NPR Staff

Today, Noramay Cadena is a mechanical engineer, fitted with multiple degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But she came by her motivation in a place much different from the MIT classrooms: a factory in Los Angeles where her mother brought her one summer as a teenager.

The filmmaker Nancy Meyers dominates a certain Hollywood niche: Her comedies star grown-ups, and they appeal to a grown-up audience. She wrote and directed Something's Gotta Give, It's Complicated, and her latest, The Intern — starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway as the CEO and intern at a startup company. Here's the catch: Anne Hathaway plays the CEO — and at age 70, De Niro's character is the intern. Meyers tells NPR's Ari Shapiro that despite some of the scenes in the movie, they didn't actually have to show De Niro how to use Facebook.

In case you missed it: The full audio of Pope Francis' speech to a joint meeting of Congress (at the link above), paired with his prepared remarks and analysis from Morning Edition.

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This week, 40-year-old singer-songwriter Ryan Adams unveiled an unlikely new project: a song-by-song cover of Taylor Swift's bestselling album 1989. Adams has a huge body of work, some of it enormously acclaimed — and he's not the first person listeners might have associated with one of the most dominant figures in contemporary pop music.

Kevin Henkes was just a teenager when he decided he wanted to write picture books. He landed his first book contract when he was still in college.

"People used to assume that I had kids long before I did," he tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. He eventually had children of his own, but that didn't change his writing process the way one might have expected.

Pour yourself a cup of tea, turn your (right) ear toward your speakers and take a listen to the very first episode of the Hidden Brain podcast. We're talking a lot about feedback. First, we'll hear from author Sheila Heen about a common communication problem that pops up in many relationships.

Then, host Shankar Vedantam and author Daniel Pink will play a rapid-fire game of Stopwatch Science. They'll give you some tips that might help you communicate better — and perhaps even have better luck bumming a cigarette.

Writer Percival Everett is a man of the West: the region, for him, is a place of calm and comfort, danger and extremes. His new collection of short stories, Half an Inch of Water, is set largely in Wyoming, where Everett lived for a time and which he says might be his favorite state. ("It's so sparsely populated," he says as praise.)

But the prolific author wrote his new book far away from that iconic landscape.

"I wrote these while I was in Paris," Everett tells NPR's Arun Rath. "I was living in Paris, and for some reason I started writing ranch stories.

For those who have never seen the show American Ninja Warrior: Imagine an Army obstacle course, redesigned by Dr. Seuss and a team of rock-climbing acrobats. Competitors have to thread their way through the daunting obstacles, completing a number of stages before they can hope to finish the whole thing.

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The wildly successful prime-time soap opera Empire is back: Season 2 kicks off next week.

The Season 1 finale brought in 17 million viewers — despite the conventional wisdom that the days of broadcast television drawing in audiences like that are over.

Antony Britton literally dug his own grave — and it very nearly killed him.

Britton, an escape artist in the tradition of Harry Houdini, had been attempting a stunt Houdini made famous: Britton was handcuffed, shackled, plopped in a grave and buried under 6 feet of dirt.

There's something to know about that particular "Buried Alive" stunt: Even Houdini himself couldn't pull it off. In fact, part of the reason it's still remembered today is that Houdini failed, and nearly died along the way.

When Chinelo Okparanta started writing her novel Under the Udala Trees, she didn't have to look far for inspiration into her main character's tragic backstory.

"My mother watched her father die in the war, the same way my protagonist does," the Nigerian-American author tells NPR's Arun Rath. She's referring to the 1967 Biafran War in Nigeria — a civil war that was catastrophic for the Igbo people, who had tried to secede from Nigeria and form their own nation of Biafra.

Mary McGrory became a columnist in a time when women in journalism were still called "doll." She wrote a nationally syndicated column for more than 50 years, first for The Washington Star and then for The Washington Post, and in 1975 she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

You probably never will see most of Jason deCaires Taylor's public art projects firsthand — at least, not without goggles and fins.

Most of his sculptures stand at the bottom of the sea. His life-size statues — ghostly figures of men, women and children — seem to walk the ocean floor as they hold hands, huddle, even watch TV.

There have been a number of movies about the War on Drugs and the latest, Sicario, takes the "war" part of that phrase very seriously.

Emily Blunt stars as an FBI agent recruited into a U.S. anti-drug operation. The operation works with Mexican security forces to take down drug cartel kingpins — and crosses physical and moral borders in the process.