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Michael Giacchino started composing scores to go with the video games he was making. Then, one day, he got a call from a video game fan named J.J. Abrams, and ended up composing the music for LOST, the new Star Trek films, lots of Pixar movies, the newest Star Wars movie, and, well ... basically, he does the music for all the movies.

We've invited him to play a game called "Just like composing, but it goes the other way." Three questions about decomposing.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Shirley Jackson was a fairly famous writer in her short lifetime. She wrote a number of novels, two of them best sellers, one nominated for the National Book Award; probably the most famous book was called The Haunting of Hill House, published in 1959. But about a decade earlier, she wrote a short story for the New Yorker magazine which started conversations all over the country. The story was called "The Lottery."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Martha Pym said she had never seen a ghost and that she would very much like to do so, particularly at Christmas, for you can laugh as you like, that is the correct time to see a ghost.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2006.

It's all about the oil.

Through the eight days of Hanukkah, it almost doesn't matter what you eat, as long as it's cooked in oil. A good case could be made for eating potato chips with every meal throughout the holiday.

"São Paulo is the graveyard of samba." So claimed the late Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes, who co-wrote Brazil's most famous song, "The Girl From Ipanema." Home to more than 20 million people, the landlocked city, a graveyard of buildings ordered against the sky, clashed with samba music's optimistic, beach-breezy beat. But now, 100 years after the first recorded samba, São Paulo is pioneering the genre's second act, with a nuanced accent on alienation that is revolutionizing its sound.

For many Latinos, the taste of Christmas Eve is a delicious gift of corn masa and filling wrapped up in aromatic leaves: tamales.

Updated 7:30 p.m. ET

Stars Wars actress Carrie Fisher is reportedly in stable condition after going into cardiac arrest aboard a flight from London Friday.

Quoting Fisher's brother Todd, The Associated Press reports the 60-year-old actress had been stabilized at a Los Angeles area hospital.

The Radio City Rockettes deal in precision, but the story of the group agreeing to perform at Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony next month is a bit of a mess.

At least some of the dance group didn't want to perform for the incoming president's celebration, but a string of messages between dancers, their union and the troupe's ownership group over the latter part of the week caused confusion for many. Ultimately, dancers will now be able to individually choose whether or not to perform on Inauguration Day.

Let's break it down:

The latest

All Things Considered is taking a break from reality this Christmas to present a work of fiction called "Naughty or Nice." It's a radio drama, brought to us by Jonathan Mitchell of the podcast, "The Truth." An elf, tasked with deciding which children are naughty or nice, begins to question Santa's system.

We've all been there — hopelessly tangled in red tape, struggling to get a faceless bureaucracy to hear us. So the conversation that takes place under the opening credits of Ken Loach's absurdist dramedy, I, Daniel Blake, will be as familiar as it is sublimely ghastly.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Twitter has a theory about Santa Claus — he might be a lot farther south than the North Pole.

The tweet that started it all came from an account dedicated to celebrating "everything NOLA." It featured a photo of Santa, holding a baby as he does, and a caption: "If you're from New Orleans 9/10 you got pic with this Santa."

One look at the responses makes it obvious that the caption was not at all an exaggeration.

Thousands of people have shared and replied to the tweet — as scores of New Orleans natives are posting their pictures on the same Santa's lap.

The turkey sits in golden splendor on the carving board. The cranberry sauce glows in its cut glass bowl. There's a large dish of Brussels sprouts, shiny with butter; stuffing flecked with sage; and heaps of crispy roast potatoes. But this is not a Thanksgiving feast. There is no green bean casserole, no mac 'n cheese and not a yam in sight. We've crossed the Atlantic, and this is the traditional Christmas dinner that Brits will sit down to on Dec. 25.

Spiritual quandaries — or at least questions of guilt — lace most of Martin Scorsese's films. Yet despite his Catholic upbringing, the director worships primarily at the church of cinema. Thus his stately if not quite transcendent adaptation of Shusaku Endo's 1966 novel Silence is as much a chance to impersonate great Japanese auteurs as it is an investigation of faith under duress.

