Arts

Arts and culture

The crevices in Charlie's careworn face look as deep as any in the Australian outback when we first spy him in Charlie's Country. He's sitting in a government-provided tin-roofed shack on territory where his aboriginal ancestors once roamed free. Where he once roamed free, in fact.

Why do songs get stuck in your head? Where did that weird dream come from last night? The new Disney Pixar film Inside Out takes an animated peek into the inner workings of our minds.

The Truth About 'Mike's Place'

Jun 10, 2015

There are places, according to popular belief and classic TV shows, where everybody knows your name. At these mythical sites you can find reasonably priced drinks and eats, great music and, most importantly, a certain elusive kind of people. They're the people you always wish you could meet — and at these few special places, you can. Behind these doors, everyone feels like — could it be possible? — family.

Some ideas are so clever it's a wonder no one has thought of them before. Case in point: Algerian writer Kamel Daoud's The Meursault Investigation, a response to Albert Camus' The Stranger, written from the point of view of the brother of the nameless Arab murdered by Camus' antihero Meursault.

Juan Felipe Herrera Named U.S. Poet Laureate

Jun 9, 2015

Poetry readers, prepare yourselves for a passing of the laurels. The Library of Congress announced in the wee hours Wednesday that the next U.S. poet laureate will be California writer Juan Felipe Herrera. He will be the first Latino poet to be appointed to the position.

"This is a mega-honor for me," Herrera said in the announcement, "for my family and my parents who came up north before and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 — the honor is bigger than me."

Here's a preposterous idea: Napoleon Bonaparte, defeated at Waterloo, his 15-year run as dictator, conqueror and self-crowned emperor at an end, escapes to the United States. Well, as preposterous as that idea might sound, 200 years ago this month, Napoleon Bonaparte was thinking precisely that thought: Flee to America. How serious was he, and what would he have done if he'd become a Jersey boy? Munro Price is a professor of modern European history at Bradford University in England and the author of Napoleon: End of Glory.

Mahatma Gandhi, who used passive resistance in the fight for Indian independence, is known worldwide as a symbol of peace. But Americans know much less about the violence that erupted when the British pulled out of India in 1947.

After Muslim leaders demanded their own state, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs attacked each other in riots and massacres. In his new book, Midnight's Furies, Nisid Hajari explores the partition that created Pakistan as a separate state, the violence surrounding the partition and why those tensions persist to this day.

In this Small Batch edition of Pop Culture Happy Hour, I sat down with promising NPR up-and-comer Audie Cornish to discuss the new Netflix streaming science-fiction series, Sense8.

You'd be forgiven for not knowing this, but Wednesday is National Iced Tea Day. And while it's only an unofficial food holiday, it makes sense that Americans would set aside a day to celebrate this favorite summertime sip: We popularized it.

For all the Harry Potter die-hards who fail to follow J.K. Rowling on Twitter, we offer both an admonition and an advisory.

Early in Lisa Gornick's Louisa Meets Bear, not long after the title characters run into each other at a Princeton University library in 1975, Louisa tries to explain her father's job to her schoolmate. She can't quite articulate what it means to be a geneticist: "I can't explain what it is that my father researches, only that I think about it as unveiling the machinery in the magic."

Back when I was losing sleep over various scenarios that could befall my aging parents, a friend would try to calm me with assurances that at most one of those things would happen, so they weren't worth worrying about in advance.

A lot of things seem to come easy for The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon: comedy, music, dancing. Fatherhood didn't. Fallon and his wife struggled with fertility issues for years before they had their two daughters. Now one is almost 2, the other is not yet 1 and both are the inspiration for Fallon's new children's book, Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada.

With Spy topping Hollywood's box-office charts this weekend, Melissa McCarthy becomes the latest woman to head a major box-office hit in 2015. And while that merely puts her in good company this year, it's hardly been common in the past.

