Arts

Arts and culture

Terry McMillan's characters have grown along with her. So it's not surprising that her latest book — I Almost Forgot About You — is about middle age. Her protagonist, Georgia Young, is an optometrist. Dr. Georgia is attractive, successful and economically secure. But, McMillan says, Georgia's accumulation of fine things has left her wondering why she bothered.

It's not every day that an actress has a television show written specifically for her, but that's exactly what happened with Ellie Kemper and the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

"I still am not sure what in my face screams 'bunker-cult victim' to [show creators Robert Carlock and Tina Fey], but something did, so they went with that," Kemper jokes to Fresh Air's Ann Marie Baldonado.

When you think about fish, it's probably at dinnertime. Author Jonathan Balcombe, on the other hand, spends a lot of time pondering the emotional lives of fish. Balcombe, who serves as the director of animal sentience for the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that humans are closer to understanding fish than ever before.

"Thanks to the breakthroughs in ethology, sociobiology, neurobiology and ecology, we can now better understand what the world looks like to fish," Balcombe says.

"Specificity is the soul of narrative" is a thing John Hodgman likes to say when he's hearing cases on the smart and funny Judge John Hodgman podcast, and it's applicable to documentary film, too. Documentaries devoted to a topic with heft do better if they can find a particular angle, a particular way into the question.

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

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

Why My Mom Left Me Out Of Her Book

Jun 19, 2016

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled is a new children's book by author Lynne Rae Perkins. It's about a boy and a dog. And it's based on real life — her son Frank and their dog Lucky.

But there's another person in the family who got left out — her daughter Lucy. And Lucy Perkins happens to be a producer at NPR.

Lucy decided to ask her mom about the new book and why she got left out of the story.

'The Familiar Vol. 3' Will Rewire Your Brain

Jun 19, 2016

In Volume 1 of Mark Danielewski's (proposed) 27-volume epic, The Familiar, a girl finds a cat. (900 pages.)

In Volume 2, the cat (and the girl, named Xanther) are hungry. They eat and don't eat. Get sick, get better. (Around 800 pages.)

In Volume 3 — the newest, called Honeysuckle & Pain — the girl tries to find a name for the cat. Can't. Plays some video games. Gets a pair of strange sunglasses. Let's call it 743 pages. Not the entirety of the book, but most of it.

Over the past decade, comic Kevin Hart has drawn enormous crowds to his stand-up shows and comedy films. He's starred in a string of big-name buddy comedies, including Get Hard with Will Ferrell and the Ride Along films with Ice Cube; and his demanding schedule was even the subject of a joke from Academy Awards host Chris Rock at this year's Oscars.

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. moved with his family to Chicago, where he was to spend a year laying the groundwork for bringing the civil rights movement to the North. The campaign came to be known as the Chicago Freedom Movement — a broadening drive against segregation, which was often as thorough in practice in the northern states as in the South, especially when it came to housing.

Bernard Kleina was there, too. The Chicago native and former Catholic priest documented the King-led demonstrations in the city — and he did so in rare color photographs.

Actor Terry O'Quinn made his film debut in the movie Heaven's Gate, one of the most notorious box office disasters of all time. From there, there was nowhere to go but up, and he went on to star as the mysterious John Locke on the equally mysterious TV show Lost.

Since O'Quinn doesn't have much going on in the hair department himself, we've decided to ask him three questions about Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical.

Artist June Leaf, Still Moving Fast At 86

Jun 18, 2016

June Leaf was trained in ballet, but she's been making visual art since she was a kid. That's a long time – she's 86 and the subject of a new retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Much of Leaf's work tells stories, often about relationships, and especially her relationship with her husband, the renowned photographer Robert Frank — who's far better known than his wife. Now, the Whitney retrospective is the museum's way of saying: It's time to pay attention to June Leaf.

A few years ago on Father's Day, my dad, who was then living in Taiwan, forwarded the family a special holiday coupon to one of his favorite places in the world: Souplantation. A sort of glorified salad buffet, Souplantation is the kind of chain restaurant you go to with your family after church or sports games, particularly after the ones you've lost. The food doesn't inflame the senses or your digestive tract. In his email, he urged us to take advantage of the coupon on his behalf— with an exclamation mark and a note of regret.

