Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 8:09 am
Think of all the great writers who have made their hometowns literary history — William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Thomas Wolfe, to name a few. Now, Susan Straight is getting the same praise for her portrayal of Riverside, Calif. It's a small town at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains, an hour east of Los Angeles.
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).
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.