Arts & Life

In a darkened London theater, the first thing the audience hears is the rhythmic chanting of an a capella Islamic State anthem.

Another World: Losing Our Children to Islamic State, currently at the National Theatre, is a play about young people seduced by the group. The main characters are three mothers whose children left their homes in Europe to join ISIS.

Now that the long wait is over and fans can finally bask in the super-sized, superhero brawl that is Captain America: Civil War, some may overlook something really special about this movie.

It has three black superheroes on the front lines.

There's Don Cheadle's War Machine. Chadwick Boseman appears as Marvel's first African superhero, the Black Panther. And Anthony Mackie returns to a Captain America movie as the Falcon, asking Cap if he really wants to resist government control of superheroes.

Rachel Bloom is the star, writer and co-creator of The CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The singer-songwriter first got famous with her hilarious musical numbers on YouTube, before she was given the chance to create her own TV show that let her play a lunatic stalker character loosely based on herself. She's already won a Golden Globe for that role in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Since she's the expert on crazy ex-girlfriends we've decided to ask her three questions about some well-known crazy ex-boyfriends in a game called "No! Really! This time I'll change!"

Not every country in the world celebrates Mother's Day on the same day.

Anyone who's lost a family member knows the feeling of unreality that follows. Psychologists call it "denial," but it's something more than that — it's a sense that you're not really there, that you're living in an alternate world, that the pain you're feeling can't possibly be real. Grief is a powerful thing, and it can temporarily turn people into walking ghosts.

Or, as Dana Cann writes in his debut novel, Ghosts of Bergen County: "This was life: you're here. And this was death: you're not. And then you're here again, haunting some stranger. And none of it matters."

If you haven't heard of the Marvel superhero Black Panther, that's going to change very soon.

If I say Kentucky Derby, you say ... mint julep?

Well, if you're a Kentucky dame like me you do. As my fellow Louisville native Jesse Baker once pointed out: "It ain't Derby without a mint julep."

Race fans have been drinking mint juleps at Churchill Downs in Louisville since the racetrack's inception in 1875, according to bourbon historian Fred Minnick.

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

Filmmaker Jacques Audiard bristles when you ask him about news coverage of Europe's "refugee crisis."

"I don't think we really see migrants ... " Audiard says. "It takes a baby washed up on the beach for us to ask: What was his name? It's terrible. I wanted to give them a name; to give them a face."

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

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

If you have a favorite sports photo from the past 60 years, it's very possible Neil Leifer took it: There's Muhammad Ali standing victorious over Sonny Liston ... Or there's Baltimore Colt Alan Ameche plunging over the goal line in 1958 to beat the New York Giants in the so-called Greatest Game Ever Played.

Of Dubious Origin

May 6, 2016

We made-up origin stories for people whose names end with "MAN." For example, "This "X-Men" actor developed his superpowers from manually changing car tires," you'd answer, "I'm Hugh Jackman!"

Heard on C2E2: Rose McGowan

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

Meet the Expert: Andi Gutierrez

May 6, 2016

Our expert Andi Gutierrez is the social media connoisseur for a galaxy far, far away. She's the Digital Communications Manager for Lucasfilm. On the first day of her job at Lucasfilm, she got an interesting homework assignment. "They just handed me the scripts and said, 'Ok go, read them.' All of them." Gutierrez says to Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg at C2E2 in Chicago. "The cool thing is that it's my job, so I can watch Star Wars at work and people are like 'Good job! Stay on target!'"

Moves Like Frogger

May 6, 2016

Scrounge up your quarters because we're heading to the arcade! In this game, Jonathan Coulton tweaks Maroon 5's song "Moves Like Jagger" to be about classic video games.

Heard on C2E2: Rose McGowan

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

This, That, Or The Other

May 6, 2016

For the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, we crafted a special version of our favorite game. The categories are: racehorse, roller coaster, or Marvel villain.

