Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

In the early 1970s, author Studs Terkel went around the country interviewing people about their jobs.

Terkel recorded more than 130 interviews and the result was a book, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day And How They Feel About What They Do, which became a bestseller and later a Broadway musical. People connected to Working because it celebrated the stories of ordinary people and their daily lives.

[In case you haven't heard, Pop Culture Happy Hour is about to embark on a West Coast tour. San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles are sold out — though we recently added an appearance (with Guy Branum!) at the Now Hear This podcast festival in Anaheim on Oct. 29 — but we'll also be in Portland on Oct. 19 with our dear pal Audie Cornish.

Step aside Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — a grumpy old man may soon be taking your place as America's favorite fictional Swede. Ove — that's pronounced Ooo-vah — is the lovable curmudgeon at the center of A Man Called Ove. The film, which opens in the U.S. on Friday, is based on a Swedish best-selling novel.

Whether boosting or buffeting the careers of the Beatles, the Doors and the Stooges, Danny Fields was the man behind the curtain. He remains so in Danny Says, a candid yet unrevealing documentary named for a song the Ramones wrote about Fields.

The angry old gent at the heart of the Swedish film A Man Called Ove is the kind of man who puts on a suit and tie every time he tries to kill himself, which believe me is more than twice. He's also the kind of man you're likely to find in films submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. So even though Ove, who's played with firmly compressed lips by Rolf Lassgard, is a royal pain in the butt, the suicides are played for gentle laughs and it's pretty clear from the get-go that things will pan out, in their deadpan Scandinavian way.

When it was announced that Oliver Stone would be making a film about Sept. 11, the news alone felt like a startling provocation: Hollywood's most political director, a man known for upending assumptions about America's history and institutions, would be commenting on the formative tragedy of the early 21st century. Perhaps Stone would indulge in the type of leftist conspiracy theory that informed his JFK or, at a minimum, seize the opportunity to critique the drastic changes in domestic and foreign policy precipitated by the attacks.

When did our expectations for Tim Burton movies sink so precipitously? We ought to be able to forgive the guy who made Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow a Planet of the Apes now and then. Or even an Alice in Wonderland, so long as he keeps balancing mega-grossing mediocrities like that with heartfelt stuff like Frankenweenie, his delightful stop-motion ode to his dog. Any director who averages a studio feature every other year for three decades will have a stinker or two on his resume.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Mark Frohna

The Civil Rights era was a defining time in American history, and the reverberations are still being felt today.

A contemporary musical, Violet, explores those early days of the modern civil rights era through the eyes of a young woman – Violet – traveling through 1964 America.

The main characters of the FXX series You're the Worst don't follow the rules of polite society. They are narcissists who talk in movie theaters, think everyone else is annoying and are frequently mean to the people they encounter. They also happen to be in love with each other.

Series executive producer Stephen Falk tells Fresh Air's Ann Marie Baldonado that the characters, Jimmy and Gretchen, are "stand-ins for the dark parts of all of us that are still deserving of love at the end of the day."

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

In Mountain View, Calif., a couple of miles down the road from Google, there's a new pizza shop. Only instead of a dozen blue-collar workers pouring marinara sauce, Zume Pizza has — you guessed it! — robots and algorithms running the show.

Their job is to solve a familiar problem: It's game night. You order pizza for you and your buddies. It arrives later than you'd hoped, aaaand it's cold.

"Pizza is not meant to sit in a cardboard box, ever," Zume co-founder Julia Collins says. "The best pizza you ever had came right out of the oven."

Next Act Theatre / facebook

Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those others that have been tried." That sentiment that democracy is beautiful, messy and worth the fight is at the core of Lauren Gunderson’s 2013 play, The Taming.

The play opens Friday at Next Act Theatre, and features an all-woman cast that travels back and forth between present day and the 1787 Continental Congress.

Courtesy of Todd Barnett

For the past couple of weeks, our Precious Lives series has reported on a Milwaukee summer recreational basketball league. We’ve learned how the Warning League, as it’s known, has been affected by gun violence, and how it has served as a stabilizing force for young people.

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