Arts

Arts and culture

While many are calling this election a bitter contest, one Philadelphia business has found a sweet side to the electoral process — by reviving a patriotic tradition dating back centuries: clear toy candies.

Made of sugar, water and maybe a little coloring boiled to the correct temperature, then poured into elaborate molds, clear toy candies are a Pennsylvania tradition. With the Democratic convention in town this week, Philadelphia's renowned clear candy maker, Shane Confectionery, is putting out these sweet sculptures with a political theme.

Baz Luhrmann seems aware that as an Australian writer-director who first became known for Strictly Ballroom, he isn't the most obvious choice to produce a drama series about the origins of hip-hop in the South Bronx in the late 1970s.

Here's how Alfred explains villainy to Batman in The Dark Knight: "Some men aren't looking for anything logical like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."

From the moment Netflix announced that it would be bringing back Gilmore Girls for four 90-minute episodes making up a sort of mini-season called Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, fans have wondered how long they'd have to wait and in what shape they'd find Lorelai and Rory Gilmore after years away. On Wednesday, Netflix announced an arrival date of Nov. 25 and showed critics the first two minutes of the first episode, "Winter."

'You Will Know Me' Says No, You Won't

Jul 28, 2016

Megan Abbott's novel You Will Know Me, like her other books, thrums with the edge and energy of teenage girlhood; the wild want, the wild daring, the wild selfishness that — as one of the girls' moms says — you're only really allowed when you're young. "Remember that kind of wanting? That kind that's just for yourself? And you don't even have to feel guilty about it? You wouldn't know to."

As a teenager, James Alan McPherson worked as a passenger-car waiter on the Great Northern Railroad. The experience shaped him as a man and as a writer; he would spend his life producing short fiction and essays exploring race and class in America — the gulf separating white privilege from the black experience. One of his first published stories, "On Trains," included in his fiction collection Hue and Cry, chronicles a white woman's unthinking treatment of black waiters and porters on a train, and subtly reveals its lingering effects on all involved.

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

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QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About Presidents And Food?

Jul 27, 2016

It's convention season, which means the presidential election is in full swing.

There has always been a lot to divide politicians, but we at The Salt are interested in what brings them together: They all have to eat.

So we paged through our archives for stories about U.S. presidents and their predilections for — and embarrassing mishaps with — certain foods. How much do you know about presidents and food? Take our quiz to test your credentials.

Minicomics May Be Small, But They Pack Big Thrills

Jul 27, 2016

Shouldn't minicomics be obsolete by now? Printed by their creators in tiny batches and sold for a few bucks at "alternative" comic shops and conventions, they're as cumbersome to produce as they are to obtain. It would be much more sensible for the artists to just put up their work online — right?

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You don't hear the word jingle much in advertising anymore, but there was a time when the jingle was king. Once ad agencies came up with their concepts or slogans, they needed music to make their sell.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Now that the latest season of Game of Thrones has ended, fans may be feeling a little untethered — and some publishers would like to fill that gap with serialized books. As TV dramas get better and better, book publishers are hoping to convert binge TV watchers into binge readers.

The baristas have spoken, and Starbucks is listening: The company says it's loosening its dress code for in-store employees. Yes, the green aprons remain, but you may begin noticing more personal flair underneath.

A company announcement invites baristas "to shine as individuals while continuing to present a clean, neat and professional appearance."

Novelists have always put their heroines through awful ordeals. But over time, these tribulations change. Where the 19th Century was filled with fictional women trapped in punishing marriages — think of Middlemarch or The Portrait of a Lady — today's heroines face trials that are bigger, more political, and more physically demanding. They fight in hunger games.

The Television Critics Association is ... okay, that's the easy part. It's an association of people who write about television, mostly as critics, although many function, either instead or in addition, as reporters. I'm in it, as is NPR's full-time TV critic Eric Deggans, as are a couple hundred other people. And twice a year — once in the summer and once in the winter — we gather in the L.A. area for what's referred to as either "press tour" or "TCA," so that we can hear about what's coming up on TV and get a chance to talk to the people who make it.

