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WYPR Arts

Producer-director David Fincher is attracted to stories and characters that are dark and complex. That's certainly true of Mindhunter, his new police drama series for Netflix — though the connections that led him there are pretty straightforward.

Way back in 1995, Fincher directed Se7en, the ultraspooky serial-killer drama starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as detectives on the trail of a murderer played by Kevin Spacey.

It's not uncommon for comics to be influenced by depression, anxiety or troubled childhoods, but Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon insists his comedy doesn't come from a dark place.

"I was always a happy kid," Fallon says. "I remember there was a report card from kindergarten and the comment from the teacher was, 'Jimmy smiles too much,' which was very interesting. ... I think I would smile even when I was getting yelled at."

If you flipped through Voices In the Dark and only paused on certain pages, you might get the wrong impression of artist Ulli Lust. Some of Lust's drawings in this adaptation of Marcel Beyer's World War II novel are startlingly off-putting: ugly, grubby hodgepodges with no sense of composition or artistry. When she draws battlefields, cities in the throes of bomb attacks or streets full of rubble, Lust scribbles ferociously until each page is overfull.

Rob Gimpel is usually thinking about getting tulip bulbs in the ground this time of year, but right now he's ready to harvest pumpkins.

It's an unusual activity for Gimpel, the lead gardener of the areas around the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., but one that he's been thoroughly enjoying as part of this year's War Garden project. The project commemorates the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I in 1917 — when such veggie plots — also referred to as "victory" or "liberty" gardens — were first conceived as part of the war effort on the homefront.

The only known Leonardo da Vinci painting in private hands is heading to auction.

The portrait of Jesus Christ, Salvator Mundi, was only recently confirmed to be by Leonardo. This piece was thought to be a copy of a destroyed original. And it's still not clear where the painting was, exactly, for more than a century.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

If you spend enough time talking with your most cynical friend about politics, you're likely to hear this quotation from the 19th-century British historian Lord Acton: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." It's a memorable axiom, but one that's been a little bit mangled by time — Acton actually wrote that "Power tends to corrupt." The misquoted version still pops up, however, thanks to pessimists who think that history has removed the need for Acton's original hedge.

"... photography was an act of mythmaking."

There's a sense of a museum exhibit in Peter Manseau's The Apparitionists. The centerpiece of the book is the trial of William Mumler, a photographer in Boston (and later New York) accused of defrauding people with his claims that he could take "spirit photographs" — portraits that included a spectral subject alongside the living. But no man photographs ghosts in a vacuum. Manseau wanders from room to room outside the trial to see how America got there.

It's not often you'll find these 24 names in the same place. They are historians and musicians, computer scientists and social activists, writers and architects. But whatever it may read on their business cards (if they've even got business cards), they now all have a single title in common: 2017 MacArthur Fellow.

Editor's note: This story includes explicit language describing alleged sexual assaults.

New allegations against the film executive Harvey Weinstein emerged Tuesday, including multiple instances of sexual assault and a recording by New York City police in which he admits to groping a woman.

At age 87, author Marvin Kalb has had a great many interesting years. He was NPR's Moscow bureau chief, a diplomatic correspondent for CBS and NBC, and the host of Meet the Press. He's also the author of several books, and his latest, The Year I Was Peter The Great, is a memoir of one especially interesting year: 1956.

Ellen Stern's biography of theatrical caricaturist Al Hirschfeld reads more like a gossipy 300-page article in New York magazine (where Stern has worked) than the biography of record suggested by the definite article modifying its subtitle. And in fact, Hirschfeld: The Biography grew out of Stern's juicy interview for a 1987 GQ magazine profile of the artist.

Podcaster Marc Maron has brought celebrity after celebrity through his front door in Los Angeles. In 2009, the grizzled, once-washed-up comedian launched a podcast called WTF, and it became wildly popular — many people say Maron has defined what an interview podcast can be.

He tapes most of his conversations in his cramped garage, where, in a bit of a role reversal, NPR interviewed him.

