NPR Arts & Life

Arts and culture

Both the song and its video fit many people's idea of Canada: clever and smiling. But the man who wrote lyrics telling Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, "It's time for you to go," has been put on leave from his job as a federal scientist at Canada's environmental agency.

News about the stock market's ups and downs hardly comes as music to the ears — unless you happen to be experimental musician Jace Clayton.

Clayton, who also performs and records as DJ /rupture, is working on a new composition called Gbadu And The Moirai Index, which uses an algorithm to translate the market's movements into a piece for four voices. Each singer plays a mythological character — the Moirai are the three Greek goddesses of fate, and Gbadu is a dual-gendered West African fate deity.

It was years ago that TV critic Alan Sepinwall said something to me that I've remembered ever since and that he doesn't remember saying: that writing about television was shifting its focus from what is said before shows are on to what is said after shows are on. It made sense to me, since my career writing about TV started with writing recaps of shows I used an actual VCR to record. With tapes. I didn't get screeners, I didn't get advances — I just taped things, and then I wrote about them. I think now, that shift is so obvious that it's taken for granted.

Five-plus years into the history of PCHH, this is the first time we've found ourselves recording a full episode with just three of us — in this case me, Stephen and Glen. We gathered this week to talk about the HBO miniseries Show Me A Hero, which I previously reviewed on the blog over here.

If you're tuned into the world of beer, you may be aware of sour beers — a loosely defined style that has been made for centuries but is gaining fresh appreciation in today's craft beer renaissance. Brewers make these beers by deliberately adding bacteria and, sometimes, wild yeast to the brew, then letting them age slowly. It sounds weird, but sours can be delicious — tart and earthy, and redolent of things like leather, fruit and wood.

It might be considered nosey to thumb through someone else's little black address book, but that doesn't bother Mary Savig, curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. "It is very nosey and that's why I really enjoy doing it," she says.

The "Little Black Books" of some major and minor American artists are currently on view in a show at the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.

It's tough to imagine a time when this country wasn't struggling with cocaine brought into the U.S. from Latin America, and the violence that often accompanies it. But when Netflix's new series Narcos introduces us to brash Colombian smuggler Pablo Escobar, it's the late 1970s and Escobar is busy with other contraband.

Paul Kingsnorth's new novel, The Wake — a grim tale of medieval conquest and revenge — became a hit against all odds in the U.K. last year, and it's about to be released in the U.S.

I met Kingsnorth at his home in the countryside of far western Ireland. He and his wife grow their own food and home-school their two young kids. "I think we'll get bees and chickens, we hope, maybe something else," he told me, calling out to his daughter. "Lela, you want an alpaca, don't you? Lela wants an alpaca or a donkey or anything fluffy, really."

Without a second's hesitation, Alex Ross Perry's Queen of Earth dives right into its heroine's lowest moment, in medias res. The camera stays close to Catherine's face, as smears of mascara frame eyes alight with pain, anger and exhaustion; this has been going on a while and we're just seeing the end of it. Her boyfriend is breaking up with her, which is awful enough, but the timing makes it worse: She's still reeling from the death of her father, an artist who mentored her, and now the two central figures in her life are gone.

If you want to measure a society's political health, two films from Latin America slyly suggest, look at how it treats the help. Sebastian Silva's gleeful 2009 black comedy, The Maid, drew on his own experience as the cosseted son of a well-to-do Chilean family propped up by its housekeeper. Brazilian filmmaker Anna Muylaert began writing her new film, The Second Mother, two decades ago, when she hired a nanny to care for her first child.

Pages