Arts & Life

In the anthology The Art of Friction: Where (Non)Fictions Come Together, Marcia Douglas likens the kind of writing she does to spellcasting. And her new book, The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: A Novel in Bass Riddim no doubt has the air of a spell.

The rapper Drake probably never dreamed that his song, "In My Feelings," would inspire two Indian farmers to dance in the mud — with their oxen.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Summertime is for road trips. Atlas Obscura teamed up with All Things Considered to travel up the West Coast, from California to Washington, in search of "hidden wonders" — unique but overlooked people and places.

In the western tip of the Mojave Desert, a couple of hours north of Los Angeles, a lone McMansion-style villa sits on 10 acres surrounded by a fence. There's little but dust, solar farms and transmission towers for miles around.

Rick Wilson can't sleep at night.

The Republican operative isn't known for being a thin-skinned, bring-me-the-smelling-salts, political naif. He has historically been a strategist who conservative candidates would call when campaigns took a turn — when it was time to go negative.

Meet the charmer of the summer, an epistolary novel about two strangers dismayed by where their lives have taken them. Dissatisfied farmer's wife Tina Hapgood and lonely museum curator Anders Larsen initially connect over a shared fascination with the miraculous Iron Age archaeological find known as the Tollund Man, but their relationship soon deepens as they begin to excavate their own chosen life paths in a series of letters.

Bert Nap has had enough. On a recent night, the longtime Amsterdam resident opened his door to confront a gaggle of young, drunken British men, all dressed as Elvis for a bachelor party, making a tremendous ruckus.

Nap asked them: "Why don't you do that in your own hometown?"

This was hardly the first time he'd been disturbed by late-night revelers. Many are tourists who vomit in his potted plants, urinate in his mailbox, and scream-sing outside his door. "My city is seen as one where anything goes," he says.

Charlotte Rae, who died Sunday at 92, was a seasoned performer by the time she landed the role of matronly housekeeper Mrs. Garrett on the NBC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes in 1978. She'd done musical theater, including Li'l Abner in 1956 and Pickwick in 1965. She'd released an album of satirical songs in 1955, and played Sylvia, the wife of Al Lewis' character, on Car 54, Where Are You? from 1961-63.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Joël Robuchon, one of the most accomplished and decorated chefs in history, has died at age 73, after a career devoted to injecting new creativity into French cooking and exploring other cuisines. Robuchon had cancer; his death was confirmed on Monday by a spokeswoman at his company in Paris.

Robuchon won more than 30 Michelin stars — more than any other chef in the world, according to his website. His company operated more than 20 restaurants from New York to Bangkok.

Jackson Pollock's painting Number 1, 1949, is a swirl of multi-colored, spaghettied paint, dripped, flung and slung across a 5-by-8-foot canvas. It's a textured work — including nails and a bee (we'll get to that later) — and in the nearly 70 years since its creation, it's attracted a fair bit of dust, dirt and grime.

It has to be said: The dude ... abrades.

For fans who have dreamed about the return of Captain Jean-Luc Picard to Star Trek, actor Patrick Stewart might as well borrow his character's classic catchphrase and say, "Make it so."

It's a role that he hasn't stepped into since 2002, and fans are elated.

There's a type of orchid that resembles a female wasp. And in rare occasions, it will attract a male wasp to pollinate the flower.

That's the image on the cover of Caoilinn Hughes' new book, Orchid and the Wasp. But the relationship represents something heavier in Hughes' novel.

"So I was using this as a way to explore the relationship between the exploited and the exploiter," Hughes says. "And ask the question is it really exploitation if the loser isn't aware of what they're losing?"

Cary Grant. Katharine Hepburn. Spencer Tracy.

They were movie stars immortalized by "the golden age" of Hollywood during the mid-20th century, representing fame and beauty.

Behind the glossy glamour, the stars were also connected by something else: a man named Scotty Bowers who worked at a small gas station at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Van Ness — the epicenter of Tinseltown's covert sexual underground.

