Arts

Arts and culture

In 2008, the investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for the largest bankruptcy in American history. It took just hours for the catastrophic effects of the company's failure to become apparent to ordinary people all across the world, even ones who had never before heard terms like "subprime mortgage" and "collateralized debt obligation."

Author Lawrence Wright was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, which meant he was required to do two years of what was called "alternative service." He ended up in Egypt, teaching at the American University in Cairo. And it was there that the man from Texas started his obsession with the Middle East.

Since then, Wright has written a lot about the region and about terrorism as a staff writer for The New Yorker. Now, he has compiled his many New Yorker essays into a new book called The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State.

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, is known for his outspoken personality and oversize public image, which he believes help build his brand name.

"Whether it's good press or bad press, it's getting your name out there," Washington Post investigative reporter Michael Kranish tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "Getting your name on the gossip pages and the front pages and even the sports pages, [is] all in the effort of building the name."

Hey Hugh.

It's us, the sideburns you wore while you played the character Wolverine. All the times you played Wolverine. To refresh your memory: When Wolverine 3 comes out next year, we'll have been together, the three of us, for nine movies over the course of 17 years.

Seventeen years, Hugh. Do you know what anniversary that is? It's the furniture anniversary. We were gonna make you a footstool!

Just southwest of bustling Charleston, S.C., lies a lush and rural gem called Wadmalaw Island, one of the Sea Islands that dot the shoreline. This is the home of the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only large-scale commercial tea plantation in America.

More than a century later, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake remains a dramatic, traumatic moment in American history. That makes it the perfect vector for an alternate history novel — a potential that isn't lost on Beth Cato.

Updated at 6 p.m. with judge's ruling

Usually when there's a question about who created a piece of art, the artist is dead and can't speak for himself — he can't say, "Hey, I made that," or "Nope, not mine." But this is a story about a living artist who went to court to prove that a painting in fact is not his. And on Tuesday, a judge in Chicago agreed.

Ah, rum, with its legendary pirates bellowing for grog, tiki umbrellas peeking up from neon-colored cocktails, tequila-spiked punch at college parties. Rum, universally imbibed and yet often scorned. Most rum is "the distilled essence of industrial waste," in the words of Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. That waste is molasses, the byproduct of sugar production.

Snidely Whiplash may have been famous for yelling, "Curses, foiled again!" And those "meddling kids" have spoiled many a villainous plot.

But sometimes, good doesn't win the day. Sometimes the bad guys get away with it.

And if we're going to talk about villains, let's talk about the biggest of the Big Bads, the Grand-daddy of Ghouls, the Imperator of Iniquity — Satan himself. Specifically, the version of Satan set down by John Milton in Paradise Lost.

Salisbury University's Cultural Calendar week of August 29, 2016

Rio 2016 organizers dropped the curtain on the Summer Games on Sunday after hosting the world's elite athletes who've competed for 306 medals over the past 19 days here in Rio de Janeiro.

The closing ceremony starts at 8 p.m. local time, which is one hour ahead of Eastern Time. Because of NBC's time delay, it's airing at 8 p.m. ET and progressively later across the U.S.

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When the financial crisis hit in 2008, Imbolo Mbue lost her job. "I was very disillusioned about America ..." she tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "I was unemployed for over a year and a half."

Originally from Limbe, Cameroon, Mbue came to U.S. to go to college. After losing her job, she had to start over from scratch — and that led to her sitting down to write her debut novel Behold the Dreamers. One day, while walking down the street, "I got an inspiration to write this story," she says.

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It took Bill Broun 14 years to write Night of the Animals. But the novel, Broun's debut, has still proved remarkably timely in a summer of "Brexit"-tinged anxieties.

The book depicts a dark future in which the European Union has dissolved and the U.K. has become a pacified surveillance state. Between "indigents" and "the new aristocracy," a vanishing middle class bows beneath abundant chocolate, lager, legal hallucinogens and mind-numbing electronics.

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In 'Ghost Talkers,' The Spies Are Actual Spooks

Aug 20, 2016

Look, I am solidly a ray-guns-and-spaceships kind of genre nerd. Never been much for fantasy done after the 1970s (it mostly sounds like bad Tolkien). Never cared much for ghost stories or alternate histories or love stories or horror.

Which is why, on the surface, it might seem odd that I was so thoroughly taken in by Mary Robinette Kowal's newest novel, Ghost Talkers. I mean, it's essentially an alternate history love story with ghosts in it. Lots and lots of ghosts. And therefore falls firmly into that sprawling pile of Stuff I Wouldn't Read On A Bet.

A stop-motion samurai film — that's the germ of an idea that grew into the sprawling fantasy film, Kubo and the Two Strings.

It's a coming-of-age epic set in fantasy Japan about a young storyteller who makes magic with music and origami paper. The film stars Art Parkinson as Kubo, the Samurai's son, as well as Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei and Matthew McConaughey.

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The surprise TV hit of the summer is a show that looks like it could have been made 30 years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV THEME, "STRANGER THINGS")

On a blisteringly hot day at the state fairgrounds in Skowhegan, Maine, Kathy Savoie takes some local blueberries and simmers them in a pot.

She adds onions, ginger, vinegar, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper and salt. And, later, she drops in some calcium water, pectin and sugar for consistency.

Clearly, what she calls "savory blueberry ginger conserve" is not your grandma's blueberry jam.

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The only thing more delightful than being back with my PCHH team this week is that while Glen Weldon takes a week off, we're joined by our former sometimes-producer Kiana Fitzgerald, who's also a DJ and writer and wonderful Twitter follow, as well as Brittany Luse, who hosts Sampler over at Gimlet Media and hosts the fabulous For Colored Nerds podcast with Eric Eddings.

Friends, Romans, Countrypersons: Let us agree there is nothing inherently sacrilegious about embarking upon a fourth feature-film version of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

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