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 Primak 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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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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