Arts

Arts and culture

When I was a college student in Boston, in the mid-2000s, I didn't have a whole lot of money. But for the price of a movie ticket, I could catch the Chinatown bus down to New York City. It was a fast, cheap adventure.

These days, thousands of people travel up and down the northeast corridor on services like MegaBus and BoltBus. But the Chinatown bus was the original budget bus service. It started in the late 1990s as a service for the Chinese-American community, and became popular with students and others looking for a thrifty ride.

Organic food has gone majorly mainstream, right? Wal-Mart has been driving down the price of organic with an in-house organic line. Whole Foods has begun experimenting with cheaper stores to catch up.

Nearly 80 years ago, about 2,800 Americans volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The war began in July 1936, when Gen. Francisco Franco led a fascist military coup against the the country's newly elected democratic government. It lasted until Franco's victory in 1939.

Journalist Adam Hochschild tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that "it was by far the largest number of Americans before or since who've ever joined somebody else's civil war."

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Ah, Stockholm: the only city in the world (we think) with such a meticulous dedication to artisanal bread that it's possible to hire a baby sitter for your sourdough starter.

The pilot of The CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was one of my favorite pieces of TV last year. Energetic and intriguingly unnerving, it set up the story of Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), who leaves her fancy New York lawyer job to move to West Covina, California, on an impulse. The impulse: a deeply felt, consciously irrational (and therefore officially denied) desire to pursue her ex-boyfriend, Josh Chan, who she'd learned was living there.

In our jobs, when we're told to redo something, it usually means we've made a mistake. That's not the case for Javier Camarena. Earlier this month at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the tenor had the chance to retake an aria during a performance of Donizetti's Don Pasquale because the audience went bonkers after the first time he sang it.

When you step into the House of Eternal Return, it feels a bit like walking into your family home — and finding yourself lost in a PeeWee's Playhouse on steroids. Or amphetamines. Or better yet, some undiscovered alien narcotic.

Set up in the industrial district of Santa Fe, N.M., the new permanent art exhibition is a far cry from the fine arts galleries and museums for which Santa Fe is known. Think of it instead as a kind of art amusement park, built by an arts collective called Meow Wolf and largely funded by a surprising benefactor: George R.R. Martin.

In a career that began in the 1960s — and brought comparisons to Faulkner and Hemingway — Jim Harrison wrote more than three dozen books, including the novels Dalva and True North, the novella Legends of the Fall and many collections of poetry. He died Saturday in Patagonia, Ariz., at the age of 78, his publisher has confirmed to NPR.

Reading Between Worlds With Griffin And Sabine

Mar 27, 2016

I came of letter-writing age with the internet. In 1996, the magical and miraculous was, to me, the possibility of finding other people who loved the things I loved no matter how far away: I'd perform the correct strokes, dial up a screeching djinn, and a glowing portal would open between me and the vastness of the world. It was a quiet place where sharing real names was a mark of deepest trust, where it was possible to pour one's rawest, most vulnerable thoughts into an aether where probably no one was listening — but if someone was, they might draw closer and be your friend.

In 2011, jazz prodigy Esperanza Spalding won the Best New Artist Grammy, beating out the favorite — some Canadian kid named Justin Bieber. She's spent the five years since then touring the world, making new music and hiding from mobs of angry 13-year-olds.

Since Spalding plays the bass, we've invited her to answer three questions about other kinds of bases: BASE jumping, second base and Ace of Base.

In 1970, a teenager found a handmade album in a pile of trash in Springfield, Mo. Inside, there were 283 drawings of trains, cars, animals and portraits of people with haunting, circular eyes that stared dead ahead. The album had no name or signature. The only clue to the artist's identity was the stationery on which each picture was drawn — stationery that belonged to State Hospital No. 3 in Nevada, Mo.

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This 'Jane' Is Eyre's Steely Sister

Mar 26, 2016

Let's say you've read every classic 19th century woman's novel, every canonical retelling of those novels, the more recent mashups (like "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" and "Android Karenina"), and yet you know there's something missing, a book that would combine the dense plot and rich characterizations of bygone books with more modern sensibilities.

The late Harry Bertoia is most famous for the iconic chairs he designed in the 1950s, which are now coveted by collectors of mid-century modern furniture.

Casting and skin color are at the heart of a controversy surrounding a new movie about the legendary singer Nina Simone. The movie hasn't been released yet, but the casting of Afro-Latina actor Zoe Saldana in the lead has caused an uproar from some Simone fans and family members.

To many who lived it, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing was the worst day of their lives. So when Hollywood started looking for people willing to relive it as extras in a feature film about the attacks, even the movie folks were surprised at the turnout.

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Comedian Garry Shandling died suddenly in Los Angeles on Thursday. He was 66.

Shandling was best known for The Larry Sanders Show, a comedy that took viewers behind the scenes of a fictional late-night talk show. Speaking to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1992, Shandling described himself as "one of those kids who became aware of comedians at a very early age."

If you're looking for a sweet Easter treat, there's plenty to choose from: chocolate rabbits, jelly beans, intricate sugar eggs and — of course — the ubiquitous Peeps. But there's one slightly more refined treat that many in the United States are familiar with mostly from the song.

Every year at about this time, we reclaim our panelist Stephen Thompson from the overwork and burnout perils of South By Southwest and The Austin 100, and he once again becomes the rumpled, good-natured dad we love. But before we let that happen, we always try to capture a little bit of his music brain, and this year, he's joined by additional festival-goers Audie Cornish, who went to her very first SXSW (it was Stephen's 20th!), and NPR Music contributor Katie Presley.

Adding guns to the world of the Brothers Grimm drastically reduces death rates, according to a study — well, OK, according to a couple of stories published by the NRA.

So far, there are only two data points. And they're imaginary. But the trendline is clear: In the NRA's reimagined fairy tales, putting rifles in the hands of children creates a safer world.

From the windows of restaurants, grocers and department stores, they beckon: Perfectly swirled ice cream in a cone, elaborately whipped cakes topped with red strawberries, a glistening piece of raw fish atop rice.

They're meant to whet your appetite, but don't bite them: These are plastic display foods, and they're ubiquitous in Japan — designed to advertise the foods available for purchase inside. They're also big business: A fake mug of beer, for instance, can sell for U.S. $150, says photographer Norbert Schoerner.

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Is Shakespeare's Skull Missing Or No?

Mar 25, 2016
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Fans of the caped crusader and the man of steel will finally have a chance this weekend to see their heroes fight each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE")

Comedian Garry Shandling Dies At 66

Mar 24, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The actor and comedian Garry Shandling has died at the age of 66 following a "medical emergency," according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

It's been three years since the Superman movie Man of Steel arrived in theaters — three years in which DC Comics has released no other superhero movies. Meanwhile, its rival, Marvel, has earned more than $9 billion from a dozen men-in-spandex films.

So the Man of Steel sequel, a ponderously overlong epic called Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (that solitary "V" being pretty much the only thing abbreviated about it) has some serious catching up to do.

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