Arts & Life

The friction between art and life is director Damien Chazelle's ongoing obsession. It's a fine thing to ponder, though I didn't much care for his 2014 melodrama Whiplash, which worked up an overblown froth from the daffy proposition that you can bully a fledgling musician into becoming a genius drummer.

Even non-Christians must allow that the New Testament is a formidable document. So any attempt to write what Jaco Van Dormael's comedy calls Le tout noveau testament (The Brand New Testament) requires careful deliberation. But the Belgian writer-director and his co-scripter, Thomas Gunzig, just didn't think very hard about their undertaking. The result is a satire whose whimsies and sight gags frequently click, but whose philosophical impact is negligible.

The BOTS Act of 2016 is now on its way to President Obama's desk, after both houses of Congress approved the legislation that seeks to widen access to online ticket sales and foil scalpers who try to corner the market.

The ban applies to ticket sales for any public event that can be attended by 200 or more people; it targets software that routinely defeats attempts by venues to try to limit the number of tickets one buyer can purchase.

I first got to taste Blue Seal ice cream 13 years ago. I was 24 years old and teaching English in a tiny mountain town called Furukawa, which means "Old River." One weekend, some Canadian friends and I flew to Okinawa, Japan's southern-most island. Once we arrived in downtown Naha, Okinawa's capital city, my friends decided to dine at a steakhouse. And as the only vegetarian in the group, I was on my own. As I wandered down Kokusai-dori, or International Street, I saw the welcoming orange and blue entrance of a Blue Seal ice cream shop.

I hesitate to say it, but the one word that characterizes my best books of 2016 list is "serious." These books aren't grim and they're certainly not dull, but collectively they're serious about tackling big, sometimes difficult subjects — and they're also distinguished by seriously good writing. Here are 10 that you shouldn't miss.

While Pop Culture Happy Hour was out in San Francisco recently, we dropped by KQED and caught up with Emmanuel Hapsis, the editor of KQED Pop, the station's pop culture blog, and the host of its podcast, The Cooler. Along with our affinity for writing and podcasting about many of the same things, Emmanuel and I share an affection for Younger, which recently closed its third season (not all of which we'd seen when we taped in late October, of course).

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A new art exhibition is called "Picasso And Rivera: Conversations Across Time." It opened this week at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is where NPR's Mandalit del Barco found the grandsons of both masters.

The sweet aroma of cookies baking wafts through the kitchen as the kids trample in and plead, "When are they gonna be ready?" Smile and reply softly, "Soon. But these are for the company, dear hearts."

And these cookies will still be there when your guests arrive, because the kids will taste them and move on to the chocolate chips and frosted Santas.

With twinges of flavors like anise, cardamom, basil, liqueur and coffee, these treats definitely appeal to grown-up taste buds.

As Donald Trump continues to court controversy via Twitter, Fox News host Megyn Kelly tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that the president-elect "really does need to be aware of the power that he has when he releases these tweets."

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We heard a lot during the presidential campaign about the wage gap, the fact that women often earn less than men for the same kinds of work. Hillary Clinton pushed that issue, and she lost. But it remains a reality in many people's lives.

Every December, Miami's annual Art Basel fair draws artists, dealers and buyers from around the world. This year, dozens of artists could be found not in galleries or at cocktail parties, but painting at an elementary school.

Spanish painter Marina Capdevila was one of more than 30 artists working at Eneida Hartner Elementary School in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood.

We like to think our brains can make rational decisions — but maybe they can't.

The way risks are presented can change the way we respond, says best-selling author Michael Lewis. In his new book, The Undoing Project, Lewis tells the story of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two Israeli psychologists who made some surprising discoveries about the way people make decisions. Along the way, they also founded an entire branch of psychology called behavioral economics.

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When new CBS Entertainment President Glenn Geller faced TV critics in August to talk about the network's new fall shows, the first question he got was straight to the point.

"Why is it so difficult to get more inclusion for people of color in the top level of casting at CBS?" asked Maureen Ryan, chief TV critic for the trade magazine Variety. "And what message does it send that the leads of your shows are all heterosexual white men?"

The Book Concierge is back and bigger than ever! Explore more than 300 standout titles picked by NPR staff and critics.

Open the app now!

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NPR's annual Book Concierge is back. And to mark the occasion, correspondent Lynn Neary joins Morning Edition's Rachel Martin to talk about the year in fiction — and to share a couple of her favorite titles from 2016.

If you're looking for the books mentioned on-air, here are links to:

Eleven Americans describe what it's like to be transgender in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders' new HBO documentary, The Trans List. Though the individuals in the film come from varied backgrounds, there is at least one common thread to their experiences: "We all come out publicly," lawyer Kylar Broadus tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "There is no hidden way to come out as a trans person."

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For writers of crime fiction, those vulnerabilities in the Internet of things present an opportunity. NPR's Art Silverman realized that when he picked up some of the new books coming into our office.

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Season One of HBO's Westworld ended with several bangs last night, so Audie Cornish and I headed into a studio to unpack what happened, and, given the events of the finale, what seems likely to happen when the show returns ... in 2018.

We touch on the show's puzzle-box narrative infrastructure, its use of sex, violence and sexual violence, and how just how meta things get. (Spoiler: a whole lot.)

Meat was seldom on the menu when I was a kid. When we did eat it, my family's go-tos consisted of hot dogs (consumed once per year at my dad's work picnic), kung pao chicken from various local Chinese establishments, and my mom's tandoori chicken slathered in yogurt sauce. These dishes all followed my formerly vegetarian, reluctantly omnivorous Hindu parents' Cardinal Rule for Eating Meat: Meat should not resemble animal. Skin and bones were to be avoided, which meant that chicken wings and ribs were inherently problematic, as were Thanksgiving turkeys, which were replaced with lasagnas.

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The Surreal Cookbook Of Salvador Dalí

Dec 4, 2016

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(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GILMORE GIRLS")

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Dava Sobel is as adept at spotting promising subject matter as the extraordinary women astronomers she writes about in The Glass Universe were at spotting variable stars. By translating complex information into manageable bites sweetened with human interest stories, Sobel makes hard science palatable for the general audience. Even more than her 1999 book Galileo's Daughter, this new work highlights women's often under-appreciated role in the history of science.

This week, we've invited Alan Cumming, actor, singer, author, director and proud son of Scotland, to play our quiz. He's currently on tour performing songs from his new album, Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs.

Since Cumming plays Eli Gold on the TV series The Good Wife, we're asking him to answer three questions about bad wives.

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