Arts & Life

In the fall of 2012, I discovered the best hot sauce in the United States in, of all places, Tucson.

Oscars TV Ratings Fall, Again

Mar 6, 2018

The powerhouse ratings grabber that is the Oscars telecast dropped to record low viewership this year, falling nearly 20 percent from 2017. It's the fourth consecutive year that viewership has declined.

Usually tied to the success of blockbuster movie hits, normally no fewer than 30 million people tune in on the big night to see the outcome of movie nominees. But this year just 26.5 million people watched, according to Nielsen records — which is even fewer than this year's Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, which drew 27.8 million viewers.

We tend to forget how near a thing it was, how outlandish an idea it seemed to some at the time, this concept of women gaining access to the ballot box. In one of history's great thrillers, the battle to ratify the 19th Amendment, almost a hundred years ago, came down to single vote, a single male legislator and — crucially — a single dear, darling, determined mother.

To create the fantastical, otherworldly story in A Wrinkle In Time, the cast and crew traveled to the mountains of New Zealand and to a sequoia forest in Northern California. They also created elaborate sets on a soundstage in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, which is where director Ava DuVernay was behind the camera over a year ago.

Updated at 11:30 p.m ET

The city of San Francisco is joining the cause of removing old statues that are out of step with contemporary political and cultural tastes.

The sculpture "Early Days" sits near San Francisco's City Hall. It depicts a vaquero and a missionary standing over a sitting Native American.

In the new film Red Sparrow, a CIA officer walks alone in Moscow's Gorky Park. There's a hand-off — a brush pass in the darkness with a Russian agent. Then all goes wrong: Police lights flash, gunshots ring. The CIA officer runs for his life straight to the gates of the American Embassy.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Dominika, a ballerina-turned-Russian-spy who's taught the tools of her trade by a secret, highly specialized "Sparrow School."

Writer Sherman Alexie last week issued a statement admitting he "has harmed" others, after rumors and allegations began to circulate about sexual harassment. Without providing details, Alexie said "there are women telling the truth," and he apologized to the people he has hurt. Now, some of those women have come forward to speak to NPR about their experiences with him.

Updated at 3:13 p.m. ET

"I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider."

Nearly every sport has been hit with news of doping — of athletes using illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Perhaps the most famous example is cyclist Lance Armstrong, who denied doping allegations for years and then admitted using performance-enhancing drugs in 2013. That's where the documentary Icarus begins.

Growing up with a Mexican father and an American mother, author Luis Alberto Urrea often felt like there was a border wall running through his family's San Diego apartment.

"The kitchen was the United States; the living room was Mexico," Urrea says. "One side was struggling with all her might to make me an American boy, and the other side, with all of his might, was trying to keep me a Mexican boy."

“The Vain Conversation: A Novel”

Author: Anthony Grooms 

Publisher: The University of South Carolina Press, Story River Books

Pages: 256

Price: $27.99 (Hardcover)

The red carpet of an award show is historically a sublime display of grace, style and dazzling celebrity personality. It's an opportune time for our favorite stars to share themselves, their projects, their thoughts with us, while we watch with rapt attention. In a majestic display, the stars descend upon the venue, a sea of crimson underfoot.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Updated at 11:46 p.m. ET

Guillermo del Toro's The Shape Of Water took home the evening's biggest prize, best picture. The film follows a mute cleaning woman who falls in love with an amphibian creature in a Cold War-era government lab.

The rest of the winners are below, marked in bold.

Best picture

In 2000, the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon introduced moviegoers worldwide to superhuman martial artists who could deliver a beatdown while balancing on bamboo or gliding across water.

But those kinds of acrobatics were no surprise to Chinese audiences.

Arguably the most successful musical theater composer ever, Andrew Lloyd Webber looks back on his early days in the business in the new memoir, Unmasked.

The opioid epidemic has hit Huntington, W.Va., very hard, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average.

