Arts & Life

'The Night Clock' Ticks With Wit, Fright And Fantasy

Nov 11, 2015

Humor and horror taste great together, a fact Paul Meloy knows well. The British author's debut novel The Night Clock strikes exactly that balance, with the added perk of dark, far-flung fantasy. Set in contemporary England, it revolves around Phil Trevena, a 40-something who — like Meloy himself — works as a psychiatric nurse, counseling the mentally ill.

True confession: I joined Twitter to follow a curry truck while I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Area had plenty of Indian buffets, but Indian street food was hard to find.

Back here in Kolkata, India, there's street food everywhere. Puffed rice tossed with pungent mustard oil, onions and chilies. Indian wraps with a layer of egg, crispy phuchka shells dunked in tangy, tamarind water.

What I didn't expect to find: a food truck.

Hours after launching a Kickstarter campaign to revive a TV show that made it fun to watch horrible movies, Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgson has raised more than $500,000 — a quarter of his $2 million goal.

When it comes to enjoying the flavors in food, our tongues really aren't that useful. They can detect just a few basic tastes: sweet, salt, sour, bitter, umami, and maybe fat.

When Saturday Night Live's Colin Jost and Michael Che became co-anchors of the show's "Weekend Update" segment, they knew they had big shoes to fill.

" 'Update' is such an institution," Che tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. At first, "you really just try to do what's worked before, what you've seen working, what you've loved about it."

But the co-anchors say they realized the segment was stronger if they dialed up their banter and acted more like who they are off camera. "Episode by episode, we've been bringing that a lot more," Che says.

Wild foliage, the cries of fishmongers, near-crazed love, musty rooms and forbidden sex overspill Brazilian author Milton Hatoum's 2000 novel The Brothers. For Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, adapting this book into comic form must have seemed both scary and inevitable. The second novel from the multiple-award-winning Hatoum, it concerns two men who are twins — just like the Brazilian artists, who have themselves won multiple awards.

The Pickle Index app — one way to experience Eli Horowitz's newest novel and multimedia project — opens with what looks like an ad for an Apple product. Millennials gather to feast together in a stylishly decorated home, laughing and communing silently behind a veneer of electric pop. They lay down newspaper; they tuck napkins into their shirt collars. But instead of plates of steamed seafood or roasted vegetables, a tray is overturned before them, and there are ... pickles. Huge, meaty dill pickles. The hip young friends joyfully pick up the pickles.

Betsy Broun, director of the American Art Museum, grew up in a small town in Kansas. When she saw the photographs of women in Vogue -- with their pinched waists and impersonal expressions — "it never even dawned on me that those women lived on my planet," she says.

Irving Penn took those posed, perfect, glossy images — some of which are now on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

In Taiwan, it's not enough just to get your dog groomed regularly. These days, owners are asking for their four-legged friends to become geometric shapes, like spheres and squares.

Salad-Making Is Performance Art At The Getty In Los Angeles

Nov 9, 2015

If the Getty Center in Los Angeles is going to treat salad as art, then you can bet iceberg lettuce is not part of the equation. And indeed, from now through January 11, the Salad Garden performance art stage features artists making salads from more than 50 exquisite heirloom herbs, vegetables and edible flowers. Part of the spectacle is also the artists devouring their salads on site.

Shonda Rhimes will be the first to admit she didn't expect to be famous. Hollywood is notoriously uncharitable to writers, but the success of her company ShondaLand — the force behind the ABC top-rated dramas Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder — has made her a household name.

George Takei has, over the years, lent his gently charismatic presence to many stages — the original Star Trek soundstage, where he played the USS Enterprise's Mr. Sulu, then the social media stage, where he emerged as a leading activist for gay and lesbian rights. Now, Takei is making his Broadway stage debut in Allegiance, a musical inspired by his childhood experience in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit



This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

In the new film Room, actress Brie Larson plays Ma, a woman who has created an elaborate fantasy world for her 5-year-old son, Jack. The fantasy covers a harsh reality: She and Jack are imprisoned in a small backyard shed by the man who abducted Ma as a teen and raped and impregnated her.

Oprah Winfrey recently invested $43 million in faltering diet company Weight Watchers International, Inc., and issued a call to dieters everywhere to lose weight and gain health and happiness as Weight Watchers customers.

Police in Russia have arrested a dissident performance artist for setting fire to some doors at Russia's top security agency.

Images from the protest show Pyotr Pavlensky standing in front of two monumental wooden doors, their panels outlined in flame. The 31-year-old artist is a cadaverous figure, wearing a dark hoodie and holding a gasoline can.

We've just bid farewell to October — which made me think of a simply charming romance novel that takes place during the Chicago World's Fair, which lasted over a year and ended at the end of October, 1893.

Author Michael Cunningham was fascinated by fairy tales as a child — but he always wondered what happened after the story ended. His new collection, A Wild Swan, tries to answer that question.

Cunningham spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin on how one story ends and another begins.

Interview Highlights

On what happens after the happily-ever-after

In the late 1800's, it would've been tough to find two men more famous than Mark Twain and Sir Henry Morton Stanley.

By now, it should be no surprise that ballet has a grim underbelly — or should that be a flat stomach? The dark side of the art form has gotten its share of depictions on screen, and now it's getting a new one — this time in Flesh and Bone, a limited-run series on Starz.

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson has been having a rough couple of days. In the past 48 hours, several news organizations have raised questions about aspects of his past.

But even as he's weathered the increased media scrutiny, this week also saw Carson grab headlines for a decidedly different campaign milestone: He dropped a rap song.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

If you think it's too early for Christmas ads, you're not alone. But the new seasonal spot from British retailer John Lewis is something of a sensation, with nearly 12 million people having watched the tear-jerking video since Thursday.

More than 15 years after he was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Adnan Syed has been granted a hearing to let his lawyers present a possible alibi and questions about cellphone data. Attorneys for Syed, the key figure in the popular podcast Serial, also want to probe "alleged prosecutorial misconduct."

T3l Erick (Erick Pleitez) [Flickr]

If you have a great animal shelter in your community, let them know you appreciate the work they do.  If your shelter is not so great, maybe you can help to make it better, not just for the animals but for everyone.


Cindy Crawford obviously knows everything there is to know about modeling — and shares some of that wisdom in her new memoir Becoming. But what about scale modeling? You know, building those detailed miniature versions of things? We'll quiz Crawford on the origins of model planes, an unlikely scale model world record, and more.

A lot of men might like to get a letter from Mary-Louise Parker. She's written more than 30 to some of the men who've been important in her life: The grandfather she never got the chance to know. Her childhood priest. A Hollywood accountant. A man who will one day love her daughter. Her father. And they're all in a new book, Dear Mr. You. She tells NPR's Scott Simon that her father loved words. "We used to send poems back and forth in the mail, and go and sit in book stores together and talk about books and read books. He informs everything I do and everything I say, really.