Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

In 1988, when Eddie Murphy presented the nominees for Best Picture at the 60th Academy Awards, he told the audience that when he'd been invited to present the award, his initial reaction was, "I'm not going, because they haven't recognized black people in the motion picture industry."

Almost 30 years later, the 88th Academy awards will be presented under a similar cloud. For the second year in a row, all the acting nominees are white.

Two composers and a songwriter walk into a bar. That's not the start of a joke; it's the start of a band.

Keefus Ciancia has composed for the TV shows True Detective and The Fall. David Holmes is a DJ, producer, and the man behind the score of the Ocean's 11 franchise. And Jade Vincent is a songwriter with a sultry voice, who sang at the 1920s-style saloon where the three musicians began their collaboration. Guilty of Love, the trio's debut album as Unloved, is out Friday.

This post was updated on March 14.

She walked through the valley of death and never lost her faith. Garmai Sumo, a 29-year-old nurse in Liberia, was a member of Body Team 12, one of the teams that collected the bodies of Ebola victims for cremation.

"Ever since I was a little boy, I've been trying to reconcile constructivist aesthetics and fascist metaphysics...lucidity and violence...and the endless implications of that dichotomy."

That's Mark Leyner, ladies and gentlemen. One of the best, the brightest, the weirdest and the most influential modern writers of, say, 1996. Who once shared a stage (a talk-show set, actually, on the Charlie Rose show) with David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen and didn't just hold his own, but schooled them both on the futility of seriousness and the seriousness of sentence structure.

With apologies to Andy Williams, now is the most wonderful time of the year ... for it is Girl Scout cookie season.

But after plowing through several sleeves of Thin Mints, fatigue can set in. So we wondered, when you're starting to feel sick of Girl Scout cookies, is there a way to rekindle the love?

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As a 5-year-old growing up in Monticello, Ga., Trisha Yearwood wrote Elvis Presley a letter, asking him to marry her. Elvis never responded. So instead, Yearwood became a record-setting country music superstar, a best-selling cookbook author and lifestyle guru, and ultimately, settled for marrying Garth Brooks. So, not the worst Plan B.

Yearwood had a hit song called "How Do I Live Without You," so we've invited her to play game called "How Do I Live With You?" Three questions about unhappily married couples.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Madness and genius make a familiar literary couple whose success with readers, I suspect, depends on a certain amount of gratified vanity: who wouldn't like to imagine that their moods and eccentricities are down to brilliance? Ethan Canin's new novel is about the "the unremitting quarantine" of this type of genius — a genius transmitted from father to son like a curse — and about the fight to reject this dark inheritance.

Author Naomi Novik is a world builder. She writes books about dragons, witches and dark woods — and she's also designed computer games. "I'm an engineer and a writer," she says, "and I find that those two things are not uncomplimentary."

Novik's career as a writer and programmer started in the same place — her sophomore college dorm. "I ended up rooming in a dorm that was basically a solid wall of female scientists, and every Wednesday we would all watch Star Trek: The Next Generation."

Presidential campaigns may inspire people to vote, but they rarely inspire people to compose music. Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts takes up the challenge on a new EP called Race for the White House, which explores the personas of four different candidates from this year's election cycle.

One of those candidates is Donald Trump; you can hear the song Roberts wrote to represent him below. It features a whistle, which he says is meant to express a particular vision of Trump.

An animated film is up for best documentary short at the Oscars this year. It's only the second time an animated film has been in the running since the category was established in the 1940s. Last Day of Freedom is the story of Bill Babbitt, a man who turns his brother in for murder, hoping the police will help his brother get the care he needs for PTSD.

The Babbitts' story is told through more than 30,000 drawings, most of them in black and white. They were created by Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman, two Northern California-based artists.

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