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Arts/Life

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Look at Vincent Van Gogh's Olive Trees closely enough, and you'll find the subtle intricacies of his play with color, his brushstrokes, perhaps even his precise layers of paint atop the canvas.

You'll also find a grasshopper. Well, parts of one, anyway.

Any effort to out-James Henry James must inevitably come to smash. This would have been a useful caveat to John Banville, the Man Booker-winning author of Mrs. Osmond, a novel that makes a valiant imaginative leap but stumbles along the way.

Bill McKibben has tried almost everything to save the world. Since the publication in 1989 of his popular nonfiction book The End of Nature, the writer, environmentalist, and political activist has dedicated his burgeoning platform to advocating sustainable energy, proactive policy, and personal responsibility in the face of the climate change crisis.

Several of us are on vacation this week, so here's one of our favorite — heretofore unheard — segments from last year's Pop Culture Happy tour of the West Coast.

Specifically: The great and good Audie Cornish joined us last October for a show at Seattle's Neptune Theatre, in which we answered listener questions and offered up some pop culture advice on the following topics:

  • Do I need to adjust my ratio of reading articles/listening to podcasts about a given piece of culture vs. personally experiencing that piece of culture?

This time of year, the stands at Paris' hundreds of weekly food markets are laden with plump, dark grapes and wild mushrooms. Wild game often hangs from hooks above.

Of all the seasons to visit Paris, food lovers say the best time is autumn.

"The fall is the best time to eat in France," says longtime Paris resident and culinary historian David Downie. "Everyone knows that. It's when everything comes in. It's the harvest season."

Johannes Vermeer's Young Woman Seated at a Virginal doesn't quite look like a Vermeer painting. The titular young woman is klutzy at her keyboard, and graceless. She's also sitting in a dark room — none of that ethereal, luminous light Vermeer normally shines on his subjects.

Vermeer created the painting in 1675, when he was in his early 40s and broke. It was the last year of his short life. National Gallery curator Arthur Wheelock says, "We know that he dies suddenly and may be ill, so I don't know what effect that might have on this [painting]."

As the chief official White House photographer for President Barack Obama, Pete Souza had top security clearance and sat in on most meetings and major events with the president.

"I was there all the time," he says. "I wasn't talking to [Obama] all the time, but I was always in every meeting and pretty much every situation that he had as president."

'Spineless' Dives Deep Into The World Of Jellyfish

Nov 7, 2017

So much writing about climate change concerns winners and losers, the few who will benefit and what will be lost in our planet's altered future. These pronouncements tend to be sweeping — every shoreline will flood, billions of the world's poor will suffer — in keeping with the global scope of the challenge.

When Alan Bennett's whopping 700-page omnibus of picked-up pieces landed on my desk, I considered giving it a pass. But how could I resist after happening upon this diary entry from 2005, which reads in its entirety: "Robert Hanks, the radio critic of the Independent, remarks that personally he can have too much of Alan Bennett. I wonder how he thinks I feel."

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This article discusses several plot elements of the original Twin Peaks television series, the 2016 book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, as well as this summer's Showtime mini-series, Twin Peaks: The Return.

Twin Peaks — the show and the cultural phenomenon around it — began life as the co-creation of two starkly different men: filmmaker David Lynch and writer Mark Frost.

Let's begin with a sweeping, simplistic and grossly unfair generalization: David Lynch is an artist. Mark Frost is a storyteller.

Editor's note: This story includes language that may be offensive to some readers.

Her career spans decades in film, television and theater. She has worked with the biggest names in Hollywood and on Broadway. Along the way, she has become one of them.

Jenifer Lewis' new memoir, The Mother of Black Hollywood, details her journey to the spotlight. It comes out next week. Lewis spoke with NPR's Noel King about the book and how her career began.

The actress Krysten Ritter is best known for strong and complicated characters like the superhero-turned-detective Jessica Jones, star of her own Netflix series. Ritter was raised in small Pennsylvannia farm town, which inspired her debut novel Bonfire, a dark thriller about about environmental pollution, secrets and abuse. "I'm from a small town, a farm, a hundred acres," she says. "A few years ago, the frackers came in and wanted to frack on the property ... not really telling them what the environmental consequences would be.

Drew and Jonathan Scott struggled for years to break into the entertainment industry. So the twin brothers decided to open a real estate services company to pay the bills as they continued trying to become stars.

Then, they got an idea — why not combine their two pursuits? And thus, the Property Brothers were born.

