Arts/Life

Arts and culture

Women's Comics Are Surfing The Crowd

Jul 26, 2015

If you're in any doubt whether women are having a Moment in the comics world, take a look at the new incarnation of superhero Black Canary. DC Comics' Annie Wu has taken the character's platinum hair and fishnets from kittenish to riot grrrl by way of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Glowering from the cover of the first issue, she seems to be saying, "Put your eyeballs back in your head and let me save you."

"I promise you I will show the same contempt for the historical record that it has shown for me."

So intone the opening pages of Austin Grossman's Crooked, in what are supposed to be the thoughts of our 37th president, Richard Nixon — or, at least, those thoughts as Grossman imagines them.

Put That Wok To Work: A Trick For Smoking Fish Indoors

Jul 26, 2015

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: We learn how to smoke fish without any specialized, pricey equipment.

The swarms of fans are gone from San Diego, and the elaborate displays that spilled out of the city's convention center during Comic-Con have been dismantled. Nonetheless, the studios and networks are already planning next year's show, because Comic-Con is the sweet spot for a peculiar kind of advertising that's at its peak here.

It's called immersive — or experiential — marketing, and it has taken off in the past few years. I ventured onto the convention floor to check out some of the displays, like the the giant installation for the TNT network show The Last Ship.

In the early 1960s, burgeoning folk music scenes were burbling up all over the country, and the Newport Folk Festival was their confluence.

National Lampoon's Vacation has been resurrected: more than 30 years later, the Griswolds are back on another reckless, wild road trip.

In the new movie Vacation, Rusty Griswold, the son from the original series, is all grown up and taking his family on a cross-country trip to the theme park Walley World. It goes about as smoothly as you'd expect.

Co-writers and co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein say the R-rated movie is not a reboot or a remake, but very much a sequel.

Dr. Vivek Murthy — the 19th U.S. Surgeon General — has had a pretty good medical career: As a college freshman, he, along with his sister, co-founded an HIV/AIDs education program, and, in a move that would make even Doogie Howser jealous, he was confirmed as U.S. Surgeon General when he was just 37.

But! Did he ever work at General Hospital? We suspect not. We'll ask him three questions about the long-running ABC soap opera which mysteriously treated 5,000 percent more cases of amnesia than the national average.

Think of all the accessibility amenities you've gotten used to seeing since July 26, 1990, the day the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law: Wheelchair ramps leading into government buildings; Support rails in restroom stalls; ATM keypads and elevator buttons in Braille.

Despite these improvements, people with disabilities still struggle in many areas, including one you might not think much about: clothing.

Cute Canes, Like Eyeglass Frames

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Finding The Humor In Desparation In 'Samba'

Jul 25, 2015
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Six years ago I picked up a book called Sandman Slim by an author, Richard Kadrey, whose name was only vaguely familiar to me. I bought it on a whim. I'm happy I did. Turns out Kadrey wrote Metrophage — a book I'd heard about but never actually got around to reading — back in the '80s, during the golden age of cyberpunk.

Sonya Lea and her husband Richard Bandy had a 23-year marriage filled with ups, downs and memories. In 2000 Bandy developed a rare form of appendix cancer and had an operation which was successful — sort of.

Bandy lived, but he was almost a different man. He had suffered a post-surgical complication called "anoxic insult" that cut oxygen to his brain and cleared much of his memory. He called his wife "Sweetness," but could not remember how they met, when they got married and the births of their two children. Twenty-three years more or less vanished from his mind.

The sun has very nearly set on Beirut, and in a bar called Anise, they're mixing the first cocktail of the evening.

There's vodka, vermouth and iced glasses. And next to the bunches of mint for mojitos are sage, wild oregano, rosemary and the Lebanese favorite, za'atar, a kind of wild thyme.

Here in Lebanon, mixologists and brewmasters are taking a national cuisine and reimagining it in liquid form.

