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Arts and culture

W. Kamau Bell is embracing the word "negro." It's a term that connects him to civil rights icons of the past.

"Some people may be offended by it, but to me it just feels very like classically, importantly black," Bell says. "It reminds me of a time when black people were angry and doing something about it. For me it takes me right back to the height of the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King and Malcolm X."

Joe Jackson, patriarch of the legendary Jackson family, which included Michael and Janet Jackson, has died, the estate of Michael has confirmed in a statement. No cause of death was given, though he had reportedly been diagnosed with cancer.

Officially, Joe Jackson was a band manager, taking five of his sons from a locally celebrated pop vocal group in Gary, Ind., in the mid-1960s to international acclaim, acting as the launchpad to superstardom for his son Michael. Their paths, however, would be revealed through the decades as ones paved in checkers.

'Red Waters Rising' Leads Old Friends Into New Trouble

Jun 27, 2018

In the Devil's West trilogy, Laura Anne Gilman has given us an imagined history of the United States — one that feels nearly as true as facts, both crazier and more reasoned than our Old West reality. Silver On The Road defined that world. One where the Devil — the actual Devil, smelling warmly of whiskey and tobacco, dressed in a prim cardsharp's suit — holds dominion over everything in the United States west of the Mississippi, and defends it and its people from the predation and influence of Washington, Spain, the French and all of the East.

Comfort never goes out of season, so neither do cooking shows. On this episode, we look back on a conversation Glen Weldon and I had with Barrie Hardymon and Kat Chow about the cooking television we know and enjoy. We talk about Top Chef, about Barefoot Contessa, about Chopped and about whether you can actually become a better and more confident cook through TV. Barrie even stops to wonder: does a tomato deserve underwear? (It makes sense coming from her.)

Remember the Ecce Homo, the notorious, well-intentioned, poorly realized "restoration" of a fresco of Jesus in the town of Borja?

A group of craftsmen in Estella, Spain, seems to have missed out on the cautionary tale.

"It has happened again," El País solemnly intoned.

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

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

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Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian has announced the winning concept for the National Native American Veterans Memorial: Multimedia artist Harvey Pratt's Warriors' Circle of Honor will incorporate a large, upright stainless steel circle set above a stone drum in the center of a circular walkway with intricate carvings of the five military seals.

Following through on promises to finally diversify the rank and file of the Academy of Motion Pictures, the Oscar-granting body has invited a record number of 928 new members, making the 2018 class the largest in history.

An Academic Adventure Goes Awry In 'Confessions Of The Fox'

Jun 26, 2018

In some version of our maybe-present, professor R. Voth gets his hands on a moldering manuscript nobody in his university library seems to want. Voth ("a guy by design, not birth") soon discovers he's inherited the autobiographical "confessions" of notorious thief and jailbreaker Jack Sheppard and his lover Edgeworth Bess, and sets about attempting to add some academic footnotes.

Things do not go to plan.

This summer, All Things Considered is on the hunt for great reading recommendations. In our first installment, John Evans, owner of Diesel, A Bookstore, in California, shares his suggestions. Click the audio link above to hear him describe these great summer reads:

In August 2015, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha was having a glass of wine in her kitchen with two friends, when one friend, a water expert, asked if she was aware of what was happening to the water in Flint, Mich.

Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician in Flint, knew that the city had changed its water source the previous year. Instead of channeling water from the Great Lakes, residents were now drinking water from the nearby Flint River. She had been aware of some problems with bacteria after the switch, but she thought everything had been cleared up.

Patton Oswalt On Being Funny In Tough Times

Jun 25, 2018

Comedy is tough, but Patton Oswalt makes it look easy.

The Emmy and Grammy-winning comedian has released eight comedy albums and six stand-up specials. He’s also appeared in more than 50 movies.

By 2016, Oswalt had planned to take a break from stand-up when his wife — true-crime author Michelle McNamara — died unexpectedly.

Suddenly, comedy got much, much harder.

Oswalt eventually returned to the stage, finding a way to talk about grief that was moving and funny. He released his latest comedy special, “Annihilation,” last year.

By now, James Corden has set a very high standard with his Carpool Karaoke TV pieces. Only a million or two viewers watch him on CBS' The Late Late Show when it's broadcast, but YouTube and other social media sites extend Corden's reach phenomenally.

How's your week going so far?

That well, huh? We understand.

Over on our show, Pop Culture Happy Hour, we recently spent an episode talking all about comedy specials, which play a unique role for us in helping hard times feel a little less taxing. Stephen Thompson of NPR Music, Glen Weldon of the NPR arts desk, Mike Katzif of Ask Me Another and I chose two specials each to highlight from the last couple of years.

