Arts & Life

All My Exes Live In Texas

Nov 11, 2016

Gear up for a final round where every answer contains the letters "E-X," in that order. For example, "our neighboring country to the south" is "Mexico!" Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST: It's now time to crown our big winner. Let's bring back our finalists - Marcie, the future owner of the Austin Humidities... (LAUGHTER) EISENBERG: ...And Stephanie, who's going to settle this on the...

Brooklyn Decker would have been named Brooke--after her mom's best friend's horse--but her dad decided to spice it up and go with Brooklyn. "He's the epitome dad joke guy," the actor explains. Though now it's considered a trendy name, she told host Ophira Eisenberg at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas that she was teased for it while growing up in North Carolina. She even ended up living in Brooklyn for a time, "which was a thing in itself." This sense of humor is showcased in her role...

I Love The 1880s

Nov 11, 2016

Ophira and Jonathan dig deep into Dallas history with this trivia game about the rocking 1880s. Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST: Let's go to your next game. Stephanie, what is something you miss about the '80s? STEPHANIE HAGADORN: I miss the movies. EISENBERG: The movies? HAGADORN: The movies in the '80s. EISENBERG: Like, which one? HAGADORN: Well, I just liked that you could, like,...

Lazy Eye , writer/director Tim Kirkman's unhurried two-hander romantic drama, opens with Dean, a Los Angeles graphic designer played by Lucas Near-Verbrugge, being prescribed trifocals. "It's perfectly normal for vision to change in middle age," his optometrist assures him. But Dean's eyes remain expressive enough to register his alarm at the phrase middle age . When he gets an out-of-the-blue e-mail two scenes later from Alex (Aaron Costa Ganis), an ex- who left him without explanation 15...

Like the most dreaded Secret Santa at the office holiday party, Hollywood is a shameless re-gifter, passing off the same ensemble comedy-drama every year or two in lieu of a more thoughtful present. Almost Christmas is better than most, and rare in focusing on an African-American family instead of a bourgeois white one, like the brittle clan in last year's seasonal heart-warmer Love the Coopers. But even the title is so generic that years from now, no one could reasonably be expected to...

At the fancy Christmas dinner she hosts in her posh Paris home, a stylish entrepreneur named Michele, played to impassive perfection by Isabelle Huppert, verbally abuses her heavily Botoxed elderly mother and her mother's very-much-younger consort. She inflicts injury on the very-much-younger girlfriend of her former husband. She pokes fun at her ineffectual son, his partner, and their baby. She takes a covert swipe at her pretty Christian neighbor while initiating a game of footsie with that...

Unlike most horror flicks, The Monster offers solid performances and a real-world subtext. But those virtues aren't enough to keep the movie from getting stalled in some big bad woods, miles short of profundity. The tale's Little Red Riding Hood is Lizzy (Ella Ballentine), a tween whose relationship with her single mom, Kathy (Zoe Kazan), has become irreparable. The fault is not Lizzy's. Kathy is an alcoholic whose mothering ranges from simply neglectful to overtly abusive. So the two set off...

Close encounters get a whole lot closer with Arrival , a furiously intelligent sci-fi film descending into cinemas from somewhere far, far beyond our current realm of understanding. Its premise instantly solves one of the hardest things to swallow about the traditional movie alien: the fact that it usually acts so much like an Earth-bound creature. After all, it's hard to conceive of extraterrestrial life if we have, well, no concept of it. This first contact starts in the familiar way: The...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: ABC TV show "Speechless" is about the Dimeo family - a mom, dad and three kids - but it's not your stereotypical family sitcom. JJ, the oldest of the three, has cerebral palsy. He uses a wheelchair, and he's nonverbal. That means he communicates using a board with words and letters on it, which he points to with a small laser. The show isn't sappy. It finds humor in the family's everyday life, like when JJ gets...

