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Scott Simon

Lucio Arreola is going to have an astounding Father's Day this year. He finds just about every day astounding now.

Arreola has a new heart; or at least, new to him. He is 50 years old, the father of three daughters and a banking executive in Puerto Rico. On April 20, doctors at Houston Methodist Hospital performed a transplant to implant inside him the heart of a deceased 25-year-old man whose identity he may never know, but to whom he and his family will always be grateful.

Parents have special eyesight. We watch our children get smarter and taller and stronger, and we dream they may someday dazzle the world. But some part of our eyes and hearts will always see them as infants we once held; children whose small hands once reached up for ours; the charmers who smiled into our faces with the power of sunlight.

We are grateful this Memorial Day weekend for those many who have fallen in service to the country which, even with the changes it needs to make, so many enjoy today.

I know our family, and perhaps yours, will see one or more venerated films that resonate with a holiday that, after all, is about more than sales on websites. I've chosen just three of my favorites here:

Nella Rogers is happy at first to see that another Black woman has been hired as an editorial assistant at Wagner Books. She's tired of being just about the only Black person in the room — or really any room at Wagner. And then one morning, Nella looks through a small crack in a cubicle and sees what she calls "the flash of a brown hand."

It's Hazel-May McCall, resplendent in locs, "every one as thick as a bubble tea straw and longer than her arms," a sharp marigold pantsuit and red patent leather ankle boots "that Nella would have broken her neck just trying to get into."

Dr. Ayman Abu al-Ouf worked into the small hours last Sunday at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where he was chief of internal medicine, trained medical students and supervised a ward for COVID-19 patients.

A former colleague told the BBC, "I would say he was the most kind-hearted and compassionate person I have ever seen in my life."

Everybody jokes about just doing away with the Internet after some data hack, service outage or other frustration reveals how much of our lives revolve around it. As David Yoon writes in his new novel about a fictitious platform called Wren — and only the name may be fictitious:

In February 2020, Norm Carson was attending a trade show in Amsterdam, when news about the coronavirus hit.

"We went in that day thinking we'd see some customers, do some training and it'd be a regular day. And then before you knew it, they had announced the name," he says.

I first heard of National Public Radio when it broadcast the Senate hearings into the Watergate scandal live, in the summer of 1973.

Maggie Shipstead's new Great Circle is one of the most anticipated novels of the spring. At a time when so many of us have been cooped up, her novel ranges around the world in over a century, from Alaska to the South Pole, over the open skies of the Pacific in the Battle of Britain, past shipwrecks, plane crashes, shattered romances, world wars, Lake Superior, Scotland, Montana and Hollywood.

Two strangers sat next to each other on a campus bus in Lynchburg, Va., recently and struck up a conversation. Ruby Wierzbicki is 19 years old and a freshman at Liberty University. Ally Cole is 21 and a sophomore.

"I like small talk," Ally told us this week. "You learn things."

The students began by asking, "What's your major?"

Exercise science for Ruby, graphic design for Ally.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You know what time it is? Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Bureaucratic prose is often written not to make things plain, but explain them away.

It may be especially telling this week, when 12 jurors found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd, to reread the first report the Minneapolis Police media relations office gave of Floyd's death.

I'd like to salute the great comedy writer Anne Beatts with some her own words. Anne died this week at the age of 74. But many of her signature, boundary-breaking routines are tricky to quote on a Saturday morning radio show.

"I'm often accused of 'going too far,' " she once said. "Behind my desire to shock is an even stronger desire to evade the 'feminine stereotype.' You say women are afraid of mice? I'll show you! I'll eat the mouse!"

At its heart, Hunter Biden's new memoir, Beautiful Things, is a story of addiction.

Biden, the 51-year-old son of the president, writes that he first bought crack cocaine at age 18. He first fell in love with alcohol in high school and started drinking heavily after work in his 20s. "I always could drink five times more than anyone else," he writes.

He has been in and out of rehab numerous times over the last two decades and has had long periods of sobriety between relapses.

Eddie Izzard, the wildly-admired and inventive comic, was in a museum in the British resort town of Bexhill-on-Sea, where she spent much time as a child, when historians showed her an old badge from the Augusta Victoria school for girls in the 1930's. There was a Union Jack on the crest — and a Nazi swastika.

