Thu August 6, 2015
Book Reviews

'Marriage Of Opposites' Paints Camille Pissarro's Colorful Family History

Originally published on Fri August 7, 2015 8:40 am

Courtesy of Simon and Schuster

Of all the colors in the brilliant paintbox that is Alice Hoffman's latest novel, The Marriage of Opposites, "haint blue" is the most important. Yes, the landscapes and the house interiors and the clothing brim with creams and reds, emeralds and silvers, and blues of every shade prevail. But haint blue alone has the power to ensure there will be "no ghosts, no demons, no sorrow, no separations, no thievery, no witchery, no abductions, no spirits of any kind." It is the color of protection.

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Thu August 6, 2015
Book Reviews

'The Lufthansa Heist' Is No Score

Originally published on Thu August 6, 2015 8:54 am

The Lufthansa heist — a pre-dawn raid on a currency vault at Lufthansa's Kennedy Airport hangar on December 11th, 1978, which netted its perpetrators close to $6 million in untraceable bills and jewelry — has all the elements of a classic true-crime book. It's a robbery caper, complete with code names and chase cars (the vehicle that acts as a buffer between the "real" getaway car and law-enforcement pursuers). It's a Mob story. It's an unsolved mystery, witnesses' memories fading after close to 40 years ...

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Thu August 6, 2015
Around the Nation

A Rarity Reclaimed: Stolen Stradivarius Recovered After 35 Years

Originally published on Thu August 6, 2015 5:51 pm

Documentation of Roman Totenberg's Stradivarius violin. The instrument went missing after one of Roman's concerts but was rediscovered more than three decades later.
Courtesy of the Totenberg family

The denouement of a 35-year drama takes place Thursday at the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan. And I trust that my father, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, who died three years ago, will be watching from somewhere.

For decades he played his beloved Stradivarius violin all over the world. And then one day, he turned around and it was gone. Stolen.

While he was greeting well-wishers after a concert, it was snatched from his office at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass.

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Thu August 6, 2015
NPR Story

After Katrina, Tulane's Architecture School Became A Community Builder

Originally published on Wed August 12, 2015 12:37 pm

The Tulane City Center helped design and build New Orleans' Grow Dat Youth Farm, which employs local, disadvantaged high school students and teaches them about urban agriculture.
Will Crocker Courtesy of Tulane University

It's blazingly hot outside and five summer fellows from the Tulane City Center are standing in a playground at a youth center in New Orleans. The architecture students diplomatically describe the playground's design as "unintentional": There's no grass, trees or even much shade, and it's surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. The students, both graduate and undergraduate, are there to make the playground a little nicer.

"Right now, it feels like a prison," says Maggie Hansen, the center's interim director.

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Wed August 5, 2015
Goats and Soda

A Self-Taught Artist Paints The Rain Forest By Memory

Originally published on Wed August 5, 2015 3:47 pm

This is one of 12 rain forest landscapes by Abel Rodriguez, part of his ink-and-watercolor series Ciclo anual del bosque de la vega (Seasonal changes in the flooded rain forest).
Abel Rodriguez Courtesy of Tropenbos International, Colombia

Looking at the painting above, it's easy to imagine the artist spent days, weeks maybe, observing the rain forest to get the details right. Off to the right, a large bird perches on a branch. Turtles and fish swim in the river. Several species of trees reach upward, vying for light through the forest canopy.

The artist painted it all by memory.

But, I am told, he doesn't consider himself an artist.

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Wed August 5, 2015
The Salt

'Bespoke Water' Video Pokes Fun At Earnest Artisanal Food Makers

Filmmaker Paul Riccio's characters the Timmy Brothers "are introducing handcrafted water to the world with an almost pathological attention to craftsmanship and a thirst for helping people become less thirsty."
via Vimeo

Bespoke, artisanal water could, conceivably, be a thing. Artisanal ice is real, after all.

The artisanal water we discovered recently is, however, just a vivid figment of filmmaker Paul Riccio's imagination.

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Wed August 5, 2015
Monkey See

5 Things We Learned From ShondaLand

Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Shonda Rhimes and Ellen Pompeo at the ABC panel discussion during the 2015 Summer TCA Tour.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

Tuesday's Television Critics Association press tour presentations from ABC wrapped up with a panel devoted to the network's scripted ace in the hole: Shonda Rhimes, who created Grey's Anatomy and Scandal and is an executive producer of How To Get Away With Murder.

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Wed August 5, 2015
Book Reviews

'Two Across' Spells Out A Charming Love Story In Crosswords

Originally published on Wed August 5, 2015 8:37 pm

Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

My perennial quest for smart, fun summer reads landed me on Two Across, Jeff Bartsch's debut romantic comedy about a brainy couple whose on-again-off-again relationship begins at age 15, when they tie in the 1960 National Spelling Bee. During their recurrent off periods, they send hidden messages to each other in the clever crossword puzzles they compose for major newspapers.

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Wed August 5, 2015
Book Reviews

Six Friends, A Pile of Cash And A Game With Deadly Consequences

Originally published on Wed August 19, 2015 6:17 pm

Courtesy of Picador

I don't want to say a single thing about this book — about Black Chalk, the debut novel from Christopher Yates, who writes like he has 30 books behind him; like he's been doing this so long that lit games and deviltry come to him as natural as breathing.

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Wed August 5, 2015

Need Fake Friends For Your Wedding? In S. Korea, You Can Hire Them

Originally published on Wed August 5, 2015 9:57 am

A stage production or a Korean wedding? It can be hard to tell.
Elise Hu NPR

Weddings and baby showers are real-life milestones to spend with your actual loved ones. True, but in South Korea, a cottage industry exists to help real people find fake friends to fill seats at such life rituals.

At a recent wedding in June, Kim Seyeon showed up as a guest even though she is a total stranger to the bride and groom. She makes about $20 per wedding she attends as a pretend friend.

"When it's the peak wedding season in Korea, sometimes I do two or three acts a day, every weekend," Kim says.

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