Arts and Culture

Arts and culture

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

In a lot of memoirs, it feels safe to assume that the author really knows what they're writing about. But here's an exception: Molly Brodak's new memoir is about her dad, a man she barely knew growing up. Her father is a gambling addict. And when Molly was in middle school, he robbed 11 banks outside of Detroit in 1994 to fuel his addiction — the FBI dubbed him the "Super Mario Brothers Bandit" because of his flat cap and fake mustache.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Look, the debut collection of poetry from Solmaz Sharif, opens with all the grace of an unpinned grenade: "It matters what you call a thing." But this comes as less a warning than a war cry.

Even if you knew nothing about Vijaya, her haunting portrait would likely give you pause. She peers out of the page, unsmiling, her silver hair pulled back and her eyes conveying an unspoken anguish. From the accompanying narrative, we learn that a few years ago, almost overnight, Vijaya became her granddaughter Anjali's primary caretaker. Her daughter, Gayathri, set out to find nutritious food for the family amidst heavy shelling, at the violent end of Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war, and never returned home.

You don't need us to tell you that backyard chickens have become an urban (and suburban) obsession.

But here's what you may not know: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has documented a record high number of salmonella infections linked to these domestic flocks.

"This year saw the largest number of illnesses linked to contact with backyard poultry ever recorded," the CDC writes in an investigation update.

Tourists to the Napa Valley may visit the exclusive wineries and fine-dining restaurants. But locals love a more humble dish called malfatti. It's a little spinach and cheese dumpling, shaped like a pinky finger, smothered in sauce and packed with local history.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.


There are few living theater directors who can convince audiences to stay up all night watching the staging of a Sanskrit poem. But 30 years ago, director Peter Brook did just that. He put on what came to be known as one of the great theater events of the 20th century: The Mahabharata. It was nine hours long, and it was epic.

James Beard award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson says it feels like he's been cooking his entire life. He has a soul food restaurant in Harlem and a new cookbook inspired by that restaurant called The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem.

Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden so we suspect he's no doubt tired of hearing about the beloved Muppet character, The Swedish Chef. So we'll ask him three questions about other Muppets.

Rabih Alameddine's novel The Angel of History begins with a conversation between Satan and Death. The two are sitting in the home of Jacob, a poet in the midst of a mental breakdown; long after the death of his partner from AIDS, he's begun hearing voices (again), and is currently trying to check himself into a mental hospital.

Diet and nutrition are now the biggest risk factors for people's health across the globe, even in poorer countries. That's according to a recent report published by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems Nutrition, an independent group of experts on nutrition and health.

For 15 years, Stephanie Sinclair has taken photos of child brides around the world — from Tahani in Yemen, married at age 6, to 14-year-old Niruta in Nepal, and many more. In 2012, she started the nonprofit Too Young To Wed to raise awareness of their plight.

Now she's given some young women a chance to take their own pictures — a kind of art therapy that she hopes will "help girls deal with their trauma."

Editor's note: This post contains language that is crude and explicit and that many will find offensive.

Updated 11:15 p.m. ET with comments by Trump supporters

Just two days before Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are set to meet for their second presidential debate, more damaging audio of the GOP nominee using crude language about women and how he would hit on them has surfaced.

Sharon Horgan didn't let her intact marriage get in the way of creating her new HBO comedy series Divorce. "We made sure we had a couple of emotionally damaged, divorced people on the writing staff," she jokes with NPR's Kelly McEvers.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church play Frances and Robert, a middle aged couple whose relationship is crumbling. And Horgan says a lot of the frustrating moments in the show were inspired by real life.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

In theory, the two new movies dealing with America's racial history ought to describe a cinematic straight line: Nate Parker's provocatively titled drama The Birth of a Nation imagines the events leading up to an 1831 slave revolt, while Ava DuVernay's documentary, 13th, examines the legacy of the constitutional amendment that outlawed slavery. A matched set...yes?

