Arts

Arts and culture

Is there such a thing as a "gay voice"? For gay filmmaker David Thorpe, the answer to that question is complicated. "There is no such thing as a fundamentally gay voice," Thorpe tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. But, he adds, "there is a stereotype and there are men, to a greater or lesser extent, who embody that stereotype."

In his new film, Do I Sound Gay?, Thorpe searches for the origin of that stereotype and documents his own attempts to sound "less gay" by working with speech pathologist Susan Sankin.

Veteran California science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson grounds his new novel squarely in a recognizable convention: the generation ship. In this case, it's a 26th century starship sent from Earth to find a home in some distant galaxy, as generations live and die onboard during the long journey.

There's nothing pretty about The Unnoticeables. The novel's author, Robert Brockway, is a senior editor at Cracked.com, and he brings that publication's legendarily irreverent wit to this raunchy, rollicking tale of punk rock, gruesome horror and pop-culture satire. Lurking beneath that layer of grime and spilled beer, though, are a few hidden depths that make the book more than the sum of its snarky parts.

Most aspiring chefs long for the white hat, the gleaming kitchen, the fancy menu.

But Nigeria-born Tunde Wey stumbled into a different version of the (American) chef's dream. He wanted to see the country and share the food of his West African childhood with friends and strangers along the way.

So a few months ago, he packed up his knives and his spices at his home in Detroit and started crisscrossing the U.S. by Greyhound bus.

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Updated at 7:10 p.m. ET

Comedian Bill Cosby testified in 2005 that he obtained the sedative Quaalude with the intent of giving the drug to women with whom he wanted to have sex, and he acknowledged giving it to at least one woman.

Oklahoma! was the first musical that the celebrated team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote together. On the surface, it tells the story of a young woman (Laurey) deciding whether to go to a party with a dangerous, lonely farmhand (Jud) or a nice, young cowboy (Curly).

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Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

I've just spent much of the past two weeks on my couch, reading suspense fiction. The result of all that heavy lifting is this list of recommendations — four thrillers, very different in style and MO, but all deadly accurate in their aim to entertain.

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Transcript

It has been called the "Super Bowl of the ocean."

Shark Week is a ratings bonanza for the Discovery Channel with more than 40 million people tuning in last year. Shark Week kicked off this weekend with the most hours of programming ever in its 28-year history But many scientists think the huge audiences — and the hype — have come at the expense of real science.

A generation of shark scientists cut their teeth on Shark Week.

It's a bit of an understatement to call Judd Apatow busy.

His new book, Sick in the Head, a 500-page collection of Apatow's conversations with some of the greatest minds in comedy, is on the New York Times best-seller list. Meanwhile, his film collaboration with the white-hot Amy Schumer, Trainwreck — his fifth movie as a director — is set for release within two weeks.

Oh, and he just wrapped up shooting another movie that's due out next year.

It was the middle of the Cold War and the CIA was having a difficult time getting information on what the Soviet Union was up to next.

The agency needed a spy — a Russian spy — who was willing to go the full way and betray his country.

It found one in Adolf Tolkachev, a Soviet aviation expert.

David Hoffman tells Tolkachev's story in his new book, The Billion Dollar Spy.

On-air challenge: In each pair of clues, the answer to the first clue is a word that contains the consecutive letters A-R. Drop the A-R, and the remaining letters in order will form a word that answers the second clue.

Example: Sweet brown topping on ice cream / Animal with humps = C(AR)AMEL

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LYNN NEARY, HOST:

Walking through the farmers market this time of year is a wondrous thing: juicy tomatoes, rows of jewel-toned eggplants, fragrant basil and sweet yellow corn. But then, you see bunches of greens that look like weeds, stuff with names like kohlrabi and purslane, and suddenly, you feel intimidated. Other people know what to do with these greens, why don't I?

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, top chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: We go to Seoul, South Korea, to make banchan — those endless small plates of pickles and veggies that traditionally accompany rice or soup.

