Arts & Life

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If there were a hall of fame for criminals, it would have to include notorious Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen's memoir set for release on Tuesday, is a virtuoso performance, the 508-page equivalent to one of Springsteen and the E Street Band's famous four-hour concerts: Nothing is left onstage, and diehard fans and first-timers alike depart for home sated and yet somehow already aching for more.

Say one thing for certain: The lists don't lack for leading lights.

When President Obama doled out the 2015 National Medals of Arts and National Humanities Medals on Thursday, plenty of the artists and arts patrons he draped with awards had familiar names — including Mel Brooks, Morgan Freeman, Terry Gross and nearly two dozen others.

Here is what happens in the first 100 pages of The Wonder: Lib, an English nurse in the mid-19th century, is sent to a small town in Ireland, a country whose people she instantly hates, to keep watch over a young girl who claims she has lived without food for four months. Lib watches the girl and thinks unkind things about the Irish. The girl does not eat. That is it.

Each of the photos in Capt. William A. Prickitt's album could fit in a locket: headshots of 17 black soldiers who served under the Union Army officer during the Civil War, most of their names handwritten on the mat surrounding the images.

At just 2 inches tall, the square, leather-bound album itself could be easily misplaced among the more than 35,000 artifacts it will join at the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens this week in Washington, D.C.

For director Antoine Fuqua, remaking the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven was a return to childhood. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that the original film reminds him of his grandmother, who used to watch Westerns with him on Sunday afternoons when he was growing up.

"I would sit there with her, and she would make me whatever food I want," Fuqua says. "What I recall about [The Magnificent Seven] was ... listening to her talk about each guy as they were introduced."

When's the last time you ordered turtle when you went out to eat?

Most of us would probably turn it down in an instant if we saw it on a menu. But terrapin was a completely normal entree for diners at the finest restaurants of a century ago. America's changing tastes — and what they have to say about our culture — are explored in a new nonfiction book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America.

Television used to be careful when it told fictional stories about the presidency. It was bound by a sense of decorum. But things changed forever with the famous commercial for the movie Independence Day that wowed those watching the 1996 Super Bowl by blowing the White House sky high. Ever since, presidents have been fair game. You can portray them as thugs, schemers or murderers — or knock them off to boost ratings.

Eily is 18, Irish, just barely removed from the "dun school skirts" of early life. She arrives in London — alive with "traffic all gadding in the midday shine" and "pigeons at infernal coo" — to audition for drama school. She is young, but as she steps into character, the judges can see that "in her I've done my time." She gets in, and starts a new life in grimy Camden of the 1990s: "Here I am and here is for me."

Sometimes the world can feel a bit uniform: the same department stores in every shopping mall, the same fast food chains on every corner. The website Atlas Obscura will make you reconsider that sense of monotony.

"The world is still this huge, bizarre, vast place filled with astounding stuff," says co-founder Dylan Thuras. "And if you sort of tilt your view a little bit and start looking for it, you start finding it everywhere."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Sometimes the world can feel a bit uniform - the same department stores in every shopping mall, the same fast food chains on every corner. Atlas Obscura yanks the rug out from under that sense of monotony.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Sometimes the world can feel a bit uniform - the same department stores in every shopping mall, the same fast food chains on every corner. Atlas Obscura yanks the rug out from under that sense of monotony.

Additional reporting by LA Johnson.

I've attended the Small Press Expo, or SPX, for 10 years now. This year, I convinced NPR to let me take a reporting kit and interview attendees about what drew them to the show.

(You can check out more photos, illustrations and interviews with creators from the 2016 Small Press Expo on the NPR Illustrations Tumblr over the coming days and weeks.)

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


'Arab Of The Future 2' Continues Risky Truth-Telling

Sep 20, 2016

Riad Sattouf's memoir of his childhood in the Middle East stirred up a complicated swirl of emotions when the first volume was released in the U.S. last year. Many reviewers seemed fascinated by something beyond Sattouf's perspicacity and artistry. There was a kind of awe at his rash trampling of forbidden zones. His darkly ironic recollections of growing up in 1970s-80s Syria and Libya came with no mitigating calls for understanding (of the customs that prevailed in those countries' hinterlands) or forgiveness (for his narcissistic father).

