Arts & Culture

Ways to Connect

Kidding is weird. It's tough to know what to make of it.

This is not a complaint.

The premise — a beloved, earnest, Mister Rogers-like host of a children's show finds himself plunged into a deep, dark emotional crisis — seems like a set-up for cheap parody, for taking cynical pot-shots at, well, a lot of things: kids' shows; earnestness; serene public facades that hide private chaos and cruelty.

Kidding takes some of those pot-shots. More than a few. But you can tell, sort of, that its heart isn't in them.

There's an old Klingon proverb that says revenge is a dish best served in under 95 minutes, by a fondly regarded actor who's been out of the limelight for a while. With Taken, French cinematographer-turned-director Pierre Morel rejuvenated the formula, stretching a single, highly quotable telephone speech ("If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don't have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills....") into a $900 million film and TV franchise while granting a then-50-something Liam Neeson a new lease on, well, death.

Paul Simon says he's ready to stop touring and retire from music. But first, he's going back through his discography to do a little tinkering.

Why Evil Nuns Have Tormented Audiences For Centuries

Sep 7, 2018

Stop. Watch. Listen! You might be unfamiliar with Congolese rhythms, likely won't understand the language and won't know the vibe of Kinshasa street musicians, but trust me... Jupiter & Okwess are astonishing. Their fierce energy here at the Tiny Desk translates through familiar instruments of drums, bass and guitars in an astonishing performance.

This week's essential new releases includes Paul McCartney's best album in 20 years, the funk and disco of St. Paul & The Broken Bones, dark and twisted sounds from the rap duo $UICIDEBOY$ and more. All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Ann Powers, Lars Gotrich, Marissa Lorusso, Stephen Thompson and Rodney Carmichael.

Featured Albums:

  1. St. Paul & The Broken Bones: Young Sick Camellia
    Featured Song: "Got It Bad"

Don't think of it as a reversal.

Think of it as the first act of a movie in which the lead — an incredibly attractive, symmetrically faced character — is up against seemingly insurmountable odds. Except in this version, that handsome-yet-relatable hero is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The challenge it faces is trying to make the sluggish annual Oscar ceremony a bit more lively. Only, it's meeting a lot of resistance.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Updated at 6:29 p.m. ET

Twitter on Thursday said it has "permanently suspended" conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars outlet, citing "new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy."

Last month, YouTube, Apple, Facebook and Spotify banned Jones' main platforms over concerns about his content. But Twitter only suspended some of his privileges, a move that drew criticism.

"This town could keep a secret," says one of the small-town Arizonans who appears in Bisbee '17. But the people who most wanted Bisbee's secret kept — the executives of a copper-mining company — are long-gone. And a centennial is a fine opportunity to discuss events of the past, however unspeakable they once were.

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.

Actor Burt Reynolds, who played good ol' boys and rugged action heroes in an acting career that spanned seven decades, has died. Reynolds died Thursday morning at a Florida hospital following a heart attack. He was 82.

The mic-stand tango and primal scream of Charles Bradley lives on. The posthumous final album from the legendary soul singer, who died last year, has been announced. Bradley's final album, Black Velvet, is due out Nov. 9 via Dunham and Daptone Records.

This week, join host Fiona Ritchie for more new recordings that have arrived through the summer months, just waiting for an hour of your time. Some of the featured artists included are Low Lily, The Tannahill Weavers, the Yves Lambert Trio, and Open the Door for Three.

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

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The voice of country singer-songwriter Blaze Foley sounds familiar, even if you've never heard it. It has a timbre, an ache that doesn't slow a song — as if to say, "Look how sad I am" — but drives it.

Foley was one of those artists who, however unruly his life, could center himself in his writing and playing long enough to sit in judgment on himself. That's what the director Ethan Hawke and the star Ben Dickey capture in the new film Blaze — and whatever else they miss it's more than enough.

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

What Happens When A.I. Takes The Wheel?

Sep 6, 2018

For many, if not most Americans, the idea of a world in which we don't drive cars is a distant and possibly unlikely future.

The cause of the surprising January death of Dolores O'Riordan, singer of Irish band The Cranberries who rose to fame in the '90s with a string of radio hits including "Zombie" and "Linger," has been determined. London Inner West coroner Dr. Shirley Radcliffe found O'Riordan's death to have been an accident, caused by alcohol intoxication and drowning.

It's easy to love, worship and seek to emulate Joni Mitchell – but it's not so easy to pay proper tribute to her. That's why celebrations centered on her music are so fun. They challenge each performer, usually a besotted Joni devotee, to engage her tricky rhythms and find footing in her sometimes octave-jumping melodies; to parse her words — those phrases piercing through the particular into the universal — without slavishly imitating her Canadian cadences.

Prince is everything. Yes, I'm using a meme-ably meaningless phrase to describe the most fascinating artist to reign during my lifetime, but it's nearly factual for the Purple One: the intense reconsideration so many listeners have given his work since his death in April 2016 continues to reveal new facets of his genius and his work's cultural importance.

Former Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore has filed a $95 million defamation suit against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who pranked Moore on his television show by posing as an Israeli intelligence officer with an electronic device that he said could detect pedophiles.

Moore — who during last year's Senate race was dogged by accusations that he had pursued relationships with teens as young as 14 — is one of several politicians who have been lured unwittingly into embarrassing appearances on Cohen's Showtime TV program, Who Is America?

This story is the first in NPR's new Morning Edition series produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) called The Keepers, stories of activist, archivists, rogue librarians, curators, collectors and historians — keepers of the culture and the cultures and collections they keep.

Over a decade ago, students of Dr. Marcyliena Morgan, then a Professor of Linguistics at UCLA, started dropping by her office, imploring her to listen to hip-hop.

As you read this, the NPR Movies team is settling into their seats in movie theaters across downtown Toronto. For the next week, we'll be sitting in those seats or ones very similar to them, in the dark, taking furious notes, as we each power through marathon sessions of movie-watching.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Low began in 1993 as an exercise in restraint, with songs that rang out softly, clearly and, above all, slowly. Giving each isolated note space to reverberate, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker wrung intense drama from songs that could be unsettlingly spare, lyrically vague and, at times, almost unnervingly pretty.

Pages