NPR Staff

What Best in Show did for dog shows and what A Mighty Wind did for folk music, the new mockumentary Mascots does for, well, mascots. The film, from director Christopher Guest, follows contestants in the World Mascot Association Championship.

One late December day in 1950, Max Beckmann was standing on a street corner near Central Park in New York City. The German expressionist painter had been on his way to see an exhibition featuring his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Called "American Painting Today," the show was displaying his Self-Portrait in Blue Jacket.

It would turn out to be his last self-portrait.

Devendra Banhart can remember the exact moment he decided to become a songwriter. He was around 9 years old, and he performed an original song for his whole family. The tune, he says, was called "We're All Gonna Die."

"Their reaction was, 'Never do that again,' " Banhart says. "They were horrified."

The Beach Boys sounded like California in musical form: beach, waves and a perpetually sunny blue sky.

But Brian Wilson, who co-founded the band with his brothers Carl and Dennis and their cousin Mike Love — and who wrote many of The Beach Boys' signature hits — struggled for years with mental illness. He's heard voices in his head and wrestled with the ghosts of the ways of his father, who encouraged his musical career but beat and abused him.

The Nobel committee made a bit of a surprising announcement Thursday morning: Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for, according to the Swedish Academy, "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

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In a lot of memoirs, it feels safe to assume that the author really knows what they're writing about. But here's an exception: Molly Brodak's new memoir is about her dad, a man she barely knew growing up. Her father is a gambling addict. And when Molly was in middle school, he robbed 11 banks outside of Detroit in 1994 to fuel his addiction — the FBI dubbed him the "Super Mario Brothers Bandit" because of his flat cap and fake mustache.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


If there's one thing Rick Astley hasn't given up, it's music. The British singer, who is perhaps best known for his 1987 single, "Never Gonna Give You Up" — and the common Internet gag, "rickrolling," inspired by it — is back with a new album. 50 is already topping the charts in the United Kingdom, and it just went on sale in North America this week.

"It's been a crazy few months, to be honest," Astley says. "I don't think anybody around me or anybody who knows me was expecting that, to have a No. 1 album in the U. K. again. That was pretty freaky."