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Games + Leisure

Games + Leisure

Stop me if you've heard this one: A young man from a noble family suffers hardship that robs him of his place in the family. When the men in charge of government refuse to help him, he takes matters into his own hands, gathering a ragtag group of bandits and whipping them into shape to steal from the rich and give to the poor. Also, he has magic powers. You're in, right? (If not, we can talk about the part where he builds doppelgangers out of straw and lets them get arrested in his stead, just to teach the king a lesson. Your move, Robin Hood.)

When most people want to play a game, the first thing they reach for is likely a smartphone or tablet. Actual pinball machines have become quaint curiosities, but a father-son duo in California is keeping these old-school games alive in a museum.

The Museum of Pinball is hidden away in an old industrial building, just off Interstate 10 and about 90 miles east of Los Angeles in Banning, Calif. It's pretty quiet when the rows upon rows of pinball machines are not turned on. But once the switch is flipped, it gets loud.

Hot blue lightning seems to crackle, Star-Wars-Emperor-style, across the surface of The Complete Wimmen's Comix. Its title is a cheeky riff on the renaming passion that consumed feminism in the early '70s, and its two volumes come in a (actually rather ugly) salmon-colored box decorated with examples of the series' highly inconsistent artwork. The whole bulky thing feels like a suitcase bomb packed with jagged hunks of social revolution. And that energy keeps sparking throughout the 704 pages of this frenetic, anarchic, occasionally kamikaze production.

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye feels like Singapore between two covers. The pressure-cooker country — tiny and polyglot, globally competitive and politically repressive — seems to have been poured into this dense book. As if to make it an even more authentic representation of its homeland, Charlie Chan Hock Chye has met with governmental opposition: Singapore's National Arts Council withdrew a grant from author Sonny Liew because of the book's "sensitive content."

In the weeks since the world was introduced to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the full power of its diverse casting has been revealed. It has engaged millions who might have ignored the film after the prequels disappeared into the sarlacc pit of critical disdain. It's brought a shine to the eyes of children who'd never seen their reflections in a story so grand and sweeping.

Some siblings find it hard just to be under the same roof, but Mark and Jay Duplass have teamed up to make more than a dozen films. They've recently branched out into television with their HBO show Togetherness.

Since these brothers get along so well, we've asked them to take a break from writing, directing, acting and producing to play a game called "Hating you is like hating myself." Three questions about brothers who didn't see eye to eye.

Game of Thrones may have killed off many major characters, but the manipulative, scheming Queen Cersei is still standing. She's played by Lena Headey, who we've invited to play a game called "You win and you die."

Since The Game of Thrones doesn't sound particularly fun to play, we'll ask three questions about even worse games.

Not many musicians become huge, genre-creating successes. Even fewer become successful movie actors, writers and producers. And as far as we know, Ice Cube is the only one who has produced a hit movie about his own first band with his own son playing himself.

One of Ice Cube's biggest hits was a song called "It Was a Good Day," so we've invited him to answer three questions about people having very bad days.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens revolves around the story of staff-wielding scavenger Rey.

(That's hardly a spoiler; she's front-and-center in the movie poster, after all.)

But in the world of Star Wars toys, Rey's been hard to find — and fans took to social media, under the hashtags #WheresRey and #WhereisRey, to complain about all the movie merchandise that left her out.

The battle goes on. In a galaxy far, far away, forces of good clash with forces of evil.

Lee Child is the author behind Jack Reacher, America's favorite tough guy. And after 20 novels and one Tom Cruise movie, Child knows a thing or two about best-sellers. But what about worst sellers? We've invited him to play a game called "I know I sold at least one copy ... unless Mom lied?" Three questions about books that sold really, really badly.

Unless you've spent the past year or so in an ice cave on Hoth — or have the misfortune of living on a planet farthest from the bright center of the universe — you're probably aware there's a new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, coming out on Friday.

Who doesn't want to play God — to have the feeling of creating new worlds with the push of a button? (Although gods presumably don't need buttons to create worlds.)

For young Saudis, life is conducted online, on phones and on gaming platforms. Saudi Arabia is a young country. The fastest-growing segment of the population is under 30 years old. In this deeply conservative society, with its strict moral codes of behavior and gender segregation, many young Saudis turn to social media and technology to entertain and express themselves.

For women, especially, it's a social revolution.

What's science fiction supposed to look like? It's a question that absorbed Argentine writer Héctor Germán Oesterheld, author of the epic comic strip The Eternaut. In the late 1950s, when The Eternaut was serialized in a Buenos Aires newspaper, science fiction was dominated by images of spaceships and faraway planets — and by authors living thousands of miles away. Oesterheld challenged all that. "My stories ... try to express something ... in a way that is ours, that is Argentine," he wrote at one point. "Neither that of [Ray] Bradbury, nor of Arthur C.

