Arts & Life

The NBC sitcom The Good Place is back for its third season, and fans will be happy to know Tahani al Jamil is as "conceited, but deeply kind, insecure, [and] vainglorious" as ever — in the words of Jameela Jamil, the actress who plays her.

But Jamil's personal story couldn't be more different from her character's. While Tahani is a selfish socialite who does massive charity events largely so she can name-drop celebrities, Jamil is a disability rights advocate and strong voice against body-shaming and impossible beauty standards for women.

With great power comes great irresponsibility. It's been 29 summers since Prince's "Batdance" heralded the release of Tim Burton's Batman, and longer than that since a comic book screen spin-off featured an original song with lyrics explicitly describing the title character. Even Joss Whedon, a musical-theater guy who made two Avengers movies, and re-wrote and re-shot a hefty chunk of last year's Justice League, failed to supply this very basic, spins-a-web, any-size, catches-thieves-just-like-flies need in his three at-bats.

"Your body is a wonderland," sang John Mayer, wrongly.

What he obviously meant to sing was "Your body is Wonderland," as in, "Your body, like mine, like everyone's, is a surreal and frequently terrifying Lewis-Carroll hellscape where everything exists in a state of constant flux, where rules of logic and intellect get trammeled by whim and caprice, and where the governing authority is casually malicious and heedlessly cruel."

Our bodies hate us. They delight in our dismay and embarrassment. This is an essential human truth, but it's one that adults forget.

Writer-director Tamara Jenkins has only made three features in 20 years, but each one feels like the work of someone who has continued to chip away at her screenplay the entire time — adding details, refining characters, getting everything just so. All three are about families on the edge: Her 1998 debut, Slums of Beverly Hills, follows a teenager (Natasha Lyonne) whose nomadic single father moves her and her brothers from one run-down apartment to another within the same elite school district.

Walk into the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. right now and you will find a painting that has been ripped to shreds.

Another one, nearby, hangs half-loose from its stretcher, rumpled. It's a portrait of Thomas Jefferson; behind it, you glimpse a seated black woman.

They are works by the artist Titus Kaphar. He takes familiar images and remakes them. Maybe he pulls a hidden figure to the front.

His work often confronts the history of slavery and racism in the United States.

Updated at 3:57 p.m. ET

What could possibly bring together a painter, an economist, a pastor and a planetary scientist? If you ask the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the answer is simpler than you may think: They've all shown creativity, potential for future achievements — and the likelihood that $625,000, meted out over five years, will help them complete their grand designs.

Despite a warning to wear rattlesnake shin guards when walking through the Hill Country, the only sound I hear is the ticking of grasshoppers, crickets and dragonflies on this 100-degree day in Spicewood, Texas.

I'm hunting mesquite trees, and they bite. Their branches, spiked with two-inch thorns, hold desert-colored, seed-hugging beans that rattle when they're ready to pick. If you break one open and put it in your mouth, it tastes lightly sweet.

Fall has arrived, which means seasonal scents will start wafting across the United States. Dried leaves in the Northeast. The dusty Santa Ana winds of California. Pumpkin-spice everything at your local hipster hangout.

But residents in the American Southwest probably consider their aroma the best: the intoxicating, eye-watering eau de roasted chile.

Sarah Smarsh is a daughter of the white working class. Born in rural Kansas, Smarsh traces her lineage back through five generations of family farmers. She also traces herself back through generations of teenage pregnancies; Smarsh's mother was just 17 when she had her.

Writer and director Tamara Jenkins was in her early 40s and struggling with infertility when she and her husband began what she calls a "by any means necessary" campaign to have a child.

It was an emotionally draining time. They looked into international adoption and also began in vitro fertilization treatment. A friend in whom Jenkins confided encouraged her to write about her experiences, but Jenkins demurred.

"I was horrified and just repulsed," she says. "I would never write about this stuff."

