Arts & Life

Qais Akbar Omar lives on the first floor of an ordinary looking house in the city of Quincy, on Boston's South Shore. But stepping inside his apartment, you're immediately transported to a different place.

Spread on the floors are hand-woven rugs from his family's carpet business in Kabul. One is made up of four rectangular prayer rugs all woven together, in reds, oranges and blacks. In the kitchen, there's a woolen rug, traditionally used by nomads. It's edged with goats' hair to keep out scorpions and snakes.

"My parents are both Indian," Ravi Patel explains during an interview as he fixes a cup of chai for a visitor. "And we were born here. And while they grew up the Old School way, not dating, having family put them together, we're like, American. Even though in many important ways we're very Indian."

Literary fairy dust, the exclamation point. The cheapest, sleaziest of the punctuation marks, unconscious of any subtleties or nuance. Generally the mark of choice for tweens and the emails of suspiciously chipper HR managers (We're cleaning out the office fridge this Wednesday!), the exclamation point is commonly eschewed by anyone committing serious literature to the page. For better or for worse, it is looked down upon, scorned as too brash, too base, too raucous for polite society.

But not for Jonathan Evison!

Sleeping With Other People has the arc of a conventional mainstream rom-com, but the beats are scrambled and the movie gets a climactic event out of the way in the prologue. The film actually opens with the male and female protagonists having sex — taking each other's virginity.

A Food Museum Grows In Brooklyn

Sep 11, 2015

How did we get vanilla flavor without a vanilla bean? Or chicken flavor made from all-vegetarian ingredients?

Though humans have been enjoying the sensory pleasures of flavor since we first popped food into our mouths, the flavor industry itself is relatively new. And this modern business of manufacturing smell and taste will be the theme of the Museum of Food and Drink's first exhibit in a brick and mortar space of its very own: a "mini-museum" opening in Brooklyn on Oct. 28.

John Richard Moore Jr., who starred in the Our Gang shorts of the 1930s that later became TV's The Little Rascals, has died just days short of his 90th birthday. Moore's busy career as a child actor included scores of films; in one, he shared a kiss with Shirley Temple.

'Not Funny' Proves Potent On A Tough Subject

Sep 11, 2015

This book is a weapon that doesn't look like one. A graphic novel done in pink and gold, it's populated by rosily flushed characters drifting through unbounded space. Leah Hayes' lines are aggressively unassuming. They're hasty, even a bit clumsy, and her figures' expressive physicality seems to happen almost by accident. Hayes' coup de grace of diffidence is her lettering style. She writes like a teenager passing notes in class, with sloping rows of uneven characters and occasionally creative spelling.

When It Comes To Kids, Is All Screen Time Equal?

Sep 11, 2015

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Screen Time - Part I.

About Dimitri Christakis' TED Talk

Pediatrician Dimitri Christakis explains how different forms of screen time affects kids and their ability to learn and develop.

About Dimitri Christakis

What Happens When We Step Inside The Screen?

Sep 11, 2015

Part 6 of the TED Radio Hour episode Screen Time - Part I.

About Chris Milk's TED Talk

Filmmaker Chris Milk uses cutting edge technology to create a film experience that immerses the viewer. He explains how virtual reality has allowed him to create the "ultimate empathy machine."

About Chris Milk

Will Our Screens Soon Be Able To Read Our Emotions?

Sep 11, 2015

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Screen Time - Part I.

About Rana el Kaliouby's TED Talk

Despite their powerful computing capability, our screens have no way of knowing how we feel. Computer scientist Rana el Kaliouby says that's about to change.

About Rana el Kaliouby

We had a visitor here at NPR on Thursday: Alice Waters, the famous chef and educator. She's best known for her restaurant Chez Panisse, which helped to popularize local, seasonal ingredients.

When she came by, she looked a little different. Hanging from her neck was a bronze medal on a red ribbon — a National Humanities Medal. President Obama had just given it to Waters.

While driving to his studio in New York's Rockaway Beach neighborhood, artist Christopher Saucedo looks out across Jamaica Bay. He sees a glittering Manhattan and the spire of the new World Trade Center gleaming in a cloudless sky.

"Obviously, where it stands there were once two other very tall towers," the art professor says dryly.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Whether mummy or mommy, a creature whose face is cloaked in bandages is eerie. So it might seem reasonable for twins Lukas and Elias (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) to be distrustful when their mother (Susanne Wuest) returns from the hospital with a wrapped face. As Goodnight Mommy soon reveals, however, very little about the physically identical brothers is reasonable.

