Arts & Life

Smithsonian Institution

When people go to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., they seem to have a checklist of what they want to see. At the National Air and Space Museum, visitors frequently start at the Apollo 11 capsule that carried astronauts to the Moon.

Ursula K. Le Guin, who wrote popular science fiction and fantasy books from a feminist perspective, died on Monday at the age of 88.

Speaking to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1989, Le Guin said she initially began writing science fiction because it was the one genre she knew she could sell. "It's how I broke into publishing," she said.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Can you go home again? What is home, anyway, when you are a Nigerian-born expat living in America?

The #MeToo movement, having exposed alleged sexual misconduct from Hollywood to Capitol Hill and in board rooms and news rooms, has now reached into evangelical Christian circles, raising questions unique to that faith culture.

Egoism and humility pulse like alternating current throughout Tommi Parrish's graphic novel The Lie and How We Told It — which isn't surprising. Creators who draw slice-of-life comics inevitably bounce between the highs and lows of artistic self-regard. On the one hand, they take on material that's small in scope and thoroughly familiar: emotions we've all felt before. On the other hand, they've got the chutzpah to try and make us experience those feelings in a whole new way.

When a journalist and chef made the decision to host a dinner party and invite members of the Illuminoshi (a not-so-secret society of San Francisco Bay Area Jewish food professionals) to eat a meal of pork and shellfish-filled dishes in the name of education, she knew that more than a few people would have some beef with the menu.

An event like that takes lots of, as the Jews say, chutzpah to put on. Which is why Alix Wall prefaced the announcement of Trefa Banquet 2.0 with an apology.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Twenty-five years ago, all eyes were on Waco, Texas — where the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was attempting to raid a compound owned by a fringe Christian group called the Branch Davidians, just outside of the city. ATF agents suspected the group was illegally stockpiling weapons.

Four agents and six Branch Davidians died in the initial raid, and for the next 51 days, we watched a siege play out on TV. But eventually, it all ended with tanks, tear gas, and flames.

Updated at 7:25 p.m. ET

Ursula K. Le Guin, a prolific novelist best known for the Earthsea series and The Left Hand of Darkness, died Monday at the age of 88. Across more than 20 novels and scores of short stories, Le Guin crafted fantastic worlds to grapple with profoundly difficult questions here on Earth, from class divisions to feminist theory.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Academy Award nominations were announced today. And if you're looking for an early front-runner, you could do worse than Guillermo del Toro's romantic science fiction fantasy "The Shape Of Water." It led the way with 13 nominations including best picture.

Because there are no second takes, re-shoots or do-overs at the Oscars, PwC, the accounting firm that tabulates votes for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has devised new rules for how winners are announced at this year's awards.

The nominees for the 90th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday, and Paul Thomas Anderson's film Phantom Thread landed six nominations, including best director and best picture.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday

Three months after Hong Kong-based publisher Gui Minhai left police custody in China, where he had languished for more than two years after disappearing under murky circumstances, Chinese authorities again arrested him on Saturday.

Gui, a Swedish citizen, had been on a train with two Swedish diplomats to seek medical treatment in Beijing.

Updated at 11:09 a.m. ET

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning by a dapper, genial Andy Serkis and the always-intoxicating Tiffany Haddish.

Updated 8:50 a.m.

This year's Academy Award nominations were announced Tuesday morning via live stream. See the complete list of nominees here.

The winners will be announced on March 4, at an awards ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

Frustrated with the Vietnam War, The Man, and the general state of the nation, hippies set out to do everything differently. They founded rural communes, dabbled in psychedelics and cultivated a laissez-faire approach to personal hygiene. But, like everyone else in the world, they had to eat.

One of the great joys of reading is discovering a new writer whose work speaks to you — whether an unknown debut novelist or a seasoned author whose many books you've somehow missed. Case in point: Sigrid Nunez. I was drawn to her sixth novel as a fresh addition to the literature of grief, but within pages realized The Friend has as much to say about literature as about grief, and was wondering how she'd slipped below my radar.

Fighting miscommunication might seem an ironic choice for an actor whose comedy career was built on all the funny consequences of people misunderstanding each other.

But Alan Alda has made it his mission to help scientists — and the rest of us — communicate better.

It all started when he was hosting the PBS interview program Scientific American Frontiers. He pushed himself, and the scientists he interviewed, to have conversations — to really listen to each other, to connect with each other, and to try to understand one another's perspective.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

If you've seen the 1945 film noir Mildred Pierce or the 2011 HBO miniseries of the same name (both made from James M. Cain's novel), you know that story punishes Mildred for being a working mother: Her marriage breaks up, her younger daughter takes ill and dies and her elder daughter ,Vida, turns out to be a murderer — all because Mildred wasn't in the home 24/7 to oversee things.

“1865 Alabama: From Civil War to Uncivil Peace”

Author: Christopher Lyle McIlwain, Sr.   

Publisher: University of Alabama Press  

Pages: 276

Price: $59.95 (Cloth)

Christopher McIlwain, a practicing Tuscaloosa attorney, has been researching Alabama in the Civil War for over 25 years.

He has gone deeply into such primary sources as letters, diaries, drafts of legislation before the Alabama legislature and, especially, the editorial pages of the many Alabama newspapers during the years 1861-1865.

It has been 10 years of war.

In Pierce Brown's Red Rising universe, the rebellion begun by slaves three books ago, then carried into the stars by slaves become heroes, become gods, become myths, has nearly been won. Mars and Earth and Luna have been freed from the imperial control of the Gold ruling caste. The green fields of Mercury (just ... go with it) have been won at the cost of a million lives. Venus is all that remains now — stronghold of the Ash Lord, last vestige of the old order. Just one final epic battle, right? Then victory, sweet and eternal.

Right?

Kerri Lee Smith [Flickr]

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At Boston's Mei Mei Street Kitchen, a small crew led by Ellie Tiglao rearranges tables, turning the Chinese-American restaurant into a pop-up Filipino banquet hall. About 30 people mill about, sticking with the groups in which they came. A line forms to buy beer.

Violent crime is down in America's big cities.

It may not seem so if you watch crime dramas like CSI, NCIS or Chicago P.D., but homicide, assault and rapes have decreased in big cities since the 1970s. Even Chicago had a 16 percent decline in murders last year, to 650. (In 1974, the city had 970 homicides.)

Take a little Hitchcock and a touch of Gone Girl. Add in a mysterious author and rumors of a very big price tag. Stir them all together and you come up with a rare bird: A debut novel that hits number one on the New York Times bestseller list in its first week on the market.

It's New York City in 1896. Young boys are being brutally murdered, and a team of outsiders assembles to hunt down the killer. On that team is a doctor with some unconventional views, a newspaper illustrator haunted by his past, and a police secretary who upsets the status quo: Miss Sara Howard, who's played by Dakota Fanning in the new television series, The Alienist.

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