Arts & Culture

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

There's a possibly inadvertent but telling double-entendre in the title of Alain de Botton's new book. The Course of Love is his first novel since On Love (1993), which inventively tracked the trajectory of a love affair from the ecstasy of infatuation to the utter despair of its demise. Half his lifetime and more than a dozen nonfiction titles later, this followup about the 14-year rocky road to romantic reality of a couple living in Edinburgh reveals the constancy of de Botton's concern with the arc of relationships.

The mechanics of DC Comics' latest relaunch of its superhero line — precisely which books are returning to their original numbering, and the fact that several titles will now be published twice monthly, etc. — have engendered much discussion among retailers and collectors.

But let's talk big picture.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that superhero universes periodically reshuffle their narrative decks. The in-story explanations differ in often tortuous ways, but the only true driver is sales. Or, rather, a lack of them.

A lot of what we read and watch comes to us through recommendation algorithms. Amazon tells us: People who bought this book also bought this other book, and Netflix says: Because you watched this movie, we think you should watch this other movie. And we welcome our new recommendation robot overlords!

But this summer, we're going old school — because we haven't found an algorithm that says: If you loved this movie, you'll devour this graphic novel. (Or like this podcast, enjoy this short story ... you get the idea.)

When the mayor of Philadelphia first proposed a 3 cents-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, the American Beverage Association was quick to finance a campaign railing against it.

Since March, records show that the industry has financed more than $4.2 million in media buys in Philadelphia to air ads aimed at turning public opinion against the proposal.

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It's good to be Regina King.

For decades, she's worked in front of the camera as an actress. Now, she's building a career in the director's chair.

On the Warner Bros.' backlot in Burbank recently, King commanded the cast and crew of Animal Kingdom, TNT's new dramatic series about a family of outlaws in Southern California. It's based on an Australian movie; this version features Ellen Barkin as the matriarch, living with her four bad boy sons in a ranch-style house full of skateboards and surfboards, complete with a real, working swimming pool.

In August of 2015, I wrote a list of five fictional TV shows representing some of the ideas networks seem to return to over and over (and over) again. One of the entries read like this:

Tea Tuesday: Meet The Chai Wallahs Of India

Jun 14, 2016

On virtually every other street corner, in every city or town or village in India, there is a chai wallah — a tea vendor who supplies the piping hot, milky brew that fuels the country.

And because everybody — politicians, rickshaw drivers, schoolteachers — needs a daily cuppa, chai wallahs get to meet people from every walk of life.

Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the book The Carrot Purple And Other Curious Stories Of The Food We Eat.

Tonight the game show To Tell the Truth returns to television on ABC, hosted by Black-ish star Anthony Anderson. It's proven a surprisingly scrappy, long-lived, battle-scarred veteran of show: since its first run on CBS from 1956 to 1968, there have been three different syndicated versions of TTtT, plus a brief one-year run on NBC (1990-91).

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In 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Chicago with a mission to expand the Civil Rights Movement from the South to the North. King led what became known as the Chicago Freedom Movement, focusing on racial discrimination in housing as well as discriminatory practices by employers. Fifty years later, does King's work still impact the communities he worked to protect and create a better future for?

Before we even begin to talk about Naomi Novik's beloved alt-history/fantasy Temeraire series — which concludes this month with League of Dragons — we have to look at the numbers. The first book in the series, Her Majesty's Dragon, came out in 2006. League of Dragons is the ninth. That means over the past ten years, Novik has written upwards of 3,500 pages of the Temeraire series, which at this point probably ought to be called a saga.

Sunday began with one of the deadliest shootings in American history — at least 49 people were killed and more than 50 were injured. The attack took place at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, and the suspect was an American Muslim who pledged allegiance to ISIS the night of the attack.

Photo by Stacy Newgent / lilandmad.com

It's not that unusual for recording artists to break into the business while they're still young. Years ago, it was the Jacksons, or Steve Winwood, recording at tender ages. More recently, musicians like Adele have broken through before they were allowed to drink alcohol (at least in the United States).

But even so, it seems remarkable that the sister duo called Lily & Madeleine have just released their third album. Keep It Together is out and Lily is only 19 and Madeleine is 21.

Some people may be dimly aware that Thailand's chilies and Italy's tomatoes — despite being central to their respective local cuisines — originated in South America. Now, for the first time, a new study reveals the full extent of globalization in our food supply. More than two-thirds of the crops that underpin national diets originally came from somewhere else — often far away. And that trend has accelerated over the past 50 years.

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