Depending on your age and how much time you spent in the kitchen with your mother or grandmother, you may remember a big scary pot on the stove with what looked like a small weather vane on top. As it heated up, the top would begin spitting, hissing and wheezing like an asthmatic cobra.
At that point in my mother's kitchen, she'd warn us, "Stand back, just in case the top blows." What? I thought. Pots exploding in the kitchen? Cooking was that dangerous?
Time now for some home-viewing advice from our movie critic, Bob Mondello. This week, a 50th-anniversary Blu-ray release of the ultimate sand-and-sandals picture: Lawrence of Arabia.
Sand dunes for days, armies astride camels, and 29-year-old newcomer Peter O'Toole as British Army Lt. T.E. Lawrence, leading Bedouin warriors on a charge that would shake the Ottoman empire and shake up moviemaking for decades.
"Wrinklies," a widely accepted British term for elderly people, is by a generous margin more affectionate fun than the anodyne euphemisms we use here in the United States, where many of us fear crow's-feet almost as much as we do death. It's no accident that Americans have no equivalent term of endearment beyond the horribly neutered "senior citizen." Or that Hollywood movies mostly ignore the old — or consign them to the demeaning Siberia of crazy old coots (Jack Nicholson) or wacky broads (Jane Fonda, Betty White and so many more).
I'm biased, of course, because I'm a television critic — but to me, giving someone a gift of a TV show you yourself enjoyed tremendously is somehow very personal. You're giving something that you love, and that in many cases will occupy many hours, if not days, of their time. And during that time, they'll occasionally be reminded of you.
Wine is our original alcoholic beverage. It dates back 8,000 years and, as Paul Lukacs writes in his new book, Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures, was originally valued more because it was believed to be of divine origin than for its taste. And that's a good thing, Lukacs tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, because early wine was not particularly good.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 1:11 pm
Chances are you're familiar with the phrase "a well-balanced diet." Two to three servings of meat, poultry or fish; three to five servings of vegetables — you know the drill. When we talk about being "well-balanced" today, we're usually talking about the specific nutrients we put into our body.
While this might seem like a relatively new development — a product of the past 50 years of fitness programs and diet regimes — as it turns out, this idea goes back much further.
The headline out of yesterday's announcement of the films that will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013 had to do with jOBS (if it is up to me, I will never obey that silly typography again), the Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher wearing '70s facial hair.
"Just throw the whole lemon in the food processor for lemon bars." "Don't just soak your dried beans — brine them!" "You don't need a whole day (or two) to make a good sauce."
Some of the things this year's cookbooks said to me as I tested them were downright contrarian. But that's the brilliant thing about cooking in a global, crowdsourced, Web-fueled world: People no longer cook according to some received wisdom handed down by a guy in a white toque. They figure it out as they go along, and if they stumble on a shortcut, it's blogged and shared in no time flat.
One of the nation's largest art fairs, Art Basel, opens this week in Miami. But days before the fair launches in Miami Beach, the party had already started across the bridge, in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 8:05 am
Joining the McDLT in the great history of abbreviated McDonald's sandwiches is the CBO burger. "CBO" stands for Cheddar, Bacon, Onion, but as you can see below, they had to put an asterisk after "cheddar."
Peter: The asterisk should lead you to the bottom of the box where there's a little message saying TOO LATE, YOU'RE DEAD.
Mike: The asterisk really changes the menu. Not sure I want a Filet-O-F*** or a Sham**ck Shake.
Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 1:51 pm
David Oliver Relin, a journalist who had reported from around the world before gaining fame — and getting mired in controversy — as co-author of the best-selling Three Cups of Tea, took his own life when he died on Nov. 15 in Oregon, The New York Times reports.
Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 8:03 am
Matthew Specktor is the author of the forthcoming novel American Dream Machine.
Some books love to be loved. They make their moves on us softly, they butter us up. Who doesn't love Atticus Finch or Franny Glass? These people resemble our better selves, and it's easy, from there, to love the books that contain them. So why is it that whenever someone asks me what they should be reading, I steer them instead toward one of the most loathsome characters in contemporary fiction, Philip Roth's Mickey Sabbath?
Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 10:05 am
Part of a book critic's challenge is to sift through piles of new publications, panning for literary gold. In a way that makes us what one of my favorite children's book heroines, Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking, called a "turnupstuffer" — "Somebody who finds the stuff that turns up if only you look." Or like Dickens' optimistic Mr. Micawber, who was always sure something good would turn up.
Gary Ross has penned and directed some big Hollywood hits like Big, Pleasantville and The Hunger Games. But for the past 15 years, his obsession has been something much more personal: a Dr. Seuss-ian children's book called Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind.
It started when Ross got a call in 1996 from fellow screenwriter David Koepp. Koepp was up against a tight budget and approaching deadline with his debut directorial effort, The Trigger Effect. Its heroine had to read an as-yet-unwritten bedtime story to her child.
My well-documented weird affection for Hallmark movies brings me — along with NPR.org movies editor Trey Graham — to Weekend Edition on Sunday to talk to NPR's Rachel Martin about the high-profile theatrical holiday film as well as the corny basic-cable incarnations that are appropriate to this season.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar three-word phrase in the form "____ of ____." The letters in the first and last words of each phrase are rearranged. You give the phrases. For example, "Cat of Dog" becomes "Act of God."
Last week's challenge from listener Henry Hook of Brooklyn, N.Y.:In a few weeks something will happen that hasn't happened since 1987. What is it?
Five years ago, Paul Young was working three jobs outside Portland, Ore., when he decided to write a Christian tale of redemption for friends and family. He went down to an Office Depot and printed off 15 copies of the story he called The Shack.
The manuscript was never intended for broad publication, but it eventually caught the attention of two California-based pastors. They took it to 26 different publishers but got rejected each time. So the pastors set up their own publishing company and started a whispering campaign among churches.
Las Cruces artist, Wayne Hilton talks about his current project Hermosos Huesos Art Exposition and Book using recycled materials to give new life to the Catrina – the female skeleton icon of Dia de Los Muertos.
For thousands of years the Jewish people have been forced to move around — fleeing bigotry, slavery, pogroms, famines and tyrants. But words are portable, and to Jews — who are among those known as "the People of the Book" — they are precious possessions. As Amos Oz and his daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger, write in their new book, Jews and Words, "Ours is not a bloodline, but a text line."
This weekend, some big names are coming to Washington for a red-carpet event. Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, ballerina Natalia Makarova, blues guitarist Buddy Guy and the British rock band Led Zeppelin will be receiving the annual Kennedy Center Honors.
It's a prestigious award given to only a handful of performers each year. But over the past few months there's been controversy surrounding the awards. In its 35-year history, only two honorees have been Hispanic, despite the fact that Hispanics are the largest minority in the United States.
Jake Tapper is the longtime chief White House correspondent for ABC News and has just written a new book called The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.
We've invited him to play a game called "It's Mr. Bojangles to you." Three questions for a guy named Tapper about an actual tapper: Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who some say was one of the greatest tap dancers of all time.
"The word random is the most misused word of our generation — by far," he proclaims to a tittering audience of 20-somethings. "Like, girls will say, 'Oh, God, I met this random on the way home.' First of all, it's not a noun."
This month the book club takes to the skies with the Tom Wolfe classic The Right Stuff, a behind-the-curtain look at the 20th century's most famous test pilots--including Chuck Yeager. Yeager joins the club to talk about his long career, and what he considers "the right stuff."