Arts & Life

This summer, All Things Considered is on the hunt for great reading recommendations. In our second installment — you can find the first here — Janet Webster Jones, owner of Source Booksellers in Detroit, shares her selections with NPR's Audie Cornish. Click the audio link above to hear Jones describe these great summer reads:

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(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM")

This post discusses the events of Sunday night's POSE season finale.

It wasn't layered. It wasn't nuanced. It was didactic in some places, and mawkish in others, often reaching for sentiment only to achieve sentimentality instead. Characters didn't so much converse as stand and deliver long declamatory paragraphs at each other, in precisely the way real people don't — you could hear the writing, always. The cast approached the material with great fervor, if not, in all cases, great finesse.

San Diego Comic-Con wrapped up on Sunday. NPR comic buffs Mallory Yu and Petra Mayer discuss highlights of the convention's last day, in which women, writers of color — and monsters — took front and center.

Petra: Mallory, oh, my God, we made it. We made it. We almost got sidetracked just trying to find a place to sit down and eat some crummy convention concession pizza (although by Grabthar's hammer, crummy convention concession pizza was what my soul desired) but we made it through the week.

Oakland, Calif., means different things to different people.

For many, it's the birthplace of groundbreaking art and politics. But Oakland, like many major cities across the country, is changing.

That's the tension at the heart of a new film called Blindspotting. It tells the story of two lifelong friends and Oakland natives, one white and one black, as they grapple with fitting into this new world.

There's a vitally important word in the epic tale of Beowulf and, according to Maria Dahvana Headley, it's been translated incorrectly for a very long time. The word is aglæca/æglæca — no one's entirely sure how to pronounce it – and, as Headley explains, that same word is used to describe Beowulf and his three antagonists: Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon.

Muscle And Bone Meet Machinery In 'Hullmetal Girls'

Jul 22, 2018

Hullmetal Girls embraces teen angst in the form of bionic mech suits and the girls who meld with them to save humanity.

Former FBI Director James Comey has a lot of experience with loyalty — he wrote a book called A Higher Loyalty and he told the Senate intelligence committee that President Trump demanded his loyalty over dinner in January.

Chaining a Dog

Jul 21, 2018
fvfavo (Mario Micklisch) [Flickr]

Not only is chaining (or tethering) considered inhumane and unsafe for animals, it is illegal in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia.


In the dystopian AMC television action series Into the Badlands, Daniel Wu stars as a lethal warrior on a quest to discover the truth about his past.

Over two decades, the 43-year-old has played leading roles in everything from romantic comedies to kung fu costume dramas. He's become a celebrity across Asia. But Badlands is the first starring role in the United States for the California native.

Today is cosplay day! As the con goes along, people start busting out better and better costumes, and we spent a few hours today seeing the extremely impressive sights. Oh, and did we mention — WE were part of those sights? Mallory dressed up as the Kate Bishop version of Hawkeye, from the Young Avengers, acknowledged by many people who saw her to be the BEST Hawkeye. And I was Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan — a hero to journalists everywhere. We sat down behind the convention center at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about our favorite outfits.

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The city of Oakland, Calif., is experiencing something of a renaissance moment in the movies. You could trace it back to 2013, when the Oakland-born director Ryan Coogler made Fruitvale Station, his ripped-from-the-headlines drama about the fatal police shooting of Oscar Grant III.

Petra: Today is Thursday, but as far as I'm concerned, it's Doctor Whosday, and I'm starting the day by going to BBC America's press conference for their flagship show, and then ... and then ... I get to go on my first-ever trip to the famous, possibly infamous, Hall H, where only the biggest of wheels roll through.

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It was a pretty riveting final act to a head-spinning week. Three of the Trump administration's most senior officials separately and publicly outlined concerns or actions that diverged from their boss.

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The perfect home for a perfect television family is for sale.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE BRADY BUNCH THEME SONG")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Here's the story of a lovely lady...

A yearlong battle over a house that was painted to look like Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night, ended on Tuesday with an apology and an agreement to drop thousands in fees against the homeowners.

Nancy Nemhauser and Lubomir Jastrzebski had been embroiled in a legal feud with the city of Mount Dora, Fla., to keep their interpretation of the masterpiece on their home and the wall surrounding it, after the city fined them.

