Arts & Culture

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Philip Pullman introduced readers to his alternate Oxford, full of magic and danger, in the His Dark Materials trilogy, beginning with 1995's The Golden Compass. The story of young Lyra Belacqua, her soul-companion Pantalaimon, and their battle against the oppressive forces of the quasi-religious Magisterium became a massive world-wide hit. Now, he's returning to that world in The Book of Dust, which will explore how Lyra came to live in Oxford.

Talk about building a buzz! Slingshot artist Lo Moon wowed us with its first single "Loveless" in September 2016. They let it percolate for a good eight months before unleashing its follow-up single, "This is It" in May. And today, they give us "Thorns" — the third single off a debut album to be released in early 2018. Suffice it to say, this is a new band that's taking time to get it right.


Sayori Wada is a Tokyo-based illustrator. Her work can be found in and on shirts, newspapers and music videos.

Never mind ghosts and goblins, zombies and vampires.

The War on Drugs' A Deeper Understanding is epic. Ambitious. Huge. Case in point: the first single they released, "Thinking of a Place," clocked in at over 11 minutes. But make no mistake – this isn't the work of a noodley jam band. Every sound is deliberate, every dynamic is thoughtful, and the build is brilliant. That's thanks in large part to the way lead singer and songwriter Adam Granduciel works.

The music of pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim conveys an extraordinary depth in stillness. More than perhaps any other improvising artist, he knows how to turn the solitary act of introspection into a communal experience that's both transporting and immersive.

Dhani Harrison waited a long time to strike out on his own. After years of collaborating with others, the son of The Beatles' George Harrison just released a solo debut clearly influenced by his recent work as a composer. This was his first live radio appearance on the U.S. and a powerful session, particularly the single "All About Waiting."

When audiences watch a Jackie Chan movie, they know exactly what they're in for — lots of punching — but there's something that might surprise people about the actor. "I hate violence," Chan says. "But I make action films."

In October 1971, South African anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol died under suspicious circumstances in police custody. An inquest the next year found that he committed suicide by jumping out of a 10th floor window at a Johannesburg police station.

But today, a Pretoria judge reversed that finding, saying that Timol was murdered and that the apartheid police holding and interrogating him were responsible.

The fall of Harvey Weinstein has been rapid in the week since The New York Times reported that he had been settling sexual harassment claims for decades. And as more women tell their stories of upsetting encounters with the powerful film executive, Weinstein's problems are moving beyond his now-tattered reputation to legal and financial troubles.

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A new play in New York centers on Palestinian militants who hid from the Israeli army for over a month in 2002 inside Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. NPR's Neda Ulaby reports that "The Siege," not surprisingly, is controversial.

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Our elders didn't warn us enough about the dangers of angry, selfish men, possibly because some of them were angry, selfish men themselves. So consider the films of writer-director Noah Baumbach to be an education. Baumbach has long delighted in mocking the egomaniacs in the art world, crafting biting dark comedies around minor figures with major attitudes. He's come closer than anyone to discovering just where the breaking point lies between talent, stature, and awful behavior.

In a hospital in the late 1950s, the wheeze and ca-chunk of the respirators sound like the inside of an Industrial Age factory, only the product being churned out is another few seconds of life. Compared to the elegant organism that is the healthy human body, the inflation and collapse of the pump is a tired accordion, and the hose connecting the machine to the patient's neck is bandaged and ungainly.

In the anxious years after World War II, crusaders for decency accused many comic books of promoting deviant behavior. In the case of Wonder Woman, at least, the bluenoses were entirely correct. Some of the vintage Wonder Woman panels reproduced in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women are seriously kinky.

That was intentional and, in a way, high-minded. Briefly a professor of psychology, Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston wanted to bring his DISC theory (Dominance, Inducement, Submission, Compliance) to the pubescent masses.

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