Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Graphic journalist and illustrator Wendy MacNaughton was browsing an antiquarian book fair on a Saturday morning in San Francisco when one book caught her eye. "It was open to a spread of a painting of a bowl of bright pink borscht in this gorgeous mint scalloped bowl. It had hand-lettered calligraphy recipes and it was absolutely exquisite," she recalls.

In a career spanning three decades, Beck has remained one of music's most intriguing shapeshifters. From the warped folk of his earliest recordings to the chopped-up samples, hip-hop beats and lush orchestral arrangements of albums that followed, Beck has never lingered in one sonic world for long.

It was only a matter of time before Hamilton mania invaded Romancelandia. Hamilton's Battalion — a new anthology from romance authors Courtney Milan, Rose Lerner and Alyssa Cole — features three novellas connected by Eliza Hamilton and her project to collect the stories of the soldiers who served in her husband's battalion at Yorktown. In the spirit of the musical, these novellas reflect the diversity of America today, though they set their stories during Hamilton's era. But true to the genre, the focus is always on the romantic relationship and a happy ever after.

'This Mortal Coil' Will Get You All Twisted Up

Nov 9, 2017

There is a species of book that presents itself as the thing it's skewering, making it tricky to review; do you cover the experience of reading the bulk of it, or do you let the twists, reversals and switches work backwards, changing everything, and cover the experience of reading it in hindsight?

Fishermen up and down the New England Coast say it has been decades since they've been able to catch so many Atlantic bluefin tuna so fast. Once severely depleted, populations of the prized sushi fish appear to be rebounding.

Now the industry, and some scientists, say that the international commission that regulates the fish can allow a much bigger catch. But some environmental groups disagree.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Look at Vincent Van Gogh's Olive Trees closely enough, and you'll find the subtle intricacies of his play with color, his brushstrokes, perhaps even his precise layers of paint atop the canvas.

You'll also find a grasshopper. Well, parts of one, anyway.

A guide unlocks a heavy wooden door and leads visitors down into a Bordeaux chateau wine cellar. Along the vast network of underground rooms and corridors, thousands of bottles age for decades in the cool darkness.

Today, many of the tourists visiting this French wine making region are Chinese.

Retired couple Wang Jiawei and Cao Juanjuan are visiting Europe for the first time. They are traveling to London and Paris, but say Bordeaux is also a must see.

If the Republican Party has spent the last 30 years looking for another Ronald Reagan, the Democrats have spent the last 70 looking for another Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The latter case of longing is likely to intensify with Robert Dallek's new single-volume biography, Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life, a 700-page tome devoted to demonstrating "what great presidential leadership looks like."

Scott Gottlieb, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner appointed by the Trump administration, has this in common with Michelle Obama: He wants to know what's in the food he eats.

And this, it seems, includes calorie counts.

Now, the FDA has released its guidance on implementing an Obama-era rule that requires chain restaurants and other food establishments to post calories on menus or menu boards. The mandate was written into the Affordable Care Act back in 2010.

This past spring Grandaddy released its first album since taking a 10-year hiatus. It's called Last Place, and features everything that has made Grandaddy great since they formed and released their first cassette tape in 1992 — the meeting of fuzzed-out indie rock and the lo-fi psychedelia of video games.

On the last weekend of October, La Tribu de Abrante boarded a plane from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia to play a special live set, blending traditional bomba and plena with salsa, Latin jazz and lots of percussion. They played for hundreds of music fans — or, as frontman Hiram Abrante would prefer to call them: family. That's how Abrante thinks of his audience, and that point of view is at the core of La Tribu's music and the emotional connection they're able to inspire — especially at a time when things are so challenging in their home of Puerto Rico.

Any effort to out-James Henry James must inevitably come to smash. This would have been a useful caveat to John Banville, the Man Booker-winning author of Mrs. Osmond, a novel that makes a valiant imaginative leap but stumbles along the way.

Bill McKibben has tried almost everything to save the world. Since the publication in 1989 of his popular nonfiction book The End of Nature, the writer, environmentalist, and political activist has dedicated his burgeoning platform to advocating sustainable energy, proactive policy, and personal responsibility in the face of the climate change crisis.

Several of us are on vacation this week, so here's one of our favorite — heretofore unheard — segments from last year's Pop Culture Happy tour of the West Coast.

