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Arts/Life

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

On The DL

Jun 16, 2017

We're benched this final round, where every answer has the initials D.L. For example, if we asked, "Who hosted his final episode of 'Late Show' in May, 2015," the answer would be "David Letterman."

Heard on Annabelle Gurwitch: 'Don't Treat Me Like Family'

Mystery Guest

Jun 16, 2017

Mystery Guest Jen Glantz stops by the Bell House to tell us about her unique business. Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton ask her yes-or-no questions to figure out what it is.

Heard on Annabelle Gurwitch: 'Don't Treat Me Like Family'

Mall And Oates

Jun 16, 2017

Say it isn't so...we rewrote hit Hall and Oates songs to be about stores in the mall. We understand if you can't go for that.

Heard on Annabelle Gurwitch: 'Don't Treat Me Like Family'

Reverse Reality

Jun 16, 2017

Ever wanted to return to a simpler time? We mean back when The Simple Life was still on TV, of course. In lieu of actual time travel, we describe reality television shows as if they were playing in reverse, and contestants tell us which show we're talking about.

Heard on Annabelle Gurwitch: 'Don't Treat Me Like Family'

Actor and author Annabelle Gurwitch has had almost every job in entertainment. In high school, she started writing copy for the straight-to-VHS soft-core videos her father distributed. "I never actually saw these movies, I just saw the artwork," she told host Ophira Eisenberg. Writing descriptions of something you've never seen — how much does that pay? "Not enough for that kind of creativity."

Name That Sound

Jun 16, 2017

KLAXON, KLAXON, KLAXON. That's the name for the classic horn "awooga" sound. Contestants guess the official names of common sound effects and production music in this audio quiz.

Heard on Annabelle Gurwitch: 'Don't Treat Me Like Family'

I Rest My Case

Jun 16, 2017

"The plaintiff wears pinstripe. The defendant wears herringbone. The future of boxy luggage is at stake." This excerpt comes from the back of one of our new paperback legal thrillers: The Suit Case. Every answer in this game is a word or phrase ending in the word "case."

Heard on Annabelle Gurwitch: 'Don't Treat Me Like Family'

This week, now that more of you have had a chance to see it, we're finally getting around to talking about the critical and commercial success that is Wonder Woman. Petra Mayer of NPR Books joins us to talk about Diana, her island of fighters, her romance, the inevitable Great Big Ending, representation that does and doesn't exist in this movie, and more.

Three-course dinner chewing gum.

Fizzy lifting drinks.

Everlasting gobstoppers.

These, of course, are the creations of Willy Wonka, who himself is the creation of author Roald Dahl.

Nearly 2,000 years after he held sway over ancient Rome, a notorious emperor is again causing outrage. The reason: Italian authorities approved construction of a massive stage amid the ruins over the Roman Forum for a rock opera about Nero, who ruled from 54 to 68 A.D.

Archaeologists and art historians are up in arms, denouncing what they see as the commercialization of the country's heritage.

Journalist Tom Ricks used to write about the present. His reports on the U.S. military won him two Pulitzer Prizes, and his 2006 book, Fiasco, was basically a takedown of U.S. policies in Iraq.

But Ricks says the wars following Sept. 11 wore him down; so he left daily journalism, moved to an island off the coast of Maine and wrote a history called Churchill and Orwell — as in the British prime minister and the author of 1984.

The multi-billion-dollar success of Pixar's Cars series can be chalked up to a great many things, but don't discount the little vroom-vroom frowns the cars make with their dashboard eyes when they want to go fast. When Lightning McQueen, the Owen Wilson-voiced stock car with the bright flames decal, guns for pole position, he squints so much that any human who might be driving him wouldn't be able to see the road.

Partisans on either side of Northern Ireland's "Troubles" will naturally gravitate to one of The Journey's two principals: Republican Martin McGuinness or Unionist Ian Paisley. But for those watching at a certain distance — from across the Atlantic, say — the movie is as much a clash of acting styles as a political debate.

Playing McGuinness, Colm Meaney emphasizes warmth, humor, and naturalness. As the older and chillier Paisley, Timothy Spall is more mannered, relying on such gear as false teeth that make his occasional grin even more menacing than his frequent scowl.

