Arts

Arts and culture

Let us stipulate at the outset that at 57 Stephen Fry is a world-class wit, unquestionably a learned fellow and surely a decent one — because really, anyone of whom Emma Thompson is that fond can't be entirely irredeemable, can he? That said, the 36-year-old Stephen Fry who inhabits the infuriating latter stretch of More Fool Me is a world-class git. Thank God he's rehabilitated himself since.

The death of Kalief Browder shined more harsh light on the American justice system. Browder was held at New York's Rikers Island prison complex for three years after being accused of stealing a backpack at 16. He was never tried, much less convicted, but spent nearly two years in solitary confinement and was savaged by gangs. Browder was finally released with no charges in 2013, but suffered aftereffects from incarceration.

Hollywood's version of science often asks us to believe that dinosaurs can be cloned from ancient DNA (they can't), or that the next ice age could develop in just a few days (it couldn't).

But Pixar's film Inside Out is an animated fantasy that remains remarkably true to what scientists have learned about the mind, emotion and memory.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom share pieces that have kept them reading. They share tidbits using the #NPRreads hashtag — and on Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you six reads.

From Tanya Ballard Brown, an editor for NPR.org:

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Who says summer has to be light and bright? Turner Classic Movies has kicked off its "Summer of Darkness" — 24 hours of noir films every Friday in June and July with an accompanying free, online class.

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A movie about high school students dealing with mortality — haven't we been dipping into that well a lot lately? So the surprise was the laughs when Me and Earl and The Dying Girl became the surprise smash at this year's Sundance Film Festival, taking both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. Here was a film that managed to be at once earnest and flip, capturing teen angst without wallowing in teen drama.

HBO's Silicon Valley ends its second season Sunday night with a finale I have seen and will warn you is so tense that I actually skipped forward a little bit at one point. That's how suspenseful I found it. And remember: it's a comedy.

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This week, we're lucky enough to welcome our pal Audie Cornish back to the panel for a discussion of Spy, the latest comedy (after The Heat and Bridesmaids) to team Melissa McCarthy with director Paul Feig. (If you're nostalgic, you can listen to our affectionate review of The Heat here. It's also the episode with a whole segment on The Price Is Right. Happy Friday!)

The third season of Orange Is the New Black begins with middle-class slacker-turned-prison inmate Piper Chapman in a pretty dark place.

How can we tell? She's having a casual conversation about suicide with the prison's electrician. And when she suggests using pills instead of car exhaust in a garage, the electrician dismisses her for choosing a way out that's way too expensive.

"I didn't realize that my hypothetical suicide had a budget," Piper says, sarcastically. A moment later, she realizes, "this is not a healthy discussion."

William Butler Yeats, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, was born in Ireland 150 years ago this week, and across the country, the Irish are celebrating with public readings and festivals.

But his presence has never left rural County Galway, in far western Ireland, where Yeats spent many years, far from the big cities. And in turn, its landscape and spirit infuses so much of his poetry.

So it may not be surprising that a passionate nun in Galway has turned an old one-room schoolhouse on a country road into a small museum to Yeats.

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"How much trouble can one poet be?" That's literature professor John Malcolm Brinnin's rhetorical response to his buttoned-way-down colleagues' fears about a writer's proposed visit to New York in 1950. Today, the query can't be heard as anything other than an inside joke. For the poet is Dylan Thomas, who was trouble for most of his 39 years.

Imagine going out into the world for the first time, armed only with a Quentin Tarantino script as a reference manual. That's the predicament, and the weird joy, of six teenage brothers who spent their childhood cooped up in a cramped apartment in a wild and woolly neighborhood of New York's Lower East Side.

Not many teen movies would devote an entire montage to a joke about Errol Morris' Interrotron. But for better and worse, most teen movies aren't Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

This is dangerous ground for a critic who has seen every episode of HBO's sword and dragon-fueled fantasy drama Game of Thrones but hasn't read one page of the books by George R.R. Martin which inspired the series.

But as the show winds up its fifth season Sunday, I'm beginning to wonder if some of the folks complaining about the extreme violence and controversial sexual content in recent scenes aren't missing the point a bit.

We English-speakers take a perverse pride in the orneriness of our spelling, which is one reason why the spelling bee has been a popular entertainment since the 19th century. It's fun watching schoolchildren getting difficult words right. It can be even more entertaining to watch literate adults getting them wrong.

With a scruffy beard and devilish twinkle in his eye, Ron Moody's Fagin is one of the most memorable, musical theater villains of all time. Moody died Thursday at a hospital in London. He was 91.

After Joyce Carol Oates sent an outraged tweet about the "barbaric" killing of an animal this week, a debate emerged: Was the author, 77, slipping? The question was prompted by the image accompanying Oates' tweet, of a triceratops and a smiling Steven Spielberg.

"So barbaric that this should still be allowed," Oates wrote. "No conservation laws in effect wherever this is?"

When it came out last year, Beth Cato's The Clockwork Dagger was a fresh, welcome addition to the steampunk canon. Still, it left many questions unanswered: The novel's protagonist, Octavia Leander — a young healer with a tragic past — hadn't grasped the scope of her magical powers. And the political machinations that swirled around her had much left to play out.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET

Christopher Lee, the actor best known for defining the role of Dracula on the big screen, died on Sunday at the age of 93.

An official for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London confirmed the death.

For a younger generation, Lee is best known for his role as Saruman, the white-maned villain in the Lord of the Rings franchise. Lee also played Count Dooku, another villain with superhuman powers, in the Star Wars series.

We're bringing back our famous summer reader poll this year, and as the days get longer (and the nights get hotter), we think it's the perfect time to celebrate romance.

Whether you love historicals, paranormals, inspirationals, young adult, Amish, romantic suspense, contemporaries (or, like some people around here, you'd be perfectly happy never leaving the Regency), we want to hear about it! And with your help, we'll spend this summer putting together a great big bonbon box of 100 delicious love stories.

The Mazie of Jami Attenberg's new novel is Mazie Phillips Gordon — an actual New Yorker. Though born in Boston just at the end of the 19th century, she moved to New York City at the age of 10 to live with her sister Rosie. An attractive girl with a robust sense of life, Mazie grew up to become an exemplary ordinary citizen with a soul of gold, a charitable heart and abundant desires.

And a great subject for writers who love New York.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti lives in a modest second-story walk-up in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. Hanging on his walls are his doctorate from the Sorbonne, an unframed Paul Gaugin print and posters of celebrated poetry readings dating back to the days when he personified a hip, literate and rebellious San Francisco. Not that he's nostalgic.

"Everything was better than it is when you're old," he says.

Dial-A-Giant

Jun 10, 2015

Hey, I'm Walkin' Here!

Jun 10, 2015

In this game, contestants summon their inner Ratso Rizzo as they answer questions while invoking his infamous line, "Hey, I'm walkin' here

Heard in They Might Be Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

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