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arts & life

Holly George-Warren's book, "A Man Called Destruction."

Ross Reynolds talks with author Holly George-Warren about her new biography of musician Alex Chilton, "A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man."

This is an excerpt from a longer interview that was originally broadcast on Oct. 19, 2011.

A few years after her younger brother John died from AIDS-related complications in 1989, poet Marie Howe wrote him a poem in the form of a letter. Called "What the Living Do," the poem is an elegiac description of loss, and of living beyond loss.

At the German hotel where Jos Stelling's The Girl and Death takes place, the guests include everyone from incapacitated men and women patiently awaiting death (the hotel seems to function in part as a makeshift sanatorium) to lively if somewhat unhinged residents given to impromptu performances of Romeo and Juliet monologues in the dining hall.

Ayodeji Ogunniyi was a pre-med student when his father was murdered by three young men. So Ogunniyi decided that becoming a teacher, not a doctor, would help ensure his father's death was not in vain. (This StoryCorps interview initially aired Oct. 30, 2011 on Weekend Edition Sunday.)

Who Is Dayani Cristal? attempts to humanize the many who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border by focusing on just one: a corpse found in the lethal Arizona desert with the words "Dayani Cristal" tattooed on his chest. The documentary follows the models of several genres of fictional films: the forensic procedural, the road movie, the man-who-wasn't-there mystery.

In 'Blue Ruin,' Revenge Is Not Served Cool

Apr 25, 2014

Revenge at the movies is a dish best served not cold, but cool. Homemade justice isn't just meted out by the wronged onscreen; it's delivered with swagger, style, and steely-eyed bad-assery. Michael Caine as Carter, Uma Thurman as The Bride, Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey: These are all individuals who are suave under pressure and look pretty hip to boot, in well-tailored three-piece suits, canary yellow racing leathers, and black leather jackets. (Shotgun, katana, and .38 Special accessories definitely not optional.)

Flickr Photo/Kansas City Public Library

When they were little, they were called Benny and Jenny. They were inseparable. But as they grew up, their lives took different paths. Benjamin Franklin left home; his sister Jane Franklin never did. He taught himself to write; she couldn’t spell. He signed the Declaration and the Constitution; she became a wife, mother, and ultimately, a widow.

But they maintained a correspondence throughout their lives, and historian Jill Lepore says Franklin loved no one more than his sister. Lepore shed light on this story at Seattle’s Town Hall on October 9.

This story originally aired on December 12, 2013.

Photographing Literature's Famous Food Scenes

Apr 24, 2014

A confession: I've read Jack Kerouac's On the Road, but I can't tell you much about it. Yes, I know he's on a road trip. But beyond that, I don't recall any of the characters or anything they do or what the point was. What I do remember is that he described some truly great food. In fact, I liked those sections of the book so much that when I read them, I apparently felt the need to scribble them down, word for word, in a notebook.

Stuart Taylor's book, "Mismatch."

Marcie Sillman talks with Stuart Taylor, Jr., a Brookings Institution nonresident senior fellow, about race and how it should or should not be used in college admissions or hiring practices.

Taylor is also the author of "Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit It."

Courtesy of Simon Hayter

What does it mean to be a winner in today's society? That's a concept Canadian theater artists James Long and Marcus Youssef explore in their show, "Winners and Losers." They've taken the show all over the world, most recently to Seattle's On The Boards.

Monitors flash Kaji Sherpa's vital signs as he recovers in the ICU of Katmandu's Norvic International hospital. Miraculously, the 39-year-old senior climber survived the wall of deadly ice and snow that crushed 16 of his colleagues in the largest loss of life in a single day on Everest, the mountain Sherpas call "Mother Goddess of Earth."

The team had been preparing a path for their clients, fixing ropes on a treacherous stretch known as the "Popcorn" ice field, so-called for its bulging chunks of ice.

"There was a small hill" that acted as a buffer, Kaji says.

Miriam Pawel's book, "The Crusades of Cesar Chavez."

Ross Reynolds talks with Miriam Pawel about her new book, “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography."

Chavez was the most influential Latino civil rights leader in American history. In the 1960s, he led migrant farm workers into a powerful force and national movement to boycott grapes.

But in his later years, the effort flagged, and Chavez's flaws became apparent. Pawel examines the man in full.

