Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

Alone In Berlin stars Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson as an ordinary middle-aged working class couple, Otto and Anna Quangel, just trying to keep their heads down in 1940s Berlin. But when their son is killed on the battlefield, grief sparks them into defiance. They begin writing anti-fascist postcards bearing small truths like "Mothers, Hitler Will Kill Your Son Too" and leaving them in public places.

They hope others will follow their lead.

During its original run from 1999 to 2006, The West Wing was critically acclaimed, racking up 26 Emmy wins. The drama created by Aaron Sorkin frequently appears on lists of the best television shows of all time.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A Love Story Rudely Interrupted By History

Mar 20, 2016

Historical novels make time travelers of all of us. Not just in the obvious way of riding on some character's shoulder through the streets of pre-war London or 1920's Berlin. In the best cases, it's more like a terrible, permanent deja-vu. Great historical novels give us a god's omnipotence, an all-knowing sense of what is coming and what has gone before. They don't coddle, but burden us with the sure knowledge that we can do nothing to alter the flow of time. That bad things are coming, and all we can do is watch.

Donna Davis thought she had hit the jackpot with the two bags of mushrooms she collected in the woods of Northern California's Salt Point State Park. Instead, she ended up in the hospital, facing the possibility of a liver transplant, after mistakenly eating a poisonous mushroom known as the death cap.

On this Palm Sunday, Fox will air a show called The Passion. It's the latest in a string of live musical TV events, and this time network executives are taking a chance on the Bible.

The Passion is the story of the last hours of Jesus Christ, and Sunday's production will take place on location in New Orleans. Some of the scenes were taped in advance, but others will be live, including a procession of 1,000 people carrying a cross through the streets.

Actor Andre Royo was so good at playing an addict on HBO's The Wire that actual users on the street used to offer him drugs. Now that he's playing a lawyer on Fox's Empire, we assume people walk up to him and offer him $300 an hour, right?

Anyway. Since Royo starred in The Wire — a TV show more beloved to NPR listeners than their own children — we've invited him to play a game called "I keep my Wire DVD set right next to my Neko Case albums." Three questions about three other things NPR listeners won't shut up about.

Lots of people are fuming about Nina, an upcoming biopic about legendary singer Nina Simone. According to its critics, the filmmakers butcher important parts of Simone's biography (in part, by attributing much of her success to the men in her life), but that their larger sin was casting actress Zoe Saldana, who plays the lead role with the help of skin-darkening makeup and a prosthetic nose.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

Katie Roiphe's preoccupation with death goes back to her childhood, when she contracted virulent pneumonia at the age of 12. She was sick for a year and thought she was going to die.

Her terror of death was reignited many years later when her father died. It was then that Riophe found herself turning to great minds to see how they confronted mortality.

Dana Spiotta's fearless, ambitious new novel is the fourth in a remarkable series of deep dives into our culture's obsession with fame and technological change. Like her 2001 debut, Lightning Field, its main characters are shaped by Los Angeles, where the primary influence is film. Like Stone Arabia (2011) in which a woman watches her beloved brother, a never-famous rocker, document a faux career, Innocents and Others emphasizes the fragility of human connection in a world saturated with media and digital illusion.

In 1973, when journalist David Kushner was 4 years old, his brother Jon left for a short bike ride through the woods. He was going to buy some candy at a convenience store — but Jon never came home. A week after he disappeared, his body was found buried in a shallow grave. He was 11 years old.

Parker Millsap has a voice that grabs you and doesn't let go. The musician is just 23, from a small town in Oklahoma — but the songs on his newest album, The Very Last Day, draw on older influences, including Greek mythology, vintage blues and his own Pentecostal upbringing.

Millsap spoke with NPR's Melissa Block about learning how to sing without being self-conscious, as well as channeling a childhood fear of the biblical rapture into his work. Hear the radio version at the audio link and read an edited version of their conversation below.

Mary Guibert, mother of the late Jeff Buckley, joins World Cafe to share selections from You and I, a newly released set of demos Buckley recorded in 1993. She says her son was in the process of finding his voice during that time, just before the 1994 release of his only studio album, Grace.

