Arts/Life

Arts and culture

Nadine Gordimer's trademark characters live for politics, the Struggle. You get the feeling they would be sick to their collective stomachs if they ever even tried to bite into a gourmet cupcake.

Virginia Author Remembers Nostalgic Summers

Apr 11, 2012

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, guest host Viviana Hurtado shares a poetic tweet from author and professor Luisa Igloria of Norfolk, Virginia. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters or less to #TMMPoetry.

The 19th New York African Film Festival kicks off Wednesday, with a wide selection of films exploring ideas of home and homeland. Guest host Viviana Hurtado speaks with the festival's founder Mahen Bonetti, and documentary filmmaker Laura Gamse, who is showing her film The Creators about South African artists.

Carole King initially found it extremely difficult to navigate the social hierarchies of high school. The Grammy Award-winning songwriter was a few years younger than her fellow classmates and was often dismissed as being "cute."

"And it was like, no, I don't want to be cute, I want to be beautiful and smart," she tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And that wasn't happening, and then I connected through music. So music became a way of identifying my particular niche. How lucky for me."

In the most vital essay on crime fiction ever written — Raymond Chandler's 1944 apologia "The Simple Art of Murder" — Chandler paid this tribute to his hard-boiled predecessor, Dashiell Hammett: "Hammett took murder out of the Venetian vase and dropped it into the alley."

Earlier this month, tenor Juan Diego Florez made headlines when he sang the aria "Una furtiva lagrima" in the Donizetti opera L'elisir D'Amore at the Metropolitan Opera — not once, but twice.

The audience responded so enthusiastically that after well over a minute of applause and shouts of "Encore!" he sang the whole thing again — all five minutes of it.

Greta Gerwig, who stars in Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress, has made a name in indie films like Greenberg with a style that stands out for its naturalism. In Damsels, she inhabits the role of Violet, a bright, sweet, sincere college girl as only a bright, sweet, sincere former college girl could.

Parenting has changed in the past few decades. My mother didn't work while raising her first three children, finally going back when I was 4. She didn't have to worry about car seats or tummy time or how much television we watched.

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, host Michel Martin shares a poetic tweet from writer and artist Heather Feaga from Phoenix, Arizona. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters or less to #TMMPoetry.

Most pitchers in the majors stick to fastballs, curveballs, sliders and change-ups when facing batters at the plate.

But not New York Mets right-hander R.A. Dickey. Dickey is currently the only knuckleball pitcher in a current rotation. At 37, he's also one of the older pitchers in the league and has seen his career — and life — mimic the erratic trajectory of the difficult pitch he throws game after game.

'Kinect Star Wars': Flawed, But Welcome

Apr 10, 2012

Maybe it's the wide-eyed child that still exists within me. But I happen to like much of the dialog and some of the narrative in Kinect Star Wars.

I hadn't even heard the ruckus about how Ashley Judd looks that's apparently kicked up since the debut of her ABC series, Missing. But she did.

And she's written a piece for the Daily Beast about it.

'Heaven': A Hilarious (Yes, Really) History Of Shariah

Apr 10, 2012

English barrister Sadakat Kadri's Heaven on Earth: A Journey through Shari'a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World is an evolutionary look at Islamic jurisprudence that is subtle, generous and — rather improbably — dryly hilarious.

In a 24-hour, Internet-fueled news cycle, political campaign reporters often seem to be focused on what just happened, and only what just happened. But presidential candidates profess to take a longer view: They consciously link their critiques and promises to the influential figures and debates of the past.

Carole King has an armful of Grammy Awards and countless Top 10 hits, both under her own name and as a songwriter for artists from Little Eva to the Monkees to Aretha Franklin.

Her solo album Tapestry spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts, becoming one of the biggest-selling records of all time. King managed to fit in all those hits by starting very, very young. She tells NPR's Renee Montagne that she was just 15 when she and some classmates formed a doo-wop group called the Co-Sines.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Are you a fan of "Mad Men" or very much not? How you feel about the hit show on the AMC cable channel about a 1960s advertising agency may have something to do with how you feel about its depiction of the time when secretaries were not administrative assistants, personal assistants or executive assistants. No, they were secretaries - and they were not to forget that.

Here's a clip from "Mad Men" season one, when Joan, a senior secretary, gives advice to a new hire on her first day.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION SHOW, "MAD MEN")

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, host Michel Martin shares a poetic tweet by Laura Barkat of the website TSPoetry.com. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters and less to #TMMPoetry.

