Arts

Arts and culture

Grapefruit's bitterness can make it hard to love. Indeed, people often smother it in sugar just to get it down. And yet Americans were once urged to sweeten it with salt. Ad campaigns from the first and second world wars tried to convince us that "Grapefruit Tastes Sweeter With Salt!" as one 1946 ad for Morton's in Life magazine put it. The pairing, these ads swore, enhanced the flavor. In our candy-crushed world, these curious culinary time capsules raise the question: Does...

This year, the National Book Awards ceremony comes at a time when the nation has rarely seemed more divided. The bitter presidential campaign exposed a fault line in the United States that will not easily be repaired. And while there's no one simple answer, Lisa Lucas, head of the National Book Foundation, recommends one way to understand the other side: read. "My life is small" she says, "and I think books are a way to make your life larger." Lucas has an almost unbounded belief in the power...

Editor's note: We identified Slave Punk and Sunset Park as already published; they were announced in 2015 but are not yet out. Nonstop, jittery energy seems to rattle every panel of Prince of Cats , Ronald Wimberly's Shakespearean street tale. Few artists can strike the kind of sparks that electrify these pages, and yet Wimberly's powerful draftsmanship is only one aspect of a head-to-toe remarkable book. Focusing on Tybalt, the "Prince of Cats" in

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: "Arrival" has arrived. In the sci-fi mystery film, Amy Adams plays a linguist hired by the government to try and decipher the language of aliens whose spaceships have touched down around the globe. The soundtrack was written by Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson. NPR's Elizabeth Blair talked to him about writing a score that is both otherworldly and intimate. ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: "Arrival" is a global...

When the Cubs won the World Series on Nov. 2 — remember that? — the person who told the world it had happened was sportscaster Joe Buck. He has been broadcasting the NFL on Fox since 1993 and Major League Baseball since 1995. He has now written a memoir about his life in broadcasting, called Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I'm Not Allowed to Say on TV. We thought everyone could use a little distraction this week, so we've invited Buck to play a game...

Since 1996, sportscaster Joe Buck has been announcing Super Bowls, golf tournaments, bass fishing, motorcycle jumps and, of course, baseball. In fact, he did the play-by-play for seventh game of the World Series this year between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs — a game that drew the largest audience in a generation. But Joe Buck wasn't the first sportscaster in his family: His father, Hall of Fame announcer Jack Buck, was the longtime voice of the St. Louis Cardinals. He worked...

Even a well known story depends on where you begin to tell it. In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy visiting Mississippi, was lynched by white men who said he'd flirted with a white woman. Till's body was returned home to Chicago where his mother insisted on an open casket. Photos were wired around the globe and the world saw his mutilated body. His murderers would be free within a month. Writer John Edgar Wideman was thinking of writing a novel based on the...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9oGPI-MxX8 I've written about Gustav Mahler and his monumental symphonic achievements before , but right now I'm not sure there has ever been a more fitting symphony for our time than Mahler's Symphony No. 6. Today, as we have become immune to shock, where nothing seems too extreme and where hyperbole rules, Mahler and his Sixth Symphony seem to fit right in. Mahler was a man of excess, spectacle, illusion and indulgence. Most likely a narcissist, he was also...

Can you find beauty in a life of hardship? If the photos from the Siena International Photo Awards are any indication, the answer is yes. Last month, the winners and runners-up in 11 categories, including travel, nature, people and portraits, were announced. Many of those top images were taken in the developing world, depicting lives affected by poverty and adversity — but not in the way you might expect. A Vietnamese woman making a fishing net looks as if she's swimming in a sea of green...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: About a year ago, Antoine Leiris was sitting at home, reading a novel. Then he started getting text messages from friends. Is everything OK? Leiris lives in Paris. And it was November 13, 2015, the night of the terrorist attacks there. His wife, Helene, had gone to the Bataclan concert hall to see a show, leaving him at home alone with their young son Melvil. Helene was among 90 people killed at the Bataclan....

