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

It seemed like there was something for everybody at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Mark Ronson's high-spirited "Uptown Funk," featuring Bruno Mars, won Record of the Year. The songwriting award, Song of the Year, went to Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge's "Thinking Out Loud," while Taylor Swift won Album of the Year for 1989.

The nominations for the 58th annual Grammy Awards, though, were pitched as something of a showdown between pop and hip-hop. In certain ways, neither won outright — but both genres' reigning queen and king emerged as winners.

R. Hurt/Caltech-JPL

This week, the universe chirped... and we heard it! Samantha Bee's new politics-lampooning late-night show debuted to a ton of buzz. The primary debates continued, and debate Twitter was watching.

Yale Symphony Orchestra

Yale Symphony Orchestra alumni return to campus this weekend for a series of events. It's part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the orchestra.

Wikimedia / Creative Commons

Just to get this out of the way, “My Funny Valentine” is not among my personal favorite Rodgers and Hart tunes.

Museokeskus Vapriikki / Creative Commons

This hour, New Yorker editor David Remnick takes us for a behind-the-scenes look at his new radio show and podcast The New Yorker Radio Hour

We also chat with some of the creators of WNPR's new Radius Project. They're mapping Hartford in a new way -- we find out how. 

Phil Konstantin. / Wikimedia Commons

Paula Poundstone and I started out with a plan for a short chat about her upcoming appearance in Connecticut, and then the conversation sprawled all over the place: from the comedy records of our nerdy youths, to the time she lived in Timothy Leary's guest room.

William P Gottlieb / Wikipedia

An immodestly gifted musician yet extremely modest gentleman of the old school, the noted pianist, conductor and arranger Donn Trenner, an 88-year-old New Haven native, has performed with such jazz giants as Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Oscar Pettiford, and Ben Webster.

Moving Picture World / Creative Commons

Sherlock Holmes is the most recognizable character in the world. According to the Sherlock Holmes Society, the famous detective has been portrayed by seventy-five actors in more than 260 films, making him the most portrayed character on film. This could explain why a significant percentage of the British think Sherlock Holmes was a real person who lived at 221B Baker Street - a view supported by the Sherlockians, a loyal group of scholars dedicated to keeping his memory alive.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Ficre Ghebreyesus and Elizabeth Alexander were born two months apart in 1962, he in Eritrea, she in Harlem. They didn’t meet until 1996. He was an artist and a chef at a New Haven Eritrean restaurant he owned with his brothers. She was a poet and professor. She had been teaching at the University of Chicago, where she had also met a senior lecturer named Barack Obama. She married Ghebreyesus. She delivered Obama’s 2009 inaugural poem. In 2012, a few days after her husband’s 50th birthday, he died abruptly. Her new book, “The Light of The World,” tells that story.

Mtn Dew / YouTube

You may have heard there was some big football game on Sunday. You may have heard that the Denver Broncos won, 24 to 10. You may have heard that Beyoncé upstaged Coldplay's halftime show or that Lady Gaga’s national anthem was "fabulous."

But our guess is you've also probably now heard of something called a, um, puppymonkeybaby.

Beth Cortez-Neavel / Creative Commons

When was the last time you sent a letter? Not an email, but a real, tangible piece of mail? If your answer is "not recently," you’re not alone.

Except for the occasional birthday or holiday card, most of us haven’t sent -- or received -- good, old-fashioned snail mail in a very long time. 

Thor / Creative Commons

The CDC this week recommended women between the ages of 15 and 44 not drink alcohol unless they're on birth control. Why run the risk to the baby if there's a chance you could be pregnant and not yet know it?

Some question whether the caution against any alcohol instills a fear that outweighs the risk, while others chafe at the condescension that targets only women, and not the men who get them pregnant. 

Hartford's HartBeat Ensemble premieres a new work this weekend that draws on the stories of people from the city’s Asylum Hill neighborhood. It accompanies an effort by community leaders to inspire change in the neighborhood by working closely with the people who live there. 

Gaida / Facebook

Syrian singer and songwriter Gaida is featured this Friday evening at Wesleyan University. Gaida performs innovative interpretations of traditional Syrian songs -- improvisations over Arabic grooves -- and she composes original music.

Mohamad Hafez / The Harts Gallery

Think of them like magic portals: tiny architectural models transporting you directly onto Syria's streets and forcing you to look at the bombed-out buildings and homes hit by the worst of that country's civil war.

Eric Devine

Joel Schiavone, a flamboyant entertainer, fearless vocalist, member of the Banjo Hall of Fame, irrepressible humorist and one of Connecticut’s most avid, if not also most colorful, supporters and practitioners of traditional jazz, has yet another offbeat event up his sleeve seemingly stocked with perpetual surprises.

Shana Sureck / WNPR

The Artists Collective is one of the most recognized landmarks on Albany Avenue. Community activist Denise Best describes it as much more than a well-maintained property.

"It’s pristine because there’s a mind-set that says we protect this building," Best said. "Through all of the dance classes, they set the stage for behavior, for appreciation, for respect for each other. It’s fantastic."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Recently, a group of us gathered on stage at Watkinson School for a conversation about humor and comedy.

The conversation had two fields on inquiry. The first was the very strange business of trying to be funny as a way of putting food on the table. It's a weird job. It's not so much a matter of trying to be funny as it is of trying to figure out what's funny about the thing sitting in front of you. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

For his latest book, Michael Robinson journeyed to the mountains of East Africa with a particular mission in mind: to search for explorer Henry Morton Stanley's so-called "white tribe." This hour, Robinson talks about his experience, and how it helped inform The Lost White Tribe: Explorers, Scientists, and the Theory that Changed a Continent

Trombone Shorty

Troy Andrews has been playing the trombone since he was a boy, which is how he got the nickname he still uses: Trombone Shorty. This week, the New Orleans native is coming to UConn to perform.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The eyes of the nation turn to Iowa. But, why? The caucus process doesn't really resemble voting as we do it the rest of the time in this nation. And, the Iowa caucuses aren't really binding in terms of national delegate selection.  Iowa doesn't look like the rest of the nation, by which I mean, way whiter, but this in the words of Bruce Hornsby, is "just the way it is."

We also talk about the New York Times endorsement of Hillary Clinton and reactions to her candidacy. 

Watch How This Hustler Does His Work

Jan 29, 2016
Chion Wolf / WNPR

The art of the con can be pretty fascinating, but we often make the mistake of thinking we’re not vulnerable. One hustler stopped by WNPR to demonstrate how it’s done. 

Model Railroaders Create Worlds of Their Own

Jan 29, 2016
Brent Moore / Creative Commons

If this year is anything like years past, approximately 25,000 model train enthusiasts will head to West Springfield, Massachusetts, this weekend. It’s the annual Railroad Hobby Show.

Zoran Veselinovic / Wikipedia

Joseph Fiennes will play Michael Jackson in a new British made-for-TV movie about a fictional road trip taken by Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, and Marlon Brando from New York to California after 9/11. We might applaud the casting of a white actor to play one of the most iconic black entertainers in American culture if we lived in a post-racial society. But that's fiction, too.

Brooklyn Rider / Facebook

Among the many reasons why you should plan to see Brooklyn Rider on February 4 at The Hartt School is one bittersweet one: it will be among the last opportunities audiences will have to experience the groundbreaking string quartet with its founding membership intact.