Arts

Arts and culture

After Friday night's two-hour premiere of Marvel's Inhumans on ABC, you can forgive us Marvel nerds for feeling a bit flinchy. That show's a great big slab of cheese — some of the runniest and stinkiest around — so if some of us approach the premiere of FOX's mutant-themed series The Gifted by adopting a kind of collective defensive crouch, understand that it's warranted.

Nerds of the world, I'm here to tell you: You can unclench.

Cheryl Strayed — author of the bestselling memoir Wild — was still an unknown writer when she started an anonymous advice column called "Dear Sugar." She remembers reading and writing things "that we don't normally say to people in the public space," she recalls — and those intimate exchanges made her explore her own life more deeply. "I always think of the 'Dear Sugar' column as, like, therapy in the town square."

If you've ever marveled at someone's ability to reinvent himself, then James McBride is an artist for you. He is an accomplished musician — a saxophonist — but the world was introduced to his writing more than two decades ago, with his intimate memoir The Color of Water, a Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, which won world-wide acclaim. And then he moved on to fiction, winning the 2013 National Book Award for The Good Lord Bird. Then just last year, he wrote a biography of James Brown called Kill 'Em and Leave.

Fifty years ago, Jane Fonda and Robert Redford played newlyweds in the classic comedy Barefoot In The Park. In the new film Our Souls At Night, they reunite as a different pair of bedfellows.

Fonda's Addie Moore is a widow who works up the courage to ask her neighbor, the widower Louis Waters (played by Redford), to sleep with her. Her request isn't for sex, but for platonic company. Of course, their small town begins to gossip, and their relationship becomes romantic over time.

Jeffrey Eugenides is well known for novels like The Virgin Suicides and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex. But his latest work, a collection of short stories, marks a departure. "Short stories are difficult, maddening little puzzles," he says, "and I've been trying to learn how to write them since I first started to write."

Eugenides' new book, Fresh Complaint, is made up of 10 short stories that he wrote over a span of many years.

Is the familiar, dutiful, and wholly generic setup of FOX's buddy-paranormal-investigator sitcom Ghosted a bug, or a feature?

That's the question: Is it lazily leaning on the stock narrative framework of a show like The X-Files, or inventively riffing on it?

Inviting a cat to live in a distillery is like offering a child free room and board at a Disney World theme park. In a distillery, there are tall stacks of shipping pallets to climb, oak barrels to jump on, pipes to nimbly tightrope-walk across and — of course — a steady supply of rodents to hunt.

The hardest, sharpest, most attractive magic of fairy tales is their power to make you both want to live inside them — and be glad you never have to.

Monty Hall got it.

Hall, who died today at age 96 according to his agent Mark Measures, was in on the joke. He was you, sitting there at home, clucking your tongue at the lengths to which people would go, the extent to which they would abase themselves, just to get picked to compete on a dumb game show.

A few years ago, suddenly jobless and homeless, Emily Nunn set out on what she sardonically calls her "journey back from madness." It would culminate in her new memoir, The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart.

Some of the great roles for sopranos are often compellingly fragile — and disarmingly forceful – women: Gilda, the favored daughter in Rigoletto; Violeta, the doomed love in La Traviata.

Charity Tillemann-Dick has sung those roles onstage, but her greatest role may be her own life. She is one of 11 brothers and sisters of a Mormon-Jewish family, and was studying at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music when she was diagnosed with a debilitating and ultimately fatal lung disease.

George Moses Horton published a book of poetry in 1829, when he was still a slave in North Carolina. He went on to write several volumes, which never earned enough money to buy his freedom — though he became a frequent presence on campus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he wrote love poetry on commission for students. Horton was finally set free by the Union Army in 1865, moved to Philadelphia and continued to write until he died.

Actor Adam Scott is probably best known as Ben Wyatt, the well-meaning, not-always-successful city manager on Parks and Recreation. He's got a new sitcom called Ghosted, in which he plays a well-meaning, not-always-successful paranormal investigator.

So we've asked him to play a game about the dubious practice of simply stopping all communication with someone until he or she gets the hint and goes away — better known as "ghosting."

