Ari Shapiro

Henry Eliot's new book about mazes and labyrinths is a printer's worst nightmare. Follow This Thread is both a title and an instruction: To read the book, you must turn it upside down and backwards. Lines of text wrap 90 degrees on the page, and a thin red thread — illustrations by the French artist Quibe — travels playfully from page to page.

Believe it or not, this is the "reined in" version.

"When I first pitched it, the design was even more complicated ..." Eliot says. "As I described this to my editor, I could see her face just kind of falling."

Julianne Moore isn't itching to play flashy, dramatic roles. "I find that the older I get, and the more experience I gather — as an actor and as a human being — the more I'm interested in things that are real ..." she says. "It's almost like behavior is way more interesting than acting."

The late pop star Michael Jackson, once hailed as the King of Pop, is the focus of the new documentary Leaving Neverland, which airs this weekend on HBO. The four-hour documentary centers on two of Jackson's alleged sexual abuse victims, Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Robson and Safechuck, now both in their 30s, say that Jackson sexually abused them for years when they were as young as 7 and 10 years old. Filmmaker Dan Reed spent three years putting this documentary together.

You know LeBron, Serena and Messi.

But do you know Pepe, Flame and Jenga?

They're another kind of superathlete on a one-name basis with fans — sled dogs preparing for the Iditarod race.

Blair Braverman, the team's musher, will take the dogs out for their first Iditarod when the race starts Saturday, braving some 938 miles of trail across Alaska, from Anchorage to Nome.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is best known for his starring role in the movie 12 Years a Slave. Now he's making his directorial debut.

A decade ago, the English actor of Nigerian descent picked up a best-selling memoir called The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. It's about William Kamkwamba, a schoolkid in Malawi whose ingenuity helps save his village from famine.

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President Trump set an ambitious goal during last week's State Of The Union address.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2019 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: To eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years.

Honey? You awake?

There's no shortage of romantic verse for people who have just fallen in love. But no one waxes poetic about the soft glow of a smartphone screen, or the sweet caress of sweatpants.

So John Kenney, a "longtime married person," has filled this void with a slim volume called Love Poems (for Married People), in which he celebrates what happens to romance after years (and years, and years) of partnership.

One poem asks: "Are you in the mood?"

Marlon James could have chosen to write about anything after his last novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings; that kaleidoscopic account of Jamaica won the prestigious Man Booker Prize. So there were a few gasps when the author revealed that his new book would be what some people dismiss as genre fiction.

Director Dan Gilroy is back with a new film called Velvet Buzzsaw.

Like his last movie, Nightcrawler, Gilroy is the writer and director. And also like his last film, this one stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. Gyllenhaal plays an art critic named Morf Vandewalt, Russo a gallery owner named Rhodora Haze. And the movie hinges around the work of the late artist Vetril Dease.

As the names may give away, Velvet Buzzsaw is a comedy. It's also a horror movie, where the killer is — wait for it — the works of art.

When teacher Alicia D. Williams asked kindergartners to pick out a crayon that reflected their skin tone, she says something heartbreaking happened: Out of a spectrum of multicultural options, "Never, never, never do our kids of color choose a skin tone that's close to theirs. They go as light as possible."

For government workers who haven't been paid in more than a month, the shutdown is feeling increasingly dire. Savings are drying up; bills are coming due.

The people of Oakdale, La., are among those feeling the pressure. The city of about 8,000 is in the middle of the state — more than three hours' drive from New Orleans or Houston.

A federal prison there was one of the most reliable employers, providing good salaries and benefits. The typical family in Oakdale has an income of about $30,000 a year. The starting salary at the prison is about $35,000.

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As the government shutdown enters its fourth week — becoming the longest in United States history — federal workers around the country are struggling to make ends meet. But according to Jamiles Lartey, a reporter with The Guardian, the shutdown is having a disproportionate effect on black workers and their families.

