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Arts + Life

Arts + Life

What first grabs a reader about Mary Mann Hamilton's memoir, Trials of the Earth, is its backstory. Hamilton was born in Arkansas around 1866; her family ran a boarding house and at 18 she married one of the guests, an older Englishman named Frank Hamilton who claimed to have an aristocratic past.

Welcome to the third installment of Read, Watch, Binge! our summer recommendation series. As you may recall from our first list, we were tired of algorithms that only matched books to books or movies to movies. So this month, we've enlisted the help of real live humans to pair TV series with movies, musicals, books, comics, podcasts and more.

When Your Dream House Is A Dollhouse, No Space Is Too Small

Aug 10, 2016

When Bridget Sue Lambert was 5 years old, her grandfather built her a dollhouse.

It's a simple wooden structure, white with yellow shutters, a few handmade chairs and dressers scattered through its sparse rooms.

Decades later when Lambert was searching for artistic inspiration, she found out the dollhouse was still in her parents' house, gathering dust. Lambert's love of miniatures was sparked anew.

Sesame Street has been a constant presence in children's entertainment for nearly 50 years. In addition to Big Bird and Elmo and Oscar the Grouch, the program also has human characters who ground the show, teaching the muppets big life lessons and helping them on their zany adventures. But over the past few weeks, there have been some issues with the grown-ups of Sesame Street.

In honor of MTV's 35th birthday Monday, the network has launched MTV Classic, a new channel featuring programming from the '90s and '00s. On the same day, we also wish a happy birthday to NPR Music and Pop Culture Happy Hour's Stephen Thompson, who celebrates with an interview on All Things Considered about how MTV Classic is redefining which popular culture fits into the current environment for nostalgia.

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Television Critics Association is ... okay, that's the easy part. It's an association of people who write about television, mostly as critics, although many function, either instead or in addition, as reporters. I'm in it, as is NPR's full-time TV critic Eric Deggans, as are a couple hundred other people. And twice a year — once in the summer and once in the winter — we gather in the L.A. area for what's referred to as either "press tour" or "TCA," so that we can hear about what's coming up on TV and get a chance to talk to the people who make it.

America's favorite Amazon princess turns 75 this year — Wonder Woman first swung her golden lasso in All-Star Comics #8 in December 1941, and she's still fighting for freedom and the rights of women.

DC Entertainment is celebrating the Amazon's birthday with a series of events at this year's San Diego Comic-Con; a street corner in the downtown Gaslamp District has been turned into a tribute to Wonder Woman's home on Paradise Island, complete with artists painting giant portraits of her, and a replica of her famous invisible jet.

"My name is Becki," says a young woman standing in a convention center turned comic book bazaar. Then she flips a mane of orange hair and launches into Scottish accent. "And today, I am Merida from Brave."

This year at San Diego Comic-Con, one of the biggest phenomena isn't just inside the convention center, it's all around. Yes, there are billboards and installations trumpeting things like Doctor Strange and Fear the Walking Dead. But the crowds of people here aren't looking up; they're mostly staring down at their phones, playing Pokémon Go.

On Wednesday night, the film Star Trek: Beyond held its red-carpet premiere at San Diego Comic-Con. They went all out – a live orchestra, fireworks, a laser show. Conan O'Brien hosted the gig. NPR's Nina Gregory reported on it for Morning Edition yesterday.

When You're A Nomad, You Need Portable Art

Jul 15, 2016

Think of it as art to go — and on the go.

The 2016 Emmy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning in Los Angeles. The full list of nominations is here.

Although HBO's hit Veep received the most comedy nominations, the ABC show Black-ish was nominated in three top categories, including best comedy series and best lead actor and actress in a comedy series.

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

Kanyes, Kims, and Donalds—oh my! Narcissism is all around us, and research shows it's on the rise. Millennials are more likely than their parents to claim they're above average in just about every way, from their leadership skills to their academic achievements to their drive to succeed. And while more millennials are getting straight A's and making plans for graduate school than previous generations, there's no evidence that they're actually any more productive or educated than their elders.

HBO's The Night Of, which premiered on Sunday, is a gripping, complex drama about crime and justice — and its arrival could not be better-timed. The eight-part series looks at how a criminal justice bureaucracy — filled with people who are just doing their jobs — trundles along on such dysfunction that truth and fairness are often the first casualties.

Full disclosure, here at the start: I don't know Pokemon.

That's not technically true; here's a list of everything I knew about Pokemon before playing the new smartphone app, Pokemon GO (this knowledge absorbed solely through cultural osmosis, given the phenomenon's ubiquity).