"I'll never be able to speak their words!" That cry of frustration comes from linguistics professor Louise Banks in the new movie Arrival . Banks, played by Amy Adams, is confronted with a hard jolt of reality in a fantastic situation: Aliens have arrived from outer space and we have no idea how to talk to them. Arrival is based on "Story of Your Life," a 1998 short story by Ted Chiang, a soft-spoken, 49-year-old technical writer based in Seattle. Every few years, Chiang...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Film critic David Edelstein has a review of the new sci-fi drama "Arrival" starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, co-star. DAVID EDELSTEIN, BYLINE: Have you ever thought about the idea that in American space-alien-invasion movies, extraterrestrials have no problem mastering the King's English? Well, "Arrival" is different. Communication between earthlings and aliens doesn't...

Brooklyn Decker would have been named Brooke--after her mom's best friend's horse--but her dad decided to spice it up and go with Brooklyn. "He's the epitome dad joke guy," the actor explains. Though now it's considered a trendy name, she told host Ophira Eisenberg at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas that she was teased for it while growing up in North Carolina. She even ended up living in Brooklyn for a time, "which was a thing in itself." This sense of humor is showcased in her role...

I Love The 1880s

Nov 11, 2016

Ophira and Jonathan dig deep into Dallas history with this trivia game about the rocking 1880s. Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST: Let's go to your next game. Stephanie, what is something you miss about the '80s? STEPHANIE HAGADORN: I miss the movies. EISENBERG: The movies? HAGADORN: The movies in the '80s. EISENBERG: Like, which one? HAGADORN: Well, I just liked that you could...

Billies Seen

Nov 11, 2016

In this music game, Jonathan Coulton reworks Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" to be about other people--both real and fictional--named Billie. Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST: Now, let's meet our next two contestants. First up, Stephanie Hagadorn, you work with Watson the supercomputer. STEPHANIE HAGADORN: I do. EISENBERG: OK. So if you don't know, Watson the supercomputer is...

Mystery Guest

Nov 11, 2016

Mary Walker is kiiiind of a big deal — find out why when host Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton become the contestants in this Dallas installment of Mystery Guest! Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Texas Towns

Nov 11, 2016

Texas is the second largest state in the Union, so there's bound to be a unique town name here and there. Guess which town is fake in this Texan trivia game. Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST: Let's go to your next game. Marcie, what town did you grow up in? MARCIE VERASTIQUI: Houston. EISENBERG: OK, and what is the best thing about Houston? VERASTIQUI: The humidity. (LAUGHTER)...

Franchise Rebranding

Nov 11, 2016

North American pro sports teams are getting a revamp in this word game. Each team's imagined owner wants to change the name by adding one letter. So, if we said, "LensCrafters bought this Texas hockey team," the answer would be "The Dallas Stares!" Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. JONATHAN COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from the Majestic Theatre in Dallas, Texas, it's NPR's hour of...

All My Exes Live In Texas

Nov 11, 2016

Gear up for a final round where every answer contains the letters "E-X," in that order. For example, "our neighboring country to the south" is "Mexico!" Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST: It's now time to crown our big winner. Let's bring back our finalists - Marcie, the future owner of the Austin Humidities... (LAUGHTER) EISENBERG: ...And Stephanie, who's going to settle this...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaYcM_Gi398 Gianandrea Noseda wants to break down a few long-standing barriers to classical music. The next music director of Washington, D.C.'s National Symphony Orchestra thinks jeans and T-shirts at his concerts are fine. Confused about when to applaud? Noseda says that if the music moves you, go for it. "Music is a part of life," he says. "It's not in a mausoleum. Music is written to be shared." The 52-year-old Italian conductor was named the NSO's seventh...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yziuKJem5pg Leonard Cohen's influence on several generations of singers, songwriters and poets is immeasurable. For many, the first glimpse of his greatness came from Judy Collins who covered his song "Suzanne" five decades ago. To mark Cohen's passing – he died Thursday at age 82 – we've selected this 2012 session from our archives, where Cohen's influence is heard spreading to the world of contemporary classical music. Composer Daniel Felsenfeld wrote a...

