Arts

Arts and culture

"Solve for X." That's the phrase invoked repeatedly by Charlotte "Charlie" St. Clair, the brainy college student at the center of Kate Quinn's exciting new novel, The Alice Network. In the aftermath of World War II, Charlie is thrown together with a veteran female spy from the previous war in a high-stakes journey to locate disappeared figures from the past.

In the annals of TV villains, actor Giancarlo Esposito's Breaking Bad character, Gus Fring, stands out. Gus was an upstanding, impeccably dressed, New Mexico businessman who spoke with an elegant Chilean accent — and also happened to be a vicious drug lord.

Esposito describes the character as resembling "someone who may live next door, who is successful and very caring, but who is also ruthless."

Who is Stephen Florida? It's a little hard to say. He's an orphan who maybe hasn't yet come to terms with the death of his parents in a car crash. He's an obsessive with poor impulse control. He's possibly the best college wrestler in the state of North Dakota. He's an unapologetic megalomaniac. Or maybe he's not really any of these things: "There is no real Stephen Florida," he says. "I am only a giant collection of gas and light and will."

Fame Is A Boomerang

Jun 7, 2017

As far as flashy, oversize coffee table books go, opera star Maria Callas is a fitting subject. A larger-than-life figure, she had a complicated off-stage story that played out with as much searing drama as the operas she sang. With hard work and sacrifice, Callas vaulted to the top of her art while pushing it to new levels of intensity. In her personal life, she searched for love, found it, then lost it and died young.

Trying to be a film buff outside a major city before the internet was an awkward business. I haunted the non-Blockbuster video store, notes from Premiere in my hand for reference, carrying towers of VHS tapes to broaden my education. And for a long time, movies were a solitary act. When I fell in with other movie nerds, it became a singular standoff — trading your most beloved titles, with that weird ambivalent hope that someone will love the same things you love ... just not as well as you can.

H.P. Lovecraft, the early 1900s horror writer, is best known for his creation of the deity Cthulhu — a monster of great power who sleeps in the Pacific Ocean in the sunken city of R'lyeh.

Now, almost 100 years after its conception, Cthulhu is making a creepy comeback via a new crop of board games.

Last July, the country's attention was focused on Dallas after a peaceful protest against police shootings of black men turned violent.

A single gunman shot and killed five officers. He injured nine more, as well as two protesters. After he was killed and the incident was over, Dallas Police Chief David Brown commanded the nation's attention.

William Krisel, a pioneering architect who brought his vision of modernism to Southern California tract housing, died Monday at age 92.

Tract housing often implies cookie-cutter. But in Palm Springs, Krisel varied homes' rooflines, paint schemes, and setbacks from the street so no two tract homes next to each other looked the same — despite all having one basic floorplan. He also popularized the "butterfly" roof.

Conservation photographer Paul Nicklen has spent more than two decades documenting the ice and wildlife in some of the most inhospitable places on Earth — the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Years ago, when my mother-in-law was fighting what would turn out to be a losing battle with breast cancer, she was riding in a golf cart with my two small children when her wig blew off, briefly exposing her head, as bald as a golf ball. My daughter's eyes grew wide with alarm, but my mother-in-law quickly defused the moment with extraordinary aplomb: "Bet you can't do that with your hair, can you?"

Photography documents life — and food, whether in the fore or background, seems to always be in the picture. The two intersect in a new book, Feast for the Eyes, written by photography curator Susan Bright and published by Aperture.

Here's a classic scene from a telenovela.

It's the funeral of a very rich man whose heirs are battling over his fortune. An indignant woman says to a female guest: "You are disrupting the service. Who else would you be saving this seat for other than Richard Juma's second wife?"

Concert pianist Simone Dinnerstein has shared her love of classical music with children across America.

Now she’s working with a youth orchestra in Havana, after a highly unusual recording session.

What’s it like to play Mozart, after midnight? And could American-Cuban cultural exchanges like this continue

if the Trump Administration reinstates travel restrictions between America and Cuba? We’ll discuss.

GUESTS

Simone Dinnerstein, Concert pianist

Wonder Woman was a box office smash on its opening weekend, raking in more than $100 million domestically — a new record for a movie directed by a woman.

Deadline reported Monday that the final tally for the film was $103.1 million, even higher than the initial Sunday estimates.

That handily defeats the previous record for a movie directed by a woman — $85.1 million for Sam Taylor-Johnson's Fifty Shades of Grey.

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Alan Alda's father wanted him to become a doctor, but it wasn't meant to be. "I failed chemistry really disastrously ... " Alda says. "I really didn't want to be a doctor; I wanted to be a writer and an actor."

Which is exactly what happened, but Alda didn't leave science behind entirely. His new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?, is all about communication — and miscommunication — between scientists and civilians.

The idea of reading a stranger's diary is thrilling, clandestine, a promise — that their inner life will roll out before you like a carpet, that you'll finally find out if other people feel the way you do.

And I love to read the journals of writers — Virginia Woolf's melancholy and precise pages, or George Eliot's nonchalant lists of Greek texts she'd read like other people read the newspaper.

There is a whole range of feelings that happen with the delivery of bad news. In my case, like many others, knees lock, the heart speeds up and the hairs on my arms get a funny little tingle. My circumstances, however, were a little less expected.

When my dad told my husband and me that he and my mom wanted to come into Manhattan for dinner, I was excited to see them and quickly made a plan for an 8 p.m. dinner at Café Orlin — my favorite for Middle Eastern food. As soon as we sat down, I knew something was very wrong.

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Typically, India's Bollywood film industry depicts older women as maternal and virtuous. Younger ones often are eye candy, propping up male leads. But a recent crop of films is showing more complex female characters, training a spotlight exclusively on the lives of women — and, even more unusually, on their sexuality.

This is the story of a 61-foot-tall duck that is being called a counterfeit of a different giant duck, which itself is a replica of a beloved bath toy.

Got that? Here we go.

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A mother leaves her 9-year-old son locked in an airless apartment for a week with no food, water or light. He breaks out through a window, and police find him weak and bleeding; they also find his mother passed out in a nearby crack house.

Objects in the Mirror, a new play from American playwright Charles Smith, seems ripped from the headlines. It's about a young man who escapes war-torn Liberia only to confront new dangers and an identity crisis in Australia, the country where he found shelter.

It begins the way all great stories should: with a boy, a girl, a shotgun and a cheap motel room. 300 lightning bolt pages later, it ends the same way — a girl, a boy and a gun.

And in between White Fur, the new novel from Jardine Libaire, is ... I don't know what it is. Not so much a story as a fable. A fairy tale of love and class and money and death and New York City in the 1980's, as seen through eyes so new and so young that everything seems like magic all the time.

One taco is good, but two tacos are better. By that reasoning, hundreds of tacos should be incredible.

And Mike Sutter, food critic for the San Antonio Express-News, is now about halfway through his "365 Days of Tacos" quest to eat at a different taco joint every day for a year. So far, he's consumed about 700 tacos.

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Hayao Miyazaki's many fans worldwide just got an unexpected gift.

Studio Ghibli, the animation firm co-founded by the beloved anime director, plans to build a theme park dedicated to one of his most famous creations: My Neighbor Totoro. Hideaki Omura — governor of Japan's Aichi Prefecture, where the park is scheduled to open in 2020 — announced the plan at a news conference Thursday.

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