Arts/Life

Arts and culture

Tuesday was the first day of the summer press tour for the Television Critics Association. Press tour is an event that goes on for a couple of weeks, in which TV networks bring in personnel from their new shows (and sometimes their existing shows) for panel press conferences where the convened critics and reporters can ask questions.

Though tea strainers often come in brightly colored, sweet packaging with punny names like "the manatee," the lowly tea bag is often forgotten. Made from silk, plastic or paper, these bags are meant for one-time use only. Yet some artists are giving the tea bag a second life, letting their simple shapes and colors shine.

Colorado artist Wewer Keohane has been making art from spent tea bags for over 20 years. Sometimes she simply uses tea as a subtle dye, or pastes pieces of empty bags into an otherwise two-dimensional painting.

Science journalist Anil Ananthaswamy thinks a lot about "self" — not necessarily himself, but the role the brain plays in our notions of self and existence.

An Airborne Adventurer's Journey In 'Circling The Sun'

Jul 28, 2015

As she approached old age in the 1980s, the author, aviator and adventurer Beryl Markham had been largely forgotten. Her 1942 book detailing a pioneering east-west crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by plane, West with the Night, was long out of print. She had returned to her beloved Nairobi and was eking out a living training thoroughbred racehorses. Then a bit of praise tossed her way by Ernest Hemingway ("It really is a bloody wonderful book") turned up in a long-lost letter.

Everything from the blockbuster National Treasure to the TV series Sleepy Hollow has trafficked in the idea that America might not be exactly what it appears. Similarly, Austin Grossman's new novel, Crooked, imagines a United States founded not only on democracy and independence, but on the murky foundation of dark magic. But rather than handling this premise with a light, pulpy touch, Grossman's vision of the secret history of Richard M. Nixon is as eerie and absorbing as it is fantastically ludicrous.

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A couple weeks ago, Code Switch blogger Gene Demby and I sat down to reflect on a decade-old sports moment — a single play in a single game — and describe how it affected us as rival fans of the teams involved. In this second episode of the series we're calling The Giant Foam Finger, the two of us tackle a far unwieldier subject: hatred.

Summer blockbuster season is upon us. Dinosaurs, little yellow minions, an ant-man, all vying for our hard-earned entertainment dollars. But if you're looking for gentler thrills, try the Library of the Motion Picture Academy in Beverly Hills. There, you can poke through artifacts from the movies' golden years.

The Margaret Herrick Library's vaults contain millions of pieces of paper holdings — director's shooting scripts, photos, production designs, payrolls and, of course, fan mail.

A game-winning home run becomes a game loser — and 25 days later, it's turned back into the game-winner.

That alone would warrant an entry in baseball's history books.

But cast it with David and Goliath, include a temper tantrum of epic proportion, and hinge it all on an obscure old rule — and you've got the infamous Pine Tar Game.

That 1983 game between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals is recounted in a new book by New York Daily News sports columnist Filip Bondy.

The Context: Rivalries And Rules

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Caitlyn Jenner's new reality show, ”I Am Cait,” premieres on E! tonight.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "I AM CAIT")

CAITLYN JENNER: Isn't it great that maybe someday you'll be normal? Just blend into society.

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Superheroes, by definition, are extraordinary individuals - not exactly the type to blend in with a crowd - but what about Ant-Man?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANT-MAN")

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

In December 1984, a war was raging in Afghanistan; millions of refugees were fleeing to Pakistan to escape the fighting.

National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry was there — stationed at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to cover the crisis.

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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.

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.

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.

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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