Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Linda Holmes is filing dispatches from the Toronto International Film Festival. These movies will see wider release in the coming months.

Strange Weather

When peals ring out from a 130-year-old church bell at the Sept. 24 dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, they will signal the end of a long journey.

The historic "Freedom Bell" usually hangs in Williamsburg, Va., in the tower of the First Baptist Church, which was founded by slaves. It started making its way to Washington, D.C., on Monday, according to The Associated Press, in order to herald this latest historical event.

There are more dumb Shakespeare adaptations on heaven and earth, dear readers, than are dreamt of in your performance studies seminars.

I have seen (fatal vision!) an all-nude Macbeth, a wild west Romeo and Juliet, a Soviet Lear, a Basquiat Hamlet and one painful "Oriental"-themed Tempest (think gongs and kimonos). I have stood in a room while Lady Macbeth dropped single marbles on the floor for minutes on end, seen another smear herself in chocolate syrup.

First, a confession: I've never liked gefilte fish. The slimy, grey balls of fish from a jar have always struck me as icky.

Turns out, I am not alone.

"I had the same experience as you. I never ate gefilte fish," says Liz Alpern. "It was disgusting to me. I literally think I never ate it, until I started making it."

That's a remarkable statement coming from someone in the gefilte fish business. Alpern is half of the team behind the Gefilteria, which makes artisanal gefilte fish. Yes, that is a thing. Alpern gave me a demonstration at a catering kitchen in Brooklyn.

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Comic Jeff Ross makes his living insulting people. As a producer and performer for Comedy Central's celebrity roasts, Ross has hurled withering punchlines at celebrities like Donald Trump, Justin Bieber and, most recently, Rob Lowe. Dubbed the "roastmaster general," he's also hosted roast specials at a Texas jail and at a Boston police precinct.

Sure, we live in a world of increasingly seamless integration of sophisticated computer animation and live action. And sure, we've seen amazing technical achievements and advances on television. But wouldn't it be funny to just draw a cartoon on top of a sitcom?

Linda Holmes is filing dispatches from the Toronto International Film Festival. These movies will see wider release in the coming months.

The Promise

The war movie — the war atrocity movie, in particular — is a complicated thing to react to. Invoking real historical agony bestows an inherent respectability of intent; simply to tell a story that needs telling represents a higher purpose than that with which many films grapple. But still, a good film has to be a good film; it cannot only be telling a story with stakes based in tragedy.

Writing science fiction that's set in the near future can be tricky. Make your predictions too specific, and they run the risk of being rendered obsolete a generation after they're published. Make them too abstract, and they might not be as impactful in the here and now. Alexander Weinstein has a firm grip on this precarious dynamic in Children of the New World, his harrowing debut collection of short stories.

I fell for pho in Saigon in 1974, when I was 5 years old. When my family came to America in 1975, my mom satisfied our family's cravings for the aromatic beef noodle soup with homemade batches, served on Sundays after morning Mass. As Vietnamese expatriates, we savored pho as a very special food, a gateway to our cultural roots. When we didn't have pho at home, we went out for it in Orange County, California's Little Saigon, patronizing mom-and-pop shops that welcomed us with the perfume of pho broth.

The 2016 Emmy Awards are 83 percent over.

Think about that next Sunday night, as some sudsy production number lumbers on or yet another powerfully unnecessary montage/tribute — "A Salute To: The Laugh Track!" — brings the proceedings to a lurching halt.

It will take host Jimmy Kimmel and company three hours and change to hand out 19 Emmy statues. If that sounds inefficient to you, consider this chilling fact: There are in fact 110 Emmy categories this year.

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It's 3 a.m. and Whiskers has decided it's time for breakfast. He jumps up on your bed, gently paws at your eyelids and meows to be fed. Annoyed? Cat behavior specialist Sarah Ellis says you have only yourself to blame.

Ellis says that cat owners reinforce negative behaviors when they give in to them. "Cats are not necessarily born meowing and screaming at us for food, it's a behavior that they learned," Ellis tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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