Arts & Life

By the time Angels In America got to Broadway in 1993, after workshops, a pair of west-coast stagings, and an ecstatically received London production, it played like the smash audiences had heard it was.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Who is that dour man?

Massachusetts' highest court owns his portrait — it hangs on a wall outside the chief justice's chambers — but the court's officials have no idea who he is.

They're hoping you might have an idea.

Benjamin Swasey, of member station WBUR, reports:

When astronaut Chris Hadfield returned from his last mission in space, his body was "really, really confused." After five months in orbit, "You can't balance. You don't inherently know which way up is," the first Canadian to become Commander of the International Space Station told host Ophira Eisenberg at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Paradigm Shift

Feb 9, 2018

Welcome to the alternate dimension where Julia Louis-Dreyfus's hit HBO comedy about crying is called "Weep." We've changed one letter in a movie or TV title, and imagined what the new plot might be. Based on our new synopsis, can you guess what our version would be called?

Heard On Chris Hadfield: Ground Control To Major Trivia

The Tourists' Guide To Washington D.C.

Feb 9, 2018

What DC landmark "looks a little bit like a missile?" During our Washington road show, a group of intrepid AMA producers interviewed tourists at famous memorials and monuments. Based on clips from those interviews, our contestants try to guess the landmark.

Heard On Chris Hadfield: Ground Control To Major Trivia

Our Nation's Capital

Feb 9, 2018

Question: what do single-elimination tournaments and the International House of Pancakes have in common? Answer: They're both NATION-al! In the final round of our D.C. show, each answer contains the word "nation."

Heard On Chris Hadfield: Ground Control To Major Trivia

Winter Sports Science

Feb 9, 2018

As a former downhill ski instructor and retired astronaut, Chris Hadfield is uniquely qualified for this game about winter sports.

Heard On Chris Hadfield: Ground Control To Major Trivia

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Feb 9, 2018

The Smithsonian is home to historical artifacts, iconic Americana, and all manner of weird pop culture memorabilia. We've rewritten songs by artists with "Smith" in their name to be about notable objects in the Smithsonian's collection— can you guess the object? For an extra point, name the artist we're parodying. And no, they're not all by The Smiths.

Heard On Chris Hadfield: Ground Control To Major Trivia

Podcast Or Fraud-cast?

Feb 9, 2018

From reviewing board games to comparing stationery products, it seems like everyone has a podcast these days. Guess whether the shows described in this game are real or fake podcasts— or, as we like to call them, future podcasts.

Heard On Chris Hadfield: Ground Control To Major Trivia

“Hidden Figures”

Author: Margot Lee Shetterly

Publisher: William Morris 

Pages: 368

Price: $27.99 (Hardcover) 

“Hidden Figures” has an extended and explanatory subtitle: "The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race." The life stories of these black women were so immediately compelling the movie was produced about simultaneously with the book.

Shetterly writes that many readers have asked how these stories remained hidden for so long. She writes they were not "so much hidden as unseen."

Some people may be planning to dine on kimchi and bulgogi this weekend in honor of the opening of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The rest of us, however, are stocking up on Vulcan Plomeek Soup and blue-hued Romulan Ale as we prepare for the final episode of season one of Star Trek: Discovery on Sunday night.

Let the intergalactic feasting begin.

If you lived in Atlanta in the late 1970s or early '80s, you heard this question every night: "It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?"

The reason that TV news started broadcasting that question every night: Many people didn't know where their children were. Kids were disappearing. Their bodies would turn up in the woods, strangled.

It's the biggest smorgasbord on TV. NBC and its related platforms are serving up more than 2,400 hours of Olympics coverage through the closing ceremony on Feb. 25 — a record for a Winter Olympics. It's all there in front of you, but figuring out what you want and when you want it is a challenge. Here are a few ideas on sorting through it all:

How To Watch On TV

With films like The Color Wheel, Listen Up, Philip and Queen of Earth, writer-director Alex Ross Perry swiftly established himself as indie-cinema's premier misanthrope, as if the literate class of Woody Allen movies had been body-snatched by caustic malcontents of John Cassavetes movies. Shot in 16mm, mostly in interiors free of electronic distraction, Perry's films are defiantly analog in their four-walled intensity, committed to unpacking the restive desires of characters who act on impulse and often look ugly in the process.

"Less plot, more ladders."

