Arts and culture

This week, we recorded the show in Philadelphia, home of WHYY. And that means that (for once!) we get to ask Fresh Air's Terry Gross the questions.

We've invited Terry to answer three questions about another Terry: Terry Gene Bollea — better known as pro wrestler Hulk Hogan.

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Cyclists competing in the Tour de France entered the 8th Stage on Saturday, where they'll face some short but steep climbs as they ride west through Brittany. At the end of the day, cheering crowds will gather around the finish line, the stage winners feted.

What about the guy at the end of the pack? That's the question Max Leonard answers in his new book, Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France. Leonard tells NPR's Wade Goodwyn that the riders in the back often have far more interesting stories than the riders in the front.

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There are a lot of bands out there trying to make it; musicians working day jobs, crashing on couches, hauling their amps into dark, cramped clubs. Few will make it big.


State by state, the legal marijuana business is slowly gaining ground. The industry is using both an increasingly favorable public opinion toward marijuana and a newly legal cash flow to try to transform itself into a force in national politics.

Under normal circumstances, I am a dog-earer of books. A book-marker — using receipts and matchbooks and old train tickets to flag pages and red pens to mark passages which moved me or made me want to kick an author in the shins. A mediocre book will have a few such scars. A great one will look ragged.

But I wrecked my copy of Aatish Taseer's new novel, The Way Things Were, folding the corners of so many pages and planting so many scraps of paper amid the chapters that it sits now, swollen, on my desk like a patient after gum surgery.

The set for the first scene of the Broadway comedy Hand to God is a fairly realistic depiction of a church basement and, since there's no curtain at the theater, it's in full view of audience members when they enter. A week ago, a 19-year-old college student jumped onstage to plug his cellphone into what turned out to be a prop outlet.

After Death, James Tate's Poetry Continues To Delight

Jul 10, 2015

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Tate died this week, just before the publication of his new book, Dome of the Hidden Pavilion. He was 71, and one of the most popular poets of his generation, beloved as much by readers, who found in his work a more accessible and entertaining version of poetry, as by fellow-poets, who have relentlessly imitated his style for decades.

Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman is one of the most anticipated books of the year.

Some movie titles tell you exactly what the movie's going to be about. Others, not so much.

The new documentary Do I Sound Gay? falls firmly into the first category. (The comedy Tangerine, which has nothing to do with citrus, falls just as firmly into the latter; more about it in a moment.)

But first, the obvious question: Do I sound gay? I mean, you hear me on the radio all the time. (Or, if you don't, you can also hear me in the audio link above.) So really, do I?

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#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 five reads.

From Jessica Taylor, NPR political reporter

"Since Atlanta, she had looked out the dining-car window with a delight almost physical."

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Fried chicken is a racially fraught food. Historically, it's been associated with racist depictions of African-Americans, and today, some still wield the fried-chicken-eating stereotype as an insult. But in some cases, the food itself has provided a path toward financial freedom for blacks.

Legendary Egyptian actor Omar Sharif died today in Cairo, according to his agent. He was 83.

Sharif hit it big starring in 1960s epic dramas such as Doctor Zhivago, and the movie that introduced him to world audiences: Lawrence of Arabia.

Where new levels of quality go, new levels of parody are sure to follow. So it makes sense that a strong run of historical sports documentaries, particularly from ESPN's 30 For 30 series, would give rise to a spot-on mock-documentary like HBO's 7 Days In Hell, airing Saturday night.

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When writer Ta-Nehisi Coates sat down at NPR's New York studios a few days ago, he got a little emotional.

It was the first time that Coates, who writes for The Atlantic, had held a copy of his latest book, Between the World and Me.

This book is personal, written as a letter to his teenage son Samori. In it, we see glimpses of the hard West Baltimore streets where Coates grew up, his curiosity at work on the campus of Howard University and his early struggles as a journalist.

Inevitably, several months after a beloved actor dies too young, we are expected to reckon with the ghost. That time has come for Robin Williams, the apple-cheeked performer with the giant heart, whose final onscreen appearance is arriving in theaters 11 months after his suicide (Absolutely Anything, which features his last voicework, comes out later this year).

The rich are different from you and me. They can buy fresh bodies when the old ones wear out.

Well, at least they can in Self/less, a movie that raises provocative questions about identity and then doesn't think about them at all. In this sci-fi fantasy, rebottling your soul in a new vessel begets not contemplation but chase scenes. Lots of chase scenes.

In the wake of a bad breakup, journalist and gay activist David Thorpe did what many of us do: He took intense inventory of his own flaws and insecurities, then stepped up one of them into a Thing. A good Thing, as it turns out, whose end result is the charming documentary Do I Sound Gay?, in which Thorpe wryly treats his anxieties about his "gay" voice as an exercise in self-improvement, and winds up with a compelling portrait of internalized homophobia and liberation.

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The nation's capital is sweaty and sweltering right now, but Washington locals and visitors can find a seaside getaway in the most unlikely of places. In the middle of downtown D.C., the National Building Museum has installed a 10,000-square-foot indoor "beach" that has attracted kids, tourists and workers looking for an out-of-the-ordinary lunch break.

Earlier this week, @midnight (pronounced "at midnight," for the uninitiated) was renewed by Comedy Central, where it airs Monday through Thursday (at ... uh ... midnight), for a generous 40-week third season that will extend the show's run all the way through 2016. It was great news for late-night Twitter users who are eager to be part of the world's biggest online roast and flock to their screens every night — when the show is actually on, just like the olden days — to play along at home and online.

The Dad Bod Diet

Jul 9, 2015

VIP Jim Gaffigan has spent a lifetime "researching" junk food, so naturally he aces this game on fun facts about our favorite guilty pleasure foods. Which has more calories: a Cinnabon Roll or a McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese?

Heard in Jim Gaffigan: The Dad Bod Diet

Get In Shape

Jul 9, 2015

Don't worry, no burpees or pushups in this final round. Instead, every answer is a word, phrase, or proper noun that contains the name of a geometric shape or figure. Turn up your Ice "Cube" and get ready for some mental calisthenics!

Heard in Jim Gaffigan: The Dad Bod Diet

According to Jim (Gaffigan)

Jul 9, 2015

In his new TV Land show The Jim Gaffigan Show, Gaffigan plays a version of himself. That is, he plays a stand-up comedian raising five kids in a small two bedroom New York City apartment. But how autobiographical is it actually? "I'm better looking in real life," Gaffigan told Ophira Eisenberg on stage at The Bell House in Brooklyn. Joining him was his wife Jeannie, who is also a writer and executive producer on the show.

"We do have five kids," Jeannie Gaffigan said. "And we do live in Manhattan, and we definitely did the two bedroom apartment [with them]."