In late December, we sometimes talk to people who've had a very big year, but author N.K. Jemisin has had a very big three years. In 2016, she became the first African-American writer to win the Hugo Award for best novel. She went on to win the same prize last year, and again this year, making her the only author ever to win the award in three consecutive years — for her Broken Earth trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky.

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Before the Woolsey Fire raged near Malibu, Calif., in November, hundreds of bikers gathered each weekend at the Rock Store for pancakes or a cup of coffee before riding through the Santa Monica Mountains on the twisty road called "The Snake."

After the fire swept through the area, not much was left standing – except, somewhat miraculously, the popular biker bar.

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Carmen Gonzalez is 17 years old, and her life took a turn a couple of years ago when a community newspaper called Boyle Heights Beat showed up at her high school in Los Angeles. They were recruiting students to work as reporters.

Earl Sweatshirt has a lot to process. The Los Angeles rapper has just returned from a three-year break to release his third studio album, Some Rap Songs, last month and he's been taking it all in. All across downtown LA, promo posters of the album read: 'Thebe Kgositsile, professionally known as Earl Sweatshirt, presents the studio album Some Rap Songs.'

When Los Angeles Times photographer Wally Skalij photographed a tiny owl sitting on the beach in Malibu as the flames of the Woolsey Fire burned in the background, he had no idea how many people would connect with the image.

In a windowless classroom at the John J. Moran medium-security prison in Cranston, R.I., three men sit around a table to share how and when they began using opioids.

For Josh, now 39, it was when he was just 13 years old. "I got grounded for a week in my house, so I grabbed a bundle of heroin and just sat inside and sniffed it all week."

"I started using heroin at 19," says Ray, now 23. "I was shooting it. It was with a group of friends that I was working with, doing roof work."

Thousands of content moderators work around the clock to ensure that Facebook, YouTube, Google and other online platforms remain free of toxic content. That can include trolling, sexually explicit photos or videos, violent threats and more.

Unemployment is at nearly 50-year lows and the economy has been adding jobs for 97 straight months. But, 10 years after the financial crisis, the recovery hasn't reached everywhere.

Three members of a Michigan family had all worked at a General Motors plant near Detroit before it closed in 2010, as the economy and the auto industry collapsed around them. All three lost their jobs at the factory. And their lives changed in unexpected ways.

Don Skidmore: GM plant closing was 'like losing your life'

You may know Peter Sagal as the host of the NPR news quiz, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! which just celebrated its 20th anniversary. But he is not here to talk about the show.

He came to talk about his other pursuit — one that pays even less than public radio.

Michael Caine, 85, has been filling our movie screens for a half-century.

His breakout role came in 1966, as the callous heartthrob in Alfie. More than 100 movies later, Caine is better known these days for his supporting roles, such as the fatherly butler in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.

John Jay Osborn is a screenwriter and novelist who often mines his own life for material.

In 1970, he based the book The Paper Chase on his time in law school — he is also a law professor. His new novel is based on an experience he and his wife had together over 30 years ago: They went to marriage counseling.

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And I'm Ari Shapiro at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor. Monday night in the city of Flint, people pulled up in their cars to the Asbury United Methodist Church. They slept in a long line of vehicles, hoping to be near the front when volunteers started handing out pallets of bottled water at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED VOLUNTEER #1: What? You going to put something in the back seat?

KALEKA LEWIS HARRIS: The line was, like, seven or eight blocks. We have about 400 to 600 people to come through the lines.

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Jason Logan is constantly looking at the ground.

"What I like to do is just walk really slowly," he says, eyes down. He's in a dusty, chain-link fence-lined alley in downtown Washington, D.C., with broken bottles and chunks of concrete scattered about. It's right off one of the city's major streets, and the buzz of traffic and wail of sirens fill the air.

"Part of what I do and part of what I'm excited by is just opening up people's eyes to what's going on at their feet," Logan says, scanning. "Kind of through the lens of: Could I make an ink out of that?"

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