WPPB

Andrew Lapin

We have always lived in Shirley Jackson's castle, whether we knew it or not. The Vermont author's fables — grim visions of humans driven mad by forces they don't understand — have been a part of the American subconscious ever since her breakout short story "The Lottery" sent New Yorker subscribers into dry heaves in 1948. As the modern horror/thriller world has largely gone stale outside of a rarified few voices like Jordan Peele, filmmakers have turned to Jackson like a study-abroad child who moves back home.

Cameos are expected in comedies, but it's a surprise when the guest roster trends a bit highbrow. Amy Poehler's new Netflix movie Wine Country, starring Poehler and her closest Saturday Night Live girlfriends on a romp through Napa Valley, doesn't trot out a big performer for its walk-on bit. Instead, the ladies cross paths with social work researcher Brené Brown, whose TED talk on "the power of vulnerability" went viral several years ago. And they treat her like a god ...

Say you're a filmmaker and you want to make a movie about Ted Bundy, arguably the most notorious serial killer of the 20th century. It's a normal impulse to have. The guy's an irresistible figure to storytellers: pure misogynistic evil who disguised himself for a decade under swashbuckling charm. Sure, maybe it's not the most original idea (again: "most notorious serial killer of the 20th century"), but Bundy existed, he killed somewhere between 30 and 100 young women, and people should remember that. So now, how do you tell them?

The literary world was a more interesting place with JT LeRoy around, even though he never was, really. The pen name of author Laura Albert, "JT" was an androgynous former truck-stop sex worker who supposedly channeled his sordid upbringing into raw, autobiographical fictions that captivated hip circles in the late '90s and early 2000s. Albert played JT on the page and in phone calls with journalists and famous admirers, duping the public into believing the guise was real.

When they write the bible on the great trolls of history, the Satanic Temple should be on the cover. Founded in 2013 as a poke in the eye of religious conservatism, the organization has since transitioned into a fully sincere spiritual movement itself, one advocating principles of nonviolence, religious pluralism, scientific inquiry, individual liberty and Dungeons & Dragons garb.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The center of Paris is Notre Dame.

This is true both literally and figuratively. The Gothic cathedral is there on Île de la Cité, the island in the Seine in between Paris' Left and Right banks, convenient and inescapable for the estimated 13 million people who visit it every year. Just outside, a Point Zero marker measures the distance to everything else in France. And Notre Dame is there in more than 850 years of French history: in paintings, daguerreotypes, songs, novels, war photos, awed selfies.

The spaceship hurtling away from Earth is staffed with men and women sprung from death row to aid in a mysterious science experiment. The once-condemned crew believe they've been given a chance to redeem themselves and do one final good deed for humanity. Only later, as their signals to Earth begin to go unanswered and their true mission comes into focus, do they realize they have in fact been condemned twice.