Arts

Arts and culture

Years ago, in a Brooklyn high school, a door slammed. Christopher Emdin, then a 10th-grader, immediately ducked under his desk. His math teacher accused him of being a clown and sent him to the principal's office.

Emdin wasn't being a clown.

A couple of days before, there had been a shooting just outside his apartment building. He thought the slamming door was a gun shot. His jump for cover was instinctual.

In 1913, the 21-year-old Ronald Tolkien should have been studying for his exams. He was halfway through his Classics degree — the subject all the best students did at Oxford in those days. Getting admitted to Oxford on a scholarship was a great opportunity for young Ronald, an orphan who had always struggled to stay out of poverty. A Classics degree would have set him up for almost any career he chose. But he wasn't studying. Instead, he was trying to teach himself Finnish.

In 1964, two guys walked into a movie studio. One of them was Buster Keaton, a silent film master of physical comedy, and the other was Samuel Beckett, a master of cerebral literature. They were there to make a movie together, and now a new movie tells the story of their unlikely collaboration.

#NPRpoetry Moment: Poem Of The Potato

Apr 9, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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

Our guests this week, Jonathan and Drew Scott, aka The Property Brothers, have an HGTV show in which they help people renovate and style their dream homes. (They're joining us by phone because if they saw the way we decorate it would actually kill them.)

Since the Scotts fix up homes for a living, we've invited them to play a game called "Have I got a match for you!" Three questions about matchmakers — people who fix up people.

The Broadway musical that's set during a revolution may have set off a revolution of its own, too. Right now, Hamilton is the hardest ticket to get on Broadway. It's been called a once-in-a-generation experience. But it's safe to say the unconventional smash wasn't always a sure thing.

The Grammy-winning show portrays the life of Alexander Hamilton, a founder of the United States who was once a poor, orphaned boy "dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot of the Caribbean" — and it does so in the rhymes and music of hip-hop and pop.

The Broadway musical that's set during a revolution may have set off a revolution of its own, too. Right now, Hamilton is the hardest ticket to get on Broadway. It's been called a once-in-a-generation experience. But it's safe to say the unconventional smash wasn't always a sure thing.

The Grammy-winning show portrays the life of Alexander Hamilton, a founder of the United States who was once a poor, orphaned boy "dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot of the Caribbean" — and it does so in the rhymes and music of hip-hop and pop.

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

Millions of Americans recharge their phones, screens and laptops before they go to bed at night, but do they recharge themselves?

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, says we are in the midst of a sleep-deprivation crisis that creates anxiety, as well as exhaustion, depression, a higher risk of motor vehicle accidents — and overall sleep-deprived stupidity. NPR's Scott Simon talked with her about her new book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.

'Every Heart' Is A Doorway To Winning Fantasy

Apr 9, 2016

Seanan McGuire's award-winning novels and short stories have been testing the parameters of genre fiction for years now, but always with a deep love of horror and fantasy. That hasn't changed in her new novella, Every Heart a Doorway. Rather, she's doubled down — and in half the number of pages. Tight and tautly told, Every Heart grabs one of speculative fiction's most enduring tropes — the portal fantasy, where a person slips from the real world into a magical realm somewhere beyond — and wrings it for all the poignancy, dark humor, and head-spinning twists it can get.

Hunting down that obscure Vietnamese place that serves up bánh bao exactly like you'd find in Hanoi, or an Indian joint with dal just like the one you had on that trip to New Delhi, is a not uncommon pursuit in these food-obsessed days. But our culinary hunt for "authentic ethnic" food can be a double-edged sword, says Krishnendu Ray.

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

A man's wife dies in a car crash. The man grieves.

From that simple premise come two complex films: Louder Than Bombs and Demolition. Turns out, there's a reason for those explosive titles.

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

I hadn't been in Japan more than a few weeks before I was hooked on Japanese karē raisu, or curry rice. It was the rich, unmistakable smell that seeped under doorways and filled the undercover shopping markets of Osaka that first caught my attention.

On Friday, Pope Francis released a 256-page document called "Amoris Laetitia," or "The Joy of Love." In it, he calls for the Catholic Church to approach issues of sex, marriage, family planning and divorce with less emphasis on dogmatic law and more emphasis on individual conscience.

While the post-synodal apostolic exhortation doesn't directly alter any church doctrine, its shift in tone is significant for Catholic families around the world.

It's a fun week at Pop Culture Happy Hour, as we welcome back, as this week's fourth chair, original PCHH panelist Trey Graham, who gives an update on how he's been since he departed NPR. We're so excited to see Trey, and we know a lot of you will be, too.

With his long beard, homemade horned helmet, flowing cloak and spear, he was known as the Viking of Sixth Avenue. He was born Louis Thomas Hardin in Marysville, Kan. in 1916 and later called himself Moondog. At 16, he was blinded while fiddling with a blasting cap.

The very mention of the Silk Roads creates an instant image: camel caravans trudging through the high plains and deserts of central Asia, carrying silks, spices and philosophies to Europe and the larger Mediterranean. And while these ancient routes may remain embedded in our imagination, they have, over the past few centuries, slowly faded in importance. The region today is home to despotic regimes, failing states and endless conflict. But historian Peter Frankopan thinks that the Silk Roads "are rising again."

Near the end of Louder than Bombs, Norwegian writer-director Joachim Trier's first English-language film, a narrator arrives to inform us that one of the characters will remember that particular moment years later. The intrusion is unexpected, but perhaps less so for people who've seen Trier's 2006 debut, Reprise. That playfully serious movie was about the making of a writer's consciousness, so its literary flourishes were apt.

Everyone grieves in their own way, the expression goes, and they shouldn't be judged for it. Yet an exception should be made of the grieving-by-metaphor that happens in Demolition, which finds a widower literally dismantling his empty, materialistic life, with sledgehammers and power tools, before figuratively picking up the pieces. At no point does this process seem organic, much as Jake Gyllenhaal tries to make a mystery out of this hollow soul and hint around the question of whether he truly loved his wife and the home they built together.

You never see Melissa McCarthy's neck in The Boss. This is the film's best joke, because instead of being beaten into the ground, it goes completely unremarked upon. The fiery comedian, playing a CEO named Michelle Darnell who puts elements of Donald Trump's mouth under Suze Orman's hairdo, has made turtlenecks a permanent part of her wardrobe. This holds true even once she's taken the plunge from top executive of several unspecified companies to sleeping on a former subordinate's couch.

And they said print is dead. Janice Min turned around Us Weekly and now The Hollywood Reporter — transforming an ailing trade daily into a glossy magazine with new relevance for advertisers, the entertainment community and readers beyond.

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

Many of the kids who left Central America for the U.S. two years ago are still waiting to see if they'll be granted asylum. Tens of thousands came on foot, escaping gang violence, hoping if they got here they would get to stay.

The ones who made the journey without their parents have been called unaccompanied minors, child migrants or asylum seekers. A new play, Shelter, gives them names and tells their stories.

At 46, former Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee says she's not very concerned with what people think of her.

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

The actor and comedian from the new series The Detour and former Daily Show correspondent tells us about how he and then Daily Show host Jon Stewart fought to air a particularly ballsy story.

Heard on Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

Look Under Your Seats

Apr 7, 2016

Oprah's audience finds exciting items under their seats so we thought we'd give it a try. In this game, we've written clues about things you might find under your seat in boring everyday life but Oprah-fied, like, "You get some GUM!"

Heard on Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

Grooving Mountains

Apr 7, 2016

Jonathan Coulton reworks "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" to be about things that aren't high enough. Just kidding, this game is about real and fictional mountains.

Heard on Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

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

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