Arts + Life

Arts + Life

Annaleigh Ashford is down to earth. Very down to earth. Sitting in her Broadway dressing room, she talks about all of the people who've inhabited that same space – Denzel Washington, Ian McKellen and, most recently, Larry David, who left a sticker with his name by the toilet.

WARNING: The column contains numerous spoilers regarding Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead and how it connects to events in the graphic novel. If you wish to remain in the dark — and have somehow avoided the online explosion of fan anguish until now — be warned that this piece will discuss lots of details from Sunday's show.

It was the death some fans of The Walking Dead had been anticipating for a long time. It just didn't come in the way that we expected. If it actually happened at all.

What would you do if a stranger stopped you on the street, asked to take your picture and asked to hear your story?

For the past five years, photographer Brandon Stanton has been doing exactly that — on the streets of New York, no less — and thousands of people have said yes. Stanton has been not only collecting their stories and images, but also sharing them on his blog, Humans of New York.

Film legend Maureen O'Hara — the Irish-American actress whose cascading red hair and sea-green eyes helped make her the "Queen of Technicolor" — has died in her sleep at her home in Boise, Idaho. She was 95.

O'Hara's career spanned more than 60 films, including How Green Was My Valley and the The Quiet Man, the classic 1952 romance directed by John Ford and set in Ireland. Just last year, O'Hara received a Lifetime Honorary Oscar.

The Knick is a gripping TV show set in a hospital, but it's not your typical medical drama. The show, back for its second season on the Cinemax cable network, is set in New York's Knickerbocker Hospital in the early 1900s.

It's a world of white coats, dark hallways and all manner of infectious diseases.

Everything is grimy. The surgeries are often graphic, the doctors' lives often messy — and the racial and anti-immigrant sentiments fester like an open wound.

Childhood is a time for pretend play, imaginary friends and fantastical creatures. Flying ponies reliably beat documentaries with the preschool set.

Yet adults are no strangers to fiction. We love movies and novels, poems and plays. We also love television, even when it isn't preceded by "reality."

In Arthur Miller's 1949 masterpiece, Death of a Salesman, we're never told what lead character Willy Loman sells — but he's spent a lifetime "on a shoeshine and a smile." His luck finally runs out when his boss lets him go.

"I put 34 years into this firm, Howard, and now I can't pay my insurance!" Loman shouts from the stage. "You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away! A man is not a piece of fruit."

Pop Sonnets author Erik Didriksen has been writing poetry most of his life. "I grew up with a knack for rhyming," he says. "When I was little, I used to write my grandparents poems. There's a poem [the family] dug up recently — I wrote an ode to pickles. Which is ridiculous, but this is what you have to write about as a 6-year-old. It doesn't scan at all. It's just lines with rhymes at the end of them."

StoryCorps has an assignment as generations gather this Thanksgiving: Document the stories and voices of a grandparent or elder.

One of the best-reviewed shows on Broadway right now is a revival of a musical that closed there only six years ago. Spring Awakening is based on a play about German teenagers in the 1890s. Part dark morality play, part rock opera, the musical swept the 2007 Tony awards and made TV stars of its two main leads, Leah Michele (of Glee) and Jonathan Groff (of Looking).

There's a surge of interest in the work of 20th century Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. It's inspired in part by American country and folk singer-songwriter Iris Dement, who has an adopted daughter from Russia and has set some of the poet's work to music in a new album, The Trackless Woods.

It's Oct. 1, two days before the season's first Saturday Night Live goes on air. Guest host Miley Cyrus is rehearsing, rumors are flying that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is going to be on the show — and executive producer Lorne Michaels is in his office overlooking studio 8H, worrying.

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British artist Andy Goldsworthy works in the fields and forests near his home in Scotland using natural elements as his media. His pieces have a tendency to collapse, decay and melt, but, as he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "It's not about art. It's just about life and the need to understand that a lot of things in life do not last."

The title of Maris Kreizman's Slaughterhouse 90210 is, on the one hand, catchy and funny, and it certainly communicates the book's basic conceit: pictures from the world of pop culture paired with quotes from the world of great literature. Based on Kreizman's Tumblr of the same name, the book does its thing with a wink and a dose of wit in many cases, to be sure.

When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, Kani Alavi was a young artist living in an apartment overlooking the border between East and West Berlin. He remembers seeing East Berliners streaming through "like a wave of water," he said through an interpreter. "Some were joyful, some were doubtful, some were afraid they might not [have the chance to] cross again."

Alavi painted that moment: a flowing river of faces he calls "Es geschah im November," or "It happened in November."

Ionel Talpazan thought he saw a UFO when he was a boy, and never stopped seeing them. Of course, he created them.

Ionel Talpazan was 60 years old when he died this week, of diabetes and stroke. He was a boy in a small village in Romania, given up by his parents and raised by a succession of foster parents. He told interviewers he escaped into the woods one night because he thought he would be beaten.

He saw a blue, beating light in the sky above, and was sure it was a spacecraft.

Shahzia Sikander is one of the contemporary art world's most celebrated stars. She's projecting her hypnotic video installations onto Times Square billboards; she's led exhibitions at major art museums across the world; and she was recognized by the MacArthur Foundation as a "genius" fellow in 2006.

People often ask dancer and choreographer Michelle Dorrance when she knew she wanted to become a professional dancer. Her answer is simple: "I just knew I would never stop tap dancing," she tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "I knew it was possible because our masters die with their shoes on. ... You dance until your '90s."