Arts/Culture

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

Andrea López, flickr creative commons

Faith's motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Library of Congress

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of American composer Irving Fine. Concerts and celebrations are taking place in New York, Washington, and coming up this weekend, here in Connecticut.

Pump Down the Volume

Nov 6, 2014
Dishpig Eldritch

Music can theoretically unfold at every conceivable volume, from barely audible to ear-splitting. Increasingly, however, for reasons that I sort of understand but not entirely, music these days tends to be experienced at one of two basic levels: Loud, and Insanely Loud.

Morning Edition is celebrating its 35th anniversary this week.

Over the years, many stories, voices and sounds have come and gone on the show. But there has remained one constant — our theme music.

The Morning Edition theme was written by BJ Leiderman in 1979. At the time, he was a struggling college student who wrote jingles on the side. He gave a demo tape of his music to a friend who worked at NPR.

On that tape was one little musical phrase that eventually became the Morning Edition theme music.

William Parker

“We’ll all be on our feet, ready to spar, to react, to move immediately and be open to the moment and what’s going to happen because I think that’s the key,” the legendary cutting-edge bassist/composer/bandleader William Parker said of his performance this weekend at the historic Aetna Theater at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

Farrukh/flickr creative commons

We have easy recipes for Thanksgiving side dishes, including roasted lemon broccoli and twice baked crispy pecan sweet potatoes. Plus, don't miss the video of Faith using the Aw Shucks!™  oyster opening device.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist Carlos Santana has won 10 Grammys and sold more than 100 million records. He has become one of the world's most celebrated musicians, a destiny that was difficult to imagine during his childhood in a small Mexican town. His father, also a musician, was Santana's first teacher, but he really learned his craft playing on the street and in strip clubs in Tijuana.

Tom Magliozzi, one of public radio's most popular personalities, died on Monday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 77 years old.

Tom and his brother, Ray, became famous as "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers" on the weekly NPR show Car Talk. They bantered, told jokes, laughed and sometimes even gave pretty good advice to listeners who called in with their car troubles.

If there was one thing that defined Tom Magliozzi, it was his laugh. It was loud, it was constant, it was infectious.

Alessandro Capurso/flickr creative commons

When she's our guest, we encourage you to do more than read. Push the play button and hear the outstanding travel tips we get from Amy Farley, who does The Trip Doctor pages in Travel + Leisure magazine. Some of the topics we covered with her: 

"My own personal opinion is that time is a human construct," says Tom O'Brian. O'Brian has thought a lot about this over the years. He is America's official timekeeper at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado.

To him, days, hours, minutes and seconds are a way for humanity to "put some order in this very fascinating and complex universe around us."

Tom Jervis / Creative Commons

First up on the Scramble today, writer and thinker Nicholas Carr, whose new book, "The Glass Cage" is about our blind surrender to automation. Most tellingly about the way we surrender (unthinkingly) control to sophisticated computer tools. 

You'll hear for instance, the story of a luxury cruise ship that ran aground on a sand bar because the GPS was spitting out wrong information and the entire crew ignored visual evidence that should have been a dead giveaway.

John Cleese is a big, tall, stiff-upper-lipped international symbol of British wit. He's made us laugh in Fawlty Towers and movies including Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Time Bandits, A Fish Called Wanda, and, recently, as the exasperated master of spycraft — Q — who gives James Bond some of his best toys to break.

The Pettibone Ghost

Oct 31, 2014

Just off Route 202 in Simsbury is the former Pettibone Tavern, a local landmark that has served travelers since 1780. Built by Jonathon Pettibone Jr., the establishment became an important stop along the Boston-to-Albany Turnpike and hosted important figures like George Washington and John Adams.

Ruth Hartnup / Flickr Creative Commons

Here are the three stories going up the Nose today.

In August Shoshana Roberts took a walk through the streets of New York City followed by a hidden camera. Over 10 hours she was verbally harassed 108 times by men yelling stuff. That doesn't even count the whistles and other nonverbal noises - one guy walked right next to her for five minutes. It's not exactly news but it captured something. The video has been watched more than 22.4 million times. But, some people have issues with the way race is shown in it.

People living in the United States have little to no reason to fear contracting Ebola, a deadly viral illness causing an epidemic in West Africa. Yet on Friday night, some Americans will dress up in hazmat suits akin to what health workers wear when treating an Ebola patient.

And, of course, there's even a "sexy" version.

Holly Kuchera/flickr creative commons

We love ideas, innovation, invention. On ICE we ask you to brainstorm with us about ideas, and we talk to innovative types about what's they're doing. On this edition of The Faith Middleton Show's On ICE, Dr. Eileen Cooper, a Fullbright Scholar, has written Holographic Mind, a book about training the brain to think in four dimensions.

