Arts & Life

Sesame Street has been a constant presence in children's entertainment for nearly 50 years. In addition to Big Bird and Elmo and Oscar the Grouch, the program also has human characters who ground the show, teaching the muppets big life lessons and helping them on their zany adventures. But over the past few weeks, there have been some issues with the grown-ups of Sesame Street.

The Cuddle Party

Aug 3, 2016
Cuddleparty.com

We live in a time and society where touching someone is usually associated with one thing, and that’s sex. However there is a growing trend aimed at removing the stigma of physical contact. Alabama Public Radio’s Stan Ingold  did some research and has this report on an activity known as the “Cuddle Party.”

Advanced Band
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Say “the blues,” and Mississippi might come to mind. But Alabama has just as much heritage when it comes to this musical form, and for the past 20 years, the Tuscaloosa-based Alabama Blues Project has been working to preserve that heritage for future generations. Tomorrow, the nonprofit will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a concert in Tuscaloosa. APR’s Alex AuBuchon reports some of the musicians are only as big as their guitars.

"Sounds of Selma"

Aug 3, 2016
APR

Thousands of people crowded the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma yesterday to remember what became known as “bloody Sunday.” Voting marchers in 1965 were attacked by State Troopers and a Sheriff’s posse armed with clubs and tear gas. The weekend observance was attended by President Obama and the children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. APR news director Pat Duggins and reporter Stan Ingold teamed up to bring us this audio postcard…

This weekend, the city of Selma will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the civil rights event known as “bloody Sunday.” In 1965, sheriff deputies and state troopers attacked African American protesters during a voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery. The violence is etched into world history, but it’s not the first time this city has seen bloodshed  nor was 1965 the city's first "march to freedom."

“Work Like Any Other: A Novel”

Author: Virginia Reeves

Publisher: Scribner   

Pages: 260

Price: $25.00 (Hardcover)

“My Father Moves Through Time Like a Dirigible and Other Stories”

Author: Gregg Cusick

Publisher: Livingston Press    

Pages: 172

Price: $30.00 (Hardcover)

“Crazy in Alabama”

Author: Mark Childress

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons   

Pages: 383

Price: $15.00

“Miss Jane: A Novel”

Author: Brad Watson

Publisher: W. W. Norton   

Pages: 267

Price: $25.95 (Hardcover)

It was 1996 when Watson published “Last Days of the Dog-Men,” which won the Sue Kaufman Award; 2002 for his novel, “The Heaven of Mercury,” runner up for the National Book Award; and 2010 for the story collection “Aliens in the Prime of their Lives,” a finalist for the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction—an average of 7 years between books.

In February of 1974, Patty Hearst, the 19-year-old granddaughter of the wealthy newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a small, armed revolutionary group with an incoherent ideology and unclear goals.

Blue Monday was a comic weirdly out of time. Creator Chynna Clugston-Flores started drawing the adventures of music-loving high-schooler Bleu Finnegan and her band of mad, mod friends in the late 1990s — but somehow they lived in a world where grunge never happened, where Adam Ant and Paul Weller were still style icons and The English Beat ruled the airwaves (in other words, my kind of place).

At These Museums, Tragedy Is A History Lesson

Aug 3, 2016

Last week, NPR Ed rounded up our favorite children's museums — places dedicated to letting kids learn in kid-friendly exhibits. That got us thinking about a different kind of museum: the ones that teach about the toughest episodes of history. How do you explain what happened during the Sept. 11 attacks to a child? What about the Holocaust, or the Oklahoma City bombing? We asked leaders from three memorial museums around the U.S.

As H. P. Lovecraft's status as a beloved and important author has grown over the years, so has the scrutiny his work attracts for its racist, sexist, and xenophobic overtones. Earlier this year, two books — Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country and Victor LaValle's The Ballad of Black Tom — took on Lovecraft's problematic views by paying tribute to his metaphysically horrific Cthulhu mythos while also addressing his attitudes towards race.

Are you on the hunt for your next great read? All Things Considered asked booksellers across the country to share recommendations for books that you can take with you on vacation — or just to the nearest shade tree.