Tom Lehrer famously said that satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. And yet here we are, still struggling to exaggerate the follies of power until power can't get around us. Horror has much the same resilience. As terrifying as the world becomes, we still turn to imagined terrors to try and make sense of it.

If you missed the news on Monday, former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were spotted dining out at a Washington D.C. cafe, rekindling their Oval Office "bromance" over sandwiches and fennel salad.

But there's also word of another meeting between the two former running mates, in which they team up to [checks notes] solve a murder.

Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET

Chinese authorities are razing one of the Beijing studios of dissident artist Ai Weiwei. He said that demolition crews showed up without advance warning, and have begun the process of tearing down the studio.

Ai has been a longtime critic of the government, and on Saturday, he began posting videos to his Instagram feed of the studio's destruction. "Farewell," Ai wrote. "They started to demolish my studio 'Zuoyuo' in Beijing with no precaution."

American Humane Association

The 2018 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of seven categories: Service Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, and Emerging Hero Dogs.

The Service Dog category includes animals that assist people with disabilities other than sight and hearing. Most have received special training.

Law Enforcement dogs include what we often think of as police dogs, animals specially trained to patrol, search buildings, track criminals, and to detect drugs, narcotics and explosive devices.  Arson dogs are animals trained to sniff out accelerants that may have been used to start a fire.      

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Uzo Aduba has won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series and an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series — but what's really amazing is that she won those awards for the same role in the same show. She plays Suzanne Warren, an inmate better known as "Crazy Eyes" in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.

Since Aduba plays "Crazy Eyes" we've invited her to answer three questions about private eyes.

Click the audio link above to see how she does.

Writer and artist Emil Ferris won three Eisner Awards — the highest award in mainstream comics — for her graphic novel My Favorite Thing is Monsters. It's a huge tome, full of inky, scratchy drawings done in ballpoint pen, ranging from loose sketches to lovingly rendered covers of pulp horror magazines.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

One of the freshest reboots in the world of comic books is based on a kids show that debuted back in the '60s: The Flintstones. But this isn't the "modern Stone Age family" you might remember from your childhood.

Well, they've finally gone and done it. They've grown up Christopher Robin.

You of course remember the boy wonder from the Winnie the Pooh series, the eternal six-year-old who loved to romp around the Hundred Acre Wood getting into mischief with his stuffed bear and various other critter friends. He was writer A.A. Milne's own son, immortalized on the page with the original Pooh books in the 1920s, then on the screen in 50 years' worth of Disney cartoons. Does it feel momentous that he's now grown into a humorless, workaholic adult? It does if you're Pooh.


When Cameron Post, a Montana teenager with bee-stung lips and an air of quiet intransigence, is caught smoking weed and making out with a girlfriend on prom night, her evangelical guardians pack her off to God's Promise, a gay conversion therapy center whose inmates — no other word for it — are required to make and regularly revise drawings of the sinful roots of their sexual identities. At God's Promise the word homosexuality makes the authorities jumpy, and even the gingerly label "same-sex attraction" signals the downhill road to moral rot.

The most surprising thing about the action-comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me is that it racks up a higher body count in 117 minutes than the comparatively somber stunt spectacular Mission: Impossible — Fallout does in 147. It's one of a pitifully small number of movies this summer directed by a woman (feature film sophomore Susanna Fogel, who co-wrote and directed 2014's Life Partners); she and David Iserson wrote the script to this farce, which stars Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon as roommates drawn semi-willingly into an international conspiracy.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Rivaling Donna Tartt's celebrated debut, A Secret History, in its fevered treatment of American university life, R.O. Kwon's first novel The Incendiaries gives readers a juicy look at campus mores, though sometimes that juice is more bitter than sweet.

Cartoonist Thi Bui's Eisner Award-nominated graphic memoir is called The Best We Could Do; it's the story of her family in the years before, during and after the Vietnam War. The Eisners — mainstream comics' top award — are given out every year at San Diego Comic-Con, where Bui was one of this year's featured guests.

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