WNPR Arts and culture reporting focuses on the world of ideas in fine art, crafts, writing, music, theater, performance, design and creative activities that make us unique and make us human

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Actor Kevin Bacon, who's currently performing in “Rear Window” at Hartford Stage, took time on Wednesday to bring awareness to a culinary job training program in Hartford's community.

Logan Grendel

An alchemist/anarchist who blends jazz with gritty grunge rock, classical chops, turbo-powered passages, funky backbeats and sweet, salon-like moods, Michael Gallant and his trio celebrate his new release with a surprise-packed performance on Friday, November 6, at 8:00 pm at Middletown's The Buttonwood Tree.

Willle Stark / Flickr

Coincidences happen to everyone -- whether it's hearing a song you've been thinking about all day on the radio or running into an old acquaintance whose name recently came up in conversation. For events so seemingly unlikely, coincidences certainly have a way of happening quite often. And now, after much study, psychologists and mathematicians think they know why.

Uncle Pockets / Flickr Creative Commons

Music can be a powerful, transformative tool in the quest for social change. Protest songs are the songs associated with a particular movement.

Earlier this month, Janelle Monáe and Wondaland produced the searing protest song "Hell You Talmbout." Nearly seven minutes long, it's a tribute to a long list of black men and women lost, and has been performed alongside protesters at Black Lives Matter rallies.

In 1934, a weather observer stationed at the peak of Mount Washington recorded a, then record, wind gust of 231 miles per hour. As a point of reference, that’s in the same neighborhood as an F5 tornado.

Even on hot summer day, conditions at the peak can drop below freezing in a matter of minutes – which is just one reason more than 135 people have died in the shadow of Mount Washington since 1859.

And yet, Mount Washington isn’t just Home of the World’s Worst Weather--as a sign at the summit famously boasts--it’s also home to a weather station, where a team of researchers are able to safely live year-round.

Which begs the question: would the Mount Washington Observatory be the perfect place to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Listen to this radio story to find out:

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Raouf Mama is a beloved storyteller by children and adults familiar with his books Why Goats Smell Bad and Why Monkeys Live in TreesHis love of storytelling stems from a long and honorable oral tradition that goes back to the ancient empire of Mali, when people preserved the lessons of life in memory instead of on the written page.

Raouf says we each have a story of belonging and identity. He uses his stories to entertain, comfort, and most of all as a tool to enlighten students.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Caroline Jacobs is a grown woman with children of her own. But by all accounts, she's a wimp. She would prefer to suffer in silence than stand up for herself or anyone else -- until she couldn't stand it anymore.  

One night, while at a public meeting and in a crowded room, she stood up, pointed her finger at the one she loathed, and shouted "F%$# You" to her nemesis. With that one phrase, she was ready to face her past. 

NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Atlas Obscura considers itself a "friendly tour-guide to the world's most wondrous places" -- a number of which can be found right here in Connecticut.

When I see a press release about a guy who started off being drafted into the NFL as a defensive end and then decided to become a professional opera singer instead, I reflexively think headlines:

"Former Gridiron Star Tackles Verdi."

"Defensive End Calls an Audible, With Vibrato."

"Now He's Holding High Cs Instead of Wide Receivers."

Please, somebody stop me.

On this final edition of my daily show, now in its 36th year on WNPR, I start a new chapter as full-time host and executive producer of the expanded Faith Middleton Food Schmooze® Party. Who doesn't need a little more party?

Grendelkhan / Creative Commons

Connecticut might mean clapboard homes, leafy suburbs, and town centers that show off their roots to our colonial past. Unless you're thinking of southeastern Connecticut.

The southeastern part of our state conjures images of casinos, submarines, and a blue-collar vibe that's just a little different from the rest of the state.

It probably doesn't help that the Connecticut River literally cuts the state in half, separating southeastern sections from their wealthier brethren. Wally Lamb describes it as "more feisty than fashionable, more liverwurst than pate."

Roman Castellanos-Monfil / Yale University

Yale University senior Emi Mahmoud is the winner of this year's Individual World Poetry Slam Championship.

Luisa Contreras/flickr creative commons

Guittard Chocolate Cookbook gives us a piece of heaven with its recipe for chocolate mousse pie featuring a chocolate cookie crust. We think it's a winner for Thanksgiving or anytime. Please check out our 2015 Best Ever Thanksgiving Recipe Kit… and hot tips to help you beat Thanksgiving stress—honestly, they really will…

Josh Evans, the Hartford-born trumpet phenomenon, launches the Hartford Jazz Society's fall Concert and Workshop Series with a compelling, powerful jolt as he leads his electrifying big band on Friday, October 30, at 8:00 pm at the Polish National Home at 60 Charter Oak Avenue in Hartford.

If you play today's massively multiplayer online role-playing games — World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy, for example — you have a 1970s tabletop game to thank, says author Michael Witwer.

Witwer has just written a biography of Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons.