1. Pikachu is a kind (species?) of Pokemon. It is an "electric-type" Pokemon. It is yellow. It has a cutesy voice. Said voice is profoundly annoying.

2. Squirtle is another kind of Pokemon, a "water-type" Pokemon. It, as one might imagine, squirts.

Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker made a life together gazing at the stars. For 17 years, the couple worked side by side — Gene, as a renowned astrogeologist, studying planets and other celestial bodies, and Carolyn, who had turned to astronomy later in life yet discovered more comets than most pros.

"When I was 50 years old and my kids were grown, Gene suggested, well, maybe I would like to try my hand at astronomy a little bit," Carolyn tells her son-in-law Phred Salazar, on a recent visit with StoryCorps.

When we think about the good life, art and food rank pretty high in importance. (OK, we at The Salt might be a little biased.) So it seems only natural that the two mix. Foods crop up in all kinds of art — from ancient Egyptian tomb walls to European still life paintings.

But in art, an apple isn't always just an apple. Many foods carry specific meanings for different global artistic traditions, and those meanings can change over time.

How well do you understand the secret language of foods in art? Take this quiz to find out.

Photographer Binh Danh spends his summers tooling around various national parks in a distinctive white van that doubles as a darkroom. "I nicknamed it 'Louis' after Louis Daguerre," the 38-year-old says, smiling from behind his professorial glasses. Louis Daguerre invented the daguerreotype in the 1830s, and Binh Danh has reinvented it for today. Using handmade materials, Danh coats sheets of copper with silver, polishes the plates to a blinding gleam and synthesizes them with iodine to create crystals that act as pixels.

After being called out for editing its live broadcast of the fireworks in Washington, D.C., to show fireworks bursting in clear air — on a night in which the weather was dominated by fog, low clouds and misting rain — PBS called it "the patriotic thing to do."

Michael Cimino, the Academy-award winning director of The Deer Hunter, has died at the age of 77 in Los Angeles.

Cimino received broad critical acclaim for the 1978 Vietnam War epic The Deer Hunter, which was nominated for nine Oscars and won five. He then followed it up with Heaven's Gate, one of the most famous flops in film history.

The Los Angeles County Coroner confirmed Cimino's death, but said the cause is not yet known.

There was a time, around 1975, when all the most-watched TV shows — All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, Good Times — had one thing in common: They were produced by Norman Lear. Now, at the age of 93, Lear is featured in a new documentary about his life and career called Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You.

Click the link above to listen as we quiz Lear on Learjets, the private planes that became the must-have accessory for the very rich starting back in the 1960s.

For most of her career, Carmen Herrera's paintings of brightly colored geometric shapes went unnoticed, while her male counterparts — Barnett Newman, Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella — got plenty of attention for similar work. Herrera finally made her first sale at 89. And now, at 101, it seems she's getting her due at last. The Cuban artist's work can be seen at the Tate in London, MoMA in New York, and she has an exhibition coming to the Whitney Whitney Museum of American Art in September.

Imagine William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice set in post-Civil War Washington, D.C.; and now make half of the characters former slaves. Suddenly, it's a completely new play; but it still looks at some of the same themes, including how your actions reflect your beliefs. That new play is Aaron Posner's District Merchants, currently on stage at Washington's Folger Theatre. (This fall, it will also be produced by South Coast Repertory outside of Los Angeles.)

Sorry to disappoint Trekkies who still believe, but the actual USS Enterprise did not really take up much space.

That famous starship of Mr. Spock and Capt. James Tiberius Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series — which turns 50 this year — was a model. Quite a large one, to be fair: 11 feet long and about 200 pounds, made out of blow-molded plastic and wood. But not life-sized.

And for more than a decade, it hung in the gift shop of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper and George Bellows were very different artists, but they did have at least one thing in common: They all studied with painter William Merritt Chase. Now, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., is marking the centennial of the artist's death with a retrospective.

"You walk around these galleries and the paintings are gutsy and bold and scintillating and brilliant," says Dorothy Kosinski, director of the Phillips.

[Spoilers ahead for the finales of both Veep and Game Of Thrones. Obviously.]

Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder.

-- Petyr Baelish, Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 6

Well then, why don't we send WARSHIPS into the South China Seas? I WANT! MY NOBEL! PEACE PRIZE!

-- President Selina Meyer, Veep, Season 5, Episode 10

Last night on HBO, two venal, scheming rulers saw their secret machinations come to ruinous ends — literally ruinous, for one of them.

Can a computer write a sonnet that's indistinguishable from what a human can produce? Computer scientists at Dartmouth College tried to answer that question with a competition that NPR's Joe Palca reported on as part of his series, Joe's Big Idea.

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