Arts & Life

A man's wife dies in a car crash. The man grieves.

From that simple premise come two complex films: Louder Than Bombs and Demolition. Turns out, there's a reason for those explosive titles.

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

I hadn't been in Japan more than a few weeks before I was hooked on Japanese karē raisu, or curry rice. It was the rich, unmistakable smell that seeped under doorways and filled the undercover shopping markets of Osaka that first caught my attention.

On Friday, Pope Francis released a 256-page document called "Amoris Laetitia," or "The Joy of Love." In it, he calls for the Catholic Church to approach issues of sex, marriage, family planning and divorce with less emphasis on dogmatic law and more emphasis on individual conscience.

While the post-synodal apostolic exhortation doesn't directly alter any church doctrine, its shift in tone is significant for Catholic families around the world.

It's a fun week at Pop Culture Happy Hour, as we welcome back, as this week's fourth chair, original PCHH panelist Trey Graham, who gives an update on how he's been since he departed NPR. We're so excited to see Trey, and we know a lot of you will be, too.

The very mention of the Silk Roads creates an instant image: camel caravans trudging through the high plains and deserts of central Asia, carrying silks, spices and philosophies to Europe and the larger Mediterranean. And while these ancient routes may remain embedded in our imagination, they have, over the past few centuries, slowly faded in importance. The region today is home to despotic regimes, failing states and endless conflict. But historian Peter Frankopan thinks that the Silk Roads "are rising again."

And they said print is dead. Janice Min turned around Us Weekly and now The Hollywood Reporter — transforming an ailing trade daily into a glossy magazine with new relevance for advertisers, the entertainment community and readers beyond.

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

Near the end of Louder than Bombs, Norwegian writer-director Joachim Trier's first English-language film, a narrator arrives to inform us that one of the characters will remember that particular moment years later. The intrusion is unexpected, but perhaps less so for people who've seen Trier's 2006 debut, Reprise. That playfully serious movie was about the making of a writer's consciousness, so its literary flourishes were apt.

Everyone grieves in their own way, the expression goes, and they shouldn't be judged for it. Yet an exception should be made of the grieving-by-metaphor that happens in Demolition, which finds a widower literally dismantling his empty, materialistic life, with sledgehammers and power tools, before figuratively picking up the pieces. At no point does this process seem organic, much as Jake Gyllenhaal tries to make a mystery out of this hollow soul and hint around the question of whether he truly loved his wife and the home they built together.

You never see Melissa McCarthy's neck in The Boss. This is the film's best joke, because instead of being beaten into the ground, it goes completely unremarked upon. The fiery comedian, playing a CEO named Michelle Darnell who puts elements of Donald Trump's mouth under Suze Orman's hairdo, has made turtlenecks a permanent part of her wardrobe. This holds true even once she's taken the plunge from top executive of several unspecified companies to sleeping on a former subordinate's couch.

At 46, former Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee says she's not very concerned with what people think of her.

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

The actor and comedian from the new series The Detour and former Daily Show correspondent tells us about how he and then Daily Show host Jon Stewart fought to air a particularly ballsy story.

Heard on Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

Grooving Mountains

Apr 7, 2016

Jonathan Coulton reworks "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" to be about things that aren't high enough. Just kidding, this game is about real and fictional mountains.

Heard on Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

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

M!SSUNDAZTOOD

Apr 7, 2016

You'll be addressing some women who have very unusual names, and all prefer to be addressed as Miss in this game. If we said, "The capital of New York isn't New York City... Albany is. You better get your geographical facts straight..." you would answer, "Misstate."

Heard on Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

Snack Or Wack?

Apr 7, 2016

Mint-flavored Lays: are they an international food sensation or something we dreamed up? In this game, we name a food item and ask our contestants, "Snack or wack?"

Heard on Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

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

Movie Mistakes

Apr 7, 2016

Some moviegoers demystify movie magic by pointing out plot holes. In this game, we'll read you an actual movie mistake posted on IMDB — that's the Internet Movie DataBase — and you tell us the movie.

Heard on Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

Apr 7, 2016

When comedian Jason Jones' children asked about the birds and the bees, he responded, "Well, what do you think?" They answered, "I think [the seed] goes in through the forehead...and a baby comes out mommy's tummy scar."

"[My wife Samantha Bee and I] had to correct that," Jones explains to Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg at the Bell House in Brooklyn, NY.

OO!! EE!! AA!!

Apr 7, 2016

In this final round, every answer will contain a word that has the same vowel twice in a row. To the clue, "this former Daily Show correspondent hosts her own show on TBS," you'd answer, "Samantha Bee."

Heard on Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

Look Under Your Seats

Apr 7, 2016

Oprah's audience finds exciting items under their seats so we thought we'd give it a try. In this game, we've written clues about things you might find under your seat in boring everyday life but Oprah-fied, like, "You get some GUM!"

Heard on Jason Jones: Comfy Bunny Hug

Oh, American Idol. You were too good for this world.

OK, maybe not too good. Maybe too rooted in people voting via telephone calls.

The best thing about Rob Spillman's new memoir, All Tomorrow's Parties, is that it taught me a new word. A word that I've needed for a long time, that describes and encompasses a certain feeling that I've had a thousand times — but which has no simple, concise description in English. The word is, of course, German: sehnsucht.

'The Red Parts' Offers No Easy Answers

Apr 7, 2016

At the point in my life when I felt least safe, I watched endless episodes of Law & Order SVU: rape and murder, murder and rape arriving hourly with the familiar chung-chung of the opening credits. In retrospect, I think it was an attempt at vaccination. To preview the worst outcome in a prepackaged, inert capsule of danger, to greet the danger, to exorcise it, and go out into the streets with a degree of immunity. Of course, that is not how safety works: Despite my mental rituals, the stranger who followed me after work was no less real, no less smiling.

Growing up in both India and the U.S., Amit Majmudar wasn't entirely sure where he belonged — until he found the library. "I became a citizen of the library," he tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "And to this day, I feel at ease only in a crowd of books. In some ways, I feel like I am a book, to be honest with you."

After he won a National Book Award, and one of the MacArthur Foundation's so-called genius grants, no one anticipated Ta-Nehisi Coates' next move.

"What's the good of getting a MacArthur genius grant if you can't go and write a comic book for Marvel?" Coates tells NPR's Audie Cornish. "I don't know. There are things that people consider to be genius, and then there are things that deep in my heart I've always believed to be genius."

Brazil has been in the news a lot these days, but not for happy reasons. As it prepares to host the Olympics this August, the economy is tanking, the president is heading toward impeachment and the country has become ground zero for the Zika virus. All this is enough to make one recall Charles de Gaulle's famously dismissive remark, "Brazil is not a serious country."

Did Thomas Jefferson dream of his enslaved concubine, Sally Hemings? No one knows. Jefferson himself never wrote a word about his constant companion of almost 40 years. But author Stephen O'Connor gives us a brave and wondrous dream of a novel that renders the fraught subject of their relationship a fascinating, complex and ultimately extremely addictive tale. At the core of O'Connor's Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings lies a conundrum: How could the author of five words that shook the world — all men are created equal — keep his lover enslaved for decades?

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

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

In the 1940s, an elite team of mathematicians and scientists started working on a project that would carry the U.S. into space, then on to the moon and Mars. They would eventually become NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (or JPL), but here's what made them so unusual: Many of the people who charted the course to space exploration were women.

Nathalia Holt tells their story in her new book, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. Holt tells NPR's Ari Shapiro that the women worked as "computers."

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