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Arts and culture

Mystery Guest

Nov 11, 2016

Mary Walker is kiiiind of a big deal — find out why when host Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton become the contestants in this Dallas installment of Mystery Guest!

Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie

Texas Towns

Nov 11, 2016

Texas is the second largest state in the Union, so there's bound to be a unique town name here and there. Guess which town is fake in this Texan trivia game.

Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie

Franchise Rebranding

Nov 11, 2016

North American pro sports teams are getting a revamp in this word game. Each team's imagined owner wants to change the name by adding one letter. So, if we said, "LensCrafters bought this Texas hockey team," the answer would be "The Dallas Stares!"

Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie

Close encounters get a whole lot closer with Arrival, a furiously intelligent sci-fi film descending into cinemas from somewhere far, far beyond our current realm of understanding. Its premise instantly solves one of the hardest things to swallow about the traditional movie alien: the fact that it usually acts so much like an Earth-bound creature. After all, it's hard to conceive of extraterrestrial life if we have, well, no concept of it.

Lazy Eye, writer/director Tim Kirkman's unhurried two-hander romantic drama, opens with Dean, a Los Angeles graphic designer played by Lucas Near-Verbrugge, being prescribed trifocals. "It's perfectly normal for vision to change in middle age," his optometrist assures him. But Dean's eyes remain expressive enough to register his alarm at the phrase middle age. When he gets an out-of-the-blue e-mail two scenes later from Alex (Aaron Costa Ganis), an ex- who left him without explanation 15 years ago, Dean's first impulse is to tell him to get lost.

Like the most dreaded Secret Santa at the office holiday party, Hollywood is a shameless re-gifter, passing off the same ensemble comedy-drama every year or two in lieu of a more thoughtful present.

At the fancy Christmas dinner she hosts in her posh Paris home, a stylish entrepreneur named Michele, played to impassive perfection by Isabelle Huppert, verbally abuses her heavily Botoxed elderly mother and her mother's very-much-younger consort. She inflicts injury on the very-much-younger girlfriend of her former husband. She pokes fun at her ineffectual son, his partner, and their baby. She takes a covert swipe at her pretty Christian neighbor while initiating a game of footsie with that neighbor's handsome husband, a broker.

Unlike most horror flicks, The Monster offers solid performances and a real-world subtext. But those virtues aren't enough to keep the movie from getting stalled in some big bad woods, miles short of profundity.

The tale's Little Red Riding Hood is Lizzy (Ella Ballentine), a tween whose relationship with her single mom, Kathy (Zoe Kazan), has become irreparable. The fault is not Lizzy's. Kathy is an alcoholic whose mothering ranges from simply neglectful to overtly abusive. So the two set off, not to grandma's house, but to dump Lizzy with her father.

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

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There's a tendency to approach a posthumous collection of work by an esteemed "writer's writer" with respectful courtesy, but Stanley Elkin's essays demand a rowdier response from readers. They're weird and spirited, full of literal piss and vinegar. Pieces of Soap is the name of this collection and writer Sam Lipsyte, in his introduction, rightly says that reading Elkin makes you realize "how lazy most writing is."

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

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Care Bears didn't make the cut; neither did Transformers or Uno. But it's a good day for Little People — first produced by Fisher-Price in 1959 — as the Toy Hall of Fame announces its 2016 class of inductees.

Also getting the nod: Dungeons & Dragons, which was praised for creating a system of imaginative play that has entranced both kids and adults; and the humble swing, which in the past 100 years has grown from its ancient roots to become a playground favorite.

This is how it begins.

Somewhere out there beyond the cordons, beyond the fields and marshes, abandoned machines roamed like stray dogs. They wandered about impatiently, restless in the new wind sweeping through the country. They smelled something in the air, something unfamiliar. Perhaps if we had listened closely, we would have heard it. We may have heard the sound rising from the forgotten and sealed caverns in the depths: the muffled pounding from something trying to get out.

Drowning your sorrows or celebrating last night's election results with booze? If fancy mixed drinks are your tipple of choice, there's no need to leave the house to imbibe. Craft cocktails are now coming to your mailbox.

As meal kits have gained market share — Technomic, a food consulting firm, estimates that the market for meal kit subscriptions will grow up to a total market of $5 billion by 2025 — cocktail subscription boxes have followed.

We live in an exciting era where the genre of fantasy is being restlessly reinvented by a fresh wave of innovative, trailblazing authors. But someone forget to tell Rachel Neumeier that. Her latest standalone novel, The Mountain of Kept Memory, chugs along with blissful conventionality, as if the last couple decades of evolution in fantasy never happened. The key word here, though, is blissful.

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

Writer and actress Issa Rae is upfront about the fact that she doesn't always fit in. She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that she was so socially uncomfortable and introverted growing up that one day she wrote the phrase "I'm awkward. And black" in her journal, and it was a revelatory moment.

"I knew I was black, obviously, but the 'awkward' part really just defined me in a sense," Rae says. "That felt like an identity that I had not seen reflected in television or film before, or at least in a very long time."

Halloween has come and gone, but piles of candy remain. You have two options: Eat it all and risk a serious sugar coma, or get seriously creative with some candy-themed science.

We asked employees at various science museums what experiments they like to do with leftover candy. Get crackin'.

'Fish In Exile' Is A Chronicle Of Grief Barely Survived

Nov 8, 2016

Before the opening of Vi Khi Nao's Fish in Exile, a married couple, Ethos and Catholic, lose their twin children in a terrible accident at the seashore. By the time the reader opens to the first page, they — and the book itself — have been fragmented by the event, and are trying and failing to hold themselves together.

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

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Here to talk more about the struggle over ratings is NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Hey there, Eric.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hi.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Marvel's latest superhero movie, "Doctor Strange," worked its magic on audiences over the weekend and led the box office.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DOCTOR STRANGE")

Up-and-coming comedian Aparna Nancherla is having a great year, riding high on a TV comedy special, tour and a new album, Just Putting It Out There — all this while wrestling with some pretty tough personal issues, like depression, on stage.

There may be nothing more American than mom and apple pie – but mom and cake come pretty close.

Ask Anne Byrn, the Nashville-based best-selling author and baker whose romance with cake started when she was tall enough to reach for the box of Hershey's cocoa.

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

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The twists and turns of the 2016 election — not to mention the characters at the top of each major-party ticket — provide many opportunities for comedy. But it's tough out there for late-night joke-makers, who face more competition than ever, not to mention a social-media landscape in which seemingly every possible quip is being made in real time.

Fleabag is the name of a British comedy that tackles intimacy, feminism and womanhood. Writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge created the show and plays its main character, also named Fleabag.

"She's a young woman living in London," Waller-Bridge tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "The relationship that she treasures most in the world, treasured most in the world, was that with her best friend who she recently lost in a terrible accident."

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Sometimes, my brain goes dull.

If you think the same thoughts enough times, they make paths, like water does, create deepening grooves, until habituated expressions and permitted thoughts become a canyon you can't get out of. There are many books I love, but Anne Carson's make me reconsider my life. Her poems feel like anarchic rainfall, a fresh shower, an escape from the canyon.

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