Lazy Eye , writer/director Tim Kirkman's unhurried two-hander romantic drama, opens with Dean, a Los Angeles graphic designer played by Lucas Near-Verbrugge, being prescribed trifocals. "It's perfectly normal for vision to change in middle age," his optometrist assures him. But Dean's eyes remain expressive enough to register his alarm at the phrase middle age . When he gets an out-of-the-blue e-mail two scenes later from Alex (Aaron Costa Ganis), an ex- who left him without...

Like the most dreaded Secret Santa at the office holiday party, Hollywood is a shameless re-gifter, passing off the same ensemble comedy-drama every year or two in lieu of a more thoughtful present. Almost Christmas is better than most, and rare in focusing on an African-American family instead of a bourgeois white one, like the brittle clan in last year's seasonal heart-warmer Love the Coopers. But even the title is so generic that years from now, no one could reasonably...

At the fancy Christmas dinner she hosts in her posh Paris home, a stylish entrepreneur named Michele, played to impassive perfection by Isabelle Huppert, verbally abuses her heavily Botoxed elderly mother and her mother's very-much-younger consort. She inflicts injury on the very-much-younger girlfriend of her former husband. She pokes fun at her ineffectual son, his partner, and their baby. She takes a covert swipe at her pretty Christian neighbor while initiating a game of footsie with that...

Unlike most horror flicks, The Monster offers solid performances and a real-world subtext. But those virtues aren't enough to keep the movie from getting stalled in some big bad woods, miles short of profundity. The tale's Little Red Riding Hood is Lizzy (Ella Ballentine), a tween whose relationship with her single mom, Kathy (Zoe Kazan), has become irreparable. The fault is not Lizzy's. Kathy is an alcoholic whose mothering ranges from simply neglectful to overtly abusive. So the...

Close encounters get a whole lot closer with Arrival , a furiously intelligent sci-fi film descending into cinemas from somewhere far, far beyond our current realm of understanding. Its premise instantly solves one of the hardest things to swallow about the traditional movie alien: the fact that it usually acts so much like an Earth-bound creature. After all, it's hard to conceive of extraterrestrial life if we have, well, no concept of it. This first contact starts in the familiar...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: ABC TV show "Speechless" is about the Dimeo family - a mom, dad and three kids - but it's not your stereotypical family sitcom. JJ, the oldest of the three, has cerebral palsy. He uses a wheelchair, and he's nonverbal. That means he communicates using a board with words and letters on it, which he points to with a small laser. The show isn't sappy. It finds humor in the family's everyday life, like when JJ gets...

There's a tendency to approach a posthumous collection of work by an esteemed "writer's writer" with respectful courtesy, but Stanley Elkin's essays demand a rowdier response from readers. They're weird and spirited, full of literal piss and vinegar. Pieces of Soap is the name of this collection and writer Sam Lipsyte, in his introduction, rightly says that reading Elkin makes you realize "how lazy most writing is." It doesn't matter what the ostensible subject of these essays may...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. I can't think of anyone who knows more about TV history than our own TV critic David Bianculli. He's just written a new book called "The Platinum Age Of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific." It's a genre-by-genre history discussing the shows that were turning points in dramas, sitcoms, Westerns, children's programs and so on with a list of the...

Care Bears didn't make the cut; neither did Transformers or Uno. But it's a good day for Little People — first produced by Fisher-Price in 1959 — as the Toy Hall of Fame announces its 2016 class of inductees. Also getting the nod: Dungeons & Dragons, which was praised for creating a system of imaginative play that has entranced both kids and adults; and the humble swing, which in the past 100 years has grown from its ancient roots to become a playground favorite. The nomination process for...

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