Rexness/flickr creative commons

The 25th Anniversary Trees of Hope Fundraising Spectacular will be aglow with gorgeously decorated Christmas trees at the New Haven Maritime Building. The festive event, chaired by WNPR's Faith Middleton, benefits the Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut.

Disney Enterprises

Poignantly, the Stephen Sondheim Obsessives of this world (I consider myself a lifelong admirer but not quite an obsessive) are poring over every scrap leaking out from the Disney fortress concerning the upcoming movie version of “Into the Woods.” 

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

It's been 40 years since the release of the Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles. I recently went to an anniversary screening and in the audience was one of the movie's stars: Gene Wilder.

John Herschell/flickr creative commons

Seriously? You can actually roast an entire turkey ahead of time and serve it hot at the table? Yes, says Ina, and she now does it often, including on Thanksgiving. Here's the thing… it's not only Ina's taste in flavor combinations and technique that always win us over—it's her knockout ideas. And they are as dazzling as ever in her new book, Make It Ahead. There's the do-ahead turkey and gravy, sides, and desserts—we'll get to those, but also ways to whip cream ahead, freeze things and pull them out, even make your own healthy peanut butter dog biscuits. (She says she's been trying to get her publishers to print that one for ages; this time she insisted.) 

Peter Gannushkin / downtownmusic.net

Devotees of the ruggedly individualistic, inexhaustibly creative Mary Halvorson have much to celebrate and cogitate upon as the rising, young, cutting-edge guitarist presents solo explorations at 8:30 and 10:00 pm on November 7 at New Haven’s Firehouse 12, 45 Crown Street.

When comedian Amy Poehler was in her 20s, she read her boyfriend's journal and found out that he didn't think she was pretty.

"It was almost like an itch being scratched, which was, 'Aha! I knew that you didn't think I was pretty!' ... And then it was followed by a real crash because ... my ego was bruised," Poehler tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Poehler says it taught her that the earlier you figure out your "currency," the happier you'll be. For Poehler, that meant not leaning on her looks to be successful.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Shade tobacco came to Connecticut in 1900 from the island of Sumatra, which was beginning to dominate the world of cigar wrappers. The leaf had a light color, delicate texture, and mild flavor that cigar lovers love.

Scenes. Conversation. Politics. What inspires artists working in their studios?

Inspiration can come from the quiet of the mind, or, as we just noticed, the spark that results in art can be set off because of world events. Connecticut artist Lula Mae Blocton explains how her work on paper was inspired by events in Newtown, Connecticut.

Catie Talarski / WNPR

Daria Savickas's great-grandfather came to the United States from Poland in 1875 as part of the largest wave of Polish immigration to this country at the turn of the century. He worked at a hotel in Chicago, and then at a factory in Buffalo, New York. "He was a forest ranger," Savickas said. "He liked being in the forest," so he eventually returned to his homeland.

Rocky and Nelson / Creative Commons

Scandal is a theme today. 

One of our guests today is Anne Helen Petersen, who left academia to write full-time about celebrities and television and celebrity gossip.  One of the themes her first book, "Scandals of Classic Hollywood," is the history of Hollywood scandal so lets get my own theory out of the way. 

Connecticut State Library/flickr creative commons

Celebrating her 12-year commitment to protect and preserve family farms, Connecticut Farmland Trust is holding its Annual Harvest Dinner November 8 in Faith's honor. The public is invited and the event features a cocktail party and seated wine dinner at the Old Lyme Country Club. Space is limited. For ticket information telephone (860) 247-0202 or go online.

Hair Jewelry: Remembrance That Never Dies

Oct 24, 2014
The Connecticut Historical Society, Gift of Dorothy Filley Bidwell, 1957.18.17

The 19th century saw an explosion in the popularity of jewelry made from human hair. Because hair does not decompose after its removal from the body, it was considered a symbol of eternal life. Locks of hair were often given as tokens of friendship, love, or grief and these locks were sometimes incorporated into jewelry. In the mid-19th century, enterprising jewelry makers braided, wove, and sewed hair into such keepsakes, offering a variety of shapes and sizes.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

"The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of human aesthetics which holds that when human features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some human observers." (Wikipedia)

Some version of the uncanny valley phenomenon is tangled up in the national freak-out this week over actress Renee Zellweger’s post-nip & tuck coming out party. Of course, the uncanny valley usually flows in the other direction — from the artificial toward the almost-natural. Cosmetic surgery can work in reverse. We almost recognize Renee. It’s so close — but also indubitably the result of manufacture — that we are unsettled by it.

Jedediah Laub-Klein/flickr creative commons

Faith's motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

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