Monthly Archives: December 2013

Does Champagne Actually Get You Drunk Faster?


Each bottle of Champagne contains around 50 million bubbles. But will any of them accelerate the inebriation process?i i

hide captionEach bottle of Champagne contains around 50 million bubbles. But will any of them accelerate the inebriation process?


Victor Bezrukov/Flickr.com

Each bottle of Champagne contains around 50 million bubbles. But will any of them accelerate the inebriation process?

Each bottle of Champagne contains around 50 million bubbles. But will any of them accelerate the inebriation process?

Victor Bezrukov/Flickr.com

Every time I spend New Year’s Eve with my mom, she tells me the same thing: “Be careful with that Champagne, honey. The bubbles go straight to the head. And it won’t be pretty tomorrow.”

Thanks, Mom. Glad you’re looking after me after all these years.

But is she right?

The internet will sure tell you so. Search for “Champagne, bubbles and drunk,” and you’ll get articles entitled “Why Bubbles Make You More Giggly” and “Fizz in bubbly will get you drunk faster.”

But if you dig a little deeper, the scientific evidence is about as thin as the stem on a Reidel Champagne flute.

Among the first researchers to investigate the bubbles was a group in England that published a study looking at how quickly alcohol entered the blood when people drank a bubbly Champagne versus a degassed one. “We found that the blood alcohol levels of the people drinking the gas champagne were higher for the first twenty minutes, suggesting that it had got into the blood stream a lot quicker,” the lead researcher on the study, Fran Ridout told The Naked Scientist.

Ridout’s study got a lot of attention at the time, and it helped cement the belief that those beautiful tiny spheres of carbon dioxide are to blame for the nasty New Year’s Day hangover.

Case closed, right? Not quite.

Ridout’s study was riddled with, shall we say, holes. First off, the experiment she references involved only six people. And the difference in blood alcohol levels between the bubbly and flat Champagne vanished about 35 minutes after consumption. The margins of error on all the data points were also gigantic. I’d trust the findings about as far as I could throw a barrel of Moet et Chandon.

A few years later, another team in Manchester, England, performed a similar, more rigorous experiment. Instead of Champagne, Steven Robinson and his colleagues gave volunteers vodka mixed with either still or carbonated water.

This time, the study had 21 subjects. And the results were slightly clearer. Adding the gaseous mixer bumped up the initial rate of alcohol absorption into the blood by about 50 percent — on average.

But this rate varied wildly among the volunteers. Three of the 21 volunteers adsorbed the bubbly cocktail more slowly than the flat one, and for four subjects, the carbonation made no difference at all.

So it looks like Mom — and the internet — could be partly right. In some people, one small study tells us that carbonation might initially increase the rate that alcohol gets into the blood and to your brain.

But even then, the heightened effect is temporary. After about 45 minutes, you’re going to feel essentially the same as if you had knocked back a glass of bubble-less chardonnay or pinot noir.

So why would a splash of carbonation accelerate inebriation in the first place?

No one knows for sure. But there’s one leading hypothesis: The carbon dioxide gas rushes the alcohol from the stomach into the small intestine. See my colleague Adam Cole’s wonderful video on the science of drinking and hangovers below:

Alcohol primarily gets into the blood by seeping through the lining of the small intestine. The little alcohol molecule is also absorbed through the stomach, but more slowly. And it can even start breaking down, which inactivates it, while it’s hanging out in the stomach.

Some studies, dating back to the 1950s, found that carbon dioxide gas actually accelerates the movement of food and liquids from the stomach into the small intestine. But alas, even this connection has been tough to replicate more recently and remains up for debate.

On the other hand, there’s no question that food delays the emptying of the stomach contents into the small intestine. So all those bar snacks and cookies you chow on tonight should slow down inebriation.

But if you ring in 2014 with a brutal hangover, don’t blame the bubbles.

From Paper To Punks, The Best Games Of 2013


A screenshot from Tearaway.i i

hide captionA screenshot from Tearaway.


Sony

A screenshot from Tearaway.

A screenshot from Tearaway.

Sony

The year passed so awfully quickly, like a twitch in a shooter game, that it kind of faked me out. A week ago, I didn’t believe there were 10 stellar games to make a complete ‘best of’ story. But I looked at a list I’d been keeping since January. I was suddenly overwhelmed — I saw at least 30 worthy games. And from those, I plucked the very best of 2013.

Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games)

Yes, this sprawling satire of an adult game of crime and punishment can ruffle the feathers of even the toughest punk. But there’s more to it than crime. There’s a full, bustling world in Los Santos and its surroundings. You’ll glory at the night sky in the desert, too. As violent as GTA can be, when you take a moment to wonder at the heavens, it can be a spiritual experience as well. That’s why GTA V wins. At its best, it can be all things to all people.

BioShock Infinite (2K Games)

When Ken Levine imagined a world in the sky called Columbia, he researched everything from “Devil in the White City” to The Beach Boys. In this land of complex civil war where the characters lives are nothing if not rife with grey areas and moral dilemmas, there’s a mind-blowing ending that will leave you reeling. Yes, more of Columbia should be explorable and it should have been less of a shooter. And yet, it’s still full of intelligent story bordering on brilliance.

Tearaway (Sony)

The people who conceived LittleBigPlanet crafted this storybook tale in a world made of paper characters who are so charming that you’ll want to be one, if only for a day. It’s made for the neglected PlayStation Vita, so it’s full of touch screen game play. I don’t care about the level design (which is smart) as much as I care about how it makes me feel: like a kid again. A rollicking, wonder-filled, have-no-cares, inspired-by-everything kid.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo)

I spent as much time with my town in Animal Crossing as I did in GTA V’s Los Santos. The animated characters are impressively varied, like the captain who sings strange sea shanties as he transports you to a tropical island. Look between the lines and you’ll find rebellion and characters on the edge. The odd curmudgeons here remind me of Tennessee Williams when he said, “I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge on hysteria.” They often turn into the strong ones, the ones who pull me in to continue playing.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Ubisoft)

Post-surgery and still groggy, this was the first game I played. I found some glitches, like fish near shore that wouldn’t flee when I stepped near and palm fronds that my hands moved through like I was a ghost. But there was majestic nature, like waterfalls so real you can almost feel the spray. There was look of old Havana. There was the adventure that comes with pirates on the high seas. And there was the dark yet insightful portrayal of Haitian slavery (about which Kotaku’s Evan Narcisse wrote so compellingly).

Gone Home (The Fulbright Company)

While this story-filled offering is a loving nod to old-school point-and-click adventure games from the CD-ROM era, it’s the mystery here that rings true. The conceit: You come home to visit. But no one is there. What happened? You’ll uncover cassette tapes, listen to music from Heavens to Betsy, and peruse intimate journals to find answers. The tense buildup to the ending is nothing short of Hitchcockian.

Rogue Legacy (Cellar Door Games)

Sure, the game play can be unforgivingly frustrating. But being able to play as characters with various challenges — everything to ADHD to alektorophobia, spits in the face of those gamemakers who constantly force the “save the world and be a hero” trope upon those who love games. That makes it a platforming role-playing game with unmitigated heart and soul.

Last of Us (Sony)

At first blush, the gameplay felt too familiar for me, and it took sometime to warm up to the characters Ellie and Joel. So did the post-apocalyptic setting where a horrible infection threatens life. And then, as the story progressed and the challenges ramped up, The Last of Us sucked me in so much that I wanted to find every difficult-to-uncover collectible item. There are genuinely compelling moments when the sorrow is so palpable, it’s difficult to understand the empathy that builds between these two struggling protagonists. But you do feel it, and it’s overwhelmingly beautiful.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo)

This year saw a welcome passel of praiseworthy Nintendo games, but the remake of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds seemed fresh and well-suited to the 3DS handheld machine. The gameplay, which can be tough, ultimately leaves you feeling like a young hero. I don’t need that all the time. But sometimes, I crave it.

Lego City Undercover (Nintendo)

This is somewhat like a goofy Grand Theft Auto for kids with a little James Bond thrown in for good measure. Open-world games rated ‘E’ for Everyone by the mysterious ESRB ratings board are hard to come by. Add the imaginative magic of building a panoply of machines and vehicles with Legos, and you have a winner. A dang cute winner.

Harold Goldberg is a contributor to The New York Times and other publications.

