Arts & Life

The pilot of The CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was one of my favorite pieces of TV last year. Energetic and intriguingly unnerving, it set up the story of Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), who leaves her fancy New York lawyer job to move to West Covina, California, on an impulse. The impulse: a deeply felt, consciously irrational (and therefore officially denied) desire to pursue her ex-boyfriend, Josh Chan, who she'd learned was living there.

When you step into the House of Eternal Return, it feels a bit like walking into your family home — and finding yourself lost in a PeeWee's Playhouse on steroids. Or amphetamines. Or better yet, some undiscovered alien narcotic.

Set up in the industrial district of Santa Fe, N.M., the new permanent art exhibition is a far cry from the fine arts galleries and museums for which Santa Fe is known. Think of it instead as a kind of art amusement park, built by an arts collective called Meow Wolf and largely funded by a surprising benefactor: George R.R. Martin.

In a career that began in the 1960s — and brought comparisons to Faulkner and Hemingway — Jim Harrison wrote more than three dozen books, including the novels Dalva and True North, the novella Legends of the Fall and many collections of poetry. He died Saturday in Patagonia, Ariz., at the age of 78, his publisher has confirmed to NPR.

Reading Between Worlds With Griffin And Sabine

Mar 27, 2016

I came of letter-writing age with the internet. In 1996, the magical and miraculous was, to me, the possibility of finding other people who loved the things I loved no matter how far away: I'd perform the correct strokes, dial up a screeching djinn, and a glowing portal would open between me and the vastness of the world. It was a quiet place where sharing real names was a mark of deepest trust, where it was possible to pour one's rawest, most vulnerable thoughts into an aether where probably no one was listening — but if someone was, they might draw closer and be your friend.

In 2011, jazz prodigy Esperanza Spalding won the Best New Artist Grammy, beating out the favorite — some Canadian kid named Justin Bieber. She's spent the five years since then touring the world, making new music and hiding from mobs of angry 13-year-olds.

Since Spalding plays the bass, we've invited her to answer three questions about other kinds of bases: BASE jumping, second base and Ace of Base.

Alisha V (Alisha Vargas) [Flickr]

We like to share our holiday celebrations with our furry family members, but like so many other occasions this one poses serious risks for our pets.

  

In 1970, a teenager found a handmade album in a pile of trash in Springfield, Mo. Inside, there were 283 drawings of trains, cars, animals and portraits of people with haunting, circular eyes that stared dead ahead. The album had no name or signature. The only clue to the artist's identity was the stationery on which each picture was drawn — stationery that belonged to State Hospital No. 3 in Nevada, Mo.

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This 'Jane' Is Eyre's Steely Sister

Mar 26, 2016

Let's say you've read every classic 19th century woman's novel, every canonical retelling of those novels, the more recent mashups (like "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" and "Android Karenina"), and yet you know there's something missing, a book that would combine the dense plot and rich characterizations of bygone books with more modern sensibilities.

The late Harry Bertoia is most famous for the iconic chairs he designed in the 1950s, which are now coveted by collectors of mid-century modern furniture.

To many who lived it, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing was the worst day of their lives. So when Hollywood started looking for people willing to relive it as extras in a feature film about the attacks, even the movie folks were surprised at the turnout.

Casting and skin color are at the heart of a controversy surrounding a new movie about the legendary singer Nina Simone. The movie hasn't been released yet, but the casting of Afro-Latina actor Zoe Saldana in the lead has caused an uproar from some Simone fans and family members.

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Comedian Garry Shandling died suddenly in Los Angeles on Thursday. He was 66.

Shandling was best known for The Larry Sanders Show, a comedy that took viewers behind the scenes of a fictional late-night talk show. Speaking to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1992, Shandling described himself as "one of those kids who became aware of comedians at a very early age."

If you're looking for a sweet Easter treat, there's plenty to choose from: chocolate rabbits, jelly beans, intricate sugar eggs and — of course — the ubiquitous Peeps. But there's one slightly more refined treat that many in the United States are familiar with mostly from the song.

