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The raucous comedy Austenland, in theaters this week, pokes fun at Americans' reverence for what they have been taught to see as a gracious British heritage — muslin, bonnets, tea time at the stately home with the blue-bloods, good manners.

As well it might. For most of the English 99-percenters I grew up with, heritage meant feet up in front of the telly, watching Top of the Pops.

Japanese painter and sculptor Ushio Shinohara was the bad boy of the avant-garde when he came to the U.S. more than 50 years ago. He knew Andy Warhol, hung with Red Grooms and polarized audiences with his vivid work.

And Ushio met his wife, Noriko Shinohara, not long after arriving here. She's an artist, too, but she's spent most of her career living in his shadow.

Less so recently, though. Noriko is coming into her own. And now the story of their life together is the subject of an intimate new documentary called Cutie and the Boxer.

Tales of Jesse James's exploits have grown to almost mythological proportions since the actual man and his gang galloped over the plains stealing horses, holding up trains, and robbing banks in the years after the Civil War. Shot All To Hell: Jesse James, The Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape is a new book about the legendary man.

Elissa Schappell is the author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls.

In the good old, bad old days of book publishing, screaming matches happened in public, not online; the boss' philandering was an open secret never leaked to the press, and authors actually had to turn in their manuscripts in order to get money out of their publisher.

The Words Vivien Leigh Left Behind

Aug 17, 2013

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This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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Before abolitionist and Harpers Ferry raider John Brown became a hymn, he was a flesh and blood human being: Bible-thumping, rifle-toting, heroic and maybe more than a little unhinged.

When Dylan Dethier graduated from high school a few years ago, he didn't go on to the local college, join the Army or hitchhike cross-country. He hit golf courses, on a trip across America to play a round of golf in each of the Lower 48 states.

He played the posh course at Pebble Beach, yes; but mostly public courses across the country, including one in hard-hit Flint, Mich., another in North Dakota and one in a corner of Alabama. Over the course of a year he slept with an ax under his car seat, lost his virtue, and looked at America from green to shining green.

That morning cup of Joe is a daily, practically sacred ritual for many of us.

An anonymous painter in New York City created dozens of art forgeries, which sold for more than $80 million, according to prosecutors. The man isn't facing charges — but those who helped sell his Abstract Expressionist canvases as the work of artists such as Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell are in trouble.

For NPR's Newscast unit, Joel Rose reports:

Fight Food Waste: Drink Rum, Matey

Aug 16, 2013

The story of William McCoy sounds almost like a Prohibition-era version of Breaking Bad.

A mild-mannered shipbuilder, McCoy started smuggling booze along the Eastern seaboard during the early 1920s, only to become the top rum runner around.

He never touched his merchandise, never cut it with water, and shipped only the top-shelf liquors. In other words, he sold "the Real McCoy."

I am very happy to be back this week after being gone for two episodes (thank you to Audie Cornish, Gene Demby and Kat Chow for being great while I was gone).

Experimenting on Consciousness, Through Art

Aug 16, 2013

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And now it's time for BackTalk. That's where we hear from you, the listener. Editor Ahmad Omar is here with us once again. What's going on, Ahmad?

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I Left My Heart In Boston

Aug 16, 2013

Jonathan Coulton is wicked stoked to pay tribute to Boston in the best way he knows how: by substituting the names of Boston neighborhoods into the lyrics of well-known songs about other cities. For example, if Elvis had spent more time in a certain Boston neighborhood, he might have written a song called "Viva Dorchester!" Can you name the original towns? Or do you prefer a "Roslindale State of Mind"?

Name Brand Names

Aug 16, 2013

It may take a lifetime to develop your fashion sense or signature flourish, but only a few trendsetters can boast clothing items actually named in their honor.

'Plus One' With Wesley Morris

Aug 16, 2013

New movies — especially sequels — hit theaters so quickly these days, it can be hard to tell what's worth checking out. So we thought it would be fitting to call upon the Boston-based, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Wesley Morris for some clarity.

