Arts

Arts and culture

It's been 14 years — and one failed TV spinoff — since Nia Vardalos' My Big Fat Greek Wedding became an unlikely pop phenomenon, grossing $241 million domestically in theaters alone off a $5 million budget. And it's probably taken that long to understand why it took off where so many others didn't: Celebrations of ethnic cultures were not uncommon in the indie world, especially if food was involved (e.g. Eat Drink Man Woman, Big Night, etc.) and neither were Hollywood-style romantic comedies on a shoestring.

There's little reason to believe that Julie Delpy saw, let alone lifted the premise of, the Duplass brothers' 2010 black comedy Cyrus before she made Lolo, a pert little number about a Parisian teenager pulling out the stops to pry his doting single mother loose from a promising new boyfriend who's ready to move in. For all the similarities of premise and plot, Lolo is as breezily French in execution as Cyrus is deadpan Amer-indie. And anyway, the oedipal drama, however bent out of shape, never goes out of style.

The weepiest man in country-music history, Hank Williams is an unlikely icon of the usually macho genre. But the composer of "Weary Blues from Waitin'," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and "I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive" was firmly rooted in the South. As he shifted from blues to gospel to "hillbilly," he remained a good ol' boy.

Comic books from several discrete decades get mashed up in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, while swaths of real estate — uninhabited swaths, we're repeatedly assured — just get pulped. But no text is quoted more directly than The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller's influential 1986 tale of an over-the-hill Batman coming out of retirement to clean up a Gotham gone to hell. It was the greatest Batman story ever told, and it had the unforeseen side effect of draining every particle of sunlight out of superhero stories for years to come.

'Born To Be Blue' Finds Truth In Inventive Riffs

Mar 24, 2016

Now is a fine time for jazz trumpet fans to get lost at the movies. April will see the release of Don Cheadle's long-gestating Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, and this week we get the shaggy dog Born to be Blue, the story of Miles' contemporary Chet Baker. Both films are far looser and more experimental than your typical straight biopic, and concentrate almost exclusively on historic low points in their subjects' lives. And Blue even features brief appearances from Miles himself.

This story was originally published in April 2012.

It all starts with the egg.

In spring, chickens start laying again, bringing a welcome source of protein at winter's end. So it's no surprise that cultures around the world celebrate spring by honoring the egg.

Some traditions are simple, like the red eggs that get baked into Greek Easter breads. Others elevate the egg into an elaborate art, like the heavily jewel-encrusted Faberge eggs that were favored by the Russian czars starting in the 19th century.

The Walt Disney Co. and its Marvel subsidiary threatened Wednesday to stop film production in Georgia if the governor signs a controversial "religious liberty" bill into law — which would be a major blow to the state's burgeoning film industry.

Since then, a range of other companies have joined in opposing the legislation.

Michael Ian Black has appeared in movies and TV series for more than two decades, but he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he still has a hard time looking at himself onscreen.

"When I'm acting, I always imagine myself as looking totally different than the person that appears onscreen," Black says. "And then when I see that person appearing onscreen, I'm inevitably disappointed. I'm always like, 'Oh no! Not that guy! That's not the guy at all that I had pictured.' "

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

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Wyatt Cenac: Pop Culture Fights

Mar 24, 2016

As a teenager, Wyatt Cenac started his career in comedy by writing a letter. And another. And about four more until Saturday Night Live finally gave the 19-year-old an internship. From those humble beginnings, the comedian has continued his craft, writing for King of the Hill and The Daily Show, where he was also a correspondent for four years.

Horror Minus Horror

Mar 24, 2016

Horror movies are designed to scare the pants off of you...but we think the real world is scary enough already. We've rewritten the plots of horror movies and REMOVED all the horror elements.

Heard on Wyatt Cenac: Pop Culture Fights

Meet The Expert: Hailey Gates

Mar 24, 2016

Our expert Hailey Gates is a writer, producer, and host of the Viceland TV series "States of Undress," where she covers fashion weeks in some unlikely places. Traveling around the world to locales such as Pakistan, the Gaza Strip, and the Republic of Congo, Gates found that there are familiar aspects to fashion weeks everywhere. "It's kind of a beacon of hope," Gates tells Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg at The Bell House in Brooklyn, NY. "Fashion weeks tend to be places of refuge for outsiders."

Not About That Bass

Mar 24, 2016

We all know Meghan Trainor is "All About That Bass," but we here at Ask Me Another aren't so narrow-minded. We've rewritten the song to be all about OTHER musical instruments.

Heard on Wyatt Cenac: Pop Culture Fights

This, That Or The Other

Mar 24, 2016

Barnevelder. Is it a craft beer, type of facial hair...or a chicken? Find out on our latest installment of This, That, or The Other.

