Arts & Culture

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

With a reassuring voice that howled over an acoustic guitar, Jesy Fortino made records as Tiny Vipers about emptiness and absence that were severely intimate. She channeled both Neil Young and Stevie Nicks in "Landslide" — two songwriters who knew a thing or two about being bummed out, but would try to find something hopeful in the mess.

You need only watch Steve Marion's face. This fierce and lyrical guitar player, who performs as Delicate Steve, writes playful instrumental music led by hooky vocals — but there is no voice. His electric guitar is often played with a glass slide, mimicking a human being and bringing a palpable personality to his songs. The music swings from gospel to cartoon, melancholy to funny.

John Scalzi's novel The Collapsing Empire kicks off a new series set in — you guessed it — an interstellar empire teetering on the brink of collapse. The Interdependency sprawls across light-years of space, held together by a strange dimension called the Flow, which enables humans to span the immense distances between planets. But the Flow is failing, changing, fluctuating — cutting off some planets forever (including Earth). And in the Interdependency, no planet can survive without supplies from the others. So what's an emperox to do?

Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham are creative partners and best friends. From their cozy office in Los Angeles, they oversee their hit show Girls, work on their online feminist newsletter Lenny Letter and develop other film and TV projects. (Currently in the works: an HBO animated series about Planned Parenthood.) Their office is adorned with photos of the BFF posing together for magazine covers, and provocative artworks.

"This one is about perky boobies," Konner says, pointing to a framed needlepoint sampler.

When the Food and Drug Administration created controls in January on how farmers can give antibiotics to livestock, scientists concerned about antibiotic resistance and advocates for animal welfare called it a historic shift in how meat animals are raised.

But a new federal report, released last week, says the long-awaited FDA initiative — first attempted back in 1977 — falls short in so many areas that it may not create the change that backers hoped for.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Let's turn now to some fierce political drama - at a music competition. About 200 million people around the world tune in to watch the Eurovision Song Contest each May. This year, it's in Ukraine. And 43 countries plan on sending musical acts.

About this time last year, roughly two dozen daring young strangers bid farewell to the modern world as we know it, bearing their hunting equipment and their wiles into the remote Scottish highlands with the aims of creating a new community from scratch — cameras rolling for a reality show all the while, naturally.

With his skill as a psychiatrist, Dr. Hussam Jefee-Bahloul is reaching out to the troubled people of his Syrian homeland, offering guidance for health workers who work with mental health issues in a population traumatized by war.

And with his love of words, he tries to capture his longing for his homeland in poetry.

Brutal in both subject matter and presentation, the art-house biopic I, Olga tells the story of the last woman to be given the death penalty in Czechoslovakia. Olga Hepnarova, a suicidal 22-year-old who drove her truck onto a Prague sidewalk and killed eight pedestrians in 1973, attributed her act of mass murder to her own sense of alienation from the world. To communicate this, it's understandable that directors Tomás Weinreb and Petr Kazda would choose to, well, alienate their audience.

'Life' Doesn't Quite Find A Way

Mar 23, 2017

"Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence," Chief Medical Officer Leonard "Bones" McCoy once lamented. And that was on Star Trek, far and away the most optimistic vision of humanity's spacefaring destiny ever presented onscreen.

To fully understand the dollar-store appeal of Power Rangers, the first big-screen iteration of the media and action-figure line in two decades, one must sit through at least one or two of the five Michael Bay-directed Transformers movies, which is by no means an advisable experience. The two franchises are more or less the same — a busy assemblage of thinly wrought characters, unforgivably dense mythology, and barely comprehensible action sequences, all in service of gleaming battlebots for kids to smash together in the sandbox.

Pages