NPR Staff

Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher had an idea for a show about two lesbian comics who get married and perform together. In other words, their real life.

"I Love Lucy, except we're both ... Lucy Loves Lucy," they joke to NPR's Ari Shapiro. "Also we're both Desi at the same time. It's a little bit of both." The pitch worked. Their show is called Take My Wife, and it's out now on the NBC-owned streaming channel Seeso.

If you really want to understand a place, writer Colin Dickey has some advice: "Ignore the boastful monuments and landmarks, and go straight to the haunted houses. Look for the darkened graveyards, the derelict hotels, the emptied and decaying old hospitals."

Dickey has spent a lot of time traveling the country searching for places that go bump in the night. The result is a new book called Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places.

Christian Siriano has been designing clothing since he was a teenager. He's 31 now, and for the past decade he and his company have been making clothing for women of all shapes and sizes.

Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debated Sunday night in their second official matchup.

It was the first debate since audio surfaced of Trump making vulgar comments about women, causing more than two dozen in GOP leadership to defect from the candidate.

In a lot of memoirs, it feels safe to assume that the author really knows what they're writing about. But here's an exception: Molly Brodak's new memoir is about her dad, a man she barely knew growing up. Her father is a gambling addict. And when Molly was in middle school, he robbed 11 banks outside of Detroit in 1994 to fuel his addiction — the FBI dubbed him the "Super Mario Brothers Bandit" because of his flat cap and fake mustache.

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If there's one thing Rick Astley hasn't given up, it's music. The British singer, who is perhaps best known for his 1987 single, "Never Gonna Give You Up" — and the common Internet gag, "rickrolling," inspired by it — is back with a new album. 50 is already topping the charts in the United Kingdom, and it just went on sale in North America this week.

"It's been a crazy few months, to be honest," Astley says. "I don't think anybody around me or anybody who knows me was expecting that, to have a No. 1 album in the U. K. again. That was pretty freaky."

Tim Bauerschmidt left home when he was 19. He would call or visit his parents in Michigan occasionally. Decades went by.

After his father died last year, he knew his mother couldn't live by herself. She was 90, and he realized he didn't know her that well.

"I had some stilted conversations," says Bauerschmidt. "She'd be on the other end of the phone when I talked to my dad. I'd have to say, 'Mom, are you there? Are you on the line?' [She would say] 'Oh yeah, I'm here.' "

Sharon Horgan didn't let her intact marriage get in the way of creating her new HBO comedy series Divorce. "We made sure we had a couple of emotionally damaged, divorced people on the writing staff," she jokes with NPR's Kelly McEvers.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church play Frances and Robert, a middle aged couple whose relationship is crumbling. And Horgan says a lot of the frustrating moments in the show were inspired by real life.

In the world of illegal wildlife trade, the most valuable appendage — even more than elephant ivory — is the horn of the rhinoceros. Investigative journalist Bryan Christy estimates that the wholesale market for rhino horn is roughly a quarter of a billion dollars.

Mike Cruse is the father of a new baby. His daughter Olivia was born in July. But like most fathers in the U.S., he doesn't get paid parental leave. That means his wife, Stephanie, will have to take care of the baby mostly herself — an already difficult task that may be even harder for her since she's dealing with postpartum anxiety.

Cruse, who manages the warehouse for a lighting company, had to take vacation days from his job to stay home and help for those first 10 days. Now he has no vacation left for the next calendar year.

"Some pig!" Charlotte the barn spider famously spun in praise of her friend Wilbur in E.B. White's classic, Charlotte's Web. Now, author Melissa Sweet has exclaimed: Some Writer! -- that's the name of her new, illustrated biography of E.B. White. The kid-friendly collage includes letters, journal entries, family photos, illustrations, manuscripts and more.

Sweet talks with NPR's Kelly McEvers about White's creative process — and her own.


Interview Highlights

On why the typewriter is the thematic design for the book

The idea behind the company Blue Apron is simple: Each week, it sends customers a box with recipe cards and fresh ingredients to make a handful of meals, each of them in just under 35 minutes.

The company has grown quickly since its founding in 2012: It delivers around 8 million meals per month.

Vice presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence debated Tuesday night in their only official matchup of the election season.

NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, live annotated the debate. Portions of the debate with added analysis are underlined in yellow, followed by context and fact checks.


The main character in Rabih Alameddine's new The Angel of History is a gay, Arab writer living in San Francisco.

Alameddine is a gay, Arab writer living in San Francisco. But he says the character, Ya'qub — or Jacob — is not based on his life. For one, Jacob's sex life is a little more ... adventurous than his.

