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.
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 5:23 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.
After years of recession and slow recovery, maybe you didn't notice. But it turns out, 2012 was a fairly good year for the U.S. economy.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has risen nearly 14 percent this yearand the unemployment rate has fallen to 7.7 percent, the lowest point in four years. Inflation and interest rates have stayed low, allowing families to cut their debt loads.
In an effort to safeguard some 20,000 jobs at a time of rising unemployment, the Italian government has taken an unprecedented step. It has reversed a court order that called for the partial shutdown of Europe's biggest steel plant because it spews cancer-producing dioxins.
The ILVA steel factory in the southern port city of Taranto pits the government versus the judiciary in a battle over health issues and the need for economic revival.
In 2012, several high-profile comics creators added landmark works to their already impressive legacies. With Building Stories, Chris Ware offered 14 volumes of comics, each with its own meticulous, anagrammatic take on despair, and stuffed them into a box.
The hustle of the holidays can put a strain on married couples struggling to find some time together. Father Leo Patalinghug says that cooking together in the kitchen goes a long way toward strengthening a marriage. He speaks with guest host Celeste Headlee about his cookbook, Spicing Up Married Life.
Switching gears now. When you think of inventors, you probably think of Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, Nikola Tesla. But of course there are many people, especially people of color, who've created things that we used every day and yet we might not have heard of them. It was an African-American, for instance, who helped develop the modern traffic light and a Japanese man who thought up instant coffee.