Kate McKinnon plays an Australian in Rough Night, a shrewd gender-reversal of sloppy-drunk bro comedies like Bachelor Party, Very Bad Things, and The Hangover. There's no particular reason for her to play an Australian, beyond a thin running joke about cultural insensitivity of failing to distinguish between Aussies and Kiwis. And yet it's funny. McKinnon merrily swishes her dialogue around the accent and makes her character's jet lag and fish-out-of-water misunderstanding to keep her a beat behind the action, like the caboose of the comedy train.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The title of Maile Meloy's new novel is misleading: Do Not Become Alarmed sounds like a suspense story. Granted, I did read it in two nights; but, while I'm a unapologetic fan of thrillers, Meloy's novel is something else, something trickier to characterize. I'd call it a very smart work of literary fiction that exposes how very thin the layer of good luck is that keeps most of us from falling into the abyss.

In 1974, McDonald's set its sights on opening a new franchise in Manhattan's Upper East Side at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 66th Street. This location wouldn't be anything like the ketchup and mustard colored buildings in the suburbs. It would be tasteful and blend in with the townhouses surrounding it. Regardless of aesthetics, Upper East Siders were having none of it.

Allegra Goodman's characters tend to become obsessed with whatever belief systems they espouse, and for nearly 20 years, her novels have followed them into their cultural bubbles — whether it's the separatist Orthodox Judaism in a small Catskills community in Kaaterskill Falls, the secular faith in science in a tight-knit medical research laboratory in Intuition, or the adrenaline-fueled, competitive Silicon Valley startup culture in The Cookbook Collector. In The Chalk Artist, her sixth novel, Goodman, who holds a PhD.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It is a good time for the spoken word. There's a whole lot out there - from radio to podcasts to audio books. Turns out there are lots of choices out there for young audiophiles too.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOW IN THE WORLD")

In books and movies, a monster is often more than just a monster. Maybe it represents anxiety, or corruption, or the id — all of which are themes that slither under the surface of Sarah Perry's new book, The Essex Serpent. Set in England at the end of the 19th century, "it's about the return of a mythical beast that's menacing the local villages," Perry tells me.

When it comes to comedy, Late Night host Seth Meyers is clear about what drew him in: "I got into it because it looked like the most fun job in the world," he says. "And it has not led me astray."

Indeed, Meyers' resume is packed with fun. Before taking over the reins at Late Night, he spent 13 years at Saturday Night Live, first as a performer, then as head writer and the co-host, alongside Amy Poehler, of the show's "Weekend Update" segment.

If it seems like there's an explosion of TV coming at you this summer, that's because there is. And it's a trend that's been building for quite a while.

Back in the day — say five or 10 years ago — summer was a time of experimentation and slowing down. Network TV aired shows that would keep the lights on while reserving its best stuff for the fall, and cable TV took advantage by debuting more new shows as an alternative.

'Mormama' Is A House Built On Quicksand

Jun 14, 2017

For years now I've been engaged in a conversation with myself about horror and what I want from it.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Library of Congress today named Tracy K. Smith as the nation's new poet laureate. NPR's Lynn Neary spoke with her about her new role.

Tracy K. Smith knows many readers are intimidated by line breaks. She knows people don't like identifying consonance, assonance or alliteration.

But Smith — the newly announced 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States — wants to help America push past that anxiety.

"What do you hear? What do you feel? What does this remind you of?" she asks NPR. "These are all real and valid reactions to a poem."

Murder. For writer Anthony Horowitz, that's where it all starts. He says everyone is fascinated by murder — just look at Foyle's War, his BBC mystery series. The show is set in the U.K. during World War II, but that wasn't its selling point.

"If I had gone to the BBC and said I wanted write about, I don't know, the social history of 1940 to '47, they would have probably said no," Horowitz explains. "When I said, 'I've got a whole series of terrific murders which take place in that time,' they opened the door."

Whenever Esteban Castillo visited his grandparents in Colima, Mexico, he'd sit by his grandfather's taco stand and watch him cook. He'd also see his grandmother carry her homemade cheeses on her back and go door to door, selling them in different neighborhoods. To this day, his grandparents still make a living off of food.

"They basically transform their living room into a restaurant during the weekends to make ends meet," says Castillo.

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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