Arts & Culture

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

In the early '90s, the highly publicized Biosphere 2 project in Arizona ignited the nation's imagination. Its attempt to create a hermetically sealed environment — something that might be found on another planet, should the human race make it that far — was beset by problems, and after two missions, it was abandoned. Biosphere left the world with some big questions: Was it a noble attempt at adapting Homo sapiens to an uncertain future? Or was it a flawed, hubristic media stunt?

Lipton tea can be found in almost any grocery store, and the brand is just about synonymous with industrial Big Tea. So tea enthusiasts who sniff at the familiar square bags might be surprised that once upon a time, Lipton was known as the "farm to table" of the tea world. In fact, it was sold with the catchy slogan "direct from tea garden to tea pot."

So how did Thomas Lipton build this tea empire?

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Itzhak Andres / Wikimedia

The rise of digitization has made archiving and sharing scholarly information much easier than it once was, especially for subjects with a selective appeal. Such is the case with Yiddish theater.

The Yiddish theater flourished in 19th and early 20th Century Europe and, towards the end of its heyday, in the United States. The subject matter ranged from the humorous, to the melodramatic or even political. No matter the central topic, Yiddish theater was wildly popular for Jewish audiences around the world.

courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

If you took the New York Times's 2013 online quiz, "How Y'all, Youse, and You Guys Talk," you weren't alone.  Hundreds of thousands of us took the quiz and posted the results to our social media accounts.  The quiz asked some two dozen questions about how we use the English language - and, based on the results - speculated on where we call home.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


(It should almost go without saying; there are going to be some serious spoilers in this piece about Sunday's pivotal, bruising episode of The Walking Dead.)

They finally did it.

I'm not talking about the decision by producers of The Walking Dead to kill two important characters in Sunday's gut-wrenching episode. Fans knew since the cliffhanger ending of season six back in April that super-psycho bad guy Negan was going to beat someone they cared about to death with his barbed wire-covered bat, Lucille.

Remembering Steve Dillon, Co-Creator Of 'Preacher'

Oct 24, 2016

Making comics for adults — not stolid, "highbrow" comics, but explosive, shocking comics that tickle grownup palates — is a challenge for many creators, but it's one that artist Steve Dillon embraced with gusto. Dillon, known for his work on such pathbreaking titles as DC Comics/Vertigo's Preacher, died this weekend in New York City at the age of 54. His passing was confirmed on Twitter Saturday by his brother, fellow artist Glyn Dillon, who wrote, "Sad to confirm the death of Steve, my big brother and my hero. He passed away in the city he loved (NYC).

It's one thing to appreciate a 20-year-old fine wine. It is something else to brew up a 2,500-year-old alcoholic beverage.

While sifting through the remains of an Iron Age burial plot dating from 400 to 450 B.C. in what is today Germany, Bettina Arnold, an archaeologist and anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and others uncovered a cauldron that contained remnants of an alcohol brewed and buried with the deceased.

Comic Chris Gethard knows what it's like to feel hopeless and alone. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he has experienced depression so severe that it led to suicidal thoughts. "I didn't like who I was," he says. "I spent a lot of my life regretting who I was, which is a sad thing to say."

Gethard relives some of his darkest moments in the one-man show, Career Suicide, which is billed as "a new comedy about suicide, depression, alcoholism, and all the other funniest parts of life."

When scientists recently announced that they had discovered a new planet orbiting our closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centuri, they also released an artist's conception of the planet.

The picture of a craggy canyon, illuminated by a reddish-orange sunset, looked like an image that could have been taken on Mars by one of NASA's rovers. But the alien scene was actually completely made-up.

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Your reaction to the following words will probably determine whether this book is for you. If your heart speeds up and you find yourself making grabby hands at the screen, maybe hopping in your chair muttering, "Give it to me now," I'm happy to tell you this book is available and worth your time to read once, possibly twice.

Here are the words in question: "Gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes."

Donald Trump laid out his closing pitch to voters on Saturday in Pennsylvania, a battleground state that is home to many actual battlegrounds.

"It's my privilege to be here in Gettysburg, hallowed ground where so many lives were given," Trump said.

Trump reiterated the major themes of his campaign, like cracking down on illegal immigration. He also promised to sue women who've come forward to accuse him of unwanted sexual contact. But first, he drew a parallel to the state of the nation during the Civil War.

Donald Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again" is an easy one to adapt for whatever your cause. There are ones like "Make America Gay Again," "Make America Skate Again," "Make America Read Again," "Make America Fair Again." You get the idea.

Bakers, of course, had to get in on the action. How could you pass up "Make America Cake Again"?