Arts & Life

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Sasheer Zamata clearly remembers the feeling she got when she did stand-up for the first time: "I went to an open mic by myself, didn't tell anybody," Zamata says. "I came offstage and ... was like, 'This is my life forever! I can do this forever now!' "

In Sarah Gerard's debut, the 2015 novel Binary Star, her unnamed protagonist undergoes a metamorphosis of metaphorical proportions. A road trip with her boyfriend takes them to the darkest regions of inner space, and Gerard's body and psyche undergo startling transitions. In the book, she also tackles topics close to heart and experiences, including eating disorders, which she's struggled with in her own life.

If you do a Google search for "card catalog" it will likely return Pinterest-worthy images of antique furniture for sale — boxy, wooden cabinets with tiny drawers, great for storing knick-knacks, jewelry or art supplies.

But before these cabinets held household objects, they held countless index cards — which, at the time, were the pathways to knowledge and information. A new book from the Library of Congress celebrates these catalogs as the analog ancestor of the search engine.

So far in her young life, New York City's Fearless Girl has drawn countless tourists, a metric ton of media coverage and its fair share of praise as a symbol of the fight for gender equity — so much, in fact, that the statue staring down the financial district's famous Charging Bull recently got a new lease on life, at least through 2018.

For at least one person, though, the Girl has offered less than welcome company.

Midway through Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, the title character sketches a diagram of his intersecting business, political, and charitable connections. Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) is at the center of the web, and yet he's barely there at all.

There's a role reversal underway in political publishing. For years, conservative publishers have thrived as their readers flocked to buy books aimed directly at taking down the party in power. Now, with Republicans in control, they have to rethink their strategy. Left leaning publishers meanwhile are hoping to take advantage of the new political landscape.

Regnery books — which marks its 70th anniversary this year — is the grand old dame of conservative publishing. Dinesh d'Souza, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham have all published with Regnery.

John Leguizamo isn't new to the screen or the stage. He's best known for his 30-plus-year movie career in which he played a range of roles, from the killer Benny Blanco in Carlito's Way to a sloth named Sid in the animated movie Ice Age. But theater is Leguizamo's first love (rivaled only by his children). Now, at 52, he's wrapping up his sixth one-man show, called Latin History for Morons.

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Max Winter's powerful but bleak debut novel is about missing people: people who are missing, and the sons, brothers, friends, lovers, and classmates who feel their absence and miss them. Exes is propelled by the efforts of its troubled principal narrator, Clay Blackall, to piece together the last ten years of his younger brother Eli's life — which he missed because they were estranged.

Here's the setup: Mad scientists send a guy (Joel) into space and force him to watch cheesy movies. He can't get back home because he's used parts from his spaceship to build two robots whose commentaries make the movies bearable.

Did Richard Nixon commit treason? Some evidence to that effect has been around for years, specifically in regard to what's become known as the Chennault Affair. According to the theory, Anna Chennault — a Chinese-American Republican insider — sabotaged Lyndon Johnson's efforts to strike a peace deal in Vietnam in October of 1968, and she did so at the direct request of the soon-to-be 37th President.

The Trump Organization is shutting down its New York-based modeling agency.

A statement released by the company said it was "choosing to exit the modeling industry."

"While we enjoyed many years of success, we are focussed on our core business in the real estate and golf industries and the rapid expansion of our hospitality division," the statement said.

Started in 1999, Trump Model Management was part of Trump's eclectic array of businesses, though it was never as visible as some of the others and didn't play a major role in the fashion business.

On Nov. 18, 1978, an itinerant preacher, faith healer and civil rights activist named the Rev. Jim Jones led more than 900 of his followers to kill themselves by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid at their Jonestown settlement in the jungle of Guyana. Nearly 40 years later, questions still linger regarding the Jonestown massacre and the man who inspired it.

Journalist Jeff Guinn details how Jones captivated his followers in his new book, The Road to Jonestown. He calls Jones a "tremendous performer" who exhibited "the classic tendencies of the demagogue."

