I have never considered Liz Lemon a feminist icon of any kind, nor have I ever considered 30 Rock especially strong when it comes to gender politics.
I don't care forthe obsessive joke-making about how Liz is ugly/mannish/old/awkward, and I haven't always been comfortable with the way some of the "she's baby-crazy!" or "she's relationship-crazy!" comedy has played. I was ambivalent about the way the Jezebel parody and the "women aren't funny" storylines were executed.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later in the program, we will pay tribute to the late Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner. The leader of the funk band, The Ohio Players, died earlier this week at the age of 69 and we will tell you more about him in a few minutes.
Ten months on the road playing Richard III in theaters around the world is a good way to prep for playing a ruthlessly ambitious politician and Washington insider — according to Kevin Spacey, at least.
Just before he took the role of Francis "Frank" Underwood, the fictional majority whip of the House of Representatives who hatches a plan to take down the president in the new Netflix original series House of Cards, Spacey spent nearly a year playing Shakespeare's murderously ambitious king.
Google's Craig Robinson and James Hoffacker prepare to hike into the Grand Canyon. Robinson is wearing the new Google Trekker — a Street View camera mounted to a backpack. The Trekker's two lithium ion batteries can last eight hours and power 15 cameras. The pack — designed and built by Google — weighs 40 pounds.
Nicole Georges grew up believing she became a half-orphan when her father died in his 30s, but when a palm reader suggested that her father — the one her mother had told her died of colon cancer — might still be alive, she began to look more closely at the whole of her unexamined life. This personal reconsideration is the heart of Calling Dr. Laura, an inventive graphic memoir that recounts this quest, as well as Nicole Georges' coming into her own as an artist and daughter.
Say "Super Bowl" to Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Jose Garces, and he instantly recalls winter Sundays growing up in Chicago. "While my dad and two brothers and I were watching a Bears football game, empanadas would just appear in front of my lap," he tells All Things Considered for the Found Recipe series.
Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 10:29 am
Americans may have perfected food television and exported our fast-food tastes around the world, but we still haven't made it to the podium in the so-called Olympics of Cooking. The prestigious Bocuse d'Or chef competition, held in Lyon, France, on Tuesday and Wednesday, saw Team USA unable to break its dry streak, with a seventh-place finish behind winners France, Denmark and Japan.
William H. Macy is the first to admit that he has played his fair share of losers. His latest role, as the alcoholic, narcissist Frank Gallagher — the single dad of a dysfunctional six-kid family — on the Showtime series Shameless, adds to the list of hapless characters Macy has portrayed on screen and stage.
This week brings two new high-profile drama series. One is The Americans, premiering Jan. 30 on the FX network; it's about sleeper KGB agents living in the U.S. during the Reagan era. The other is House of Cards, a new series premiering Feb. 1.
Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 11:38 am
You'd be forgiven for thinking chicken Kiev got its start in the Ukrainian capital. After all, a hearty dish of chicken filled with butter, wrapped in bread crumbs, and deep fried is the perfect meal to withstand subzero temperatures and cold winds blowing across the Dniepr River.
Ukrainian chefs say they have the only authentic recipe for the dish, but they concede that chicken Kiev, despite its name, has a far more sophisticated provenance: It's French.
Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 10:03 am
There are three phrases that are almost always bad news for a piece of cultural writing.
1. "The masses."
2. "Middle America."
3. "The lowest common denominator."
All three are ways to separate the writer and her sensibility — which are presumed to be congruent with the reader and her sensibility — from invisible and undefined others, for whom bad cultural content is produced and by whom it is unquestioningly gobbled up.
It used to be a truism among critics of British poetry that Keats and most of his fellow Romantic poets worked in the shadow of John Milton. I'm not making a perfect analogy when I suggest that most contemporary Japanese writers seem to be working under the shadow of Haruki Murakami, but I hope it highlights the spirit of the situation.
Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 11:44 am
"What are those?" I asked my mom, suspiciously eyeing the little cardboard tub with its cellophane cover. It held a heap of pale, miniature cabbages. "They're Brussels sprouts," she said. "They're supposed to be good for you," she added, sealing my doom.
