There's been a lot of talk lately about the failure of the Pulitzer board to award a prize in fiction this year, and so today we're taking an in-depth look at that. If it did nothing else, this unusual step taken by the committee got people talking in a very animated fashion about contemporary American fiction. People are trotting out their own favorites from last year and arguing about who really should get to make decisions like this one.
But one of the other questions worth asking is: What do we seek in great fiction?
You could easily become what producer Patrick Skahill calls "the music nerd whom nobody talks to at parties" by spending an hour a day geeking out on podcasts.
Today -- with our music mavens Wally Lamb, Eric Danton and Joan Holliday coming in -- I was scrambling to sound just a tiny bit hipper and I stumbled across a podcast called Indie Music Sampler, which some guy does from a corner of a bedroom in a condo in -- yes -- a western suburb of Portland -- with a baby blanket tacked to the wall to reduce echo.
You don't always get your big questions answered. I had a bunch of arguments with people who saw Bernadette Peters last year in the Broadway revival of "Follies."
These people complained that Peters had disappointed them. I understand why. They wanted to hear her big sound, chest out, shoulders thrown back, all the time. And Peters decided instead to give herself to the role of Sally - a lost, confused and faded ex-showgirl.
Earlier this week we had the opportunity to talk to comedian Mike Birbiglia. Birbiglia will perform his latest show, "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend," in Harford Friday, May, 4, at the Bushnell. He'll also perform in Stamford on Thursday, May 3, and Northhampton, Mass. on Saturday, May 5.
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If you were trying to pick out a restaurant in your town, you might ... ask your friends. If you were traveling far away you could ... ask your friends. Have they ever been to that place? No? No worries ... you can buy a guide book.
But what if you were in Rotterdam, no guide book in hand, standing on a street with three restaurants on it and feeling a bit peckish? You could read the menus in the window, but how's your Dutch?
One way chess is special is that everybody knows what chess is, but a far smaller segment of the population can actually play it.
Chess is a big enough deal that the Fischer - Spassky matches held the world's attention for two months in 1972. And every few years there's a pretty good chess novel. I recommend the overlooked "Queen's Gambit" by the overlooked Walter Tevis. Somebody once called it "Rocky" for smart people.
Faith Middleton talks with novelist and former therapist Amy Bloom about how interfaith couples negotiate life together. And, an award-winning Yale scientist has data showing climate change is affecting human health and mortality.
Alone and Invisible No More is the true story of a new way of caring for the elderly in Maine that is cost-effective and promises humane end-of-life care. Plus, a look at what The Bible says in contradictory ways about sex and desire.
There is a remarkable play at TheaterWorks in Hartford about the life of one of America's greatest painters, Mark Rothko, and his struggle to be heard and seen in the way he hoped to be understood. And a look at the art and psychology of fashion with Bruce Clements and a fashion psychologist.
For the 41st meeting of our (extremely) informal "editorial board", we gathered, in the company of four *amazing* women, at Carmine's Tuscan Grill in New Haven. (Duo and I providing the "junk DNA".)
Over delicious (and healthful!) appetizers, we talked about embarrassing moments, guilty pleasures - and choosing activities for summer vacations - with Deborah Pan, Kathy Barkin, and Anne Garland and Binnie Klein.
While traveling earlier this week, I was thinking about how easy it is to research almost any aspect of an experience and get an online, nearly real-time appraisal of the restaurant, hotel, shuttle service, store or tourist attraction you're dealing with. Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor take a lot of mystery out of life (which could be a bad thing) and put a lot of control in the hands of average consumers (which could be a good thing).
Why are we talking today about "Game of Thrones," an HBO series that begins its second season Sunday night?
The numbers alone are impressive. Three million people watched the final episode of the first season, which is a lot for a fantasy show on a cable premium channel. When you add in all the other ways to watch, it's more like 8 million sets of eyeballs per episode. The books by George R.R. Martin have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.
Why can't they cure baldness in men and women? Connecticut's Albert Schweitzer Institute is trying to save the world humanely, one village at a time. And how revered economist John Maynard Keynes would solve our fiscal crisis today.
A UConn cardiologist weighs in on the statin controversy. The remarkable life of soul music performer James Brown. And, a U.S. counter terrorism expert reveals how our new policies resulted in Bin Laden's capture. Can we stay safe?
One of the many nice things about working here at WNPR is that our chief engineer Gene Amatruda actually seems to like setting up our studio for concerts. And every time Gene does it, the studio sounds a little better. I caught some of String Theorie on Where We Live last week, and I was knocked out by the sound.
I grew up thinking I didn't like Irish music, because I thought Irish music was "Danny Boy," "Dear Old Donegal," "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," and "McNamara's Band." I was well into what passes for my adult life when I started to hear both Irish traditional music -- they call it "trad" back home -- and the contemporary music that builds -- with care and respect -- on the rhythms and idioms of the old jigs and reels and ballads and songs. And I was fully in love.