Sink Or Swim: Poems On The Existential Terror Of Everyday Life

Mar 18, 2016

John Koethe is not a hip new poet writing about hip new things, but, at 70, he's deeply worth reading. His tenth collection takes its title—and the title of one of its best poems—from the seminal John Cheever story about a suburban man who decides to get home one day by swimming through his neighborhood pools, which he imagines as a river. Koethe reads the story as "A reimagining/Of a life from the perspective of disillusionment and age," and that is essentially what Koethe's book is, too.

Humor And Heart Fill 'The Nest'

Mar 18, 2016

Trillions of dollars will be passed from one generation to the other in the form of inheritance over the next few decades. In her funny debut novel, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney explores the idea of how one possible inheritance affects the four adult siblings of the Plumb family.

The Clan is a mostly true, occasionally comic thriller about an Argentine family that made kidnapping its family business. For a surprisingly long time in the 1980s, the upper-middle-class Puccios seemed sincerely convinced that the family that slays together stays together, although you'd never guess that backstory when you meet 20-something Alejandro Puccio on screen, scoring a goal in a championship rugby match.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Lee Andrews, the lead singer of the Philadelphia doo-wop group Lee Andrews and the Hearts, died Wednesday at age 79. Here he is on the 1950s hit “Teardrops.”

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Sometimes, it takes a while to bring a show into being, but we feel like this one was worth the wait. This is the week we get real super nerdy about music, theater, enthusiasm, hashtags, dancing, just ... lots of everything.

Last fall, when our treasured regular panelist Gene Demby started listening to the Hamilton cast album after it showed up over at NPR Music as a First Listen, he started saying things like this.

Could A Boiling River From A Childhood Legend Exist?

Mar 18, 2016

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hidden

About Andrés Ruzo's TED Talk

As a boy, Andrés Ruzo heard stories of a mythical boiling river. Years later, as a geoscientist, he recounts his journey deep into the Amazon to see if the river actually exists.

About Andrés Ruzo

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hidden

About Sarah Parcak's TED Talk

Sarah Parcak is a pioneer in space archaeology. She describes her method of using satellite images to locate lost ancient sites.

About Sarah Parcak

There may be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of undiscovered ancient sites — Sarah Parcak wants to locate them.

Can We Fall Prey To Hidden Parasites?

Mar 18, 2016

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hidden

About Ed Yong's TED talk

Science writer Ed Yong delves into the hidden world of parasites. He describes how parasites, once inside a host's body, become masters in the craft of manipulation.

About Ed Yong

How Can Hidden Sounds Be Captured By Everyday Objects

Mar 18, 2016

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hidden

About Abe Davis' TED Talk

Computer scientist Abe Davis explains how you can turn a plant or a bag of chips into a microphone, and capturing the hidden sound vibrations on a high-speed camera.

About Abe Davis

Abe Davis is a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a musician.

What Hidden Underwater Worlds Are Left To Discover?

Mar 18, 2016

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hidden

About Robert Ballard's TED Talk

Ocean explorer Robert Ballard makes the case for exploring the deep oceans, where he is discovering new species, resources and mountain ranges.

About Robert Ballard

When it comes to milk production, Gigi the cow is queen.

"She's the diva of all divas," says Robert Behnke, a Brooklyn, Wis., dairy farmer and Gigi's owner.

And she's earned that diva status: Earlier this year, she produced more milk in one year than any other cow had done before — just shy of 75,000 pounds of milk, roughly equivalent to 8,700 gallons. That's triple the national average for a dairy cow to produce in a year.

You never know who you're going to meet at a party. In the case of one young man and woman, a Halloween celebration in New York City led not just to a love affair — it became part of the fabric of modern Cuba.

You wouldn't expect a Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic to take you to the sort of place that's wedged between a 99-cent store and a boarded-up meat market.

But that's exactly where I sat down for lunch with Jonathan Gold — at a downtown Los Angeles eatery called El Parian.

Artist Robert Mapplethorpe was as controversial as he was celebrated. In 1989, his photographs depicting nude men and sexual fetishes helped ignite the culture wars. Now, an upcoming HBO documentary, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, examines the artist's life and work. He's also the subject of a major retrospective spanning two L.A. museums — the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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