A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

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.

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

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.

Pages

Bits Of Beauty Amidst The Gloom In 'Building Stories'

Oct 9, 2012
Originally published on October 9, 2012 10:56 am

For the characters of Chris Ware's astonishingly ambitious comics project Building Stories, leading lives of quiet desperation is surprisingly noisy business. Plaintive, regretful and bitterly self-recriminating thoughts play on shuffle-repeat inside their heads, like a mordant Litany for the (I Wish I Were) Dead:

"Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the end of the world."

"At that point I was starting to get acquainted with the unfairness of life and learning it was better not to expect anything rather than set yourself up for disappointment."

"What did I do to make him hate me so much?"

"Isn't there anyone who will be able to tolerate my disgusting, bloated body?"

"The feeling of failure lingered all day, prodding me into digging out all my old notebooks and pointedly rediscovering what a terrible writer I was, how stupid and trite my ideas were, and, really, what a bad artist I was, as well. ... I'd never had any talent ... why had my teachers ever encouraged me?"

This predilection for pathos is not new. As a writer and artist, Ware makes his home down among the darkest wavelengths of the emotional spectrum; in award-winning work like Acme Novelty Library, Quimby the Mouse and, most famously, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Ware fills his pages with meticulous architectural detail and diagrammatic flourishes, producing what amount to cross-sections of sadness, floor plans of the broken heart.

In Building Stories, which includes work previously published in nest, McSweeney's, the Chicago Reader, The New Yorker and a notable 7-month-run in The New York Times Magazine, he once again creates and maintains an intriguing tension between his text, which chronicles his characters' sundry flailings and failures in wince-inducing detail, and his illustrations, which burst with bright, retina-sizzling primary colors and clean, simple, cartoony shapes.

What sets this latest work apart is its format — and how fundamentally that format shapes the reader's experience.

Building Stories is not a single graphic novel, but a box containing 14 comics: four newspaperlike broadsheets, three magazines, two pamphlets, two standalone strips, one four-panel storyboard that will remind nerdier readers of a Dungeon Master's Screen, one hardbound book and a volume whose look and feel cheekily mimics the Little Golden Book series for children, down to the gilt on its spine.

Inside them, readers will find the intermingled narratives of a three-story Chicago brownstone and the tenants who have made it their home over the years. How we come to know this world depends entirely upon the order in which we choose to read these 14 comics. This fact bestows upon our relationship with these characters a kind of temporal grace. We may, for example, meet the elderly landlady in the ground-floor apartment when she is still a young woman, caring for her invalid mother. We may meet the lonely woman in the top floor apartment before she moves in, or after she marries and moves to the suburbs. We may even follow the travails of a God-fearing bee who pollinates one of the building's window-ledge flower gardens even as he struggles to reconcile his duty to hearth and hive with impure thoughts about his Queen.

As we read, these stories intertwine, these characters deepen. The medium allows us to adopt a perspective that is not merely omniscient but truly godlike: Ware's characters remain trapped in their tiny panels, but we are above them, looking in, and can see what they can't — the travails that await them — with a simple flick of our eyes across the page.

Ware plays with his layouts to accentuate this distance. He'll place something loaded with emotional significance to his characters (an old Halloween mask, say, or a sleeping infant) in the very center of a two-page-spread, huge as a sun, only to surround it with tiny panels in which those same characters find endless ways to avoid addressing it — they bicker, they navel-gaze, they stew over slights both real and imagined. It's not subtle, but it is ruthlessly effective, and, like so much of Building Stories, it gets at something essential and truthful about our tendency to self-obsess.

Moments of happiness are spare and fleeting here, as in all of Ware's work. But when they do come, Ware layers them with metafictional meaning, as if to step out from behind this finely detailed study in hopelessness and admit that sometimes things don't completely suck.

In one such scene, the woman who once lived on the third floor of the titular brownstone relates a recent dream to her now-adult daughter. "Someone published my book," she says, "and it had everything in it ... all of the illustrations were so precise and clean ... it was like an architect had drawn them ... they were so colorful and intricate... and it wasn't really a book either ... it was in pieces, like books falling apart out of a carton, maybe."

"But," she adds, "it was ... beautiful."

The daughter promptly ridicules her, and the moment passes.

But when it comes to that precise, colorful, intricate and ultimately beautiful book? She's not wrong.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.