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.

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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!":


When It Comes To Character Detail, 'Pitch Perfect' Nails It

Oct 2, 2012

Pitch Perfect, the new comedy that opened in some cities last Friday and goes wider this Friday, is set in a world very close to my own heart: college a cappella.

I know, I know — it's dorky, it's silly, you hated those people at your school — I get it. But I loved it when I did it, and even now, I carry around a few of these compilations on my phone.

But as much as I enjoyed all the singing (and I did), it's not how the film won me over. What won me over was Beca's raggedy manicure.

Up at the top of the post, that's Beca. Played by Anna Kendrick, she shows up at college as an aspiring DJ whose first stop is an internship at the college radio station. She's not even sure she wants to be in college, but in a very movie-like development, she promises her dad she'll try for a year and participate in something. The something winds up being the Bellas, the women's a cappella group that's fallen on hard times after a disastrous showing in a national competition.

And by the time she's been at school for a while, these are Beca's nails.

Here's why I care: There's absolutely nothing new in the main structure of Pitch Perfect that you haven't seen in other movies about people joining ragtag groups — it's not only a little Bring It On, but a little Bad News Bears, a little Mighty Ducks, a little School Of Rock. A movie like this, in all honesty, is a little like a cover of a song you already know: it's about execution.

But what I liked so much about this one, and what made it feel a little different, is that unlike the grumpy coaches and high-strung weirdos who often are your entry point into a story like this, Beca comes into the movie as a pretty complete, pretty happy person. She has something she loves (making mixes), she's pursuing it in a competent, normal way (working at the radio station), and she gives off a kind of relaxed confidence that's dishearteningly unusual in stories about young women in college. For one thing, it's the same relaxed confidence that the guy she meets (Skylar Astin) has, so we're not in the realm of romances based on anyone needing to lighten up, get more serious, get less serious, pull it together, or learn to love himself or herself. They start likable and stay likable, and the inevitable bumps are the kinds of bumps that likable people sometimes bump into.

So, the manicure: It's very unusual that I would notice anyone's fingernails in a movie, but I genuinely did in this case, and the reason I did is that these are a busy college girl's nails. They tell a whole little tale about her: she keeps them short, she polishes them now and then (dark polish, naturally), but after a while, she's doing other things, and sometimes she picks at them in class, and she doesn't really care that much, so now she has the broken-down manicure of the actual preoccupied 18-year-old. I've had this nail polish. Many if not most women have had this nail polish. When? In college. Old enough to polish your nails, not old enough to keep them up.

It shouldn't be a big deal to see a movie that makes you say, "Whoever made this decision has actually met humans who are kind of like the ones in the movie!" But it is. I have no idea who made this decision, but nails in a movie, on a movie star, are not that way by accident. Somebody decided she should have a deteriorating polish job, and that person was right.

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