Arts & Culture

It's the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything: 42.

And 42 is now the number of years since the publication of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, the first in the series of wacky and beloved sci-fi books by Douglas Adams.

The book follows Englishman Arthur Dent as he wakes up to find that Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a space highway. Adventure ensues across the galaxy with aliens, super computers and Marvin, a perpetually sad robot.

In Squid Game, reportedly the most popular Netflix series of all time, the characters are almost all Korean, which is what you'd expect from a show produced in South Korea.

And then there's Ali Abdul, a Pakistani migrant worker in South Korea whose boss hasn't paid him for months. Don't ask how he's able to afford rent and food for himself and his wife and infant child, who live with him. Because the show doesn't explain!

So Abdul makes a drastic decision. He joins a secret, high-stakes competition called Squid Game.

Fan Fiction begins with a pig penis. It ends with a killing. And in between it touches on murder, obsession, Frank Sinatra, quaaludes, Hollywood, series television, fandom and the early years of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Most of us who've read Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune have experienced it in the form of mass-market paperbacks so thick and dense they could double as wheel chocks for a Cessna. If you've made it all the way through even once, the spine on your personal copy will have been battered into submission such that it takes on the appearance of the Bonneville salt flats — rough, faded, riddled with spidery cracks.

Updated October 16, 2021 at 9:58 PM ET

Hollywood crew members and major studios have averted a nationwide strike that would have shut down much of film and TV production. The tentative agreement must still be ratified by the union's members.

This week, the autumn leaves are changing, so we heat up some apple cider and remember some of our favorite moments from the past year. Click the audio link above to hear the whole show.

Squid Game. You felt like you were supposed to experience this graphic, debt-ridden survival series, so you did, but it still feels like you're missing something.

I had several reasons to suspect I was not the ideal audience for The Last Duel. I'm not really an aficionado of period pieces with lots of bloody battles (or fantasy pieces that feel like period pieces; I was not a Game of Thrones person, for instance).

Gus Moreno's This Thing Between Us is the kind of horror novel that makes you uncomfortable in the best way possible. Some of the discomfort comes from the book's unrelenting creepiness; apparitions, a resurrected dog, mysterious rituals, a mouth full of shattered teeth. But some of it comes from the way Moreno explores grief and how it can be so strong it changes the way we interpret reality.

Netflix has fired an unnamed employee connected to the brewing internal blowback the company is facing over Dave Chappelle's most recent comedy special The Closer. First reported by The Verge, the news is coming as Netflix employees plan a walkout on Wednesday over transphobic comments made in the special.

What's making us happy: What you should watch, read and listen to this weekend

Oct 15, 2021

It was the week when we got a new Adele single. It was the week when Hollywood braced for a strike. Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

Updated October 15, 2021 at 3:20 PM ET

A British bakery has been forced to pull its top-selling cookies from the market, after regulators informed the owner that the sprinkles are illegal. The U.S.-made sprinkles contain a coloring that's legal for some uses — but not for sprinkling.


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross.

The memoir "Maid" - that's M-A-I-D - by our guest Stephanie Land is about what it's like to clean houses for a living and what it's like to be a working single mother struggling to get out of poverty. The new Netflix miniseries of the same title is adapted from Land's memoir. Here's a clip from the series in which Alex, the single mom based on Land and played by Margaret Qualley, applies for government assistance.


Cory, latecomer to the crusade for decency

Cory starts this episode fighting on the phone with Fred, demanding that he stop trying to plant stories that smear Hannah. Fred is a man with little to lose, so he demands in response that Cory get the case settled already, threatening to reveal that Cory was part of negotiating Fred's departure and paying him off and claiming that "the woke mob" won't like it if they find out.