Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

Every week, we talk about what we should all do to prepare to tape Pop Culture Happy Hour. For this episode, we're joined by Marissa Lorusso of NPR Music. And when I wrote to Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon and Marissa in advance, I told them this about preparation: "I mean, I assume we've all watched Jeopardy!"

Floating Prison Drones Equal Menace In 'The Furnace'

Jul 11, 2018

When we think about prison, we tend to think about vision. For centuries the ultimate prison design has been Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, which allows a single guard to monitor numerous prisoners without them knowing exactly when they're being watched. In modern times, the theme of vision governs prison policy outside the walls, too. Americans don't want to see what goes on in our prisons, so we put them far away — sometimes even in other countries' hinterlands, where their very existence is kept secret.

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This review of the second-season finale of The Handmaid's Tale discusses in detail what happens in the second-season finale of The Handmaid's Tale.

The sound of the second season of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale coming to an end was the sound of a balloon, expertly inflated to the point where it seemed about to break, being let go so that it releases its tension in a long, anticlimactic raspberry.

Fast-food workers may be stuck in jobs for various reasons. In many cases, their employers prevent them from leaving to work for other restaurants within the same chain.

Now, 10 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia are taking on the issue with an investigation into eight national fast-food chains. At issue are "noncompete" clauses that limit where employees can work after they leave.

"Stop asking musicians what they think." That is the opening line of the song "1933" on Frank Turner's new album Be More Kind, and a directive I was very happy to ignore when we sat down to talk about his music. Turner is clearly a deep thinker who values discussion and debate as fundamental parts of healthy society, in his words: "How do you have a conversation with someone you disagree with?"

By some accounts, nearly half of America's incarcerated population is mentally ill — and journalist Alisa Roth argues that most aren't getting the treatment they need.

Roth has visited jails in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta and a rural women's prison in Oklahoma to assess the condition of mentally ill prisoners. She says correctional officers are on the "front lines" of mental health treatment — despite the fact that they lack clinical training.

Over the years I've called many a novel a snoozer, but this is the first time I'm using that term in tribute. Ottessa Moshfegh's new novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a real snoozer, a daring and accomplished tale about a miserable young woman who believes that if she could only sleep long enough, she'd wake up different — refreshed and free of her existential pain.

How Postcards Solved The Problem Of Disappearing Rice

Jul 10, 2018

Imagine if you had a rice delivery system that was supposed to deliver grain from point A, a government warehouse, to point B, homes of low-income residents.

But for every 100 kilos of rice that left the warehouse less than 50 kilos were actually reaching people's kitchens. This was the situation in Indonesia for nearly two decades as the government tried to provide a nutritional safety net to the nation's poorest citizens.

As soon as the sun comes up, Nhia Lee starts working in the garden. Lee tends a half-acre plot overflowing with fresh herbs near her home in Chepachet, R.I. She spends mornings weeding, watering and harvesting fresh lemongrass, lemon balm, lemon verbena and several varieties of mint before heading to a local warehouse to work the 3:30 to 11:30 p.m. shift.

Lee, who came to the United States in 1989 as a refugee from Laos, insists that she doesn't mind the long hours, explaining, "Immigrant people like me want opportunities to reach our goals of having a better life here."

Imagine taking a sabbatical, not just from your job, but from your life. How about going even further and taking a yearlong break from yourself and the world, courtesy of an extended nap? That's the desperate plan of the unnamed 24-year-old narrator of Ottessa Moshfegh's bizarrely fascinating second novel.

In the world of adults, the Supreme Court has upheld a travel ban from some mostly Muslim nations, and refugee arrivals from Syria as well as other Middle East hot spots have slowed to a trickle. Political leaders claim refugees are a threat. But in the world of children's literature, there's a new trend towards putting stories about resilient young Muslim refugees front and center.

"Six feet of rugged manhood to stir the heart of every woman."

That's how one of his early movie trailers described Tab Hunter, the blue-eyed, blond-haired actor and recording artist possessed of a facial symmetry and bone structure so conventionally handsome they seemed preternatural. He died Sunday.

Actor Lakeith Stanfield is having a moment. He was in Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning horror satire, Get Out. He's in the FX show show Atlanta, where he plays Darius, the stoner sidekick to a rap star who often says pretty outrageous things — like speculating what life would be like if you could use a rat as a cell phone (people in New York City would be doing pretty well, for example). And this summer, Stanfield is in the new movie, Sorry to Bother You, which he calls "an absurdist dark comedy with magical realism that's set in the world of telemarketing.

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