Arts

Arts and culture

On Aug. 21, a 70-mile-wide ribbon from Oregon to South Carolina called the "path of totality" will experience a total solar eclipse. Large swaths of farmland in the Great Plains and Midwest will be plunged into darkness for 2 1/2 minutes, and temperatures will drop about 10 degrees in the middle of the day.

But as millions of people look up at the sky, many Midwest scientists will turn their eyes and cameras toward the plants and animals on the ground. And they're not sure what will happen.

John Cho sometimes has a hard time taking life in Hollywood seriously. The actor was born in South Korea but grew up in the United States, and he says his experiences are vastly different from the deprivation his father saw as a child in what is now North Korea.

"My dad tried to eat [tree] bark, he was so hungry," Cho says. "Whenever I'm on my way to a premiere or something, I always have a good laugh in the car ... because it's all so absurd — I'm one generation removed from starvation."

Natalia Lafourcade has been one of Latin America's leading indie-pop artists for many years. Her latest album, Musas, is a tribute to some of her musical inspirations, featuring famed acoustic guitar masters Los Macorinos. A standout of this session is one of her original compositions, "Tú Sí Sabes Quererme."

SET LIST

  • "Tú Sí Sabes Quererme"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

In this session, we bring you a live session with Overcoats. The duo's music rests on two voices so perfectly in sync you'd swear they were coming from the same person — or, at least, from people who are related. Or, at least, people who've known each other their whole lives.

Its name alone suggests an explosive whizzbang of cotton candy pop — Pinkshinyultrablast makes shoegaze that yanks tufts of sound every which way in some kind of cinematically sped-up slow-mo. It's irrepressibly cool music — last year's Grandfeathered was a personal favorite, a sonic treasure hunt on every listen.

Long before Transparent, for which she's now Emmy-nominated for her work as Shelly Pfefferman, Judith Light was a soap star when soaps were a much bigger deal than they are now. Playing Karen Wolek on One Life To Live, she won two Daytime Emmys and became known for a devastating performance in a courtroom scene in which Karen was forced to acknowledge publicly that although she was married to a doctor, she was secretly also a sex worker.

Those of us who fell in love with her debut album, Sprained Ankle, have been hungering for more of Julien Baker's sparse, confessional songs — brutally honest and cripplingly insecure, self-deprecating but laced with just enough hope to keep you hanging on — since the album's 2015 release (only briefly sated by the release of "Funeral Pyre," a one-off single, in January).

Jason Heller is a Hugo Award-winning editor and author of the forthcoming book Strange Stars (Melville House). Twitter: @jason_m_heller

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