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Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

The picture was taken on July 10. Juno was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter at the time. The color image shows some of the atmospheric features of the planet, including the giant red spot. You can also see three of Jupiter's moons in the picture: Io, Europa and Ganymede.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

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 veggies 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.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

School's out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

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After an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, objecting to China's claims to maritime rights in the disputed waters. The tribunal agreed that China had no legal authority to claim the waters and was infringing on the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

Donald Trump is firing back at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she disparaged him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb political statements" about the candidate. Trump ended his tweet with "Her mind is shot - resign!":


The Art Of Preserving A High School 'Wallflower'

Sep 21, 2012
Originally published on September 21, 2012 12:57 pm

The hero of both the novel and the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a high school freshman loner named Charlie whose best friend committed suicide the previous spring. He's on psychiatric meds, lots of them, and still has blackouts and mysterious visions of a doting aunt who died when he was 7.

At school, he's shoved by bullies and jeered at by girls, and he's literally counting the days until he graduates. The story is set in the early '90s, before widespread Internet usage, when misfits had little access to others of their ilk, and Charlie won't talk to his parents or teachers. But he's so desperate to convey the turbulence of his inner world that he decides to write letters — anonymously — to a person he once heard about who did a nice thing for someone at a party. Those letters frame both the book and the film.

The novel's author, Stephen Chbosky, adapted and directed the movie himself, and, novice though he is, he's done a beautiful job. I actually like the film better than the book, which is written in a faux-naive voice I found irritating, as when Charlie ruminates on a dream about a girl he likes named Sam:

"And we were both naked. And her legs were spread over the sides of the couch. And I woke up. And I had never felt so good in my life. But I also felt bad because I saw her naked without permission. I think I should tell Sam about this. ... "

No, don't tell Sam. Please. The film is less pathetic, and funnier. At a football game, doleful Charlie (Logan Lerman) musters the courage to sit beside a fast-talking prankster from shop class named Patrick, played by pale, stringy-haired scene-stealer Ezra Miller. Patrick's stepsister, a senior, is the aforementioned Sam, played by Emma Watson, and the three bond so fast that Charlie's head spins — and keeps spinning.

But this wouldn't be much of a movie if the drama stopped with Charlie's acceptance on "the island of misfit toys." The Perks of Being a Wallflower turns out to be as much about the fear of loss as about the joy of being accepted. Charlie's in love with Sam, who'll go away to college at the end of the year and, besides, is involved with another guy. And Charlie is so traumatized about his dead friend and his dead aunt — who's seen in flashbacks and looms large in his psyche — that he can't feel the bliss of togetherness without simultaneously seeing it all slip away. He longs, he says, to believe in something infinite.

Lerman has thick, dark hair and puppy eyes, and strikes me as too handsome to be an entirely credible wallflower. But he knows how to convey not just reticence but a kind of excruciatingly active paralysis. And the rest of the cast could hardly be better — especially Ezra Miller, whose Patrick is a screwball dynamo as well as one of the best depictions I've ever seen of a gay kid who simply can't stay in the closet.

As Sam, Emma Watson is a bit like visiting royalty trying hard to show she's a fun person. But she pulls it off, and her movie-star glamour adds to Charlie's — and our — vision of Sam as delightfully accessible yet somehow out of reach.

Near the end, Charlie writes to that nameless recipient that he knows he'll never feel things with the same rawness and momentousness he does at age 16 — not even at age 17. But by capturing this wallflower at the instant of its bloom and preserving it for all time, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is both painful and elating.

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