Arts & Life

For comedian and actor Jenny Slate, the path to finding her own voice went through crushing failure (professional) and heartbreak (divorce).

She began her career in stand-up, was drafted to Saturday Night Live — and was fired. The path that followed was uncharted.

British actor Robert Pattinson can't tell you how many times people have said to him: "Hey man ... you know what you'd be great at playing? An English prince."

But that's not really his thing.

"I think when you first start, if you're tall and English and have kind of floppy hair, in England that is the box that you're put in," he says. "But I like movies because of Pacino, basically. I didn't grow up watching period dramas and being like, 'That's what I want to do!' "

Another month brings another batch of delightful novels that showcase the breadth of Romancelandia — from contemporary romantic comedies to heroes who read romance novels to lady ghostbusters at the turn of the century, it's never the same old journey to happily ever after.

Take it from someone who's lived in the capital of Texas for 15 years: There are worse places to spend Christmas than Austin. You don't have to worry about getting snowed in; there's never too much distance between you and a bar; and you can always amuse yourself by playing games like "Is that guy walking down Guadalupe Street dressed like an elf because it's Christmas or just because this is Austin?"

One of the most anticipated Broadway plays of the season is a two-part, seven-hour epic, called The Inheritance, inspired by E.M. Forster's novel Howards End. The first sentence of E.M. Forster's novel is: "One may as well begin with Helen's letters to her sister."

You have to be careful. Claire North's The Pursuit of William Abbey is not the book you think it is.

When Carrie Goldberg broke up with her boyfriend of a few months, frightening things started happening. He sent her hundreds of threatening messages. He contacted her friends, family and even work colleagues on Facebook to spread vicious lies about her — and that wasn't all. One night she opened her laptop to find email after email containing intimate pictures of her, including a graphic video filmed without her consent. Goldberg, a lawyer, went to the police and was told there was nothing that could be done.

In Nicole Krauss's 2017 novel Forest Dark, an Israeli scholar asks a Jewish-American writer, "'You think your writing belongs to you?'" The writer, whose name is Nicole, responds, "'Who else?'" and the professor shoots back, "'To the Jews.'" This scene springs from Krauss's own life. Like the fictional Nicole, Krauss struggles often against readers' desire for her to speak not for herself, but — somehow — for her entire religion.

Pixabay.com

A dog's muzzle often turns gray as it ages, but in cats it is difficult to distinguish an older animal.  Even so, as a pet ages, its needs change - as your furry friend's owner it's up to you to make sure your companion gets the best possible care to enjoy its senior years.

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Epstein's Death Becomes A Meme

Nov 16, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

What did a meal taste like nearly 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylonia? Pretty good, according to a team of international scholars who have deciphered and are re-creating what are considered to be the world's oldest-known culinary recipes.

The recipes were inscribed on ancient Babylonian tablets that researchers have known about since early in the 20th century but that were not properly translated until the end of the century.

Mary-Louise Parker is drawing rave reviews for her central role in Adam Rapp's new, two-character Broadway drama, The Sound Inside.

In the play, Parker stars as Bella Baird, a 53-year-old Yale English professor and fiction writer living with cancer, a role Parker herself describes as "arduous."

Night to night, under the direction of David Cromer, she's tasked with commanding a bare stage as she narrates her thoughts and actions during the better part of 90 minutes.

We recorded the show in Richmond, Va., this week, and invited Sen. Tim Kaine — who served as mayor of Richmond — to play our quiz. Kaine has represented Virginia in the U.S. Senate since 2013. He was also Governor of Virginia, and came pretty close to being Vice President of the United States.

We've invited him to play a game called "T. Kaine, meet T-Pain" — three questions about Grammy award-winning musician T-Pain.

Click the audio link above to find out how he does.

So there's this pale, gawky, bald guy in mirror shades running through the desert. That's the central image of Connor Willumsen's graphic novel Bradley of Him, and it's also a kind of seed. From the image of a stubborn runner in an inhospitable landscape, Willumsen has built up a hilarious and philosophically challenging meditation on individuality, capitalism, celebrity, connection — and, under it all, absurdity.

I've owned cats my entire life. But it never occurred to me, until I went to the Big Apple Circus, that you could train them to do tricks. Like, really impressive tricks.

