Arts

Arts and culture

Harold Evans sees a lot of fog all around us: Murky words, qualifiers, and subordinate clauses that clog a sentence and route expression into obscurity. Puffed up phrases, passive voices, misused words and words with no meaning, verbs twisted into nouns, buzzwords and hackneyed terms that make the language we use to deliver news, exchange opinions, trade stories, give direction, and declare love into a pea-souper of imprecision and cliche.

Let me begin by stating that this is a perfect book.

I don't say this lightly. It's perfect in the way that excellent clockwork is perfect: intricate, precise, and hiding all its marvels in plain sight. Imagine a clear box full of interlocking gears and springs and pulleys — you can follow all their movements, trace every tooth's bite, but what it produces in chimes or bursts of colour and light are mysteries to surprise and delight you.

For 15 years, documentary photographer Stephanie Sinclair has focused her camera on what she calls "everyday brutality" — the violence, genital mutilation and forced marriage endured by girls and young women around the world, including in Afghanistan, India and Nigeria.

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There's a new show on Amazon that breaks a lot of rules. It doesn't even seem to know there are rules. It's called, "I Love Dick" based on a book by the same name.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "I LOVE DICK")

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Actor and Holocaust survivor Curt Lowens died in Los Angeles on Monday at the age of 91. The cause was complications from a fall.

If you recognize Lowens' face, it's likely from one the many times he played German officers on film, television and the stage. He portrayed a Nazi colonel in the Arthur Hiller film Tobruk, a Volkspolizei officer in Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain and a Gestapo captain in Hogan's Heroes. He was even an SS guard in the original Broadway cast of Stalag 17.

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The Marine Corps has released a recruiting ad that, for the first time, focuses on a female Marine in combat.

Two-time Tony nominee Andy Karl is no stranger to the movie-turned-Broadway musical. His very first Broadway performance was in Saturday Night Fever, where he met his wife Orfeh; they both performed in Legally Blonde: The Musical (for which she received a Tony nomination); and he was nominated for his first Tony for playing Rocky Balboa in Rocky the Musical.

Body Tourist

May 12, 2017

There are a lot of stories based on the idea of shrinking down and traveling through the human body, but what if this technology was actually possible? Ophira Eisenberg and puzzle guru Cecil Baldwin play the part of travel agents who are selling trips to different parts of the body. Contestants guess where they're traveling.

Heard on Andy Karl: 'Groundhog Day' Seven Days A Week

Trials And Tribute Bands

May 12, 2017

Is Joanne Joanne, an all-female Duran Duran tribute band, a real group? That's the gist of this game, where contestants guess if a supposed cover band is a real band, or one that we made up. (P.S. — they're a real band.)

Heard on Andy Karl: 'Groundhog Day' Seven Days A Week

Friends Everywhere

May 12, 2017

Every answer in this final round will contain the first name of a character from the TV show "Friends." And if you've never seen "Friends"... we'll be there for you — for moral support. But not for hints.

Heard on Andy Karl: 'Groundhog Day' Seven Days A Week

Mystery Guest

May 12, 2017

Our Mystery Guest, Dick Zigun, founded a popular New York City event in 1983. Ophira and guest house musician Julian Velard work together to figure out this secret by asking "yes" or "no" questions.

Heard on Andy Karl: 'Groundhog Day' Seven Days A Week

Take Me To Church

May 12, 2017

We took the Hozier song "Take Me to Church," which compares falling in love to going to church, and rewrote it to be about other cheap date ideas. Makes total sense!

Heard on Andy Karl: 'Groundhog Day' Seven Days A Week

And The Scar Goes To...

May 12, 2017

We removed the first letter from one of the words in a movie's title, and rewrote the plot to match the new title. For example, if the clue was, "In this Coen Brothers film, Josh Brolin works as a Hollywood doctor trying to rid movie star George Clooney of a terrible stomach ache," the answer would be, "Ail, Caesar." That's "Hail, Caesar," with the first letter of one of the words removed.

Heard on Andy Karl: 'Groundhog Day' Seven Days A Week

In 1624, as Portuguese colonists were making their way through the east coast of Africa, a woman named Nzinga ascended to the throne of Ndongo (now Angola). She spent decades fighting off invaders, both from Portugal and neighboring African kingdoms, and became a legend among her people and around the world.