"Even first-person shooters like Call of Duty have some of the roots at least in tabletop role-playing games," he tells NPR's Ari Shapiro.

Wikimedia / Creative Commons

A federal appeals court has sided with Yale University in a dispute over the ownership of a $200 million Vincent van Gogh painting.

Tyler Merbler/flickr creative commons

Sex, drugs, and rock & roll -- now there's a phrase that conjures up images and memories of the 1960s. But of course it wasn't all peace and love. The counterculture was completely intertwined with the serious challenges and changes that swept America in that decade, from civil rights and women's rights to the trauma of Vietnam and the anti-war movement. The violence, turmoil, and clashes between the generations paved the way for a surge in self-expression and creativity. We saw it through protests on college campuses, we watched it in the marches, and -- maybe most of all -- we heard it in the music that would become the common thread that wove it all together.

Gloria Steinem is 81 — a fact that the iconic women's movement leader describes as "quite bizarre."

"Eighty-one is an age that I think is someone else's age," Steinem tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I stop people on the street and tell them how old I am, because I'm trying to make myself believe it."

But Steinem isn't unhappy about aging. The co-founder of Ms. magazine says that as she approached 60, she felt like she entered a new phase in life, free of the "demands of gender" that she faced from adolescence onward.

The company that makes Legos has landed at the center of a social-media firestorm after Chinese artist Ai Weiwei complained that it refused to supply a bulk order of the toy bricks for his art.

Ai said he wanted to use the bricks for an exhibition on free speech at Australia's National Gallery of Victoria. The museum attempted to place an order but was told by the company that it "cannot approve the use of Legos for political works."

"We've been refused, and the reason is Lego will not support political art, which is very frustrating," Ai said in an interview with NPR.

Greg Howard is a staff writer at Deadspin, a Gawker Media site that covers sports and culture, and has written and reported on everything from the Black Lives Matter movement to the shortcomings of boomerangs. But he's become best known for his writing over the past year about the behind-the-scenes turbulence at a planned ESPN site called "The Undefeated," which meant to focus on issues of sports and race.

Caitlin Mitchell

We had a great show planned for you today with two great authors. But, sometimes life is crazier than the fiction we talk about and today, we ended up with two great authors, but only one we expected. 

Sloane Crosley pays homage to Guy de Maupassant in her debut novel about three old friends searching for an elusive necklace as a way out of their quarter-life crisis, yet unable to share their deepest thoughts with their closest friends. 

Colum McCann was supposed to join us but was unable at the last minute. Instead, you'll hear from him next week. 

But, that left Colin with a lot of time on air by himself. He got to vamp for the last half hour like he hasn't been able to do since he started working at WNPR. He kind of liked it, especially when author David Mitchell dropped in for a surprise chat. You can't make up this stuff.

For the pious Puritans of early America, witchcraft was a crime of the highest order.

Back then, the term "witch hunt" was not just an expression: In 1692, 19 women and men were hanged and one pressed to death with stones after being found guilty of witchcraft.

In her book The Witches, author Stacy Schiff follows the buildup of fear and outrageous tales of consorting with the devil. The witch trials were set in motion by two young Salem girls in the grip of strange and disturbing symptoms.

B Mauro / Creative Commons

This week, movie trailers lost their way when someone advocated boycotting Star Wars VII because they believe the trailer advocated white genocide. Why? Because a black man, a woman and a Latino were prominently featured in the trailer to the detriment of you guessed it, white men. What does this say about the level of diversity in science fiction fans?

Alex Baker Photography

Many churches around the country are struggling with declining attendance, prompting some interesting questions and conversations. Is it the message? A sign of the times? The church’s mission? Maybe it’s past controversies. 

Carol Rosegg / Yale Repertory Theater

Yale Repertory Theater is currently presenting the world premiere of the play "Indecent."

Mark Garten / United Nations photo

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma turned 60 the other day.

That’s as good a reason as any to reflect for a moment on a life and career that seems about as well executed as that of any classical performing artist in our time, maybe ever.

Glory Foods/flickr creative commons

Thanksgiving is on the way and our Food Schmooze® Recipe Kit is ready, including Barbara Kafka's Incredible Melting Potatoes… Chris Prosperi's Easy Make-Ahead Turkey and Gravy… Ina Garten's Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes stuffed with glorious things… and mouth-watering Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Pears, Shallots, and Prosciutto, so easy a child could make them! Plus a bargain red wine, a steal at $16, and it goes with everything on your Thanksgiving table… and a delicious Pear-Basil Sour cocktail to ease you into the big day…

Resonant Motion, Inc.

Sean Clapis’s fine new CD, The Unseen River (RMI Records), is a smooth-sailing, adventurous cruise that reveals the gifted, Hartford-born guitarist/composer’s fluent style and expressive depths streaming from dreamy reverie and elegant eulogy to steamy sophistication.

A new group in Berkshire County is looking to create a social network for LGBTQ seniors in the area.