From Pandas To Health Care: The 13 Numbers Of 2013


0: Twitter collected no profit, Snapchat collected no revenue, and Apple’s stock has roughly stayed flat over the past year. But in Silicon Valley, where companies are judged by potential, zero is still something.

0.5 billion: Public money in Minnesota paid for almost half the cost of the Vikings’ new $1 billion stadium. As it turns out, a deal like this is fairly standard.

1,134: When a garment factory building collapsed in Bangladesh in April, killing 1,134 people, the world suddenly started watching the industry there more closely.

1.6 million: The federal government pays farmers to keep land covered with native grass and trees, but this year, it removed that protection from 1.6 million acres of land. The reason? High grain prices.

4.6 million: The cleanup from BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is still ongoing, with more than 4.6 million pounds of oil collected this year. That’s still not all of it.

6: “Unfortunately the site was only designed to handle six users at a time.” Unfortunately for HealthCare.gov, the SNL writers were spot on.

11,420: The civil war in Syria presents many staggering numbers, but one captures the tragedy like no other: 11,420 children have died in the conflict, so far.

17: “It seemed like every time you would refresh your browser, there was a new film going down in flames at the box office.” If you think this summer was bloated with blockbusters, just wait till 2015.

34: An unusually high number of wildland firefighters died in the line of duty this year. With a lot of undeveloped wildland in the West, some are asking whether people should be living in these forests at all.

38: The percentage of Americans who live in states that allow same-sex marriage is growing. “There seemed to be sort of a joke as I traveled around the country, saying if you blink, you’re going to miss a state that becomes the next state to recognize marriage for same-sex couples.”

42: A record baby boom shows captive breeding programs for pandas are working.

50: After bankruptcy, government takeovers, recalls and public relations disasters, the auto industry has rebounded again, growing by 50 percent since 2009.

365: The Minnesota Orchestra hasn’t performed in its concert hall at all this year. It’s become a poster child for labor strife in classical music, and to some, emblematic of problems facing nonprofit arts institutions across the country.

Remote Control: It Was Hard To Turn Off The TV In 2013


Remote control power button.i i


iStockphoto

Remote control power button.

Here’s why picking a Top 10 list of best TV shows has become such treacherous work for critics this year: Quite simply, 2013 was the year quality exploded in the television industry.

Thanks to the simultaneous maturing of Netflix, AMC, FX, HBO, Showtime, Amazon, BBC America, Sundance Channel, iTunes and many more media platforms, fans of great television had more options than ever to find high-quality product whenever and wherever they liked.

This is the stuff I dreamed of as a young media nerd in the mid-’90s, when I predicted technology would eventually allow viewers to download an episode of TV whenever they liked.

We’re as close to that dream as ever, with so many options for mainlining episodes of great television out there, “binge-viewing” has become the phrase of the year for the media industry.

So here’s my list of 2013’s best TV shows, with a few caveats and honorable mentions thrown in at the end. And, yes, because I’ve had time to think, this list will be a little different from the tallies I pulled together earlier this year for Salon and Hitfix.com (told you making choices was hard!)/

[Editor’s note: Plot details regarding several shows follow. Proceed at your own risk.]

  1. Breaking Bad (AMC) — The most finely crafted drama on television nailed the most spine-tingling series finale in modern TV. An awesome affirmation of all that is possible in this new age of quality television.

  2. Broadchurch (BBC) — The murder of a boy in a small English town reveals just how connected everyone is in such a tiny community, explored in eight taut episodes that keep you guessing until the end.

  3. House of Cards (Netflix) — The video service’s first original series was a lush, acid exploration of power in Washington, D.C., turning its central figure from antihero to villain in 13 episodes. What can they do for season two?

  4. Game of Thrones (HBO) — The “Red Wedding” episode stood out in a season where those who hadn’t read the source books were surprised to see the story’s hero brutally murdered and the collection of characters thrown into wonderful disarray yet again.

  5. The Good Wife (CBS) — Producers finally jettisoned the Will/Alicia romance storyline in the best way, blowing it up with a war over competing law firms, which breathed new life into a show now in its fifth season.

  6. The Walking Dead (AMC) — The show’s meditation on what it takes to hold onto your humanity in a world-crushing apocalypse reached its ultimate expression in the end of its villain The Governor, killed by someone who once loved him after she realized what a monster he had become.

