Arts & Life

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I COULD HAVE DANCED ALL NIGHT")

MARNI NIXON: (Singing) I could have danced all night. I could have danced all night and still have begged for more.

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

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

If you think about Wall Street movies, you probably think about a world of macho frat boys.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE BIG SHORT")

Ask Walter Mosley what he does, and he'll say, simply, "I'm a writer." And he's written a lot: 52 books, about 30 short stories and another 30 or 40 articles, he says. While most writers specialize in one or two types of books, Mosley refuses to be constrained. He has written mysteries, science fiction, erotica, young adult fiction, plays, opinion pieces and essays. He has even penned a slim book that instructs would-be fiction writers on how to get started.

Why Do Complex Systems Thrive on Trial And Error?

Jul 29, 2016

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Failure Is An Option

About Tim Harford's TED Talk

Economist Tim Harford identifies similar characteristics in successful industrial and economic systems. They work much better, he says, when they're constantly evolving through trial and error.

About Tim Harford

How Can Success Still Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Jul 29, 2016

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Failure Is An Option

About Lidia Yuknavitch's TED Talk

Writer Lidia Yuknavitch's early failures made her feel unworthy of success. Now, she says, those moments push her to find worth in herself as a writer.

About Lidia Yuknavitch

When Beliefs Fail Us, How Do We Move Forward?

Jul 29, 2016

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Failure Is An Option

About Casey Gerald's TED Talk

Over the course of his life, many of Casey Gerald's core beliefs have failed him. He says he's learned that clear-eyed doubt can sometimes be better than belief.

About Casey Gerald

When we first learned that Great Performances would have a film about Hamilton, there were those who hoped it would be a full performance by the original Broadway cast that's gradually been departing in recent weeks and months. It's not; it's a film called Hamilton's America, and PBS presented it at the Television Critics' Association press tour on Thursday, where its director, Alex Horwitz, was joined by Daveed Diggs, who just wrapped up his run as both Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson on Broadway.

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Even those who have never seen the movies know the name - secret agent Jason Bourne, a human wrecking machine played by Matt Damon.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JASON BOURNE")

MATT DAMON: (As Jason Bourne) I remember. I remember everything.

We've reached the part of every summer when the PCHH gang begins to scatter to the four winds. Linda Holmes, for example, recorded this week's episode the day before leaving for the Television Critics Association's two-and-a-half-week Press Tour, while Glen was still home recuperating from the ever-exhausting San Diego Comic-Con. So it only makes sense that this week's panel is itself scattered, albeit to only three winds: Linda and I were in D.C., while our producer emeritus and music director, Mike Katzif, was in a New York studio — and intrepid Margaret H.

No, we weren't just looking at the women. The fashion at the Republican and Democratic conventions gave us clues about everyone — men, women, politicians and celebrities. Don't even get us started on the delegates (really, that's a photo essay of its own).

The boys-club mentality of the finance industry has long extended into finance films, as well. From the razor-sharp original Wall Street to the violent satire of American Psycho to our current era of bank statements both serious (Margin Call) and farcical (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short), movies about money tend also to be about the destructive nature of the male ego. Whenever penthouse-suite guys compete in these films to see who can swing the bigger pile of green, innocent people get hurt.

Halfway through Tallulah, an unwieldy but affecting showcase for Ellen Page and Allison Janney, Lu (Page), a drifter suddenly confronted by an enormous responsibility stares up at blue sky above Washington Square Park and muses about gravity. What if it just stopped? What if we left these earthly bounds and floated off into the ether? It's not a suicidal fantasy on Lu's part, though circumstances have landed her in a terrible spot. She just wants to be free.

Indignation, a first feature written and directed by the distinguished indie producer James Schamus (now in his 50s), begins and ends with an old woman gazing wistfully at floral wallpaper. She lives in an institution of some kind — assisted living, or a mental hospital, and the flower motifs clearly signify something to her, a past sadness or happiness or both.

This Time Out, Matt Damon's Not Feeling The 'Bourne'

Jul 28, 2016

Once upon a time, a hugely successful spy franchise lost its star. A more affordable, less charismatic actor was secured for one underperforming installment before the original guy was coaxed back for a much-ballyhooed homecoming sequel set largely in Las Vegas.

His art appeared in a range of places, from the Navy News and Tales from the Crypt to Time and TV Guide. Jack Davis, a founding member of Mad magazine, has died at 91. The influential cartoonist was one of the humorists known as the "Usual Gang of Idiots."