Donald Hall, a former poet laureate of the United States whose writing explored everything from nature to mortality to the toss of a baseball, has died at the age of 89.

Hall died on Saturday at his family farm, known as Eagle Pond, in the small town of Wilmot, N.H. His death was announced by his literary agent, Wendy Strothman.

Hall was a prolific author who began writing when he was just 12 years old. Over the course of a career that spanned more than seven decades, he wrote over 40 books, about half of which were works of poetry.

At Union Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles, a classroom of fifth grade students are buzzing during the last week of school.

The students are high-fiving, grabbing popcorn and forming a circle around a makeshift stage.

One of those students is Dylan Martinez — he's here to celebrate a movie he made.

"My film is about a scared plumber," Martinez says. "We pretty much put all the scripts together, all the screens together, went to the places where we filmed our scenes, and we edited, put music, looked for music, and that's it!"

Mexican actor Diego Luna first shot to fame in the United States after 2001's Y Tu Mamá También. Since then, he's starred in a handful of blockbusters — including, recently, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — and he's about to play the leader of a drug cartel in the upcoming season of Netflix's Narcos.

Luna could have happily continued to live a successful life in Hollywood, but he missed Mexico. At a café near his kids' school in Mexico City, he explains why.

It's got to be a bit daunting for a comics creator to contribute to an anthology revolving around Michael Chabon's Escapist. Chabon created the Escapist in his 2000 novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which won a Pulitzer Prize and set a new standard for highbrow treatment of comics. He's an author who's always expected great things from the form; in the keynote speech at the 2004 Eisner Awards (included in this volume), Chabon called for writers and artists "to ...

Copyright 2018 CPR News. To see more, visit CPR News.

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The new novel Confessions of the Fox is a mystery enrobed in a mystery.

Hugh Grant was finishing up his studies at Oxford in 1970s, when the scandal about British politician Jeremy Thorpe broke. "It was a source of much amusement and sort of schoolboy giggling at the time," Grant recalls.

Thorpe, also an Oxford man, was a savvy progressive, expected to make history as the leader of Britain's Liberal Party. But Norman Scott, a former groom and aspiring model, came forward to say he'd had a sexual relationship with the popular politician. Thorpe was later accused of hiring a hitman to murder Scott.

Early in his memoir Room to Dream, filmmaker and artist David Lynch seems to question the entire purpose of memoirs. Talking to Jack Nance, star of Lynch's deliriously baffling debut film Eraserhead, Lynch says there's no way to convey the essence of life moments. "You can tell all the stories you want," he says, "but you still haven't gotten what the experience was like across. It's like telling somebody a dream. It doesn't give them the dream."

Playing Hanafuda With The Hand You're Dealt

Jun 23, 2018

At her home in Honolulu, our grandmother hovered above us, inspecting our cards: illustrations of wisteria, chrysanthemum, cherry and plum blossoms and, if we were lucky, a crane perched among pine branches. My cousins and I were playing a 200-year-old Japanese card game called hanafuda, which translates to "flower cards." She taught us the game when we were young, maybe so she could have a new crop of opponents to defeat.

Updated at 5:09 p.m. ET

In the image, a little girl wails in uncomprehending sadness and anxiety.

Her face flushed nearly as pink as her shirt and shoes, she stares up at her mother and a U.S. official, both too tall to be seen. The 2-year-old Honduran child's panic is so palpable, it's difficult for a viewer not to feel it, too.

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:

ABC canceled its lucrative reboot of Roseanne in late May, after star Roseanne Barr published a tweet that compared Valerie Jarrett, a former aide to President Barack Obama, to an ape. ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey called the tweet "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values." It looked like the network was willing to take a financial hit and part with a successful property in the name of, of all things, principle.

Not so fast.

Children are plagued by the occasional certainty that there's a monster in their basement, if not right under their bed, and they're almost always wrong. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the follow-up to 2015's mediocre but hugely successful revival of the Jurassic franchise, is the exception that proves the rule.

The following baseball terms apply to The Catcher Was a Spy, a modestly appointed biopic about Moe Berg, a major-league-catcher-turned-OSS-agent during World War II: "Down the middle," "a can of corn," "passed ball," "below the Mendoza line," "designated for assignment."

In other words, it's a consistent underachiever, as washed-out and terminally mediocre as Berg himself was at the end of his long stint in the majors. Or, to quote a favorite schoolyard taunt: We want a catcher, not a belly scratcher. And there's an abundance of belly scratching going on in this film.

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