Janet Webster Jones, owner of Source Booksellers in Detroit, shares her top nonfiction reads: Why Grow Up? by Susan Neiman, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson and A History Of Food In 100 Recipes by William Sitwell.

Jesmyn Ward was in her twenties when she first read James Baldwin's 1963 essay collection The Fire Next Time. Ward felt that Baldwin's essays — compiled in a year which included Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'I Have A Dream' speech and the Birmingham church bombings — are especially resonant today and tease out similar racial tensions.

Publishing is a notoriously risky business.

A publishing house might give a first-time author a six-figure deal, only to see the book flop. It's always been hard to predict what will sell. Now publishers are getting some help from data that tells them how readers read — and that makes some people nervous.

The Transportation Safety Administration is reminding Batman enthusiasts to check their superhero weapons when they fly.

According to the TSA, people keep trying to carry "batarangs" — the sharp, metal bat-shaped weapons that Batman throws at his enemies — onto planes, only to have them confiscated at airport security checkpoints.

Agents have confiscated batarangs at multiple airports, including in San Francisco, where these showed up in a carry-on bag.

Editor's note: As you'll see right away, this column includes a word that is offensive to many.

Ask star and co-creator Issa Rae about the many times the word "nigga" surfaces in her new HBO comedy Insecure — a wonderfully unassuming comedy about the life of a sometimes-awkward young black woman in Los Angeles — and she's got a simple answer.

This is how she and her friends talk to each other.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Comedian Ali Wong is so committed to her work that she estimates that she performed on stage almost every day for 11 years before her daughter was born. In fact, she was 7 1/2 months pregnant when she filmed her first comedy special, Baby Cobra, for Netflix.

"In every generation and among every nation, there are a few individuals with the desire to study the workings of nature; if they did not exist, those nations would perish."

-- Al-Jahiz, The Book of Animals

In 185 AD, Chinese astronomers recorded a supernova. Among more detached details of its appearance, there is this: "It was like a large bamboo mat. It displayed the five colors, both pleasing and otherwise."

Good, Evil And Long Black Tentacles Make A 'Monstress'

Aug 2, 2016

Gaudy beauty and extravagant horror twine around each other, as elegant as their subjects' sinuous hair and garments, in the remarkable comic Monstress. Its lavish visuals, intricate world building and deft pacing will doubtless land it on many "Best of" lists for 2016. But writer Marjorie Liu's nervy, idiosyncratic characterizations are what really set this story apart.

In honor of MTV's 35th birthday Monday, the network has launched MTV Classic, a new channel featuring programming from the '90s and '00s. On the same day, we also wish a happy birthday to NPR Music and Pop Culture Happy Hour's Stephen Thompson, who celebrates with an interview on All Things Considered about how MTV Classic is redefining which popular culture fits into the current environment for nostalgia.

Writer Jay McInerney became famous in the 1980s for Bright Lights, Big City, a semi-autobiographical novel about a young man who parties in the cocaine-dusted clubs of Manhattan, but the drama in his latest book is more domestic in nature.

Also set in New York City, Bright, Precious Days is the third book in a trilogy about married couple Russell and Corrine Calloway. McInerney tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he began the Brightness Falls series with an idea of the "perfect couple."

Lisbon is a city of plazas, parks, overlooks and gardens. For more than a century, these beautiful public spaces were graced by Art Noveau and Moorish-style kiosks — small, ornate structures that provided chairs and shade and served traditional Portuguese snacks and drinks.

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

ELISE HU, HOST:

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

ELISE HU, HOST:

'Dark Matter' Is A Jet-Propelled Science Thriller

Jul 31, 2016

Your time is valuable. I know that. There are roughly a billion books published every year and you've only got time to read a few of them. There are important books and acclaimed books and books you can put down like junk food — like sitting on the couch in your underwear and eating that whole bag of barbecue potato chips because there's no one there to tell you not to. You have to make some choices.

Sharon Jones' career didn't take off until she was in her 40s (making her an inspiring story for millennials everywhere — you have another 20 years before you have to move out of your parents' house!). Now she leads the band Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and has just released a new documentary called Miss Sharon Jones!

We've invited her to play a game called "Let's shake on it" — three questions about handshakes. Click the audio link above to hear how she does.

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