“Perfume River: A Novel” Author: Robert Olen Butler Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press Pages: 273 Price: $25.00 (Hardcover) “Perfume River” is, pardon the pun, a confluence of several themes that Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain,” has explored in previous works and is as smart and eloquent as anything he’s done before. Set in 2014, some of the themes are timeless: for example, the difficulty of communication between husband and...

“A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life” Author: Pat Conroy Publisher: Nan A. Talese/ Doubleday Pages: 291 Price: $25.00 (Hardcover) As his millions of fans know, Pat Conroy passed away early this spring. When any great writer dies, the same question is asked: Are there unpublished manuscripts still to come? In the case of Hemingway, there were reams of work, beginning with “A Moveable Feast” and “Islands in the Stream.” Conroy had finished 200 or more pages of a novel, “The Storms...

“Bettyville; A Memoir” Author: George Hodgman Publisher: Viking Pages: 276 Price: $27.95 (Hardcover) George Hodgman had an up and down career as a book and magazine editor in New York City, working at different times for “Vanity Fair,” Simon and Schuster and other organizations. He had become neither rich nor famous but New York had become home. Through the years, he visited his mother and father, Big George and Betty, in his home town of Paris, Missouri, but certainly never planned to return...

"Troublemaker" By: Linda Howard

Nov 10, 2016

“Troublemaker” Author: Linda Howard Publisher: William Morrow Pages: 384 Price: $26.99 (Hardcover) I will admit, I was only vaguely aware of the romance writer Linda Howard. That is until I received in the mail her latest novel, “Troublemaker,” along with a very slick press kit that describes her as “the queen of romantic suspense,” a writer of “stunning sensuality” who “meshes hot sex, emotional impact, and gripping tension.” So far, so good. Looking into it a little further I learned Ms....

“Go South to Freedom: Based on a True Story” Author: Frye Gaillard Publisher: NewSouth Books Pages: 80 Price: $17.95 (Hardcover) Frye Gaillard, winner of many prestigious writing awards, is is well-known for his histories of the civil rights movement and many other nonfiction works, over 20 in fact. He has covered figures ranging from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and President Jimmy Carter to subjects as far-ranging as NASCAR, country music and the televangelists Jimmy and Tammy Faye Bakker....

There's a tendency to approach a posthumous collection of work by an esteemed "writer's writer" with respectful courtesy, but Stanley Elkin's essays demand a rowdier response from readers. They're weird and spirited, full of literal piss and vinegar. Pieces of Soap is the name of this collection and writer Sam Lipsyte, in his introduction, rightly says that reading Elkin makes you realize "how lazy most writing is." It doesn't matter what the ostensible subject of these essays may be: they...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. I can't think of anyone who knows more about TV history than our own TV critic David Bianculli. He's just written a new book called "The Platinum Age Of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific." It's a genre-by-genre history discussing the shows that were turning points in dramas, sitcoms, Westerns, children's programs and so on with a list of the...

Care Bears didn't make the cut; neither did Transformers or Uno. But it's a good day for Little People — first produced by Fisher-Price in 1959 — as the Toy Hall of Fame announces its 2016 class of inductees. Also getting the nod: Dungeons & Dragons, which was praised for creating a system of imaginative play that has entranced both kids and adults; and the humble swing, which in the past 100 years has grown from its ancient roots to become a playground favorite. The nomination process for...

This is how it begins. Somewhere out there beyond the cordons, beyond the fields and marshes, abandoned machines roamed like stray dogs. They wandered about impatiently, restless in the new wind sweeping through the country. They smelled something in the air, something unfamiliar. Perhaps if we had listened closely, we would have heard it. We may have heard the sound rising from the forgotten and sealed caverns in the depths: the muffled pounding from something trying to get out. Things From...

Drowning your sorrows or celebrating last night's election results with booze? If fancy mixed drinks are your tipple of choice, there's no need to leave the house to imbibe. Craft cocktails are now coming to your mailbox. As meal kits have gained market share — Technomic, a food consulting firm, estimates that the market for meal kit subscriptions will grow up to a total market of $5 billion by 2025 — cocktail subscription boxes have followed. The concepts are similar: Just as companies like...

