Arts & Life

Stuck in the Backseat

Aug 12, 2015

Are we there yet? Wrap up with a set of games that'll get you through those final hours of a cross-country drive. Plus, indie band Lake Street Dive reveals how they pass the time on the tour bus.

Heard in Road Tripping: Favorites Edition

Scientists are a driven bunch, dedicated and passionate about understanding the inner workings of the world. You must be focused, willing to work strange hours in every kind of weather. Willing to go beyond the known and be constantly inspired by your curiosity.

It takes guts to be a scientist. And a strong stomach doesn't hurt, either.

"I cannot feel exiled here; it is a second native country."

Every biography carries dual burdens. One is to represent the life of the subject in the time they lived — how they operated within their own system — as honestly as possible. (That last bit's a real stinger; it's one of the reasons you should never trust a biopic of anyone who's still alive.) The other duty, which often comes in retrospect, is as a point of reference in its subject's legacy, which might be trickier still.

Unfolding The History Of Napkin Art

Aug 12, 2015

Napkins today are mundane and practical, made from paper or cheap factory cloth and folded, if at all, hastily into a rectangle. In the past, napkins weren't just for wiping hands or protecting clothing — they were works of art.

Pizza As Autobiography In 'Slice Harvester'

Aug 12, 2015

Pizza is a lot of things to a lot of people. Mostly, though, it's just food. Colin Atrophy Hagendorf is keenly aware of both sides of this not-quite-burning issue in his debut book, Slice Harvester. Subtitled "A Memoir in Pizza," it chronicles a two-year period in Hagendorf's life, from 2009 to 2011, when the 20-something burrito deliveryman wrote a blog called Slice Harvester, in which he reviewed a plain slice of pizza from every pizzeria in Manhattan. Hundreds of them.

Lots of us are afraid to confront the things lurking in our basements. In mine, it's the spider crickets; in Denise Inge's, it was the bones, piles of human bones that reached almost to the ceiling of the stone cellar beneath her house.

Well, that is a thing that happened.

Fantastic Four came out last weekend, only to encounter less-than-stellar reviews and box office. Our own Chris Klimek saw it for NPR.org and summed up its squandered potential with his usual nerd-cred eloquence, so I sat down with him for Pop Culture Happy Hour to discuss what went wrong and why.

With almost all the music you'd ever want to listen to available online digitally, the obsessive hunt for scratchy, fragile 78 RPM records may seem anachronistic. But author Amanda Petrusich says that those early records, which hold between two and three minutes of music per side, showcase the sound and spontaneity of a time before second takes were common in record studios.

Donald Trump wants to "Make America Great Again!" But much of how he plans to do that is still a mystery.

In his nearly two months as an announced presidential candidate, the controversial and outspoken billionaire businessman has promised he would be the "the greatest jobs president God ever created."

In Angélica Gorodischer's Prodigies, a home formerly occupied by the Romantic poet Novalis becomes a boarding house, in a small German town in the 19th century. At the helm of the residence is Madame Helena, who as a young bride left her unsatisfying husband and moved back to her childhood home, which she has converted into a space for boarders.

As I write this, California remains deep in its fourth year of drought.

One hundred percent of the state of Nevada is in drought — with 40 percent in the extreme drought category. Over to the southeast, 93 percent of Arizona's territory is in some form of drought. Even Washington state, far to the north, finds all of its territory in drought and 32 percent of its land in extreme doubt.

Magic happens in "Soul Case," one of the standouts from Nalo Hopkinson's latest short story collection Falling in Love with Hominids. Not a metaphorical kind of magic, either. Set in a Caribbean village that's based on the historical phenomenon of marronage — former slaves escaping into the wilderness and forming free societies — the story zooms in on a battle between villagers and the colonial army set to subjugate them. That is, until a spell is cast that weighs heavily on all who witness it.

You may know the acclaimed poet Elizabeth Alexander from her reading at President Obama's 2009 swearing-in ceremony.

Alexander, who teaches at Yale, published a new book earlier this year — but it's not poetry. The Light of the World is a memoir of the 16 years she shared with her husband Ficre, until his sudden death a few years ago.

'Sense8' Is Getting A Second Season — Now What?

Aug 10, 2015

Fans of Netflix's world-spanning science-fiction/action soap opera Sense8 have experienced a long, tense wait for renewal in recent weeks. While Netflix series like Daredevil, Bloodline and House Of Cards got their next-season notices back in March or April, and the second season of Grace And Frankie was finally announced in May, Netflix drew out the tension over Sense8 for months, sparking widespread speculation about what was holding up the announcement.

I remember a blue and white sign that used to tempt me every summer when I was a kid. It dangled from the marquee of our neighborhood movie theater: Painted penguins and three irresistible, snow-covered words, "It's cool inside."

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