Arts & Culture

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On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some words and phrases. Each one conceals the name of a 5-letter country in left-to-right order, but not in consecutive letters. You name the country.

Example: CONCEPTUAL --> NEPAL
1. CHILDREN
2. VITALITY
3. ASPIRATION
4. SAMOVAR
5. CHAIN SAW
6. SUNDANCE
7. SYMMETRICAL
8. RIGHT-HAND MAN
9. PLAY IT BY EAR

Last Thursday's hearings on the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh brought up, among other things, the high school party scene in the 1980s and the films that glorified it. Kavanaugh mentioned those movies when he defended some of the crude references in his high school yearbook.

Life, Love and Hockey (Oooh, And Pie) In 'Check, Please!'

Sep 30, 2018

Check, Please! is a soap bubble. Ngozi Ukazu's comic levitates and drifts insouciantly, belying the massive forces of temperature and pressure that must be held in balance for it to exist. Its story of a college hockey team isn't particularly gripping or dramatic, though there are many flashes of joy. But its quality of suspended animation — of a moment preserved in quivering perfection — gives this comic a tension, and thus an interest, more compelling than its happy-go-lucky façade suggests.

What's the greater threat to Chinese society: "Sissies" or "straight-man cancer"?

Chinese social media has seen heated debate this month over what masculinity is supposed to look like.

It all started with the state-owned Chinese Central Television's annual back-to-school special, which aired on Sept. 1. The show prominently featured a popular boy band called New F4.

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Marty Balin, a co-founder, vocalist and songwriter for psychedelic mainstays Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, died Sept. 27 in Tampa, Fla., a statement from his family confirmed. No cause was given. He was 76.

In 1965, Balin was an aspiring folk singer and co-founder of San Francisco's The Matrix, a club that quickly became a petri dish for Jefferson Airplane — which began as the club's house band on Aug. 13, 1965 — as well as San Francisco's developing rock music scene writ large.

The Big Lebowski Lives On In 'Where's The Dude?'

Sep 29, 2018

"The story is LEW-dicrous." That's not the best line in 1998's The Big Lebowski (that honor would have to go to the Dude's "This aggression will not stand, man!") but helmet-haired Maude Lebowski's denunciation of a porn flick is memorable nonetheless. It's also a clever bit of meta-commentary. Logjammin', the explicit film Maude's talking about, is no less ludicrous than the rest of The Big Lebowski. From German nihilists, to a killer ferret (or is it a marmot?), to a Jewish John Goodman, the Coen brothers' movie is a gonzo assault on all good sense.

We've invited Jon Hamm, best known for his starring role as Don Draper on the AMC series Mad Men, to answer three questions about Spam — the canned meat product with a verrrry long shelf life.

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Before Mike Nussbaum started acting professionally in his 40s, he was trying to make a living as an exterminator.

"I was acting since I was 9 years old ... but I was doing community theater for many years before I went ahead with it as a professional," Nussbaum says.

These days Nussbaum is earning rave reviews for his portrayal of Rudy, a grandfather who is confronting loss and decline, in Rachel Bond's play Curve of Departure at the Northlight Theatre near Chicago.

Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin Dies At 76

Sep 29, 2018

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Jefferson Airplane flew high in the psychedelic '60s. The band played everywhere from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco to Woodstock, where the group performed "Volunteers."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VOLUNTEERS")

Sexual Assault And Forgiveness

Sep 29, 2018

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Buffy Sainte-Marie, native Canadian singer-songwriter, social activist and member of the Cree First Nation, is now in her 70s and has co-authored the first and only authorized biography that tells her story — a story of a woman whose career has stretched from the coffeehouses of Toronto and Greenwich Village in the early 1960s to concert halls around the world. Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography is co-authored with Andrea Warner.

In 1979, a young East German named Micha Horschig made a prediction: The fall of his country's socialist government, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), would take 10 years.

On Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin wall fell.

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Hatchie, the band led by singer, songwriter and bassist Harriette Pilbeam, spins the kind of luscious dream pop that recalls the shimmering, shoegazing legacy of Ride or Cocteau Twins, but carves out its own distinctive path, too.

The story of how Tanya Blount and Michael Trotter met, wooed, married and became The War and Treaty says so much about our present moment. She began her music career as a teenage R&B ingenue, navigating the ups and downs of the music industry with resilience and sharp wits. He discovered his musical gifts as a soldier in Iraq and became a kind of spiritual advocate for fallen soldiers, composing songs about them for their memorial services.

Editor's note, Oct. 3, 10:20 a.m.: This story was updated to include additional information about the identity of the marine mammal. Scientists familiar with the area said the animal is a New Zealand fur seal, not a sea lion.

A seal smacks a kayaker with an octopus, and the video capturing the unlikely encounter quickly becomes a viral sensation.

The conflict between man and beasts happened off the coast of New Zealand's South Island.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Even in the middle of the day, in middle of the week, the theater was completely packed.

Hundreds had come to watch Rafiki, a movie about two young Kenyan women who are full of life, joy and wonder. Kena is a great student; she plays football and hangs out with the guys. And Ziki is the free spirit — cotton candy dreads and a smile full of mischief.

Magos Herrera's talent refuses to be limited by genre. The Mexico-born artist is generally considered a jazz singer, but has also taken on Brazilian-influenced pop and Mexican rock. On her latest effort, Herrara partnered with the string quartet Brooklyn Rider to create the classically-inspired, and culturally relevant album Dreamers.

Magos Herrera is a jazz singer from Mexico, but she has also sung pop songs with Brazilian beats and crooned Mexican classics with a touch of rock. Herrera takes another adventuresome step on her new album, Dreamers, where she partners with a classical string quartet for an album steeped in Latin American culture. The potent mix of themes and the sound of the string quartet, plus a little percussion, are compelling.

A few songs into her sun-drenched Saturday Newport Folk set, Phoebe Bridgers paused and proclaimed, "I am a puddle of sweat." It was a one-liner that primed those huddled at the Harbor Stage for the 2018 Slingshot artist's catalog: details delivered with specificity and a subtle sense of humor.

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