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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

If you want to know how much the Bolshoi Theatre means to Russia, pull out a 100 ruble note, and there it is: the grand facade of the building.

Go inside, and it's an imperial wonderland. Gilded balconies ring the stage, and more than 100 crystal chandeliers shimmer above rows of crimson velvet seats.

It's impressive, but not quite as impressive as what's happening onstage. Dancers in toe shoes and tights are rehearsing Anna Karenina, a ballet based on the Tolstoy epic.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

First, the bad news: Earth has been taken over by blob-shaped, toxic aliens, which kill humans on contact.

The good news: Although they have conquered humanity, they've left things more or less intact. You can keep your office job — but there's a catch. Each human is required to go through the painless but off-putting procedure of replacing their hands with metal claws.

You have an opinion, probably, on which of the two most common species of household pet you deem superior — and an opinion, possibly, on the fastidious filmography of Wes Anderson. But this much, at least, is fact: Nobody ever made a good movie about the nobility of cats.

(THE FILM CRITIC steps to the podium.)

CRITIC: Good evening. Thank you all for coming. I'll read a brief statement, and then I'll be happy to take your questions.

(He removes a piece of paper from his jacket pocket, unfolds it, and begins to read.)

Keep an open mind going into a film by Arnaud Desplechin, and if you can stand the abundance of enigma and apparent disorder you're likely to come out with an opened mind and a filled heart.

If a movie looks bad on purpose, does it still look bad? That is one of the mysteries at the heart of Unsane, a new horror flick about a woman who unknowingly commits herself to a psych ward.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Rebecca Kauffman's second novel, The Gunners, doesn't seem complex at first. The Gunners of the title are a group of friends from outside Buffalo, not far from where Kauffman set her first novel, Another Place You've Never Been. All but one of have left home, but the novel begins when they return to town — the group's first reunion in ten years — for a funeral. They spend a night together, telling secrets and making confessions. Each character has something to reveal, and each character gets resolution in return. Structurally, it's simple.

The winners of the 2018 Whiting Awards don't have much of a track record. None on this list has the laundry list of accolades you may be accustomed to seeing for literary prize winners. Several don't even have a second book to their names.

But that's the idea here.

Comic Roy Wood Jr. is now a correspondent for The Daily Show, but he got his start performing in comedy clubs in the South and Midwest — sometimes in places where he felt unsafe as a black man.

"I did a lot of shows in a lot of strange places," he says. "I've been called the n-word from the stage by somebody in the crowd and the club owner did nothing to defend me."

In the first few pages of Let's No One Get Hurt, the second novel from poet Jon Pineda, a man asks his 15-year-old daughter to shoot and kill her beloved dog (who's named Marianne Moore, after the modernist master from the 20th century. Pearl, the teenager, can't bring herself to do it — she sees the ailing mutt, perhaps as a link to her past, when she lived with both her parents, before one of them disappeared.

A Chaplain Talks March Madness

Mar 21, 2018

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Autism, Haircuts And A Nursery Rhyme

Mar 21, 2018

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In National Geographic's forthcoming race issue, the 130-year-old scientific and cultural institution now admits it often showed foreign cultures through a racist lens.

Poet Philip Levine discovered jazz on the radio when he was a teenager.

For years, religion scholar Bart Ehrman wanted to write a book about the early spread of Christianity, but he shied away from it because the topic seemed too big.

Eventually, Ehrman decided that the massive scope is what made the project so compelling: "The entire history of the West was transformed by the fact that Christianity took over the Roman Empire and then became the dominant religious and political and cultural force in our civilization," he says.

It's hard to imagine a day when we all stop talking about Election 2016. It may be even harder when you're Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for Hillary Clinton's last presidential campaign.

Palmieri is out with a new book called Dear Madam President. The book is full of advice for a future woman world leader, but it also serves as an extremely revealing retrospective on Election 2016, posing big and lingering questions on the presidential race we just can't leave behind.