  7. John Oliver’s guest hosting stint on The Daily Show (Comedy Central) — At first, it sounded like a recipe for disaster — handing TV’s best news satire over to a guest host while Jon Stewart directed his first film. But Oliver stepped up admirably, earning his own show on HBO as well-deserved reward.

  8. Scandal (ABC) — Yes, many of its plot swings make no sense, and too much of the action is explained by characters in breathless monologues. But for fans of pure soap opera drama, there was no better outlet in 2013.

  9. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix) – As creator Jenji Kohan has admitted, this show about a Waspy white woman sent to prison used its blonde star as a Trojan horse to bring viewers compelling stories about black transsexuals, lesbians, immigrants and the absurdities of life behind bars in a women’s prison.

  10. The Bridge (FX), The Returned (Sundance Channel), Doctor Who (BBC) — In my other Top 10 lists, I essentially flipped a coin to choose between these. FX made a compelling drama about murder on the border of Mexico and Texas that crossed cultural lines and showcased star Demian Bichir; Sundance aired a French TV series about dead people coming back to life that played like a mesmerizing, multipart foreign film; and the BBC gave a grand 50th birthday episode to the oldest science-fiction show still airing on TV, with entrancing turns from star Matt Smith alongside guest John Hurt and former star David Tennant.

Honorable mentions: Justified (FX), The Americans (FX), Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel), Mad Men (AMC), The Fall (BBC), Parenthood (NBC), Southland (TNT), Parks and Recreation (NBC), Orphan Black (BBC America), The Big Bang Theory (CBS).

Day 7: Shake It Up With An ‘Ask Me Another’ Cocktail


This is the seventh day of Ask Me Another‘s 12 Days of Xmas series.

Cheers!i i

hide captionCheers!


Steve McFarland/NPR

Cheers!

Cheers!

Steve McFarland/NPR

It may come as no surprise that since Ask Me Another tapes in a bar, we are no strangers to the bottom of a glass. (With responsibility, of course.) Here are two specialty cocktails that were crafted for our show. V.I.P. Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking With Men and New York Times Magazine’s “Drink” column, created the “Pour Me Another”, which we re-named after that episode’s grand winner, Dory Green. And after former contestant Whitney Reynolds wowed us with her story of such homemade creations as “The Hulk” cocktail, we asked her to design us something with a little kick. Voila, “The Brooklyn Tito-Rita.” Cheers!

Pour Me Another / The Dory Green

Designed with a little bit of Canada for Ophira Eisenberg, and a little bit of Brooklyn for Jonathan Coulton.

2-1/2 oz. Canadian Club or Crown Royal whiskey

1/2 oz. dry vermouth

A scant teaspoon of Canadian Grade B maple syrup

2 dashes Brooklyn Hemispherical Rhubarb Bitters

Seltzer

To a mixing glass, add ice and all ingredients except seltzer. Shake like mad and pour into rocks glasses or small tumblers, leaving room for a good shpritz of seltzer to top it up.

(Courtesy of Rosie Schaap)

The Brooklyn Tito-Rita.i i


NPR

The Brooklyn Tito-Rita.

The Brooklyn Tito-Rita

Tito’s has its origins in Texas, so here’s a Margarita variant with a little Brooklyn heat.

1.5 parts Tito’s Handmade Vodka

.5 part Cointreau

.5 part lime juice

.5 part orange juice

2 drops Brooklyn Bitters Sriracha bitters

Shake alcohol and juices over ice, strain into glass, top with bitters.

(Courtesy of Whitney Reynolds)

Nothing loosens up the brain for a pub quiz quite like a freshly-mixed beverage, alcoholic or not. So try these out at your next game night, and leave your favorite cocktail recipes in the comments.


Is The DVD Box Set Dead? Yes … And No.


The Cassavetes set.i i

The Cassavetes set.

Are we witnessing the twilight of DVD and Blu-ray?

Kinda-sorta. With the emergence of various digital distributions systems — streaming and downloading through your laptop, your cable system, your game console — it’s easy to see how these discs will be the next physical media formats to fade away. DVD and Blu-ray could well go the way of CDs and vinyl, becoming a niche boutique market for collectors.

It’s not happening quite yet. Plenty of people still prefer the disc to the download. Discs are more reliable, usually offer better sound and image fidelity, and almost always have bonus materials you can’t get online. And DVD box sets still make for nice gifts, which is why the market gets flooded every November and December with splashy multi-disc collections.

