Arts & Life

Sylvia Acevedo grew up on a dirt road in New Mexico. Her family was poor, living "paycheck to paycheck."

After a meningitis outbreak in her Las Cruces neighborhood nearly killed her younger sister, her mother moved the family to a different neighborhood. At her new school, young Acevedo knew no one. Until a classmate convinced her to become a Brownie Girl Scout.

And from that moment, she says, her life took on a new path.

On one camping trip, Acevedo's troop leader saw her looking up at the stars.

There was a time when journalist April Ryan was just another face in the crowd of the White House press briefing room.

She started covering the White House for American Urban Radio Networks more than 20 years ago. In an interview with NPR, she looks back at how nervous she was the first time she raised her hand to ask a question.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry says that partisan politics are harming America — and they have been for a while. In fact, when he ran for president in 2004, Kerry, then a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, contemplated naming Republican Sen. John McCain as his running mate.

In an epigraph to The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court's Assault on the Constitution, Justice William J. Brennan is quoted as saying of the nation's highest court: "If you have five votes here, you can do anything."

Justice Brennan, who died in 1997, was celebrated for path-breaking opinions but also for his effectiveness as a behind-the-scenes, judicial deal-maker. In this possible majority of one that Brennan describes, author David A. Kaplan, a former legal affairs editor of Newsweek, reads danger.

Viola Davis is known for her roles in movies like Fences and The Help. She's won an Oscar, an Emmy, a couple of Tony Awards — the list goes on and on.

But as we sit in her trailer on the set of the TV show in which she stars, How to Get Away with Murder, she tells me about a time before all of this — when she grew up in a condemned building in Rhode Island, sleeping on the top bunk with her sister to be safe from rats on the floor.

She had a way to get away from all that.

In the tribal region of Pakistan where Khalida Brohi grew up, girls didn't typically go to school. Instead, some were forced into marriage at a very young age — and punished by death if they don't act according to plan.

That's what happened to Brohi's 14-year-old cousin, Khadija. Khadija's family had arranged a marriage for her, but Khadija fell in love with someone else and ran away. Then, Brohi says, "Three men arrived and they took her ... to a place where her grave was already dug and she was murdered by my uncle right there."

There's life in the old road trip saga yet. That's just one of the many things that Gary Shteyngart's spectacular, sprawling new novel, Lake Success, affirms.

Throughout his career, Shteyngart has proven himself a cheeky comic daredevil, but never more so than in this novel. More than "just" an artistic tour de force, Lake Success aims — and succeeds — in saying something big about America today.

John Kerry's new memoir, Every Day Is Extra, begins like Barack Obama's literary Dreams From My Father and — over the course of nearly 600 pages — slowly morphs into Hillary Clinton's paint-by-numbers political tome Hard Choices.

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The first thing you notice about Drew Michael's new stand-up special is what's not there. There's no stage, no audience, no laughter, except for maybe your own - just a comic pacing in a shapeless darkness thinking out loud

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A massive fire that engulfed Brazil's National Museum Sunday night has left staff and officials fearful that many of the nation's most precious artifacts have been lost forever.

The museum housed 20 million items, including objects that tell the story of Brazil's past: the first fossil discovered there, the oldest female skull found in the Americas and the nation's largest meteorite.

First built in 1818 as a residence for Portugal's royal family, the edifice also contained insects, mummies, paintings and dinosaur bones.

Sam Munson's Dog Symphony is a weird book. We need to establish that before we go any further. It doesn't hide its weird, but it doesn't glorify it either with a lot of tricks or frippery. It is just deeply, congenitally weird in the way that some people are born weird and simply exist that way their entire lives, without trying, without hiding.

The excerpt follows some background information provided by NPR.

The series of investigations that eventually led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton began in a New York Times story that questioned some of his business dealings back in Arkansas. This was in 1992, when he was still a candidate for president.

