Arts + Life

Arts + Life

Every day smart folks make assertions — about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and issues of all sorts. "Our emphatic prediction is simply that Trump will not win the nomination," opined Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com in August. And Clinton "is unelectable due to negative favorability polls nationwide and within swing states," H.A.

In Fresh Off The Boat's first episode, Eddie Huang walks into the cafeteria of his new middle school for the first time, toting a brown paper bag. As he looks for a seat, we're reminded that on top of the usual new school jitters, Eddie's the lone Asian-American kid in a sea of white faces, each with their prepackaged Lunchables and prepackaged friend groups.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Clare Vaye Watkins is an acclaimed writer: Her debut novel, Gold Fame Citrus, is a sharp post-apocalyptic tale of drought and survival that won critical raves. And she recently published an essay about how, for all her success, she felt that she wasn't herself on the page, that she was changing her writing to appeal to male readers and critics. She called it "On Pandering."

"She had red hair — it was red hair out of a bottle, but it was still red hair. And she was a spitfire," Chloe Longfellow begins. "If you messed with her and she didn't think it was right, she would tell you."

Longfellow is speaking here of her grandmother, Doris Louise Rolison, on a recent visit to StoryCorps. When Longfellow was just a child, her father died and her mother took up multiple jobs in order to support the family. That left Longfellow with a lot of time to spend at her grandparents' house in Arizona.

When actor Jeffrey Tambor first read the script for the Amazon series Transparent, he remembers being bowled over. The series, created by Jill Soloway, tells the story of Maura, a 70-something divorced parent of three who comes out as a transgender woman.

"I had never read anything quite like this," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I loved it from the very beginning."

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Good Day, Ellie!

Dec 10, 2015

"I don't know if the people who wrote those characters see [positivity] in me. I would like to think that I am cheerful and have an optimistic outlook," actress Ellie Kemper told host Ophira Eisenberg of her tendency towards enthusiastic roles on TV and film. "But I hope there's some grain of similarity there."

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SOPRANOS")

As I watched each episode of the second season of Amazon's Transparent, the same question kept popping into my mind: Are the Pfeffermans the most dysfunctional family now on television?

The first episode of the new season begins with an awkward wedding photo. The family has gathered for eldest daughter Sarah's marriage to her lesbian partner. But the show's lead character, Jeffrey Tambor's transgender academic Maura Pfefferman, has a problem: Her homophobic sister is in the audience.

There are emojis to represent virtually every state of being — including, now, the state of being Finnish. To celebrate the run-up to Christmas, the government of Finland has come up with its own set of emoji that capture the particular nuances of Finnish culture.

"We do kind of a Christmas calendar every year, and we were thinking we want to do something this year that works better on mobile and maybe talks to a little bit of a younger audience," Petra Theman, the director for public diplomacy of Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

All eyes turned to Mali in the aftermath of the November 20 terrorist attack on a Bamako hotel that left more than 20 people dead.

A Very Murray Christmas is directed and co-written by Sofia Coppola, who also worked with Bill Murray on the movie Lost in Translation. In that film, Murray played an actor in Japan, reluctantly doing a series of commercials there, and not at all happy.

In A Very Murray Christmas, Murray starts out in much the same mood — he's in his room at New York's Carlyle Hotel, killing time with old friend Paul Shaffer, who's noodling at the piano. Outside, a snowstorm is raging. Inside, Bill Murray is pouting and singing a somber Christmas song.

Ten years ago, Griffin Matthews was singing in a church choir when his pastor found out he was gay and kicked him out. Feeling depressed, he booked a ticket to Uganda for mission work. What happened next is the subject of Invisible Thread, a new off-Broadway musical co-written by Matthews and his life partner, Matt Gould.

Matthews, a working New York actor, says he was quickly disillusioned after he arrived in Uganda and found out the man leading his volunteer organization was corrupt.

If you want to see how refugees are changing Buffalo, N.Y., the West Side Bazaar is a good place to start. It's an incubator for immigrant-owned businesses. And it's the only place in town where you can eat Ethiopian sponge bread, Burmese noodles and Peruvian chicken at the same table. It's also a market with clothing and gifts.

"We are like family here — families from different countries," says Nadeen Yousef, who moved to Buffalo from Iraq last year. Yousef now has a booth at the bazaar, where she sells handmade macrame wall hangings and art.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on bus in Montgomery, Ala. — and changed the course of history.

Her action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which would eventually lead to the end of legally segregated public transportation.

And for many Americans, Parks is the civil rights icon they love to love: the unassuming seamstress who, supposedly, just got tired one day and unwittingly launched the modern civil rights movement.

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