When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

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.


Eric Idle: A Python In Winter

Nov 16, 2012

At the beginning of What About Dick?, a stage performance released this week as a digital download, writer/performer Eric Idle announces that the audience will be witnessing "Aural Cinema." The story — a tangential, broadly comic yarn involving the decline of the British Empire and "the birth of a sex toy invented in Shagistan in 1898" — is to be performed in the style of a radio play, with the actors (Russell Brand, Eddie Izzard, Billy Connolly, Tim Curry and Tracey Ullman, to name five) reading their parts from scripts into enormous microphones. To the side of the stage, a visible sound effects man provides exaggerated clanking and whistling, while Idle himself narrates.

Now: knowing that this is an Eric Idle-scripted show called What About Dick?, does "aural" make you think of "oral," thus bringing to mind you-know-what? No need to hang your head in shame. For the next five or ten minutes, Idle and Co. proceed with a near-uninterrupted torrent of double-entendres about Dick, a character played by Russell Brand. At age 69, the man who sang "The Penis Song" in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life proves that he can still break new ground in the noble art of penis jokes.

"I think it's certainly going to go in the Guinness Book of Records for that," says Idle in an interview. "We took a lot out, actually."

In fairness, the male organ recedes to the background after a while — Idle can sense how long the audience will listen until it pines for jokes about other body parts. He talks about comedy in mathematical terms. "I think it's posing an equation: you say A plus B equals C, and hopefully that will be the laugh. And then if you don't get the laugh you can tinker with that — you might have to add in another element at the front to make it clear the thought you're trying to just push through at the speed of light."

Idle has described What About Dick?, which first played for a couple of nights in Hollywood in 2007 before returning for the performances released this week, as "Oscar Wilde on acid." Coming in the midst of a lucrative late period, this motto could double as the niche for the Python who struggled longest to find one. When Monty Python disbanded after The Meaning of Life, Idle developed projects that rarely saw the light of day, while becoming a fixture in movies both mediocre and sub-mediocre (Burn Hollywood Burn, anyone?). "You're kind of dragged into those things," Idle says of his work-for-hire. "Somebody says, 'Will you do this?' You go, 'Oh, alright,' and then after a while you go, 'Wait a minute, what am I doing, this is not what I like to do.'" For Idle, the nadir came with a stint on the Brooke Shields sitcom Suddenly Susan in its final season. "I was being paid not to be funny. And I was being paid enormously."

A creative turning point came in 2000, when Idle embarked on a cross-country tour, disarmingly titled Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python. "I went out on the road to discover what I still liked doing, what I still enjoyed about performing. And it was really doing my stuff, or Python stuff, or my songs, and making people laugh live in a theater." If the shadow of Python loomed large, he embraced it by creating Spamalot, the Broadway musical that turned Monty Python into a Times Square blockbuster.

Spamalot garnered criticism from Python aficionados for diluting the group's irreverent sensibility into something safe for tourists, families and Tony voters. In truth, that full title — Monty Python's Spamalot — was a misnomer. Freed from the "Monty Python" brand and all its philosophical implications, What About Dick? crystallizes Idle's late-period, dog's-breakfast style of comedy. It has some of the silliness of Python, and some of the attitude of Wilde. In its lesser moments, it suggests the nude-nudge comedy of Benny Hill (one character is called an "ass-trologist" for her ability to ... well, never mind). In its better moments, it recalls the BBC '50s radio comedy The Goon Show, for its dense, complicated wordplay ("Once upon a time there were two sisters, who lived in a rambling old Victorian novel") performed by a cheeky, ad-libbing ensemble. It's the kind of anything-for-a-laugh show where Eddie Izzard will recite a convoluted monologue in an Indian accent, and then comment on his appalling accent.

It's hard not to admire Idle for his independent spirit and his eagerness to use his Spamalot riches to follow his muse. Instead of another musical, he followed Spamalot first with a comic oratorio called Not The Messiah (He's A Very Naughty Boy), based on Monty Python's Life Of Brian, and now a pseudo-radio play. Not everyone would follow his biggest hit with two dead art forms. "It's impossible to follow Spamalot," Idle says. "Everything worked. All that's left is for nothing to work."

I ask Idle if this is a frequent dilemma in the career of an ex-Python. "Not always, because most of the things I've done were not instant hits. Python was not an instant hit. The Rutles was number 76 on the television ratings for that week. It's still being played. The Holy Grail — hardly anybody saw it. The TV shows were watched by a tiny minority of people on a Sunday night in England. So, it seems to me that these things become in hindsight hugely successful, but at the time not particularly successful. They're only successful on their own terms of succeeding and being funny for the few people watching."

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