Every so often, an artist comes along who simply resonates. They show up and fill a particular void in our cultural consciousness, whether in prose, song or film. They tap into something that feels especially new, and at times transcendent.

Everyone has had the dream in one form or another. You are about to take a big test when you realize you don't know anything about the subject. You are on stage but you haven't memorized the lines. You have to make a speech but you haven't written it.

It's your basic performance anxiety nightmare.

But if you are a musician, performance anxiety, better known as stage fright, can ruin your career — maybe before it even gets started.

Louisa Hall was a nervous speaker when she was little. At school, kids teased her and said she talked like a robot.

"I think I was just so nervous that I kind of couldn't put any real animation in my voice," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "But ever since then I've kind of looked at robots or looked at machines and wondered whether they were just having trouble acting human."

In the dirty, crowded, and impoverished immigrant barrios of Buenos Aires of 1913, a 17-year-old girl arrives with little more than some clothes and her grandfather's violin.

Her name is Leda, and she's the character at the heart of Carolina De Robertis' third novel, The Gods of Tango.

Leda, an Italian girl, was sent for by her cousin-husband, but widowed before her ship even lands in South America. She soon finds comfort and excitement in a new kind of music that's filling the city's courtyards, bars and brothels: the tango.

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ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

If you've got any beer left over after your Fourth of July barbecue and picnic, we've got a delicious recipe for you - beer-braised turkey thighs. NPR's Noah Adams tracked down the recipe in Dayton, Ohio.

In just over 18 months, Barack Obama will join the ranks of ex-presidents. He'll be 55 when he leaves office, among the youngest to become a former president, alongside Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

President Carter remains a model of what an active, productive life can look like after leaving the White House. He looks back on that life in his new memoir, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety, beginning with growing up with black friends in the Jim Crow South.

'Shadowshaper' Paints A Vibrant Picture

Jul 4, 2015

Shadowshaper had me crying at 3 percent of the e-book. Not because it was sad, but because I am one giant button when it comes to stories about family, heritage, language, art, and the magic mixed up in them, and this book knew just where to push.

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Rachel Martin, and I have a confession to make. It's the Fourth of July weekend, and there was a really big movie made in 1975, 40 years ago, pegged to this weekend - "Jaws."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JAWS")

Observing the consequences of the Mexican drug trade on both sides of the U.S. border, Cartel Land toggles between Arizona and the state of Michoacan, about 1,000 miles to the south. Only the latter of the twinned storylines really pays off, but that one is riveting.

Just a little less than five years ago, Linda Holmes and I decided to book a studio after-hours and record what we'd call "an audio experiment" — a roundtable discussion of pop culture with the two of us and our pals Trey Graham and Glen Weldon, produced by the essential Mike Katzif. By the time the first recording was complete, we'd decided to come back every week, even though our budget was zero and we'd never asked our bosses for permission.

In 1776, the American colonies declared independence from Britain.

But it wasn't until 1796 that someone dared to tackle a question that would plague every generation of Americans to come: "What is American food?"

American Cookery, the very first American cookbook, was written by Amelia Simmons (more on this mysterious woman later). In it, she promised local food and a kind of socioculinary equality. The title page stated that the recipes were "adapted to this country and all grades of life."

Their gourds tell a story — and earn them a living. That gourd in the photo — the one on the left? It is covered with miniature pictures of a potato harvest in Peru. There's even a wee burro hauling the day's crop.

That gourd will sell for around $800.

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

She has taught generations of children important lessons and read them a whole lot of books.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SESAME STREET")

SONIA MANZANO: (As Maria) "Goldilocks And The Three Bears" - an oldie, but a goodie.

Booze, drugs, Svengalis galore, rampant co-dependence: The bare bones of a crash-and-burn rocker bio-pic poke through Asif Kapadia's richly absorbing documentary about the short, sharp life of Amy Winehouse. Here and there Amy flirts with prurience, but prurience is hard to avoid with a young woman who, willy-nilly, lived her private life in public. And if ever there was an artist whose life and work fed one another for better and worse, it was Winehouse.

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