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Arts and culture

She generated billions in profits for the fashion industry just by getting dressed in the morning. For some, she made gardening and gym class cool; for others, she is the poster child for what a successful marriage and family life can look like.

We're talking about Michelle Obama, the former first lady who is still a role model for millions of Americans who were refreshed by her style and authenticity, and moved by how she fulfilled her role as the first African-American first lady.

When you escape a catastrophe with the clothes on your back and your dog in your arms, people sometimes try to comfort you by saying the rest are "things" and things can be replaced. But, some things can't be — a family photo album, a scrapbook, grandma's quilt. That's what people in Houston are dealing with as they try to put their lives back together after Hurricane Harvey.

Brian May left a promising career in science to try his hand at rock 'n' roll, and did OK enough, we guess, becoming a co-founder of the band Queen. (That makes him the only Ph.D. astrophysicist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.) What's more, he's also deeply into 3D stereoscopic photography, and has just published a new book of pictures of his band.

Given his success with Queen, we made him answer three trivia questions about Dairy Queen, the ice cream and fast food franchise.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

Time and again, writer Daniel Alarcón has found himself on those lists that make other, less fortunate writers gnash their teeth. He's been named one of 37 under the age of 36, 39 under 39, and 20 under 40. Alarcón is 40 now — he was born in Peru, grew up in the suburbs of Birmingham, Ala., and he's got a new collection of short stories called The King is Always Above the People.

The new movie Thank Your For Your Service is about coming home. Specifically, it's about American soldiers who come home after serving during the "surge" in Iraq in 2007.

One scene takes place in a therapist's office. Sgt. Adam Schumann and his wife Saskia need help, and the therapist starts listing Schumann's military honors. "You never told me about those," Saskia says.

Saskia is the one who insists Schumann get help. The real-life Adam Schumann says, yes she did.

Over the years, many authors have dealt with alcoholism, addiction and recovery — think of plays like Long Day's Journey into Night, or films like Days of Wine and Roses. Now a new play from England joins them: People, Places & Things takes an unsentimental and, at times, harrowing look at addiction and recovery.

Inasmuch as Protestant (and especially Lutheran) congregations around the world are celebrating Reformation Sunday this weekend, accordingly let us mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, Germany, with a coffee-and-fellowship hour buffet of indulgences.

The death of Eric Garner is a good place to start if you want to tell a story about our politically divided country. At least, that's the case Matt Taibbi makes in his new book, and quite successfully. I Can't Breathe, which takes its title from Garner's last words, traces his life from adolescence to his final day.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


For decades, women generally kept quiet about being sexually harassed — or even assaulted — at work. But that may be starting to change. The recent New York Times and New Yorker exposés on Harvey Weinstein helped open the flood gates for women who allege they too have been victims. The #MeToo campaign lead to more stories. So we wondered — why now?

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


In the HBO series "The Deuce," Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a sex worker in Times Square who is different from other sex workers. She does not have a pimp. Here's a scene where a new girl on the street meets Maggie Gyllenhaal's character for the first time.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Musical Guest: Aimee Mann

Oct 27, 2017

Musical guest Aimee Mann knows she has a bit of a reputation for writing sad songs. She decided to lean into the joke with her latest album, whose title, "Mental Illness," was suggested by none other than Jonathan Coulton. "He asked me what the record what about and I said, 'Ah, it's my usual songs about mental illness.' And he said, 'Oh, you should call it 'Mental Illness,' thinking he was being snide and hilarious." The name stuck, and she released her ninth solo album in March.


Oct 27, 2017

Paul Scheer and D'Arcy Carden finished their trivia triad with a musical quiz designed to make people from New York feel defensive. We rewrote famous songs about Los Angeles to be about things with the initials "L.A."

Heard On Los Angeles: Famepocalypse Part One


D'Arcy Carden On The Nature Of Her Feelings About One Direction

Real Or Fake Self-Help Book?

Oct 27, 2017

Paul Scheer and D'Arcy Carden took a page out of How to Win Ask Me Another and Influence People for their next quiz, deciding whether self-help book descriptions were real or fake.

Heard On Los Angeles: Famepocalypse Part One


Paul Scheer On The Early Days Of The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

I remember doing a show for one person. And then we decided we would chase him out.

Parental Advisory Spoiler Alert

Oct 27, 2017

Actor and comedian Paul Scheer maintains an incredibly high standard for the roles he accepts — even when he doesn't have any idea who he's playing. Known for his work with the sketch comedy team Human Giant and his role on the FX sitcom The League, Scheer also co-hosts the podcast How Did This Get Made?, which celebrates (and eviscerates) some of the worst movies ever made. He recently had a recurring role on HBO's VEEP, one of his very favorite shows, and he spoke to host Ophira Eisenberg about the air of mystery that surrounds such a spoiler-free series.