We live in an exciting era where the genre of fantasy is being restlessly reinvented by a fresh wave of innovative, trailblazing authors. But someone forget to tell Rachel Neumeier that. Her latest standalone novel, The Mountain of Kept Memory , chugs along with blissful conventionality, as if the last couple decades of evolution in fantasy never happened. The key word here, though, is blissful. Oressa and her older brother Gulien are the princess and prince of Carastind, a kingdom in the...

Writer and actress Issa Rae is upfront about the fact that she doesn't always fit in. She tells Fresh Air 's Terry Gross that she was so socially uncomfortable and introverted growing up that one day she wrote the phrase "I'm awkward. And black" in her journal, and it was a revelatory moment. "I knew I was black, obviously, but the 'awkward' part really just defined me in a sense," Rae says. "That felt like an identity that I had not seen reflected in television or film before, or at least in...

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

Alabama Political Cartoonist JD Crowe Sketches Governor Robert Bentley.

Halloween has come and gone, but piles of candy remain. You have two options: Eat it all and risk a serious sugar coma, or get seriously creative with some candy-themed science. We asked employees at various science museums what experiments they like to do with leftover candy. Get crackin'. The classic "what does candy REALLY taste like"? "Your sense of taste is actually really limited," explains Julie Yu, senior scientist and director of the Teacher Institute at the Exploratorium in San...

'Fish In Exile' Is A Chronicle Of Grief Barely Survived

Nov 8, 2016

Before the opening of Vi Khi Nao's Fish in Exile , a married couple, Ethos and Catholic, lose their twin children in a terrible accident at the seashore. By the time the reader opens to the first page, they — and the book itself — have been fragmented by the event, and are trying and failing to hold themselves together. True to her name, Catholic embraces everything. She copes with action: going to work, having her tubes tied to prevent future pregnancies. Even her affair with the neighbor,...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Here to talk more about the struggle over ratings is NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Hey there, Eric. ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hi. CORNISH: So Laura just mentioned how Symphony can track viewership of streamed shows. Can Nielsen actually do this technically? DEGGANS: Yes, they can. Cable channels and broadcast networks have been pressuring Nielsen to come up with this data. And they feel that they've been slow in...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Mel Gibson's last directing project was the human sacrifice film "Apocalypto" in 2006. His new movie "Hacksaw Ridge" is also about human sacrifice. This time, it's in an apocalypse called World War II. Andrew Garfield stars. Gibson is behind the camera. And critic Bob Mondello says they're a pretty effective team. BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: There are formulas to war movies. And for a while, "Hacksaw Ridge" follows one...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Marvel's latest superhero movie, "Doctor Strange," worked its magic on audiences over the weekend and led the box office. (SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DOCTOR STRANGE") TILDA SWINTON: (As The Ancient One) Doctor Strange, you think you know how the world works. What if I told you, through the mystic arts, we harness energy and shape reality? SHAPIRO: And while many people might have gone to see Tilda Swinton there or...

Up-and-coming comedian Aparna Nancherla is having a great year, riding high on a TV comedy special, tour and a new album, Just Putting It Out There — all this while wrestling with some pretty tough personal issues, like depression, on stage. Nancherla's very dry sense of humor comes alive through her very expressive face, her dancing eyebrows and wide smile. She tells NPR's Audie Cornish that early in her career, someone told her she did standup like someone who'd never seen standup before. ...

There may be nothing more American than mom and apple pie – but mom and cake come pretty close. Ask Anne Byrn, the Nashville-based best-selling author and baker whose romance with cake started when she was tall enough to reach for the box of Hershey's cocoa. "Cake is an icon of American culture," says Byrn, who has just published American Cake , a lavish tome layered with buttery pictures. "Be it vanilla, lemon, ginger, chocolate, cinnamon, boozy, Bundt, layered or marbled— cake has a special...

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