Arts & Life

ABC's Grey's Anatomy might be the best show on television that TV critics rarely talk about.

Updated at 5:10 a.m. ET on Friday

Louis C.K. masturbated in front of multiple female colleagues, to their shock and dismay, according to women who spoke on the record to The New York Times about their experiences.

"Can we please stop with the remakes of Murder on the Orient Express?" I ask upon exiting Kenneth Branagh's fatally tepid new reading of the Agatha Christie classic.

There's always been a special, red-stained place in our culture for the splatter film, which has the unique power to reveal society's, um, insides.

But the current state of the world is threatening to put the genre out of work. John Waters's Serial Mom and Bobcat Goldthwait's God Bless America were both about everyday people going on murder sprees over petty grievances, but one came out in 1994 and the other in 2011, and in-between the concept of the out-of-nowhere mass shooter morphed from a horrifying anomaly to a fact of American life.

It was the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Seven when Frances McDormand collected her Academy Award for playing Marge Gunderson, the lovable pregnant cop heroine of Fargo. At that same time, Martin McDonagh was fast establishing himself as the savant terrible of the Irish and English stage, a brash and brilliant playwright who was more Noel Gallagher than Noel Coward — and more like a long-lost Coen Brother than either. Four of McDonagh caustic tragicomedies, all set in rural Ireland, premiered in 1996-7.

The protagonist of Thelma is immensely powerful. But does teenage Thelma (Eili Harboe) derive this mojo from her budding sexuality? Does the woman, just beginning college in Oslo, squeeze demonic juice from rejecting her parents' austere Christianity? Is the small-town naif's chandelier-shaking force a medical matter?

Or is Thelma just a fledgling filmmaker?

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Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Graphic journalist and illustrator Wendy MacNaughton was browsing an antiquarian book fair on a Saturday morning in San Francisco when one book caught her eye. "It was open to a spread of a painting of a bowl of bright pink borscht in this gorgeous mint scalloped bowl. It had hand-lettered calligraphy recipes and it was absolutely exquisite," she recalls.

It was only a matter of time before Hamilton mania invaded Romancelandia. Hamilton's Battalion — a new anthology from romance authors Courtney Milan, Rose Lerner and Alyssa Cole — features three novellas connected by Eliza Hamilton and her project to collect the stories of the soldiers who served in her husband's battalion at Yorktown. In the spirit of the musical, these novellas reflect the diversity of America today, though they set their stories during Hamilton's era. But true to the genre, the focus is always on the romantic relationship and a happy ever after.

'This Mortal Coil' Will Get You All Twisted Up

Nov 9, 2017

There is a species of book that presents itself as the thing it's skewering, making it tricky to review; do you cover the experience of reading the bulk of it, or do you let the twists, reversals and switches work backwards, changing everything, and cover the experience of reading it in hindsight?

Look at Vincent Van Gogh's Olive Trees closely enough, and you'll find the subtle intricacies of his play with color, his brushstrokes, perhaps even his precise layers of paint atop the canvas.

You'll also find a grasshopper. Well, parts of one, anyway.

Any effort to out-James Henry James must inevitably come to smash. This would have been a useful caveat to John Banville, the Man Booker-winning author of Mrs. Osmond, a novel that makes a valiant imaginative leap but stumbles along the way.

Bill McKibben has tried almost everything to save the world. Since the publication in 1989 of his popular nonfiction book The End of Nature, the writer, environmentalist, and political activist has dedicated his burgeoning platform to advocating sustainable energy, proactive policy, and personal responsibility in the face of the climate change crisis.

Several of us are on vacation this week, so here's one of our favorite — heretofore unheard — segments from last year's Pop Culture Happy tour of the West Coast.

Specifically: The great and good Audie Cornish joined us last October for a show at Seattle's Neptune Theatre, in which we answered listener questions and offered up some pop culture advice on the following topics:

  • Do I need to adjust my ratio of reading articles/listening to podcasts about a given piece of culture vs. personally experiencing that piece of culture?

This time of year, the stands at Paris' hundreds of weekly food markets are laden with plump, dark grapes and wild mushrooms. Wild game often hangs from hooks above.

Of all the seasons to visit Paris, food lovers say the best time is autumn.