In the new documentary film Minding the Gap, we see a message hand-painted on a smashed skateboard: "THIS DEVICE CURES HEARTACHE."

There's a lot of heartache in this movie. And if skateboarding doesn't cure it, it offers an essential escape for the troubled young men we meet in the film.

Zack Mulligan and Keire Johnson are skateboarding friends growing up in Rockford, Ill. The filmmaker, Bing Liu, is a fellow skateboarder from Rockford.

He is the lesser-known Founding Father from Philadelphia named Benjamin — the one whose face does not grace the $100 bill.

Benjamin Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was also a doctor — arguably the most famous doctor in America — who became known as the American Hippocrates. During the Revolutionary War, Rush was alongside Gen. George Washington when he crossed the Delaware; he treated battlefield casualties behind enemy lines; and later, became a pioneer in the field of mental health.

When photographer Nico Therin came across pictures of wrestling matches on the sand in Senegal, he was so intrigued he decided to take his camera and go.

It didn't take long for Therin to learn that in Senegal, wrestling is a national sport. As Khadim Gadiaga, president of the Senegalese Wrestlers Association, puts it, "Every Senegalese — mothers and fathers, even the president of the republic — they love Senegalese wrestling."

In early Spring of 2011, Kim Brooks intentionally left her 4-year-old son, Felix, in a car alone while she ran into a neighborhood Target — in the same neighborhood she'd grown up in — to buy a pair of padded headphones.

The decision was made in the split of a second, a quick moment that had long-lasting consequences for Brooks, who realized only hours later that a stranger had videotaped her son, then reported her to the police.

Labor Day Pet Safety

Sep 1, 2018
georgiaolive [Flickr]

Keeping your pet happy, healthy and safe should always be part of your holiday plans, and Labor Day is no exception.    The idea is to enjoy sharing the celebration with your best friend, not rushing your furry buddy to the emergency vet clinic!


When wildfires ripped through California's Napa Valley in October 2017, local artist Arleene Correa Valencia was shocked to hear that farm workers were continuing to work in the vineyards — even as smoke surrounded the area, and the locals were evacuating.

Not My Job: We Quiz Glenn Close On Rabbits

Sep 1, 2018

The great actor Glenn Close stars in a new movie called The Wife — she's the wife, and attracting Oscar buzz for it. But she'll forever be remembered for her role in Fatal Attraction, and in particular a certain scene which involves a certain boiled bunny.

Given her association with dead rabbits, we asked her to answer three questions about live rabbits.

Click the audio link above to see how she does.

There's something about crowdfunding and comics: They just taste great together. Maybe that's because, as Iron Circus Comics publisher Spike Trotman points out, artists were crowdfunding before it was even called that. "It was something cartoonists had been doing for years: Taking our lives in our hands and asking people to PayPal us enough money to print the book," she says.

Aretha Franklin's funeral service remembers and celebrates the "Queen of Soul." Beloved by millions around the world, Franklin — who died of cancer on Aug. 16 — also leaves behind a six-decade career of advocacy, becoming a symbol and transformative leader in both the women's rights and the civil rights movements.

Here is a visual recollection of the funeral of one of America's most celebrated artists. This collection will updated throughout the day.

The latest Mission Impossible film is a global health nerd's dream. There's an immunization campaign. Weaponized smallpox. A medical camp run by a fictional aid organization. And of course: Tom Cruise chasing the bad guy in a helicopter over the disputed region of Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan (spoiler alert: that was filmed in New Zealand).

So what does a real-life health worker make of all that?

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Rose Byrne-ing Down The House

Aug 31, 2018

Rose Byrne has her older sister to thank for launching her acting career. When Byrne was eight years old, her sister told their parents that Rose ought to study acting. "I was very shy," she told NPR's Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York. "I think they thought it would help me come out of my shell, perhaps." Byrne, who grew up in Balmain, a suburb of Sydney, joined the Australian Theatre for Young People and discovered her love of acting.

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