Arts & Life

"Six feet of rugged manhood to stir the heart of every woman."

That's how one of his early movie trailers described Tab Hunter, the blue-eyed, blond-haired actor and recording artist possessed of a facial symmetry and bone structure so conventionally handsome they seemed preternatural. He died Sunday.

Actor Lakeith Stanfield is having a moment. He was in Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning horror satire, Get Out. He's in the FX show show Atlanta, where he plays Darius, the stoner sidekick to a rap star who often says pretty outrageous things — like speculating what life would be like if you could use a rat as a cell phone (people in New York City would be doing pretty well, for example). And this summer, Stanfield is in the new movie, Sorry to Bother You, which he calls "an absurdist dark comedy with magical realism that's set in the world of telemarketing.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Everything echoes in Sharp Objects, the new HBO eight-episode adaptation of Gillian Flynn's 2006 debut novel. That's not only true of the figurative echoes in the complex tale of family trauma in a small town. It's true of the literal echoes in the sound design. Every room sounds hollow; every house amplifies the rattles and footsteps inside.

When the phantasmagorically weird Beatles film Yellow Submarine premiered 50 years ago, its psychedelic colors and peace-and-love sensibility quickly influenced fashion, graphic design, animation and music.

But the 1968 movie also influenced organized religion — a fact lost in the hubbub over the release of a restored and remastered version in American theaters on July 8.

When she was in her 20s, dancer Gesel Mason started emailing black choreographers she admired, asking them to create a solo for her. To her surprise, many of them said yes.

"I did not know I was making my life's work when I started it," she says. "I was just really interested in dancing with some choreographers."

Friday evening, as word got around that Steve Ditko had died, the encomiums that bubbled up across the usual social media platforms assumed several distinct shapes. The reclusive comics artist and writer who co-created Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and a handful of other, lesser-known comics heroes beloved of only a hardy few (hi!), had clearly touched many nerdy lives, albeit in different ways.

Sometimes all it takes for love to blossom is a chance encounter — or a murder and a mystery. This month, I've picked three books that prove love finds a way, no matter the circumstances of a first meeting or the reasons couples are stuck together. When sparks are flying and hearts and minds are open, there's no stopping these happily ever afters.

A 63-Year-Old Lifeguard

Jul 8, 2018

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You know it's been a long year when people ask for summer reads and you find yourself recommending Cherie Dimaline's The Marrow Thievesin which Indigenous North Americans band together to escape government hunters in the wake of societal collapse — as a comforting story. (Hey, at least everybody's banding together.)

The Joyful Cities Of Bodys Isek Kingelez

Jul 8, 2018

The Congolese artist Bodys Isek Kingelez had a vision of the future — and he built it out of soda cans, bottle caps, cookie packages, matchboxes, colored paper and corrugated cardboard.

More than 30 of his wildly colorful architectural models are now on display in "Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams," a new exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

The artist (1948–2015) sculpted fancifully shaped buildings and metropolises decorated with all manner of arcs, curves and ornamental flourishes.

Steve Ditko, the comic-book artist best known for his role in creating Spider-Man, has died at the age of 90.

Ditko is credited with helping to popularize the Marvel Comics universe, whose characters today can be found everywhere from blockbuster films, to television shows, to theme park rides, to merchandise. Working alongside artists Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Ditko was a creative force behind characters like Dr. Strange, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man.

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Being outside on a sunny summer day may seem like a great idea, but hot humid weather can be dangerous for our furry friends.  Your four-legged companion depends on you to keep it safe and healthy in the sweltering summer heat.

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Anne Tyler's latest novel is about a woman in her 60s who marries young, has two children and is widowed young, remarries — and finds her life truly changed, late in the game, by a phone call asking for help, that was probably made in error. (Though that doesn't make it a mistake.)

The new book — Tyler's 21st — is called Clock Dance. It has a saguaro cactus on the cover, but Tyler's novels almost always lead to Baltimore, which is where she was when we spoke.


Interview Highlights

On the creation of Willa, her main character

A new movie is coming from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson — former pro wrestler, current action movie superstar. It's called Skyscraper.

