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Arts and culture

Eric Tucker's paintings have an effect on people. You can see it in their expressions as they stroll through a new exhibition, Eric Tucker: The Unseen Artist, at the Warrington Museum and Art Gallery.

"Happy. Really happy," says Cris Bury. "He's got the character straightaway."

"I'm wandering round here with a smile on me face because I just think they're wonderful," says Phil Lord. And Colin Okell adds, "A lot of them depict a society that's gone."

Northern Irish author Anna Burns published her first book in 2001, but she wasn't well known outside of the U.K. until 2018. That's when her third novel, Milkman, hit bookstore shelves to near universal acclaim. Critics were impressed by her unusual narrative technique and dark sense of humor, and the novel went on to win the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Can you make a habit of killing really evil people — say, unrepentant Nazis hiding in America — and still hold onto your soul?

That's one of the biggest questions at the heart of Amazon Prime Video's electric new series Hunters. It's a splashy story about a scrappy band of investigators tracking down a secret cabal of Nazis in the 1970s that occasionally is a lot more fun than it should be, given the subject at hand.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)

Feb 21, 2020

In the final round of the Battle of the Podcast Stars, the two surviving podcast hosts go H2H in this T/F game about commonly-used acronyms. Who will take the L?

Heard on Ben Sinclair: High Maintenance And The Battle Of The Podcast Stars.

I'm Just The Messenger With Ben Sinclair

Feb 21, 2020

On the HBO series High Maintenance, actor Ben Sinclair plays a weed delivery man. But can the man behind The Guy identify the famous historical messengers in this quiz?

Heard on Ben Sinclair: High Maintenance And The Battle Of The Podcast Stars.

Hold Me Close, Tiny Glucose

Feb 21, 2020

Unofficial Expert podcast hosts Marie Faustin and Sydnee Washington put their confectionery knowledge to the test in this delectable music parody game where every answer is a dessert.

Heard on Ben Sinclair: High Maintenance And The Battle Of The Podcast Stars.

This That Or The Other: Bond Girl Edition

Feb 21, 2020

The Battle of the Podcast Stars continues. Contestants Marie Faustin and Sydnee Washington speak with comedians about their areas of expertise on their podcast Unofficial Expert. In this game, Faustin and Washington decide whether a name belongs to a James Bond character, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a political candidate.

Before playing a weed delivery man in the HBO comedy series High Maintenance, actor and writer Ben Sinclair worked as an actual delivery man. Sinclair worked at a Brooklyn floral shop for three summers, where he delivered flowers directly to the shop's clients. This experience directly influenced High Maintenance, which Sinclair co-created with his then-wife, Katja Blichfeld. The series follows an enigmatic weed delivery man known as "The Guy" as he meets new clients and explores the intricacies of life in New York City.

Back In The ASMR

Feb 21, 2020

Dr. Gameshow podcast hosts Jo Firestone and Manolo Moreno play a game that describes bodily responses in the whispery, soothing style of ASMR.

Heard on Ben Sinclair: High Maintenance And The Battle Of The Podcast Stars.

Superhuman Resources

Feb 21, 2020

It's the first match-up in The Battle of the Podcast Stars. Contestants Jo Firestone and Manolo Moreno play listener-submitted games on their podcast, Dr. Gameshow. In this game, Firestone and Moreno identify fictional characters based on HR complaints.

Heard on Ben Sinclair: High Maintenance And The Battle Of The Podcast Stars.

It's full on tween in this house right now, and sometimes I spend a lot of my day wanting to cry.

I know the tween brain's development is responsible for the narcissism, the rudeness, the defiance, the DAWDLING. I know tweens are at the mercy of their developing brains, and that this is a crucial time, I know it, I know it, I know it.

And I know it's my responsibility to get my kids through it. (Hence, the crying.)

Throughout a career chronicling the poor and disenfranchised, the Belgian filmmaking duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have trained their handheld cameras on patterns of behavior, as if their characters are penned in by an invisible fence. In their 1999 breakthrough Rosetta, a 17-year-old girl has an almost feral determination to scrap for whatever odd jobs or low-wage gigs she can get to move her and her alcoholic mother out of a trailer park.