Imagine discovering a blog written by an attractive, vivacious woman who lives in a city torn by civil war. Imagine corresponding with that woman, falling in love with her, and receiving erotic messages and nude photos from her. Then imagine hearing that this online lover has been kidnapped, probably by her repressive country's secret police.

It's high summer, and for a lot of us that means it's time to go camping. This summer, we're celebrating one particular camping trip.

Way back in 1858, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great philosopher and poet, set out into the Adirondack Mountains in New York. On the famous journey, he took with him some of the most famous artists, scientists and thinkers of his day.

This year, I set out early in the morning in my canoe with a company of my own: environmental activist and writer Bill McKibben and our guide, Mike Carr with the Nature Conservancy.

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Two movies are up to bat this week for our conversation with our pal and producer emeritus Mike Katzif, and the bottom line: we like 'em both.

First up is Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow's Trainwreck, which I wrote about last week (and talked about on the air), but which we have more time to explore here. We talk about the movie's stance toward monogamy, its unavoidable Apatovian looseness, the charms of Bill Hader, the bold (and, for some of us, tear-inducing) vulnerability of Amy Schumer, and lots more. It's a good movie.

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Now let's take a swing at "Southpaw." That's a new boxing film which picks up the themes of every other boxing film according to our critic, Kenneth Turan.

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Remember that Chris Farley character from "Saturday Night Live?" The motivational speaker who lived in van down by the river.

Well, visitors to New York can now spend the night in a van down by the East River.

A listing on AirBnB is offering bed space in several vans in Long Island City.... ranging in price from $22 to $99.

The vans lack almost all amenities. One guest commented that "not being able to shower was definitely a negative ... seeing as New York isn't very clean."

When Christian Petzold makes a thriller, it's nothing like the jokey, disclaiming neo-noirs we see so much of these days. His movies, set in critical periods of German history, are also love letters to the classic film noirs of Hollywood's Golden Age: The Postman Always Rings Twice looms over his 2008 film Jerichow, which features his longtime muse, Nina Hoss, as a woman with a crippling secret who plots murder with an Afghanistan war veteran.

Emotional Maps And 'Paper Towns'

Jul 23, 2015

As the current king of teen lit, author John Green is a barometer for what young readers respond to. His 2012 bestseller The Fault in Our Stars, about two teenagers who fall in love in a cancer support group, and its smash hit movie last year helped signal that teens were ready for big-hearted realism in their fiction after so many years of fantasy.

Don't call it a comeback: The grimy boxing melodrama Southpaw is so old-fashioned and unsophisticated it's almost new. Initiated as a remake of 1979's sap-soaked The Champ with Eminem in the lead role, it morphed into yet another opportunity for Jake Gyllenhaal to prove he's a contender. When he finally gets that Oscar he so clearly covets, it'll likely as not be a make-up award for his spooky turn as a sociopathic TV news cameraman in Nightcrawler last year.

Talk about opening with a bang: at the beginning of Julia Pierpont's debut novel, Among the Ten Thousand Things, an 11-year-old girl named Kay Shanley enters the lobby of her New York City apartment building. We readers have already been clued into the fact that Kay is the kind of awkward, shy, pre-teen other girls ridicule. We just want her to get safely into her family's apartment and back to watching the Harry Potter movies she loves. But, just as the elevator doors are closing, the doorman signals for her to hold up.

Journalist Jessica Grose is no stranger to criticism of her voice. When she was co-hosting the Slate podcast, the DoubleX Gabfest, she would receive emails complaining about her "upspeak" — a tendency to raise her voice at the end of sentences. Once an older man she was interviewing for an article in Businessweek told her that she sounded like his granddaughter.

"That was the first moment I felt [my voice] was hurting my career beyond just irritating a couple listeners," Grose tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

A lot of people seem to want to bite Donald Trump's head off these days. For those riled up by the Republican presidential candidate's incendiary comments of late, artist Lauren Garfinkel offers up this food for thought:

Yep, that's the Donald's likeness carved into a circus peanut — those marshmallow candies shaped like the legume. The orange hue, Garfinkel says, reminded her of Trump's signature tan.

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