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

Potato Chips!

Oct 20, 2015
Gloria Cabada-Leman / flickr creative commons

If you like the fun, flavor, the passion of good food and conversation, party with us on this bonus edition of The Food Schmooze®. It is a call-in on that crispy, heaven-sent wafer, the potato chip.

We often think of marketing as being about either awareness or persuasion. It seems impossible that Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which opens December 18) needs either one, given its astronomically high profile and the fact that curiosity alone will drive plenty of ticket sales, even for those who will take pleasure in being recreationally disappointed.

Tulane Public Relations / Creative Commons

Jonathan Franzen has become that rare American author whose life and moods and sulks make news. From his friendship with David Foster Wallace to his fractious encounter with Oprah Winfrey, Franzen may have become America’s most visible intellectual. All that puts a lot of pressure on Purity, his newest novel. We’re experimenting on the show with a new book club format, asking three Connecticut literati to read and discuss the book.

Tick Tock: Big Ben Slows As It Ages

Oct 20, 2015
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When you think of daily life in the developing world, what do you see?

Do you see the fierceness of a buffalo race in the jungles of Bali? Children climbing up a clay minaret in Burkina Faso? Families laid out like jewels across rooftops in India, searching for a respite in the summer heat?

Tracy Morgan made his return to comedy official Saturday as he returned to host Saturday Night Live, some 16 months after being seriously injured in a deadly car crash.

On January 16, 1920, Americans took their last legal drink for 13 years. In New York City, gadflies wore black clothes and funeral robes in anticipation of the Volstead Act kicking off Prohibition at midnight. Reporters for the Daily News imagined the last words of John Barleycorn: “I’ve had more friends in private and more foes in public than any other man in America.” 

Josh Haner, The New York Times / European Pressphoto Agency

This past week brought us the long-awaited first of six Democratic candidate debates, held at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. The tone was substantive, exposing a few stark differences between the candidates and their Republican opponents. They offered nuanced and complex views -- overall, a good night for voters who want to know the candidates. 

The Dutch have landed in Boston with the Museum of Fine Arts’ new major exhibition of 75 masterpieces, titled “Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer.” Twenty-four of the works have never been displayed in the U.S. before — including a little-known portrait of a lady that proved to be a critical get for the show’s curator.

Telling A Unique Story About 17th Century Dutch Society

Hartford Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

Maybe it's that my two older daughters have both gotten married in recent weeks. Or that my youngest daughter (married two years ago, for the record) is about to have a baby. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that Donald Trump -- Donald Trump -- is being taken seriously as a presidential candidate. 

Actor Randall Park takes the responsibility of portraying an Asian-American character on television very seriously. When he accepted the role of Louis Huang on the ABC comedy Fresh Off the Boat, Park wanted to make sure his portrayal avoided stereotypes and clichés.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

There's a debate over whether college should prepare kids with specific skills that will prepare them for jobs, or give them a wide-ranging but more general liberal arts education. 

Photographs copyright © 2015 by Victoria Pearson

These sensational pancakes are to-die-for… crispy edges, golden brown, and light as air... and the genius part is that you whip them up in a blender. We like them for breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner. They're that good. Even our pancake-hater said these are delicious. This recipe and others appear in the new book Citrus, featuring lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, and clementines.

Ali Hasbauch

As a toddler, Frank Vignola would sit for hours on the floor in the living room right up close to his father’s bulky, state-of-the-art stereo, totally mesmerized by the enchanting guitar sounds of Les Paul and Bucky Pizzarelli magically wafting out of the imposing twin speakers that towered above him. 

Shortlists for the National Book Awards went public Wednesday, halving the number of nominees to just 20 finalists. Among the books that have survived the second round of cuts, a few clear favorites are beginning to emerge — while others have been displaced by less familiar names.

The full lists of finalists can be found below.

The Huntington / Creative Commons

I could have called myself a Stradivarius,

for though I, of course, was just an ordinary violin, waiting,

ready to be held for the first time in a musician’s hands,

primed to be played,

mobilized by all my busy genes

to become music –

when first I felt the quiver

of its stirring sound,

I became, imparadised,

the most priceless stringed instrument

on the face of the earth. 

