's new segment! Executive producer of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Amy Kule, joins us onstage to lead a game based on this iconic holiday event. Did you know Snoopy is about to make his 39th parade appearance?

Heard in Peter Sarsgaard: A Day In The Life

A Rambling Love Letter To The Silver Screen In 'How To Watch'

Nov 12, 2015

Between exhibits at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, there's an interactive behind-the-scenes playground. You can record Marilyn Monroe's lines in the ADR booth; you can plug goofy sound effects into Jurassic Park. Sure, some of it's just to amuse kids (make the raptors meow!), but if you have an interest in the backstage how and why, it's good to see how a new soundtrack changes the gallery scene in Vertigo.

'Hotels Of North America' Gets 4 Stars

Nov 12, 2015

Rick Moody wrote one of my favorite short stories of all time, a novella called "The Albertine Notes." He wrote one of the most affecting books of my young adulthood, The Ice Storm — and to a white-bread suburban kid who idolized the guts of Hubert Selby Jr., William Burroughs' crooked middle finger to all literary convention and the beautiful ugliness of Charles Bukowski's Skid Row vision, reading The Ice Storm was like swallowing a hand grenade.

Stan Lee is a legend. Along with artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee helped populate the Marvel Comics universe with heroes like the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man.

Their most famous creation — Lee calls him "Spidey" — is everywhere in this office, as a painting, a life-size doll, and even a pinball machine. "Nobody plays pinballs anymore," Lee tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "And it's really a good thing, because it doesn't work anymore."

From the Jakarta Ritz-Carlton to Kerala guesthouses to the Detroit Marriott, environmental journalist and educator Simran Sethi has eaten more room service meals than she can count. "I'm sure it's in the thousands," she says.

And why was she so often eating alone in her hotel room?

"I was always ashamed to go to a restaurant alone and ask for a table for one," she says.

Saturday Night Live cast member Taran Killam spoke with NPR's Ask Me Another about what it was like having Donald Trump host the show last weekend. Plus, Killam explains what goes into the perfect Trump impersonation. Hear the bonus segment at the audio link above. For more, subscribe to the podcast.

Shonda Rhimes has been making up stories for a very long time. She's the creator of ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, and the executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder.

At times in her new novel, it seems Ludmila Ulitskaya has her sights set on depicting the entire Soviet Union. The battered tramps, the generals and detainees, the dissidents and KGB informers, scholars, bullies, bumblers and nonpersons — all the lives, large and little, that shaped the hulking 20th-century empire like the dots on a pointillist painting. She crafts a cast of dozens in The Big Green Tent, with an eye trained as intensely on high-altitude Soviet policy as it is on the paupers stretching every last ration.

'The Night Clock' Ticks With Wit, Fright And Fantasy

Nov 11, 2015

Humor and horror taste great together, a fact Paul Meloy knows well. The British author's debut novel The Night Clock strikes exactly that balance, with the added perk of dark, far-flung fantasy. Set in contemporary England, it revolves around Phil Trevena, a 40-something who — like Meloy himself — works as a psychiatric nurse, counseling the mentally ill.

True confession: I joined Twitter to follow a curry truck while I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Area had plenty of Indian buffets, but Indian street food was hard to find.

Back here in Kolkata, India, there's street food everywhere. Puffed rice tossed with pungent mustard oil, onions and chilies. Indian wraps with a layer of egg, crispy phuchka shells dunked in tangy, tamarind water.

What I didn't expect to find: a food truck.

Hours after launching a Kickstarter campaign to revive a TV show that made it fun to watch horrible movies, Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgson has raised more than $500,000 — a quarter of his $2 million goal.

When it comes to enjoying the flavors in food, our tongues really aren't that useful. They can detect just a few basic tastes: sweet, salt, sour, bitter, umami, and maybe fat.

When Saturday Night Live's Colin Jost and Michael Che became co-anchors of the show's "Weekend Update" segment, they knew they had big shoes to fill.

" 'Update' is such an institution," Che tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. At first, "you really just try to do what's worked before, what you've seen working, what you've loved about it."

But the co-anchors say they realized the segment was stronger if they dialed up their banter and acted more like who they are off camera. "Episode by episode, we've been bringing that a lot more," Che says.

Wild foliage, the cries of fishmongers, near-crazed love, musty rooms and forbidden sex overspill Brazilian author Milton Hatoum's 2000 novel The Brothers. For Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, adapting this book into comic form must have seemed both scary and inevitable. The second novel from the multiple-award-winning Hatoum, it concerns two men who are twins — just like the Brazilian artists, who have themselves won multiple awards.

The Pickle Index app — one way to experience Eli Horowitz's newest novel and multimedia project — opens with what looks like an ad for an Apple product. Millennials gather to feast together in a stylishly decorated home, laughing and communing silently behind a veneer of electric pop. They lay down newspaper; they tuck napkins into their shirt collars. But instead of plates of steamed seafood or roasted vegetables, a tray is overturned before them, and there are ... pickles. Huge, meaty dill pickles. The hip young friends joyfully pick up the pickles.

Betsy Broun, director of the American Art Museum, grew up in a small town in Kansas. When she saw the photographs of women in Vogue -- with their pinched waists and impersonal expressions — "it never even dawned on me that those women lived on my planet," she says.

Irving Penn took those posed, perfect, glossy images — some of which are now on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

In Taiwan, it's not enough just to get your dog groomed regularly. These days, owners are asking for their four-legged friends to become geometric shapes, like spheres and squares.

Salad-Making Is Performance Art At The Getty In Los Angeles

Nov 9, 2015

If the Getty Center in Los Angeles is going to treat salad as art, then you can bet iceberg lettuce is not part of the equation. And indeed, from now through January 11, the Salad Garden performance art stage features artists making salads from more than 50 exquisite heirloom herbs, vegetables and edible flowers. Part of the spectacle is also the artists devouring their salads on site.

Shonda Rhimes will be the first to admit she didn't expect to be famous. Hollywood is notoriously uncharitable to writers, but the success of her company ShondaLand — the force behind the ABC top-rated dramas Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder — has made her a household name.

George Takei has, over the years, lent his gently charismatic presence to many stages — the original Star Trek soundstage, where he played the USS Enterprise's Mr. Sulu, then the social media stage, where he emerged as a leading activist for gay and lesbian rights. Now, Takei is making his Broadway stage debut in Allegiance, a musical inspired by his childhood experience in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit



This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

In the new film Room, actress Brie Larson plays Ma, a woman who has created an elaborate fantasy world for her 5-year-old son, Jack. The fantasy covers a harsh reality: She and Jack are imprisoned in a small backyard shed by the man who abducted Ma as a teen and raped and impregnated her.

Oprah Winfrey recently invested $43 million in faltering diet company Weight Watchers International, Inc., and issued a call to dieters everywhere to lose weight and gain health and happiness as Weight Watchers customers.

Police in Russia have arrested a dissident performance artist for setting fire to some doors at Russia's top security agency.

Images from the protest show Pyotr Pavlensky standing in front of two monumental wooden doors, their panels outlined in flame. The 31-year-old artist is a cadaverous figure, wearing a dark hoodie and holding a gasoline can.

We've just bid farewell to October — which made me think of a simply charming romance novel that takes place during the Chicago World's Fair, which lasted over a year and ended at the end of October, 1893.