'Ink' Draws A Dark But Plausible Future

Oct 3, 2018

It's sometimes surprising to look at a book outlining a bleak future and see how startlingly accurate it's become — but it shouldn't be. The cruelty of the present echoes past cruelties that were never reckoned with; the history of so many countries is pockmarked with so many horrors that one need only look backwards to imagine the worst that lies ahead.

Fall is often the most intense movie season of all. Awards contenders begin to come into focus after the Toronto International Film Festival, while comedies and thrillers continue to hit screens. We got to see a lot of upcoming films at TIFF — below you'll find write-ups of 15 movies we really enjoyed and a heads-up about nearly 40 notable releases.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot painted thousands of landscapes — he did them well, and he did well by them. By the 1850s he was regarded as "a seriously successful, nationally renowned landscape painter," says National Gallery of Art curator Mary Morton.

A Star Is Born begins with Bradley Cooper, as successful country-rock singer Jackson Maine, doing his uninspired but high-octane brand of guitar work in front of a screaming audience of fans. When he's done, drunk and exhausted, he pours himself into a big black SUV, now alone with his nearly empty bottle, his flushed face, and his lungs that sound like they're filled with ash. He is in rough shape.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

On Sunday's CBS Sunday Morning, Ted Koppel reminisced about the many profiles of media giant Ted Turner that have aired on the network, beginning all the way back in the 1970s, when he hadn't started CNN but had bought Atlanta's baseball and basketball teams. Now, about to turn 80, Turner told Koppel about his diagnosis of Lewy body dementia.

In the days leading up to the November 2016 election, I taped an episode of Alt.Latino that was intended to be a musical healing session. For just about everyone in the country, the campaign season was rough ride and I had created a healing playlist for myself, which I then decided to share.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

Last Thursday's hearings on the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh brought up, among other things, the high school party scene in the 1980s and the films that glorified it. Kavanaugh mentioned those movies when he defended some of the crude references in his high school yearbook.

Life, Love and Hockey (Oooh, And Pie) In 'Check, Please!'

Sep 30, 2018

Check, Please! is a soap bubble. Ngozi Ukazu's comic levitates and drifts insouciantly, belying the massive forces of temperature and pressure that must be held in balance for it to exist. Its story of a college hockey team isn't particularly gripping or dramatic, though there are many flashes of joy. But its quality of suspended animation — of a moment preserved in quivering perfection — gives this comic a tension, and thus an interest, more compelling than its happy-go-lucky façade suggests.

Tobias Klüpfel [Flickr]

Sure it feels good to scratch an itch, but in a pet it could be a sign of a flea problem.  While it's important to keep your pet healthy (and that includes keeping fleas and ticks away), consult with your veterinarian about the best and safest products to use on and around your furry friend.

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We've invited Jon Hamm, best known for his starring role as Don Draper on the AMC series Mad Men, to answer three questions about Spam — the canned meat product with a verrrry long shelf life.

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PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Sexual Assault And Forgiveness

Sep 29, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Buffy Sainte-Marie, native Canadian singer-songwriter, social activist and member of the Cree First Nation, is now in her 70s and has co-authored the first and only authorized biography that tells her story — a story of a woman whose career has stretched from the coffeehouses of Toronto and Greenwich Village in the early 1960s to concert halls around the world. Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography is co-authored with Andrea Warner.

In 1979, a young East German named Micha Horschig made a prediction: The fall of his country's socialist government, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), would take 10 years.

On Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin wall fell.

On this week's episode of "Keepin' It Real," Cam Marston reminds us that kids these days - well, we made them...

Edited by Jalen Hutchinson

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Even in the middle of the day, in middle of the week, the theater was completely packed.

Hundreds had come to watch Rafiki, a movie about two young Kenyan women who are full of life, joy and wonder. Kena is a great student; she plays football and hangs out with the guys. And Ziki is the free spirit — cotton candy dreads and a smile full of mischief.

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