Inside the yellow brick house Emily Dickinson's grandfather built in Amherst, Mass., in 1813, you can see the very room and desk where the reclusive poet did her writing. The desk looks out onto the yard, from which Dickinson drew images and inspiration. Take just a few lines from her poem "It will be Summer — eventually.":

Two men arrive in a world of infinite forest: "Mud, rain, biting insects and the odor of willows made the first impression of New France. The second was of dark vast forest, inimical wilderness." René Sel and Charles Duquet are indentured French woodsmen, set to work chipping away at the forests of Canada — then called New France.

At The Salt, we talk a lot about how food and cultures intersect and how we can learn about ourselves through what we eat — or don't eat.

For many of us, food can serve as a way to explore our heritage. But what happens when you grow up in a family with a different ethnic, racial or cultural background than your own? How does food play into your sense of who you are?

If you are an international adoptee, and you've got a story about food, home and identity, we want to hear from you. Your story could end up on radio or NPR.org!

What you need to do:

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

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

At a long table in the Level Up restaurant, 11 stories above Gaza City, Basil Eleiwa got a cake with a sparkling candle on top — to honor his eatery's second birthday.

"We opened two or three weeks before the 2014 war," Level Up's founder and co-owner notes, referring to the conflict that began in July 2014 between Israel and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that runs the Gaza strip.

The restaurant had closed during the seven weeks of fighting.

"The building was hit a number of times," Eleiwa says. "It didn't fall down."

Celine Di-On It!

Jun 17, 2016

Kimiko Glenn was in the midst of watching Netflix's Orange Is The New Black when she was called in to audition. She was so nervous, it was all she could do to just get the words out. The next afternoon, Glenn landed the role of inmate Brook Soso, the free-spirit activist who's arrested for living in a tree to protest logging. Her first day on set started at 6 a.m. the following morning.

Give Us Some Sugar

Jun 17, 2016

This game is inspired by the Def Leppard song "Pour Some Sugar On Me." We ask contestants to pretend to be inanimate objects that want something poured on them. If we said, "Hey BLAND FOOD, should I spice you up by grabbing that shaker filled with black granules next to the salt?," you would sing, "POUR SOME PEPPER ON MEEEEEE."

Heard on Kimiko Glenn: Celine Di-On It!

Show Stopper

Jun 17, 2016

No, this is not the final round of the Great British Bake-Off. Instead, to cook up this round's clues, we took the names of famous plays and musicals and ran them through our thesaurus. For example, if we gave the clue, "The Male Monarch and Me," you'd answer, "The King and I."

Heard on Kimiko Glenn: Celine Di-On It!

What's Wrong With Jonathan Coulton

Jun 17, 2016

In this installment of What's Wrong With Jonathan Coulton, he must discern which statement is true:

One: The city of Cincinnati, Ohio, was once widely known by the nickname "Porkopolis."

Two: The city of Eugene, Oregon was once widely known by the nickname "Cougar Town."

Heard on Kimiko Glenn: Celine Di-On It!

Wikisneaks

Jun 17, 2016

Anyone with a computer can edit almost any Wikipedia page they want. We imagine what would happen if famous people wrote their own pages to make them sound a little more flattering.

Heard on Kimiko Glenn: Celine Di-On It!

Reverse Psychology

Jun 17, 2016

In this phoner game all about clichés, contestants guess the common saying after hearing its rough opposite. If we said "dummies disagree," you'd say, "great minds think alike."

Heard on Kimiko Glenn: Celine Di-On It!

Queen's Queens

Jun 17, 2016

House musician Jonathan Coulton changes the lyrics of classic Queen songs to be about real or fictional queens. With tunes this catchy, resistance is feudal!

Heard on Kimiko Glenn: Celine Di-On It!

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

Original Names

Jun 17, 2016

As all entrepreneurs know, one of the toughest parts of starting a company is coming up with a good name. And often the first name isn't the one that sticks. Contestants pick out a company's original name from three possible choices.

Heard on Kimiko Glenn: Celine Di-On It!

This is our 300th episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour — not counting Small Batch editions, which would drive the number significantly higher — so now's as good a time as any to thank everyone who's listened, supported us both within and outside NPR, and/or appeared on the show itself. We're feeling awfully appreciative that we've been allowed to stick around this long.

When Finding Nemo came out in 2003, it was Dory, the plucky, forgetful blue fish, who taught us all, in the face of adversity, to "just keep swimming."

Ellen DeGeneres, who voiced Dory, says she was "flattered and honored and awed" to have her legacy tied to such a determined and positive little fish.

Dory came along during a particularly tough time for DeGeneres — "I hadn't worked for three years," she tells NPR's Kelly McEvers.

Pages