It brings together lots of threads. The world's tallest building! On fire! With thousands of people inside! Including the hero's beautiful family! Johnson is of course the hero, a one-legged war veteran who must save the day.

There are lots of scary moments, lots of tension, and — if you are afraid of heights — lots more tension. The director, Rawson Marshall Thurber, is writing and making his second film with Johnson.

When you're caught up in the turmoil of the moment, it can be good to take the long view. So: Meet actress Marsha Hunt.

Now 100 years old, she was part of the golden age of Hollywood, and then the golden age of live television. She lived through the McCarthy era and survived the Hollywood blacklist and still held onto her ideals.

On the floor of a Zen Buddhist worship space in an apartment building in Washington, D.C., about 15 people recently sat on meditation cushions. They chant sutras and meditate, in complete silence, for a full 30 minutes.

And then one of the lay leaders of the All Beings Zen Sangha, or congregation, conducted a "little exercise."

"It's very simple," said Mark Stone. "If you could take out your screens, stay on them for 12 minutes, doing what you usually do."

Editor's note: This story includes frank descriptions of sexual matters depicted in the movie.

Before moving to India, I thought Bollywood was all demure, G-rated eyelash-fluttering. Boy meets girl, their families don't approve, but they get over it in the end — and everyone breaks out into synchronized dance moves.

You remember them if you grew up in the 1980s or '90s, leering at you from drugstore racks: a morbid parade of covers featuring skeletons graduating from college or playing piano or dressed as surgeons and cradling babies; covers of teenagers brooding in attics and creepy kids, all with peekaboo die-cut covers opening up to reveal gorgeous art of menacing grandmothers and chortling, flame-shrouded demons, their titles embossed in gold foil: The Seeing, The Searing, The Sharing, The Spawning, The Suiting.

He was 11 years old. He lived in Niamey, the capital of Niger. And he'd never had a chance to go to school.

"Education in my country sucks," he says.

So he played soccer on the streets.

Then he had an idea. The father of a friend owned a company that made leather goods. Soumana Saley decided he wanted to learn to be a leather craftsman. "I really liked the work," he remembers.

The 'Nanette' Phenomenon

Jul 6, 2018

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Gillian Flynn's wildly successful Gone Girl helped spawn a batch of best-selling mystery novels featuring complex female protagonists. That was sweet revenge for Flynn, whose first novel, Sharp Objects, had been turned down by publishers who didn't think people wanted to read stories about less-than-perfect women. Now, Sharp Objects has been adapted as a limited series, debuting Sunday on HBO, starring Amy Adams.

George Rodriguez, now 80, still doesn't go anywhere without taking pictures.

"People don't recognize me without my camera," he says. "I like to document everything that's goin' on."

What is left to say about the spectacular rise and agonizing fall of Whitney Houston, whose drug-fueled decline played out in such full public view that it's hard to imagine any biopic rising above tabloid cliché? Give or take a few new tidbits about the pop superstar's childhood scars and fluid sexuality, Scottish director Kevin Macdonald's absorbing documentary Whitney doesn't break with the sad blueprint that frames rock docs by the handful.

"In any dispute, the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake." That's Sayre's law, credited to the late Wallace Stanley Sayre, a political scientist and professor at Columbia University. In a perfect irony, the precise origins of Sayre's law are themselves under dispute, but it's often applied to the halls of academia, where petty disagreements can fester into explosive personal vendettas, with little real-world import whatsoever.

Musician turned filmmaker Boots Riley, who wrote and directed Sorry to Bother You, isn't really apologetic about irking anybody. In fact, the goal of his cinematic debut is to hassle the complacency out of everyone in the house. The movie needles with such glee that it barely matters that the last third is a bewildered and bewildering mess.

“The Bookshop at Water’s End”

Author: Patti Callahan Henry  

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 328

Price: $16.00 (Paperback)

Patti Callahan Henry, of Mountain Brook, Alabama, is a seasoned, professional writer of popular fiction, the author of 12 previous novels, several of them best-sellers. Her books are highly readable stories of family life, the relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children and quite often between siblings, especially sisters.

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