Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:55 am
In 2012, writers who tackled musical topics dove deep, got weird, burrowed into a niche; we joyfully followed them to depths we never would have expected when the year began. We devoured works of criticism, history, biography and the Zen of John Cage and Tony Bennett.
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in Amman, Jordan, in 2008.
Credit Photo provided by Library of Congress / AP
Chuck Hagel (right) and his younger brother Tom sit atop an armored personnel carrier in Vietnam, in a photo taken in or around 1968. The Hagel brothers were squad leaders with the U.S. Army's 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong River Delta.
Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is said to be on President Obama's short list to be the next defense secretary. But even the possibility of his nomination has stirred up opposition — particularly from members of his own political party.
If Hagel can survive a political ambush in Washington, he would be the first Pentagon chief who saw combat as an enlisted soldier.
The blunt-spoken Hagel favors deeper cuts in military spending and is wary of entangling America in long overseas missions.
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Merry Christmas. Today we have something truly special, one of my favorite recordings in our archive. It's an onstage concert and interview with Rosemary Clooney, recorded in 1997, five years before her death. Christmas is a perfect time to listen back to this because she starred with Bing Crosby in the classic 1954 film "White Christmas."
You might not expect "Santa's Helper" to be a career-altering gig, but for David Sedaris, it changed everything. The writer and humorist spent a season working at Macy's as a department store elf. He described his short tenure as Crumpet the Elf in "The Santaland Diaries," an essay that he read on Morning Edition in 1992.
Instantly, a classic was born. Sedaris' reading has become an NPR holiday tradition. Click the "Listen" link above to hear Sedaris read his tale.
Mourners put decorations on a Christmas tree, part of a memorial in Newtown, Conn. Holiday greetings, toys and cards have flowed into the town, and some residents say the community feels closer-knit since the shooting.
The days leading up to Christmas are typically bustling in Newtown, Conn. But given the depth of grief in this community since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, preparations for the holiday began very late.
Local shopkeepers say Saturday was the first day many people came out for holiday shopping since the tragedy. Tamara Doherty, owner of the Wishing Well — a shop filled with local crafts, Christmas ornaments, pottery and potpourri — says her business is finally picking up.
Amid continued bloodshed in several parts of Syria, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held another round of talks with President Bashar Assad in Damascus. But there was no sign of progress toward a peace deal.
Two firefighters died and two others were hospitalized in western New York on Monday. They were shot after responding to a fire in the town of Webster, outside Rochester. Police say the gunman is also dead, and they're not ruling out the possibility that the firefighters were led into a trap.
Our colleague Kate Myers has been helping us look back on The Two-Way's year — the most popular posts, the most frequent commenters, the heaviest traffic days and other such measures. We'll share some of what she's found in coming days.
But something Kate just turned up strikes us as worth noting right away.
Kenyan Susan Oguya created an app to help farmers in her homeland. Shown here in the office of her company, M-Farm, she also belongs to the group Akirachix, which seeks to bring more Kenyan women into the tech world.
Credit Gregory Warner
High school girls in Nairobi at a computer workshop organized by Akirachix.
Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 1:53 pm
Milk and cookies might be the traditional Santa offering on Christmas Eve, but in at least one household, St. Nicholas will be getting smoked salmon and scotch.
It's just one out-of-the-ordinary example we gleaned from a call out to fans of NPR's Facebook page. Many of them involved a different sort of Christmas "spirit" — the kind that could push Mr. Claus over the legal limit, at least during the U.S. leg of his annual aerial circumnavigation.
Rounding up his favorite shows from 2012, Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli says that when it came to television, it was another good year for cable and another so-so year for networks. Nor were there any new shows, he says, that wowed him. All the shows he watched and liked in 2012 were shows that have been around for at least a season.
In Friends With Kids, Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) play two best friends who decide to have a baby together while keeping their relationship platonic — so that the baby doesn't interfere with their own romantic relationships.
It's time for end-of-year lists. Fresh Air movie critic David Edelstein stubbornly refuses to either place his top picks in numerical order or make his list an even number of 10. Instead, he places his 12 favorite films from 2012 in alphabetical order, from Amour to Zero Dark Thirty.
Of the 12 films he picked for 2012, not one, Edelstein says, would he call the "M"-word — a masterpiece. That designation he reserves for the new extended DVD cut of Kenneth Lonergan's film Margaret.
Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 6:23 pm
From Portland, Ore., stems a global sound that is powerful in its orchestral beauty. Thomas Lauderdale started Pink Martini more than 15 years ago, a fitting name for the colorful and classy orchestra. Lauderdale's mission was to create a sound that would support political fundraisers for civil, environmental and educational causes, among others. Since then, the group has sold millions of albums worldwide.