Documentary filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon chose Huntington as the setting for her short doc about America's opioid crisis, Heroin(e). It's now nominated for an Oscar.

You might have heard of "glamping" — luxury or glam camping. Now, there's "champing," or camping inside churches that are no longer used for services. It's one of the newest camping options in England and, last fall, I decided to take my family champing in an 18th century church outside of Oxford.

Our night at St. Katherine's began with a 90-minute drive from our home outside of London to the Coach and Horses Inn, a pub, where we picked up the front-door key from a bartender named Georgia Rose.

It's a match made not in heaven, but the cellar: David Gaffney's tale of lonely Valerie, who preserves the memories of her disappointing exes in a cellar in her mind, would intrigue any illustrator. But it's hard to imagine one better suited to Gaffney's sensibility than fellow Britisher Dan Berry. Their graphic novel The Three Rooms in Valerie's Head is lightly balanced between writer and artist, each the right amount of crazy.

The Pop Culture Happy Hour team has been covering the nine films nominated for best picture since last March, when we talked about Get Out.

Filmmaker Thomas Lennon was not looking for a new film project when he went to dinner at a friend's house; he was just trying to make conversation with a fellow guest who was, in Lennon's words, "an odd duck." However, says Lennon, "I'm a filmmaker, so I ask people questions. What unfolded was this story — and you'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not know that there was potential there."

"Ghosts? Are you kidding me? I'm an American."

-- The Ghost Breaker, 1922

American Humane Association [Facebook]

In 1877, representatives from 27 humane organizations met in Cleveland, Ohio and started what would become the American Humane Association.  Go online to AmericanHumane.org and look at the history tab to see a year-by-year list of their accomplishments and activities!  It is a vivid picture of how the humane movement has evolved over the years!


Would your dog remember you after 10 years away?

Carly Suierveld thinks so. She just saw her dog Abby for the first time in a decade.

"It's quite a journey, it was so great seeing her again," Suierveld tells NPR's Scott Simon. "She barked at me at first, but now she's cuddling up and kind of seeming to remember who I am."

Abby, a female black Lab mix, was lost from the Suierveld family's home in Apollo, Pa., 10 years ago. Carly was 12 at the time.

Foxtrot is Israel's most celebrated film of the year — and its most controversial.

It tells the story of one family grappling with the loss of their son at war. But it's also a searing critique of a society stuck in perpetual war.

Writer Stephanie Wittels Wachs got a phone call from her loving and accomplished brother Harris just three days before her wedding, in which he shared some surprising news.

What was it? "He told me he was a drug addict," Wachs says. He died two years later, of an overdose. Harris Wittels was a hilarious and respected Hollywood comic writer, who had become co-executive producer of NBC's Parks and Recreation by the time he was 30, and worked on award-winning shows like Master of None.

Actor Doug Jones has had a long and prolific career in Hollywood, though many wouldn't recognize him on the street. That's because he's usually masked by latex, silicone and makeup, playing some of Hollywood's most recognizable monsters – including the so-called Amphibian Man in Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water. Underneath it all, Jones infuses his characters with real emotion, communicating not with words but with movement and touch.

If you're an American Winter Olympics fan, you probably follow the sports where Americans usually win — snowboarding, downhill skiing, different snowboarding. If you did, you may have missed the United States' Olympic gold in cross-country skiing. And of course, it was the women who did it — Skier Jessie Diggins charged from behind to win first place.

Diggins clearly knows how to ski, but does she know how to skee-ball? We asked her three questions about the classic arcade game.

Click the listen link above to see how she does.

I've been wary of Tess of the Road for some time. The ad copy —"You fell in love with Seraphina. Now meet Tess."— made me grumpy. I did, in fact, fall in love with Seraphina, the protagonist of Seraphina and Shadow Scale, two of the most beautiful fantasy novels I've ever read; I resented the implication that I'd therefore love Seraphina's sister Tess.

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