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Mental Illness: [Enter Stage Right]

Aug 2, 2018

With guest host Celeste Headlee.

In “Dear Evan Hansen,” the hit Broadway musical, we see a main character who struggles with severe social anxiety. “Fun Home,” another Tony Award-winner, digs deep into paralyzing depression.

Musicals about mental illness are a lucrative artistic trend in theatre. And these productions are breaking new ground with their honest, entertaining portrayals of disorders that 1 in 5 Americans live with.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Rivaling Donna Tartt's celebrated debut, A Secret History, in its fevered treatment of American university life, R.O. Kwon's first novel The Incendiaries gives readers a juicy look at campus mores, though sometimes that juice is more bitter than sweet.

Cartoonist Thi Bui's Eisner Award-nominated graphic memoir is called The Best We Could Do; it's the story of her family in the years before, during and after the Vietnam War. The Eisners — mainstream comics' top award — are given out every year at San Diego Comic-Con, where Bui was one of this year's featured guests.

We think of whales as creatures of the sea, but scientists now believe that 40 million to 50 million years ago, whales had four legs and lived at least part of their lives on land.

"We can tell that they're whales based on key features of their anatomy — specifically parts of their skull," paleobiologist Nick Pyenson says. "But they were certainly not like the whales that you would see today."

R. O. Kwon's pensive debut novel, The Incendiaries, arrives just in time to stoke up "back-to-school" anxieties, especially those of entering college students and their nervous parents.

'The Third Hotel' Will Get Under Your Skin

Aug 1, 2018

Most novels begin with mystery. A problem, or a warning. Foreboding, or such happiness that we know there's sadness coming. This is how Laura Van Den Berg started her acclaimed debut novel, Find Me. There was a strange disease, a search for the cure. In her follow-up, The Third Hotel, Van Den Berg flips the script: The first thing she does is tell the reader exactly what she's about to do.

"I'll be your mirror," intoned Nico in 1966, singing one of the many tunes given her by a lover. In retrospect, the line neatly captures the model-actress-singer's '60s persona: a thin, icily beautiful, dyed-blonde blankness, to be defined by Federico Fellini and Andy Warhol, Lou Reed (who wrote "I'll Be Your Mirror") and Bob Dylan.

Award-winning actor Alan Alda has revealed that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. "I'm not angry," he said.

"It hasn't stopped my life at all. I've had a richer life than I've had up until now," Alda said as he made the announcement Tuesday on CBS This Morning.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

The 1A Movie Club Sees 'Blindspotting.'

Jul 31, 2018

‘Blindspotting’ resists genre. It’s not quite a comedy, and it’s not quite a tragedy. It’s the story of an Oakland, California, man, Collin (Daveed Diggs), who is spending his last couple of days on probation with a good friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), who can’t seem to get it together. And then he sees a white police officer shoot an unarmed black man.

Critics and the public alike have raved about the film. It has an enviable 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Gustavo, the Brazilian professor and narrator of Beatriz Bracher's I Didn't Talk, has found himself with a lot of time to think about stories. He's recently retired from his job, and as he goes through years of accumulated papers, he finds himself constantly being transported back in time, remembering his past. "Stories are the shape we gave things to pass the time in line at the bank, on the bus, at the bakery counter," he reflects.

Most of us remember the broad outlines of the story: 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was followed, shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., on the night of Feb. 26, 2012.

More than six weeks later, Zimmerman was arrested and, eventually, tried for second-degree murder in a case that would be as racially polarizing as the O.J. Simpson trial had been nearly 20 years earlier.

'The Provocative Colette' Celebrates The Power of Beauty

Jul 31, 2018

Lusty, obstreperous and ambiguously liberated, Colette has always been a heroine for a certain kind of person: The kind who believes you can do anything if you do it beautifully. The grande dame of 20th-century French letters shocked fin de siècle Paris with her literary and theatrical excesses, and cycled through husbands and lovers almost as briskly as she churned out books. And for many years, she looked great doing it.

CBS' CEO Leslie Moonves will remain at the helm of the media company as the board of directors launches an investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted several women over decades.