Morris chats with host Ophira Eisenberg about whether it was hometown bias that led him to predict that Argo would take home the Oscar for Best Picture, and exemplifies how difficult it can be for a lifelong film scholar to narrow down an answer to the question, "What is your favorite movie?"

'Product Placement' With Lois Lowry

Aug 16, 2013

Popular soft drinks, sports cars and other brands appear surreptitiously placed in the worlds of our favorite TV shows and films all the time. Soon enough, we may see them name-dropped in our books, too.

To help imagine some egregious-yet-hilarious examples of this, we invited a prolific writer to Ask Me Another: award-winning young adult author Lois Lowry. Lowry joins forces with a fellow book-loving contestant to play "Product Placement," a game in which they must combine the titles of famous literary works with the names of household products and companies.

Hahd-Cawr Pun

Aug 16, 2013

We kick off our road show with a game dedicated to the stereotypical Boston dialect--you know, the one that tells you to "Pahk your cah in Hahvahd Yahd"? Host Ophira Eisenberg has a little punny fun with phrases and names that take on whole new meanings when you drop the "r's" in certain words. And for the record, "Hahd-Cawr Pun" is just Boston-speak for "Hard-Core Pun."

Barney Frank: The Comedian's Politician

Aug 16, 2013

Retiring in 2013 after 32 years as a member of the House of Representatives, Barney Frank took on his greatest challenge yet: joining Ask Me Another at the Wilbur Theatre in downtown Boston for an evening of trivia.

Banned In Boston

Aug 16, 2013

It's been a great time in Boston, but we've reached the Ask Me One More final round. Puzzle guru Art Chung leads the final five contestants in a game comprised of words, phrases and names that begin with the letters B-A-N. For example, the triangular patterned cloth you might wear around your head or neck would be a "bandana," and if it doesn't bear the Red Sox logo, then you're in the wrong town.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Austenland, a clunky broadside aimed at the cult of Jane Austen, is worth seeing primarily for its end credits, a mix of pop oil and water so joyfully dippy it might have produced a stifled giggle even in Herself.

Drowning In Zucchini? 3 Recipes Can Help

Aug 15, 2013

There's no shame in admitting it: Mid-August may be the point in the summer when you throw up your hands when it comes to zucchini. The vegetable is both the joy and bane of gardeners and cooks. Joy because there are so many possibilities — bread, fritters, stuffed blossoms and ratatouille. And bane because the plants never seem to stop growing, producing squash nearly nonstop until you're up to your eyeballs in the green things.

Kate Workman, author of The Mom 100 cookbook and blog, knows that pain.

I ate quinoa-and-turkey chili in a cafeteria today, which, when you think about it, is pretty amazing. Rarely does an entire culture, almost overnight, adopt an entirely new food.

David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints begins with what might have been its end.

Ruth (Rooney Mara) and Bob (Casey Affleck) sit in their ramshackle home after a botched robbery. The small-town Texas cops shooting at them have already hit and killed Freddy, the twosome's partner, and Ruth has downed a policeman. They're outnumbered and trapped, and Ruth suggests they run; Bob knows that's suicide.

In their approaches to history, Joshua Michael Stern's Jobs and Lee Daniels' The Butler could hardly be less similar. The former is an example of Victorian-style great-man biography, updated for the iThings era. The latter observes monumental events, mostly involving the civil rights movement, from an Everyman's perspective.

Part of our summer reading series Island Reads, highlighting authors from the Caribbean

Andrea Stuart was curious about her family's history in Barbados. And through years of careful research, she found that her bloodline includes both slave owners and slaves. She has written about her own family, as well as a detailed history of slavery in the Caribbean, in her book Sugar in the Blood. Guest host Celeste Headlee talks with Stuart about her family history, the moral complexity of slavery and finding roots in the past.

In the world of book publishing, ravaged though it may be, the name Farrar, Straus & Giroux still bespeaks literary quality. It's a publishing house that boasts a roll call of 25 Nobel Prize winners and heavyweights like Susan Sontag, Carlos Fuentes, Joan Didion, Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen. A lot of writers, past and present, have turned down higher advances for their books from other publishing houses for the honor of being an FSG author.

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