The first season of Master Of None, the thoughtful Netflix comedy starring Aziz Ansari and created by Ansari and Alan Yang, was one of the best pieces of comedy-drama to come out in 2015. Now, about a year and a half later, they're back with a second season that is even better, more ambitious, more creative and more moving than the first run was.

A muggle mystery is afoot in the U.K.

Sometime over a span of a week and a half in mid-April, a burglar (or several) broke into a property in a Birmingham suburb, stealing jewelry and one item that's even more valuable — certainly to Harry Potter fans, at least: an 800-word, handwritten prequel to the series, scrawled on a postcard by J.K. Rowling herself.

On this week's show, we have probably the biggest tonal difference between our first and second segments in our history, so stay with me.

If you haven't heard of the self-described dirty trickster Roger Stone, you're missing out. For decades, he's worked as a political adviser to Donald Trump, and some credit him with getting Trump into the Oval Office. Daniel DiMauro, Dylan Bank and Morgan Pehme directed the new documentary Get Me Roger Stone.

"He was the very first person to suggest to Donald Trump that he should run for the presidency back in 1987," Pehme says. "And then he spent the next 29 years cultivating Trump's candidacy until he was ultimately triumphant."

A lot of things in this country rely on information gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau every 10 years. Congressional districts. Federally funded public works (bridges, tunnels) and emergency services. Decisions based on population estimates affect everyone in ways large and small, so an accurate count of who lives where is critical. That's why it was big news when the current Census director, John Thompson, announced he's stepping down. The abrupt departure left Census-watchers worried.

In the Israeli romantic comedy, The Wedding Plan, Michal (Noa Koler), a youngish woman who's been trying to get hitched for years sits opposite a prospective mate, trying to make small talk. This is her umpteenth date in umpteen years; all relevant clocks are ticking; she's fed up and close to despair. Mary Richards may spring to mind, also Bridget Jones, and just about every Jane Austen adaptation extant.

Set in the middle of the Iraqi desert in 2007, after the "Mission Accomplished" banner was hung and the war was "officially" over, Doug Liman's The Wall belongs to a small subset of real-time thrillers, like Phone Booth and Buried, where the hero is pinned down in a single location for the entire film. And unlike the others, which violate the conceit with flashbacks and other scenes away from the action, The Wall offers no relief from a desperate and seemingly impossible situation.

Jesse and Jonas, two BMX-riding teens in the suburbs, are hanging out at the mall one afternoon when two nameless punks jump them. There's an altercation and Jonas dies, bleeding out on the linoleum floor while Jesse watches, paralyzed with fear. We see these actions not as the kids experience them but through the security guard's office, on a grid of CCTVs. Their dispassionate vantage point traps the victims inside their boxes of horror, and leaves us far, far away from the emotional heart of the tragedy.

The Ecuador Ministry of Tourism probably won't have anything very nice to say about Snatched, an R-rated mother-and-daughter-reunion comedy that pairs Amy Schumer with Goldie Hawn, returning to features after a 15-year sabbatical. The double entendre of the title is fully intentional, obviously, referencing the comic persona Schumer has cultivated as a ribald, sex-positive libertine. But the plot still involves the two tourists being abducted and held for ransom during their South American getaway.

After a millennium of mystical and/or pious Arthurian lore, someone — could it have been Guy Ritchie? — determined that the once and future king needed the Guy Ritchie treatment. But then someone — could it have been the selfsame Ritchie? — concluded that snarky attitude wasn't enough. And so we have King Arthur: Legend of The Sword an intermittently amusing mashup of frisky medieval-gangsta flick and ponderous sub-Tolkien war saga.

The creator of one of the most popular hockey-themed web comics — yes, that's a thing — does not even know how to ice skate. Ngozi Ukazu created "Check Please," about a sweet-natured Southern hockey player who's short, loves baking pies and is completely crushed out on his hunky team captain.

The success of "Check Please" shows how a new generation of storytellers are refining the 21st century tools that help them attract and retain fans and earn a living with their work.

The tar baby story in which Bre'r Rabbit outwits Bre'r Fox is a classic trickster folk tale. But like all fables, it is a double-barreled affair, with entertainment firing in tandem with a serious message. The question the story addresses is a fundamental one: Who controls access to food and water? Or, more crucially, who controls access to food and water when the rules have been turned upside down by giant forces like colonialism, slavery, global trade and the loss of the commons to enclosures?

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