Arts

Arts and culture

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Science fiction has always been such a mutt genre. It's the place where you can do anything, tell any story that crosses your fevered mind. Want to do noir? Cool. A romance? No problem. A war story? Absolutely. Throw in some ray guns, little green men and some hand-wavey, black-box techno-whatever to stitch it all together, and you're good to go.

Black-ish creator (Kenya) and the show's 17-year-old star (Yara) talk about what's next for them on TV and in real life. Kenya explains why he's never felt pressure to explain cultural jokes. Yara breaks down ways Gen Z is ahead of the rest of us. Plus, they preview a possible spin-off!

We're just a handful of days removed from the historical dog-earing that marks the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency — "just about the most successful in our country's history," as he put it. It's been three-months-and-change of unprecedented tumult, from the halls of Washington, D.C. to the Sea of Japan.

Magic.

That's what it feels like when you bump into your childhood friend on the first day of college ... or meet someone at a party in Paris, only to discover she lives in your dad's childhood home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. But mathematician Joseph Mazur says these coincidences are not as extraordinary as we might think.

"People think that their address book is essentially the people they know, and it turns out any address book is about one percent of the people they know in some way," Mazur explains.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus — who plays U.S. Vice President Selina Meyer on the HBO comedy Veep -- says that growing up in Washington, D.C., and later living in Los Angeles helped her prepare for the role:

"I think I understand the insular nature of Washington ... " she says. "There's an inside-the-Beltway mentality, not dissimilar from Hollywood — it feels like the only thing that matters. I think you're selling a brand of yourself."

Growing up in Brooklyn with a mother from the South and father from Senegal, Gabourey Sidibe spent much of her youth feeling anxious. She was mocked for being part-African and for being overweight, and she worried she would never find her true calling.

As a young woman, Sidibe struggled to find work and ultimately took a job as a phone sex operator where the rule of business was to sound "100 percent white." Then, when she was 24, she auditioned for the role that would change her life.

James Patterson has a long history of collaboration. Of his dozens of books, the blockbuster thriller writer has written at least 50 — yes, five-zero — with the name of a co-author emblazoned on the cover.

Still, it's fair to say none of them has the resume of the fiction novice he's teaming up with now: former President Bill Clinton.

Stone steps winding down a narrow lane lead to Misfah Old House, a small inn located in the mountainous village of Misfat Al Abryeen, Oman. To welcome his guests, Haitham Al-Abri offers sweet, sticky dates and a tiny cup of cardamom-scented coffee.

At Misfah, as in all Omani homes, dates are intrinsic to the culture of this Arabian Peninsula country. They are a sign of hospitality, served both in greeting and after every meal.

For professional musicians, the instrument on which they play is more than just a tool of the trade. It can also be a muse, a partner and a voice.

Min Kym started playing the violin at age 6 and won her first competition at 11. Now, the former child prodigy is the author of a new book: Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung, in which she shares her story of finding her perfect partner — only to have it stolen away.

Creating a hit musical which appeals to family audiences is kind of Broadway's holy grail — think current long-running shows, like The Lion King and Wicked, which have run for decades, or earlier shows like Cats and Annie. Critics don't always give these shows good reviews, but that doesn't seem to matter much. Now, two new musicals are aiming to get the kid stamp of approval.

"What an ugly thing I am," he thinks. "Why did I ever believe I could wreak anything but ugliness in this world? Why did I ever think that those near me would meet anything but pain and death?"

Museum Of Ice Cream Opens In Los Angeles

May 7, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

You may know Paula Poundstone from the smash public radio hit other than this program: Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!

But she's also an accomplished author, now of two books — all the more an accomplishment because each took nearly a decade to write. Her latest is The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, and it's full of experiments Poundstone undertook to try to unlock the secrets happy people must surely know.

Until now, debut author Dana Schwartz has made a compelling asset out of brevity. She's the humorist behind the popular Twitter accounts Guy In Your MFA and Dystopian YA Novel, twin platforms for perfectly crafted satire about literary pretention. The former sends up self-important, David Foster Wallace-worshiping writing students who gaze deep into their navels and see only literary symbolism and tortured, unappreciated genius.

Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer "radical empathy" and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.

Most of us, even the ones who don't know boxing, have heard of the 1976 film Rocky, which won several Oscars, including best picture. It spawned six sequels and made Sylvester Stallone a superstar.

But not as many people know that Rocky Balboa was based, in part, on a real person: Chuck Wepner. The heavyweight boxer was locally famous in his home state of New Jersey, known as "the Bayonne Bleeder."

Now, Wepner gets the star treatment as the subject of the new movie Chuck, starring actor Liev Schreiber in the title role.

Guy Ritchie wanted to be a filmmaker, so he dropped out of school at the age of 15 — why waste time? His first film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was a breakout independent hit, and led to a bunch of other movies, including Snatch, Swept Away, and two Sherlock Holmes films. His latest movie is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

We'll quiz Ritchie on locks, stocks and barrels. Click the listen link above to see how he does.

One of the world's most lauded novelists has produced her first collection of short stories in decades. The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories is by Penelope Lively, who won the Man Booker Prize in 1987 for Moon Tiger and had a bestseller in How it All Began. Her latest is a collection that looks at life in ancient Pompeii, and modern-day western metropolises. They are often short, even for short stories — and subtly simple, or, if you prefer, deceptively nuanced.

A new film starring Richard Gere follows a Jewish man who pops up on the streets of Manhattan dropping names, handing out cards and promising to connect people. That man, Norman, befriends an Israeli politician whose career is on the outs. Three years later, the politician, Eshel, returns as prime minister and their paths cross again.

A short film that's filled with big Hollywood names premiered Tuesday in Bentonville, Ark. The Forever Tree, a black historical fantasy film, stars Wendell Pierce and Olivia Washington. It made its debut at the third Bentonville Film Festival, which aims to headline creative works by women and filmmakers of color.

In 2014, M.R. Carey's The Girl with All the Gifts wrapped a coming-of-age tale in a zombie apocalypse and assured us that the children were our future, except for the part where everyone alive was kind of doomed to become fungus-brained "hungries." The last few bastions of human civilization could try any ethically-questionable miracle cures they wanted, but once you caught a case of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, it was game over, man.

The first thing comedian Chris Gethard says in his new special, Career Suicide, is that he started seeing his current psychiatrist in 2007, but only started dating the woman who's now his wife in 2012. His doctor — named Barb — is the framing device for an hour and a half of discussion about depression, anxiety, telling people you have depression and anxiety, and what it is that people need and ask from one another.

I Am Not Your Muslim

May 6, 2017

If Islam were a skin color, there would be a sliding scale along which you could determine just how Muslim you are. On the extremely Muslim end, there would be classic identifiers — hijab or niqab for women, a beard and skullcap for men. On the light Muslim end, there would be those whose identity can only be determined because of a name or provenance, those who usually "pass" in public and are not immediately identifiable. Let's call this the Identity Matrix.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

"Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2" opens in theaters this weekend. The film is on track for a $150 million opening, so reviews are probably irrelevant. But NPR's Bob Mondello has one anyway.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Back in 2014, Laura Poitras brought out Citizenfour, her Oscar-winning documentary about Edward Snowden's revelations of the NSA's illegal surveillance program.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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