Well, this is rivalry week in college football. It's that annual period when the cheering and the insults get noticeably louder. And this weekend there's some extra spice as games from Alabama to Florida to Michigan could all have an impact on which two teams end up playing for the national championship. This is the last year of the so-called BCS Championship, the Bowl Championship Series.
Movies and books have long been used to advocate for causes, such as climate change or breast cancer. As video games become more mainstream, advocates are beginning to see how this art form can be a new way to reach out and get people engaged in a cause.
Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:36 am
Thanksgiving — like the universe — is expanding.
Traditionally a time for Americans to pause and give thanks to a Supreme Being — for health or harvest or happenstance, Thanksgiving is evolving before our very eyes into a holiday where we give thanks to each other as well.
Just this week we received Thanksgiving-themed thank-you notes from a doctor's office, a lawyers' association, a New Jersey congressman and others. Can Thanksgiving-themed gift cards be far behind?
It's not a bad idea. Saying thank you to more people.
Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 5:10 pm
Some movies try to underscore their authenticity by flashing dates, names and locations on the screen. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom offers some dates and locations, but not much in the way of names. The result is a history of national transformation in which only two people really seem to matter.
Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 4:29 pm
To many baffled outsiders over 40, Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna was a weirdo riot grrrl bopping up and down onstage in her bra and panties, bellowing atonal revenge lyrics at anyone who'd keep her and her fellow women down.
To her ardent young following of 1990s Third Wave feminists, though, Hanna was an alt Messiah, hacking out a space for women in the punk-rock mosh pit and sounding an enraged alarm on behalf of victims of sexual assault.
Jacob Latimore (from left), Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker power through the season in Kasi Lemmons' <em>Black Nativity,</em> a Christmas movie musical based on Langston Hughes' gospel oratorio.
Credit Phil Bray / Fox Searchlight Pictures
The movie adds a framing device to Hughes' story --one in which Naima (Hudson) sends her son (Latimore) to live with his grandparents after she falls on hard times.
Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 6:55 pm
Like Eve's Bayou, her best-known movie, Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity presents a child's view of a troubled family. The latter film is sweeter and slenderer, but that's only to be expected: Black Nativity is a musical, after all, as well as a credible attempt at an African-American holiday perennial.
The original Black Nativity is a gospel-music oratorio, conceived by poet Langston Hughes and first performed in 1961. It pairs the Christian Nativity story with traditional spirituals and African drumming.
In an annual tradition, writer Bailey White spins a fictional tale of love and life. This year's entry is about a woman dying of cancer who is attended to by a series of old boyfriends, each of whom contributes some sort of minor service. The story ends with a symbolic event at an old hollow tree in the woods, where a coiled snake meets a violent end.
John Mayer has a lot to be thankful for this year, including his return to the stage. A Grammy winner and a multi-platinum seller, Mayer is one of the most successful musicians of the past decade-plus — but a few events in his life have left him uncharacteristically quiet of late. He took a break from press after a pair of controversial interviews in 2010; not long after, he underwent surgery for damage to his vocal cords and had to stop speaking and singing publicly for more than a year.
China is flexing its muscles these days. Over the weekend, it declared a sprawling air defense identification zone that covers disputed islands controlled by Japan. And it has sent its lone aircraft carrier for first-time trials in the South China Sea, where Beijing has territorial feuds with other neighbors, including Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines.
None of this was making China any friends in Manila, where the Chinese government is particularly unpopular these days.
Should the Afghan government sign a security agreement, the U.S. plans to keep between 6,000 and 9,000 American troops in Afghanistan even after the U.S. and NATO's combat mission officially ends late in 2014.
Beginning in 2015, the remaining troops would train Afghan soldiers and mount operations against any remnants of al-Qaida.
But they wouldn't be the only ones who stay behind: U.S. troops would almost certainly be outnumbered by civilian contractors.
Thursday's holiday has Sarah Josepha Hale to thank for helping it get national recognition.
