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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!":


'Master' Actors Deliver Glimpse Into Cult Life

Sep 13, 2012
Originally published on September 14, 2012 1:12 pm

Overheard after a screening of The Master:

"So I guess this is an unfinished print?"

"Nope. This is the one they're rolling out."

And it's true that there are moments, especially toward the end of its meandering 137 minutes, when The Master feels like a series of brainy but disconnected thoughts about 20th-century America. That's how writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson works, and for those who don't insist on coherence or closure in narrative any more than they do in life, it's part of the thrilling madness of his method.

It's not that Anderson makes it up as he goes along, like the burbling cult leader in this monumental study of American hucksterism and its casualties. Instead, the writer-director discovers his deeply buried themes as he makes his films, which is just one of many reasons why The Master will burrow its way into your mind, heart and soul, and simmer there long after you leave the theater.

Without ever saying so, the movie adds up to nothing less than a social psychology of the nervous, spiritually questing geist of post-World War II America. After hard times were declared officially over and peace and prosperity were proclaimed, the legacy of the past opened a space for all manner of restless malignancies to take root.

As with Anderson's equally ambitious There Will Be Blood, the moral rot plays out as an epic struggle of wills between two pathologically bonded men, both seamen, both scarred and damaged by war or life or who knows what. The Master may be one of the most twisted father-son tales ever told, an oedipal melodrama shot through with repressed homoerotic desire and a warped but authentic love between two radically different men for whom attack is the first line of defense.

Like Daniel Day Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix has aquiline, mercurial features that seem carved out of the sharp edge of a cliff, and a snarling animal energy straight from the primordial ooze. He's magnificently feral as Freddie Quell, a U.S. Navy veteran and a vitally unpredictable wreck of a man bouncing from one failed job to another after service in the Pacific. When he's not brawling with strangers or bedding any woman who will have him, rootless Freddie is, tellingly, a family photographer. But his proudest accomplishment is mixing drinks with paint thinner as a key ingredient.

It's this skill, along with a propensity for indiscriminate violence that barely covers a heartbreaking innocence — his first and only true love could only be a small-town girl named Doris Day — that draws Freddie under the toxic wing of Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a charismatic cult leader upon whose pleasure boat Freddie stows away while blind drunk.

Hoffman does shifty so well that it's never a stretch to believe in him as a con man. Only here he's a con man who has bought his own propaganda, and that complicates things beautifully. A self-styled, seemingly jolly gent who never travels without an entourage of the faithful, Dodd cruises the coast of America, landing only to fleece wealthy dowagers (among them a wonderfully funny and sad Laura Dern) while harnessing them to "The Cause" with cascades of loopy mumbo-jumbo about "processing" their pseudo past lives in order to juice their emotionally empty present.

There's no question that The Master draws on the life and work of Scientology movement founder L. Ron Hubbard, and the similarities with Hubbard's rising years, accompanied by brief but potent gusts of schoolboy humor and weird sex, will doubtless offend devotees. But the movie is less an indictment than a portrait of how the authentic search for family and community — a recurring theme explored by Anderson in Boogie Nights — can become warped, along with character itself, in a spiritual and moral vacuum.

Freddie may be helpless against his own worst impulses, but so, too, is Dodd, a man whose appetites and need for control are forever at war with his love for a man in whom he may see parts of himself. For worse rather than better, nobody understands Dodd better than his wife, a steely china doll who panders to his furtive sexuality while using it to dominate him. (If Amy Adams doesn't clear Best Supporting Actress for her chillingly proto-fascist turn, there's no justice in Hollywood.)

The savagely corrupt micro-world over which the Dodds reign is portrayed with the same intense, classical beauty we saw in There Will Be Blood, another tribute to Hollywood classics of the '50s and '60s. Filming with scarce 70 mm stock, Anderson and cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. achieve an enhanced realism that makes a field of cabbages look as lovely, and as menacing, as the roiling ocean or the desert where Dodd and Freddie play a seemingly pointless motorcycle game that's rich with significance for their relationship past and future.

There and elsewhere in this deliberately ambiguous drama, we discover that Freddie is far from dumb, but that he may be as tragically deracinated and as vulnerable as anyone else in the malevolent influence of the Dodds, dangerous messiahs to a country that believes itself to be in recovery yet has come unglued. In The Master, life is lived forward with choppy unevenness, but it is best understood backward, as the opening act of a falling apart whose fruits we are reaping now. (Recommended)

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