Heard on C2E2: Rose McGowan

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

Who Are You Wearing?

May 6, 2016

Our producers went out onto the C2E2 convention floor and asked some cosplayers, "Who are you wearing?" In this game, cosplayers describe their outfit and you have to guess who they are.

Heard on C2E2: Rose McGowan

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

It sounds like a Hollywood cliche, but a teenage Rose McGowan was discovered in 1995 on the street corner of Beverly and Sweetzer in Los Angeles. Her "angry girl" demeanor landed McGowan the leading role in Gregg Araki's The Doom Generation, and launched a movie career in films such as Jawbreaker and Grindhouse. On the lighter side, she spent five seasons as the witch Paige on the TV show Charmed.

Stop And Go

May 6, 2016

Red light, green light! Every answer in this final round will contain one of these three words: red, yellow or green.

Heard on C2E2: Rose McGowan

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

Captain America: Civil War, our 13th spin around the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is such a satisfying Problems In 21st Century Superheroics seminar that I'd be humming its theme for days if only I could remember it. Does Captain America have a theme? Does Iron Man? What about Black Widow? Haven't they each earned one by now?

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Case For Optimism

About Mia Birdsong's TED Talk

Activist Mia Birdsong says the stories we tell about poverty don't reflect reality. She describes people in her community who are optimistic about their futures — even if the larger society is not.

About Mia Birdsong

Are We Natural Optimists?

May 6, 2016

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Case For Optimism

About Tali Sharot's TED Talk

Cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot makes the case for why humans are wired to have what she calls an "optimism bias."

About Tali Sharot

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Case For Optimism

About John Hunter's TED Talk

Educator John Hunter describes how he finds hope and inspiration in his fourth grade students — and their ability to solve big problems.

About John Hunter

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Case For Optimism

About Al Gore's TED Talk

Vice President Al Gore says that — despite the dismal news on climate change — he's optimistic.

About Al Gore

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Case For Optimism

About Tania Luna's TED Talk

In describing her experiences of immigration, poverty, and homelessness, psychologist Tania Luna explains that gratitude for the small things creates a rich and hopeful life.

About Tania Luna

Part 6 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Case For Optimism

About Al Gore's TED Talk

Vice President Al Gore explains how human ingenuity can solve our climate crisis.

About Al Gore

Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day, the comics industry's yearly attempt to bring new readers into the fold, is 15 years old. It's a peevish teen that smells of Speed Stick and Clearasil and a practiced, performative surliness. It demands that you drop it off a block away from school.

For the past eight years, I've written a preview of the comics on offer on Free Comic Book Day for NPR. So I'm kind of like Free Comic Book Day's annoying third-grade little brother, always chasing after him and telling everyone how cool he is.

Every year at the Kentucky Derby, crazy hat-wearing, mint julep-guzzling horse-gazers break into a passionate rendition of Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home." As tradition goes, the University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band accompanies the crowd as they croon a ballad that seems to be about people who miss their happy home. "The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home/'Tis summer and the people are gay," begins one version.

But Frank X Walker, Kentucky's former poet laureate, suspects that most people are missing the point.

In 2009, French director Jacques Audiard won the Grand Prix (equivalent to second place) at the Cannes Film Festival for A Prophet, a gripping thriller about a 19-year-old Algerian inmate who slowly rises to power in a prison where Muslims and Corsicans are engaged in mob warfare. Chief among the film's many virtues is Audiard's sly narrative strategy: Through the vessel of a tough, violent genre picture, he could smuggle a movie that's really about the difficulty persons of color and cultural disadvantage have in a system that's stacked against them.

When you know the backstory behind Being Charlie, the wounds this film opens become so raw you can still see them bleeding. It follows the troubled 18-year-old addict son of an emotionally frigid movie star and politician. It's directed by Hollywood legend Rob Reiner, from a script co-written by his son Nick, who himself had fallen in and out of rehab centers as a teen.

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