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

Chion Wolf / WNPR

What is it we salute when we salute the flag of Jeopardy?

I really don't know the answer nor do I know how to put it in the form of a question.

There are some obvious answers. Jeopardy celebrates competence. It acknowledges the idea there are things worth knowing and that people who know them deserve a slightly different status than people who don't.

Empire comes to Fox with an interesting pedigree: It was created by Danny Strong (who's written multiple award-winning projects for HBO) and Lee Daniels, who made Precious and The Butler — both films with a sheen of prestige, but both films to which people reacted in complex ways. It stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, who are both past Oscar nominees. The executive music producer is Timbaland, who's worked with all kinds of folks, including Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake.

Sevim Yolacti

Guitarist/composer Sinan Bakir, a Nutmeg State transplant who’s originally from Ankara, Turkey, has set Gold Medal standards of excellence in expression in recent years with his two acclaimed recordings and live performances in many venues stretching from Connecticut to New York.

Christa/flickr creative commons

On the Food Schmooze® menu... the best comfort foods, including dinner salad with crispy goat cheese honey poppers... hearty pastas... and your phone calls about your favorite comfort dishes.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

If you’re anything like me, a search for the newest, most interesting music is not quite the fun exploration that it should be. It is more of an overwhelming odyssey through countless websites, blogs, and napkins with personal recommendations. And after all that, I usually just buy the new Black Keys record.

Today, we’ll help you if you’re in a similar predicament by presenting "The Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd," Anthony Fantano. He's the host of the wildly popular video blog "The Needle Drop." He got his start on WNPR,but now he has fans all over the world who hang on his every word about music.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Anthony Fantano, host of The Needle Drop, came by WNPR studios and shared a few of his latest favorite musical sounds.

Appearing on WNPR's Where We Live, Fantano told host John Dankosky that it's been the best musical year that he can remember.

Most radio reporters, I think it's fair to say, think about their voices a lot, and work to sound powerful and authoritative. I know my voice has changed since my very first radio story 10 years ago:

Compare that with how I sound these days:

Ou Ning used to hate the countryside.

He had a comfortable life in Beijing where he worked as an artist. Yet in 2013, the 45-year-old packed his bags and traded his apartment for a centuries-old house in Bishan, a small village in China's Huizhou region. He brought with him his mother, younger brother, nephew, his then-fiancé and her son.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

"Molly" is the nickname for MDMA, or Ecstasy, and it's short for "Molecule", meaning you're getting the "real thing", chemically speaking. Except you almost never do. On this show, we'll talk about the dangers of Molly, the medical uses of MDMA, and the curious romance between the drug and the form of music known as EDM, Electronic Dance Music.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

If you've ever watched "Nashville," you've heard the songwriting of "Big Al" Anderson. If you've ever listened to the band NRBQ (The New Rhythm and Blues Quartet), you've heard him loud and clear. And if you tune into this show, you'll hear this Windsor native and Jim Chapdelaine perform live, talk about the craft of songwriting for himself and for other people, defining an era with "No Good to Cry" with his band, Wildweeds, and more!

Eliyamin.com

Besides being a gifted pianist, composer, bandleader, educator and co-writer of imaginative jazz musicals for children, New York City musical maven Eli Yamin is a devout, globetrotting evangelist for jazz and blues as a universally healing and unifying communal catalyst, an inspiring historical and cultural force that he calls “the heartbeat of the American experience.”

Party Food Winners

Dec 31, 2014
Bryan Cole

 

The Buffalo Chicken Editor reports on a new home cook dip... a crisp Long Island Palmer chardonnay pairs really well with winter fish... halibut with a delectable wine-butter sauce from The Real Food Cookbook by farmers market maven Nina Planck....

jimmygreene.com

It’s been two years since saxophonist Jimmy Greene lost his six-year-old daughter, Ana, in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. On his new album Beautiful Life, Greene memorializes his little girl.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s so hard to keep up on jazz, especially for the person with only a casual interest. That’s why, every year, critic Gene Seymour and some musicians get together on our show to talk about what they liked and why. On this show, pianists Noah Baerman and Jen Allen round out the panel.

