Arts & Life

Two decades ago only about 9 percent of children's books published in the U.S. were about people of color. Things have changed since then, but not by much.

On Wednesday, the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison's Education School revealed that in 2016, it counted 427 books written or illustrated by people of color, and 736 books about people of color out of about 3,400 books it analyzed. That adds up to 22 percent of children's books.

Big Little Lies, which begins Sunday on HBO, is a miniseries that begins with a murder scene, and investigation, in the close-knit oceanside town of Monterey. It's a seven-episode drama, and HBO made the first six available for preview. Even after watching all of them, I still don't know the identity of the murderer — or, for that matter, the victim. But that's on purpose.

Mystery Guest

Feb 17, 2017

This episode's Mystery Guest is Lauren Singer, who decided to change her life in a radical way while she was in college. Now she runs a blog that teaches people how to follow her lead. Ophira Eisenberg and guest musician Julian Velard ask yes or no questions to figure out what she did to change her life!

Heard on Roy Wood Jr.: Puzzle Banger After Banger

True Fact Or Fictitious

Feb 17, 2017

Guest musician Julian Velard sings about old wives tales in this parody of Stevie Wonder's classic song, "Superstition." Can you guess which tales are true and false before the contestants do?

Heard on Roy Wood Jr.: Puzzle Banger After Banger

Celebrity Name Combos

Feb 17, 2017

Contestants must guess the phrase created by combining the last names of celebrities. For example, if we said, "When the star of City Slickers met Ricky Ricardo's wife, he used THIS to see their future," the answer would be "Crystal Ball" — mashing together the last names of Billy Crystal and Lucille Ball.

Heard on Roy Wood Jr.: Puzzle Banger After Banger

This That Or The Other

Feb 17, 2017

In this week's edition of This That or the Other, poetry meets mystery meets...alt rock. Are these the titles of poems by Robert Frost, Nancy Drew books, or the name of alternative rock bands?

Heard on Roy Wood Jr.: Puzzle Banger After Banger

Ménage À Trois

Feb 17, 2017

They say two is company and three's a crowd, but these treasured trios prove that saying wrong. Contestants must guess the collective name given to a particular trio. For example, "Larry, Moe and Curly," are "The Three Stooges."

Heard on Roy Wood Jr.: Puzzle Banger After Banger

Roy Wood Jr.: Puzzle Banger After Banger

Feb 17, 2017

Comedian Roy Wood Jr.'s got his first big break doing prank phone calls on the radio. But unlike many pranksters, he often conducted these calls live on the air, which led to some problems. He even got suspended for one particular call, which he shared with host Ophira Eisenberg. "I called a cruise ship company and told them my Granddaddy left his wallet on a slave ship when he came from Africa...and I needed them to check lost and found." The call later went viral and can still be found on YouTube.

A Bech-delicate Balance

Feb 17, 2017

How does a movie fulfil the Bechdel Test? If it has two women that have a conversation with each other about something other than a man – it passes! In this game, contestants guess the names of the surprising bro-y films that happen to pass the test.

Heard on Roy Wood Jr.: Puzzle Banger After Banger

This week's show brings a new voice to our fourth chair: Alan Sepinwall, TV critic at Uproxx and author (of The Revolution Was Televised and, with Matt Zoller Seitz, of TV (The Book)), is with us to talk about two new shows.

The BBC nature series Planet Earth II doesn't debut on BBC America until Saturday, but one of its scenes has already been viewed online more than 9 million times. The two-minute clip shows a baby iguana running for its life through a pit of hungry snakes. (Does he make it? Watch the clip below to find out ...)

The 1987 comedy Three O'Clock High, about the showdown between a nerdy school reporter and a bully who looked like a 30-year-old ex-con, has gained a cult reputation over the years for cutting against the grain of the typical '80s high school fare. Stylishly directed by first-timer Phil Joanou, who made a name for himself doing music videos for U2, the film worked as a teenage twist on Martin Scorsese's After Hours, another black comedy about a hapless weakling being put through the wringer.

'A Cure For Wellness' Needs A Dose Of Originality

Feb 16, 2017

Few things are more terrifying than outdated medical equipment, except when that same equipment is administered without anesthesia. The new psychological horror movie A Cure For Wellness is set in the modern day, but takes place in a remote sanitarium where no corridor or procedure seems to utilize any innovations from the last century. The head doctor takes pride in "unplugging" his patients from the stresses of the outside world, while plugging them into horrifying, body-poking contraptions instead.

