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Early in the Swedish-made sports movie Borg vs. McEnroe, Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) ducks into a Monaco bar to escape a pack of screaming girls after practicing for an especially tricky upcoming Wimbledon championship. The tennis star is without his wallet, so he helps out schlepping boxes in return for a free espresso and tries to convince the bartender that he's an electrician by trade. The barkeep doesn't buy it, and really, who would when confronted with those chiseled facial bones, maximally toned leg muscles, and blond curls improbably squashed under a baseball cap?

There's a sequence in the documentary Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami that follows the pop-art icon before, during, and after a pre-recorded TV performance she's giving in front of a studio audience in France. As she makes her way toward the stage in a black corset, high heels, and a lacy purple headdress that masks her eyes — an amusing contrast with the lumpen roadies and stagehands she greets along the way — Jones frets about the possibility of the set being tacky.

In 2007, writer-director Tony Gilroy dispatched the protagonist of Michael Clayton, a cynical and corrupt law-firm fixer, to unravel a plot so grubby it made him look clean by comparison. Gilroy pursues the same strategy in the involving if somewhat predictable Beirut, which was directed by Brad Anderson.

For many poor families in America, eviction is a real and ongoing threat. Sociologist Matthew Desmond estimates that 2.3 million evictions were filed in the U.S. in 2016 — a rate of four every minute.

"Eviction isn't just a condition of poverty; it's a cause of poverty," Desmond says. "Eviction is a direct cause of homelessness, but it also is a cause of residential instability, school instability [and] community instability."

This post is my last for 13.7: Cosmos & Culture.

For 6 1/2 years, I have had the privilege and the pleasure of writing commentaries — about 50 every year — for NPR on animals, anthropology, human evolution, nature, gender and higher education.

The blog's science and culture commentary is being discontinued by NPR — and, so, it's time to say goodbye.

"Macbeth" is the most recognizable of Shakespeare's plays, a sort of Elizabethan suspense thriller filled with unforgettable and almost over-the-top moments: Witches brewing, villains handwringing, ghosts walking.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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If you or someone you know has tattoos, you might recognize this style of tattooing that's become really popular at the moment. It's called black and gray realism. Shereen Marisol Meraji from our Code Switch team looked into its roots.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

NECCO wafers are a polarizing candy. Some online haters have compared the brittle sugar disks to chalk, or antacid tablets. But now, the company that makes them could soon close shop — and that's brought out some of the candies' very loyal fans.

At Sugar Heaven in Somerville, Mass., David Sapers points out that there is a lot more NECCO on his shelves than just those controversial wafers. NECCO buttons and NECCO Sky Bars share shelf space with the classic wafers at his store.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Washington, D.C. was the first majority-black city in the U.S. and it stayed that way for decades, from 1970 to 2015. Now the African-American population in the nation’s capital is somewhere around 48 percent, according to the latest Census data.

'Rampage' Lowers The Bar On Razing A City

Apr 11, 2018

Nearly four months have elapsed since the release of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the latest two-titled PG-13 blockbuster headlined by Dwayne Johnson. The subject a of recent, glowing Rolling Stone profile that revealed he did not vote in 2016 but does not rule out running for the nation's swole-est office in the future, Johnson has somehow become America's most precious natural resource and its most abundant.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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We named our science and culture commentary 13.7: Cosmos & Culture when it launched nearly nine years ago.

At the time, the universe was believed to be 13.7 billion years old. But according to data released from the Planck satellite since, it took a bit longer: 13.8 billion years from the Big Bang to this blog.

Here's how it (the commentary, not the Big Bang) came to be:

One of the two women at the center of Meg Wolitzer's absorbing new novel, The Female Persuasion, is a legendary feminist named Faith Frank. Faith, who's in her 60s when the story begins, seems to be modeled on Gloria Steinem: She's charismatic, sexy and witty. We're told that Faith is not "a firebrand or a visionary; her talent was different. She could sift and distill ideas and present them in a way that made other people want to hear them."