"He's somewhat of a sexual masochist, and I keep thinking, you know, well, for me, rough sex is having sex on linens that are less than 300 count cotton," Alameddine jokes to NPR's Kelly McEvers.

Regina Spektor's family — Russian Jews from Moscow — left the former Soviet Union for the U.S. in 1989, when Spektor was 9. They settled in the Bronx, where her dad, despite their financial struggles, managed to secure his daughter a piano teacher so she could keep playing her favorite instrument.

Luke Cage was one of the first black superheroes to appear in the pages of Marvel Comics, back in the 1970s.

Put in prison for a crime he didn't commit, he eventually gets put into a machine where he gains powers like super-strength and bulletproof skin. And, like many good Marvel characters, he's now on TV — in the new show Marvel's Luke Cage.

We meet Eleanor Flood, the main character of Maria Semple's new novel, on a day when she has resolved to change some things about her life:

You know who's not worried about Resting Bitch Face?

Vladimir Putin, that's who.

"He's, like, not concerned with that, which is so freeing," Phoebe Robinson tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

As a black woman, Robinson doesn't have the same luxury.

"There's this whole notion of 'black women are angry' or 'black women are sassy' or, like, 'have bad attitudes,'" she says. "And so you always want to be in space where — at least I was for a while — where I was like: I want to be likable. I don't want people to think that I have resting bitch face or whatever."

If the viola is your instrument, it can be difficult to find repertoire to showcase your talent. But violist Nadia Sirota has plenty to play. She champions new composers to write music for her and forms ensembles to play it. Sirota's longtime collaborator Nico Muhly recently released an album called Keep in Touch, featuring two pieces written specifically for her.

A friend of photographer Phillip Toledano once said "He is the most self-absorbed person I've ever met — but he wears it well."

The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano is a new short film in which the photographer, with the assistance of makeup artists, fortune tellers, and psychics, disguises himself as the various fates life might one day hold for him: Ending up a homeless alcoholic, a white-collar criminal cuffed and taken away by police, or a lonely senior, feeding a small dog from his plate — and more.

Caroline Leavitt's latest novel, Cruel Beautiful World, is about coming-of-age in 1969; it's about wild love, rebellion and finding oneself in the time of Woodstock and the Manson murders.

The story follows 16-year-old Lucy Gold, who runs away with her English teacher, William, to the wilds of Pennsylvania. Lucy leaves behind a big sister and the aunt who raised them after their parents died. As she and William try to build a new home for themselves, William becomes more and more controlling.

It's been one year since health officials in Michigan warned people in the city of Flint to stop drinking the tap water after a research team from Virginia Tech discovered elevated lead levels.

To this day, Flint's water is still not safe to drink without a filter. While funding has been scarce to replace corroded pipes, Congress reached a deal this week that could send millions of dollars in aid to Flint.

During the presidential debate on Monday night, Hillary Clinton raised a 1973 federal lawsuit brought against Donald Trump and his company for alleged racial discrimination at Trump housing developments in New York.

Carli Lloyd doesn't "do fake."

"I'm loyal, I'm real, I'm not afraid to say what I'm thinking," she tells NPR's David Greene.

In her new memoir, When Nobody Was Watching, Lloyd describes the journey that led her to become one of the world's best soccer players.

Her victories have been hard-fought — Lloyd's training began in the small, working class town of Delran, N.J.

"I used to kick the ball up against the curb for hours upon hours," she recalls. She'd gather all the soccer balls she could find, head over to the field, and work on her shot.

Christopher Rouse's Symphony No. 3, which appears on his latest album, contains many levels of meaning. It's an homage to the Russian composer Sergey Prokofiev, whose Second Symphony serves as a structural model for the piece. It's an encoded musical portrait of Rouse's wife. And it's an engaging piece of music even for a listener who possesses none of this background knowledge.

As we surf from website to website, we are being tracked — that's not news. What is news, revealed in a recent paper by researchers at Princeton University, is that the tracking is no longer just about the "cookies" that record our tastes. The researchers surveyed a million websites and found that state-of-the-art tracking is a lot more sophisticated, allowing websites to track the fingerprints left by our devices.

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(SOUNDBITE OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN SONG, "BORN IN THE U.S.A.")

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Many Americans are familiar with the astronaut heroes of the 20th century space race — names like Gus Grissom and Neil Armstrong. But who did the calculations that would successfully land these men on the moon?

Several of the NASA researchers who made space flight possible were women. Among them were black women who played critical roles in the aeronautics industry even as Jim Crow was alive and well.

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