There's a quote from The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 bestseller, that turns up a lot in DIY inspirational art — the kind you see on Pinterest, with a picture of a beach or mountain vista overlaid with Photoshopped text. It reads: "It's better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life." This is a so-so line as far as inspirational quotes go, but it's a remarkably efficient distillation of its author's ethos.

The Weinstein Company Holdings LLC announced that it has filed for voluntary bankruptcy and entered into an agreement to sell its assets to a Dallas-based equity firm.

It also announced that it is ending all nondisclosure agreements that prevented victims of alleged sexual misconduct at the hands of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein from talking about their experiences.

The Weinstein Co. will enter into a "stalking horse" agreement with an affiliate of Lantern Capital Partners in conjunction with entering into bankruptcy proceedings.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

You've heard of POTUS.

You've heard of FLOTUS.

But have you heard of BOTUS?

That would be BUNNY of the United States. Real name: Marlon Bundo. Bundo for short.

The little black-and-white bunny — named after Marlon Brando — belongs to Vice President Pence's daughter Charlotte and lives with the second family at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.

The process of coming to terms with one's sexuality varies widely, depending on the individual — it can be scary, invigorating, heartbreaking, life-affirming; usually it's some complex combination of those feelings and more. What does not vary in the process of coming out is the fact that it is a process. It has a timeline, and not necessarily a smooth one. It's marked by fits and starts, denials and avowals, fraught conversations in somebody's car, the fear of rejection and, hopefully, the relief of acceptance.

Which is probably why we keep making movies about it.

There are times when we can connect with someone, and then never see them again—a missed connection. We've been trying to help some of you connect with people you've been trying to find.

In the 1970s, two little girls met at an elementary school in Miami, Fla., and became close friends. One was black, and one was white.

Dr. Sharony Green is now an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama, and she said her friend Beth helped her during a tough time.

Love, Simon is your typical teenage romantic comedy: a boy, a mystery love interest, misunderstandings, treachery and annoying teachers. The title character Simon is, in fact, deliberately typical.

"I'm just like you," Simon says in his opening voiceover. "I have a totally, perfectly normal life. Except I have one huge-ass secret."

Simon's big reveal is revealed right away: He tells us that he's gay. All that is intentional, according to director Greg Berlanti, who spoke to us in an interview.

Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time and Wakandan princess Shuri from Black Panther are a far cry from the typical Disney heroine. In Meg and Shuri, we have two outspoken black girls. This, in itself is a dramatic change for the company: in the past, Disney has rarely celebrated black girls for being smart or self-assured.

Shuri invents the gadgets that her brother T'Challa (aka Black Panther) uses to save the people of Wakanda. Think about it: how would the Black Panther repel all the blows he's dealt without the outfit Shuri created?

When Von Diaz was growing up, her mother sent her away from her home outside Atlanta to spend summers in Puerto Rico. Diaz was born on the island in Rio Piedras, but she found the trips back disorienting. She didn't speak Spanish well. She lay awake at night, pestered by mosquitoes and wilting heat. In her grandmother's kitchen, she found relief in grilled cheese loaded with ground beef picadillo, aromatic olive oil infused with garlic and oregano, and fried cinnamon donuts.

The Merry Spinster is one of the most anticipated books of the spring. Author Daniel Mallory Ortberg has recast classic tales, including "The Little Mermaid," The Velveteen Rabbit, "Beauty and the Beast," and even parts of the Old Testament, to make them resonate with new takes on romantic love, property rights, abusive relationships, gender roles and the stuffed animals we hold dear — and their unsparing lack of sentimentality.

This week's guest was never a very gifted athlete growing up. He had a spotty college career where he shared the starting spot with another quarterback, and was selected 199th overall in the NFL Draft back in 2000. Then he won the Super Bowl five times with the New England Patriots.

He's now the most famous Brady alive — but only because the TV show The Brady Bunch is no longer on the air. We asked him three questions about the classic family sitcom.

Click the listen link above to see how he does.

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