On a Wisconsin street, a woman in a white hoodie stands frozen in the act of stepping out of the road and onto the curb, her left hand reaching behind her. As part of a public service announcement, she explains why she's there, as string music slowly plays under her voice.

"I had my brother in my hand, and all of a sudden my hand was empty," Aurie says as a car drives past. Her little brother, 8 years old at the time of the PSA, was left paralyzed after being hit by a car driven by a texting driver.

David Cay Johnston's new book, "Divided."

David Hyde talks with investigative reporter and author David Cay Johnston about his new book, "Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality." The book comprises a collection of essays on the growing wealth gap and how economies grow while citizens get poorer.

Flickr Photo/Tom Coates (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The best barista in America gets crowned this week in Seattle at a meeting of the Specialty Coffee Association of America taking place at the Convention Center.

Baristas from across America will be timed and judged as they make espressos and cappuccinos while talking about the coffee they're serving.

This week in Seattle, Bill and Melinda Gates are attending a meeting of the minds.

Five hundred of the world's top innovators in global health have gathered for the Global Health Product Development Forum, an annual event in which scientists, engineers, policymakers and activists work to develop new tools for fighting diseases.

Over the past year or so, I've looked at how TV's expanding universe represents gays and lesbians and working women. This piece about transgender representation feels like an important part of the same project.

Flickr Photo/Jason Howie (CC BY-NC-ND)

David Hyde talks with Seattle author Maria Semple about why she thinks social media is the biggest threat to writing and art since Peter Criss' first solo album.

A little education goes a long way toward ensuring you'll recover from a serious traumatic brain injury. In fact, people with lots of education are seven times more likely than high school dropouts to have no measurable disability a year later.

Nell Lake's book, "The Caregivers."

Marcie Sillman talks with journalist and author Nell Lake about her new book, "The Caregiver: A Support Group's Stories of Slow Loss, Courage, and Love."

No one knows the exact date of William Shakespeare's birth, but devotees have adopted April 23 as the day to celebrate — and this year, the man from Stratford turns 450.

Better (?) Living Through Chemistry In 'Afterparty'

Apr 23, 2014

The question you have to ask yourself is, how juicy do you like your science fiction?

And I mean that in terms of a spectrum. To me, classic space operas are saltines — dusty and dry and fit only as a calmative after a long binge of weirder, more foreign flavors. William Gibson? He's ... moist. Rudy Rucker is a juicy peach. Paul Di Filippo is that same peach, a week gone and with a tooth stuck in it.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Have you seen the devil?

When you've been to Tasmania — or Tassie, as the Aussies call it — that's what everyone wants to know.

Sure, the Tasmanian devil, a squat, foul-smelling animal with a ferocious screech, has helped put the 26,000-square-mile island (roughly the size of West Virginia ) on the map.

But there's a lot more to Tassie than its infamous marsupial. And a lot of it is ace tucker — that's Aussie slang for good food.

13 Jazz Artists Awarded Over $1.7 Million

Apr 23, 2014

Yesterday, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announced the recipients of its 2014 Performing Artist Awards, including 13 jazz and improvising musicians, who will receive at least $1.7 million in unrestricted grants in total.

Flickr Photo/Calamity Meg (CC-BY-NC-ND)

To celebrate William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, Christopher Gaze takes a moment to remind you how the great playwright lives in the way you talk. Gaze is the artistic director of the annual Bard on the Beach festival in Vancouver, British Columbia.

President Obama has called repeatedly on Congress to help states pay for "high-quality preschool" for all. In fact, those two words — "high quality" — appear time and again in the president's prepared remarks. They are also a refrain among early childhood education advocates and researchers. But what do they mean? And what separates the best of the nation's preschool programs from the rest?

Boy Scout badges
Flickr Photo/rocket ship (CC BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Reverend Monica Corsaro of the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church about the future of Boy Scout Troop 98.

Langdon Cook's book "The Mushroom Hunters."

Ever wonder who heads into the woods to gather those gourmet wild mushrooms that adorn the plates in Seattle’s finest restaurants? Forager and author Langdon Cook introduces us to the motley crew that hunts out the chanterelles and morels we love in his new book, “The Mushroom Hunters.”

AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha

Marcie Sillman speaks with Mingma T. Sherpa, a Seattle-area resident who grew up in Khumjung, Nepal.

Mingma is also a member of the Northwest Sherpa Association. He talks about the deadly avalanche on Mount Everest that killed 16 Sherpas, including his childhood friend.

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