Davis' knack for dry caricature created iconic parodies for Mad, spoofing TV and films from High Noon to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Gone with the Wind and M*A*S*H.

While many are calling this election a bitter contest, one Philadelphia business has found a sweet side to the electoral process — by reviving a patriotic tradition dating back centuries: clear toy candies.

Made of sugar, water and maybe a little coloring boiled to the correct temperature, then poured into elaborate molds, clear toy candies are a Pennsylvania tradition. With the Democratic convention in town this week, Philadelphia's renowned clear candy maker, Shane Confectionery, is putting out these sweet sculptures with a political theme.

Baz Luhrmann seems aware that as an Australian writer-director who first became known for Strictly Ballroom, he isn't the most obvious choice to produce a drama series about the origins of hip-hop in the South Bronx in the late 1970s.

Here's how Alfred explains villainy to Batman in The Dark Knight: "Some men aren't looking for anything logical like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."

From the moment Netflix announced that it would be bringing back Gilmore Girls for four 90-minute episodes making up a sort of mini-season called Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, fans have wondered how long they'd have to wait and in what shape they'd find Lorelai and Rory Gilmore after years away. On Wednesday, Netflix announced an arrival date of Nov. 25 and showed critics the first two minutes of the first episode, "Winter."

'You Will Know Me' Says No, You Won't

Jul 28, 2016

Megan Abbott's novel You Will Know Me, like her other books, thrums with the edge and energy of teenage girlhood; the wild want, the wild daring, the wild selfishness that — as one of the girls' moms says — you're only really allowed when you're young. "Remember that kind of wanting? That kind that's just for yourself? And you don't even have to feel guilty about it? You wouldn't know to."

As a teenager, James Alan McPherson worked as a passenger-car waiter on the Great Northern Railroad. The experience shaped him as a man and as a writer; he would spend his life producing short fiction and essays exploring race and class in America — the gulf separating white privilege from the black experience. One of his first published stories, "On Trains," included in his fiction collection Hue and Cry, chronicles a white woman's unthinking treatment of black waiters and porters on a train, and subtly reveals its lingering effects on all involved.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About Presidents And Food?

Jul 27, 2016

It's convention season, which means the presidential election is in full swing.

There has always been a lot to divide politicians, but we at The Salt are interested in what brings them together: They all have to eat.

So we paged through our archives for stories about U.S. presidents and their predilections for — and embarrassing mishaps with — certain foods. How much do you know about presidents and food? Take our quiz to test your credentials.

Minicomics May Be Small, But They Pack Big Thrills

Jul 27, 2016

Shouldn't minicomics be obsolete by now? Printed by their creators in tiny batches and sold for a few bucks at "alternative" comic shops and conventions, they're as cumbersome to produce as they are to obtain. It would be much more sensible for the artists to just put up their work online — right?

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You don't hear the word jingle much in advertising anymore, but there was a time when the jingle was king. Once ad agencies came up with their concepts or slogans, they needed music to make their sell.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Now that the latest season of Game of Thrones has ended, fans may be feeling a little untethered — and some publishers would like to fill that gap with serialized books. As TV dramas get better and better, book publishers are hoping to convert binge TV watchers into binge readers.

The baristas have spoken, and Starbucks is listening: The company says it's loosening its dress code for in-store employees. Yes, the green aprons remain, but you may begin noticing more personal flair underneath.

A company announcement invites baristas "to shine as individuals while continuing to present a clean, neat and professional appearance."

Novelists have always put their heroines through awful ordeals. But over time, these tribulations change. Where the 19th Century was filled with fictional women trapped in punishing marriages — think of Middlemarch or The Portrait of a Lady — today's heroines face trials that are bigger, more political, and more physically demanding. They fight in hunger games.

The Television Critics Association is ... okay, that's the easy part. It's an association of people who write about television, mostly as critics, although many function, either instead or in addition, as reporters. I'm in it, as is NPR's full-time TV critic Eric Deggans, as are a couple hundred other people. And twice a year — once in the summer and once in the winter — we gather in the L.A. area for what's referred to as either "press tour" or "TCA," so that we can hear about what's coming up on TV and get a chance to talk to the people who make it.

The Panopticon, the 2013 debut by Scottish author Jenni Fagan, dealt with the tribulations of adolescence against a highly charged backdrop, a home for juvenile offenders that turns out to be more insidious than it seems. Adolescence also plays into Fagan's follow-up, The Sunlight Pilgrims, but that's only part of the picture.

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