Specifically: The great and good Audie Cornish joined us last October for a show at Seattle's Neptune Theatre, in which we answered listener questions and offered up some pop culture advice on the following topics:

  • Do I need to adjust my ratio of reading articles/listening to podcasts about a given piece of culture vs. personally experiencing that piece of culture?

This time of year, the stands at Paris' hundreds of weekly food markets are laden with plump, dark grapes and wild mushrooms. Wild game often hangs from hooks above.

Of all the seasons to visit Paris, food lovers say the best time is autumn.

"The fall is the best time to eat in France," says longtime Paris resident and culinary historian David Downie. "Everyone knows that. It's when everything comes in. It's the harvest season."

Johannes Vermeer's Young Woman Seated at a Virginal doesn't quite look like a Vermeer painting. The titular young woman is klutzy at her keyboard, and graceless. She's also sitting in a dark room — none of that ethereal, luminous light Vermeer normally shines on his subjects.

Vermeer created the painting in 1675, when he was in his early 40s and broke. It was the last year of his short life. National Gallery curator Arthur Wheelock says, "We know that he dies suddenly and may be ill, so I don't know what effect that might have on this [painting]."

At many Chinese restaurants in the United States, there's a special dish called shark fin soup. It's expensive — a delicacy and status symbol in Chinese culture that's served during banquets.

The soup is a hotly debated item in both the scientific and political communities, and it's illegal in 12 states, including Hawaii, Illinois and Texas.

Now, Congress is once again considering a federal ban on the shark fin trade.

As the chief official White House photographer for President Barack Obama, Pete Souza had top security clearance and sat in on most meetings and major events with the president.

"I was there all the time," he says. "I wasn't talking to [Obama] all the time, but I was always in every meeting and pretty much every situation that he had as president."

The World Health Organization, worried about an increasing epidemic of drug-resistant infections, has thrown its considerable weight behind the campaign to cut the use of antibiotics in pigs, chickens and cattle that are raised for their meat. The WHO is calling on governments to follow the example of Denmark and the Netherlands, which have banned the use of these drugs to make animals grow faster, or simply to protect healthy animals from getting sick.

Phoebe Bridgers has one of those voices that can make a rowdy arena crowd go silent and then leap to its feet. I saw it happen when she joined Conor Oberst on stage this past summer at the WXPN XPoNential Music Festival. I can't imagine many people in the crowd knew who she was before they heard Conor invite her on stage for a duet. By the time she was done — standing ovation.

'Spineless' Dives Deep Into The World Of Jellyfish

Nov 7, 2017

So much writing about climate change concerns winners and losers, the few who will benefit and what will be lost in our planet's altered future. These pronouncements tend to be sweeping — every shoreline will flood, billions of the world's poor will suffer — in keeping with the global scope of the challenge.

When Alan Bennett's whopping 700-page omnibus of picked-up pieces landed on my desk, I considered giving it a pass. But how could I resist after happening upon this diary entry from 2005, which reads in its entirety: "Robert Hanks, the radio critic of the Independent, remarks that personally he can have too much of Alan Bennett. I wonder how he thinks I feel."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

ISIS suicide bombers devour it as a last supper. Iraqi exiles clamor for it. Such was Saddam Hussein's love of this fishy delicacy that it might have even betrayed his whereabouts to U.S. troops.

Has this ever happened to you: You see something you just have to have and you either buy it immediately or save up to get it for yourself.

But then once you have it … you don’t want it.

We’ve all experienced buyer’s remorse at one point or another. It can be tough to make clear-headed choices with our hard-earned cash. But is this just human nature, or is it something we can learn to control? Why do we often make irrational choices when it comes to spending?

Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, Cale Tyson felt no love for his parents' taste in country — he was more of a screamo kind of a kid. His 14-year-old self was, as he puts, certain that there was "was no way in hell I will ever like, or play, country music."

In the end, Cale not only came around to his parents' tastes, he ended up moving to Nashville and making a couple honky tonk records. Those have been followed by his latest release, a straight-up country-soul offering he's named Careless Soul.

This article discusses several plot elements of the original Twin Peaks television series, the 2016 book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, as well as this summer's Showtime mini-series, Twin Peaks: The Return.

Twin Peaks — the show and the cultural phenomenon around it — began life as the co-creation of two starkly different men: filmmaker David Lynch and writer Mark Frost.

Let's begin with a sweeping, simplistic and grossly unfair generalization: David Lynch is an artist. Mark Frost is a storyteller.

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