Heard on Wyatt Cenac: Pop Culture Fights

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

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Dis Course Is Pass Fail

Mar 24, 2016

How would a Brooklynite react to a GROSS sudden burst of wind? With disgust. That's "this gust," pronounced with a classic Brooklyn accent. Every answer is a combination of "dis" and another word.

Heard on Wyatt Cenac: Pop Culture Fights

The Produce Section

Mar 24, 2016

In this final round, each answer contains an item that you might find in your supermarket's produce section. For example, "This satirical newspaper's motto is Latin for 'you are dumb,'" is "The Onion."

Heard on Wyatt Cenac: Pop Culture Fights

Charm is an elusive elixir in literature. Character, dialogue and setting all must be carefully calibrated, but above all everything has to look easy. When it works, it can be ragingly successful, as with Helen Simonson's debut novel Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. With its delicate, witty portrayal of the English countryside, that international bestseller left its readers clamoring for more.

Journalist Anne Garrels was covering Russia years ago for NPR and she wanted to understand what was happening beyond the swiftly changing capital city of Moscow.

So she took out a map, and chose a city at random.

"It could be anywhere and I basically just threw a pencil at the map and it hit Chelyabinsk and I've been going there ever since," she tells NPR's Morning Edition.

The Many Masks Of Batman In 'Caped Crusade'

Mar 23, 2016

This week Batman and Superman do battle on movie screens around the country in the much ballyhooed Batman vs. Superman. Superman is basically the same Superman he's always been. An all-American Golden Boy — albeit from the planet Krypton — fighting for Truth, Justice, you know the rest.

So, maybe your Instagram pics of #delicious #foodporn never look nearly as scrumptious as the real thing.

Don't despair — it's not you. It's just that your food is too real.

Helen Oyeyemi is one of literature's weird sisters. She's kin to the uncanny likes of Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson and Jeanette Winterson, whose names trail down the back covers of her books like a pagan invocation.

'Caped Crusade' Peeks Under Batman's Iconic Cowl

Mar 23, 2016

Batman has two identities: his costumed, crime-fighting persona and his everyday identity as billionaire Bruce Wayne. Right? Or maybe it's not quite that simple — as Glen Weldon compellingly puts forth in The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture. The follow-up to his 2013 book Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, this new superhero overview peeks under the iconic cowl to unveil the many faces of Batman — as well as the many faces of his millions of fans — since the character's creation 77 years ago.

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

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Tens of millions of Americans have been tuning in to March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Oh, what a save. And Lindsey with the finish.

Later this month, British newspaper the Independent will stop printing physical copies — it's going online-only. You might not be familiar with the Independent, but if it weren't for the paper, the world might never have gotten to meet Bridget Jones.

That character, immortalized on film by Renee Zellweger, was born out of a series of columns that author Helen Fielding wrote in the Independent in the 1990s. Fielding tells NPR's David Greene that when she started there, the newspaper was "the cool place to work."

Bubble Tea Is Back — With A Vengeance

Mar 22, 2016

Whether you call it "boba" or "bubble" tea, the Taiwanese beverage that allows you to chew your drink is back with a vengeance. It first got its start in the 1980s, after an inventor thought to pour tapioca pearls into a glass of iced, sweet tea. Though Asian communities have been drinking boba tea in the United States for many years, the texturally exciting drink is finally reaching a wider audience.

And boba isn't just back — it's playing ambassador to a whole host of other foods and trends.

The heated debate between the FBI and Apple over the encryption of the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two people who massacred 14 people in San Bernardino in December, took an unexpected turn Monday when the FBI announced that a third party had come forward with a way to possibly unlock the phone without Apple's involvement.

Salisbury University's Cultural Calendar week of March 28th, 2016

True Love And Time Travel In 'Patience'

Mar 22, 2016

Daniel Clowes may be one of the most notable comic artists of our era, a pillar of the '80s-'90s scene who's continued to do great work up to the present day, but he does tend to fixate. His recent books have focused, laserlike, on a human type that's shown up repeatedly in his comics over the last 20 years: a lonely, self-hating man living in his own head, desperate for connection, yet sabotaging it when the chance comes.

So you walk into the new Korean joint around the corner and discover that (gasp) the head chef is a white guy from Des Moines. What's your gut reaction? Do you want to walk out? Why?

The question of who gets to cook other people's food can be squishy — just like the question of who gets to tell other people's stories. (See: the whole controversy over the casting of the new Nina Simone biopic.)

Take a look at the next box of strawberries you find in the store. Depending on where in the country you happen to be, it may have come from Florida. But it won't for much longer.

Why?

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