Sometimes A Perfect Stranger Is The Best Dinner Host : The Salt : NPR

With website names like Eat With, Side Tour, VoulezVousDiner and Feastly, a new food trend that is sweeping New York and other cities allows diners to enjoy fine meals inside someone else’s home. Think of it as Airbnb for hungry people.

It’s easy to think these sites are all about the food, but they’re not. The food is often just an excuse for what can essentially be a really great party with a bunch of people you’ve never met.

Recently I went to a “taco party” I found through the Eat With website. I paid $40 to go to the home of two fun-loving Latinas. They have a great apartment, filled with art, just across from the Brooklyn Museum. As soon as their guests arrived, they made it a point to shove rum drinks into our hands.

via Sometimes A Perfect Stranger Is The Best Dinner Host : The Salt : NPR.


Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood’ : NPR

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.”

via Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood’ : NPR.


The Iranian Odyssey of Justine Shapiro: Movies | KQED Public Media for Northern CA

Arriving with sweat on her forehead from a morning run, Justine Shapiro takes a seat at a Berkeley cafe to talk about the most traumatic filmmaking experience of her life. Shapiro is a veteran documentarian and travel-series TV host who has worked in more than 40 countries. Her best-known movie is Promises, the 2001 documentary about Palestinian-Israeli children, which was nominated for an Academy Award. On television, she was a prominent host of Globe Trekker, the series (broadcast on PBS) that takes viewers to far-off locales. For that program, Shapiro did everything from remove her clothing (to visit a nudist beach in northern Germany) to eat stinkbugs (during an episode in Mexico). Nothing compares to what Shapiro endured in Iran, where she was making a documentary, called Our Summer in Tehran, about three different Iranian families. Iranian authorities forced Shapiro to stop filming, gave her and her son, Mateo, 48 hours to leave the country, then confiscated all the documentary’s footage — leaving Shapiro without the work she had spent three years fund-raising for and arranging.

via The Iranian Odyssey of Justine Shapiro: Movies | KQED Public Media for Northern CA.


Kafka’s Final Absurdist Tale Plays Out In Tel Aviv : NPR

Franz Kafka published just a few short stories and a novella during his lifetime, yet he was considered one of the 20th century’s most influential writers.

The rest of his work was largely kept secret, and literary scholars have long wondered what gems they might find among Kafka’s papers.

The answer may ultimately lie on Tel Aviv’s Spinoza Street, inside a small, squat apartment building covered with dirty, pinkish stucco that looks like it’s seen better days.

The story of how Kafka’s papers made their way into an apartment owned by a self-professed cat lady, Eva Hoffe, seems like a story only Kafka himself could have written.

via Kafka’s Final Absurdist Tale Plays Out In Tel Aviv : NPR.


Sept. 11 Case A Litmus Test For Military Commissions : NPR

The long-awaited trial of five men accused of helping plan the Sept. 11 attacks is scheduled to begin early this year in a revamped trial process at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Initially, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men charged with planning the attacks were going to be tried in a New York federal court, but congressional opposition forced the Obama administration to reverse course.

Trying the men at the naval base in Cuba has been a controversial issue. The Obama administration has pointed to the hundreds of successful terrorism convictions in U.S. civilian courts as proof that federal courts can handle terrorism cases. Critics of that approach say that terrorists are leveling acts of war against the U.S. and therefore should stand military trial, as war criminals.

http://www.npr.org/2012/01/05/144741037/sept-11-case-a-litmus-test-for-military-commissions?device=iphone


What Vietnam Taught Us About Breaking Bad Habits : Shots – Health Blog : NPR

It’s a tradition as old as New Year’s: making resolutions. We will not smoke, or sojourn with the bucket of mint chocolate chip. In fact, we will resist sweets generally, including the bowl of M &Ms that our co-worker has helpfully positioned on the aisle corner of his desk. There will be exercise, and the learning of a new language.

It is resolved.

So what does science know about translating our resolve into actual changes in behavior? The answer to this question brings us — strangely enough — to a story about heroin use in Vietnam.

What Vietnam Taught Us About Breaking Bad Habits : Shots – Health Blog : NPR.


2011 In Film: Two Pictures That Hit The Right Notes : NPR

“You’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.”

Rob Gordon, the protagonist of 1999’s High Fidelity, was giving a lesson on the fine art of making a mixtape when he spoke those words, but the concept is also applicable to a pair of the most transfixing scenes in movies this year.

Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene and Steve McQueen’s Shame both feature scenes of characters singing standards, using other people’s poetry in ways the authors never might have imagined. Both directors use delicate, minimalist approaches for maximal emotional impact, potentially sidestepping lots of clumsy and too-specific exposition through performance — and subtle twists on someone else’s words.

via 2011 In Film: Two Pictures That Hit The Right Notes : NPR.