Arts/Life

Arts and culture

M.F.K. Fisher Conjured Good Times That Couldn't Last

2 hours ago

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is not just the greatest American food writer who's ever played the game, she's one of our greatest writers, period. She was, variously, a travel writer, an essayist, a chronicler of American idylls, an observer of decline, of lack, of old fashioned custom and manners, a social critic, and a historian. The food thing? That's just what she loved — the fixed point around which she structured so much of her life (both the writing side of it and the actual living side of it) and to which she paid such particular and loving attention.

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Let's finish up today talking about last year's box office juggernaut. You know you saw it, maybe more than once.

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Some siblings find it hard just to be under the same roof, but Mark and Jay Duplass have teamed up to make more than a dozen films. They've recently branched out into television with their HBO show Togetherness.

Since these brothers get along so well, we've asked them to take a break from writing, directing, acting and producing to play a game called "Hating you is like hating myself." Three questions about brothers who didn't see eye to eye.

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#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

Belinda McKeon's new novel takes the prize for having one of the most exquisite endings I've read in some time — but first, you have to get there. McKeon has followed her debut, Solace (which won an Irish Book Award in 2011) with a microscopically examined tale of lopsided, obsessive love between two college-aged, fledgling adults who meet in Dublin just as they're starting to define themselves apart from their provincial parents.

With its elaborate headdresses, colorful sequined gowns and statuesque dancers, Jubilee is the classic Las Vegas show. It was the last showgirl extravaganza on the Vegas Strip, and now it's closed, its last performance on Feb. 11.

Women go through eight to 12 costume changes in a show that packs in at least as many different routines in about 90 minutes. There's a patriotic medley, the story of Samson and Delilah, even the Titanic.

T.J. Miller has played a dragon slayer in the How to Train Your Dragon movies, a man who doesn't always change his underwear in Big Hero 6 and a pothead who thinks he's a tech rock star in HBO's Silicon Valley. Now Marvel fans will know him as bartender Weasel, best friend to the titular superhero in the new, R-rated comic book movie Deadpool.

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The Danish entry in the foreign language Oscar sweepstakes, A War, begins in Afghanistan, deep in Taliban territory. A Danish patrol is walking single file across a field. Each man steps where the previous man stepped ... alas, to no avail. A land mine explodes, killing the baby-faced last soldier in the line.

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

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli in for Terry Gross.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m FRESH AIR TV critic David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross.

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What The Heck Is Natural Wine? Here's A Taste

Feb 12, 2016

If you follow the vast world of fermented grapes, you may have noticed an influx of so-called natural wines. I fell under their spell a few years ago. Apparently, I'm not alone. There's something of a natural wine cult blooming in shops, bars and restaurants around the U.S.

Money May Not Buy You Love, But It Sure Helps

Feb 12, 2016

A candlelit dinner, a bottle of bubbly Champagne and a beautiful date. You tear your gaze away for a second to glance at the check your waiter just gave you. Your heart skips a beat at the sight of the three-digit number. But never mind, the stunning smile across the table is worth it.

Right?

Relationships come with sweet romance and accelerating heartbeats, but money, unfortunately, is often a crucial ingredient in the mix as well. Think about it: Weekly date nights, vacations, wedding, honeymoon and even divorce ring up bills of all sorts.

In September 2014, Glen Weldon (a great recommendation engine for podcasts) talked in our What's Making Us Happy This Week segment about Pitch, a show I'd never heard of about which I said with some interest, "I'd listen to that." Hit your little fast-forward button and jump about a year and a half, during which we adopted Pitch as one of the things we think is nifty and befriended its producers, Alex Kapelman and

Like many romance readers, I have a list of authors whose new releases are always on my shopping list. But this winter I've been looking for new (to me) novels that reflect the people I see around me. I wanted to read books by authors of color. I also looked for interracial relationships, protagonists from different cultures, and class differences without power imbalances (the Women of Color in Romance website was a great resource). Here are a few that I found.

Dr. Paul Kalanithi was preparing to wrap up his medical residency in neurosurgery when, in 2013, a CT scan revealed tumors throughout his body. He had stage 4 lung cancer.

In his last two years of life, he continued caring for patients. He and his wife became parents. And Kalanithi, a gifted writer, wrote a book, When Breath Becomes Air, a reflection on being a doctor with a terminal illness.

He died March 9, 2015. He was 37 years old.

Just ahead of Valentine's Day, we visited the tomb of a poet who wrote often of love.

The 14th century Persian poet Hafez is buried in Shiraz, the city where he lived almost 700 years ago. He remains venerated in Iran, even though he wrote of romance and other topics that are not obviously embraced in the modern-day Islamic Republic.

One of his lines: "Oh Cup-bearer, set my glass afire with the light of wine!"

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All right, so let's play a game. Guess who this is. And if you've seen Quentin Tarantino's film "The Hateful Eight," don't spoil it for the others.

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Marvel's new superhero movie Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds, a fact that, up to now, would likely not have been considered much of a selling point. This is not, after all, Reynolds' first stint as a superhero. There was that catastrophic Green Lantern movie, his animated supersnail in Turbo, and he played this character very briefly in what's arguably the least of the X-Men movies.

Ready for a quick game of true or false?

In 1987 Donald Trump wrote a business advice book called The Art of the Deal. [TRUE]

That book was a best-seller. [TRUE]

Trump made a TV movie based on the book that was supposed to air but didn't because a football game went into overtime. Years later, director Ron Howard found the movie at a yard sale in Phoenix. [FALSE]

Touched With Fire has one of the most audacious dedication screens in recent years. Against a backdrop of Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night, a running crawl decrees the film has been made on behalf of the most influential artists of the past several centuries, everyone from Emily Dickinson to Pyotr Tchaikovsky to Virginia Woolf.

Chinese writer-director Jia Zhangke's films are grounded in the reality of his frigid, coal-dusted hometown, Fenyang. But that doesn't mean he's a realist. His complex latest film, Mountains May Depart, begins in Fenyang in 1999 as a stylized romantic melodrama and ends, two chapters later, in a place that's not yet actual: Australia in 2025.

In one of several lovely grace notes in Glassland, a domestic drama from Irish writer-director Gerard Barrett, a handsome young man hands his pretty mother a glass of white wine. They clink, they chug, he watches fondly as she dances alone, they slow-dance together. The sequence is touching rather than erotic, and it repeats later in the film with another kind of poignancy.

Released just two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks — which prompted Roger Ebert, in a one-star review, to offer it as a reason why Americans are hated in some parts of the world (he later apologized) — Ben Stiller's Zoolander found a country in no mood to laugh at its whimsical send-up of fashion-world excess.

Hollywood producer Ross Putman says he's read thousands of scripts during his time working in the film industry in Los Angeles, and over the years, he began to find one pattern particularly problematic: the way female characters are introduced.

Here's a sampling: leggy, attractive, blonde, beautiful, hot, gorgeous, pretty, sexy.

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