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Arts and culture

In The Infiltrator's opening scene, Bob (Bryan Cranston) swaggers through a Florida bowling alley. He's just about to make a massive drug deal when he feels a burning pain in his chest. The cause is a ready-made metaphor: Bob is an undercover cop, and the microphone strapped to his torso has overheated, making his secret identity a searing liability.

We are haunted by the original Ghostbusters, but it is a mostly benevolent haunting: a Class III apparition, at best. Indelible moments from the film have caused little disturbances in pop-culture's memory hole over the last 32 years — the rad Ray Parker Jr. theme music, the Marshmallow Man, the library chase that's become a part of the fabric of New York itself.

This piece was inspired by NPR's summer recommendation series, Read, Watch, Binge!

Over the next two weeks, Republicans and Democrats will gather in Cleveland and Philadelphia for a ritual that has become almost entirely ceremonial: Each party will "select" pre-selected presidential candidates.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

The 2016 Emmy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning in Los Angeles. The full list of nominations is here.

Although HBO's hit Veep received the most comedy nominations, the ABC show Black-ish was nominated in three top categories, including best comedy series and best lead actor and actress in a comedy series.

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About French Food?

Jul 14, 2016

To the familiar French national motto "Liberté, égalité, fraternité," one could well add "gastronomie!" The Fr

Time Catches Up With Us All In 'The Heavenly Table'

Jul 14, 2016

Donald Ray Pollock's newest novel, The Heavenly Table, is a book about time.

It's a book about the Jewett brothers, Cane (the smart one), Cob (the ox) and Chimney (the crazy one), who own two books, a Bible and a dime-store pulp, swollen and falling to pieces, called The Life And Times Of Bloody Bill Bucket, which they use as their guiding light into a life of crime.

It's a book about Ellsworth and Eula Fiddler and their drunk son Eddie who disappears one night, maybe to join the army, to fight the Huns in a country that none of them can find on a map.

For Jason Aaron Baca, a model from Los Gatos, Calif., his inspiration for romance cover modeling came randomly.

It sparked when he walked into a bookstore simply looking for something to read. There he saw a romance book cover.

"I said, 'You know what? This is something that I can actually do. This is something that, you know, it's going to take a lot of work to get a body like those guys on the cover," he tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "At that moment right there I kind of realized that this is something I am definitely going to go after."

The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

Then we became parents.

Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped vegetables and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

The unassuming hero of Jonas Karlsson's clever, Kafkaesque parable is the opposite of a malcontent. Despite scant education, a limited social life, and no prospects for success as it is usually defined, he's that rarity, a most happy fella with an amazing ability to content himself with very little. But one day, returning to his barebones flat from his dead-end, part-time job at a video store, he finds an astronomical bill from an entity called W.R.D. He assumes it's a scam. Actually, it is more sinister-- and it forces him to take a good hard look at his life and values.

If you've stepped foot in a comic book store in the past few years, you'll have noticed a distinct shift. Superheroes, once almost entirely white men, have become more diverse.

There's been a biracial Spider-Man, a Muslim Ms. Marvel, and just last week, Marvel announced that the new Iron Man will be a teenage African-American girl.

Joining this lineup today is Kong Kenan, a Chinese boy who, as part of a reboot of the DC comics universe, is one of four characters taking up Superman's mantle.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

What does it mean to be middle class in America? Nearly a century ago, in Detroit — which was then the burning core of the country's middle class — the answer might have looked like a hot dog: a Detroit Coney, to be precise.

At its most basic, a Detroit Coney is a kind of chili dog — "a steamed bun, with a natural-casing hot dog, beef and pork," explains Joe Grimm, author of the book Coney Detroit. "And on top of that hot dog — which should be grilled, not boiled, not deep-fried — goes the sauce, the most important part."

In 2015, after winning an Emmy for her work on Inside Amy Schumer, comedy writer Jessi Klein made one important stop before heading to the award show after-party — to pump breast milk in a backstage dressing room. Klein's son was 3 months old at the time, and she says that while winning the Emmy was "genuinely awesome and exciting," she also knew it wasn't going to change her life.

To Sandra Di Capua, cereal is a Proustian affair.

"I love Proust, and I love Proustian moments and memories," says Di Capua, citing the French novelist whose taste of a madeleine famously sent him on a journey of memory. "The delight that I see here, it goes back to when I had Froot Loops as a kid and watched Saturday morning cartoons."

"Remember that Twilight Zone where you make your own Hell?" asks the narrator of "The Last Triangle," one of the most haunting stories in Jeffrey Ford's fifth collection, A Natural History of Hell. The character is a homeless drug addict, and the story answers his rhetorical question in ways that are both mundane and wildly weird. Ford is foremost a fantasist — his work has won or been nominated for numerous genre awards over the years — and his fiction has always teased the uncanny out of everyday existence, be it in this world or another.

Cleaning a freshly picked head of lettuce can be an act of mindfulness, your worries melting away as you wash and tear each leaf. And the payoff, along with the beautiful summer salad, is a feeling of virtuous accomplishment.

But if you're a busy working parent, the rip-and-release salad kit in a bag can take some hassle out of dinner prep.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Many chefs think of themselves as artists in the kitchen. Craig Thornton has taken it to another level: For the past five months, he's been serving up multi-course meals as part of a room-size installation at the prestigious Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

To judge from our media coverage, you'd think that Mexico isn't so much a country as a problem. But if you look beyond the endless talk of drug wars and The Wall, you discover that Mexico has a booming culture.

The food processor is, for me, hugely disappointing. Before owning one, I used to see them looking all shiny and powerful in the department store, and I'd fantasize about never chopping a vegetable by hand again. I failed to consider that cookbook authors have particular ideas about how each ingredient should be prepped. The food processor, no matter how many blades it may come with, often doesn't cut it.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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