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When Insecure debuted on HBO in 2016 Issa Rae and her best friend Molly were on the brink of 30. They navigated broken hearts, gentrification in Los Angeles, and workplace discrimination. Now, at the outset of Season 3, they're leaving their 20s behind and are still making mistakes — but with a little more confidence.

Yvonne Orji, who plays Molly, says viewers resonate with her character because she is "a beautiful mess." In fact, if things had gone a little differently for her in college, Orji says, "Molly is who I would have been."

If you've spent much time reading personal essays on the Internet, then (a) you're a masochist, and (b) you've probably noticed a subgenre of the form that involves the author explaining why they left New York. The pieces are usually bittersweet and elegiac; seldom, if ever, do they say "My company transferred me to the Denver office" or "I just got tired of paying $20 for a hamburger."

It's been almost 20 years since Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, has released a new show. He last did it in 1999 with his sci-fi comedy Futurama. But he says, it hasn't been all work since then.

"I love playing," Groening says. "I love inventing worlds."

As it turns out, Groening has been dreaming up a new universe almost all of that time. His new show Disenchantment is an animated fantasy set in the medieval kingdom of Dreamland.

3 Sweet Reads For August's Hot Days

Aug 18, 2018

Summer is still in full swing, and that calls for binging on totally absorbing and heartwarming romances. These three novels — full of mystery, adventure and love — deliver a perfect escape and a satisfying happy ever after.

It's happened to so many women: they have a fantastic connection with a guy and then he disappears. No calls, no texts, just ... gone. Rosie Walsh's Ghosted takes this premise and refuses to let it go, in a gripping and surprising romantic suspense story.

Writers often have ambivalent feelings when their book are adapted for film.

They may enjoy the fame and fortune a movie can bring, but remain loathe to give up control over their creation. Some have famously hated the final adaptation.

But Justin Torres loves the film based on his debut novel We the Animals. That's because Torres worked closely with director Jeremiah Zagar.

Zagar is a documentary filmmaker, but he always wanted to direct a narrative feature film. For a long time, he just couldn't find the right story.

Note to readers: As you would expect in a story about a sex advice columnist, this post contains some frank language about sex.

Growing up in India, I had no sex ed in school. Sex was a taboo. Indian parents largely avoid the whole birds-and-bees talk.

I'd never heard words like condom, intercourse, ejaculation or penetration spoken aloud.

A Young Woman Claims Her Power In 'Open Me'

Aug 18, 2018

Young women occupy a perilous space in the world: Their bodies are desired, their youth fetishized, and they're simultaneously placed on a pedestal and reviled as maddeningly seductive. Rarely, if ever, are their own desires allowed to flourish without judgment, slut-shaming side-eye, or envious jabs. And if they are left alone, they often fall into the opposite trap of considering themselves unwanted, unwantable, their desirability carefully measured by culture, fashion, and violence.

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Sasha Velour is a winner. In June of 2017, the drag queen took home the crown on season nine of RuPaul's Drag Race. More than a year later, she's still using her queendom to spread the word about drag, and challenge perceptions about the art form.

On stage at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York, Velour was dressed in yards of shiny silver fabric adorned with hundreds of huge, multicolored gems. She described the look to NPR's Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg as "a crown as a dress," or "what Queen Nosferatu wears to her daughter's lesbian summer wedding."

Awkwafina: 'No Turning Back'

Aug 17, 2018

When Nora Lum chose Awkwafina as her rap name, she was 16 years old, writing music in her childhood bedroom in Forest Hills, Queens in New York. At the time, she was an aspiring concert trumpeter attending the prestigious Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, teaching herself how to produce beats, and writing lyrics to flesh out the songs. Over the next two years, she recorded more than 500 tracks, including "My Vag" — a response to Mickey Avalon's self-aggrandizing "My Dick."

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Story Behind The Numbers.

About Steven Pinker's TED Talk

It might seem like the world is getting worse and worse. But psychologist Steven Pinker says that across the board, data suggests we've made a lot of progress. The question is — will it continue?

About Steven Pinker

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Story Behind The Numbers.

About Paul Gilding's TED Talk

Environmental activist Paul Gilding says the world has been growing too fast for too long. And now...the Earth is full. The only solution, he says, is to radically change the way we consume.

About Paul Gilding

Michael Green: What Does GDP Not Tell Us?

Aug 17, 2018

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Story Behind The Numbers.

