Arts & Life

Plates have long had a seat at the table, but they've suffered in silence – quietly bearing the indignities of everything from barbecue sauce to mustard stains.

Until now.

It's been a busy couple of weeks in the world; how are you doing?

We had the rare opportunity to pull the extremely busy Ari Shapiro into our fourth chair this week, just in time to join us for a chat about Ghostbusters, the latest summer action comedy to bust its way into theaters. We talked about its PG-13-ness, its lineup of very funny women, its place in the impressive Feig/McCarthy canon, and lots more.

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

She's back.

Earlier this week actor and comedian Leslie Jones decided she'd had enough of Twitter trolls targeting her because she dared to co-star in a reboot of the 1984 film, Ghostbusters.

She was tired of being called ugly and savage, and being compared to gorillas and apes.

She was tired of being called a coon.

She'd had enough. She was tired.

For this game, we've rewritten the intro to Law & Order: SVU to be about other things known by three initials. If we said, "In Munich's car manufacturing system, the dedicated assembly-line workers are members of an elite Beemer factory," you'd answer, "Law &Order: B-M-W."

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

From family fights to finding roadkill, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III does not consider any topic off limits. Many fans know Wainwright for his 26-album repertoire of witty and personally revealing music, chronicling the ups and downs of his life from early adulthood to his early sixties.

Perfectly Cromulent Words

Jul 22, 2016

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a "word" is a "sequence of one or more sounds, or morphemes, constituting the basic units of meaningful speech." Contestants must decide whether the clues we give them are real words we found in the dictionary, or something we made up.

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

Come Together

Jul 22, 2016

We've reworked The Beatles' hit "Come Together" to be about things that go together, like macaroni and cheese, or Bert and Ernie.

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

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

M-M Good

Jul 22, 2016

Every answer in this final round is a two-word phrase or name in which each word starts with the letter M, like "Mickey Mouse."

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

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

Share And Share Alike

Jul 22, 2016

This game is about music sharing. Every answer in this quiz is the name of a song whose title is shared by more than one artist. For example, if we said, "This is a Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch song featuring Marky boxing and making out, and a memorable Beach Boys tune that features a theremin," you'd say "Good Vibrations."

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

In The Fifty-Year Mission, Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman's massive new oral history of Star Trek, creator Gene Roddenberry recalls why NBC declined his initial pilot episode of the landmark series: "It was too cerebral ... it didn't end with a chase and a right cross to the jaw, the away all manly films were supposed to end." But the suits were intrigued enough to commission a second pilot, a highly irregular gesture.

The first time Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed and starred in a film (Sleepwalk With Me) he played a stand-up comic. This was not a huge stretch for him, as he is, himself, a stand-up comic.

His second film, Don't Think Twice, doesn't stray too far from that model. It's about an improvisational comedy troupe a lot like the one in which Birbiglia got his start. And if this seems like quite a bit of navel-gazing for one filmmaker, rest assured that Birbiglia's been keeping it funny.

In the summer of 2004, after two decades of estrangement, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Susan Faludi received an e-mail from her father. It read:

Dear Susan,

I've got some interesting news for you. I've decided that I have had enough of impersonating a macho aggressive man that I have never been inside.

The letter was signed, "Love from your parent, Stefánie." Faludi's 76-year-old father, Steven, had had gender reassignment surgery.

There's a scene in Mike Birbiglia's Don't Think Twice where a character flagrantly breaks a fundamental rule of improv comedy onstage, and it's devastating. The film does such a good job making us believe in the closeness and the fragility of the group at its center that we have nothing to do but squirm when things go wrong. "Fall, and then figure out what to do on the way down," as one member quotes improv legend Del Close at the outset as having said.

Making an Absolutely Fabulous movie in 2016, over 20 years after the cheerfully vulgar British sitcom became a cult sensation, seems both absurdly late and entirely in keeping with the spirit of the show. After all, Edina "Eddy" Monsoon and Patricia "Patsy" Stone, a pair of unrepentant boozers on the fringes of the fashion world, have never known cultural cachet. It only follows, then, that a big-screen version of their exploits would not be particularly hip or in-demand, but a continuation of the bawdy obliviousness that have made them such a treasure over the years.

Early in director Catherine Corsini's Summertime, a group of radical women breaks into an asylum while one of their number distracts the guard by pretending to be just too helpless to decipher a map. And some people say feminists don't have a sense of humor.

The moment is comic, but the Janis-Joplin-fueled caper is crucial both to the women and to the movie. They rescue a male friend who's been confined, drugged, and electroshocked for the offense of being homosexual.

'To The Secretary' Tries To Unwind The Tangles Of Diplomacy

Jul 21, 2016

Halfway through John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, it's clear who Soviet mole Gerald really is. And for George Smiley, the career spy investigating the conspiracy, it's never really been a secret at all. He unspools the conspiracy web from a sense of duty and a resigned curiosity. And after all the secrets and the human toll, the fallout boils down to a minor exchange of concessions designed to keep two empires moving.

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

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

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

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

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

I suspect I was about eight years old at the time I'm remembering. I had to go to bed at 8:00 on school nights, except that one night a week, I could stay up until 8:30. I got to pick the night, and I generally picked Tuesdays, because that's when Happy Days was on.

Amadeo Esposito's first sight of the island of Castellamare is "a low and brooding thing on the horizon, no more than a rock on the water." On one side, the lights of Sicily are visible; on the other side, pure black stretching all the way to Africa.

Lindsay Hatton's novel Monterey Bay bobs somewhat awkwardly in the wake of John Steinbeck's 1945 classic, Cannery Row. In Hatton's tale, a boyishly attired 15-year-old named Margot Fiske works as a helpmeet for her father, an eccentric entrepreneur, in the scenic enclave "that splits the difference between Monterey and Pacific Grove" on California's coast.

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

Comic Mike Birbiglia's new film, Don't Think Twice, was inspired by an observation his wife made when she came to one of his improv shows.

"She goes, 'It's amazing that everyone is equally talented in this show, and yet this one person is on Saturday Night Live and this one person is a movie star and this one person lives on an air mattress in Queens,' " Birbiglia tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And I thought: Not only is that true and a great observation, but it's also a movie."

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About War And Food?

Jul 19, 2016

When we think of tools of warfare, we tend to think of spears, guns and other types of militaristic weaponry. But throughout history, food has often been a critical component of war — inspiring conflict and, in some cases, delivering victory. War and peace? More like war and peas.

We've created a quiz to test your knowledge of just a few examples of how the history of food and war are intermingled. Can you defeat the questions?

Pages