Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

The Troublesome Universe Of 'Valiant Dust'

Nov 16, 2017

They say that all science fiction stories are tales of today, dolled up with ray guns and spaceships to make them more palatable. That they're all muddled messes of our modern politics and current fears, our hopes for distant sweet endings cut with the arsenic cynicism of actually living in the present moment.

Chris Scott spent 13 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit.

Before his time in jail, he led a quiet, domestic life with his two sons and his girlfriend.

Then his life became a nightmare. Scott constantly worried for his safety. He learned to cope in prison, but he knew he had to stay out of trouble, because if his innocence was proved, he wanted to be able to walk free.

A portrait of Christ by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci has shattered all previous records for artworks sold at auction or privately, fetching a whopping $450.3 million on Wednesday at Christie's in New York.

Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) is one of only a score of Leonardo's works still in existence and the only one held privately.

Updated at 11:05 p.m. ET

At a glitzy gala in New York City on Wednesday night, four writers emerged with one of the world's most illustrious literary prizes, the National Book Award: Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing, won for fiction; Masha Gessen's The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, for nonfiction; Frank Bidart's Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016, for poetry; and Robin Benway's Far from the Tree, for young people's literature.

The gap between rich and poor is one of the great concerns of modern times. It's even driving archaeologists to look more closely at wealth disparities in ancient societies.

"That's what's so fun about it," says Timothy Kohler, at Washington State University. "It widens our perspective, and allows us to see that the way things are organized now is not the only way for things to be organized."

An enigma that has beguiled art enthusiasts for more than eight decades has finally been solved, after Belgian researchers announced they had found the fourth and final missing piece of René Magritte's The Enchanted Pose.

Using X-ray imaging, researchers with the University of Liège and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium spotted the upper right corner of the work underneath Magritte's 1935 to 1936 painting God is not a Saint last month. The surrealist had simply painted over it.

On Oct. 5, The New York Times published an article detailing alleged sexual misconduct by film executive Harvey Weinstein that dated back nearly three decades.

The article featured evidence and interviews describing a pattern in which the film producer would invite young women to a business meeting, sometimes in his hotel room, and then sexually assault or harass them.

You could say Washington, D.C. is also America’s museum capital. And this week, a new collection opens to the public. Just south of the National Mall, the Museum of the Bible will welcome visitors to a $500 million facility that uses a mix of art, technology and lavish architecture to educate guests about Christianity’s sacred text.

We're in South Louisiana — somewhere between Arnaudville and Leonville — in the backyard of Louis Michot, looking out at his pond. In 1999, Louis and his brother Andre co-founded the band Lost Bayou Ramblers. And the sounds we hear in their backyard in the bayou actually appear on their latest album, Kalenda. So does music, of course; the band isn't here to play the cricket or the frog — more like Louis on the fiddle and vocals and Andre on accordion and lap steel guitar. But the music really does take you to a real place.

Jeff Stevens decided to give up alcohol when he was 24.

He's 50 now — and he's had no regrets about going sober for the sake of his health. Except for one thing: He has really missed good beer.

"If you're drinking, you have an infinite amount of things you can drink," Stevens says. Shelves are full of craft IPAs, stouts and bitters. "Whereas only about half the bars I've been to have a non-alcoholic beer. And if they do, it's usually just one choice."

Andy Weir's debut novel, The Martian, was an unrepeatable success story, largely because its path to the bestseller lists was so unconventional. Weir posted it as a free serial on his website, then self-published it as a 99-cent e-novel. His Kindle sales led Podium Publishing to create an audiobook version before a physical edition existed.

Flamenco Is Alive After Paco De Lucía

Nov 14, 2017

The guitarist Paco de Lucía died more than three years ago, leaving behind an immense impact on flamenco music. He expanded what once was a very strict, traditional form by adding jazz and world music influences, and by collaborating with musicians outside of the genre.

Members of his last touring band, led by guitarist-producer Javier Limón, are currently on the road as the Flamenco Legends, revisiting the late guitarist's music while paying tribute to his legacy.

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Los Colognes sound like they hail from some exotic European locale, but actually, they're from Nashville — where they relocated 7 1/2 years ago from Chicago. They fit well into the psychedelic jam band world, and recently released a third album, The Wave. Like the title, the whole record is filled with many water images and references.

