Audie Cornish

There's an old writing exercise that involves describing a color without naming it; it challenges the writer to evoke the emotional primacy of a concept we often take for granted.

In Hillary, a new four-part documentary on Hulu, director Nanette Burstein overlays the story of Hillary Clinton's career and marriage over the story of feminism and the culture wars of the 1990s and 2000s.

It's a dynamic that comes down to "Be Our Champion, Go Away," as one episode is titled.

For the past six months, NPR's Audie Cornish has held a series of conversations with women navigating the male-dominated world of comedy. Here are some highlights.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There was a time when congressional Republicans railed against the budget deficit. In recent history, think of the Tea Party movement, whose members called for driving down debt, deficits and government spending.

"There are so many ways to get this right, they had to look for a way to get this wrong."

That's author L.L. McKinney's response to Barnes & Noble's "Diverse Editions" campaign. McKinney's most recent book, A Dream So Dark, is a sequel to A Blade So Black, a contemporary retelling of Alice in Wonderland with a black female lead.

Adrian Bartos and Bobbito Garcia are a world-famous radio and club DJ duo. They hosted a podcast from NPR called What's Good with Stretch and Bobbito. Today, their debut album, No Requests, is out — and there's something undeniably cheeky about that title if you're a couple of DJs.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

All right. Audie, I got a question for you. Guess how cold it has been in parts of the Canadian province of Alberta this week.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

All right. I'll bite. How cold?

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(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NANCY PELOSI: We are here today to cross a very important threshold in American history.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

That's Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and the threshold she's referring to is the impeachment trial of President Trump.

The last decade of music saw major artists break many of the rules about how to release an album. Beyoncé and Drake popularized the "surprise release" — putting out albums with little to no roll-out at all. So in the era of surprise digital drops, and at the beginning of a new year of music, how do you make predictions about what's coming?

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It's time to talk about "Cats."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JELLICLE SONGS FOR JELLICLE CATS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing) Jellicle songs for jellicle cats, jellicle songs for jellicle cats.

"AGAIN!!!"

That request/demand will be familiar to any parent — kids hardly ever want to read a book just once. So we asked Matt de la Peña, Newbery medal-winning children's author (and dad), to recommend books that stand up, reading, after reading, after reading, after reading ...

The good news is, there are a lot of great books out there. "We're in a golden age of picture books," says de la Peña. "There are books tackling so many different subjects that were never explored in the past."

Why the Trump administration delayed nearly $400 millions of dollars in security aid to Ukraine is the question at the heart of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Democrats say the president tried to coerce an ally to help him take down a political opponent. Republicans argue it's a routine use of presidential power.

Interviews with current and former officials show how the Trump administration's hold-up of aid to Ukraine was irregular and likely violated U.S. law, and has far-reaching consequences at home and overseas.

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When the genre-defying British artist FKA twigs was 26, she came out with her debut album. Originally a dancer, twigs paired her experimental, highly-produced sound with artistic choreography and sweeping visuals. At 31, she's back with her follow-up, Magdalene.

While Kelly Lytle Hernández was growing up in San Diego near the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 1980s and early '90s, she watched as people from her community, friends and neighbors, disappeared: Black youths disappeared into the prison system; Mexican immigrants disappeared through deportations.

These experiences affected her deeply.

"It was growing up in that environment that forced me to want to understand what was happening to us and why it seemed legitimate," Lytle Hernández tells All Things Considered. "And I wanted to disrupt that legitimacy."

Grief can feel like a new world emerging, swallowing up the reality you once knew and expanding into something entirely all-consuming. New York rapper Kemba used that monolithic feeling to create his major label debut album, Gilda, a record that pays tribute to his mother who passed away two years ago.

Kemba's mother raised him and his two brothers in The Bronx, N.Y., a place that gave him little choice but to be immersed in hip-hop

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From Germany and Pakistan to Nigeria and New York, millions of young people took to the streets today to demand urgent action on climate change.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER #1: What do we want?

Nailed It! is a competition show in which home bakers try to re-create elaborate cakes — and often fail spectacularly.

"Our show is truly like: As long as you don't kill people with your food, you might win!" says co-host Nicole Byer.

So when Byer learned the Netflix program was nominated for an Emmy, she was shocked.

"The call I got from Netflix, one of the execs on the show, she was like ... 'We were — nominated?' " Byer says. "Everybody was surprised."

When it comes to comedy, Aparna Nancherla's brand is anxiety. She turns the insecurities and questions inside her mind into a brand of commentary on modern life. Her style is light and gentle, but it's rooted in a place of pain and struggle.

Poorna Jagannathan is an actress whose name you may not know, but whose face seems to pop up in many places.

She's had small roles in series like House of Cards or Better Call Saul — and bigger ones in Hulu's Ramy and HBO's The Night Of and Big Little Lies. It's a big leap from some of her early TV roles.

Fifty years ago this August, Miles Davis assembled a group of musicians to record the sprawling, groundbreaking album Bitches Brew. With the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone and James Brown in his head, Davis plugged in and brought these electric rock sensibilities to jazz.

As young men, the sons of the Villalobos family in rural Veracruz, Mexico embarked on separate paths — at least, geographically. One by one, the three violin-playing brothers left their hometown of Xalapa to study classical music abroad. Ernesto, the oldest of the three, went to study at the Manhattan School of Music. Alberto, the middle brother, went to the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and finally Luis, the youngest, went to the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany.

K.Flay kicked off her musical career with experimental rap mixtapes like Suburban Rap Queen. Since then, the singer has dabbled in different styles, but retained a biting, rough-around-the-edges sound. She's dropped such projects as I Stopped Caring in '96 and Life as a Dog and her Grammy-nominated 2017 track "Blood In The Cut" is a raging strutter.

Since it dropped in April, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" has been an inescapable hit. The song's massive blow-up is at least partially thanks to TikTok: the social media platform that launches viral stars 15 seconds at a time, and what writer Alyssa Bereznak called the "future of the music industry" in a recent article for The Ringer.

In the story of Rip van Winkle, a man asleep for 20 years wakes up in a world where people know things that he doesn't. Flip that, and you'd have a story about someone who wakes up to discover he knows things that no one else knows. That is, you'd have the premise of the movie Yesterday.

If Hannah Gadsby's name doesn't ring a bell from last year, the name Nanette should. The Netflix comedy special became a surprise hit in 2018 and made the Australian comedian a household name.

Nanette starts as conventional stand-up, with jokes about everyday indignities and hilarities growing up in Gadsby's native Tasmania as a queer woman. Then, without warning, she takes a dark turn.

Back in the mid-'90s, Emily Nussbaum was working on a Ph.D. in literature at NYU. But the TV on the other side of the room just kept catching her eye.

"I was sitting on my sofa," Nussbaum says in an interview. "I had a small, junky television. I had broken the extremely rudimentary remote control. I had to get up from the sofa, walk over to the television, turn the big plastic dial ... it made a nice clunky sound."

Dig into the liner notes of the biggest pop records of the last 15 years and Mark Ronson's name will come up up a lot.

In 2008, fire swept through a Universal Studios Hollywood backlot. The loss was thought to be a few movie sets and film duplicates. But earlier this week, The New York Times published a report revealing that the 2008 fire burned hundreds of thousands of master recordings of genre-spanning, legendary music from the late 1940s to the early '80s as well as digital formats and hard drives from the late '80s up through the early 2000s.

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