But what brings us here at this moment is the fact that precisely because box sets seem like a luxury, they’re an exceptional use for the exceptionally popular gift card. A lot of you have such things burning holes in your pockets right now, and instead of spending them on more streaming or more doodads, why not spend them on a real treat, in which category these sets now qualify?

So we offer a sampling of current releases on DVD and Blu-ray, across a variety of genres and price points. Each features bonus materials and extras you can’t get via downloading and streaming. Listed prices represent the low end of average retail costs, through it pays to shop around, especially with the bigger sets.

If and when these discs finally fade to obsolescence, you can keep them as family artifacts to show the grandkids. You see, Tommy, back when I was a boy we had this thing called the eject button…

Dexter: The Complete Series

DVD/Blu-ray, $225/$250, 33 discs/25 discs)

Showtime’s popular and critically drama, which successfully tested the validity of serial killer-as-protagonist, wrapped this fall after a stellar eight-season run. The show’s weird mix of crime drama, psychological horror and black comedy made it one of the marquee shows of the era. The set features a replica of Dexter’s “blood slide box” for the discs, three hours of exclusive behind-the-scenes extras, plus “Grafix: The Art of Dexter” — a collection of photography and images.

No Pryor Restraint: Life in Concert

(DVD/CD, $75, 2 DVDs and 7 CDs)

Comedy nerds have been waiting a while for this one, a comprehensive collection of stage performances from Richard Pryor, the mad genius generally acknowledged as the best stand-up comic ever. The collection spans audio recordings from Pryor’s earliest stand-up gigs to the legendary concert film Live on the Sunset Strip, along with a collection of photos, essays and tributes from fellow comics. You can’t get this material packaged together in any other place, and in fact quite a lot of it you can’t get to at all otherwise. Highly recommended.

John Cassavetes: Five Films

(Blu-ray, $90, 5 discs)

An original indie film maverick, actor and director John Cassavetes made a series of groundbreaking films through the 1960s and 1970s, usually operating outside the studio system and often financing the films himself. This new Blu-ray reissue of the older DVD box set gathers five of his films — Shadows (1959), Faces (1968), A Woman Under the Influence (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976 and 1978 versions) and Opening Night (1977). Compiled by the stoic archivists at the Criterion Collection, the package features the usual suite of generous extras — interviews, commentary tracks, still galleries, critical essays and the three-hour documentary on Cassavetes, A Constant Forge.

Nine for IX

(DVD, $30, 4 discs)

Commissioned by the ESPN Films division behind the popular 30 for 30 series, Nine for IX celebrates the 40th anniversary of Title IX with, yes, nine documentaries on women in sports. The collection includes stories on Venus Williams, Katrina Witt and Pat Summitt, plus the acclaimed Let Them Wear Towels, directed by rock star doc makers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern (Joan Rivers — A Piece of Work). The included bonus disc adds two more films. Thoughtful sports journalism is enjoying something of a renaissance of late, and the Nine for IX films fascinate by framing sports stories in larger cultural contexts. This is a nice option for families with teenage athletes running around.

The Futurama box seti i

The Futurama box set

Futurama: The Complete Series

(DVD, $130, 27 discs)

Matt Groening’s other animated TV show, the perennially underrated Futurama, has died and been resurrected multiple times, on three different networks, since its 1999 debut. This latest collection includes all episodes from the original series and the revival 2010-2013 run on Comedy Central, plus four feature-length movies and a ridiculous assortment of extras for the obsessive fan. Word is that Groening is trying to get the series revived yet again, so maybe put an asterisk by the “Complete” on this one. Also note that Futurama episodes are now available on Netflix Instant, and the most recent season collections can be found on Blu-ray.

Released: The Human Rights Concerts

(DVD, $60, 6 discs)

For more than a quarter century now, Amnesty International has been organizing ginormous rock concerts and world tours designed to raise money and awareness for human rights around the globe. Released gathers four full-length concert films, with the bulk of the material never before issued to any home video format. Featured performers include the usual suspects — U2, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel — plus some unexpected contributors (Ozzy!). Additional performances, interviews and behind-the-curtain home movies are bundled in as well. Net proceeds to back to Amnesty.