I saw Practical Magic the film when I was 14, a little while before I read Practical Magic the book. I loved both, talked passionately about how very different they were from each other, how glad I was that I'd seen the film first so as to appreciate it on its own terms. The film gave me women loving and fighting with and for each other, in a house and garden (and kitchen) to spend the rest of my life lusting after; the book gave me poetry, the names of flowers, and generations of Owens sisters.

It's a commonplace these days to say that real life has become so unpredictable that it outstrips anything anyone could dream up in fiction. I think I'm guilty of having made that banal observation a few times.

But that was before I read The Obama Inheritance, a collection of 15 stories so sly, fresh and Bizarro World witty, they reaffirm the resiliency of the artistic imagination.

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Rupi Kaur has been called the "pop star of poetry." She's 24; she emigrated from India to Canada when she was 4. And she's famous for the raw, minimalist poems she posts on Instagram for her 1.6 million followers.

One of the most influential figures in hip-hop will now take a lead role in one of the nation's most prestigious cultural institutions.

Q-Tip, along with Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White, formed A Tribe Called Quest in the early '90s. The hip-hop collective introduced smooth beats and sharp social commentary inspired by the group's friendship and the issues of the time.

Last year, the group released what would turn out to be its final album, We Got It from Here ... Thank You 4 Your Service, after the death of Phife Dawg.

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If you went to the post office this past week, you might have noticed something new - a forever stamp collection featuring illustrations from the children's book "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats.

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If you're into Disney trivia, you might know that Walt Disney's idea for a new theme park in Orlando, Fla., was initially called The Florida Project. That's also the name of a new film set in a world that seems very far away from the magical kingdom: a budget motel where families live teetering on the edge of homelessness.

"What's worse, writing a trope or being one?" the narrator of Carmen Maria Machado's story "The Resident," asks. She is at an artists' colony, and one of the other residents — a "poet-composer" named Lydia — has snidely announced that the narrator's autobiographical writing plays into the madwoman in the attic stereotype, not to mention the crazy lesbian stereotype. "It's sort of tiresome and regressive and, well, done," says Lydia.

Later, the narrator, whose initials are also CM, carves the words "Madwoman in her own attic" into the wood of her writing cabin.

Two witchy sisters, a family curse on love and lots of potions and hexes: author Alice Hoffman is returning to the story of the Owens family.

She introduced the fictional family in the 1995 novel Practical Magic, which was turned into a film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Now, in The Rules Of Magic, we go backward in time to learn the histories of the aunts in that saga.

'Taste Of Empire' Shows Us The World In Our Kitchen Cupboards

Oct 8, 2017

"To be a Victorian Englishman was to possess the power to eat the world."

One afternoon in 1748, the Latham family sat down to dinner. They ran a small farm in Lancashire, and their menu was satisfying — beef and vegetable stew, beer, doughy fruit pudding. They grew wheat and barley to make bread, their cows supplied them with milk and cheese, and from their crops (and the women's cotton textile work) they made enough profit to buy beef.

As the legend goes, Andy Richter met a guy at a party who was producing a late-night show starring then-unknown Conan O'Brien. The two men seemed to get along really well, so why not put Richter on set as a sidekick? And thus he became the Ed McMahon of a generation too young to know who Ed McMahon is.

Since he's worked with Conan O'Brien for decades, we gave him a game about Conan The Destroyer – 1984's less-successful sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Conan The Barbarian.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

You're Going To Hate 'TheMystery.doc,' And That's OK

Oct 7, 2017

In the press materials for Matthew McIntosh's new 1,660-page brick of a very literary novel, TheMystery.doc, the publisher says not to be fooled by the book's length. Sure, it weighs 4 1/2 pounds, but they cheerfully insist that "it reads as quickly as a novel of a more conventional length."

On Feb. 6, 1967, Muhammad Ali stepped into a boxing ring in the Houston Astrodome to take on then-heavyweight champion Ernie Terrell. Ali was nursing a serious grudge against Terrell, who kept referring to his upcoming opponent as "Cassius Clay," the birth name that Ali had abandoned years before. In the eighth round, after battering Terrell with a series of hard punches, Ali started taunting the fighter: "What's my name?" he shouted, over and over again. "What's my name?"

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