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Arts and culture

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Mary Tyler Moore played the girl who could turn the world on with her smile. The actress is beloved for two TV roles: the single young professional Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and before that, the earnest homemaker Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Moore died Wednesday at the age of 80, her longtime representative told NPR.

What price love? Lara chronicles the horrifically steep costs for Olga Ivinskaya, Boris Pasternak's mistress, muse, and model for Yuri Zhivago's lover in Doctor Zhivago (alluringly played by Julie Christie in David Lean's 1965 movie adapation). Olga's connection with the persecuted author and her role in ushering his novel into print made her "a pawn in a highly political game" that landed her in the brutal Soviet gulags — twice.

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Now let's talk about movies.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LA LA LAND")

RYAN GOSLING: (As Sebastian, singing) City of stars, are you shining just for me?

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer in 2013, is coming back to life – on television. A new Spanish-language series, from Sony Pictures Television, recounts how Chavez rose from obscurity to carry out a socialist revolution in his homeland. But even before hitting the airwaves, the series, called El Comandante, has sparked controversy – because it shows how Chavez set the stage for Venezuela's current crisis.

Ayelet Waldman is a real handful; as people would have said once upon a time in my old New York neighborhood, "she's got a mouth on her."

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At first glance, the snapshots featured on yolocaust.de look like any other ordinary selfies. People are smiling, dancing, juggling or striking a yoga pose. But if you move the mouse over an image, the background switches to black-and-white stills showing scenes of Nazi concentration camps. Suddenly, the pictures become profoundly disturbing. People are pictured dancing on corpses or juggling in mass graves.

I would argue that the most successful novel of the First World War is not A Farewell to Arms, or even All Quiet on the Western Front, but rather one that's rarely classified so: The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Like several other British veterans of the trenches — CS Lewis and David Lindsay come to mind — Tolkien chose to explore the inhuman horrors of the Great War through the allegory of mythology. In fiction, poetry, or memoir, he never explicitly addressed his time on the Somme.

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Seventy-five people have been arrested across Europe for allegedly trafficking stolen art and archaeological relics, according to Spanish police who led the investigation.

Interpol and the U.N.'s culture agency, UNESCO, helped in the investigation, as did the European policing agency Europol and the World Customs Organization, according to a statement by UNESCO.

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Reading The Game: Red Dead Redemption

Jan 23, 2017

For years now, some of the best, wildest, most moving or revealing stories we've been telling ourselves have come not from books, movies or TV, but from video games. So we're running an occasional series, Reading The Game, in which we take a look at some of these games from a literary perspective.

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'The Bear And The Nightingale' Is A Rich Winter's Tale

Jan 22, 2017

I read this book of winter nights and northern forests at the turn of the year; snow swirled, ice glazed the trees and bent bare branches low. I'm writing the review now in the kind of unseasonable thaw that makes one want to grab climate change denial by the ear and rub its face in the slush. But I'm only the more grateful for The Bear and the Nightingale in consequence: I love winter with all my December-born Canadian heart, and I love stories that make me feel the full mythic majesty of it even when the weather's wounded and limping into spring.

On-air challenge: Today I've brought a game of categories based on the word COMBS. You probably know how this works. I'm going to give you a series of categories. For each one, name something in it starting with each of the letters C-O-M-B-S.

For example, if the category were "Three-Syllable Boys' Names," you might say Christopher, Oliver, Mathias, Benjamin and Sebastian. Any answer that works is fine, and you can give the answers in any order.

1. Musical instruments

2. Cities in Florida

3. Wild mammals in America

Author Julia Alekseyeva's great-grandmother Lola lived to be 100 years old, long enough to see the birth, and eventual collapse, of the USSR. In 1992, she and her family — including young Julia — moved from Kiev to Chicago.

Unbeknownst to her family, Lola began to write her memoirs, recording the stories of her life as a Jew in the Soviet Union, filled with vivid details and enlivened by a strong, independent spirit. Upon Lola's death, Julia discovered her great-grandmother's memoirs, and has now transformed them into her debut graphic novel, Soviet Daughter.

Children's book doyenne Margaret Wise Brown is having a big week.

A Couple Faces Collapse In Dark 'Futures'

Jan 22, 2017

Psychological research tells us that a surefire path to personal happiness is to make other people happy. In light of this, then Julia, the protagonist of The Futures, is doomed. With Julia and her boyfriend, Evan, debut novelist Anna Pitoniak has created a dark look at recent college graduates who embark on building a life for themselves in New York City. Julia makes a series of grievous mistakes that send her into solipsistic despair; Evan is trapped in a bubble of his own misery. Making anyone happy is beyond them.

With no shortage of material to work with, Saturday Night Live satirized a packed week in American politics, reiterating themes imparted by critics for months.

The episode kicked off by lampooning Russia's role in influencing the U.S. election.

Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer "radical empathy" and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.

It's not fair to compare the 2004 film Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events to the new Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events.

But let's do it anyway.

To revisit the box office numbers for 1988 is to remember when movies that made a lot of money looked entirely different than they do now. Rain Man grossed more money domestically than anything else that year. It was followed in the top 10 by Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Coming To America, Big, Twins, Crocodile Dundee II, Die Hard, The Naked Gun, Cocktail, and Beetlejuice. Only one sequel in the bunch. That's two adult dramas (if you count Cocktail, which ...

Mercy is a human impulse, but so is murder. In Human Acts, Han Kang's novel of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising and its aftermath, people spill blood, and people brave death to donate it. With a sensitivity so sharp that it's painful, Human Acts sets out to reconcile these paradoxical and coexisting humanities.

Back in 1999, a writer named Daniel Handler decided that kids books were too cheerful. So he adopted the pen name Lemony Snicket, and authored "A Series of Unfortunate Events" — now also a series on Netflix.

We've invited Handler to play a game called "What the hell happened to my Louis Vuitton valise, you monster?" Three questions about baggage handlers.

Elliot Ackerman's new novel Dark at the Crossing is about a man who escaped one conflict zone with his life, and now wants to break into a new one.

Haris Abadi — an Iraqi who worked for U.S. special forces during the Iraq War and later became a U.S. citizen — wants to put his new life on the line to free Syria from the cruel grip of Bashar al-Assad.

But Haris is turned back at the Turkish-Syrian border, then robbed, then taken in by Syrian refugees who make him look into his own commitment. Is it to Syria — or, ultimately, his own definition of himself?

At Goats and Soda we're always watching the developing world.

A group of international photographers is doing the same thing — but from a drone's perspective.

We mined the website dronestagram (think Instagram for drone pics) for the most riveting drone photos of the developing world from the past year. Here are a few of the eye-catching images we came across and the stories behind them.

An island home

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One of the biggest-ever overseas successes for Disney is grounded in a real-life story out of India.

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