Opening a few miles from its namesake, The Great Wall introduces a group of European knaves who have somehow trekked to northwestern China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Most prominent among these thieves and mercenaries is William (Matt Damon), who's supposed to be British, although the actor doesn't further burden his stiff line readings with a feigned brogue. The outlanders' goal is to acquire some gunpowder, a Chinese invention with solid commercial prospects in war-happy Europe.

Book Review: '300 Arguments,' Sarah Manguso

Feb 16, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A new book by Sarah Manguso is tough to pin down. It claims to be a book of essays, but that label isn't exactly right, says our poetry reviewer Tess Taylor. She has this take on "300 Arguments."

In the recent film, Moonlight, Mahershala Ali plays an unlikely father figure to a quiet young African-American boy named Chiron. At school, Chiron is bullied. At home, he is neglected by a mother who is addicted to crack. Ali's character, Juan, is a drug dealer who takes Chiron under his wing in an attempt to provide him with some stability.

Ali, whose performance earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he knew men like Juan growing up.

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

It's been almost 20 years since Barbara Ehrenreich published Fear of Falling, her brilliant book on the anxious "inner life" of the American middle class. The book's title, "fear of falling," has become a catchphrase to refer to the cosmic jitters that afflict anyone whose lifestyle and sense of identity can be wiped out by the loss of a job or a plunge in the stock market.

"It is not an accident that there is a blackout on the Black man's contributions in America."
Dr. Melvin Chapman (1928-2015), educator, Detroit, Mich.

Perhaps nobody cares about their clothes anymore.

Back in 2013, Monkey See brought you an exclusive interview — "exclusive" in the sense that it happened only in our minds and we therefore were the only ones who knew about it — with the iron, just after Monopoly announced it was being retired from the game. During that interview, the iron darkly alluded to a difficult history with another game piece: the thimble.

Stan Ingold

If you ask residents of Illinois what product that state is best known for, the answer might be farm equipment. Illinois, after all, is the home of John Deere. Kentucky might point to Bourbon Whiskey, and Wisconsin is the headquarters of Harley Davidson motorcycles. The state of Alabama has a few homegrown products you might not know about.

Author of the monumental multivolume novel In Search of Lost Time. High modernist of the first order and reclusive titan of French letters. And, if one Canadian scholar is correct, quite the dapper attendee of a wedding in 1904.

In the more than a century since Marcel Proust was first published, the name of the great French novelist has come to be associated with many things, but film footage is not one of them. Despite a handful of photographs depicting Proust, no one living claimed to have seen the man actually move -- until earlier this month.

Peter S. Beagle Finds Magic In 'Calabria'

Feb 16, 2017

Peter Beagle owes much of his career to a unicorn — specifically, the protagonist of his 1968 novel The Last Unicorn, the lyrical, tragic, wryly funny bestseller that inspired a cult-hit animated movie and earned him a permanent spot on virtually every knowledgably curated best-fantasy-of-all-time list.

The FX show Baskets stars comedian Zach Galifianakis as a French clown school dropout who has moved back home to Bakersfield, Calif. There, he finds work as a rodeo clown and competes with his twin brother for his mother's affection.

Beyoncé is no one's mammy.

So the record-scratching comments from Adele and Faith Hill shortly after Beyoncé's Grammy performance came across as absolutely bizarre. In her earnest acceptance speech for her album of the year win, Adele praised her fellow artist's vision for Lemonade, the album that Adele's 25 bested in the category. She also all but said Beyoncé deserved the Grammy.

After decades of dogs ruling popular culture — there are three canine stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame — there's been a revolution. Thanks to a tsunami of cute viral videos, our feline comrades are now in the catbird seat, from those ubiquitous Hello Kitty stores to surprise bestsellers like Takashi Hiraide's exquisite, sneakily profound novel The Guest Cat.

Margaret Drabble's new novel The Dark Flood Rises opens with its protagonist, Francesca Stubbs, tensely driving her Peugeot on an English highway. Fran is an expert on housing for senior citizens; she's herself in her seventies, and lately, she's been obsessed with mortality. Here's the first sentence of the novel: "She has often suspected that her last words to herself and in this world will prove to be 'You bloody old fool' or, perhaps, depending on the mood of the day or the time of the night, 'you ...

Following the introduction of two bills into the state Legislature that would legally prohibit transgender Texans from using bathrooms that align with their gender identities, 142 artists — including Ewan McGregor, Amy Poehler, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae, Talib Kweli, Wilco and Whoopi Goldberg — have co-signed a letter beseeching the state senators and representatives to prevent the bills' passage.

The musician and multimedia artist has co-created an immersive experience designed to make people aware of their implicit biases. It's called "The Institute Presents: Neurosociety."

Read the full story at KQED.

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