Sandy Pollock and Crystal Cook, also known as the Casserole Queens, pass along a favorite recipe out of South Texas. Sandy grew up with the King Ranch Casserole, a cheesy Tex-Mex dish, and she says the traditional quick fix doesn't need any updating. Never mind if the casserole's origins have gotten mixed up along the way: This one's a keeper.
Gabriel Sherman traces the beginning of Fox News' success back to its wall-to-wall coverage of Monica Lewinsky. He says, "Ratings during the Lewinsky scandal exploded more than 400 percent, so you saw instantly that there was a market for this type of ... television." Sherman's book is called The Loudest Voice In The Room.
In this paean to final rounds everywhere, puzzle guru Greg Pliska acts as liaison between contestants and their hope of squeaking their way toward becoming grand prize winner. How many words in your oeuvre contain three vowels in a row? This paragraph is riddled with them, for starters.
The "uber chick lit" author of Eat, Pray, Love may surprise you. She's cross dressed in public, befriended a moss expert and revisited the filthiest New York watering hole, where she worked — all in the pursuit of great stories. Gilbert joins Ask Me Another to discuss such adventurous pursuits, including unearthing authentic 19th-century erotica to inform her new period novel, The Signature of All Things.
What was your first minimum-wage job? Was it as a house musician on a public radio quiz show? The hardworking Jonathan Coulton covers tunes by the likes of Lady Gaga and Elton John, but replaces the rather glamorous jobs in the lyrics with different, and perhaps more attainable, professions.
The trickiest games on Ask Me Another ask you to keep two things in your brain at once, then mash them together to form a mega-answer. In this one, combine the titles of books and newspaper comic strips, such as "Doonesbury My Heart at Wounded Knee." (Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury meets Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.)
This game honors those sweet frozen treats known as Italian ices. House musician and Italian-speaker Jonathan Coulton clues contestants to words, phrases and titles that end in the letters "i-c-e." The catch, of course, is that all answers must be said with a Continental flair: "i-c-e," will sound like "EE-chay." Buona fortuna!
Croatian author Dasa Drndic's new novel Trieste is an experimental mix of historical record and personal quest. It's the story of an Italian woman trying to find the lost child she bore to a Nazi officer. Reviewer Alan Cheuse says it's an intensely moving book, but one that must be put down occasionally in order to recover.
A new exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., features a flock of 70 finches and an array of tuned and amplified guitars. As the flock fills the open room, the birds are free to land on the guitars, making music of their own as they move and jump off the instruments.
American Idol is back tonight. The program was once indisputably the biggest thing on TV, based partly on the entertainment value of watching the judges snipe at each other. Recently, rival singing competition, The Voice has been successful on the strength of the good-natured banter between its judges. Can Idol be nicer — and will that make it more successful?