The most dangerous trait a woman can possess is curiosity. That's what myths and religion would have us believe, anyway. Inquisitive Pandora unleashed sorrow upon the world. Eve got us kicked out of paradise. Blight on civilization it may be, but female curiosity is a gift to narrative and the quality my five favorite heroines of the year possess in spades.
It's the holiday season and for some people that means celebrating with friends, family and cocktails. But instead of settling for the standard martini or Manhattan, author and historian Lesley Blume suggests you reach for a taste of bygone cocktail culture.
In Let's Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition, Blume outlines more than 100 lesser-known oldies that are both delicious and delightful. She joins NPR's David Greene to discuss cocktail history and how to make vintage recipes part of a modern-day party.
If Dick Wolf's record in television is any indication, his debut novel, The Intercept, could be the first of dozens.
These days, Wolf says, episodes of the Law & Order franchise he created run or rerun an average of 109 times a week. He jokes with NPR's Robert Siegel that one secret to the series' longevity is how many of the shows originally aired at 10 p.m.
"The reason it repeats so well, in my opinion," he says, "is because half the audience has fallen asleep and can't remember: How does this end?"
This week, we've truth squadded the recent biopics Hitchcock and Argo, and today, we turn to Hyde Park on Hudson. The new film tells the story of a love affair between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his distant cousin Margaret "Daisy" Suckley. But how much of this is fact and how much is fiction?
Switching gears now. The year is winding down and that means Oscar season is winding up. Some movies are already getting buzz, like "Lincoln," "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty." That last film is about the search for Osama bin Laden. Here's a clip.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ZERO DARK THIRTY")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN ##1: (as character) Do you really believe this story? Osama bin Laden?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as character) Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as character) What convinced you?
A sad tale's best for winter, as Shakespeare wrote. The Snow Child, a first novel by a native Alaskan journalist and bookseller named Eowyn Ivey, suggests that if you face winter head-on — as do the childless homesteaders, Mabel and Jack, in this story about life on our northernmost frontier in the 1920s — you may find more hope after sadness than you had ever imagined.
Now that the Christmas feast is over, you may be looking at all the extra food you made, or the food that you brought home from the store that never even got opened.
And you may be wondering: How long can I keep this? What if it's past its expiration date? Who even comes up with those dates on food, anyway, and what do they mean?
Here's the short answer: Those "sell by" dates are there to protect the reputation of the food. They have very little to do with food safety. If you're worried whether food is still OK to eat, just smell it.
It used to be said that only old men drink rye, sitting alone down at the end of the bar, but that's no longer the case as bartenders and patrons set aside the gins and the vodkas and rediscover the pleasures of one of America's old-fashioned favorites.
Whiskey from rye grain was what most distilleries made before Prohibition. Then, after repeal in 1933, bourbon, made from corn, became more popular. Corn was easier to grow, and the taste was sweeter.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:41 am
While Melkon Khosrovian was wooing his wife, he quickly realized that she wasn't as enamored with the frequent hard-liquor toasts as his extended Armenian family was. "She would just pick up her glass and put it back down," he recalls. So he decided to experiment with flavor combinations that would be more palatable to her, creating infused liquors such as grapefruit-vanilla or (her favorite) pear-lavender vodka — in hopes that he might help her feel more like part of the family in the process.
Because Christmas Day means good cheer and good food for many, All Things Consideredasked you to describe what you eat on the holiday — whether you celebrate Christmas or not. You told us about tamales, pickled squid, homemade soup and (of course) Chinese food.
Several of the films contending for top prizes this year have one thing in common: They all say they're inspired by true events.
Among them are Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Hitchcock and Ben Affleck's Argo, which chronicles a covert operation that involved creating a fake Hollywood film to rescue six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis. (The Americans posed as the picture's production crew to escape the country.)
This is the time of year when one man's work is widely — if indirectly — celebrated. His name used to be hugely famous, but nowadays, it draws blank stares, even from people who know that work. We're speaking about E.T.A. Hoffmann, original author of The Nutcracker.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 12:46 am
In the United States, popular holiday gifts come and go from year to year. But in Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book — and it has been that way for decades.
Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. But what's really unusual is the timing: Historically, a majority of books in Iceland are sold from late September to early November. It's a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the "Christmas Book Flood."
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 12:08 pm
Last Christmas, we told you about tourtières, the savory meat pies Canadians serve around the holidays. Now, we bring you cretons, a Québécois delicacy found throughout Canada and parts of New England this time of year.
There's a wordless sequence in Quentin Tarantino's anti-bigotry neo-Spaghetti Western exploitation comedy Django Unchained in which Jamie Foxx, as recently freed slave Django, hitches up his horse and, along with the man who bought him his freedom — Christoph Waltz's Dr. King Schultz — sets off on an elegiac amble through a snowy western landscape. It's one of the most gorgeous sequences of any film this year, a reverie borrowed, with love, from rare snowscape Westerns like McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Sergio Corbucci's 1968 The Great Silence.
Half an hour into Tom Hooper's adaptation of the long-running stage musical Les Miserables, he fixes his camera on Anne Hathaway's tortured, tear-streaked face, and she delivers what ought to become one of the great moments in musical cinema history — right up there with Dorothy singing wistfully of a land far away, Gene Kelly swinging happily around damp lamp poles, and a problem like Maria singing to the grassy Austrian hillsides. She's that good.
It's awards season for Hollywood as the film industry starts doling out accolades. And this year, some of the films hoping to grab the attention of voters will have these words in common: "inspired by true events."
Think Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty — and, of course, Hitchcock.
In the film, Anthony Hopkins plays the legendary film director, and Helen Mirren plays his wife, Alma Reville.
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. And a Merry Christmas to you, if you celebrate. Your kids might've gotten a visit from jolly St. Nick last night, but did you know St. Nicholas was a real guy? We'll talk with the man who traveled the world in search of the man who would become Santa Claus. That's just ahead.
Mixing spiritual and culinary nourishment might seem like an odd pairing to some. But it all comes naturally to Father Leo Patalinghug. He's a priest of the archdiocese of Baltimore, and the author of multiple cookbooks. His latest is called "Spicing Up Married Life," where advice about strengthening your marriage sits side by side with recipes for romantic meals.
Rounding up his favorite shows from 2012, Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli says that when it came to television, it was another good year for cable and another so-so year for networks. Nor were there any new shows, he says, that wowed him. All the shows he watched and liked in 2012 were shows that have been around for at least a season.
It's time for end-of-year lists. Fresh Air movie critic David Edelstein stubbornly refuses to either place his top picks in numerical order or make his list an even number of 10. Instead, he places his 12 favorite films from 2012 in alphabetical order, from Amour to Zero Dark Thirty.
Of the 12 films he picked for 2012, not one, Edelstein says, would he call the "M"-word — a masterpiece. That designation he reserves for the new extended DVD cut of Kenneth Lonergan's film Margaret.
Switching gears now. When you think of inventors, you probably think of Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, Nikola Tesla. But of course there are many people, especially people of color, who've created things that we used every day and yet we might not have heard of them. It was an African-American, for instance, who helped develop the modern traffic light and a Japanese man who thought up instant coffee.
In light of the often tortured interweave of faith and politics in American life, we sometimes forget that our country was first settled by those seeking freedom not from religion but to practice their own versions of it: French Protestants and English Puritans. In many ways, religion is our founding fact. These books explore the vital undercurrent of faith in the expression of American life.