Everyday life is a big mystery to Bart, a 23-year-old hotel worker who describes himself as having Asperger syndrome. Yet The Night Clerk is such a tiny mystery that it barely intrigues at all. The film may intend to be a Rear Window for the mini-cam era, but it lacks Hitchockian perplexity and perversity.

The darkness is always there. It can be very beautiful. I don't necessarily want to shine a light that dispels it. I want to live with it. - Jeff Sharlet

This Brilliant Darkness is a book born of insomnia. It's a collection of snapshots and written profiles by author Jeff Sharlet that take us deep into other people's lives.

The latest adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma is as handsome, clever and rich as its famous heroine — and I mean "rich" in the caloric sense, as well. I wanted to snack on every pastel-hued surface of Kave Quinn's production design, which suggests nothing less than a frosted cupcake come to life — a feast of lace bonnets and high collars, gilded frames and glass chandeliers.

It has been nearly a decade since actor Claire Danes first appeared as CIA agent Carrie Mathison on the Showtime series Homeland. Now that the show is in its eighth and final season, Danes is feeling reflective about its run.

"I started the show as a barely married person, and I'm leaving the show as a mother of two. [We] just celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary," she says. "It's going to be a while before I can understand and I can appreciate what this is all meant to me. ... More than anything, I'm filled with gratitude."

There are countless books about World War II, but there's only one Erik Larson.

The author is known for his fascinating nonfiction accounts of subjects ranging from guns to hurricanes; his best-known work, The Devil in the White City, told the story of the 1893 World's Fair and notorious serial killer H.H. Holmes. Over his career, he has developed a reputation for being able to write about disparate subjects with intelligence, wit and beautiful prose.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

How can one mourn a parent whose harsh judgments frame childhood? This question haunts Philip Kennicott's Counterpoint: A Memoir of Bach and Mourning.

Just five books remain in the running for the Aspen Words Literary Prize, an award with one major goal in mind: to reward and recognize writers who have brought the powers of fiction to bear on the major social issues of our time — such as economic inequality, ecological crisis, immigration and other subjects thick with thorns.

Here are the books that have made this year's shortlist:

  • Patsy, by Nicole Dennis-Benn
  • Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli
  • Lot, by Bryan Washington

In 1981, Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play premiered in New York City, featuring actors who would go on to become household names, like Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington. The following year, Fuller became the second African American in history to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. But, at the time, the play did not transfer to Broadway. Fuller, who is now 80, wasn't surprised.

"I never thought it would be on Broadway," he says from his home in Toronto.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Some of the world's largest and most powerful banks spent the past decade mired in scandal, but none descended as far into ignominy as Germany's Deutsche Bank. Its rap sheet includes a staggering array of ethical and legal lapses, including money laundering, tax fraud and sanctions violations — not to mention mysterious ties to President Trump that federal investigators are even now looking into.

Want a great antidote to distress over current events? Julian Barnes found it in his immersive plunge into the incredible flowering of sexual and artistic expression in Belle Epoque France, and into one man's mostly admirable life in particular. His 24th book (and eighth volume of nonfiction), The Man in the Red Coat, is a wonderful demonstration of the sort of free-range intellectual curiosity Barnes feels has been stymied by the xenophobia and national chauvinism behind Brexit.

In 2017, Susan Fowler published a blog post that shook Silicon Valley. Her matter-of-fact account of sexism, sexual harassment and "unrelenting chaos" on Uber's software teams prompted a reckoning that brought down CEO Travis Kalanick.

The museum faced a docent dilemma.

When Ellen Owens, director of learning and public engagement at the Penn Museum, looked at her pool of docents, she saw a wonderful — and aging — group of largely white people. Docents explain exhibits to visitors and show them around the galleries. Owens thought that having docents from a range of ages and backgrounds might be a good way to connect with more diverse communities who might not otherwise be drawn to the Penn Museum.

For the past six months, NPR's Audie Cornish has held a series of conversations with women navigating the male-dominated world of comedy. Here are some highlights.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. It's President's Day, and today, we take a look at the Trump presidency through the eyes of two Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters from The Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig. I spoke with them in January when their new book was published, but our interview was preempted on most stations by special coverage of the impeachment trial in the Senate. Today, we'll air that interview along with an update on events since it was recorded.

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