Cathy Malkasian creates fantastic worlds out of her proprietary blend of melancholy and dream-logic, and peoples them with characters who are all too dully, achingly human. Her landscapes and cityscapes, rendered in gorgeous colored pencils, can seem as chilly and remote as her facial expressions seem warm and intimate.

'Brimstone' Burns Brightly, Despite A Few Flaws

Apr 11, 2017

There are roughly as many ways of imagining witches as there are ways of imagining women — and if our ideas about witches have changed over time, it's chiefly because of who's been allowed to do the imagining. A witch, after all, is a woman with power — and whether you imagine her as a warty-nosed hag, sexy enchantress, or community organizer with a wicked pack of cards probably says something about how comfortable you are with that notion.

"Water is never only about water."

A few years ago, at one of Hoover Dam's scenic pull-offs, I stood beside a handful of strangers looking out over Lake Mead. The dam was impressive, but all I could see was the pale ring of bare rock that betrayed how low the water had fallen. Everyone around me was quiet; I thought they were bored until a woman whispered, "So that's it?" and I realized we were terrified.

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For a centenarian, the Pulitzer Prize appears to be as spry as ever.

Now in its 101st year, the prestigious prize recognized writers, artists and musicians of nearly every bent — from breaking news and cartooning, to fiction and drama. At a New York City ceremony Monday, Pulitzer Prize Administrator Mike Pride announced the 21 winners of the 2017 award.

This story starts with a lost email.

Annie Hudson had spent weeks crafting the text. She was documenting tiny elements of a memory — events so ordinary that they would certainly be forgotten, yet so treasured that she wanted to keep hold.

She wanted the email to be perfect. Kept tinkering, revising. It lived in the "Drafts" folder on her iPhone.

Then, came a notice: "Software Update." Annie followed the prompts. Her phone got up-to-date fixes. The draft of the email disappeared.

You don't need to know all about Breaking Bad, and the meth-making, drug-dealing former schoolteacher Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, to enjoy Better Call Saul. This spinoff series more than stands on its own — and, as TV spinoffs go, is the best in the business since Cheers begat Frasier.

To get you to buy a bottle of champagne, M. Cole Chilton, the face who was always behind the counter of my neighborhood wine store in Brooklyn, would send out emails with elaborate descriptions: "I taste like sunshine, and I tell of brighter days ahead. I will make you forget that three people cheated on you last year. I will make you forget that you didn't contribute anything to your 401(k). I will make you forget that dog sitting is not as easy as it sounds."

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Let's take a poetry break now with a few more of your Twitter poems. It's a beautiful day here in Washington, D.C., so a good time to hear a few reflections on springtime and nature, like this one from Mark Holoweiko in Michigan.

The CW's Jane the Virgin is both a send-up of and a love letter to Latin telenovelas. So, not surprisingly, its plot is a little complicated. In the first season, Jane (a virgin) becomes pregnant after being accidentally artificially inseminated with sperm from Rafael, a married businessman who starts to develop feelings for Jane. On top of that, Jane's father, telenovela star Rogelio De La Vega, is back in her life. From there, things only get more dramatic.

A few years ago Laura Kipnis — a tenured professor at Northwestern — published an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education. In it she argued that the rules governing sexual relationships between students and professors had become draconian. The response was intense, eventually growing to include a Title IX investigation filed against Kipnis by two graduate students.

Reading The Game: Bioshock Infinite

Apr 9, 2017

For years now, some of the best, wildest, most moving or revealing stories we've been telling ourselves have come not from books, movies or TV, but from video games. So we're running an occasional series, Reading The Game, in which we take a look at some of these games from a literary perspective.

When Prince first signed with Warner Bros. Records, he didn't want to be categorized as a black musician. This was the late 1970s, before music by black artists was widely marketed to multiracial audiences; before kids in every household in America were glued to their screens watching "Thriller" on MTV.

It opens with a scene all too common in nightly news: A young man is dead in the street, shot by a police officer who thought he saw a weapon. It turns out there was no weapon.

But here's where the script breaks from the familiar: The officer is black and the victim is white.

That's the premise of Shots Fired, a provocative new TV drama on Fox, from co-creators Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood.

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