All children disappoint their parents from time to time, but most offspring are not profoundly different from what was expected — at least once they pass through the fire of adolescence. Author and psychologist Andrew Solomon had a more alienating experience. He felt he was utterly unacceptable to his family, which led him to write Far from the Tree, chronicling more than 300 cases of difficult upbringings.

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, director Lauren Greenfield had the counterintuitive idea of understanding the recession through the declining fortunes of Florida billionaires. The result was The Queen of Versailles, a hugely entertaining documentary about David and Jackie Siegel, a nouveau riche Orlando couple who were in middle of building a 90,000-square-foot estate, modeled after the Palace of Versailles, when the housing market collapsed.

Denzel Has No Fury Like 'The Equalizer 2'

Jul 19, 2018

"Fridging," the overdue-for-retirement habit among male storytellers of violating and/or murdering thinly-sketched lady characters simply to motivate a male hero's righteous payback, is alive and well in The Equalizer 2. That's a big, ugly pimple on the symmetrical-but-unsmiling face of this otherwise-not-bad follow-up to 2014's Denzel Washington-headlined reboot of the old TV show.

Ever since the election of Donald Trump as president, pundits have written obituaries for just about every virtue there is. The president's victory and the policies he's enacted, some commentators have argued, has marked the death of civility, tolerance, dignity, freedom and the American dream itself.

It's a rusty old bucket of a plot contrivance: throw a bunch of strangers together on a boat and roil the waters with a big storm or a white whale. But, in her latest novel, The Last Cruise, Kate Christensen demonstrates there's life yet to be found in what may appear to be the creakiest of fictional premises.

Tall, dreadlocked Josh Scheper knew he was out of place as he surveyed the scene at a Santa Ana, Calif., parking lot on a Sunday morning this past April. And the 46-year-old loved it.

Hundreds of people waited in line at stalls for vegan food, but few people looked like the Los Angeles resident. Nearly everyone in the crowd was young and Latino, as were the chefs. The food on sale was Mexican — but not hippie-dippy cafe standbys like cauliflower tacos, or tempeh-stuffed burritos. Instead, chefs reimagined meaty classics that were honest-to-goodness bueno.

Petra: Ah, the fresh hopefulness (a New Hope, even) of the first day of San Diego Comic-Con! Your feet don't hurt (yet), your nose isn't peeling (yet) and you haven't faced down the dark night of the soul that comes from acknowledging your deep desire to elbow aside that five-year-old dressed as Wonder Woman to get into the line that might let you buy this year's favorite toy — if they don't sell out before you get to the front. Tough luck, little Amazon.

OK, look. I don't want to waste your time. It's hot, it's muggy and the news is an ever-widening gyre of flaming airborne chili-festival Porta Potties. So how about we forgo a review that seeks to advance any cool, objective argument on the relative cinematic worth of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the sequel to the 2008 film adaption of the longest-running jukebox musical in Broadway history? How about, in the interest of efficiency, I just answer the questions I know you to have about the film — because I had them, too — in order of importance?

On The Seventh Day, They Played Soccer

Jul 18, 2018

Jim McKay used to walk into video stores back in the 1990s, where he'd see versions of himself: white males, in all kinds of movies. Then he tried to imagine being someone else.

"You'd go in these aisles, and you'd see box after box after box of VHSes," McKay says. "And you'd just realize, like, for [a] young woman [of color], there's nothing there. She's not there. You're really not visible."

Comic Bo Burnham was still in high school when the satirical songs he posted on the Internet went viral — making him one of YouTube's first stars. Now 27, he's taken a turn behind the camera with a new film, Eighth Grade, that looks at what it's like to grow up in the age of social media.

The film centers on a socially awkward 13-year-old girl named Kayla who's navigating the final year of middle school. Burnham says the character was inspired by a period in his early 20s when he was dealing with panic attacks onstage.

Marco Antonio Guerrero was different from a young age — "pensive, inventive, intrepid but also full of love."

He teaches himself anatomy from library books, is exhilarated by the challenge of learning how car engines work, and studies Arthurian legends, quantum mechanics, world wars. But after he loses control of the family business to a half-sister, he falls into a deep depression, slipping away from his young daughters.

I have this dog. His name is Brian, and he's a whippet, plus some other skinny-dog ingredients. He looks like this.

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