Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

The word "first" comes up a lot when talking about the latest album from Cat Power. It's the singer's first in six years, her first since giving birth to a son (notice his forehead peeking out on the album cover) and her first since leaving Matador, her longtime record label. But one thing is not new: As is often the case with Cat Power's music, this collection is spare and emotional.

Highly regarded, Emmy-winning actor Jeff Daniels is also a versatile guitarist, singer and songwriter, as you'll hear in his third appearance on Mountain Stage since 2007. This time, Daniels brought his family band, led by his son, Ben, for a performance similar to its latest live album Acoustic Sittin' Tour 2018.

More often than not, when you hear songs that ring out with the urgency and complexity of being in a relationship at a difficult time, you're hearing just one side of the story; what passion and loss and doubt and loneliness and lust feels like from just the side of the person making the music.

Two weeks before Kickstarter launched in 2009, Jill Sobule released her own crowdfunded record, California Years. Sobule began her fundraising efforts a year before the crowdfunding behemoth came into existence. She told Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR's Ask Me Another, that Kickstarter's founders even contacted her to gain insight on the crowdfunding process: "What an idiot! Why didn't I think of making it as a business?" she said.

Tom Arnold: Don't Call It A Comeback

Oct 5, 2018

Before Tom Arnold was a comedian, he worked in an Iowa meatpacking plant. "If you work at a meatpacking plant, especially on the kill floor, two things are for sure," Tom Arnold told Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR's Ask Me Another. "One, you will get very drunk every night, and two, you'll have crazy dreams like you're best friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger."

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.

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.

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.

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.

Earlier this summer, an 8-year-old girl named Saga Vanecek was doing what she often does: wading in Sweden's Lake Vidostern.

"I like to walk around finding rocks and sticks in the water, and then I usually walk around with my hands and knees in the water and in the sand," she explained to Radio Sweden Wednesday.

It was then that she felt something odd beneath her hand and knee. She lifted the object and saw that it had a handle.

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