NPR Staff

In the mid-1960s, Larry Kane was a young, straight-arrow radio news guy who lucked into what had to be the greatest assignment in the history of rock: flying from show to show with The Beatles. Ron Howard's new documentary, Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, follows the band through their early years on tour. It also features Kane, the reporter who got to ride along when The Beatles traveled through the U.S. in 1964.

Tim Gunn, Emmy-winning co-host of the show Project Runway, says the fashion industry is not making it work for plus-size women.

In an article for The Washington Post, he called it a disgrace.

Since Angel Olsen's first album in 2010, she's carved out a smoky, country-flavored corner of the indie rock world for herself. Her distinctive voice delivers taut meditations on love and loneliness, sometimes with a shout and other times with more of a whisper. Her music earned her critical acclaim, but also a reputation as a tortured soul — one she wasn't really looking for.

On Sept. 13, 1996, Tupac Shakur died, six days after he was targeted in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Twenty years later, Tupac has become a celebrated figure around the world. He's not only a lodestar of hip-hop, but a global cultural phenomenon.

Mara Wilson says that the most complicated relationship she has ever had is with a fictional 6-year-old girl. That's because you probably know Wilson best as Matilda, from the 1996 film adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic.

"I wanted to be her so badly ... " Wilson tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "She's kind of like my big sister overshadowing me."

Wilson, now 29, was a successful child actress — you may also recognize her from her starring roles as Natalie Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire, or as Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street.

Raina Telgemeier's new graphic novel Ghosts is about death. But it's written for children.

Telgemeier tells NPR's books editor Barrie Hardymon that stories serve as a way to begin difficult conversations. "Stories are such a powerful way of communicating ideas and in comforting people," she says.

Between his bands The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, as well as his more recent solo work, Jack White has won 12 Grammy awards and sold millions of albums.

Robert Glasper is always making music. Solo or with his quartet, the Robert Glasper Experiment, he's released 9 albums and collaborated with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Kendrick Lamar, investigating the sounds and rhythms of jazz and hip-hop in equal measure,

With the grim milestone of 500 homicides already passed this year in Chicago, police are grappling with a toxic mix of illegal firearms and gang culture.

And social media is added to that mix with gang-affiliated Facebook pages, Twitter handles and YouTube channels. Images of a kid getting beat down or worse are easy to find online.

We all have unlived lives, says writer Margaret Atwood, and for her, that alternate life was becoming an illustrator.

"I started drawing comics as a child," she tells NPR's Audie Cornish.

Atwood grew up reading and enjoying comics and, around age 6, she started drawing a flying cat with wings. But, she says, "I wasn't good enough. I knew people who were good enough and I could tell the difference."

Now, nearly 70 years later, Atwood's cat flies again in a graphic novel called Angel Catbird.

M.I.A. grew up in war-torn Sri Lanka, and later in public housing in London. She's made a career singing and speaking about the social justice issues around refugees and minorities.

Good novels are like good parties: You get the right mix of people together, and you never quite know what will happen.

In Ann Patchett's new novel Commonwealth, a christening party takes a turn when one guest arrives with a bottle of gin. The gin leads to a wonderfully sloppy afternoon with cocktail mixing, a dancing priest, and two adulterous kisses.

The kisses lead to divorces, and a new blended family, six kids bouncing back and forth between Southern California and Virginia.

It's a classic summertime treat, the kind you might get from an ice cream truck.

It's a sugar cone, in the shape of a taco, filled with light vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate with nuts on top. It's the Choco Taco.

But where did this highly engineered dessert come from?

Jonathan Safran Foer's first novel, Everything is Illuminated, dug into his family's history with the Holocaust. His latest novel explores a different aspect of Judaism.

It's called Here I Am; the title comes from the Bible — the story where God calls on Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. This book is set in present-day Washington, D.C., where a Jewish family goes through a domestic crisis, while at the same time, a geopolitical crisis unfolds on the other side of the world.

The hard line against marijuana is softening all across the country.

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia allow some form of marijuana use, mostly for medicinal purposes, though a few allow recreational use. And more states could decriminalize marijuana this year. But if you play in the NFL and you use weed it could cost you your job.

Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan would like to change that; he would at least like the NFL to look into the health benefits of marijuana in a profession where injuries and ongoing pain is normal.

If you love movies or just like to follow what's going on in film, then you surely know the name Ava Duvernay. She directed the acclaimed film Selma and made history by becoming the first black woman to direct a $100 million film. She has an upcoming documentary premiering on Netflix called The 13th.

And as if that wasn't enough, she's also busy working on a commissioned film to be featured at the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture which opens later this month.

Robert Hoge's new memoir is about his childhood — his first day of school, making friends and learning to ride a bike. But it's also about getting called "cripple," having multiple reconstructive surgeries and teaching himself how to play sports with two artificial limbs.

