Arts & Life

America's favorite Amazon princess turns 75 this year — Wonder Woman first swung her golden lasso in All-Star Comics #8 in December 1941, and she's still fighting for freedom and the rights of women.

DC Entertainment is celebrating the Amazon's birthday with a series of events at this year's San Diego Comic-Con; a street corner in the downtown Gaslamp District has been turned into a tribute to Wonder Woman's home on Paradise Island, complete with artists painting giant portraits of her, and a replica of her famous invisible jet.

Jason Dessen, the protagonist of the new novel Dark Matter, is just a regular guy: He's 40, a devoted husband, a professor of physics at a small college, and a loving father to a teenage son.

But one day he's drugged and kidnapped and wakes up to find he's in a very different world. Not just a different world — a different life.

Blake Crouch joins NPR's Elise Hu to talk about the new book, and about why he loves imagining alternate realities.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Packing your child's lunch calls for a whole different level of preparation in Japan. There, moms often shape ordinary lunch ingredients like ham or rice into cute little pandas, Pokemon or even famous people's faces. It's called character bento, and there's considerable pressure to produce these cute food creations.

Tomomi Maruo has been teaching how to make character bentos, or "kyaraben" for short — at her home for the past 13 years.

If you love your mom, you might not be too happy with a current exhibition at the Queens Museum in New York City. It's a video installation in which "your mama" jokes and other putdowns are projected onto the walls of a dark room, in a constant loop.

Gay Talese Stays Too Long At 'The Voyeur's Motel'

4 hours ago

The penis, Gay Talese writes in Thy Neighbor's Wife, his 1981 book on the American sexual revolution, "knows no moral code."

"Often regarded as a weapon," he writes, it "is also a burden, the male curse. It has made some men restless roués, voyeurs, flashers, rapists." The penis is but "prey" to the omnipotent temptation of women, "the bevy of buttocks in tight jeans."

One such voyeur — victim, apparently, of the terrible and stern dictates of the penis — is Gerald Foos, the subject of Talese's new book.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Tail of a Cat

Jul 23, 2016
Mark Watmough [Flickr]

It has been suggested that the cat uses its tail for balance, and that may be partly true.  However, cats born without tails (like the Manx breed) and cats who lose their tails due to injury, still seem to maintain a good sense of balance.

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Since his debut novel, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers has finessed a line between fact and fiction. His latest, Heroes of the Frontier, is a novel about a dentist who, after a bad breakup, packs up and moves to Alaska with her two young children.

Alaska is "a working state" that's "not too precious about itself," Eggers tells NPR's Scott Simon. "It's still very raw and there's still so much of it that you can discover, and be alone."

Copyright 2016 KRTS-FM. To see more, visit KRTS-FM.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden flew four times on the space shuttle and was the first voice to be broadcast from Mars.

We've invited him to play a game called "You're not Charles in Charge — he is!" Click the audio link above to hear Bolden answer three questions about the remarkable career of actor and Republican National Convention speaker Scott Baio.

If you ask Mike Birbiglia, the principles of improv apply everywhere: "It changed the way I thought about everything," says the writer, director and actor. "[It] helps in parenting and being a good husband and being a good friend ... any collaborative job."

Best known for his stand-up comedy and roles in GIRLS and Orange Is the New Black, Birbiglia's latest project is Don't Think Twice, a movie that chronicles the ups and downs of a fictional, New York improv group called The Commune.

This year at San Diego Comic-Con, one of the biggest phenomena isn't just inside the convention center, it's all around. Yes, there are billboards and installations trumpeting things like Doctor Strange and Fear the Walking Dead. But the crowds of people here aren't looking up; they're mostly staring down at their phones, playing Pokémon Go.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

John Evans, co-owner of California's Diesel, A Bookstore, recommends three vacation reads: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan and Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk by John Doe and Tom DeSavia.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Born This Way is a reality show — not too different from The Real World, the groundbreaking show that helped define the genre and aired for more than 30 seasons on MTV. Both feature a cast of diverse young adults navigating the world around them. Both came from reality TV pioneer Jonathan Murray (who co-created The Real World with Mary-Ellis Bunim). The big difference: All the stars of Born This Way have Down syndrome.

On Wednesday night, the film Star Trek: Beyond held its red-carpet premiere at San Diego Comic-Con. They went all out – a live orchestra, fireworks, a laser show. Conan O'Brien hosted the gig. NPR's Nina Gregory reported on it for Morning Edition yesterday.

Plates have long had a seat at the table, but they've suffered in silence – quietly bearing the indignities of everything from barbecue sauce to mustard stains.

Until now.

It's been a busy couple of weeks in the world; how are you doing?

We had the rare opportunity to pull the extremely busy Ari Shapiro into our fourth chair this week, just in time to join us for a chat about Ghostbusters, the latest summer action comedy to bust its way into theaters. We talked about its PG-13-ness, its lineup of very funny women, its place in the impressive Feig/McCarthy canon, and lots more.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

She's back.

Earlier this week actor and comedian Leslie Jones decided she'd had enough of Twitter trolls targeting her because she dared to co-star in a reboot of the 1984 film, Ghostbusters.

She was tired of being called ugly and savage, and being compared to gorillas and apes.

She was tired of being called a coon.

She'd had enough. She was tired.

For this game, we've rewritten the intro to Law & Order: SVU to be about other things known by three initials. If we said, "In Munich's car manufacturing system, the dedicated assembly-line workers are members of an elite Beemer factory," you'd answer, "Law &Order: B-M-W."

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

From family fights to finding roadkill, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III does not consider any topic off limits. Many fans know Wainwright for his 26-album repertoire of witty and personally revealing music, chronicling the ups and downs of his life from early adulthood to his early sixties.

Perfectly Cromulent Words

Jul 22, 2016

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a "word" is a "sequence of one or more sounds, or morphemes, constituting the basic units of meaningful speech." Contestants must decide whether the clues we give them are real words we found in the dictionary, or something we made up.

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

Come Together

Jul 22, 2016

We've reworked The Beatles' hit "Come Together" to be about things that go together, like macaroni and cheese, or Bert and Ernie.

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

M-M Good

Jul 22, 2016

Every answer in this final round is a two-word phrase or name in which each word starts with the letter M, like "Mickey Mouse."

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Share And Share Alike

Jul 22, 2016

This game is about music sharing. Every answer in this quiz is the name of a song whose title is shared by more than one artist. For example, if we said, "This is a Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch song featuring Marky boxing and making out, and a memorable Beach Boys tune that features a theremin," you'd say "Good Vibrations."

Heard on Loudon Wainwright III: 'Please Discover Me Now!'

In The Fifty-Year Mission, Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman's massive new oral history of Star Trek, creator Gene Roddenberry recalls why NBC declined his initial pilot episode of the landmark series: "It was too cerebral ... it didn't end with a chase and a right cross to the jaw, the away all manly films were supposed to end." But the suits were intrigued enough to commission a second pilot, a highly irregular gesture.

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