In the unnervingly bleak, marvelous new film Time Out of Mind, Richard Gere plays a homeless man trying to survive on the streets of New York City. Though he doesn't — not now, at least — think of himself as homeless, George comes to us fast asleep in a bath in an apartment not his own. Thrown out without ceremony by a landlord's enforcer (Steve Buscemi), George keeps trying to weasel his way back into the building, insisting that someone called Sheila ("my lady") would be back soon to support his claim to residence, he insists.

There's a poem by Yi-Fen Chou in the 2015 edition of Best American Poetry, which came out on Tuesday. That's also when it came out — in the book's biographical notes — that Yi-Fen Chou is not a Chinese poet. He's a white guy named Michael Derrick Hudson. Hudson wrote in his bio that he uses the pen name as a strategy to get his poems published.

Ken Chen, executive director of the Asian American Writers' Workshop in New York, offered this commentary on All Things Considered:

In the three decades that the National Medals of Arts have been awarded, the list of recipients has grown long and luminous. Ray Bradbury, Maya Angelou, Aretha Franklin, Frank Capra, Georgia O'Keeffe, even AT&T (and many, many more) — the artists and arts patrons who have earned the prize from the U.S. government are as hallowed in name as they are diverse in discipline.

This year, that list got a bit horrific.

If you don't know Elena Ferrante — and judging by conversations I've had, many readers still don't know her books — it's partly because Ferrante herself doesn't want to be known.

"I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors," Ferrante declared in a letter to her publisher in 1991 when her first novel, Troubling Love, was about to come out. "If [books] have something to say," Ferrante continued, "they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won't."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Cities Of Bone And Flights Of Fancy In 'Updraft'

Sep 10, 2015

As a regular reader of fantasy fiction, I get used to seeing genre conventions established, repeated, played with and turned on their head — but regardless of how they're treated the conventions are always there, a low drone behind whatever music an author's making. A dragon contains a piece of every dragon that's come before it; every elf has ancestry; every magic system's a tapestry of traditions.

So it's especially wonderful to encounter a novel — a debut! — that reminds me of nothing so much as how wildly, powerfully innovative fantasy can be.

Many writers have done some of their best work under threatening and even hostile circumstances: James Baldwin worked tirelessly during the tensions of the civil rights movement; Roberto Bolaño wrote his masterpiece 2666 under looming sickness and death. Joseph Roth, the Austrian journalist and novelist, sketched a portrait of his age while his native Europe was wracked by war and suffering.

With sculptural swoops and sweeps and unusual materials, Frank Gehry changed the course of architecture. His creations, such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, created a new architectural language.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

A $26 million visitor complex honoring the victims of Flight 93 was dedicated and opened to the public on Thursday. The United Airlines plane was one of four hijacked by al-Qaida on Sept. 11, 2001, and the only flight that didn't reach its target.

Passengers forced the terrorists in control of the plane to deliberately crash it in rural Pennsylvania. Forty crew and passengers were killed, along with the four hijackers.

Their presumed target was the U.S. Capitol.

License To ILL

Sep 9, 2015

This final round is totally sick--in a good way! Every answer contains the letters "I-L-L" in consecutive order. It's the only time you'll see Camilla Parker Bowles next to a George Foreman Grill.

Heard in Sutton Foster: Really, Anything Goes

Musicals Without The Music

Sep 9, 2015

VIP Sutton Foster and her husband, screenwriter Ted Griffin, know a lot about musicals. And movies. So naturally, we pitted this entertainment power couple against each other in a game about movie musicals that have won Academy Awards.

Heard in Sutton Foster: Really, Anything Goes

Initial Impressions

Sep 9, 2015

Lots of famous people abbreviate their first name to one initial. In this game, we'll ask you about some of them, and give you hints by imagining that their first initial is related to their chosen profession. Which legendary FBI director's first initial might stand for "justice"?

Heard in Sutton Foster: Really, Anything Goes

Three Easy Reci-pieces

Sep 9, 2015

The Pillsbury website optimistically promises that you can make excellent macaroni and cheese with a can of evaporated milk, elbow pasta, and cheddar cheese. Can our phone contestant guess other dishes based on their "fun three ingredient recipes that take no time at all"?

Heard in Sutton Foster: Really, Anything Goes

Sutton Foster: Really, Anything Goes

Sep 9, 2015


Sep 9, 2015

Punchable Face. Exploding Head Syndrome. Whole Body Transplant. Can you tell which of these Wikipedia pages is fake? Yeah, we didn't think so. But, like our contestants, you'll have a great time trying!

Heard in Sutton Foster: Really, Anything Goes

Product Placement #5

Sep 9, 2015

It seems like you can't escape ads these days, but did you know that you can even find them lurking in some...pop songs? In this game, we've mashed up brand names with the titles of well-known tunes to create the ultimate product placement.

Heard in Sutton Foster: Really, Anything Goes