Arts and Culture

Arts and culture

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Illinois State Musem

It's been a contentious topic whether or not to close the Illinois State Museum. The governor has called for closing all the facilities in the state's museum system as a way to save money for a state budget that's very much in the red.

Meanwhile, many say that plan is short-sighted. The museum houses a variety of objects and artifacts that tell the story of our state. It also contains an expanse of fine art that has been donated over the years.

It was the closing ceremony of the Fifth Annual Slum Film Festival and Maxwell Odhiambo's film, the centerpiece of the night, wasn't there yet.

"Did you finish it?" his mentor George Stanley Nsamba asked nervously as Odhiambo burst through the door, two hours late.

"We finished it," he said with a grin.

A packed audience in downtown Nairobi, including a Kenyan actor who had flown in from Hollywood, waited for his film to begin. A blue screen stared back at them; the audience shifted nervously. There were technical difficulties.

To listen to the media tell it, "so" is busting out all over — or at least at the beginning of a sentence. New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas calls "so" the new "um" and "like"; others call it a plague and a fad.

Superpowers Meet The Supernatural In 'Wayward'

7 hours ago

Ever heard of a tengu? How about a jorōgumo? You'll know them after you read Wayward, Image Comics' action-packed romp featuring Tokyo teenagers fighting the supernatural. It's been likened to a Japanese version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and its emphasis on epically battling the Big Bad (to use the Buffy term) is coupled with a determination to get its monsters right.

'Sorcerer' Is A Delightful Romp With Deep, Solid Roots

10 hours ago

There are several ways in which Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown invites comparison with Susanna Clarke's best-selling, BBC-adapted Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: It features squabbling English magicians, a Regency setting and a mysterious decline in English magic attributed at least in part to difficult relations with capricious fairies.

Actor Dean Jones, who starred in The Love Bug, That Darn Cat! and other classic Walt Disney movies, has died at age 84. In addition to his film work, Jones played the role of Bobby in the original Broadway cast of Stephen Sondheim's Company in 1970.

Jones died in Los Angeles on Tuesday, according to his publicist, Richard Hoffman. The cause of death is reportedly related to Parkinson's disease.

In 1938, an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger gave the first public talk on autism in history. Asperger was speaking to an audience of Nazis, and he feared that his patients — children who fell onto what we now call the autism spectrum — were in danger of being sent to Nazi extermination camps.

As Asperger spoke, he highlighted his "most promising" patients, a notion that would stick with the autistic spectrum for decades to come.

About two-thirds of the way through Jonathan Franzen's big new novel, Purity, we're told about an "ambitious project" conceived by a young artist named Anabel. Anabel finds it strange that people can go through their lives without "having made the most basic acquaintance with [their bodies] ...

rosecityunderground.org

Pana, Illinois used to be known for its flowers . It was called the City of Roses , and at one point there were over 100 greenhouses there. Things have changed over the decades, though. In the city of 5,500 - about a third of people live below the poverty level. The town that was a mecca style for florists and had a bustling down-town has gone through the changes many small towns in the Midwest have seen - businesses have closed and drug-use has escalated.

'Twelve Kings' Launches A Bold New Fantasy World

Sep 2, 2015

Despite numerous, valiant efforts over the past few years to broaden the palette of epic fantasy, the genre still has a default setting: some fictionalized version of medieval Europe. Add Bradley P. Beaulieu's new novel, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, to the growing list of proud exceptions. Set in a world covered by desert and lit by twin moons, Twelve Kings includes Islamic and Ancient Egyptian influences among its fabulist mix of cultures.

Spoiler alert: Terry Pratchett's final novel begins with the death of one of his toughest and best-developed characters.

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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

With a title like Purity, Jonathan Franzen's latest novel sets the reader up for great expectations, and how. What Franzen does well in every novel is to tell a sprawling story with a robust and intimately rendered casts of characters. At the outset of this one, we meet Pip (hello, Charles Dickens), a recent college graduate who is clever and ambitious, but aimless.

The Naples in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels isn't the Italy you see on postcards. The neighborhood she describes in vivid detail is poor and unglamorous — and it may or may not be based on the neighborhood where she herself grew up. Ferrante is actually a pen name and very little is known about the true identity of the author. She does almost no publicity, but that hasn't stopped the books from achieving cult status. Her latest, The Story of the Lost Child, comes out on Tuesday.