Every year at about this time, we reclaim our panelist Stephen Thompson from the overwork and burnout perils of South By Southwest and The Austin 100, and he once again becomes the rumpled, good-natured dad we love. But before we let that happen, we always try to capture a little bit of his music brain, and this year, he's joined by additional festival-goers Audie Cornish, who went to her very first SXSW (it was Stephen's 20th!), and NPR Music contributor Katie Presley.

Adding guns to the world of the Brothers Grimm drastically reduces death rates, according to a study — well, OK, according to a couple of stories published by the NRA.

So far, there are only two data points. And they're imaginary. But the trendline is clear: In the NRA's reimagined fairy tales, putting rifles in the hands of children creates a safer world.

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Is Shakespeare's Skull Missing Or No?

Mar 25, 2016
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Fans of the caped crusader and the man of steel will finally have a chance this weekend to see their heroes fight each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE")

Comedian Garry Shandling Dies At 66

Mar 24, 2016
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The actor and comedian Garry Shandling has died at the age of 66 following a "medical emergency," according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

It's been three years since the Superman movie Man of Steel arrived in theaters — three years in which DC Comics has released no other superhero movies. Meanwhile, its rival, Marvel, has earned more than $9 billion from a dozen men-in-spandex films.

So the Man of Steel sequel, a ponderously overlong epic called Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (that solitary "V" being pretty much the only thing abbreviated about it) has some serious catching up to do.

'Born To Be Blue' Finds Truth In Inventive Riffs

Mar 24, 2016

Now is a fine time for jazz trumpet fans to get lost at the movies. April will see the release of Don Cheadle's long-gestating Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, and this week we get the shaggy dog Born to be Blue, the story of Miles' contemporary Chet Baker. Both films are far looser and more experimental than your typical straight biopic, and concentrate almost exclusively on historic low points in their subjects' lives. And Blue even features brief appearances from Miles himself.

It's been 14 years — and one failed TV spinoff — since Nia Vardalos' My Big Fat Greek Wedding became an unlikely pop phenomenon, grossing $241 million domestically in theaters alone off a $5 million budget. And it's probably taken that long to understand why it took off where so many others didn't: Celebrations of ethnic cultures were not uncommon in the indie world, especially if food was involved (e.g. Eat Drink Man Woman, Big Night, etc.) and neither were Hollywood-style romantic comedies on a shoestring.

There's little reason to believe that Julie Delpy saw, let alone lifted the premise of, the Duplass brothers' 2010 black comedy Cyrus before she made Lolo, a pert little number about a Parisian teenager pulling out the stops to pry his doting single mother loose from a promising new boyfriend who's ready to move in. For all the similarities of premise and plot, Lolo is as breezily French in execution as Cyrus is deadpan Amer-indie. And anyway, the oedipal drama, however bent out of shape, never goes out of style.

The weepiest man in country-music history, Hank Williams is an unlikely icon of the usually macho genre. But the composer of "Weary Blues from Waitin'," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and "I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive" was firmly rooted in the South. As he shifted from blues to gospel to "hillbilly," he remained a good ol' boy.

Comic books from several discrete decades get mashed up in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, while swaths of real estate — uninhabited swaths, we're repeatedly assured — just get pulped. But no text is quoted more directly than The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller's influential 1986 tale of an over-the-hill Batman coming out of retirement to clean up a Gotham gone to hell. It was the greatest Batman story ever told, and it had the unforeseen side effect of draining every particle of sunlight out of superhero stories for years to come.

This story was originally published in April 2012.

It all starts with the egg.

In spring, chickens start laying again, bringing a welcome source of protein at winter's end. So it's no surprise that cultures around the world celebrate spring by honoring the egg.

Some traditions are simple, like the red eggs that get baked into Greek Easter breads. Others elevate the egg into an elaborate art, like the heavily jewel-encrusted Faberge eggs that were favored by the Russian czars starting in the 19th century.

The Walt Disney Co. and its Marvel subsidiary threatened Wednesday to stop film production in Georgia if the governor signs a controversial "religious liberty" bill into law — which would be a major blow to the state's burgeoning film industry.

Since then, a range of other companies have joined in opposing the legislation.

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