Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

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.

If you've ever wondered how gymnasts have sex ... well, according to one new film, it looks like a gymnastics routine. There's a lot of vaulting and twirling, some precise, um, dismounts and even a pommel horse of sorts.

Paul Dedalus can be a man of action. The middle-class protagonist of the dynamic yet ultimately melancholy My Golden Days carries a gun into a tense negotiation with a drug dealer, and happily accepts a secret mission to carry documents and cash to Jewish refuseniks while on a high-school trip behind what was then the Iron Curtain.

Home for the holidays: An aging prodigal child approaches, swearing like a trooper and dragging all manner of other baggage behind her battered wheelie. Once she finds the right front door — it's been a while, with ample reason, since last she visited — a warm, if nervous, welcome awaits from an extended family of noisy Texans gathered for Thanksgiving. In another kind of movie, tears and laughter will follow as a family closes ranks to heal its black sheep, and thereby itself.

Creatively speaking, if not financially, the Divergent series is less a franchise than a quagmire, an unwinnable war that nonetheless must be fought until the bitter end. And like all quagmires, the terrain has been hostile from the start: Based on Veronica Roth's bestselling novels, the films have tried to advance a "Chosen One" narrative through the awkward rigging of a dystopian "faction" system that, at best, only makes sense when vast swaths of the screenplay are carved out to explain it.

2 Breakfasts May Be Better Than None For School Kids

Mar 17, 2016

When it comes to school breakfasts, two is better than none, says a new report released Thursday in the journal Pediatric Obesity.

If you're planning to hoist a pint of Irish dry stout for St. Patrick's Day, the folks at Guinness have a polite request: Don't slurp the foamy head off their beer. It's essentially a nitrogen cap, they say, that's protecting the flavors underneath from being oxidized.

St. Patrick's is a huge day for the legendary brewer – of the 70 million people who are estimated to be celebrating today, around 13 million will also drink a glass of Guinness.

Today is the day that the Guinness flows freely, tough brisket is transformed into tender corned beef, and we celebrate the Emerald Isle with humble cabbage. This holy trinity of meat, veg and stout is the communion of St. Patrick's Day.

But the history of that meal is relatively short, going back mainly to trade and immigration in the 18th and 19th centuries. Want to feast like St. Patrick would have celebrated more than 1,600 years ago? Let's party like it's 399.

Everybody makes mistakes, but some people manage to turn it into an art form. Take the characters in John Jodzio's new short story collection, Knockout. There's the young man who lets himself be talked into stealing a tiger and selling it for meth. There's the guy who moves into a duplex and discovers, too late, that his new roommate is a sadistic kidnapper. And then there's the woman whose boyfriend talks her into letting him pick up women at a speed-dating event, then tying them up until they give him their ATM codes.

Stop me if you've heard this one: A young man from a noble family suffers hardship that robs him of his place in the family. When the men in charge of government refuse to help him, he takes matters into his own hands, gathering a ragtag group of bandits and whipping them into shape to steal from the rich and give to the poor. Also, he has magic powers. You're in, right? (If not, we can talk about the part where he builds doppelgangers out of straw and lets them get arrested in his stead, just to teach the king a lesson. Your move, Robin Hood.)

Pot-infused edibles are big sellers in states that have legalized marijuana. The problem is, it's been tough to measure and regulate the potency of these ganja-laced gummy bears, lollies and brownies.

Before she was a writer, Sara Baume set out to be a visual artist.

"First and foremost I see; I see the world and then I describe it ..." she says. "I don't know another way to write. I always anchor everything in an image."

Baume's process works — a review in The Irish Times called her debut novel a "stunning and wonderful achievement by a writer touched by greatness."

Baume loves words, and she loves fitting words together so they flow like poetry.

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