Arts

Arts and culture

Jason Sheehan knows stuff about food, video games, books and Starblazers. He is currently the restaurant critic at Philadelphia magazine, but when no one is looking, he spends his time writing books about giant robots and ray guns. Tales From the Radiation Age is his latest book.

Comedian Shelley Berman has died. According to his publicist, Glenn Schwartz, Berman died early Friday morning at his home in Bell Canyon, Calif. He was 92 and had Alzheimer's disease.

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Maria Luisa is 12 years old. Her parents are divorced, and her mom just got a job at a new city. Things are not looking good. So Malu - that's the shortened version of her name, the version she prefers - puts on her headphones.

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There's a film hitting theaters this weekend you may not have heard anything about. It's called Tulip Fever, a period romantic thriller starring Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Judi Dench and Dane DeHaan, with a screenplay by Tom Stoppard.

Encore

Sep 1, 2017

With the help of the Ask Me Another audience, house musician Jonathan Coulton leads a music game that turns Queen's classic We Will Rock You into an ode to famous rocks. Then contestants compete in a ménage à trois-themed final round.

Heard On AMA Favorites: Sex, Drugs, And Rock 'N' Roll Edition

Headliner

Sep 1, 2017

Ophira Eisenberg talks to sex columnist Dan Savage at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, then contestants play a round of This, That, or the Other featuring prescription drugs, Harry Potter spells, and Ikea products.

Heard On AMA Favorites: Sex, Drugs, And Rock 'N' Roll Edition

Opening Act

Sep 1, 2017

This first game plays on the slang term "Netflix and Chill," where every answer rhymes with the word "chill." Then, just try to forget this mother father next game where contestants identify the movie based on the redubbed swear word.

Heard On AMA Favorites: Sex, Drugs, And Rock 'N' Roll Edition

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The manipulative British filmmaker seems to have come to the right place. Fresh from her own bitter breakup, Vivian (Dolly Wells) arrives in Florida in search of couples who are about to split. She has an assistant/cameraperson, Mel (Connie Shin), and a thesis: Marriage should last for only seven years, with an option to renew.

At my all-girls high school in London in the 1960s, colonial history was taught roughly as follows: "In 1947 India was granted independence from Great Britain. Civil strife continued between Hindus and Muslims in the new nations of India and Pakistan. And now, gehls, back to the Gardens of Tudor England."

Take a good long look at the state flag of Nebraska, everyone.

Mark well its concentric circles crowded with golden text, its deep blue background, its central scene busy with contrasting colors. Then, reflect on this crucial question: Would you even be able to tell the difference if it were flying upside-down?

Apparently state lawmakers couldn't. In fact, for a span of 10 days earlier this year, not a single visitor to the Nebraska Capitol noticed that the flag had been hoisted upside down — not even state Sen. Burke Harr, who related the story in January.

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Leila Day and Hana Baba are not afraid to go there in their new podcast. It's called The Stoop.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: The stoop.

The past 10 years have seen a parade of sexually damaged Girls in fiction — and by girls, of course, I mean women in their 20s and 30s. After Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and all the other creatively abused women, you could be forgiven for thinking Claire Messud's The Burning Girl is another would-be best-seller about gendered violence and retribution.

For writer Jesmyn Ward, Mississippi is a place she loves and hates all at once.

She grew up and still lives in the tiny town of DeLisle, Miss., close by the Gulf Coast, where, she writes, African-American families like hers are "pinioned beneath poverty and history and racism."

The lobby of a Silicon Valley tech company is not where you would expect to hear a soprano belting out a Puccini aria, but that was exactly what happened at the first performance of Arias in the Office.

With "Ch'il Bel Sogno," soprano Katharine Gunnink kicked off the new pop-up series at Adobe's San Jose headquarters at the beginning of August. The initiative by Opera San José aims to introduce people to the very concept of opera as something that can be fun and enjoyable.

It's a pair of rites we see often at the passing of great authors: first, the tributes from those who loved their books; then, the good-faith effort to find their unfinished works and shepherd them to the bookshelves they never would have found otherwise.

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2017 has been a record year in Hollywood, but it's not a good record. This has been the worst summer at the box office in a decade. NPR's Neda Ulaby reports even hits like "Wonder Woman" and the latest "Guardians Of The Galaxy" could not save a summer of flops.

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Stevie Wonder comes prepared for an interview.

STEVIE WONDER: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

WONDER: (Vocalizing, singing) Wheel of '84.

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Etelka Lehoczky has written about books for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Salon.com. She tweets at @EtelkaL.

Bernard Pomerance, who wrote the Tony Award-winning play The Elephant Man about the life of a seriously deformed man in Victorian England, has died at the age of 76, according to his agency.

His agent Alan Brodie told The Associated Press that Pomerance "died Saturday of complications from cancer at his home in Galisteo, New Mexico."

Just a few pages into My Absolute Darling, Martin Alveston quizzes his 14-year-old daughter, Turtle, on her vocabulary; it's a subject the young girl is having considerable trouble with at her middle school. Frustrated by his daughter's progress, Martin tosses her notebook across the room, and places a semiautomatic pistol in front of her. He holds a playing card in his hand, daring her to shoot it. "You're being a little b----," he says. "Are you trying to be a little b----, kibble?"

If you've seen the hit musical Hamilton — or even if you've only heard about it — you might want to know more about the founding father who was the United States' first Secretary of the Treasury. And if so, the Library of Congress just made it easier to go right to the source.

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