Arts & Life

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

For Prince Harry's first Father's Day, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, got him a bench.

"As most of us do, you go, what am I going to get them as a gift? And I thought I just wanted something sentimental and a place for him to have as a bit of a home base with our son," Meghan says.

And on a little plaque on the back of the bench, she wrote a poem, about the moments she hoped they would share on that bench.

The Demon Dog of Crime Fiction is back, and this time around it's more boocoo bad business, crooked cops, pervs, prowlers, and putzo politicians than ever, and that's saying a lot.

When the pandemic started, food writer Sandra Wu started making smoothies, with a vengeance.

"Like, ugh, let's press blend," she remembers. "Let's put in some liquid, like ugh, and get it in there."

The U.S. Congress this week established Juneteenth, a commemoration observed in communities and cities across the country for more than 150 years to mark the day slaves in Texas were informed of their freedom, as an officially recognized federal holiday. Celebrations being held all over the country on June 19 likely will assume an added sense of occasion.

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show [Facebook]

The name Pekingese gives you a clue to the origins of this breed.  At one time, these small dogs (usually 7-14 pounds) could be owned only by the royal family of China, where they lived in the palace and even had their own servants.  In the late 1800's, they were brought to Britain, and later to America.  In 1906, the American Kennel Club registered its first Pekingese.  This is a breed that bonds with its owner, but can still have an independent (some might say "royal") personality!

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The Hulu comedy PEN15 was created by Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle about their adventures in junior high school. Apparently, they couldn't find anyone else to capture their particular combination of geekery and awkwardness, so they decided to play themselves — and it turns out full-grown adults fit into seventh grade more easily than you might think.

We've invited Konkle, an expert on junior high, to answer three questions about junior highs — specifically, the vague sense of agitation you get from drinking Red Bull.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

During NPR's 50th anniversary year, we're doing some stories under the banner We Hold These Truths about American democracy. How have Americans learned about democracy? How do we learn about most anything? - at the movies.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Love is love is love. In Romancelandia, love in all its variations comes with joy, hijinks, sexy times and happily ever afters. These three novels are full of all that and more — including highway robbery, murder mystery, and princesses on the high seas. Because another universal truth of Romancelandia is that the journey to true love is never boring and in romance, love always wins.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

David Simon created two of TV's most groundbreaking series about the failure of the war on drugs, set in the neighborhoods of Baltimore: HBO's The Corner and The Wire.

Still, even as he allows that those shows — with their visceral look at the intersection of race, policing, violence and tragedy — may have helped people question five decades of failed drug policy, Simon says he remains a "cockeyed pessimist" on the question of whether the war will ever end.

The band Sparks – really a duo, of L.A.-born brothers Russell and Ron Mael – is marking its fifth decade as a living enigma this year. As director Edgar Wright wonders in his new documentary, The Sparks Brothers: "How can Ron and Russell Mael be successful, underrated, hugely influential and overlooked, all at the same time?" (You can hear my review of the film in the audio player above.)

Quirky Capitals

Jun 18, 2021

In this game, U.S. capital cities are ruined-- or, improved?-- by changing the first letter of their names. Hacks creators Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs must figure out the original city as well as its new-- and, better?-- name.

Heard on 'Better Call Saul & The Mandalorian's Giancarlo Esposito; Hacks.

Commerical VOs

Jun 18, 2021

You know that feeling when you hear a familiar voice, but you can't for the life of you connect it to a name? In this audio quiz, Hacks creators Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs are subjected to that very thing as they guess celebrity voiceovers from TV ads.

Heard on 'Better Call Saul & The Mandalorian's Giancarlo Esposito; Hacks.

Check-In: Dog Sitting

Jun 18, 2021

Host Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton discuss the ups and downs of short-term dog ownership, known to many as "dog sitting."

Heard on 'Better Call Saul & The Mandalorian's Giancarlo Esposito; Hacks.

Better Call Saul and The Mandalorian star Giancarlo Esposito's on-screen interests include running a drug empire and hunting Baby Yoda. Off-screen, Esposito's interests include playing the saxophone and designing hats. In this interview, Esposito talks about his initial reluctance to take on the role of Gus Fring in Breaking Bad and its prequel, Better Call Saul.

Is It Broccoli?

Jun 18, 2021

Many plants in your supermarket produce section look different, but are actually the exact same species: Brassica oleracea. Broccoli is one such plant, so in this game, comedian Bethany Van Delft (Parentalogic and "The Ten News,") and Tanya Morgan rapper Donwill try to weed out which cunning crops are secretly broccoli.

Other Aughts

Jun 18, 2021

In this latest installment of decade-themed music parodies about history, comedian Bethany Van Delft (Parentalogic and The Ten News) and Tanya Morgan rapper Donwill take on popular songs from the 2000s — AKA, the "aughts," rewritten to make them about things from the "aughts" of other centuries. Now this is a game you "ought" to hear!

By curious coincidence, two of the lovelier movies I've seen so far this summer — the family-friendly animated fable Luca and the German art-house fairy tale Undine — tell stories about mythic sea creatures making contact with the human world.

Saturday is Juneteenth — the day when enslaved people in Texas learned they were freed two years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It's now a Federal holiday.

The past 4 1/2 years have been a fever dream in American politics.

Donald Trump's administration was marked by unprecedented chaos and drama, with major stories crowding one another out of the news on a daily basis.

Art and government make prickly bedfellows. When President Harry Truman wanted to add a balcony to the White House, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts advised against it. Truman built it anyway and let those commissioners' terms expire.

Two literary stars from Nigeria are having a very public feud right now, and their personal beefs are heavily overlaid with big questions about feminism, gender identity, cancel culture, social media and anti-LGBTQ violence.

Remember the Alamo? According to Texas lore, it's the site in San Antonio where, in 1836, about 180 Texan rebels died defending the state during Texas' war for independence from Mexico.

The siege of the Alamo was memorably depicted in a Walt Disney series and in a 1960 movie starring John Wayne. But three writers, all Texans, say the common narrative of the Texas revolt overlooks the fact that it was waged in part to ensure slavery would be preserved.

It sounds like the premise for one of those classic screwball comedies of the 1930s: Thousands of out-of-work writers are hired by the United States government to collaborate on books. What could possibly go wrong?

But as Scott Borchert reveals in his new book, Republic of Detours, the amazing thing about the Federal Writers' Project was just how much went right.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, finished its last day of presentations yesterday. For the first time in its 26 year history, E3 was an all-virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn't stop the major game companies from delivering some (mostly) electrifying news.

A painting by the legendary rock star David Bowie is up for auction, and it could sell for tens of thousands more than the purchase price.

An unnamed seller picked it up at a donation center in Canada for $4.09. It wasn't until later that they noticed the signature of Ziggy Stardust himself on the back, signed in 1997.

As of Thursday morning, the highest bid for DHead XLVI was nearly $40,000 with another week to go on the market, being run by Canadian auction house Cowley Abbott.

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