While attending services and small group meetings at The Vineyard, an evangelical church with 600 branches across the country, anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann noticed that several members of the congregation said God had repeatedly spoken to them and that they had heard what God wanted them to do.

In When God Talks Back, which is based on an anthropological study she did at The Vineyard, Luhrmann examines the personal relationships people developed with God and explores how those relationships were cemented through the practice of prayer.

Lauren Groff is the author of the new novel, Arcadia.

The darkest period of my life, so far, arrived the summer I was pregnant with my eldest son. The future was growing in me with all of its terrifying unpredictability, and I found myself anxious, unable to work and woefully at sea.

Blaise Pascal once wrote that writing succinctly can be hard. It's something many of us aim for, yet few of us master. But if you're writing on Twitter, you have to keep it short.

The Nigerian writer Teju Cole recently devoted himself to the goal of writing in brief. On his Twitter account, he crafts compact stories based on small news items, things you might overlook in the metro section of a newspaper. And with brevity, his stories gain deeper meaning.

Lena Dunham's new series Girls debuts on HBO on April 15. Dunham, who got quite a bit of attention for being the star, director and writer of the 2010 indie film Tiny Furniture, fills the same three roles in this ensemble show about four young women in New York.

There are plenty of pop culture references to the dangers of a close mother-son relationship. From the myth of Oedipus to the movie Psycho, narrative after narrative harps on the idea that mothers can damage their sons, make them weak, awkward and dependent.

But for millions of men, the opposite has turned out to be true, author Kate Lombardi tells NPR's Laura Sullivan. Lombardi — a mother herself — is the author of the new book, The Mama's Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger.

On-Air Challenge: Every answer is the name of a popular music group, past or present. You'll be given clues in which two letters in the group's name have been changed. For example, given "The Bench Boss," the answer would be "The Beach Boys," after changing the N in "Bench" to an A and the first S of "Boss" to a Y.

April is National Poetry Month, a time when bookstores proudly display those slim volumes usually hidden in the back.

On display this April is the work of Kentucky poet Nikky Finney, who won the National Book Award last November for her latest collection, Head Off & Split.

Finney's acceptance speech at the awards ceremony was as poetic as anything in her winning book. Finney says she worked on the speech through 39 drafts and she felt good about it, but she's still stunned by the response she's gotten.

Joe Castle, from Calico Rock, Ark., came up to the Chicago Cubs in the summer of 1973, played in 38 games, and hit an astonishing .488, including 21 home runs. That's all he played before being struck by a pitch. Scott Simon speaks with author John Grisham about his new baseball-themed novel, Calico Joe.

Comedian Rachel Dratch Plays Not My Job

Apr 7, 2012

Rachel Dratch was one of the stars of Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006. She was hilarious, and then she left the show. What happened then? Well, she got so tired of answering that question she wrote a whole book about it, called Girl Walks Into a Bar.

This month marks the 100th anniversary voyage of the Titanic, so we'll ask Dratch three questions about the James Cameron movie inspired by that historical tragedy.

When the College of Cardinals gathers in the Vatican to choose a new church leader — formally the Bishop of Rome — it announces its selection with the Latin phrase "Habemus papam" ("We have a pope").

But suppose that, when a cardinal steps out onto a balcony in St. Peter's Square to utter those fateful words, the gentle soul in white sitting behind him, out of sight of the crowd, develops stage fright.

Toy Companies Debut Bald Dolls For Cancer

Apr 6, 2012

Barbie is best known for her curvy figure and long blond hair — but Mattel plans to produce a doll that's a dramatic departure from that classic image.

This Barbie will be bald.

Mattel decided to make the doll after a campaign by Jane Bingham, a survivor of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in Philadelphia. She started a Facebook group with her friend called "Beautiful and Bald Barbie." She tells Audie Cornish, host of All Things Considered, that they wanted the toymaker to create a doll for kids who have cancer or have lost their hair for medical reasons.

When I hear the word "Titanic," I picture a tuxedoed Leonardo DiCaprio, waiting at the bottom of a gilded staircase while the voice of Celine Dion swells in my mind. It's all Edwardian glitz and glamour, decadence and passionate love, the kind best enjoyed in a dark theater with plenty of popcorn. And then I quickly remember that the ship sinks, and that Titanic is more than just an epic film from my youth. On April 15, a century will have passed since the ship plummeted into the icy Atlantic, and it is the tragedy we should remember, not just the mythology surrounding it.

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