Note: The web version of today's show (posted all the way at the bottom here) includes full, unedited, and unexpurgated film clips (which include some adult language) and runs more than four minutes longer than the show we did live on the air.
From Faith Middleton: If you saw When Harry Met Sally…, there was a wry, riveting exchange between the two main characters, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, sitting at a restaurant table, causing an observing customer to say, "I'll have what she's having."
I can't recall the detailed plot of that movie, but I will never forget that scene, and that's what drew all of us on our show to a new book by one of the great writers on film, David Thomson, film critic for The New Republic, and our interview guest.
When you think about what Downton Abbey has achieved, and is continuing to pull off, it's actually pretty remarkable. In an era when the most acclaimed TV series of the decade is an edgy cable drama about a dying, meth-making criminal, Downton Abbey draws similarly large audiences on broadcast TV — public TV, at that — with an old-fashioned soap opera about servants and household staffers and those they serve. As Season 4 begins on PBS, Downton Abbey is the most popular drama in the history of public television.
Today on The Scramble we lead off with some reporting that will be featured this week on a PBS' "Frontline" story, To Catch a Trader. It's the story of a federal probe into insider trading and the specific role of Connecticut's Steve Cohen, and his SAC hedge fund.
Stoneware was the commonest form of houseware in America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Americans started making stoneware in the early 1700s. One of Connecticut's first potteries began making stoneware in Norwich as early as 1769.
It's 10:30 on a Friday morning, which is kind of "zero hour" for me to figure out the final order of topics for The Nose, our weekly culture roundtable. Maybe I can straighten out my own thinking and give you a window on our process in the same big gulp.
Other exhibits on display at the Museum include "<a href="http://mmuseumm.com/exhibitions/silicon-body-part-piercing-displays">Silicon Body Part Piercing Displays</a>," "<a href="http://mmuseumm.com/exhibitions/cambodian-menu-photo-rejects">Cambodian Menu Photo Rejects</a>" and "<a href="http://mmuseumm.com/exhibitions/new-york-city-tip-jars-2">New York City Tip Jars</a>."
Imagine a museum that's only 6 square feet. It's called, simply, Museum and it's housed in an old elevator shaft in an alley near New York City's courts. It has some odd exhibits on 18 small shelves, and only about four people can fit into the space at a time.
From Faith Middleton: Starting the New Year with a roar, we examine the pervasive habit of faking it. Think about it… we smile to be polite, or grimace to teach children not to swear. We say nothing when we think a partner's outfit looks odd, or when a pal has given us a gift that makes us wonder, do you know me at all?
Wandering the vast labyrinth of useless information, you might encounter some people having a debate about the last person who knew everything. This is a great, and also pretty hopeless debate, because it requires a judgment about what all the useful information in the world might have been and who was capable of knowing it.
Today's show originally aired December 18 and 21, 2013.
From Faith Middleton: Our Food Schmooze crew decided to throw a Downton Abbey dinner party on the air to celebrate the return of our beloved PBS series, season four. As you can see, we've provided you with all of our delicious recipes, in case you decide to have your own Downton Abbey feast.
A public library is probably not the first location that leaps to mind when you think about an ideal venue for jazz. What you want is a cozy, intimate refuge where you can hear every note played; aren’t seated a dehumanizing, football field length away from far distant performers; and are surrounded by a genuinely attentive, appreciative audience of kindred souls who are at least as much into the music as you are.
From Cree LeFavour's Fish: 54 Seafood Feasts: Toast some seeds in a cast-iron pan for a minute or two, mix with butter and shallots, and you're ready to go. The beauty of this dish, which has some kick, is that a small amount of butter is used as a flavoring agent. (Faith says you could also use it on beef steak or chicken.)
Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 8:35 am
Are we witnessing the twilight of DVD and Blu-ray?
Kinda-sorta. With the emergence of various digital distributions systems — streaming and downloading through your laptop, your cable system, your game console — it's easy to see how these discs will be the next physical media formats to fade away. DVD and Blu-ray could well go the way of CDs and vinyl, becoming a niche boutique market for collectors.
Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 11:00 am
Here's why picking a Top 10 list of best TV shows has become such treacherous work for critics this year: Quite simply, 2013 was the year quality exploded in the television industry.
Thanks to the simultaneous maturing of Netflix, AMC, FX, HBO, Showtime, Amazon, BBC America, Sundance Channel, iTunes and many more media platforms, fans of great television had more options than ever to find high-quality product whenever and wherever they liked.
A view of the New Year's Eve fireworks display in Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia.
