Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

Victorine Meurent was just 17 years old when she met the great Impressionist painter Edouard Manet on a Paris street in 1862. The young, poverty-stricken redhead became his favorite model, and Manet painted her reclining nude in Olympia — a work that scandalized the Paris art world in 1865 and now hangs in the Musée d'Orsay.

How would you like to be remembered, in a word or two? That question was posed by a black man and answered by other black men in a multimedia art project called "Question Bridge: Black Males." Some of the answers to that query included: warrior, sincere, motivated, dedicated, family-oriented, and father.

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:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Hubble Space Telescope this week celebrates 25 years in Earth's orbit. In that time the telescope has studied distant galaxies, star nurseries, planets in our solar system and planets orbiting other stars.

But, even with all that, you could argue that the astronomer for whom the telescope is named made even more important discoveries — with far less sophisticated equipment.

When it came in the mail, I thought it was a joke, this tiny little book. It was hardcover, the size of a pack of cigarettes and about as heavy in my palm as a bird. There was no jacket, just the name — Devotion: A Rat Story — and a rat, embossed in gold.

I read it in an hour, maybe a little less— it's just a hundred pages or so. An appetizer, I thought. A snack.

But two days later, I was still thinking about it. And I'm sure that it'll still be scratching around inside of my skull a week from now, like cold little rat claws scraping inside the walls.

By Gouda — the Mona Cheesa is missing! And when that most famous work of art is discovered to have been taken from its frame in a Paris art museum, the world's foremost International Cat of Mystery, William, is called in on the case.

It's been many years since I did my three semesters of college a cappella, but it remains a genre of performance for which I have enormous affection. In 2012, the arrival of Pitch Perfect meant that suddenly, I knew a lot more people who even knew what a college a cappella was.

If you like the idea of zero or low-calorie sodas, but you're turned off by the artificial sweetener aspartame, you're not alone.

Sales of diet soda have fallen off significantly in the U.S. And when PepsiCo started asking consumers what they didn't like, aspartame was at the top of the list.

"It's literally the number-one complaint we've heard from diet-cola consumers as to why they're drinking less and less diet cola, " Seth Kaufman, a senior vice president for PepsiCo, tells The Salt.

The Steller's sea cow, the passenger pigeon and the New Zealand moa all went extinct because people developed a taste for their meat.

Pages