In practice, the underlying social narrative is twisty, and the films intersect in complicated ways.

Most of America's poultry producers have been promising to cut back on the use of antibiotics in recent years. One of them, however, has consistently led the way.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Hooray! I'm so happy to be back this week after some time spent either traveling or under the weather kept me away from the show for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, we were able to get Bob Mondello, All Things Considered film critic, around the table with us to talk about the films he and I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival and to participate in our fall television pool.

You're The Only Ten I See

Oct 7, 2016

In honor of the classic pick-up line involving "Tennessee," the answer to every clue in this game is either more than ten or fewer than ten.

Connie Britton & Martina McBride: 'This One's For The Girls'

Double, Double

Oct 7, 2016

In this final round, every answer contains multiple sets of double letters, just like the state Tennessee. For example, if we said, "A Tennessee city associated with a 'choo choo' from an old big band song," you'd answer, "Chattanooga."

Connie Britton & Martina McBride: 'This One's For The Girls'

Connie Britton: TV Mothers' Day

Oct 7, 2016

Connie Britton is best known for playing iconic mothers. She starred in Friday Night Lights as alpha mom Tammi Taylor, and in Nashville as country music singer Rayna James. In fact, fans often tell Britton they wish she were their mother. And yes, it's just as awkward as it sounds. "Those are some uncomfortable moments, yeah--I think really for everyone involved," she told host Ophira Eisenberg. "Because I think the person asking doesn't feel great about it either. ...

Just Saying

Oct 7, 2016

There are some expressions we use all the time that don't seem to make a whole lot of sense. For example, the saying to "pull out all the stops" is actually a reference to pipe organs; stops control the flow of air through an organ's pipes, and when you pull out all the stops, you can play all the pipes at maximum volume. In this game, Jonathan and Ophira quiz contestants on the supposed origin story of commonly-used phrases.

Martina McBride: Happy Girls

Oct 7, 2016

Country music star Martina McBride has garnered over 15 major music awards, including four wins for Female Vocalist of the Year from the Country Music Association. Before all the fame and accolades, however, McBride had an interesting day job, which she shared with host Ophira Eisenberg at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville: selling T-shirts at Garth Brooks concerts. At the time, she and her husband were newlyweds, and he was often on the road as Brooks's production manager. So McBride sold merchandise in order to join him.

Band-ing Together

Oct 7, 2016

NPR Music correspondent Ann Powers had lived and reported everywhere from Seattle to Tuscaloosa before moving recently to Nashville. We asked Powers to explain her new hometown's importance in the music industry. "Nashville is, I truly believe, the best music city in the country, historically and especially now," she told host Ophira Eisenberg. "Anywhere you go you'll meet an amazing musician." Her dishwasher repairman had even played with George Jones! "That's Nashville in a nutshell," she said. A lover of all genres, Powers cares about expression.

It's hard enough to eat healthy even when you have access to grocery stores, sharp knives and refrigerators. But for those in prison, it can be almost impossible.

Behind bars, it often takes ingenuity, a hodgepodge of commissary items and food shipped from loved ones to even approximate a proper diet. This is what Albert "Prodigy" Johnson, of the influential hip-hop duo Mobb Deep — you might remember their '90s hit single "Shook Ones, Part II" — discovered after he was sentenced for illegally possessing a firearm in 2007.

Issa Rae knows she is committing a revolutionary act by simply creating a TV show centered on an average black woman's life.

And she can't believe it.

"Isn't it sad that it's revolutionary?" says Rae, whose new comedy Insecure, debuts on HBO Sunday night. "It's so basic ... but we don't get to do that. We don't get to just have a show about regular black people being basic."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


When you think of Chinese food in the U.S., fried rice, lo mein or General Tso's chicken may first come to mind.

But a new museum exhibition in New York City is trying to expand visitors' palates. It features stories of celebrity chefs like Martin Yan and home cooks whose food represents 18 different regional cooking styles of China.