Arts and culture

The first time Rumaan Alam appeared on NPR, Linda Wertheimer asked him how he developed "a nearly flawless ear for the way women talk." His debut novel Rich And Pretty followed two young women, best friends who grow up and, necessarily, apart.

Sometimes it can be such a comfort to forget current events for a little while and lose oneself in a nice cozy slice of history, a moment when a family of greedy, abusive, litigious frauds scrabbled for power using obsequious ingratiation, shameless lies, mounting debt, and outright cruelty — against a national backdrop of rapid economic shifts built on precarious foundations and exploited by corrupt government officials, so the rich got richer and everyone else was ruined. Plus, there's some embroidery!

Saturday Night Live had a star-studded cold open Saturday starting with Ben Stiller returning as a flailing Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, and ending with an appearance of the real Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who says she had an affair with Trump.

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Finally today, we revisit the Cold War. It wasn't just an arms race. It was also a battle about values and culture. And one of the U.S.'s weapons of choice...


Surfers are heading inland this weekend to California's farm country, to compete in the first-ever World Surf League team competition. The event is being held at a "surf ranch" in Lemoore, Calif. about 30 miles south of Fresno.

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If you look up "unruly" in a thesaurus, there are about two dozen synonyms. You've got disorderly, rebellious, impulsive and recalcitrant; then there's turbulent, unmanageable, restive and riotous. Aline Kominsky-Crumb is eager to claim all of them. Since the '70s, when she started publishing her works in various fringe comics magazines, she's specialized in assaulting readers with overly intimate personal revelations done in a hasty, messy style. She's been fractious, she's been lawless, she's been rowdy and wayward — thoroughly unruly from her head to her nib.

It was a week into the bizarre "red pill" Kanye West tour that the whole affair seemed to reach its zenith — or its nadir, depending on where you're sitting. Kanye completed his transmogrification into a sentient Reddit thread when he appeared on TMZ this week, parroting well-worn talking points about black-on-black crime and calling slavery in America "a choice." Van Lathan of TMZ was not having it.

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Dylan Marron has a lot of haters. The actor and activist makes online videos about social justice — and the comments that appear on those videos can be harsh, to say the least.

Plenty of people would just ignore all that negativity, but not Marron. He decided to reach out to his harshest critics to ask about what set them off, and why. The first season of his podcast, Conversations with People Who Hate Me, featured Skype calls between Marron and his detractors.