Trying to divine what the future holds is an ancient human preoccupation. And for centuries, soothsayers have sought answers in the bottom of a teacup.

Amy Taylor was 18 when she stumbled into the practice of reading tea leaves. Now 46 and a professional tea-leaf reader, she remembers looking into her stepsister's teacup at a Toronto restaurant, and saying, "Oh, that's funny, that looks like a tree." She says she looked at all of her family's cups that night, and saw things in all of them. "I just thought that was really odd," she says.

For novelist Jonathan Franzen, writing isn't just an escape from himself, it's an "escape from everything." He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross: "It's like having this dream that you can go back to, kind of on demand. When it's really going well ... you're in a fantasy land and feeling no pain."

It might seem odd to be reading about an old-fashioned farmstead shootout and thinking about how charming it is, but if you're reading Girl Waits With Gun, you might as well get used to it. You'll be thinking that a lot, because the women holding down this particular farmstead are Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp, who handle the battle with grim panache. Though they're under fire, Constance's narrative voice is endlessly pragmatic and authoritative: Neither stray internal monologue nor enemy bullets will be permitted.

President Obama has slow-jammed the news on late-night TV and sat down with wacky YouTube celebrities. The show he's joining this week might just make those appearances look buttoned up and boring.

The title tells all: Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World. Author Linda Hirshman's joint biography of the first and second women to serve on the nation's highest court is a gossipy, funny, sometimes infuriating and moving tale of two women so similar and yet so different.

Sandra Day O'Connor, raised on a Western ranch and a lifelong Republican who cut her political teeth as majority leader of the Arizona Senate, was named to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1981.

Texas has a barbecue joint known as much for the line of people waiting outside as for its tender brisket.

At Franklin Barbecue in Austin, people start lining up around 5 a.m., waiting six hours, chatting with others in line until the restaurant opens at 11 a.m.

This barbecue place is such a big deal that entrepreneurs like Desmond Roldan are cashing in on its fans.

"People know me. I'm a big deal," he says, chuckling.

If, like me, you're an amateur taster of beer and wine, inevitably you've asked yourself why you don't taste that hint of raspberry or note of pine bark that someone else says is there.

He was called the Sultan of Shock and the Guru of Gore: Wes Craven, who died Sunday, directed dozens of now-classic horror movies, including A Nightmare on Elm Street and all of the Scream films.

Scream, from 1996, is an expert parody of horror movies, filled with inside jokes — like the girl alone in the house who gets a phone call that's coming from closer than she thinks. Writer Kevin Williamson made it funny. Craven made it scary.

Wayne Dyer, the writer, philosopher and motivational speaker who encouraged millions of people to look at their lives in a new way, died this weekend at age 75. Over four decades, Dyer sought to motivate people to explore their passions and turn away from negativity.

Dyer died late Saturday in Maui, according to his publisher, Hay House.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks, who died Sunday, once described himself as an "old Jewish atheist," but during the decades he spent studying the human brain, he sometimes found himself recording experiences that he likened to a godly cosmic force.

Such was the case once when Sacks tried marijuana in the 1960s: He was looking at his hand, and it appeared to be retreating from him, yet getting larger and larger.

[You can hear Stephen Thompson and Linda Holmes chat about the VMAs on a Small Batch edition of Pop Culture Happy Hour by hitting the play button at the top of this post.]

Will Smith from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was my first American friend. Ours was an unlikely friendship: a shy Indian kid, fresh off the boat, with big glasses and a thick accent, and a high school b-ball player from West Philadelphia, chillin' out maxin' and relaxin' all cool. And yet, I was with Will all the way, unnerved when he accidentally gave Carlton speed, shaken when he got shot in Season 5, and deeply embarrassed every time he wiped out in front of Veronica.

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Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Please do not read anything into this transition, in which we turn from politics to horror films.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character, singing) One, two, Freddy's coming for you...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have news this morning of a century-old traffic accident. The writer Amy Stewart says it happened in 1914 in New Jersey.

Wes Craven, the legendary horror director behind the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream franchises, has died at 76.

His verified Twitter account posted about his death Sunday evening. The Associated Press reports that he had brain cancer and died in his Los Angeles home, according to a statement from his family.

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