Scott Simon

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Luis Cortes Romero shared a video on his Twitter feed this past week. In a way, he's been working on it for much of his life.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).

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Some weeks you may wonder what has happened to public speech in America. Or even good manners.

This week, Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, declared he will not invite Sen. Mitt Romney to this year's CPAC after Romney cast the lone Republican vote for President Trump's removal at his impeachment trial.

"We won't credential him as a conservative," Schlapp told Greta Van Susteren on her program Full Court Press. Then he added, "This year, I would actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him."

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It can be hard to reconcile Bob Marley's massive and ongoing influence with the fact that the genre-defining reggae artist was just 36 when he died of cancer in 1981. Marley would have turned 75 this Thursday; to this day, his music accounts for nearly a quarter of the reggae listened to in the United States.

Willis Wu is often seen as a generic Asian Man in a restaurant or the background of a crime scene on a television drama called Black and White. You kind of know the show: She's an accomplished young detective, he's a third-generation cop, together they are Black and White, and they solve impossible cases.

Willis hopes one day to be a Kung Fu Guy on movie screens around the world. But for now, he's the star of Interior Chinatown, the new novel from Charles Yu, an award-winning writer for Westworld and other shows.

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American democracy can seem messy in a week like this. Impeachment hearings looming; six-headed debates; people snapping, sniping; and all the costly, time-consuming and chaotic accouterments of polls, fundraising and campaign rallies.

It's one way to run a country. But we can get a little perspective from around the world.

Just this week in Russia, Vladimir Putin shifted power in the government so when he leaves that office in 2024, he can continue to rule and enrich himself, as he has for 20 years.

When Anna Wiener was a 20-something, she left her job at a literary agency in New York and moved to California to join the high-tech world of "inflection points," "designpreneurs," "blitzscaling," "upleveling," and "disrupters." A world she came to see from the inside as destructive, intrusive, dominating and dangerous. And she writes about it in a new memoir, Uncanny Valley. "I think the stories that are told about the industry are largely on the industry's own terms," she says. "They tend to be these sort of triumphalist narratives about innovation and baby geniuses.

Two young British soldiers, Blake and Schofield, are given an uncommon mission in World War I: deliver a message that could save 1,600 lives — including Blake's brother.

That's the conceit of 1917, starring Colin Firth as the general who gives the order, and Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay as the two soldiers. They're assigned to move across a hellscape of gouged-out trenches, burnt ruins, fat rats, and war's wreckage.

A woman lived in her car in front of our apartment building for a couple of weeks. Our family brought down some food, clothing and a blanket, but the woman hesitated to open her door when we knocked and smiled.

After all, who were we? Why should she trust us?

We did not call police or a city agency to say, "There's a woman living in a car on our street." I've reported stories where I've spent the night in city homeless shelters. They can feel crowded and unsafe, and have little privacy. I can see why someone would choose to stay on the street or in their car.

What makes a banana taped to a wall worth $120,000 to someone?

If it has been put there by the right artist.

This banana was duct-taped to a wall by Maurizio Cattelan, the Italian artist, and it's on display this week at Art Basel in Miami Beach.

The banana is real, by the way, not a sculpture. It will soon go brown, slimy, and may already be ... fragrant.

The Perrotin art gallery of Paris has already sold this piece of produce, and it turns out that $120,000 is practically a bargain. Another banana the artist taped to a wall is going for $150,000.

It's the holiday gift for when you can't think of what else to give. Good for old, young, women, men, north, south — NPR even sells 'em! Socks. And they are having their moment. "Socks have gone through their ups and downs and have had very very many different moments in the fashion world, and there's certainly a resurgence today, as you have probably noticed," says Steven Frumkin, a dean at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. "People want to make a statement, and one of the nice ways of doing it is to have a pair of socks that says something."


As the impeachment inquiry against President Trump continues its march through Congress, questions are churning around his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

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William Ruckelshaus was a conservationist, an Indiana Republican conservative who believed in conserving balanced budgets, limited government powers, constitutional checks and balances, and clean air and water.

"Nature provides a free lunch," he said, "but only if we control our appetites."

He helped write Indiana's first air pollution laws as a state deputy attorney general in the 1960s, and was appointed the first head of the Environment Protection Agency by President Nixon in 1970.

Knives Out is a human jigsaw puzzle of a whodunit: a dead, rich novelist on a divan upstairs; scheming, back-stabbing family members downstairs quarreling over the spoils; an appealing family attendant; and a famously astute detective in the drawing room, armed only with his wits — and, in this case, a slow Southern drawl.

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HELLO")

HARA: (Singing in non-English language).

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To prepare to play Fred Rogers, Tom Hanks estimated he watched "about 8 million hours" of Mister Rogers programming. "I saw every one that I could possibly see," Hanks says.

Hanks never met Rogers, who died in 2003. But he'd seen plenty of imitations of the beloved children's television star, from comics such as Johnny Carson, Eddie Murphy and Martin Short.

What did a meal taste like nearly 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylonia? Pretty good, according to a team of international scholars who have deciphered and are re-creating what are considered to be the world's oldest-known culinary recipes.

The recipes were inscribed on ancient Babylonian tablets that researchers have known about since early in the 20th century but that were not properly translated until the end of the century.

Mary-Louise Parker is drawing rave reviews for her central role in Adam Rapp's new, two-character Broadway drama, The Sound Inside.

In the play, Parker stars as Bella Baird, a 53-year-old Yale English professor and fiction writer living with cancer, a role Parker herself describes as "arduous."

Night to night, under the direction of David Cromer, she's tasked with commanding a bare stage as she narrates her thoughts and actions during the better part of 90 minutes.

To achieve the appearance of effortlessness she musters great effort, she says.

It might be called "Revenge of the Pin-Stripes."

In this week's House Intelligence Committee hearings, career diplomats dressed in somber suits who have often been derided as "elites," "insiders," "the establishment," and even "the Deep State" got the chance to tell Americans how they have been nonpartisan representatives of America from administration to administration.

Those parts of their testimony weren't news "bombshells." But their words are worth noting.

Bernardine Evaristo's novel Girl, Woman, Other is just being published in the United States — after being awarded the U.K.'s Booker Prize last month (an honor shared with Margaret Atwood's The Testaments).

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