Opening The Literary Liquor Cabinet In ‘Echo Spring’


The Trip to Echo Spring

Remember Brick’s frequent trips to “Echo Spring” in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Echo Spring, Olivia Laing reminds us in her illuminating new book, is a nickname for the liquor cabinet, drawn from the brand of bourbon it contains. Symbolically, she adds, it refers to something quite different: “perhaps to the attainment of silence, or to the obliteration of troubled thoughts that comes, temporarily at least, with a sufficiency of booze.”

The Trip to Echo Spring is a literary pilgrimage to the haunts of six American writers who were also prodigious drinkers: John Berryman, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams. Laing analyzes their life and work anew, with their alcoholism as a throughline, using her distinctive hybrid mix of literary criticism, biography, memoir, and atmospheric travel writing. (Her poetic first book, To the River, followed the Ouse, the river in which Virginia Woolf drowned herself, from headwaters to sea.)

Laing starts her journey at the Hotel Elysee in New York’s theater district, where Tennessee Williams choked to death in February 1983. She winds up at Raymond Carver’s grave at Ocean View Cemetery in Port Angeles, Washington.

She visits New Orleans, where Tennessee Williams felt most at home (she stops at the Carousel Bar he frequented in the Hotel Monteleone for a lime daquiri).

In Key West she visits the Hemingway house museum with its six-toed cats, and swims in the rough waters near where the alcoholic poet Hart Crane drowned in 1932, musing on Tennessee Williams’ wish after his death to be “dropped over board, twelve hours north of Havana, so that my bones may rest not too far from those of Hart Crane.” Williams passed this image along, she points out, to Blanche in A Streetcar Name Desire and Maxine in The Night of the Iguana.

Olivia Laing's previous book, To The River, follows the course of the River Ouse, in which Virginia Woolf drowned herself.

hide captionOlivia Laing’s previous book, To The River, follows the course of the River Ouse, in which Virginia Woolf drowned herself.


Jonathan Ring

Laing travels mostly by train (including a six-day trip from New Orleans to Seattle via Chicago), which allows her to exercise her extraordinary responsiveness to changing landscapes. She includes everything that crosses her restless and original mind, musing on the writers’ memoirs, diaries, Paris Review interviews, medical records, and rehabilitation efforts, and how key symptoms of alcoholism — blackouts, denial, grandiosity, aphasia — filtered into their work.

As an added pleasure, Laing is a superb literary critic. She brings fresh excitement to the arc of Williams’ plays, to the pre-and post-recovery work of Cheever and Carver, to Hemingway’s and Fitzgerald’s stories and novels (and their notorious rivalry).

She writes at length about Berryman’s Dream Songs, and his last attempt at rehab, the basis for his novel Recovery, left unfinished when he jumped from Minneapolis’ Washington Avenue Bridge. In her extensive analysis of Cheever’s “The Swimmer,” she suggests that his alcoholic blackouts might have inspired the story’s extraordinary surreal transitions. “It’s these dead zones of memory that convey more powerfully than anything the depths of Neddy Merrill’s ruination,” she writes.

She traces the occasional intersections (a young Carver and an ailing Cheever driving to an Iowa City liquor store at 9 a.m., to buy a half-gallon of scotch). Most importantly, she pinpoints the highs and lows of the creative process, the childhood wounds that set artistic themes, and the destructive effects of long-term heavy drinking, from brain damage to “the almighty havoc alcohol wreaks on the heart,” but she never loses sight of the miraculous gifts these troubled writers left behind, the art that transcended their most vulgar descents into drunken squalor.

She quotes, at one point, one of Berryman’s Dream Songs:

Hunger was constitutional with him,
wine, cigarettes, liquor, need need need
until he went to pieces.
The pieces sat up & wrote.

The Trip to Echo Spring is beautifully written, haunting, tragic, and instructive in the best sense. It’s a book for writers, and for readers, a book to read more than once.

5 New Year’s Resolutions From Women To Watch


New Year’s resolutions: Sometimes we make them; usually we break them. The annual goals are intended to bring out the best in us — but what if you’re already extremely accomplished?

These five women have worked hard to help others, through businesses, innovation and writing. Four of them were speakers at the TEDWomen conference earlier in December in San Francisco (Katrina Alcorn was an attendee).