That's a philosophy espoused by a college friend of mine with a fondness for Jackie Chan movies. Chan is known for incredibly inventive action sequences in which he fights using whatever is handy — including, in First Strike, a ladder. But what my friend does not want from Jackie Chan movies is a lot of time unwinding a boring, byzantine plot. Less plot, he would demand. More ladders.

As is often the case, this year's crop of Academy Award-nominated live action shorts — several of them made as newbie filmmakers' calling cards — make up in earnest humanity for what they lack in technical sophistication. One way or another, all of this year's nominees turn on themes of terror — that's if you count the lone comedy, which speaks to the fear, fantasy, or wishful thought that psychiatrists may be crazier than their patients. Here they are, ranked from best ... to best-intentioned.

My Nephew Emmett

An NBA superstar, a Disney powerhouse and a beloved children's book author make up some of the Oscar nominees for best animated short this year, and you can watch them all in theaters before the ceremony.

Asymmetry is a book whose title tells the tale: It's made up of two disparate stories with no apparent connection, and a third story that just hints at the link between the two. Debut author Lisa Halliday won the prestigious Whiting Award for her work — and while you may not have heard of her, you probably have heard of Colson Whitehead, Jeffrey Eugenides, Alice McDermott and Jonathan Franzen, all of whom are fellow Whiting winners

Veer and Maya eloped despite their parents' objections. Shahzad and Sabeena have a traditional arranged marriage that's been complicated by their inability to have children. Ashok and Parvati met via an online matchmaker.

The experiences of these three Indian couples are the focus of Elizabeth Flock's new book, The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai. Flock, a reporter for PBS Newshour, spent nearly a decade following, and sometimes taking part in, their lives.

The connection between Middle Eastern and Mexican food goes all the way back to the Moors, and is well-known in culinary circles. Al pastor tacos are just a pork version of the shawarma spits that Lebanese immigrants brought with them to Mexico City in the 1930s. In nearby Puebla, a wrap called tacos árabes — Arabic tacos — uses a flatbread that's halfway between pita and lavash. Kibbe (fried meatballs made from bulghur wheat) is popular in the Yucatán, thanks to Syrians who settled in the Peninsula over the past century.

For February, 3 Swooningly Romantic Reads

Feb 8, 2018

In real life, we tend to think of romance as flowers, wine and Hallmark cards. But in a romance novel, it's a wicked wager with a hot rogue, a fake date that becomes a very serious fling, or a passionate love affair with a dangerous man. For this oh-so romantic month, here are three genuinely romantic novels to enjoy — flowers and wine optional.

Early in The Line Becomes a River, Francisco Cantú tells his mother his reasons for joining the Border Patrol. "Maybe it's the desert, maybe it's the closeness of life and death, maybe it's the tension between the two cultures we carry inside us. Whatever it is, I'll never understand it unless I'm close to it." It's surreal dialogue, the sort of thing that feels like a promise and only later turns out to be an omen.

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Former Daily Show correspondent Jordan Klepper remembers a time, not so long ago, when he was barely aware of far-right media outlets like Alex Jones' Infowars and Breitbart News. That changed during the 2016 presidential race.

"I was going out into the field and covering a lot of Trump rallies and talking to people," Klepper says, "and they were getting a lot of their ideas and their news from these far-right sources. So what first felt fringe, suddenly felt mainstream."

The classic coming-to-New-York story was a mashup of a few pleasurably predictable elements: a young person with dreams bigger than his or her bank account, a few roach-ridden apartments and crummy jobs, some eccentric friends and neighbors, and a couple of requisite hard knocks before ... success!

Here's what drives me crazy about time travel books. In (almost) every single one of them, the time traveler's most notable experience is meeting other people who aren't time travelers; who were, in their proper moment, just famous as all hell.

Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino acknowledged that he is responsible for insisting that actress Uma Thurman perform a car stunt that resulted in a crash that nearly killed her 15 years ago.

Thurman's account of the accident, which chilled relations between Thurman and Tarantino for years, was detailed in a New York Times story over the weekend. Much of the article centers on Thurman's allegations that she had been sexually assaulted by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

America's war in Afghanistan is the longest war the U.S. has ever fought. Beginning a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the initial mission was to remove the Taliban from power and destroy the al-Qaida terror network. Now, nearly 17 years later, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll points out that the war's goals have changed.