The Panopticon, the 2013 debut by Scottish author Jenni Fagan, dealt with the tribulations of adolescence against a highly charged backdrop, a home for juvenile offenders that turns out to be more insidious than it seems. Adolescence also plays into Fagan's follow-up, The Sunlight Pilgrims, but that's only part of the picture.

Helen Gurley Brown, the tiny, tough and influential editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, who transformed the staid family magazine and took circulation to giddy heights, did so by lubricating its pages with one word: sex.

Make that extra-marital sex.

Actor Michael K. Williams is known for playing morally ambiguous, sometimes violent characters. As Omar Little on The Wire, Williams was a fearless stick-up man who stole money from drug dealers. In Boardwalk Empire, he played Chalky White, a bootlegger in Prohibition-era Atlantic City. Now, in the new HBO series The Night Of, he's a powerful inmate in New York's notorious Rikers Island Prison.

The table is set for dinner. Small cooked crabs and shrimp are laid out on the thick wooden tabletop next to succulent figs, grapes, pears and types of produce you can't even name. There's a citrus with a long coiling peel draped around it, and an entire roast of some animal's leg that's been cut down the middle — so you can see the thick layer of fat running around the edge. Just for good measure, a red lobster and ornate goblet of wine stand on a pedestal above it.

You might not know Marni Nixon's name, but you've probably heard her. The singer dubbed the voices for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady — three of Hollywood's biggest movie musicals.

Nixon died Sunday at 86 from complications from breast cancer.

In April 1865, at the bloody, bitter end of the Civil War, Ebenezer Nelson Gilpin, a Union cavalryman, wrote in his diary, "Everything is chaos here. The suspense is almost unbearable."

"We are reduced to quarter rations and no coffee," he continued. "And nobody can soldier without coffee."

If war is hell, then for many soldiers throughout American history, it is coffee that has offered some small salvation. Hidden Kitchens looks at three American wars through the lens of coffee: the Civil War, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

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

Producer Lawrence Grey loves horror movies. But he still shivers, remembering a 2 1/2 minute video that starts on a rainy Scandinavian night. A ordinary woman is getting ready for bed in her small apartment. She switches off the hall light and, in the darkness at the other end of the hall, she sees a shadow. A silhouette. Something almost human. But not quite.

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

If you love your mom, you might not be too happy with a current exhibition at the Queens Museum in New York City. It's a video installation in which "your mama" jokes and other putdowns are projected onto the walls of a dark room, in a constant loop.

Packing your child's lunch calls for a whole different level of preparation in Japan. There, moms often shape ordinary lunch ingredients like ham or rice into cute little pandas, Pokemon or even famous people's faces. It's called character bento, and there's considerable pressure to produce these cute food creations.

Tomomi Maruo has been teaching how to make character bentos, or "kyaraben" for short — at her home for the past 13 years.

America's favorite Amazon princess turns 75 this year — Wonder Woman first swung her golden lasso in All-Star Comics #8 in December 1941, and she's still fighting for freedom and the rights of women.

DC Entertainment is celebrating the Amazon's birthday with a series of events at this year's San Diego Comic-Con; a street corner in the downtown Gaslamp District has been turned into a tribute to Wonder Woman's home on Paradise Island, complete with artists painting giant portraits of her, and a replica of her famous invisible jet.

Jason Dessen, the protagonist of the new novel Dark Matter, is just a regular guy: He's 40, a devoted husband, a professor of physics at a small college, and a loving father to a teenage son.

But one day he's drugged and kidnapped and wakes up to find he's in a very different world. Not just a different world — a different life.

Blake Crouch joins NPR's Elise Hu to talk about the new book, and about why he loves imagining alternate realities.

Gay Talese Stays Too Long At 'The Voyeur's Motel'

Jul 24, 2016

The penis, Gay Talese writes in Thy Neighbor's Wife, his 1981 book on the American sexual revolution, "knows no moral code."

"Often regarded as a weapon," he writes, it "is also a burden, the male curse. It has made some men restless roués, voyeurs, flashers, rapists." The penis is but "prey" to the omnipotent temptation of women, "the bevy of buttocks in tight jeans."

One such voyeur — victim, apparently, of the terrible and stern dictates of the penis — is Gerald Foos, the subject of Talese's new book.

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

Iraqi Dancer's Dreams Cut Short By Terrorism

Jul 23, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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