A Word of Mouth Christmas

Dec 21, 2012

Credit duluoz cats / Flickr Creative Commons

What is the trick to gift-giving? Is the ski chalet dead? What about the smartphone? What if Monopoly wasn't about, well, monopoly? Is Die Hard a Christmas classic? Can a physicist make good chocolate? What happens to a Grinch when holiday cheer abounds? and... IS there a Santa Claus?

Part 1:

A number of recent psychological studies on gifting have been published, debunking some popular gift-giving myths. Sumathi Reddy, health columnist for the Wall Street Journal, compiled a few, spoke with us about how to avoid common pitfalls this holiday season.


Credit Matthew B. Brown

In winter sports communities out west, ski lodges are shedding their antlers for a more contemporary decor. But does the cocoa taste as sweet? And will New England ever give up its slopeside a-frame aesthetic? Producer Taylor Quimbly explores the snowballing trend of contemporary architecture in apres-ski lodging.


Recent headlines are saying we're in the waning days of the smartphone as the greatest gift ever. Word of Mouth's favorite explainer of all things wired, Rob Fleischman, discusses our beloved internet devices and the emerging technologies that may be gearing up to take their spot.

Part 2:

Monopoly: it's impossible to play the game and feel good, even if you win. Its sole objective is to crush your fellow players through bankruptcy, even if they're your own kids. Turns out, there might be a bigger reason to hate Monopoly: the most popular game in the world, according to this amazing article in Harpers, is, simply put, theft. And it has an incredible, almost unbelievable history.


Film still from Die Hard (1988)

What doesn't say Christmas like a terrorist plot foiled by Bruce Willis? To many, any best-of action film list would ring hollow with the exclusion of Die Hard - but each year, as the holiday season approaches, it begins to fly under a different flag:  an admittedly less warm, less traditional Christmas classic. Word of Mouth intern Bill Barry takes a look at both sides of the debate.

Part 3:

Virginia visits the laboratory-kitchen of a New Hampshire chocolatier who made a switch from science to sweets. Richard Tango-Lowy is a physicist turned chocolatier who melds a zen-like appreciation for the process with exacting standards for experimentation. Virginia Prescott visited Dancing Lion Chocolate in Manchester, New Hampshire to learn the art of making (and tasting) chocolate.


Credit Sean Hurley for NHPR

What happens when a veritable Grinch is confronted by unbridled Christmas spirit? Favorite contributor Sean Hurley visits a town Time Magazine dubbed one of America's "most Christmas-y" - Woodstock, VT, during their Wassail Weekend - but is, perhaps, a bit of a scrooge about it.


A Word of Mouth classic ... Producer Avishay Artsy calls modern-day newspaper editors and asks how they'd answer that OTHER Virginia's question: "IS there a Santa Claus?"