Arts & Life

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's 1977 and an 11-year-old dancer named Mira is struggling to find her place in the competitive world of New York City ballet. Dance is her escape from her parents' failing marriage — but instead of a sanctuary, Mira finds the opposite: a dark threat intermingled with her dreams of being a star ballerina. Sari Wilson gives us a glimpse into this world in her new novel — it's called Girl Through Glass. Sari spent her own childhood dancing, like her protagonist, and she tells NPR's Rachel Martin that she found it exhilarating, in the beginning.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

You arrive in England confident. Why shouldn't you be? You speak the language, you've seen Downton Abbey, and as a teenager you nurtured an inexplicable but ardent crush on Tony Blair. It will be like America, but quainter.

Pittsburgh is being lauded for its resurgence and livability, but not all of the city's neighborhoods are reaping the benefits of this revival. Homewood has the city's highest murder rate; it's an impoverished neighborhood, where a third of the houses are blighted. But there's also hope, in no small part because of artist Vanessa German.

It's a little hard to play Not My Job this week because technically Thomas Perez's job is all the jobs. Perez is the United States secretary of labor, and so we've invited him to play a game called "PUSH, honey, PUSH!" Three questions about the kind of labor where you get a baby at the end.

Testing Your Dog's DNA

Jan 23, 2016
Mindy Norton

Curiosity is not a bad thing when it comes to your pet's ancestry.  If you decide to test your dog's DNA, you can buy a testing kit from pet supply stores and chains, or online from websites like Amazon.  Discuss any concerns you may have with your veterinarian.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Julia has a gift — or is it? Ingrid Betancourt's new novel, The Blue Line, is about a woman in 1970s Argentina who can see the world through the eyes of others. Usually what she sees are terrible events, and that makes her different from the millions of Argentines who say they don't know about the detentions, disappearances, tortures and murders by which Argentina's military government ruled and quashed dissent in what is known as The Dirty War.

"Twenty-seven may be too young to die," muses Tim Sunblade, the narrator of Elliott Chaze's Black Wings Has My Angel. "But it isn't too young to die like a man." Tim has death on his mind frequently — he's an escaped prisoner determined to do whatever it takes to stay out of jail. He'll kill if he has to, and he'd much rather wind up in a coffin than in a prison cell. This, of course, makes him very, very dangerous.

On Sunday, the FBI's Fox Mulder and Dana Scully will once again start taking on unsolved cases of the paranormal kind. That's right: The X-Files is back.

Actors Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are reprising their roles of Scully and Mulder in six new episodes. The show is being revived under the helm of its original creator, Chris Carter. Duchovny and Anderson tell NPR's Scott Simon how their characters have changed in the years between the original X-Files and this reboot.

Following criticism over the lack of diversity in this year's Oscar nominations, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted to approve changes aimed at doubling the number of women and people of color in its membership by 2020.

The board of governors unanimously approved a series of changes to "make the Academy's membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse," the organization said in a statement.

The shelves and desks at Teaching for Change in Washington, D.C., are full of picture books. For years, the nonprofit, which advocates for a more inclusive curriculum in public schools, has been keeping track of what it considers to be some of the best — and worst — multicultural children's books out there.

Allyson Criner Brown, Teaching for Change's associate director, says they keep the bad ones because "there's so much to learn from them."

A Birthday Cake for George Washington was just put on the bad shelf.

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When The X-Files appeared on TV in the 1990s, there really hadn't been anything quite like it on TV for a long time. The Twilight Zone, with its monsters and flying saucers and anything-goes mentality, was an obvious inspiration and precursor. But investigations of unusual or unearthly phenomena, dramatized in a weekly series in ways that could be scary or funny, or both? As TV shows go, that's about as rare a sighting as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

For many immigrants, coming to America is full of the unfamiliar — from the language to the food. In Philadelphia, a program aims to help these arrivals settle into their new country by folding English lessons into a cooking class.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, 20 recent immigrants and refugees to the United States streamed into a shiny commercial-size kitchen on the fourth floor of the Free Library of Philadelphia's central branch. They were here to partake in the library's take on teaching English as a second language.

This is a fun week for me, as Stephen and Glen and I get to welcome Sarah Bunting, who is not only the East Coast editor of Previously.tv, but also my former boss at Television Without Pity, the first site where I ever wrote professionally. Sarah and I have known each other a long time, and I was excited that we could bring her in to talk about something she cares about a lot: the true crime genre.

The aptly titled Sweat is all about work — and the fear of losing it. In the new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lynn Nottage, change is coming for workers at a steel tubing plant. "They've got buttons now that can replace all of us," one character says. Sure enough, the company is about to move production to Mexico and ask longtime union workers to accept lower wages. They refuse, and end up locked out and replaced by immigrant labor.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The Sundance Film Festival begins tonight in Park City, Utah. NPR's Mandalit del Barco is there with a preview of what's to come over the next 10 ten days. Hey, Mandalit.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

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The Disappointment Invades In 'The 5th Wave'

Jan 21, 2016

In 2014's Clouds of Sils Maria, Chloë Grace Moretz plays a talented young tabloid magnet picked to star in a revival of a classy play alongside Juliette Binoche's weathered veteran actress. Moretz's character also headlines a silly, effects-heavy teen blockbuster, with sterile white backgrounds, bright red wigs, and faux-kinky leather getups. "I could feel my brain cells dying, one by one," Binoche declares after viewing it.

When Aferim! debuted at the Berlin Film Festival a year ago, some called it a Romanian 12 Years a Slave. Now that it's on U.S. screens, there's an even closer analogy: Aferim! is Romania's The Hateful Eight.

In the insufferably arch neo-noir Western Mojave, Garrett Hedlund — a vision in sexy boots, artfully disheveled tresses and a morose green gaze — ventures into the desert, there to brood on his depraved, deprived life as a Hollywood director of note. Having crashed his car, Thomas lights a fire, but further brooding is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger named Jack. We know Jack does not mean well because he is unwashed, hirsute, sorely in need of cosmetic dentistry and played in overdrive by Oscar Isaac.

Squeeze through the wormhole that is Jacob Gentry's indie sci-fi movie Synchronicity and nothing looks much different on the other side, just faint echoes of the past. In fact, the film could double as a metaphor for itself, a time machine constructed entirely of used components, with so little distance from its influences that it lacks its own utility.

Danny Bowien, the founder of the Mission Chinese Food restaurants, didn't grow up cooking Chinese cuisine. Born in South Korea, then adopted by a family in Oklahoma, Bowien was already an adult living in San Francisco when he decided to learn how to cook Sichuanese fare, known for its bold, pungent, spicy flavors.

Pete Wells has a job that most people can only dream of. As restaurant critic for The New York Times, he gets paid to eat out four or five nights a week — often at quite pricey places — on someone else's dime.

But for Wells, going out for drinks and delectable meals is still work. He tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies that coming up with words to describe flavors is something he "wrestles with all the time."

A Nightmare Artist Adrift In 'Deep Sea'

Jan 21, 2016

"It was hard — terrible, sometimes — but that's life, real life! Know what I'm saying?"

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