Kidnapped by Somali pirates, journalist Michael Scott Moore spent two and half years in captivity. At times he was held on land, other times at sea. Once, when he was on a 160-foot tuna boat, he tried to escape by jumping over the side at night.

"It was, like, a 20 foot leap off the deck of the ship, and I was just exultant at first," Moore says.

Moore had hoped the pirates would leave him behind in the water. "The engine wasn't in terrific shape, so I didn't think there was a way to turn around the ship," he says.

The new NBC series Making It has two reasons for being.

One is to grab a little of the upbeat, you-can-do-it energy generated by competitive cooking shows – The Great British Baking Show especially – and expand it to other areas of crafting. The other is to give viewers some solid hangout time with the stupendously amiable hosting pair that is Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. All put together with some staples and glue, it's a lovely, if very low-key, summer watch.

Emmy-award winning writer and television producer Dinah Kirgo, one of six women accusing CBS chairman Les Moonves of harassment, told NPR that she is not trying to destroy Moonves as much as she is trying to change a culture that allows such misconduct.

"People think that we're trying to take these guys down, and that is, at least in my case, that is so not true," Kirgo said in an interview with All Things Considered. "It's about stopping this behavior."

Nothing like a comedy festival to make you think so hard your head hurts. Immigration, #MeToo, bullying. Pain has long been at the root of great comedic material, and it was no different at this year's annual Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, where hundreds of comedians perform, attend panels and schmooze with agents, TV network reps and each other. "We're an industry built on outsiders," Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby told a roomful of her peers at the annual Just For Laughs Awards Show on Friday. She also urged the crowd not to forget it.

Jon Batiste comes from a family of musicians; he played drums and percussion with the Batiste Brothers Band as a kid, and his debut album came out before he could vote. His band Stay Human is the house band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and his album Hollywood Africans comes out in September.

Since Batiste is the leader of Stay Human, we've decided to quiz him on robots.

A Postman Signs Off

Jul 28, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Growing up as a child in Bogotá, Ingrid Rojas Contreras was almost the victim of a terrible crime. Violence reigned in Colombia under drug lord Pablo Escobar — bombings, kidnappings and assassinations were commonplace. Contreras didn't know it at the time, but her mother was receiving threatening phone calls detailing the routines of her daughters' lives: "They got off the bus at this hour. We know what the bus route is. We know what they look like."

It's dress rehearsal at the Santa Fe Opera and Tina Cordova is waiting for her cue.

"There is not a single one of us onstage that isn't either a cancer patient, dealing with a tumor or a cancer," she says.

Cordova and the others preparing to take the stage are from southern New Mexico. They're downwinders — the people who lived near the first nuclear explosion and their descendants.

Many people living in the area weren't warned before they saw the flash of the 1945 atomic bomb tested as part of the Manhattan Project.

Here's a weird fact about American comics: When writers and artists collaborate, the writer's name usually comes first on the book cover. And yet the medium is defined by pictures; highbrow types even call it "sequential art." A poorly drawn comic will almost always fail, no matter how good the story. But powerful illustrations can often sweep up and overwhelm a comic's weak story, resulting in a book that works almost despite itself.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

The New Yorker magazine has published an article by Ronan Farrow detailing accusations of sexual harassment by CBS CEO Les Moonves and other men at the company.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Jessica Walter's Alter Egos

Jul 27, 2018

Jessica Walter is perhaps best known for her roles as Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development, and Malory Archer on Archer: two icy, booze-swilling mothers without much of a motherly instinct. But these roles came to her later in her career. Walter wasn't cast as Lucille until she was 62 years old. Before the Bluths came along, she wasn't sure if her career might be slowing down.

On the cover of Ten Day, Chance The Rapper's debut mixtape, a cartoonish-but-detailed illustration of the Chicago artist looks upwards in wonder, as pillowy clouds float in the sky behind him. It is, perhaps, a too-apt metaphor for the ascent that Chance's career has experienced since that 2012 release, from son-of-a-politician mixtape rapper to bona fide chart-topper, festival headliner and Grammy winner.

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