Arts

Arts and culture from around the Tri-State, including theater, music and poetry.

With each season of AMC's Breaking Bad, Dean Norris' character, DEA agent Hank Schrader, has evolved from a knuckleheaded jock into a complex, sympathetic and even heroic counterpoint to the show's anti-hero, high-school chemistry teacher turned meth cook Walter White. And to further complicate matters, Schrader and White (played by Bryan Cranston) are brothers-in-law.

The following exchange has played out over and over in the last ten days:

Point: "NBC's coverage of the Olympics stinks, because everything is tape-delayed and cut to shreds, and also the announcers are awful and they only care about American athletes, and by the time I get to watch anything, I already know what happened."

Counterpoint: "People are watching in huge numbers."

Point: "But quality."

Counterpoint: "But business."

To lovers of the world's most odoriferous fruit, something doesn't smell right in Thailand's durian country, where a fruit breeder with the Horticulture Research Institute is in the midst of creating a line of durian varieties that lacks what some say is the most intriguing aspect of this large and spiky, creamy-fleshed tree fruit — its smell.

Mark Harril Saunders is the author of the novel Ministers of Fire.

There are many reasons not to read the five novels that make up the Patrick Melrose cycle by Edward St. Aubyn. Each part is short in duration, covering no more than a few carefully orchestrated days, but taken together the action — if you can call witty British aristocrats blithely destroying each other action — spans more than 30 years and 900 pages.

A lot is at stake in the current election, but no matter who wins, the victor will stay committed to policies that cripple the middle class. That's according to Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Donald Barlett and James Steele, who've been covering the middle class for decades.

In their new book, The Betrayal of the American Dream, Barlett and Steele criticize a government obsessed with free trade and indifferent toward companies that outsource jobs.

Any tour of Brighton, England, has to begin at the Royal Pavilion, according to crime writer Peter James. Built by a king for his mistress 200 years ago, its Taj Mahal-like spires are the city's best-known landmark.

James' latest novel, Not Dead Yet, features — spoiler alert! — a pivotal scene in the pavilion's dining room, with its one-and-a-half ton crystal chandelier. Without giving too much away — the book won't be released in the U.S. until November – let's just say it might have something to do with the aforementioned chandelier.

Andy Warhol is often remembered as larger than life, but it's all too easy to miss where he's buried.

The pop artist's grave is in the modest St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery, on a hill overlooking a highway about 20 minutes outside of downtown Pittsburgh.

Eric Shiner, director of the Andy Warhol Museum, says it's a pretty typical cemetery for Pennsylvanians with Eastern European roots.

Over the past decade, there's been a revival in popular histories of ancient Rome; not the academic tomes once reserved for specialists and students, but books and movies designed for the rest of us.

Anthony Everitt has written three biographies about some of the major players in ancient Rome: Cicero, Augustus and Hadrian, all full of intrigue and treachery.

Marilyn Monroe As An 'All-Around' Comedian

Aug 5, 2012

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Fifty years ago today, Hollywood lost its blonde bombshell and she's never really been replaced. Marilyn Monroe was more than her famous assets - her trademark wiggle and her baby girl voice combined to make some of the funniest films of the 20th century.

Murderous 'Thugs' From India To London

Aug 5, 2012

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

For the past five years, bats have been disappearing at an alarming rate, falling prey to a mysterious disease called white-nose syndrome. But they're making an eerie comeback in a new audio exhibit at a national park in Vermont. The exhibit features manipulated recordings of bat calls that are funneled through glass vessels hanging from a studio ceiling.

In the olden days, a reader might pick up a book because the cover was exciting, intriguing, maybe even beautiful. But in the brave new world of e-books and e-readers, the days when an artist named Chip Kidd could make us reach for a book may be gone.

Put Two Up Front For Two New Words

Aug 5, 2012

On-air challenge: You are given two five-letter words. Put the same pair of letters in front of each of them to complete two familiar seven-letter words. The letters that go in front will never be a standard prefix, like "re-." For example, given "quire" and "tress," the answer would be "ac" to make "acquire" and "actress."

Sometime before the end of the month, when Republicans hold their convention in Tampa, Fla., Mitt Romney will announce his vice presidential running mate.

There's a good chance the finalists for that spot are wading through mountains of paperwork, and answering deeply personal questions about finances, past statements, friendships — and medical history.

Columbus, Ind., looks like any other small town, with its small shops and restaurants. But what sets this town apart is its architecture.

The Modernist buildings — mostly geometric and made of glass and steel — are not immediately visible, interspersed as they are with old, 19th-century, gingerbread-like structures; but more than 60 public buildings in Columbus have been built by a veritable who's who of modern masters — I.M. Pei, Eero and Eliel Saarinen, Cesar Pelli, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, Robert Venturi and James Polshek, to name a few.

Mali is a country rich in culture, both old and new.

The banging of hammers on silver echos through the main crafts market in Bamako, Mali's capital. It's usually teeming in a place where you can buy anything, from silver earrings to batik fabric, all of it handmade.

And despite its remote location, Mali has enhanced its cultural reputation in recent years with an annual international music and arts festival in the Sahara Desert near Timbuktu, drawing both African and Western artists.

No one's entirely sure where the Southern treat called the Goo Goo Cluster got its name.

The iconic candy from Nashville, Tenn., celebrates its 100th birthday this year. The confection of marshmallow, peanuts and caramel wrapped in milk chocolate may owe its longevity in part to another Nashville icon: the Grand Ole Opry.

Goo Goo Cluster sponsored the venue's radio broadcasts from 1966 until 2006. In one popular advertisement, stage performers crooned, "Go get a Goo Goo ... it's gooooooood!"

Real-life Hollywood couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are a.) famous b.) adorable c.) funny d.) the stars of Hit and Run, a new movie they made together, and e.) amazingly, all of the above.

Don't be fooled by the title of Rashida Jones' new movie: It's called Celeste and Jesse Forever, but Celeste and Jesse, played by Jones and Andy Samberg, are not forever — in fact, they're getting divorced. And they have a weird way of dealing with it: They keep spending time together as if they were best friends.

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