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.

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.

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.

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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 vegetables 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."

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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.

Pages

Spooky Puppets, Slow Pacing In 'Catechism'

Oct 31, 2012

Mike Mignola's occult adventure comics B.P.R.D. (that's short for Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) and Hellboy (about a demon who fights for the side of Good) combine furious action set pieces on a literally biblical scale with a wry and nuanced understanding of very human emotions. The novelist Christopher Golden has written many popular works of dark fantasy. Together, the two men have produced the illustrated genre novels Baltimore, or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, a dark tale of war, vengeance and bloodsucking; and the considerably warmer, steampunk-inflected Joe Golem and the Drowning City.

Like those previous works, their latest collaboration, the tight but slight illustrated novella Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism, is steeped in a rich sense of place. In this case, the place is Sicily during World War II, at a Catholic church ravaged by battle. The nuns of San Domenico have turned their convent into a haven for their town's many war orphans, and a new priest arrives to instruct the youngsters about God.

But young Father Gaetano faces a difficult task: The horrors the children have witnessed and the grievous losses they have suffered have hardened their hearts to any talk of God's mercy. He must find some way to get through to them.

An abandoned puppet theater in the church's basement provides the answer he seeks, or seems to. At least until the puppets ... well. You see where this is going, especially if you've ever caught an episode of The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone or any similar anthology tale plotted like a narrative mousetrap.

Yes, the formula is familiar, but that's not the issue — after all, it's those very conventions that provide us with the cues required to build suspense. It doesn't matter, for example, that we guess what's making those skittering sounds under Father Gaetano's bed long before he works up the courage to look for himself. It's precisely that knowledge — the tantalizing disconnect between what we know and what he only suspects — that keeps us turning pages.

The problem, however, is that Mignola and Golden devote so much time and attention to baiting their trap that they almost forget to spring it. In chapter after chapter, they document day-to-day life at the convent, rectory and school with an exhaustiveness born of thorough research. Stirrings of forbidden desire between Father Gaetano and the comely Mother Superior get some time in the spotlight, as do the travails of 9-year-old Sebastiano, whose own puppet — a clown — will play a pivotal role in the events to come.

This should all serve to establish what's at stake for the characters — and it does. But Mignola and Golden seem content to simply set the stakes without raising them. As a result, the stately paced first two-thirds of Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism read like the opening of a much longer and more complex book, and the putatively spooky climax arrives with a suddenness that fails to generate goose bumps.

Far more unnerving are Mignola's black-and-white illustrations — moody portraits of angelic and demonic wooden puppets staring out at the reader with empty, lifeless eyes. They, at least, will stay with you long after the rest of this tidy ecclesiastical fable fades from memory.

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