You might expect their resolutions to be far-reaching, but for 2014, they’re hoping to focus and maybe even get a little rest. Here’s a taste of what they’re doing and their hopes for the new year:

Maya Penni i

hide captionMaya Penn


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Maya Penn

Maya Penn

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Maya Penn, CEO of Maya’s Ideas, is an animator, designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist — and teenager. Her fashion and accessory line is eco-friendly, and part of the proceeds go to local and global charities.

“Probably get more sleep. Because I tend to stay up always working on stuff, purposefully.”

Jane Cheni i

hide captionJane Chen


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jane Chen

Jane Chen

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jane Chen is co-founder of Embrace, which has designed a portable baby warmer that mothers can use at home to prevent infant mortality in developing countries.

“This sounds really cheesy, but it’s really to continue seeing beauty in the world, in everything I do. There’s a lot of suffering that I see in my work … I see babies dying, I see corrupt doctors out there. But there’s so much beauty I see as well, and a lot of that is captured in these mothers who are so selfless, and even if they have nothing, they’ll go to any length to save their babies … I think seeing that, and being very deliberate about seeing the world through that lens drives me to keep doing more.”

Rupal Pateli i

hide captionRupal Patel


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Rupal Patel

Rupal Patel

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Rupal Patel, researcher and creator of VocaliD.org, builds custom synthetic voices for people who can no longer speak. She knows the science, but not the business plan just yet.

“To jump in with both feet in this because I’m a researcher, I have a research lab with multiple projects and I hope that there’s some indication that this can go somewhere, and if it does, if there is, I need to jump in and not kind of be somewhat in and somewhat out.”

Jessica Matthewsi i

hide captionJessica Matthews


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jessica Matthews

Jessica Matthews

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jessica Matthews, CEO of Uncharted Play, is a Harvard Business School student running a company that makes play practical, with a soccer ball and a jump rope that can generate electricity.

“I have a lot of resolutions for my business, but I think, separate from that: To work a little bit less. Just a little bit less. … It’s not just making time for family and friends, it’s about making time for myself and saying no to things just a little bit more … Let’s say the next day is my last day; am I comfortable with the time I spent on myself? Finding that balance is something I’m really going to be focusing on in the New Year.”

Katrina Alcorn

hide captionKatrina Alcorn


Courtesy of Katrina Alcorn

Katrina Alcorn, author of Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink, has documented how her struggle to balance work and family led to health issues. Lean In helped start the dialogue; Alcorn is hoping to expand it.

“To take every moment I can to be more present and more focused. Check my phone less, check social media less, and be here now.”

5 New Year’s Resolutions From Women To Watch


New Year’s resolutions: Sometimes we make them; usually we break them. The annual goals are intended to bring out the best in us — but what if you’re already extremely accomplished?

These five women have worked hard to help others, through businesses, innovation and writing. Four of them were speakers at the TEDWomen conference earlier in December in San Francisco (Katrina Alcorn was an attendee).

You might expect their resolutions to be far-reaching, but for 2014, they’re hoping to focus and maybe even get a little rest. Here’s a taste of what they’re doing and their hopes for the new year:

Maya Penni i

hide captionMaya Penn


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Maya Penn

Maya Penn

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Maya Penn, CEO of Maya’s Ideas, is an animator, designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist — and teenager. Her fashion and accessory line is eco-friendly, and part of the proceeds go to local and global charities.

“Probably get more sleep. Because I tend to stay up always working on stuff, purposefully.”

Jane Cheni i

hide captionJane Chen


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jane Chen

Jane Chen

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jane Chen is co-founder of Embrace, which has designed a portable baby warmer that mothers can use at home to prevent infant mortality in developing countries.

“This sounds really cheesy, but it’s really to continue seeing beauty in the world, in everything I do. There’s a lot of suffering that I see in my work … I see babies dying, I see corrupt doctors out there. But there’s so much beauty I see as well, and a lot of that is captured in these mothers who are so selfless, and even if they have nothing, they’ll go to any length to save their babies … I think seeing that, and being very deliberate about seeing the world through that lens drives me to keep doing more.”

Rupal Pateli i

hide captionRupal Patel


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Rupal Patel

Rupal Patel

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Rupal Patel, researcher and creator of VocaliD.org, builds custom synthetic voices for people who can no longer speak. She knows the science, but not the business plan just yet.