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

Hugh Hefner made history, and then tripped over it. When I was growing up in Chicago, the formidable women who were my mother's friends considered Playboy a good place to work for a single woman. Women at the Playboy Club were well-paid, got chauffeured home in cabs, and customers — stars, politicians, even, it was rumored, spoiled Middle Eastern princes — were thrown out if they weren't gentlemen.

African asylum seekers in Italy are becoming artists — and it's not only helping them cope with the trauma they've been through but also introducing their stories to the local community.

In Europe's migration crisis, Italy is ground zero. More than 500,000 migrants have arrived, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, since 2014.

Despite a smaller flow this summer, anti-migrant sentiment is growing.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Marshmallow Fluff — peanut butter's second most famous sandwich co-star.

An estimated 20,000 Fluff fans celebrated the centennial in sticky style last Saturday, in the New England neighborhood where the confection was first concocted — Union Square in Somerville, Mass., just outside of Boston.

"No code is ever completely solved, you know."

It's quite a time to be reading The Woman Who Smashed Codes. Subtitled The True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies, Jason Fagone's book delivers on that promise, bringing one woman's deliberately erased accomplishments back into the limelight. But it also resounds with warning bells that should sound farther away than they prove today.

"I hope he remains loyal. And if he doesn't, let me know, and I'll attack him."

"I hope you don't mind me taking a liberty" are the first words spoken in Blade Runner 2049, an unlikely sequel to the oft-revised Ridley Scott sci-fi sleeper that has confounded and divided normals — and been an object of adoration for nerds — for 35 years.

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

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Hugh Hefner died this week at age 91. And the Playboy founder managed, even in preparing for his death, to cultivate his celebrity and stoke controversy.

Over the years, Hefner mentioned to reporters where he planned to be buried: right next to Marilyn Monroe, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery.

Title IX is often credited with getting more girls involved in sports, but there's another, more intimate milestone in the women-in-sports story that deserves some recognition: This year, the Jogbra turns 40.

In 1977, Hinda Miller had just started working at the University of Vermont and had taken up jogging. But she found she had a problem: What to do with her breasts? "I used two bras," she says. "You know, everyone has their stories of what they did."

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

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

I loved watching Larry David last year in his recurring guest role on NBC's Saturday Night Live, where he provided a perfect impersonation of outspoken politician Bernie Sanders. But I'm even more excited to watch David, beginning this Sunday, on the return of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, where he'll play an exaggerated version of himself in a role he last portrayed on TV six years ago.

Amy Seimetz: Based On The Hit Movie

Sep 29, 2017

A true multi-hyphenate, Amy Seimetz is a director, actor, producer, and writer, who Ice-T once called "freaky-deaky" on the set of Law and Order: SVU. As an actor, she's also appeared in Stranger Things, Alien: Covenant, and The Killing.

Untwisted Tongue Twisters

Sep 29, 2017

We threw a throng of common tongue twisters through a thesaurus to toss together this thrilling task. Can you guess the tongue-twisting phrase from its literal description?

Heard On Melissa Joan Hart And Amy Seimetz: Multi Multi-Hyphenates

This, That, Or The Other

Sep 29, 2017

Is "Sticky Icky" a discontinued frozen Slurpee flavor, a Yankee Candle scent, or an obstacle from the Nickelodeon game show 'Double Dare?' Those are the three categories in this very messy This, That, or the Other.

Heard On Melissa Joan Hart And Amy Seimetz: Multi Multi-Hyphenates

Does Not Compute

Sep 29, 2017

Our final two contestants get their heads out of the cloud to compete in this trivia game involving words associated with computing.

Heard On Melissa Joan Hart And Amy Seimetz: Multi Multi-Hyphenates

Mac Daddies

Sep 29, 2017

Contestants face off in a music parody challenge that combines two of the biggest icons of the 1970s: Fleetwood Mac and macramé. We rewrote Fleetwood Mac songs to be about things with "mac" in their names.

Heard On Melissa Joan Hart And Amy Seimetz: Multi Multi-Hyphenates

Slogan Erring

Sep 29, 2017

This word game will melt in your mouth, not your hands. We took famous corporate slogans and changed one letter to reflect a new demographic the brand is targeting. This Cud's for You!

Heard On Melissa Joan Hart And Amy Seimetz: Multi Multi-Hyphenates

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