Hanukkah Lights 2016

Dec 23, 2016

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication by the Maccabees of the Temple in Jerusalem. It honors the lighting of the menorah, a representation of the spiritual strength of the Jewish people. This holiday special celebrates the stories of the season.

Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz read original stories from authors Lia Pripstein, Elisa Albert, Ellen Orleans and R.L. Maizes. Listen to the full special above or hear individual stories below.

Diane Rehm is wrapping up a public radio career spanning more than four decades and thousands of episodes. Her talk show has originated at Washington, D.C.'s WAMU and is heard by nearly 3 million people across the country weekly on NPR stations.

Yet The Diane Rehm Show almost didn't get off the ground.

In 1979, Rehm started as a host with a program aimed at homemakers. Several years later, she informed her boss that she had other plans.

Think you're stressed out during the holidays? Try being one of Santa's helpers.

Turns out being surrounded by children, tinsel and merriment isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Humorist David Sedaris wrote about the downside of holiday joy in a collection of fanciful stories based on his experiences called the Santaland Diaries. Once again, here's Sedaris reading from his essay as a somewhat-flawed Macy's department store elf named Crumpet.

Click the play button to hear this holiday tradition.

A New York art dealer has been arrested and charged with possessing and selling stolen artifacts from countries throughout Asia.

Nancy Wiener is accused of using her gallery in New York City, called Nancy Wiener Gallery, to "buy, smuggle, launder and sell millions of dollars' worth of antiquities stolen from Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand," according to a complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Based on Margot Lee Shetterly's book, Hidden Figures has a triple-meaning title. It is about the mathematics that served as a rationale and a backstop for manned space capsules launched into space and brought back safely to earth. It is about the African-American women who carried out these vital functions in Langley, VA, without the public acknowledgement granted astronauts like Alan Shepard or John Glenn, or even the buzzcut white men at Mission Control.

20th Century Women is a wonderfully rich comedy about all the forces that can shape an upbringing. It's a film with many brilliant moments, yet because it feels so small in scope (a single mother struggles to understand her teenaged son) and because it could easily be dismissed as a vanity project for its writer-director Mike Mills, some may overlook the fact that the movie itself is brilliant, as well.

One way or another, every Pedro Almodovar film is all about his mothers, real or imagined. His latest, Julieta, marks a return to form for all who love to take a bath in his crimson maternal melodramas. Still, it's a quieter, more inward film, less inclined to broad winks at the audience than, say, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Talk to Her, or even All About My Mother.

Passengers, a fairy tale set aboard a luxury spaceliner, has billion-dollar ideas and five-cent guts.

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.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Even after the Electoral College officially made Donald Trump our next president, a lot of Americans are still wondering how it happened. In part, working-class anger is said to have fueled Trump's victory; and to understand where that anger is coming from, some people are turning to books.

TV critic David Bianculli says that 2016 wasn't a great year for broadcast TV — but that's OK, because audiences had a lot of streaming, cable and Web options to make up for it.

"The things we're getting out of Amazon and out of Netflix and out of Hulu, it's increasing our options and they're trying some pretty good stuff," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Film critic David Edelstein estimates that he saw 400 films this year — more than enough to fill "a couple of 10-best lists," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. His favorite? The fantasy musical, La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

"Everything — the movement of the camera, the colors of the set and the costumes, the rhythms of the actors — harmonizes with everything else," Edelstein says. "It's a beautiful combination of an homage to the past and something entirely new."

[If you're looking for the audio of this week's show, it's in a slightly different place than usual for boring technical reasons — it's over on the right or right above you, depending on how you're viewing this page.]

You know Sam Sanders as the host of the NPR Politics Podcast — a project from which he's about to move on to new and exciting stuff. But you also know him as one of Pop Culture Happy Hour's new fourth chairs of 2016, so who better to join us to talk about some of our favorite things from this year?

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