Natalie Maynor / flickr creative commons

Thai basil chicken… joyful chocolate almond bars… no-bake cake… sweet potato and ground turkey shepherd's pie… it's all in the new book The Science of Skinny Cookbook, produced by the scientist Dee McCaffrey, who eliminated synthetic chemicals from her diet and went from obese to slender. Now she offers the recipes that have made her plan a success…

Ski resorts across the state are gearing up for the winter ski and riding season. But many resorts have seen a pleasant uptick in summer and fall business thanks to recent multi-million dollar investments in lodging and non-skiing activities. 

Leyda Quast / WNPR

More cities are recognizing Native Americans on Columbus Day this year as they revive a movement to change the name of the holiday to celebrate the history and contributions of indigenous cultures around the country. 

Flickr user comedynose / Creative Commons

America has seen a renaissance in storytelling of various forms, especially on the radio. This hour, we talk with two producers who are telling very different kinds of stories. Joe Richman has been putting tape recorders in the hands of people for nearly two decades as part of his Radio Diaries series heard on NPR. He's speaking at Quinnipiac University this week.

I'm a member of Generation Y, or the millennial generation. People like me were born in the '80s and early '90s. But I don't like to broadcast that fact. Millennials tend to get a bad rap.

Journalists and commentators love ragging on us. They say we're ill-prepared to deal with life's challenges. And that, as a result, we have higher rates of mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Stacy Spensley / Creative Commons

In 24 hours, UConn freshman Luke Gatti became a viral video sensation. By now, millions have turned on their computers to watch the apparently-intoxicated 19-year-old taunting and shoving a UConn food court manger. Over what? Mac 'n cheese, of course. 

It's Oct. 1, two days before the season's first Saturday Night Live goes on air. Guest host Miley Cyrus is rehearsing, rumors are flying that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is going to be on the show — and executive producer Lorne Michaels is in his office overlooking studio 8H, worrying.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new work premieres in Hartford this weekend that has a fresh and inspiring take on traditional opera. The performance even takes on a science fiction feel. 

Wikimedia Commons

Philippe Petit made his walk between the towers of the World Trade Center over 40 years ago. He stayed up on that wire for 45 minutes, made 8 passes between the towers, got down on his knees, and he even laid down on it! But it's more than that one feat - it was a placeholder for a much broader philosophy of risk and creativity, and evidence of who the man really is.

Eric Devine

If you love traditional jazz and an amicable, intimate setting where you can schmooze and nosh at ease with your favorite performers, you should be right at home at Jeff and Joel’s House Party, a vintage music bash that runs full steam ahead from Friday, October 9, through Sunday, October 11, at the VFW Hall, 104 Mill Road in Guilford.

What's In a Title?

Oct 6, 2015
Eon Productions, MGM

The opening credits of your favorite movies and television shows set the mood, tone, and characters for what's to come, and allow you to relax and get ready for the show. Some fast-forward through the opening credits to avoid distraction from the main performance. Others say title sequences are supposed to be more like a score: felt, but not noticed. 

The film industry first fell in love with titles in the 1950s, when iconic opening sequences from Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" were etched deep in our memories. The opening notes are still recognizable half a century later. The same can be said for the well-known HBO series "Game of Thrones." 

Dinner Solved!

Oct 6, 2015
Matthew Robinson/flickr creative commons

Food Schmooze® party guest Katie Workman, author of Dinner Solved!, tells us how to make quick lemony parmesan artichoke dip… prosciutto-wrapped shrimp with smoked paprika… mustard-maple glazed pork loin… spanish lemon-garlic pork chops… chicken in orange-honey soy sauce… and caesar roasted salmon… 

Natalie Maynor / flickr creative commons

Thai basil chicken… joyful chocolate almond bars… no-bake cake… sweet potato and ground turkey shepherd's pie… it's all in the new book The Science of Skinny Cookbook, produced by the scientist Dee McCaffrey, who eliminated synthetic chemicals from her diet and went from obese to slender. Now she offers the recipes that have made her plan a success…

DonkeyHotey / Creative Commons

This week, Pope Francis was the biggest thing to hit America since the British Invasion. You could buy Pope-themed dolls, cookies with the Pope's face, hats, coffee mugs, backpacks, and even a Pope Bobblehead.

It was the pope's first visit to the U.S., and he seemed eager and happy to be here. He spoke passionately about the poor, climate change, and the migrant crisis, and cautioned against religious extremism. It has left some people wondering why he met privately and secretly with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refuses to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.