Hoge was born with deformed legs and a giant tumor between his eyes. "The tumor formed really early during my development," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "So it subsumed my nose and pushed my eyes to the side of my head, like a fish, and made a mess of my face, as you'd expect."

We can't print the full name of LOLO's new album, In Loving Memory of When I Gave a S***. But the woman born Lauren Pritchard wants you to know that she does still care –- about some things.

"The meaning of the title is, I grew up in a really small town in Tennessee, and it's sort of the buckle of the Bible Belt," she says. "And I always tried to be a good, sweet little Southern girl, but I wasn't. I wasted a lot of energy trying to be what other people wanted me to be, and I can't be anyone but myself now."

A restaurant chain that charges twice as much for a meal in one location as it does in another? You would think that's a recipe for angry customers.

But Everytable in Los Angeles is betting that this will prove a successful business model, while also serving up a hefty side of social mission.

Pablo Escobar was one of the most notorious drug kingpins the world has ever known. His cartel — based in Medellin, Colombia — ruled in the 1980s and at one point supplied 80 percent of the cocaine coming into the U.S.

The drama and danger of those days is captured in the Netflix series Narcos. Brazilian actor Wagner Moura plays Escobar in the series, and at the time it was a surprising casting choice. For one thing, Escobar is on the chubby side, and as Moura tells NPR's David Greene, "I was very skinny." Also: He didn't speak Spanish.

River Whyless is a quartet from North Carolina. They make folk music, and also pull in threads from other genres and cultures. The two lead singers and songwriters, Halli Andersen and Ryan O'Keefe, have both had their own musical projects in the past, and say they're still exploring what it means to write for a band — especially when a song comes from a particularly emotional place.

The V&E Simonetti Historic Tuba Collection in Durham, N.C., is the result of an obsession that grew one oom pah-pah at a time.

Vincent Simonetti started playing tuba in high school in the 1950s – and it was love at first puff.

"And I would draw it in study hall. I'd draw pictures of it. I don't know why. I just became obsessed with it," he says.

A new romantic comedy hit more than 800 theaters on Friday, the kind of film that Hollywood scarcely makes nowadays. It's about two interesting people at the start of their adult lives circling each other trying to figure things out. Oh, and chances are you might know the people at the center of the story — Barack and Michelle Obama.

One of America's most distinguished men of letters says he believes that speech, not evolution, has made human beings into the creative, imaginative, deliberate, destructive, and complicated beings who invented the slingshot and the moon shot, and wrote the words of the Bible, Don Quixote, Good Night Moon, the backs of cereal boxes, and Fifty and Shades of Grey.

William James Stokes is the son of a church man, and on his first album he comes right out with it. The Preacher's Kid is the singer and rapper's debut as Sir the Baptist, a name he felt suited his origins in the Bronzeville district of South Side Chicago. "I grew up in a Chicago area where they called it 'Chi-raq' — and I felt like if I was gonna be the voice crying out in the wilderness, I would want to be John the Baptist," he says.

In the 1920s and '30s, Langston Hughes was at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance. After the movement ended, he didn't go far: The writer moved into a brownstone on Harlem's 127th Street, where he lived for the last 20 years of his life.

The building is a national landmark, but it's been mostly empty for decades. In that time, Harlem has begun to gentrify. Now, in an effort to keep Hughes' former home from becoming one more high-end co-op, a neighborhood nonprofit is raising money to lease the building as an arts center.

If you've seen Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book or the Toy Story movies, you've seen the work of animator Floyd Norman; for decades, he has helped bring Disney and Pixar classics to life.

Now 81, Norman still works for Disney, where he has plied his trade, on and off, since he became the studio's first African-American animator in the 1950s.

Enormous trucks from all over the country are rolling down highways toward Baton Rouge, La.

When they get to town, their task is to clear neighborhoods where streets are lined with trash from last week's massive flood.

Baton Rouge contracted with DRC Emergency Services to handle disaster response when the floods began last week. It started out rescuing people in boats, and now that the boats are docked, trucks are coming in to handle the cleanup.

Imagine you're a teenager in Beijing in the 1960s and '70s, during the Cultural Revolution. Everything that's deemed Western and bourgeois is banned — so listening to a 78 rpm recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, powerfully transformative as it might be, is off limits.

Author Lawrence Wright was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, which meant he was required to do two years of what was called "alternative service." He ended up in Egypt, teaching at the American University in Cairo. And it was there that the man from Texas started his obsession with the Middle East.

Since then, Wright has written a lot about the region and about terrorism as a staff writer for The New Yorker. Now, he has compiled his many New Yorker essays into a new book called The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State.