SONGS (in order of appearance):

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s been two years since saxophonist Jimmy Greene lost his six-year-old daughter, Ana, in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. On his new album, Beautiful Life, Greene memorializes his little girl. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

One nice thing about the holidays is that David Edelstein, America's Greatest Living Film Critic, comes back to his hometown and joins us for a conversation about movies. Recently on Fresh Air, he told Terry Gross that 2014 was a "very, very depressing year for film because none of the great material came from Hollywood studios."

Which are you? The kind of person who can't wait to talk about Serial? Or the kind of person who doesn't do it, doesn't get it, and dreads having other people bring it up? The former sort of person was summed up by a recent New Yorker cartoon that showed a woman on a city sidewalk, flagging down a fellow pedestrian and saying "Excuse me, do you have a minute to talk about the latest episode of 'Serial'?"

From the Hand of the Master: The Signs of William Rice

Dec 26, 2014
the Connecticut Historical Society

Highway travel today is notable for the number of services available on both interstate and secondary roads. Automobile fuel and repairs, food, and lodging are just some of the amenities available, all easily located thanks to an abundance of signs large and small.

When listener Susan Tannewitz-Karnes was a child in Johnson City, Tenn., Christmas wasn't Christmas without an English tea cake baked by their neighbor, Mrs. Lawrence.

She would deliver it about a week before Christmas. "We would come home from school and my mother would just say, 'Mrs. Lawrence came by! We have Mrs. Lawrence!' And we'd say, 'Oh, yes! Yes!' We couldn't wait."

Starting Christmas day, audiences can see a new version of Stephen Sondheim’s nearly 30-year-old musical fairy-tale mash-up, “Into the Woods” — this time, on the big screen.

And as the production moves from stage to screen, the high-budget Hollywood version comes with the requisite star power, including Johnny Depp as the iconic big bad wolf, Emily Blunt as a baker’s wife and Meryl Streep as the wicked witch who sets the whole plot in motion.

Although it wasn't a great year for the shows themselves, it was a good year for programming, says TV critic David Bianculli.

"In terms of what was happening on television, in terms of new and old formats and new, exciting players coming into the mix — [it was] another good year," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I'm actually kind of encouraged."

Bianculli reflects on how far TV has come.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It's just unthinkable to me that "Why Can't It Be Christmas Time All Year" is not a classic, and a staple of holiday music. But it's not. In fact, you've probably never heard of it or Rosie Thomas, who recorded it. And that helps explain why it has been 20 years since any song became a mainstream hit. "All I Want For Christmas Is You", released by Mariah Carey in 1994, did what is now impossible - it survived its first season, and became a song that is played every year during the holidays, and performed by other people. It got a big boost, of course, from the movie "Love Actually", but that's not the only reason it stuck around. But 20 years is a long time to go without another success in that department.

"This is a very, very depressing year for film," critic David Edelstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "because none of the great material came from Hollywood studios."

Studios, he says, direct their financial resources into sequels and comic-book movies, which leaves little room for "creative expression, and for doing something weird and potentially boundary-moving."

Sony Pictures

Moviegoers in Connecticut who want to watch "The Interview" have a choice of two theaters screening the film at the center of an international storm involving Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and North Korea. 

l.hillesheim/flickr creative commons

From the Saveur magazine cookbook, German Pot Roast (Sauerbrauten) has a secret ingredient -- ginger snap cookies... a velvet Palmer red wine from Long Island's North Fork is perfect for beef... spiced pork roast from Alex Province that is inexpensive and lusciously good....

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Every now and then, the jazz world needs a reminder that there are master musicians among us whose distinguished careers, elegant artistry, versatility, intelligence, resilience and well-honed craftsmanship are not given the recognition they so richly merit.

CintheaFox / Creative Commons

We're nearing the end of another news-filled year. Take an entertaining and informative look back at 2014 as we benefit from the wisdom of the WNPR audience: below are ten most-viewed stories you shouldn't miss from our newsroom. 

Unraveling the Web of Deception

Dec 23, 2014
Chion Wolf / WNPR

We fool people all the time. Whether with bad intent or not, deception has become a common practice in today's society. While modern tools such as texting, social media and the internet at large have all made the practice easier, deception in its most basic form goes back to Man's beginning.  Some believe it to be an assertion of power while others claim it's in our blood- a practice born out of our species' need to cooperate in order to survive.

Pope Francis blasted the Vatican's top bureaucrats at an annual Christmas gathering, accusing the cardinals, bishops and priests who make up the Curia of "spiritual Alzheimer's" and of lusting for power at all costs.

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