For anyone who's read Christopher Isherwood or even just spent a few hours in front of the History Channel, a novel that opens in 1930s Berlin raises certain expectations: There will be decadent parties, and then one day a Nazi killjoy will turn up and soon the music stops, windows are smashed, Jews rounded up and everyone's lives subsumed by historical forces. The end.
If you've ever shot the breeze, had a heart-to-heart or bent somebody's ear — in fact, if you've ever talked at all — odds are you've used an idiom. These sometimes bizarre phrases are a staple of conversation, and more than 10,000 of them are collected in the latest edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, which came out this week.
President Obama and the top congressional leaders gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday morning for the dedication of a new statue honoring civil rights activist Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up a seat on a public bus sparked a boycott and a movement.
The years of his papacy had seen "moments of joy and light, but also difficult moments," Pope Benedict XVI told some 100,000 spectators gathered in St. Peter's Square Wednesday during his final address. "There have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us ... and the Lord seemed to sleep."
As Benedict becomes the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years and cardinals gather in Rome to choose his successor, a series of scandals — child sex abuse, mismanagement at the Vatican bank, the leaking of secret church documents — has left the Vatican reeling.
Now we want to talk about fashion, but a very specific type of fashion that's taken a big step forward in recent years. We're talking about maternity fashion. Pregnancy is a special time in most women's lives. But even the happiest moms used to dread those Peter Pan collars, those giant bows, and do I even need to mention, the T-shirts with the, you know, arrow pointing to the belly.
Novelist Mohsin Hamid lives in Lahore, Pakistan, quite some distance from the Long Island of Jay Gatsby. But his new novel — his third and, I think, best so far — reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald's quintessential American work. As I read this novel about the dark and light of success in a world of social instability, I kept asking myself how much I might be inflating the value of Hamid's novel by rating it so highly. After all, this story takes the form of a gimmick, and gimmicks usually work against real quality.
The year I discovered lentils, I was broke and lonely and didn't know how to cook. Lentils, it turned out, would have gone a long way toward providing the solution to some of these problems. However, when I first had them, they were a mystery.
They also were the cheapest thing on the menu at the Middle Eastern deli around the corner. The dish was mudardara, I was told. "What's that again?" I said, unable to untangle the knot of plosive consonants. It was repeated.
There's been a tug of war between aesthetically pleasing and safe when it comes to American embassies around the world.
Many embassies have been slammed as bunkers, bland cubes and lifeless compounds. Even the new Secretary of State John Kerry said just a few years ago, "We are building some of the ugliest embassies I've ever seen."