Arts & Life

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Trump's proposed budget calls for big cuts in a wide array of domestic programs — among them, agencies that fund the arts, humanities and public media.

Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be cut to zero under the proposal, and the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely, the first time any president has proposed such a measure.

Surely, Oakhurst Dairy would have done well to heed the immortal words of the '80s hair band Cinderella: "Don't know what you got (till it's gone)."

The milk and cream company based in Portland, Maine, likely never appreciated the serial comma — also known as an Oxford comma — so much as it did Monday, when the lack of that little curved stroke cost the company an appeals court ruling that centered on overtime rules for drivers.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

If you had to rank Harriet Tubman and Kanye West in order of blackness, who would be first? Who's blacker, Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr.?

I've shed many of my physical books during my various moves, but one that I still have is Bill Walsh's Lapsing Into A Comma. Its subtitle: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong In Print — and How to Avoid Them. I either loaned it to someone at some point or I intended to, because I wrote on the dedication page: "A book I read and loved, that it takes a grouchy writer to appreciate."

That comma should not be there, so that's embarrassing.

"Swimmer Among the Stars," the title story of Kanishk Tharoor's debut collection, tackles one of the trickiest subjects for fiction writers: using language to discuss language itself. In it, a team of ethnographers track down an elderly woman in a remote village who's believed to be the last living speaker of a soon-to-be-extinct language. As they record her speech, hoping to capture enough of it to reconstitute and preserve it for archeological posterity, things go sideways.

When Stephen Bosio of Pasadena, Calif., fed his 9-month-old son a pasty, the act felt, by his assessment, more important than it should have.

"Teddy is a fifth generation pasty-eating man," Stephen told me.

'Inexplicable Logic' Maps A Teen Boy's Complicated Mind

Mar 16, 2017

In the realm of young adult literature, the biggest tomes are usually fantasies, the kind that require several hundred years of history, culture, and politics to ground an intricate plot. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life has the word count of a book with worlds to build, but rather than using its pages to explore the confines of an imaginary land, it delves deeply into the complex inner world of one teenaged boy.

If you've ever spent an afternoon with "Under the Sea" or "A Whole New World" or "Be Our Guest" stuck in your head, you can thank composer Alan Menken.

Menken scored The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and many other Disney classics. He says he prefers his songs "to be hummable."

The new movie Life, which opens March 24, is about astronauts who discover an alien life form and live to regret it. You could say exactly the same thing about Alien: Covenant, which was originally scheduled to open the following Friday — until someone realized that was a recipe for box-office disaster. Alien: Covenant will now open in early May, and that close call, crazy as it is, isn't uncommon in Hollywood.

The new film, Get Out, defies easy classification. Though it has funny moments, it's primarily a horror film, with racial anxiety at its center. Writer-director Jordan Peele tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he thinks of Get Out as a "social thriller."

When a TV show really connects with viewers, it's often a lightning-in-a-bottle experience; a collision of talent, material and public mood that is difficult to define. But that hasn't stopped people from asking Dan Fogelman, the creator of NBC's supersuccessful family drama This Is Us, this question: How did you pull this off?

Fogelman's answer: tone, timing and cast.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Hackers, fake news, conspiracy theories tweeted and retweeted. One takeaway from the election is that the internet isn't living up to the promise that it would revitalize the marketplace of ideas.

A recent lawsuit brought by a blind theatergoer against the producers of the hit musical Hamilton has highlighted Broadway's spotty track record in serving audiences with disabilities.

"It tasted like rotten compost," recalls Max Falkowitz, executive digital editor of the food and wine magazine Saveur, of the time in college he sipped one of the most sought-after teas in the world. That would be pu'er — a legendary, fermented dark tea sourced from ancient trees in the isolated forest canopies of the Yunnan Province in southwest China.

If you ever want to make a group of Southerners groan, just ask them how they feel about kudzu. The now-ubiquitous vine was introduced to the United States from Japan in the late 19th century, and widely publicized as a miracle plant: it could be used as food for cattle; it made a nice ornamental addition to porches. But it didn't take very long for "the vine that ate the South" to go out of control, smothering Dixie and suffocating its other plants.

Dave Hogg [Flickr]

Keeping your pets happy and maybe even entertained while you're away is something a pet sitter may  be able to do, with or without a bird video!

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"Setting Free the Kites" By: Alex George

Mar 10, 2017

“Setting Free the Kites”

Author: Alex George  

Pages: 336

Price: $27.00 (Hardcover)

Lawyers who write fiction are not rare. Alex George, however, is a slightly different breed. George, an Englishman, studied law at Oxford, practiced for some eight years in London and Paris, writing all the while, and then in 2003 emigrated to the United States, to Missouri, where he continued lawyering and writing. His first American novel was, not surprisingly, a novel of migration.

“Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel”

Author: George Saunders  

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 342

Price: $28.00 (Hardcover)

George Saunders is recognized as the most important short story writer working today. He even received a Macarthur Genius Grant and a Guggenheim in the same year. The 2013 collection “Tenth of December” was a finalist for the National Book Award.

In B. Catling's mind-bending debut novel, The Vorrh, a host of impossible creatures populated a mysterious, fictional forest in the heart of Africa in the years following World War I. There was a cyclops named Ishmael. There were plastic robots called the Kin. There was a bow made from the body of a shaman.

Over the weekend, I was in Los Angeles and attended a production of Zoot Suit, by the trailblazing Chicano playwright Luis Valdez.

Keggie Carew's father, Tom Carew, was once known as "Lawrence of Burma" and "the Mad Irishman," and in her new book, Dadland, we find out why:

Carew's father was part of the Jedburghs, an elite British unit established during World War II. Carew had heard stories about her father's war years, but she was never sure how much to believe until she went to a Jedburgh reunion with him. There, she learned that they were trained in everything from setting mines and neutralizing booby traps to silent killing and night parachuting.

Today, for American women who are participating in A Day Without A Woman protest, the idea of taking a day off to celebrate their womanhood may be a new experience, despite the fact that International Women's Day has been observed worldwide for over a century.

Author Mohsin Hamid's new novel, Exit West, is about knowing when it's time to flee your country, and what happens when you migrate to a nation that's hostile to immigrants. It's a topic the author himself is personally familiar with.

An impresario and producer who helped launch the careers of many marquee-name musicians, comedians and actors — including Bob Dylan, Woody Allen and Bruce Lee — has died. Fred Weintraub was 88 years old.

His wife, Jackie, confirmed his death to NPR. He died at their home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. on March 5, due to complications related to Parkinson's disease.

Here it is again. The voice. The single white woman in New York figuring out her s- - - and drinking too much wine voice. Confessional, casual, brash, tell-it-like-it-is, flawed-yet-familiar, ostentatiously relatable.

Last week, when news surfaced about various meetings between the Russian ambassador and members of Donald Trump's campaign, Huffington Post editor Howard Fineman appeared on MSNBC and said, "If you think the Russian ambassador is just an ambassador, you haven't been watching The Americans."

In 1944, World War II was dragging on and the Nazi forces seemed to be faltering. Yet, in military briefings, Adolf Hitler's optimism did not wane. His generals wondered if he had a secret weapon up his sleeve, something that would change the war around in the last second.

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