Describing what Joshua Cohen's sprawling, comic, tragic new novel is actually about isn't easy. In fact, it's tempting to use the old joke: It's about 600 pages. But Cohen gets there first; he does indeed use that joke in Book of Numbers.

When I ask Iago Bitarishvili to climb into his qvevri, a Georgian clay wine barrel, he rolls his eyes before he drops a ladder into what looks like a hole in the ground and makes his way down. What is a novelty to an observer is, to Bitarishvili, simply the way things are done.

"I don't make anything special," he says. "I only continue in the way started by my parents."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Sydney Lucas didn't happen to win the Tony Award she was nominated for on Sunday night, but it took nothing away from the fact that she was the highlight of the entire broadcast. Lucas plays Small Alison in Fun Home, the musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir about her coming of age that won the award for Best Musical. Lucas sang "Ring Of Keys," which tells the story of Alison seeing a woman who ... well, she'll tell you.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Broadway has been having a boom. The past year has brought record attendance and the best ticket sales ever. That provided a nice backdrop for the Tony Awards last night. Reporter Jeff Lunden brings us all the big winners.

Why do we honor combat veterans? In his new novel, Air Force officer Jesse Goolsby asks that question through the stories of three veterans, their experiences in war and their lives back at home.

I'd Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them is grounded in the wars of the last 15 years, but Goolsby points out the action takes place as much in the private lives the men lead in America as it does on the battlefield.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a made-up two-word phrase, in which the two words rhyme. The initials of the two words will be provided, along with a one-word clue. Example: C S, Tennis ---> Court Sport

1. N L, Moon
2. B R, Semitrailer
3. P T, Cuestick
4. H C, Electrocardiogram
5. N H, Cold
6. T V, Haiku
7. H S, Bowwow
8. R P, Speedway
9. L N, Slipknot
10. D S, Coma
11. P T, Hookah
12. G W, Obesity
13. M W, Bull
14. S O, Exclaim
15. P D, Pepto Bismol

It's a quiet afternoon at the Tex-Mex restaurant in Brooklyn where playwright Robert Askins works the day shift twice a week. Even though his play, Hand to God, is on Broadway and he's got a Tony nomination, Askins says he enjoys interacting with the regulars, most of whom know about his other job.

"When you day bar during the weekdays, you're the only one in the restaurant," he says. "So, you run the food and make the drinks and put it on the tables and it's good."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Dolen Perkins-Valdez wants to change readers' perspective on the Civil War. Her best-selling debut novel, Wench, explored the lives of slave women — not on Southern plantations, but in a resort for slaveowners' mistresses in Ohio. Her new book, Balm, is set in the postwar period, and it's also in an unexpected place: Chicago.

Roy Andersson just might be one of the most interesting oddballs in the world of film. His Hollywood fan base includes high-class auteurs like the Wachowski siblings, Darren Aronofsky and Alejandro González Iñárritu — but he's best known in his native Sweden.

Back in 1970, Andersson's first film, A Swedish Love Story, took Europe by storm. He was only 26. "It was a fantastic time for me," he recalls. "However, I was not very happy after that. I was a little depressed. My second movie was a flop in all senses. A very, very big flop."

Producer Brian Grazer is responsible for so many movies and TV shows — Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, 24, Empire and many more — it's just easier to list something he didn't produce ... like the new Entourage movie. He's recently written a new book about his lifelong pursuit of curiosity, called A Curious Mind.

Since his last name is Grazer, we've invited him to play a game called "Mooooooooo!" Three questions about cattle.

Judy Blume, the incomparable writer for young adults, has a new novel for adult adults, about something totally unexpected: People falling from the sky, and how that can change onlookers for life in ways they only see when they're grown. In the Unlikely Event is a story told by a chorus of voices — most of them young — beginning with Miri and her mother, Rusty, who see a fireball fall from the sky in Elizabeth, N.J. "It's not my story, but I was 14 years old, the winter of 1951-1952 when this bizarre thing happened," Blume tells NPR's Scott Simon.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Pages