When Melanie McNeil roused her 8-year-old great-grandson, Byron Ridenour-Wright, out of bed in Ohio last fall, and loaded him onto a bus bound for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, she didn't have high hopes for lunch.

"Later, years later, I would hear a song made of our meeting," says the hero of Madeleine Miller's Circe, of her romance with the mortal Odysseus. Circe is referring to Homer's version of the story, in which Odysseus arrives on her island sea-battered and mourning for his men killed by the cruel Laestrygonians. Circe entraps his remaining men and turns them into pigs. But Odysseus, with the help of the god Hermes, tricks Circe and makes her beg for mercy before becoming her lover.

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Take the everyday sounds of a city - traffic, people's voices - give them to composer and MIT professor Tod Machover and out comes a symphony.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOD MACHOVER'S "A TORONTO SYMPHONY")

America has had its first black baseball player, its first black astronaut, its first black president — but after the firsts, the world is still full of onlies. Sometimes the only-ness is existential — like the only black student in a private school. Sometimes it's incidental — the only black woman in an hour-long yoga class.

For the past two decades, photographer Dayanita Singh has been the subject of exhibitions and retrospectives at museums around the world. Her poetic images of Indian family life and architecture, abandoned spaces and private moments, are the kind of classically beautiful works coveted by curators and collectors.

In 2016, Brady Jandreau was thrown from a horse while riding in a rodeo. The horse stepped on the Lakota cowboy's head, crushing his skull.

Doctors told him that he wouldn't ride again — and he considered giving it up — but couldn't. "I knew what I had to do and I knew what I was going to do," Jandreau says. "The rest was up to faith and my connection with the animal."

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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A confession: I was not a fan of New Girl when it premiered. Fox leaned hard on its description of Zooey Deschanel's character, Jess, as "adorkable," which is too twee even for network promotional materials. She was presented as inept and ill-equipped to function in the adult world without the help of her three male roommates: Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Winston (Lamorne Morris). The guys were flatly drawn, and the show was too reliant on an underdeveloped take on Jess' appeal.

It's not often that chicken skin ignites an international controversy, but leave it to a competitive cooking television show to do just that.

MasterChef UK judge Gregg Wallace found himself in the spotlight following the airing last week of an episode in which he criticized contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin's rendition of a classic Malaysian dish, chicken rendang. "I like your rendang flavor, that's like a coconut sweetness," he said. "But the chicken skin isn't crispy. It can't be eaten, but all the sauce is on the skin I can't eat."

What do I love about this book? For starters: Dorothy Parker. Rebecca West. Hannah Arendt. Mary McCarthy. Nora Ephron. Janet Malcolm. With Sharp, Michelle Dean has essentially gathered ten 20th century literary lodestars for an all-female intellectual history party thrown between the covers of a single book. The price of admission to this critical gala: "the ability to write unforgettably," and being labeled "sharp."

Charles Frazier used to think he'd said enough about the Civil War. In Cold Mountain, he'd written an acclaimed novel that became an Oscar-winning movie.

"After Cold Mountain, I never thought I wanted to write about the Civil War again," he says in an interview. "But as the past three or four years have shown, it's not done with us — as a country, as a culture."

We still have competing visions of America. And Charles Frazier's new novel Varina offers a fictional version of a real-life Confederate.

Chrissy Metz is best known for her role as Kate on the hit NBC show This Is Us. But before she got herself on a screen, she was helping other people get there. Metz moved across the country from Florida to California in the early 2000s to work for an agent and try her hand at acting. She eventually became an agent herself, though she never stopped believing she could be an actor. She auditioned on the side for years before landing This Is Us.

The new horror movie A Quiet Place is a hit at the box office and with critics. It's also notable for its lack of sound, which poses a problem for lovers of movie-theater popcorn.

After three members of the Swedish Academy resigned Friday, protesting its response to a long-simmering scandal, the committee known for awarding the Nobel Prize in literature has found itself in unfamiliar — and precarious — territory: Beyond examining the merits of an author's past work, as it does each year, the centuries-old group is now also facing questions about its own future.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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