The band kicks off the session with a performance of the song "Flying Apart." That and more can be heard in the player above.

It was my pleasure to talk music with Steve Winwood, one of the creative architects of prog rock. His career includes groundbreaking work with Traffic and Blind Faith; a solo career in the '80s; and writing standards like "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "I'm A Man" when he was still a teenager.

In this session, we hear songs from Steve's new double album Winwood: Greatest Hits Live, and we use that as a jumping-off point to talk about Traffic, Eric Clapton and more. Listen in the player above.

Before I finally picked up and read Louise Erdrich's new novel, called Future Home of the Living God, there was a mighty obstacle that had to be faced — an obstacle called The Handmaid's Tale. After Margaret Atwood's magisterial achievement, is there really room for another dystopian feminist novel about the overthrow of democracy by a Christian fundamentalist regime that enslaves fertile women and reduces them to simple vessels of procreation?

The somewhat unsettling answer is "Sure!"

Growing up, twin brothers Ross and Matt Duffer loved movies — especially Tim Burton's Batman. In fact, the creators of the Netflix series Stranger Things 2 credit Burton — and his over-the-top style — with inspiring them to try their hands at filmmaking.

"Tim Burton — he's not exactly a subtle filmmaker," Ross Duffer says. "I mean that in a good way. ... I remember as a kid even you can go, 'Someone is behind all of this. It's the same person who is doing Beetlejuice, who's doing Batman.'"

The provocative title is hard to ignore, and so is the book's cover. Seen from afar, it appears to be called Why I'm No Longer Talking About Race, which is intriguing enough on its own. You have to look closer to see To White People hiding underneath it in debossed letters. It's a striking visual representation of white people's blindness to everyday, structural racism — one of the central ideas that British journalist and feminist Reni Eddo-Lodge presents in her debut collection of essays.

Just in time to worry about all the guests who will descend upon your house for the holidays — or perhaps all the wine you'll want to drink to avoid them — a new book aims to help you soothe your stress while still enjoying wine to the fullest.

Wine writer Jon Bonné's latest, The New Rules of Wine, navigates a complicated wine world by offering tips to ease any trepidation or confusion, and in some cases, even remind you that there are no rules.

Louise Erdrich is, without a doubt, one of America's greatest novelists. Her genius was evident early in her career — her 1984 debut novel, Love Medicine, drew considerable critical acclaim and earned her a National Book Critics Circle Award. In the following years, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for The Plague of Doves, and won a National Book Award for The Round House.

Jeff Melton is an unabashed fan of professional wrestling.

As part of Morning Edition's exploration of how fandoms help shape identity, our producers spent a night amid the smoke, strobes, spandex and screaming fans at a pro wrestling match with Melton, 40, and his friend Adrian Rohr, 42, who had traveled four hours from Charlotte, N.C., to Atlanta.

On Monday, Amazon Studios announced it had acquired the rights to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings to television. The ink's still wet on the contract, so details are sketchy.

We know only that it will be an ongoing, multi-season series that will "bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien's original writings," according to the press release — and that it will be set before the Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume of Tolkien's main LoTR saga.

It hit him one day riding his bicycle on the hard sand at the beach during a family vacation. He had taken this ride plenty of times before.

But this time was different for Joe Biden.

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For about $150 per pound, dedicated carnivores and food connoisseurs alike can get their forks on a luxury: Wagyu beef. Its trademark marbled flesh and soft texture have launched the meat into caviar-like status. And because its fat has a melting point lower than the average human body temperature, it melts in your mouth. The vast majority of the beef comes from Japanese Black cattle.

Has anyone — a parent, teacher, or boss — told you to purge the words "um" and "uh" from your conversation?

When these words creep into our narrative as we tell a story at home, school, or work, it's natural to feel that we can do better with our speech fluency.

Becoming a fan of something often means becoming a part of a community. And finding that group of like-minded people can feel like finding a place you truly belong. Other times, that community isn't all that welcoming.

Liz Smith, the longtime gossip columnist whose stories earned her a celebrity that rivaled many of the A-listers she covered, died on Sunday of natural causes, Smith's literary agent Joni Evans confirmed to the Associated Press. She was 94.

Smith started her own column, titled "Liz Smith" that ran in the New York Daily News from 1976 to 1991, and ultimately drew millions of readers when it was syndicated nationwide.

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