Mandalit del Barco

A chair is just a chair, unless it's designed as a sound-insulated "isolation sphere": a space-age, egg-shaped pod that was created by a French architect in 1971. It's the kind of unique object you can find at this year's Design Miami.

The fair features everything from vintage furniture to contemporary ceramics to handcrafted jewelry — all collectible objects from the 20th and 21st century. Rodman Primack is chief creative officer of the marketplace, where potential buyers can find unique, limited edition pieces and prototypes commissioned by 34 galleries from around the world.

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John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, says he's taking a six month leave of absence amid sexual harassment allegations.

Lasseter announced his sabbatical Tuesday.

That same day, The Hollywood Reporter published allegations that the Pixar co-founder is known for "grabbing, kissing, and making comments about physical attributes."

Pixar's newest animated movie, Coco, is meant to be a love letter to Mexico. The movie has a Latino cast. It's full of Mexican music, culture and folklore — including some of the traditions around the Day of the Dead. And it premiered in Mexico, where it's gone on to become the No. 1 film of all time. Now, audiences in the U.S. can see it.

How many taco trucks do you know that not only have a cookbook but a theme song? Wes Avila's Guerrilla Tacos truck does – and has once again made food critic Jonathan Gold's influential list of favorite Los Angeles eateries.

Happy birthday, Orange Chicken.

There are a lot of home recipes now for this dish. But Panda Express, the country's largest Chinese-American fast food chain, claims to have created this sweet and sour concoction, its signature dish, 30 years ago today.

Actress Gabrielle Union started off playing teenagers on TV in the 1990s. Now, she stars in the BET show Being Mary Jane, as a powerful cable news anchor who's equally fierce in her personal life. She's also an advocate for rape survivors and an outspoken voice on many issues. And she's just written her first book, a collection of essays called We're Going to Need More Wine.

Since Hurricane Maria, people in Puerto Rico have been without easy access to electricity, clean drinking water, or food. Many are still staying in shelters; some are living in the ruins of their homes. The once-lush green trees were stripped bare and uprooted.

But all is not lost.

There are two quintessential Puerto Rican sounds that survived:

One is the plaintive song of the tiny coqui frog.

The other is the improvised Afro-Puerto Rican call-and-response musical tradition known as Plena.

Residents of La Perla are still waiting for help.

The notoriously dangerous barrio of candy colored homes is bordered by the Caribbean on one side and the ancient city walls of Old San Juan on the other.

As in the rest of Puerto Rico, people here remain without electricity or access to clean drinking water, food and supplies, nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria.

Desperate residents have painted messages on plywood boards: "S.O.S., we need help. Water, provisions. Don't abandon us. Despacito."

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The song of the summer connected its fans to an oceanside barrio that borders the city walls of Old San Juan. And now the people in this part of Puerto Rico are asking for help. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

Eight-year-old Yan Anthony Hernandez has deep dimples on each side of his smile. Somehow, he managed to sleep through the hurricane that roared over his home in Isabela, Puerto Rico. Unlike those living in wooden houses, his cement home held up.

But now, there's no electricity or cellphone service, and his school is closed. Instead of spending his free time on his Playstation or watching YouTube videos as he usually does, he's a little bored.

More than a week after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, most of the island remains without electricity, food and drinkable water. On Sunday, President Trump criticized the U.S. territory's pleas for help and tweeted that Puerto Ricans "want everything to be done for them."

But before that, one famous New York break dancer took it upon himself to do something for his people on the island.

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Character actor Michael Parks has died after a career that lasted more than 50 years. He was 77.

Parks' agent, Jane Schulman, confirmed his death to news organizations but she did not specify the cause.

Parks, a California native, didn't begin acting until after years of fruit picking, truck driving and firefighting.

In the 1960s, he was on numerous TV shows, and was seen by some in Hollywood as the next James Dean. Most notably, he starred as the brooding ex-newspaperman riding a Harley — a sort of Easy Rider — on the TV series Then Came Bronson.

Some people call Jeremy Fox the "vegetable whisperer," the California chef who can coax remarkable flavors out of every part of his produce, even the flowers and leaves that most chefs throw away. One of his famous first-course dishes combines twice-shucked spring peas with macadamia nuts and white chocolate. He has reinvented cooking with vegetables, and in the process, reinvented himself, too.

In some parts of the country, cold weather is threatening crops. Meanwhile, California has been so unseasonably wet that its deserts are experiencing what's called a "super bloom." After years of drought, the normally arid desert is lush.

"It just looks like a sea of flowers," says Janet Gordon, a geologist from Los Angeles.

"You got purple, red, yellows and blues," adds Joe Sheidness, visiting from San Diego.

Countersurveillance fashion designs are being spotlighted at this year's South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, by a group of young women of color who started a company called Hyphen-Labs.

They are scientists, architects and engineers turned artists "creating critical work for critical times," says Ashley Baccus-Clark, a speculative neuroscientist and member of the collective, which includes designers from around the globe.

After years of planning, negotiations and speculation, filmmaker George Lucas has chosen Los Angeles to be the home for his museum honoring visual storytelling. It will display his personal collection of fine and popular art, including Norman Rockwell paintings, Mad Magazine covers, photography, children's art, as well as Hollywood props and visual effects from his famous movie franchise Star Wars.

This year, Disney premiered its first Latina princess: Elena Castillo Flores, better known as Elena of Avalor. She sings and plays guitar, she goes on adventures, rules her kingdom and has her own highly rated animated TV show.

As families gather for home-cooked food this Thanksgiving, there's one acclaimed Los Angeles chef who expresses her gratitude for local flavors by getting out in nature.

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Singer Sharon Jones helped revive soul singing with her powerful, energetic performances. The 60 year old died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has this appreciation of her music and her life.

Amazon's new 10-part series Good Girls Revolt was inspired by a landmark 1970 case involving a group of women working at Newsweek magazine who sued their employers for gender discrimination. At the show's fictitious News of the Week magazine, women begin to rise up, too.

Donald Trump's star dimmed a bit on Wednesday. Actually, it was smashed. An early morning vandal dressed as a Los Angeles city construction worker used a pickax and sledgehammer to destroy Trump's sidewalk star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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A new version of a classic Disney animated movie, The Jungle Book, opens Friday. It features a live-action Mowgli and digitally created animals. The new movie is a feat of animation and technical magic — the new smoke and mirrors of Hollywood. Combining multiple animating techniques into a seamless, life-like experience in the jungle, director Jon Favreau called on some of the industry's biggest talents to bring Rudyard Kipling's animals to life.

Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai community outside of Thailand. This week, Thai-Americans are celebrating the traditional three-day water festival called Songkran to mark the new year. And many of them regularly shop at LA's landmark Bangkok Market, the first Thai food store in the U.S.

Artist Robert Mapplethorpe was as controversial as he was celebrated. In 1989, his photographs depicting nude men and sexual fetishes helped ignite the culture wars. Now, an upcoming HBO documentary, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, examines the artist's life and work. He's also the subject of a major retrospective spanning two L.A. museums — the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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