“To jump in with both feet in this because I’m a researcher, I have a research lab with multiple projects and I hope that there’s some indication that this can go somewhere, and if it does, if there is, I need to jump in and not kind of be somewhat in and somewhat out.”

Jessica Matthewsi i

hide captionJessica Matthews


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jessica Matthews

Jessica Matthews

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jessica Matthews, CEO of Uncharted Play, is a Harvard Business School student running a company that makes play practical, with a soccer ball and a jump rope that can generate electricity.

“I have a lot of resolutions for my business, but I think, separate from that: To work a little bit less. Just a little bit less. … It’s not just making time for family and friends, it’s about making time for myself and saying no to things just a little bit more … Let’s say the next day is my last day; am I comfortable with the time I spent on myself? Finding that balance is something I’m really going to be focusing on in the New Year.”

Katrina Alcorn

hide captionKatrina Alcorn


Courtesy of Katrina Alcorn

Katrina Alcorn, author of Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink, has documented how her struggle to balance work and family led to health issues. Lean In helped start the dialogue; Alcorn is hoping to expand it.

“To take every moment I can to be more present and more focused. Check my phone less, check social media less, and be here now.”

5 New Year’s Resolutions From Women To Watch


New Year’s resolutions: Sometimes we make them; usually we break them. The annual goals are intended to bring out the best in us — but what if you’re already extremely accomplished?

These five women have worked hard to help others, through businesses, innovation and writing. Four of them were speakers at the TEDWomen conference earlier in December in San Francisco (Katrina Alcorn was an attendee).

You might expect their resolutions to be far-reaching, but for 2014, they’re hoping to focus and maybe even get a little rest. Here’s a taste of what they’re doing and their hopes for the new year:

Maya Penni i

hide captionMaya Penn


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Maya Penn

Maya Penn

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Maya Penn, CEO of Maya’s Ideas, is an animator, designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist — and teenager. Her fashion and accessory line is eco-friendly, and part of the proceeds go to local and global charities.

“Probably get more sleep. Because I tend to stay up always working on stuff, purposefully.”

Jane Cheni i

hide captionJane Chen


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jane Chen

Jane Chen

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jane Chen is co-founder of Embrace, which has designed a portable baby warmer that mothers can use at home to prevent infant mortality in developing countries.

“This sounds really cheesy, but it’s really to continue seeing beauty in the world, in everything I do. There’s a lot of suffering that I see in my work … I see babies dying, I see corrupt doctors out there. But there’s so much beauty I see as well, and a lot of that is captured in these mothers who are so selfless, and even if they have nothing, they’ll go to any length to save their babies … I think seeing that, and being very deliberate about seeing the world through that lens drives me to keep doing more.”

Rupal Pateli i

hide captionRupal Patel


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Rupal Patel

Rupal Patel

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Rupal Patel, researcher and creator of VocaliD.org, builds custom synthetic voices for people who can no longer speak. She knows the science, but not the business plan just yet.

“To jump in with both feet in this because I’m a researcher, I have a research lab with multiple projects and I hope that there’s some indication that this can go somewhere, and if it does, if there is, I need to jump in and not kind of be somewhat in and somewhat out.”

Jessica Matthewsi i

hide captionJessica Matthews


Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jessica Matthews

Jessica Matthews

Marla Aufmuth/TED

Jessica Matthews, CEO of Uncharted Play, is a Harvard Business School student running a company that makes play practical, with a soccer ball and a jump rope that can generate electricity.

“I have a lot of resolutions for my business, but I think, separate from that: To work a little bit less. Just a little bit less. … It’s not just making time for family and friends, it’s about making time for myself and saying no to things just a little bit more … Let’s say the next day is my last day; am I comfortable with the time I spent on myself? Finding that balance is something I’m really going to be focusing on in the New Year.”

Katrina Alcorn

hide captionKatrina Alcorn


Courtesy of Katrina Alcorn

Katrina Alcorn, author of Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink, has documented how her struggle to balance work and family led to health issues. Lean In helped start the dialogue; Alcorn is hoping to expand it.

“To take every moment I can to be more present and more focused. Check my phone less, check social media less, and be here now.”