Arts and culture

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Building Better Cities.

About Robert Muggah's TED Talk

Fast-growing cities are often riddled with violence, drug trafficking and unemployment. Security researcher Robert Muggah explains how some cities are using new approaches to address these problems.

About Robert Muggah

How Are Mayors Better Poised to 'Get Things Done'?

Jan 8, 2016

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Building Better Cities.

About Kasim Reed's TED Talk

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says mayors are in a position to accomplish a great deal, because they're locals. They can see a city the way "people who are most in need of help see it," he says.

About Kasim Reed

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Building Better Cities.

About Benjamin Barber's TED Talk

Political theorist Benjamin Barber argues that cities and city mayors are the key to bypassing political gridlock and solving many of our global challenges.

About Benjamin Barber

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Building Better Cities.

About Daniele Quercia's TED Talk

Mapping apps find the fastest route through a city, but what are you missing along the way? Computer scientist Daniele Quercia describes how "happy maps" can give you not the most efficient, but the most beautiful route.

About Daniele Quercia

The title of Daniel Wohl's "Source" is something of a play on words. The actual sources of his captivating array of sounds are not completely clear. But it doesn't really matter. Just let the meticulously crafted, slightly surreal music from the Paris-born, Los Angeles-based composer soak in.

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The new movie "Carol" is a love story between two women set in 1952. It stars Cate Blanchett as society woman Carol Aird and Rooney Mara as department store saleswoman Therese Belivet.

A Trip No Young Person Should Take In 'Lamb'

Jan 7, 2016

In an early scene in the deeply unsettling Lamb, protagonist Daniel Lamb phones a co-worker he's been having an affair with. "My wife is downstairs," he whispers. Not true—he's calling from a motel, where his wife has presumably banished him. "I'm lying here naked," he then purrs. Not true, either. Daniel has a propensity for fashioning his own truth out of whole cloth, which is not a quality likely to endear him to anyone. And after encountering a precocious adolescent girl in a parking lot, he pushes himself permanently out of the realm of sympathy.

One day, late to pick up his 6-year-old from school, a low-level Bucharest civil servant attempts to distract the boy with a reference to their mutual hero, Robin Hood. "You're not Robin Hood," the kid (Nicodim Toma) tells his dad, Costi (Cuzin Toma).

Is that a dare? Maybe not to Costi, but certainly to writer-director Corneliu Porumboiu. He spins The Treasure into an adventure tale, albeit one that's short on adventure. This charmer is determinedly mundane and low-key, until an unexpected finale transforms it.

Over 16 seasons and 368 episodes as prosecutor Jack McCoy on Law & Order, the workaday artistry of Sam Waterston was easy to take for granted, like the foundation to an especially durable piece of architecture. Such are the consequences of being part of "What's on?" for such a long stretch of his career. Yet in a different context, the same qualities Waterston brought to the role — that gentle (if occasionally righteous) vocal tone, a moral seriousness, a somewhat patrician East Coast air — can be better appreciated.

When actor David Cross found out that IFC wanted to renew his cult TV show, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, for a third season after a gap of four years, he was incredulous. "I [was] like, 'How? How can there be a third season? The whole world blows up,'" Cross told guest host Faith Salie on the Ask Me Another stage in Brooklyn. "I said out of professional common courtesy that I'd approach the writers...

Sounds Like A Good Book

Jan 7, 2016

Lord of the Flies becomes Ruler of the Winged Insects in this final round where every correct answer is one of Modern Library's Top 100 English Language Novels of All Time. As a clue, we give a phrase that's synonymous, or nearly synonymous, with the title.

Heard in David Cross: Increasingly Poor Decisions

Unpresidentially Yours

Jan 7, 2016

This game is a celebration of democracy... and the never-ending presidential election cycle. Candidates travel around the country talking to voters, the press, and babies. It's fraught with peril, because at any moment, a candidate could say the one thing that dooms his or her presidential hopes. Guess which electoral hopefuls uttered these unfortunate quotations.

Heard in David Cross: Increasingly Poor Decisions

Some Of The Small Things

Jan 7, 2016

For this game we turn a very complicated song into a very complicated game. House musician Jonathan Coulton sings our version of Blink 182's "All the Small Things," which is about...yes, small things.

Heard in David Cross: Increasingly Poor Decisions

The Whatchamacallit

Jan 7, 2016

Nearly everything has a name, even if you don't know it. For example, that tool they use in shoe stores to measure your feet is called a Brannock device. We ask contestants to figure out the names of some everyday things.

