Arts & Life

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As a TV critic who keeps an eye on social issues, I've long been critical of ABC's The Bachelor and The Bachelorette franchises. They urge viewers to believe completely contrived events are somehow spontaneous. They also support an unhealthy princess fantasy in which romance is conflated with an upper-middle class wonderland filled with reality TV fame and luxury resort getaways.

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The actor Sir Roger Moore has died at 89 after "a short but brave battle with cancer," according to his family and his agent.

Moore played the role of James Bond from 1973 to 1985 and was knighted in his home country of England in 2003.

He was the third of six actors who have played James Bond in the official silver screen franchise, beginning with 1973's Live and Let Die. He starred in a total of seven Bond films over 12 years, ending with A View to a Kill in 1985.

The stories Katherine Heiny collected in her appealing 2015 debut, Single, Carefree, Mellow, were mainly about that many-splendored thing called love and the often baffling, complicated forms it can take — including blithely indulged-in adultery. Her warmhearted and even funnier first adult novel (she's published dozens of young adult novels under assorted pen names) also explores the complexities and ambivalences that color even our most central relationships.

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The original Twin Peaks series really was original — one of the most inventive, unprecedented, sometimes thrillingly unique TV series ever presented. David Lynch directed several episodes, including the very best ones: the mood-establishing pilot and the dreamy and nightmarish third episode with the Tibetan rock toss and the dancing, backwards-talking dwarf in the Red Room.

[It should be obvious, but there are loads of spoilers below from the first four episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return.]

In a year that has brought us some pretty trippy TV so far, Showtime's Twin Peaks revival has managed to uncork the weirdest, wildest, most unfathomable four hours of television I have seen this year on a major media outlet.

And for David Lynch fans, that's probably going to sound like heaven.

Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer "radical empathy" and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.

Today the Sugars are trying to help with an age-old dilemma. It's a choice between love and everything else.

Margot Sanchez has big dreams of fitting in at the new, expensive prep school her family has sacrificed to send her to. But it's summer and instead of going to the Hamptons with her rich, white friends, she's stuck working at her family's business in the Bronx.

Margot is the protagonist of Lilliam Rivera's new young adult novel, The Education of Margot Sanchez. Rivera explains that Margot is "being punished because she stole her father's credit card to charge some pants and clothes for herself, and her punishment is to work off her debts at her father's supermarket."

They're seemingly unavoidable on Instagram these days: photos of bright yellow egg yolks nestled in a fluffy bed of egg whites, like the sun framed by billowy clouds. They're called cloud eggs, and they're pretty enough to look like a taste of heaven ... which is probably why people are obsessively whipping them up and sharing their pictures on social media.

Yet the latest food fad du jour is actually a modern spin on a nearly 400-year-old recipe.

Is our hunger for the intrigues of the English Tudors never to be sated? A cursory search for books on Henry VIII yields over 9,000 titles. The cottage industry has outgrown its cottage and is on its way to filling up a castle. What's a determined author to do? Alison Weir's answer is to forge new approaches to time-worn situations by focusing on the women of the period. Her new historical novel, Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession, represents a persuasive attempt to restore the humanity of a tragic, misrepresented figure, one of history's original nasty women.

When Feld Entertainment, owners of Ringling Bros., announced it's canceling the circus after nearly 150 years, it was one of the biggest victories yet for animal welfare activists.

How the circus treats it animals — especially elephants and big cats — has long been a focus for groups like the Humane Society of the U.S and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They see it as part of a larger change going on in this country — about how Americans view animals and the way we treat them.

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Three years ago, Ben Sasse was the youngest college president in the country, overseeing Midland University in Nebraska. And he said to himself: This is great, but how can I spend time with people who are even more immature, irresponsible and unable to hold their liquor than college kids? He found an answer, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014.

We've invited the Republican senator to play a game called "You're a real peach!" Three questions about peaches, the fuzzy-skinned fruit, during a week when we've heard the word "impeachment" a little more than usual.

matt searles [Flickr]

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that handling unwanted pet animals costs as much as $1 billion annually in the U.S.  But the greatest cost is loss of life.  Statistics show that only three of the seven cute puppies in this picture would make it out of an animal shelter alive.  Spaying and Neutering would prevent this tragedy.

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How does Rez, a laid-back stoner surfer dude from Laguna Beach, get drawn into a web of fanaticism?

Laleh Khadivi's new novel A Good Country tells the story of Alireza Courdee from the time he's a 14-year-old chemistry whiz, the son of Iranian immigrants, to his transformation into an American kid who leaves America behind, in all ways, to disappear into a forbidding and destructive life.

We Have Always Been Bored — 'Yawn' Wonders Why

May 20, 2017

Boredom is a going concern, particularly in a Western culture over-saturated with things designed to make every moment count. Freelance researcher Mary Mann began writing Yawn: Adventures in Boredom because she was concerned with her own restlessness; was she succumbing to the depression that ran in her family? Was modern malaise taking hold? Was she fundamentally ungrateful for life, as her parents had always suggested about bored people? If she was broken, was there a cure? (And if you're already rolling your eyes at Mann, this is not going to be an easy read for you.)

In the northwest Indian village of Ajrakhpur, 37-year-old Sufiyan ­Khatri stirs several stinky vats: one of bubbling indigo, another simmering pomegranate skins and a third containing a black, gummy brew of rusty bicycle parts fermenting with sugar cane. The mixtures are used to dye textiles with a traditional block-print method called ajrakh.

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A painting of a skull by Jean-Michel Basquiat broke records at Sotheby's last night. The work sold for more than $110 million. As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, that is the most ever for an American artist's work at auction.

A Salute To 30 Years Of 'The Simpsons'

May 19, 2017

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These days, in-flight meal service often consists of a packet of pretzels and a can of soda. It's a far cry from the days of the Hindenburg, where the sumptuous dining options included multi-course meals served in an opulent dining room.

Before it became a byword for disaster 80 years ago this month, the Hindenburg was the state-of-the-art in ultra-luxury flight: a giant passenger airship composed of durable aluminum alloy filled with highly flammable hydrogen. (That would prove its downfall.)

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been entertaining audiences for a long time. Its history goes back 146 years — to about the time when professional baseball emerged and before Coca-Cola was invented.

Jean-Michel Basquiat joined "joined the pantheon of great, great artists" Thursday night, when the late painter's 1982 work Untitled sold for a record-breaking $110.5 million at auction — the highest sum ever paid at auction for a U.S.-produced artwork.

That breathless assessment was offered after the sale by Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby's Europe. So you can imagine just how thrilled the buyer must have been.

First, let me remind you: we've still got tickets to see us live in L.A. on June 15, where our fourth chair will be Shereen Marisol Meraji. We've got lots of good fun planned, since we figure everybody can use a night of good fun, so join us!

We've been known to enjoy a mix of the sublime and the ridiculous, and it's a week that's a little bit like that as we take on one of the best shows we've covered in a while and one of the most vexing movies.

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