Thanksgiving before 1863 was something of a moveable feast, with states honoring the holiday at various times or not at all. But as the Civil War dragged on, Abraham Lincoln needed a way to unite the country. And Hale, a prominent magazine editor, persuaded him to declare a national holiday.
Hale, who was from New Hampshire, was a prolific writer of biographies, cookbooks, novels, editorials and volumes of poetry, including the children's rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
He's not 40 yet, but Jason Moran is a 2010 MacArthur Fellow, the Artistic Advisor for Jazz at the Kennedy Center, and a Resident Artistic Director at SFJAZZ in San Francisco. He grew up in Houston, teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music and lives in New York, home to an early 20th century piano tradition of which he is more than aware. Moran has led this trio, The Bandwagon, for more than a dozen years.
Think back to an important event in your life: a graduation, a birth, a special Thanksgiving dinner. Chances are you're remembering not only what happened, but also where it happened. And now scientists think they know why.
As we form so-called episodic memories, the brain appears to be using special cells in the hippocampus to "geotag" each event, researchers report in Science. The process is similar to what some digital cameras do when they tag each picture with information about where the image was taken.
Thanking members of the U.S. military for their service is an American tradition – throughout the year. But what do those who are on the receiving end of our thanks have to be thankful for at Thanksgiving?
From somewhere in Southwest Asia, American expat Sarah Kinzer writes: "We are U.S. Air Force overseas... Due to host nation sensitivities I can't tell you a city — or country — but you can say we are stationed with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing."
With a career that spans rock, pop, country and everything in between, Linda Ronstadt knows no genre, only what her voice can accomplish. Her most famous recordings include "Heart Like a Wheel," "Desperado," "Faithless Love," and many more. But Ronstadt recently revealed that she has Parkinson's disease and can no longer sing.
Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 7:08 pm
Many of us sitting down for Thanksgiving feasts today have made cranberries a part of our holiday table. And from a health perspective, those bitter, bright red berries should be on your list of things to be thankful for.
As my colleague Allison Aubrey has previously reported, the Pilgrims believed that cranberries could cure scurvy. They were wrong on their reasoning but right on the cure: The berries are packed with vitamin C.
For some expatriates there comes a point of surrender. Keeping the back-home traditions becomes too much trouble. Or the allures of the host country become too strong. Call it Thanksgiving Up.
Such is the case for Susan Partington who lives with her family in Gisborne, New Zealand. "After seven years down under, I've completely given up on the traditional foods. Spending a Thursday cooking lots of hot food during summer is absurd."
Besides movie theaters and Wal-Mart, one place that will stay open this Thanksgiving is the new HealthCare.gov "exchange operations center." Staffers on the "tech surge" to fix the error-riddled site have just days to meet the Obama administration's self-imposed deadline for a functioning site.
On Thanksgiving morning I'll be making pies with my mom, just as I have ever since I was a girl. But at some point I know we'll be talking about more than shortening versus butter. We'll be talking about how she would like to die.
A few months ago my mom fell at home and ended up being admitted to the ICU with four broken ribs and internal injuries. She was lucky. After two weeks in the hospital and a few more in a rehab unit, she's back home, using her new blue walker to get around.
Last December, a website called The Morning Newsasked me to describe the most important and unimportant events of my year. So I sent them a story that felt like both to me, something slight but at the same time deeply rich. Now that it's Thanksgiving, I'm going to post it here because it's about two girls who want the best for everybody — and that can get complicated.
Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 11:05 am
The deadline is looming for "wrimos" — writers challenged to clock in a 50,000 word novel by November 30th.
"We're the largest writing event in the world," says Grant Faulkner, executive director of the Berkeley-based non-profit NaNoWriMo — short for National Novel Writing Month. "People's to-do list revolves around food and shelter, but I would say that creativity is a necessity of life, so we need to do what we can to nurture more creators in the world."