Heard in David Cross: Increasingly Poor Decisions

Games Fictional People Play

Jan 7, 2016

We get meta in this game about games. The twist is, the games we're talking about are from works of fiction. Think Quidditch, from Harry Potter. Of course, although Quidditch was created by JK Rowling, thanks to nerds, it's now a real sport where you can run around a field with a broomstick between your legs.

Heard in David Cross: Increasingly Poor Decisions

Hey, Mr. Cow!

Jan 7, 2016

We know how a human might give us the answer to the name of the 2002 Broadway musical directed by Twyla Tharp, but how would a cow respond? "MOOvin' Out," of course! That's the gist of this game, in which the answers are terrible animal-based puns.

Heard in David Cross: Increasingly Poor Decisions

I picked up Daniel José Older's Midnight Taxi Tango without having read its preceding volumes — partly to see how well it stands alone, and partly on the strength of last year's Shadowshaper, which left me hungry for more of Older's voices, his families, and for a Brooklyn that was more stomping-ground than film set. I loved Shadowshaper for upending the usual hierarchies of worth — celebrating rap, graffiti and salsa as crucial art forms, and showing a deep suspicion of institutions and authorities.

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It's a week into 2016 and perhaps time to see how these New Year's resolutions are coming. If your resolutions included decluttering, a book out this week hopes to capitalize on that. NPR's Lauren Migaki has more.

French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez was one of the most recognized figures in 20th century classical music. His outspoken advocacy for the music of his time earned him fans — and detractors. He died Tuesday at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany. He was 90 years old.

Just as the chaos of World War II was coming to an end, Pierre Boulez was emerging into his life as an artist.

Director Todd Haynes believes love can blossom in the most improbable circumstances. Take his new movie, Carol. The film tells the story of an affair between the title character, a married 1950s socialite (played by Cate Blanchett), and Therese, an aspiring young photographer (played by Rooney Mara) who is working in the toy section of a New York City department store. They meet while Carol is buying a Christmas present for her daughter.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens revolves around the story of staff-wielding scavenger Rey.

(That's hardly a spoiler; she's front-and-center in the movie poster, after all.)

But in the world of Star Wars toys, Rey's been hard to find — and fans took to social media, under the hashtags #WheresRey and #WhereisRey, to complain about all the movie merchandise that left her out.

Jerry Spagnoli is a leading expert of the daguerreotype, the earliest form of photography dating back to 1839. His work adapting it to the digital age has earned him a spot among a group of artists dubbed the "antiquarian avant-garde." He has worked with Chuck Close on daguerreotype portraits and nudes, and exhibited his work around the world.

Forget journeys into the stacks or stints at a library scanner: For more and more of the New York Public Library's collections, access is just a click away.

On Wednesday, the library released more than 180,000 of its public-domain items — including maps, posters, manuscripts, sheet music, drawings, photographs, letters, ancient texts — as high-resolution downloads, available to the public without restriction.

China Miéville is a magician. He's the Keyser Soze of the New Weird because you never know who he's going to be. He can do noir, do steampunk, do aliens and magic caterpillars. He's a shape-shifter. An incredibly prolific Dungeons & Dragons loving geek golem who can both blow your mind with ideas as big as the universe and break your heart with language so precise and polished, it's like he's writing with diamonds.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit



In the 10 years he spent driving an ambulance in Atlanta, former paramedic Kevin Hazzard rescued people from choking, overdoses, cardiac arrest, gunshot wounds and a host of other medical emergencies.

Yesterday the Library of Congress named graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang as its fifth National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Here's why that matters.

Three sisters — and their brother — converge on their late grandparents' dilapidated cottage for what's likely to be a valedictory summer holiday together as they decide the old homestead's fate. Yes, Tessa Hadley's sixth novel is unabashedly Chekhovian. But The Past also channels those delicious English country house dramas in which characters thrown together under one roof unpack some of the psychological baggage they tote everywhere, airing out old resentments, disappointments, secrets and affinities.

The era of the real-life whodunit series is upon us. The podcast Serial first attracted legions of listeners drawn to the question of whether a young man should have been put in prison for the murder of his former high school girlfriend. HBO's documentary The Jinx focused on a trail of murdered and missing intimates of a troubled scion of a wealthy family.