The latest edition of the Big Apple Circus features the usual assortment of acrobatics and death-defying acts. It also features The Savitsky Cats — a Ukrainian mother-and-daughter team and their nine talented fluffballs, who slalom through ladders, jump through hoops and scamper up a pole to a tiny platform before launching onto a pillow 20 feet below.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. On Sunday Netflix presents the new season of "The Crown," which tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II. In the first two seasons, the young woman who became queen was played wonderfully by Claire Foy. For this new third season, which covers the years 1964 to 1977, the queen is played by Olivia Colman, who takes over the role seamlessly and instantly - really, in seconds - and before even showing the front of her head.

The emotionally turbulent drama Waves revolves around an African American family living in South Florida, and I mean "revolves" quite literally. In an early scene, the camera swivels a full 360 degrees around the inside of a car, as a teenager named Tyler Williams and his girlfriend, Alexis, drive along the oceanfront.

The third season of The Crown drops on Netflix on Sunday, November 17th.

"One just has to get on with it."

That's Elizabeth II (played by Olivia Colman, taking over from Claire Foy), in the first scene of The Crown's third season. She's addressing her assistants, there, who have just unveiled to her the more-current portrait of the Queen set to replace her younger self on a postage stamp.

A Surfing Marriage Proposal

Nov 15, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In today’s Keepin’ It Real commentary, Cam Marston truly, truly thinks he’s an OK guy except, it seems, when he’s in his car...

Edited by Jalen Hutchinson

Farrah Fawcett (or Cheryl Ladd), Kate Jackson, Jacklyn Smith and a speaker box. Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and a speaker box. Whatever its merits as a television show or an early aughts movie franchise, Charlie's Angels has been more or less a democracy, with an emphasis on crime-fighting teamwork and an equal distribution of "Jiggle TV" lasciviousness. Fawcett and Barrymore may have been the tip of the spear, but the formula calls for a balanced trio, spurred into adventure by a disembodied male boss and their put-upon handler.

When a movie is called The Good Liar, you expect a certain amount of deception. So how many con jobs would you say, on average, you'd want out of a nearly two-hour con film to feel like you'd gotten your money's worth of swindles? Is it more than one or two? If so, bad news.

In a deliciously digressive sequence of the rollicking Ford v Ferrari, Mollie (Outlander's Caitriona Balfe), the otherwise supportive wife of test car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), treats her husband to a taste of his own medicine after he unilaterally takes what ought to have been a joint family decision. Exasperated, Mollie propels Ken into a hair-raising speed-ride through hairpin bends in the staid family car. The joke is that Ken, a congenital speed freak who also loves his wife to distraction, is terrified and begs her to slow down.

It's no coincidence that when Charlie (Adam Driver) takes his young son out for Halloween in the new Noah Baumbach film Marriage Story, he dresses as The Invisible Man.

A didactic movie on an unpleasant subject, The Report is essentially a one-man show that dramatizes a nearly 7,000-page government study. If that doesn't sound too promising, writer-director Scott Z. Burns' second feature turns out be as urgent and engrossing as it is educational. Relevant, too, since we live in a moment when "Read the Transcript" is a T-shirt motto.

The book jacket for A Warning is appropriately stark. The title and "Anonymous" loom up in high contrast black-and-white, with "A Senior Trump Administration Official" lurking just below — in red.

On its first page, in a bid to make news, the book says disillusionment was so great in the first two years of President Trump's administration that "top advisors and cabinet-level officials contemplated ... resigning en masse to call attention to Trump's misconduct and erratic leadership."

In some ways, the fact that Behrouz Boochani touched down in New Zealand on his way to a literary festival is unremarkable. His memoir, No Friend but the Mountains, won Australia's richest literary prize earlier this year, after all, and presenting at such festivals is a pretty standard item on any celebrated writer's itinerary.

But this trip represented something unfamiliar for the Kurdish-Iranian journalist: his first glimpse of freedom in six years.

“L’Chaim and Lamentations”

Author: Craig Darch

Publisher: NewSouth Books

Pages: 158

Price: $ 24.95 (Hardcover)

As readers surely know, my mandate here is to discuss Alabama-related books, and for the last many months, during this bicentennial year especially, I have read a string of histories of early Alabama and Selma and Birmingham and Mobile Bay.

However, my mandate also extends to books by Alabama authors, and Craig Darch, who has taught at Auburn for over thirty years, qualifies as such an Alabama author.

Actor Reese Witherspoon became famous in her 20s after starring in films like Election and Legally Blonde, but by the time she entered her 30s, the film landscape had shifted. DVD sales had shrunk and smaller, female-centered movies were in short supply. It was nearly impossible to find good leading roles for women.

Witherspoon began asking different movie studios what projects they were developing for women. "With the exclusion of one studio, everybody said 'Nothing. Nothing with a female lead,' " she says.

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