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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!":


'Hotel Transylvania': Vampire Gags, Minus The Bite

Sep 27, 2012

One of the better jokes in Hotel Transylvania comes when Dracula (Adam Sandler) happens to see a clip of one of the Twilight movies. As Edward sparkles in the sunlight, Drac is even more offended at this bastardized representation of his kind than he is by the people constantly imitating his Transylvanian accent by appending the nonsense words "Bluh, bluh bluh!" to the end of any sentence.

But vampires who live in glass coffins shouldn't throw stones — because at its core, this movie is little more than Twilight told from the other side of the tracks, only with far more fart jokes.

As in Twilight, Hotel Transylvania is about a headstrong daughter on the verge of adulthood who, despite the sheltering influence of her hapless single father, meets and falls for a boy who isn't of her kind. He hails from an unfamiliar and dangerous world, and if everyone around them only knew his true, hidden nature, they'd be terrified for her safety.

Only in this case, the father — Dracula — and his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), are the vampires, and the impressively coiffured young lad, Jonathan (Andy Samberg), is the human.

Transylvania is also just as lacking in any real bite as those movies. Yes, this is a kiddie flick, but this summer's much better animated house of horrors, ParaNorman, showed just how to put together a funny, smart, kid-friendly monster movie without completely defanging its ghoulies.

Both films present their monsters as largely misunderstood softies, but where ParaNorman maintained some of the inherent menace of its creatures — allowing it to be spooky and pay homage to its classic horror influences — Transylvania's caricatured beasties are written mostly to serve tired gags.

So Frankenstein (Kevin James) is a clumsy gentle giant constantly coming apart at the seams — literally. (And not to get overly pedantic, but shouldn't he be Frankenstein's monster, and not Frankenstein?) Wayne and Wanda (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon) are put-upon werewolf parents dominated by the seemingly dozens of scrappy pups they keep birthing. There's also an Invisible Man, a Mummy and Quasimodo, all mostly one-joke wonders.

They're all guests at the titular lodge, built by Dracula after the death of his wife at the hands of an angry torch-and-pitchfork-wielding mob of humans. It's a sanctuary to protect his newborn daughter and to provide safe haven for all of monsterkind. That worked out fine for over a century, until Jonathan, an American backpacker, accidentally finds his way to the door and upsets the longstanding status quo.

Director Genndy Tartakovsky was the creative force behind the fantastically off-kilter Samurai Jack animated series, and brings plenty of the visual fun of that series to bear here — though the 3-D version is completely unnecessary, especially given how much he pays tribute to classic Tex Avery-style 2-D animation.

Screenwriters Peter Baynham (Borat) and Robert Smigel (Saturday Night Live) are also each responsible for hours of slyly subversive humor over their careers. That seems like a creative dream team for a movie with this description, but something about the alchemy of the combination just didn't produce the gold one might expect.

The relationship between Jonathan and Mavis could have been the movie's saving grace — even amid lazy jokes that include Frankenstein's disembodied legs sneaking behind another monster to unleash a noxious green cloud of flatulence, or the Invisible Man having his completely superfluous swimming trunks yanked down by the pool.

The problem is that Jonathan is possibly the most annoying romantic lead in any film in recent memory. His gnarly, X-Games-loving, righteous-dude shtick is so grating that my frustration with the lack of ferocity in the movie's monsters may be largely because I kept wishing one of them would act like a proper monster and tear him limb from limb.

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