About Michael Green's TED Talk

To fully understand progress, economist Michael Green says we must weigh social well-being and wealth. But by using this new measurement, he noticed something striking — the U.S. falls far behind.

About Michael Green

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Story Behind The Numbers.

About Hanna Rosin's TED Talk

Post-recession, journalist Hanna Rosin noticed an economic shift: jobs dominated by men were on the decline, jobs dominated by women were on the rise. But does that data signify meaningful progress?

About Hanna Rosin

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Story Behind The Numbers.

About Tyler Cowen's TED Talk

When it comes to global progress, Tyler Cowen says there's much more to the story than numbers can tell. And it's important, he says, to pay attention to the inherent "messiness" of the data.

About Tyler Cowen

Pop quiz: What's a word you use a hundred times a day — that doesn't show up in the dictionary?

Give up? Mmhmm.

You got it! Mmhmm is a small word that's often used unconsciously. But it can actually tell us a lot about language, bias and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Once upon a time, English speakers didn't say "mmhmm." But Africans did, according to Robert Thompson, an art history professor at Yale University who studies Africa's influence on the Americas.

Enter The Legend: 'Dragon' Turns 45

Aug 17, 2018

When the seminal martial arts film Enter the Dragon premiered in August 1973 — 45 years ago this weekend — it was exactly what Bruce Lee had been waiting for: A starring role in a Hollywood production.

Well, it's safe to say Netflix giveth and Netflix taketh away.

Only a week after the Grand Takething that was Insatiable, the streamer brings along To All The Boys I've Loved Before, a fizzy and endlessly charming adaptation of Jenny Han's YA romantic comedy novel.

Disenchantment, Matt Groening's new animated series that hits Netflix on Friday, August 17th, does for our mythical past what Futurama did for our imagined future, but it does so in a manner so closely reminiscent of that other show's wryly cynical sci-fi hi-jinks that it could have just as easily been called Pastarama, if that didn't sound quite so much like a seasonal promotion at Olive Garden.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

When I began reviewing books and movies many years ago, I recall the editor at the magazine where I freelanced telling me that the rule of thumb was not to say too much about any given title. This was long before reviews appeared with the word "spoilers" at the top; the age of ink on paper.

Director Crystal Moselle made waves three years ago when her documentary The Wolfpack won the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The film told the true story of six brothers growing up in confinement in Manhattan's Lower East Side — and it all began from a chance encounter Moselle had with the brothers on the street.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The first time you see 'sand piracy,' it might sound surreal — a misguided Pixar villain whose lackeys race down the beach with empty buckets and sinister intent, doomed to fail in the face of a resource that spans the whole ocean.

Then you find out about someone stealing 1,300 feet of sand from a beach in Jamaica, or the many sand miners whose dredgers suck sand from the ocean floor by the ton and, suddenly, it doesn't sound as funny — or as impossible — as it did before.

Kate Walbert's most powerful novel yet is a case study in the perversities of power imbalances. This slim but by no means slight novel continues Walbert's explorations of how society's sexual biases and constraints have hampered women, a theme that has driven all six of her books, including A Short History of Women (2009) and her most recent, The Sunken Cathedral (2015). But with a timeliness so acute it feels ripped-from-the-headlines, His Favorites amps up the outrage and packs a punch far greater than its weight class.

The history of jazz in the 20th century is well known, but the course of the genre in the 21st century is still being charted. According to Nate Chinen, music critic for NPR Music and WBGO, jazz in the new millennium has enjoyed a type of Renaissance thanks to some key players.

I first saw Crazy Rich Asians at an advance press screening at a small, newish theater in Manhattan's Chinatown, and let me tell you: I arrived a little anxious and skeptical.

If you've spent more than five minutes with me, you'll know that I am predisposed to those two emotions. It did not escape me that the theater holding the press screening could be considered still another gentrifying force in rapidly changing Chinatown. The fact that I and the friend I brought were one of the few Asian-Americans in the theater also did not escape me.

Nico Walker is in jail for robbing banks.

He can use the pay phone for 15 minutes at a time, and then he has to wait a half-hour. It took a while to do an interview.

That's also sort of the way he wrote his debut novel, Cherry — on a typewriter, with a hundred-or-so other guys looking over his shoulder.

"It was something that I was doing when I was locked up," he says. "Something to pass the time. But I didn't — I wasn't planning to write a novel, you know, autobiographical or anything like that."

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