In the early 1970s, when many professional photographers were shooting in black and white, Raghubir Singh pioneered the use of color film to capture scenes from his homeland India. Back then, color photography wasn't always taken seriously. But Singh insisted that it was impossible to capture India's essence in black and white.

Firsthand Experience Fuels The 'Pursuit Of Memory'

Nov 5, 2017

At one point in Joseph Jebelli's new book In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer's, the author interviews Carol Jennings, an elderly woman who lives in Coventry, England. Diagnosed with Alzheimer's, she furrows her brow as she attempts to describe what the onset of the disease felt like — an attempt hampered, of course, by the disease itself. "For a while things were going ... a bit pear-shaped ... there was some sort of thing, I'm sure, that was ... a little bit ... strange," she says, grasping for the memories as well as the words.

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Author Anne Fadiman's father, Clifton Fadiman, was the very model of the modern, cultivated man: He quoted William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw, recited Homer and Sophocles, and made clever wisecracks and pointed puns. He was a longtime judge for the Book-of-the-Month Club, the host of a popular radio and TV quiz show, and he loved wine. In The Wine Lover's Daughter, Anne Fadiman has written a memoir that winds in and out of one of her father's most personal passions.

At a young age, Scott Kelly dreamed of being a test pilot and then an astronaut, rocketing into space. He did it, and apparently liked it so much up there he never wanted to come home — last year, he set the American record for time spent at the International Space Station, returning to earth after nearly one year in orbit.

Being so familiar with the ISS, we wanted to see how familiar he was with IHOP — that is, the restaurant chain International House of Pancakes.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

Fantastic worldbuilding sets the stage in this debut novel, as Tochi Onyebuchi conjures up a busy market city inspired by his Nigerian heritage and populates it with a group of outcast kids who shoulder the sins of the rich and powerful.

Dan Rather's career has entered a new phase. At age 86, he's again speaking to millions of people every day.

It's not at CBS, where he anchored the Evening News for decades — instead, Facebook has given him a new audience. That's where he writes essays about the news of the day.

Here's an excerpt of what he posted this past Monday, when members of the Trump campaign were indicted.

Stand At The Edge Of Geological Time

Nov 3, 2017

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Real Or Fake Kids' TV Show

Nov 3, 2017

We cashed in on some kids' show syndication money with this quiz, in which our celebri-testants must decide whether descriptions of children's TV shows are real or fake.

HIGHLIGHTS

Linda Cardellini On The Acting Challenges Of The Price Is Right

I lost the black lacquer bedroom set that I pretended to want, even though I already had one at home.

Jeff Garlin On His Own Price Is Right Experience

Sunset Boulevard

Nov 3, 2017

Comedian and actor Jeff Garlin managed to cash in on the perks of being rich and famous before he was either rich or famous. As a young stand-up comic in Chicago, Garlin was approached after a set by some frantic producers of The Oprah Winfrey Show, looking for someone to tape an appearance the next day. Sensing their desperation, Garlin decided to make some demands. "I go, 'Okay. As long as I get my own dressing room and I want it filled with bagels and donuts,'" he told host Ophira Eisenberg. The bagels and donuts were very memorable, even if his jokes were not.

Everything Starts With LA

Nov 3, 2017

Singer-songwriter Aimee Mann joins Jonathan Coulton for a rendition of "All This Time," from his latest album "Solid State." Then, our two winning celebri-testants vie for the starring role in our Ask Me Another Famepocalypse reboot. We challenged them to a final round in which every answer starts with the letters "L-A."

Heard On Los Angeles: Famepocalypse Part Two

This, That, Or The Other

Nov 3, 2017

Lance Reddick and Paul Rust teamed up for a very glamorous This, That, Or The Other. Can you guess whether each phrase is the name of a TV series on the BBC, a type of flower, or an erotic technique described in the Kama Sutra?

HIGHLIGHTS

Lance Reddick On His Ideal Night In

I'm gonna give you the PG version. My wife and I binge-watching our latest whatever show we're crazy about and ordering in and cuddling on the couch. And I'm gonna give you [PG-]13— we kiss a little bit.

Paul Rust On His Ideal Night In

We wrote an audio quiz for Lance Reddick and Paul Rust that's loud, abrupt, and inaccessible to industry outsiders. We inserted the Wilhelm scream, a famous inside joke among sound editors, into the middle of iconic movie quotes.

HIGHLIGHTS

Lance Reddick On His Early Inspiration

I always wanted to be Captain Kirk, and once I found out that William Shatner was a trained Shakespearean actor, I would open up monologues and try to do them like Captain Kirk.

Paul Rust On His Hometown, Le Mars, Iowa

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