From the lingering sins of a nation's snarled roots to the complexities of mental illness and even to the colorful quest for a name of one's own, the books that round out this year's Kirkus Prize shortlists won't let you easily forget history — on whatever scale it's defined.

Two years ago, PawHser Moo's mother started pushing her and her sisters to join a group called Growing Colorado Kids. As Moo recalls, at first, she was far from thrilled by the idea.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh, no! I have to wake up early!' " says Moo — a pretty typical reaction for a 14 year old. Wake up early on Saturdays just to catch a van up to rural Adams County, about a half-hour drive from Denver, only to spend hours outside gardening? It was hardly her first choice for her weekends.

When our collective attention turns to the flood of new shows headed to network television each fall, the same question arises:

Does the fall TV season even matter anymore?

It's true that in the age of #PeakTV new shows drop all the time, so focusing on the fall seems a little old fashioned. But I think this time of year still matters, for a few reasons.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


We all know the photo: It captures the rage, division and the racial tension from 40 years ago that is still so present now in our country.

Titled "The Soiling of Old Glory," the photo won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography. Stanley Forman took the picture on April 5, 1976, for what was then the Boston Herald American.

"For the time (it) has everything you want in the picture," says Forman. If you've seen the picture, it's hard to forget. A young, white man lunges at a black man with the sharp point of a flagpole, with the American flag attached.

For some comics fans, Alan Moore is basically a god.

He's the media-shy and magnificently bearded writer of comics like Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell — though if you've only ever seen the movies, please, I implore you: Read the books.

Recently, Moore said he's stepping back from comics to focus on other projects — like his epic new novel, Jerusalem. It's full of angels, devils, saints and sinners and visionaries, ghost children and wandering writers, all circling his home town of Northampton, England.

You want to win the Emmy pool tonight.

Doesn't matter why: Maybe you want the money, maybe you just want to rub your victory in your friend Trish's face, because she reads Variety and calls TV shows "skeins."

God, Trish, right? Trish is the worst.

Election year or not, nothing says fall like football and basketball — and while politics may dominate the public consciousness, there are a lot of people flipping the channel to sports for a respite from that kind of action.

African-American women have been wearing fancy hats to church for generations. That tradition is being celebrated at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, which officially opens in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24. Vintage turbans, caps and fascinators that span a half-century are on display — all from the shop of one woman.

Her name is Mae Reeves.

Donald Glover's new TV show Atlanta has been described as having "dreamy and weird" moments, of mixing "hyper-realism ... with brief moments of surrealism ...

Chris Thile asked his parents for a mandolin when he was 2 years old. In the decades since, Thile has fronted the bands Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers and, while he was at it, won a MacArthur "genius" grant and sold millions of records. Next month, he will take over as the new host of A Prairie Home Companion.

We've invited Thile, frontman for Nickel Creek, to answer three questions about Nickelback, the Canadian band that some have called the worst rock 'n' roll band of all time.

William Patrick Kinsella, the Canadian author whose award-winning book Shoeless Joe was adapted into the beloved film Field of Dreams, had died at the age of 81.

His literary agent Carolyn Swayze issued a statement Friday confirming his death, calling him "a unique, creative and outrageously opinionated man."

And as NPR's Rose Friedman tells our Newscast unit, the most famous line he ever wrote was whispered – "If you build it, he will come," in 1982's Shoeless Joe.

Public Radio Mutt

Sep 17, 2016
Skip Baumhower

For Ivy, genetic diversity made her a wonderful pet and furry friend.  For Alabama Public Radio, programming variety gives you a great menu of listening choices, and makes for a wonderful radio companion at home, in your car, on your computer or phone - wherever you happen to be!


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