"The fall is the best time to eat in France," says longtime Paris resident and culinary historian David Downie. "Everyone knows that. It's when everything comes in. It's the harvest season."

Johannes Vermeer's Young Woman Seated at a Virginal doesn't quite look like a Vermeer painting. The titular young woman is klutzy at her keyboard, and graceless. She's also sitting in a dark room — none of that ethereal, luminous light Vermeer normally shines on his subjects.

Vermeer created the painting in 1675, when he was in his early 40s and broke. It was the last year of his short life. National Gallery curator Arthur Wheelock says, "We know that he dies suddenly and may be ill, so I don't know what effect that might have on this [painting]."

As the chief official White House photographer for President Barack Obama, Pete Souza had top security clearance and sat in on most meetings and major events with the president.

"I was there all the time," he says. "I wasn't talking to [Obama] all the time, but I was always in every meeting and pretty much every situation that he had as president."

'Spineless' Dives Deep Into The World Of Jellyfish

Nov 7, 2017

So much writing about climate change concerns winners and losers, the few who will benefit and what will be lost in our planet's altered future. These pronouncements tend to be sweeping — every shoreline will flood, billions of the world's poor will suffer — in keeping with the global scope of the challenge.

When Alan Bennett's whopping 700-page omnibus of picked-up pieces landed on my desk, I considered giving it a pass. But how could I resist after happening upon this diary entry from 2005, which reads in its entirety: "Robert Hanks, the radio critic of the Independent, remarks that personally he can have too much of Alan Bennett. I wonder how he thinks I feel."

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“These Rugged Days: Alabama in the Civil War”

Author: John S. Sledge   

Publisher: The University of Alabama Press

Pages: 296

Price: $34.95 (Cloth)

There is surely no subject more written about than the American Civil War, so it is perfectly sensible to ask whether this book is needed. The answer is an unequivocal yes, and I learned a lot.

This article discusses several plot elements of the original Twin Peaks television series, the 2016 book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, as well as this summer's Showtime mini-series, Twin Peaks: The Return.

Twin Peaks — the show and the cultural phenomenon around it — began life as the co-creation of two starkly different men: filmmaker David Lynch and writer Mark Frost.

Let's begin with a sweeping, simplistic and grossly unfair generalization: David Lynch is an artist. Mark Frost is a storyteller.

Editor's note: This story includes language that may be offensive to some readers.

Her career spans decades in film, television and theater. She has worked with the biggest names in Hollywood and on Broadway. Along the way, she has become one of them.

Jenifer Lewis' new memoir, The Mother of Black Hollywood, details her journey to the spotlight. It comes out next week. Lewis spoke with NPR's Noel King about the book and how her career began.

The actress Krysten Ritter is best known for strong and complicated characters like the superhero-turned-detective Jessica Jones, star of her own Netflix series. Ritter was raised in small Pennsylvannia farm town, which inspired her debut novel Bonfire, a dark thriller about about environmental pollution, secrets and abuse. "I'm from a small town, a farm, a hundred acres," she says. "A few years ago, the frackers came in and wanted to frack on the property ... not really telling them what the environmental consequences would be.

Drew and Jonathan Scott struggled for years to break into the entertainment industry. So the twin brothers decided to open a real estate services company to pay the bills as they continued trying to become stars.

Then, they got an idea — why not combine their two pursuits? And thus, the Property Brothers were born.

In the early 1970s, when many professional photographers were shooting in black and white, Raghubir Singh pioneered the use of color film to capture scenes from his homeland India. Back then, color photography wasn't always taken seriously. But Singh insisted that it was impossible to capture India's essence in black and white.

Firsthand Experience Fuels The 'Pursuit Of Memory'

Nov 5, 2017

At one point in Joseph Jebelli's new book In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer's, the author interviews Carol Jennings, an elderly woman who lives in Coventry, England. Diagnosed with Alzheimer's, she furrows her brow as she attempts to describe what the onset of the disease felt like — an attempt hampered, of course, by the disease itself. "For a while things were going ... a bit pear-shaped ... there was some sort of thing, I'm sure, that was ... a little bit ... strange," she says, grasping for the memories as well as the words.

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