Nobody Walks In L.A.

Oct 27, 2017

It's a total Misubishi Eclipse of the heart as we crown our celebrity Ask Me Another champion in a final round about literal descriptions of car model names.

Heard On Los Angeles: Famepocalypse Part One

Freeway Traffic Report

Oct 27, 2017

Brett Gelman and Missi Pyle completed their Ask Me Another trilogy contracts with a quiz in which every answer is also the number of a freeway in the Los Angeles area. Plus, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann also joined us for a performance of "Rollercoasters," a song from her recent album "Mental Illness."

Heard On Los Angeles: Famepocalypse Part One


Missi Pyle On Her Driving Style

Holy Foley!

Oct 27, 2017

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the sound of boots walking through a kiddie pool filled with glue! We tested Missi Pyle and Brett Gelman's knowledge of the magic of cinema with an audio quiz about the strange practices of foley artists, the audio technicians who create sound effects for film.

Heard On Los Angeles: Famepocalypse Part One


Missi Pyle On Succumbing To Peer Pressure From Sigourney Weaver

Star Map

Oct 27, 2017

Missi Pyle isn't just the kind of actress you recognize from something—she's the kind of actress you recognize from everything. Pyle got her break when she landed a major role in the 1999 cult film Galaxy Quest. As Laliari, an extraterrestrial with a very severe haircut, Pyle's first big movie remains one of her favorites. "Galaxy Quest was such a beautiful, magical experience," she told host Ophira Eisenberg.

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Dialogue And Exchange.

About Robb Willer's TED Talk

Liberals and conservatives believe in different sets of moral values. That's why, social psychologist Robb Willer says, appealing to the other side's values — not your own — might change more minds.

About Robb Willer

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Dialogue And Exchange.

About Megan Phelps-Roper's TED Talk

Megan Phelps-Roper grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church, which preaches a message of hate and fear. But after engaging with her critics--on Twitter, no less--she decided to leave the church.

About Megan Phelps-Roper

Things are about to get even stranger in Hawkins, Ind.

That's the small town the Netflix series Stranger Things is set in. The second season of the instant cult classic set in the 1980s is released Friday, and it picks up about a year after the first adventure into the Upside Down, the defeat of the Demogorgon monster and Eleven's apparent disappearance.

Stranger Things is the brainchild of twin brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, who said that their tastes are very similar — but that they fight all the time. It's mostly about writing.

Before Hurricane Maria, Brian Gonzalez could sling 500 empanadillas, fried Puerto Rican empanadas, each day to tourists from cruise ships stopping at Old San Juan. On a recent day, he sold less than 50.

It's the story of many street vendors that depend on sightseers and visitors to San Juan's biggest attractions.

Before Hurricane Maria five weeks ago, there were dancers in the square, music in the street and hardly a parking space in sight. Power outages have since turned tourist hotspots like oceanfront Condado and Old San Juan into a dark and empty ghost town.

Once upon a time — about 40 years ago — there were few things as terrifyingly pulpy as the books at the supermarket checkout: fat paperbacks with crazy covers and titles like Eat Them Alive, The Face That Must Die and Crabs: The Human Sacrifice. This was lowbrow stuff, and Grady Hendrix, the author of Paperbacks from Hell, has read a lot of it.

Bethlehem be damned, Joan Didion is no slouch. Onscreen at age 82 in a new Netflix documentary about her life, the pioneering novelist and literary journalist is a flurry of activity in thick red lipstick, casting wide circles with her hands as she speaks. "I don't know what 'fall in love' means," she says near the beginning, in that precise diction. "It's not part of my ..." (gesturing toward something unseen) "... world."

'The Square' Is Edgy

Oct 26, 2017

Life does not imitate art in Swedish writer-director Ruben Östlund's The Square. No, something much worse happens: Life imitates conceptual art.

The Square is the first Swedish movie to win the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival since 1992's The Best Intentions. That's ironic, since Östlund's often startling satire is about a man with the best of intentions: a contemporary-art museum director tellingly named Christian (Claes Bang). He's handsome, successful, and, of course, as insensitive and self-centered as the rest of us.

When God's Own Country, a superb feature debut from British writer-director Francis Lee about a love affair between two male farmhands, drew wide acclaim at film festivals, it spawned comparisons with Brokeback Mountain. They're understandable but misleading, and not only because the time and place are different. God's Own Country is set in the West Yorkshire wilds where Lee grew up and still lives, and where sex is organic to the everyday flow of lives surrounded by animal activity.