Arts & Culture

Ways to Connect

Month To Month

Oct 5, 2018

In this final round, every answer includes a month of the year.

Heard on Tom Arnold and Jill Sobule: Nostalgia Kills.

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Earlier this week, an array of news outlets in New York City reported a macabre discovery: The body of a 53-year-old man was found floating in a Queens marina, fully clothed, with chains wrapped around his legs. The body was noticed by a passerby along the shoreline of the World's Fair Marina in Flushing Harbor, near Citi Field, around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday.

The NBC sitcom The Good Place is back for its third season, and fans will be happy to know Tahani al Jamil is as "conceited, but deeply kind, insecure, [and] vainglorious" as ever — in the words of Jameela Jamil, the actress who plays her.

But Jamil's personal story couldn't be more different from her character's. While Tahani is a selfish socialite who does massive charity events largely so she can name-drop celebrities, Jamil is a disability rights advocate and strong voice against body-shaming and impossible beauty standards for women.

With great power comes great irresponsibility. It's been 29 summers since Prince's "Batdance" heralded the release of Tim Burton's Batman, and longer than that since a comic book screen spin-off featured an original song with lyrics explicitly describing the title character. Even Joss Whedon, a musical-theater guy who made two Avengers movies, and re-wrote and re-shot a hefty chunk of last year's Justice League, failed to supply this very basic, spins-a-web, any-size, catches-thieves-just-like-flies need in his three at-bats.

There's so much joy in the sound of the Hammond organ, especially for those of us of a certain age. Hearing it can transport you to the early '70s, when every rock band seemed to have one in its arsenal: The Allman Brothers, Santana, Deep Purple. In the hands of true masters — like the late Billy Preston and the very-much-alive Booker T. Jones — the organ can be a melodic, funky rhythm machine.

We all have distractions in our lives that keep us from working, studying, concentrating or otherwise attempting to unlock something in our own brains. It could be roommates, or coworkers, or the 24/7 rage-spigot of the Internet, or something else entirely, but we all have outside forces we need to drown out without merely adding more chaos to the mix. This two-hour playlist is engineered to help.

With Robin Hilton out for one more week, NPR Music's Ann Powers and Lars Gotrich join me for a whirlwind tour of a busy release day. We've got the first album in five years by the spiky pop-rock band Swearin' (featuring the great and good Allison Crutchfield); the gorgeous first album in six years by Chan Marshall, a.k.a.

"Your body is a wonderland," sang John Mayer, wrongly.

What he obviously meant to sing was "Your body is Wonderland," as in, "Your body, like mine, like everyone's, is a surreal and frequently terrifying Lewis-Carroll hellscape where everything exists in a state of constant flux, where rules of logic and intellect get trammeled by whim and caprice, and where the governing authority is casually malicious and heedlessly cruel."

Our bodies hate us. They delight in our dismay and embarrassment. This is an essential human truth, but it's one that adults forget.

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Walk into the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. right now and you will find a painting that has been ripped to shreds.

Another one, nearby, hangs half-loose from its stretcher, rumpled. It's a portrait of Thomas Jefferson; behind it, you glimpse a seated black woman.

They are works by the artist Titus Kaphar. He takes familiar images and remakes them. Maybe he pulls a hidden figure to the front.

His work often confronts the history of slavery and racism in the United States.

Writer-director Tamara Jenkins has only made three features in 20 years, but each one feels like the work of someone who has continued to chip away at her screenplay the entire time — adding details, refining characters, getting everything just so. All three are about families on the edge: Her 1998 debut, Slums of Beverly Hills, follows a teenager (Natasha Lyonne) whose nomadic single father moves her and her brothers from one run-down apartment to another within the same elite school district.

With guest host Todd Zwilich.

The political divide in our country might be stark, but it’s not a recent phenomenon.

How did we get here?

Political correspondent Steve Kornacki has a theory. In his new book, The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism, he traces the origin story back several decades, to when Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich climbed to the top of their respective parties.

Historic Panart Records sessions have been remastered and collected in a new five volume set. The Complete Cuban Jam Sessions were recorded at various locations around Havana from 1956 to 1964 for the historic Cuban label Panart Records. The five volume collection includes the definitive must-haves among Cuban jazz aficionados, Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature "Descargas" by Cachao Y Su Ritmo Caliente.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Editor's note: The following story contains some frank discussion of suicide.

Anderson .Paak is in album mode. Yes, lawd!

'With You' Is Classic Mariah Carey

Oct 4, 2018

Mariah Carey released the first official single from her forthcoming, still untitled album on Tuesday. "With You" is a certified ballad that lands closer to Carey's classic radio hits than last month's nebulous collaboration with dvsn, "GTFO," which felt more like Drake than Mimi.

Updated at 3:57 p.m. ET

What could possibly bring together a painter, an economist, a pastor and a planetary scientist? If you ask the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the answer is simpler than you may think: They've all shown creativity, potential for future achievements — and the likelihood that $625,000, meted out over five years, will help them complete their grand designs.

Despite a warning to wear rattlesnake shin guards when walking through the Hill Country, the only sound I hear is the ticking of grasshoppers, crickets and dragonflies on this 100-degree day in Spicewood, Texas.

I'm hunting mesquite trees, and they bite. Their branches, spiked with two-inch thorns, hold desert-colored, seed-hugging beans that rattle when they're ready to pick. If you break one open and put it in your mouth, it tastes lightly sweet.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Cathy Jordan

Oct 4, 2018

Join Fiona Ritchie as she chats to singer-songwriter Cathy Jordan about her musical life globetrotting with the popular band Dervish. Cathy performs some well-loved songs with an intimate audience at The Swannanoa Gathering's Traditional Song Week.

The story Nicole Chung was told about her adoption was always the same: "Your birth parents had just moved here from Korea. They thought they wouldn't be able to give you the life you deserved."

Her adoptive parents were white Catholics living in Oregon who told the story with joy: explaining that Chung was born 10 weeks premature, that her birth parents worried she would struggle all her life, that they believed adoption was the best thing for her.

Yo-Yo Ma is one of the greatest cellists of all time. His relationship with the music of Bach is widely known, but he paid tribute to another artist during his set: Pablo Casals. The Spanish cellist discovered the Bach suites in a music store in 1890 and brought them to modern attention.

Croz is back, again. Singer-songwriter David Crosby releases his seventh solo album, Here If You Listen later this month on Oct. 26. It's his fourth solo album in five years and continues an active, prolific creative streak for the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Famer.

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