Credit Nikki Short / EPA/Landov
Thousands of Filipinos toot their Torotots (party blowers) during an attempt to break the Guinness record for the "most number of people blowing party blowers simultaneously" in Davao city. Ten-thousand party blowers were expected to make noise there on New Year's Eve.
Credit Ritchie B. Tongo / EPA/Landov
A Buddhist woman prays ahead of the new year at Chogye Buddhist temple in Seoul, South Korea.
Credit Ahn Young-joon / AP
Balinese girls in traditional costumes gather during a parade for 2013's last sundown in Bali, Indonesia.
Credit Firdia Lisnawati / AP
A reveler poses on New Year's Eve in Amritsar, India.
Credit Narinder Nanu / AFP/Getty Images
New Year's Eve fireworks explode over Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor, marking the start of 2014 near the Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Credit Kin Cheung / AP
People celebrate the New Year during an event for the Count Down Seoul 2014 at the Time Square in Seoul, South Korea.
Credit Park Jin Hee / Xinhua/Landov
People gather to release balloons to celebrate the New Year during an annual countdown ceremony in Tokyo. Some 2,000 balloons were released in the air, carrying with the visitors' wishes.
Credit Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP/Getty Images
People celebrate ahead of New Year's Day in the center of Rosa Khutor, a venue of the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics.
Credit Maxim Shemetov / Reuters/Landov
A lightshow illuminates the Great Wall during a New Year countdown event in Beijing.
Credit Wang Zhao / AFP/Getty Images
A reveler takes part in festivities during a New Year countdown event at the Great Wall in Beijing. Hundreds of people gathered at the Great Wall to celebrate the New Year.
Credit Wang Zhao / AFP/Getty Images
Fireworks explode over Palm Jumeirah in Dubai to celebrate the new year in a dazzling bid for a new world record. The glittering fireworks display that lasted around six minutes spanned over 60 miles of the Dubai coast.
Credit Karim Sahib / AFP/Getty Images
The new year has begun in Australia, where fireworks exploded near Sydney's Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.
New Year's resolutions are more successful when willpower is reinforced.
Most of us don't keep our resolutions all year, but this year could be different. Today we'll look at willpower. What is it, how does it work and is there a link to health and happiness through self-control? We talk with Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It.
The centuries-old tradition of ice skating during the winter season began as a simple way to get from place to place. However, by the 1850s, better-designed skates and the increased interest in outdoor activities made ice skating a popular leisure activity. Skaters might be found on virtually any frozen body of water: small ponds, rivers, even town reservoirs.
The Nose panelists explore the hidden mysteries of the Coen Brothers' new film, Inside Llewyn Davis, based on the early folk movement of 1960's Greenwich Village and one of its early pioneers, Dave Van Ronk.
It's not an easy question to answer, but it's worth a try.
The Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd drops by to share his top music picks of the year. What track (or album) have you been listening to all year long? We hear Anthony Fantano’s favorite music – will Arcade Fire, Beyonce, or Eminem make the list? No. But find out what does on Where We Live.
About a year ago I needed, for reasons not worth delving into, to learn "People Will Say We're In Love." If you're going to study a song -- maybe play it 20 times over a couple of days until the lyrics and changes are second nature -- you better pick a version you like. So I sampled a few dozen covers on iTunes and wound up picking a jazz singer -- previously unknown to me -- named Rachael Price. Rachael just swung it, and she had a low, throaty edge that I liked.
From Faith Middleton: Though it is not widely discussed, there is a science of friendship peopled by academics, psychologists and others studying the earliest references to friendship, why humans began valuing friends, and how we continue these relationships all our lives.
You loved jazz in college, but these days, do you really have time to follow it? Maybe I'm only talking about myself. The jazz scene I loved so much in my early twenties begins to recede unless I make an affirmative effort to go charging toward it. So at this time of year, every year, we consult with jazz savants and musicians and ask them about the best music they heard all year.
There are some holiday songs that should banned. I'm sorry, Burl Ives, but there's really no reason for anybody to have to hear "Holly Jolly Christmas" ever again.
And Little Drummer Boy? There's almost no way to describe the sinking feeling that tune gives me. Except, well, to call it a sinking feeling. On the other hand, I don't mind Mariah Carey singing "All I Want for Christmas Is You," but my producers are pretty much coming though the glass of the control booth at me for saying that.
The perennial lament that jazz is dead had no validity in our region, the geographical Jazz Corridor between New York and Boston, in 2013. In fact, the past year abounded with many robust life signs, and a promising prognosis for a long, relatively healthy life for America’s original, perhaps most endangered, yet somehow most remarkably resilient art form.