At dinnertime, the mystery vegetable reappeared, steaming hot and greenish-yellow but otherwise unaltered. It gave off a sulfurous stench. I recoiled, but I knew my job. I took a bite.
In a new book, The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, journalist and author Fred Kaplan tackles the career of David H. Petraeus and follows the four-star general from Bosnia to his commands in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Central to the story are ideas of counterinsurgency. Kaplan says that while counterinsurgency is not a new kind of warfare, it's a kind of war that Americans do not like to fight.
Herman Koch's new novel The Dinner is a meal that may give you indigestion, but you'll relish the burn. The book begins with two couples meeting for dinner in a posh Amsterdam restaurant: Paul Lohman, the entertainingly bilious narrator, his brother Serge, a rising politician almost certain to become prime minister in the next election, and their wives. But the dinner conversation is grim, even shocking. Each couple has a teenage son, and the two boys have committed a ghastly crime — a crime that's been captured on grainy viral video.
Viewed through the lens of dogmatic perversions in the Soviet Union and China, communism is often seen as the antithesis of American society; an atheistic dystopia founded by Karl Marx, one of the post-Enlightenment's wayward secular philosophers. But Marx came from a deeply religious background — generations of rabbis on both sides — and his original motivation lay in that most Christian of principles: helping humanity's downtrodden.
Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the poet Robert Frost, famous for such poems as "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "The Road Not Taken." Fans of Frost's works have another reason to pay special attention to his legacy this week: Jonathan Reichert, professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo, has just donated a rare collection of Frost materials to the university.
The silken tassel on this skull cap, woven in Aleppo around 1800, recalls a more prosperous and tranquil time in that now-beleaguered Syrian hub.
Credit Courtesy of The Textile Museum
In 1800, when the tapestry cap was made, Aleppo was a major textile center, dotted with workshops where silk was woven and crafted. This 1873 photograph shows a Muslim man and woman from the region.
Credit Courtesy of The Textile Museum
Aleppo, shown in March 2006, is the largest and oldest city in Syria. Now a battleground for rebels and the Syrian government, it was once a prosperous cultural hub.
Credit Ramzi Haidar / AFP/Getty Images
Photographs from a book published by the Ottoman Imperial Commission for the World's Fair in 1873 illustrate Syria's diverse cultures. Here, an Arab woman (left) and a Druze woman (center) stand with another woman; all are from Damascus.
Over the past six months, the headlines from Aleppo, Syria, have been horrifying. As the conflict between rebel forces and the government continues, the city has been overrun by tanks and artillery, and assaulted by shots, explosions and fires.
But Aleppo's present belies a much richer past. It's Syria's largest city, and one of the world's oldest continually inhabited urban areas. Over the centuries, it has served as a major crossroads for trade and commerce.
Reading always seemed to be the most private of acts: just you and your imagination immersed in another world. But now, if you happen to be curled up with an e-reader, you're not alone.
Data is being collected about your reading habits. That information belongs to the companies that sell e-readers, like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. And they can share — or sell — that information if they like. One official at Barnes & Noble has said sharing that data with publishers might "help authors create even better books."
My favorite item from the growing mountain of Pride and Prejudice bicentennial trivia comes courtesy of an article in something called Regency World Magazine, which is going gaga over the anniversary. The article, "Albert Goes Ape for Austen," describes how a 200-pound orangutan named Albert, living in the Gdansk Zoo in Poland, insists on having 50 pages a night of Pride and Prejudice read to him at bedtime by his keeper or else he refuses to go to sleep.
Al Roker, the veteran weatherman on NBC's Today show, endured years of indignities as an obese teenager and throughout his television career. Then, in 2002, he had bariatric surgery and lost more than 100 pounds. But deciding to have the procedure, which is potentially life-threatening, wasn't easy — and neither was keeping the weight off afterward.
Whether this week's announcements that both ABC's Don't Trust The B- In Apt. 23 and Fox's Ben & Kate are being yanked from the schedules mark the beginning of the Great Sitcom Massacre of 2013 remains to be seen. It almost certainly means the end of two strong shows whose casts were clearly having a blast making them.