A few months after Jackie Robinson broke modern baseball's color barrier in 1947, Larry Doby became the first Black player in baseball's American League. A year later, Satchel Paige joined the Cleveland Indians as the team's second Black player.

The two Black players, and the team owner's willingness to sign them, propelled Cleveland to win the World Series in 1948 in one of baseball's most notable seasons.

It's the story told in Luke Epplin's new book, Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball.

Flags were lowered to half-staff last week to remember the eight people killed by gun violence at spas in Georgia; and again this week for the 10 people killed in a Boulder, Colo. supermarket. Those crimes and tragedies made national news, and revived painful questions about race, gender and gun violence in America.

Last Saturday, a "peace march" was held in southwest Philadelphia to call for an end to gun violence there.

Poet Roya Hakakian was a teenager when she came to the United States from Iran. In A Beginner's Guide to America, she describes what it's like to step off a long airplane flight, move through glaringly bright passageways, and stand in line with most of your possessions in your hands, seeing the American flag pins on the lapels of the TSA officers — all with names like Sanchez, McWilliams and Cho, and "by God, all of them Americans."

Opinion: The 8 We Lost

Mar 20, 2021

When Amelia Pang, writer of the book Made In China, heard the news about this week's murders in Georgia, she says the spa employees who were killed reminded her of her own mother. She did different work, Pang told us, but, "she is an immigrant woman with very little means. And her life story is likely not so different from theirs. ... Who are they? How did they end up working in those salons? What were their hopes and dreams? What would they have wanted to be remembered for?"

The narrator of Layla Alammar's new novel Silence is a Sense is a journalist who can't kick the habit. She's escaped the Syrian civil war and now lives in an apartment block in the UK where she looks at neighbors through her window: South Tower A, second floor. She sees the father who always forgets his key card. East Tower, third floor is the guy who barely turns on his lights and melts cheese on toast.

With the passage this week of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the United States is now on track to spend some $6 trillion in total on measures related to ending the pandemic.

Among the plans most vocal supporters is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who, as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, helped shepherd the plan through Congress. Sanders says this latest round of appropriations will do no less than rebuild the economy, safely fill classrooms again and help restore faith in the government.

One year ago, the coronavirus outbreak was officially named a global pandemic, and our ordinary routines came to a sudden halt.

We have lost so many lives, each of them irreplaceable; and so many millions have lost their livelihoods and have had to live in deprivation and fear. The coronavirus has intensified the sharp inequality in America, in which the poor, and old, and Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous people are at the greatest risk.

Kyal Sin was clear-eyed as she prepared to take part in protests this week against the military regime in Myanmar. The teenage girl wrote down her blood type in a Facebook post, should she be injured; and asked that her organs be donated should she die.

Her nickname was Angel.

If you're fortunate enough to have a job in this pandemic, what's fun after a day of Zoom conferences where people bark, "Am I on mute?"

If you live in the liveliest city on earth, what about an effervescent evening of Zoom conferences, where you can hear candidates for mayor of New York bark, "Am I on mute?"

Viet Thanh Nguyen's new novel, The Committed, is set in 1980s Paris, but it opens on a small boat in the open seas — crammed with people escaping their homeland. It's a follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Sympathizer, which told the story of a communist double agent just after the Vietnam War.

Stocks, bonds, bitcoin or baseball cards?

In the midst of all the losses of this pandemic, prices for collectible baseball cards seem to be ... outta here.

A mint-condition 1952 Mickey Mantle card has sold for $5.2 million; a Mike Trout card for $3.9 million.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Iram Parveen Bilal's new film "I'll Meet You There" opens with scenes that depict two of the worlds 17-year-old Dua navigates as she grows up on the bustling South Asian Devon Avenue neighborhood on the north side of Chicago.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Two young, inseparable teenagers, called Padma and Lalli, were found hanging side by side from a mango tree in a small village in India in May 2014.

Though many have heard of the story, India law prevents the identities of victims of certain crimes to be revealed, so these are not the girls' real names.

Sonia Faleiro investigated their true story, which has now become her book, The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing.

Interview Highlights

On the girls' identities – and the fact that they were so close

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