Still several weeks out, the hype is already hitting enormous heights for the new Star Wars installment. The Force Awakens has sold more than $50 million in tickets — and the movie doesn't even open until Dec. 18.

We recorded the show in Des Moines this week, and on the way to the theater we we passed about 16 presidential candidates, and 40 journalists chasing them. To help us make sense of this madhouse we invited our friend Jake Tapper — host of CNN's The Lead, and one of the moderators of the second GOP debate — to the show.

We'll ask him to play a game called "You know, we still exist in nonelection years, too." Three questions about the state of Iowa, where every four years the political press descends like a plague of locusts in sport coats.

Neil deGrasse Tyson — once named the Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive by People magazine — is about to begin the second season of his National Geographic show Star Talk.

Since he's a famed expert on cosmology, we've decided to see what he knows about cosmetology — three questions about hair stylists and spa experts from around the world.

When comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick got the opportunity to reimagine Captain Marvel as a blond, blue-eyed fighter pilot named Carol, she made changes to the character that some fans didn't like.

Carol now wears a flight suit — not the sexy dominatrix outfit she used to wear back when she was Ms. Marvel. For that, DeConnick was accused of having a feminist agenda.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Before she hit it big with her first album, Pieces of You in 1995, Jewel was living out of her car. Her big break came at Inner Change, a struggling San Diego coffee shop where she played a weekly show. She's written a memoir called Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story.

We've invited Jewel to play a game called "We hope you sleep in a safe" — because when you're named Jewel, you have to watch out for jewel thieves.

After an absence of 17 years, Karin Kanzuki, the Goldilocks lookalike who became an unlikely hit in the long-running Street Fighter video game series in the late '90s, is returning to the game.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

If summer is for Hollywood blockbusters, fall is when the video game industry brings out its big guns, and big swords and even gods.

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The world's most famous plumber reached a milestone over the weekend as Nintendo's Super Mario Bros celebrated the 30th anniversary of its release Sunday.

The celebration came a day before the video game company named executive Tatsumi Kimishima as its new president.

For a kid, moving can be hard — even if it's just from one town to another. But when Michael W. Clune was a young boy, his family made a much more drastic move: from Ireland to the U.S.

It was rough. Clune had a hard time fitting in because of his Irish accent and Irish clothes. At school, there were cliques and bullies.

"Learning to deal with other people was a real challenge," Clune tells NPR's Arun Rath, "one that left me feeling isolated quite a bit."

Home was a refuge, for a while — until his parents started fighting. They divorced when he was 12.

As summer winds up, everything seems to slow down. The last of the hot days seem to demand you take it easy before fall really kicks in. These three works — two collections of comics and one graphic novel — are perfect to pore over in a patch of muggy sunlight. They deliver adventure, heroism and romance, but nothing too taxing in the way of themes. Some have their problems, but tolerant readers will find that all offer ample rewards. And while the stories are absorbing, you won't lose the thread if you abandon them for an impromptu nap.

We recorded the show in Louisville, Ky., this week — where Edward Lee is the chef and owner of the restaurant 610 Magnolia. (He says he moved to Louisville from Brooklyn in search of bourbon.) Lee has appeared on Iron Chef America, Top Chef and Mind of a Chef, and he is the author of Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen.

Louisville is the capital of horse racing, so we've invited Lee to play a game called "It's just like horse racing, if you pretend they're tiny horses." Three questions about dog racing.

At first glance, Cecelia Holland's new novel Dragon Heart is a straight-down-the-middle work of fantasy. (The dragon depicted on the cover might just be the dead giveaway.) But there's another genre lurking beneath the book's mythic, majestic surface, one that's equally as intriguing and far less expected: The Gothic romance.

Ever heard of a tengu? How about a jorōgumo? You'll know them after you read Wayward, Image Comics' action-packed romp featuring Tokyo teenagers fighting the supernatural. It's been likened to a Japanese version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and its emphasis on epically battling the Big Bad (to use the Buffy term) is coupled with a determination to get its monsters right.

Songwriter Dwight Yoakam was raised in Ohio — a big disadvantage for a country singer. But he overcame that handicap to become a country star, with multiple platinum albums and hit songs over the past few decades.

And as a country singer, he has shared many stories of woe with his fans. So we invited him to play a game we're calling "You're the happiest man in the world" — three questions about Matthieu Ricard, a French-born Buddhist Monk who's reputed to be happier than all the rest of us.

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