Arts

Arts and culture

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

Iraqi Dancer's Dreams Cut Short By Terrorism

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

Copyright 2016 KRTS-FM. To see more, visit KRTS-FM.

Since his debut novel, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers has finessed a line between fact and fiction. His latest, Heroes of the Frontier, is a novel about a dentist who, after a bad breakup, packs up and moves to Alaska with her two young children.

Alaska is "a working state" that's "not too precious about itself," Eggers tells NPR's Scott Simon. "It's still very raw and there's still so much of it that you can discover, and be alone."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden flew four times on the space shuttle and was the first voice to be broadcast from Mars.

We've invited him to play a game called "You're not Charles in Charge — he is!" Click the audio link above to hear Bolden answer three questions about the remarkable career of actor and Republican National Convention speaker Scott Baio.

If you ask Mike Birbiglia, the principles of improv apply everywhere: "It changed the way I thought about everything," says the writer, director and actor. "[It] helps in parenting and being a good husband and being a good friend ... any collaborative job."

Best known for his stand-up comedy and roles in GIRLS and Orange Is the New Black, Birbiglia's latest project is Don't Think Twice, a movie that chronicles the ups and downs of a fictional, New York improv group called The Commune.

This year at San Diego Comic-Con, one of the biggest phenomena isn't just inside the convention center, it's all around. Yes, there are billboards and installations trumpeting things like Doctor Strange and Fear the Walking Dead. But the crowds of people here aren't looking up; they're mostly staring down at their phones, playing Pokémon Go.

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

John Evans, co-owner of California's Diesel, A Bookstore, recommends three vacation reads: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan and Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk by John Doe and Tom DeSavia.

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

Born This Way is a reality show — not too different from The Real World, the groundbreaking show that helped define the genre and aired for more than 30 seasons on MTV. Both feature a cast of diverse young adults navigating the world around them. Both came from reality TV pioneer Jonathan Murray (who co-created The Real World with Mary-Ellis Bunim). The big difference: All the stars of Born This Way have Down syndrome.

On Wednesday night, the film Star Trek: Beyond held its red-carpet premiere at San Diego Comic-Con. They went all out – a live orchestra, fireworks, a laser show. Conan O'Brien hosted the gig. NPR's Nina Gregory reported on it for Morning Edition yesterday.

Plates have long had a seat at the table, but they've suffered in silence – quietly bearing the indignities of everything from barbecue sauce to mustard stains.

Until now.

It's been a busy couple of weeks in the world; how are you doing?

We had the rare opportunity to pull the extremely busy Ari Shapiro into our fourth chair this week, just in time to join us for a chat about Ghostbusters, the latest summer action comedy to bust its way into theaters. We talked about its PG-13-ness, its lineup of very funny women, its place in the impressive Feig/McCarthy canon, and lots more.

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

She's back.

Earlier this week actor and comedian Leslie Jones decided she'd had enough of Twitter trolls targeting her because she dared to co-star in a reboot of the 1984 film, Ghostbusters.

She was tired of being called ugly and savage, and being compared to gorillas and apes.

She was tired of being called a coon.

She'd had enough. She was tired.

For this game, we've rewritten the intro to Law & Order: SVU to be about other things known by three initials. If we said, "In Munich's car manufacturing system, the dedicated assembly-line workers are members of an elite Beemer factory," you'd answer, "Law &Order: B-M-W."

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

From family fights to finding roadkill, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III does not consider any topic off limits. Many fans know Wainwright for his 26-album repertoire of witty and personally revealing music, chronicling the ups and downs of his life from early adulthood to his early sixties.

Perfectly Cromulent Words

Jul 22, 2016

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a "word" is a "sequence of one or more sounds, or morphemes, constituting the basic units of meaningful speech." Contestants must decide whether the clues we give them are real words we found in the dictionary, or something we made up.

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

Come Together

Jul 22, 2016

We've reworked The Beatles' hit "Come Together" to be about things that go together, like macaroni and cheese, or Bert and Ernie.

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

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

M-M Good

Jul 22, 2016

Every answer in this final round is a two-word phrase or name in which each word starts with the letter M, like "Mickey Mouse."

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

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

Share And Share Alike

Jul 22, 2016

This game is about music sharing. Every answer in this quiz is the name of a song whose title is shared by more than one artist. For example, if we said, "This is a Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch song featuring Marky boxing and making out, and a memorable Beach Boys tune that features a theremin," you'd say "Good Vibrations."

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

In The Fifty-Year Mission, Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman's massive new oral history of Star Trek, creator Gene Roddenberry recalls why NBC declined his initial pilot episode of the landmark series: "It was too cerebral ... it didn't end with a chase and a right cross to the jaw, the away all manly films were supposed to end." But the suits were intrigued enough to commission a second pilot, a highly irregular gesture.

The first time Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed and starred in a film (Sleepwalk With Me) he played a stand-up comic. This was not a huge stretch for him, as he is, himself, a stand-up comic.

His second film, Don't Think Twice, doesn't stray too far from that model. It's about an improvisational comedy troupe a lot like the one in which Birbiglia got his start. And if this seems like quite a bit of navel-gazing for one filmmaker, rest assured that Birbiglia's been keeping it funny.

You probably know Neil deGrasse Tyson as an astrophysicist with a seemingly endless stream of science fun facts at his command. You might not be aware that he is also a great oenophile and lover of food.

Some 16 years ago, before I was a journalist and illustrator, I worked with Neil at the American Museum of Natural History. He would sometimes carry around a small canvas tote bag. As I recall, the bag would contain one of two things: either a weighty, mango-sized meteorite to show to guests of the museum, or a bottle of wine to gift to a colleague.

In the summer of 2004, after two decades of estrangement, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Susan Faludi received an e-mail from her father. It read:

Dear Susan,

I've got some interesting news for you. I've decided that I have had enough of impersonating a macho aggressive man that I have never been inside.

The letter was signed, "Love from your parent, Stefánie." Faludi's 76-year-old father, Steven, had had gender reassignment surgery.

There's a scene in Mike Birbiglia's Don't Think Twice where a character flagrantly breaks a fundamental rule of improv comedy onstage, and it's devastating. The film does such a good job making us believe in the closeness and the fragility of the group at its center that we have nothing to do but squirm when things go wrong. "Fall, and then figure out what to do on the way down," as one member quotes improv legend Del Close at the outset as having said.

Making an Absolutely Fabulous movie in 2016, over 20 years after the cheerfully vulgar British sitcom became a cult sensation, seems both absurdly late and entirely in keeping with the spirit of the show. After all, Edina "Eddy" Monsoon and Patricia "Patsy" Stone, a pair of unrepentant boozers on the fringes of the fashion world, have never known cultural cachet. It only follows, then, that a big-screen version of their exploits would not be particularly hip or in-demand, but a continuation of the bawdy obliviousness that have made them such a treasure over the years.

Early in director Catherine Corsini's Summertime, a group of radical women breaks into an asylum while one of their number distracts the guard by pretending to be just too helpless to decipher a map. And some people say feminists don't have a sense of humor.

The moment is comic, but the Janis-Joplin-fueled caper is crucial both to the women and to the movie. They rescue a male friend who's been confined, drugged, and electroshocked for the offense of being homosexual.

Pages