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

James Vaughan / Creative Commons

Maybe you caught the four-hour, two-part HBO documentary on Frank Sinatra last week.

Or maybe you have downloaded the new Sinatra smartphone app.

Or poured a couple of fingers of the recently unveiled “Sinatra Select” edition of Jack Daniels’ fabled Tennessee whiskey.

Frank would have turned 100 this year, so everybody’s weighing in.

jeffreyw/flickr creative commons

On the menu this week… The Cabot Creamery Cookbook, chock full of cheesy goodness straight from the local farms who supply Cabot… Anthony DeSerio's cocktail is The Carrot-Ginger Beer Boat Rocker… and we have some winning wine to tell you about, to go with all those lip-smacking cheese recipes.

Liron Joseph / Jovan Alexandre

At just over six-foot-five, the modest but immodestly talented musician Jovan Alexandre speaks softly but carries a big-toned tenor saxophone that speaks with a deeply expressive personal sound full of towering promise.

Unraveling the Web of Deception

Apr 8, 2015
Chion Wolf

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.

Food 2.0

Apr 7, 2015
Brian Ambrozy/flickr creative commons

I'll take it as a given that you like food. But no matter what your style of eating and cooking is, I'm betting the complexity of the American food system can leave you confused, judgmental, guilty, apathetic, or overwhelmed. If that's true, here's some good news: Once in a while an original voice comes along and breaks through to offer clarity and a new way to conceive of something.

Gareth Williams/flickr creative commons

Since we are the narrators of our lives, we control our perspective in the stories we tell to make sense of the world. Psychology professor Timothy Wilson says in his book Redirect these tales we tell have a powerful reality, determining whether we will lead healthy, productive lives—or get ourselves into trouble. 

Friday night marked the start of Passover, when Jews around the world tell the story of Exodus. That story, with its radical message of freedom, has resonated with African-Americans since the days of slavery.

More than 40 years ago, these two communities wove their stories together for a new Passover ritual — the Freedom Seder.

Chion Wolf

 The only people who might have had a wilder roller coaster ride than Trevor Noah this week were the owners of  Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana. (That's the place that announced Wednesday morning they would not be willing to service the burgeoning market for breadsticks and nacho cheese dip at gay weddings.  By Friday, they had been forced to close temporarily because of all the harassment and had seen half a million dollars raised for them on the site gofundme.com.)

Anyway, we're not talking about Indiana on The Nose today. We promise.

Alexander Gardner / Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University

Yale University's Beinecke Library announced the purchase of more than 57,000 photographic prints this week, primarily of President Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and American life in the 1860s.

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library acquired the collection, which also includes books, pamphlets, maps, and theater broadsides for a total of over 73,000 items from the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation.

A Story for the Ages

Apr 2, 2015
Courtesy of mellopix.com, Berkeley Rep, and Hartford Stage

If you’re the parent of a kid who’s taking music lessons, or one who's  just generally interested in music, you should be aware of the remarkable one-person show that just opened at Hartford Stage.

The show is “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” and it’s been out making the rounds in various cities for a couple of years, but this is the first time it’s been seen in Hartford.

Steven Sussman

Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice climbing through the looking glass, Cyrille Aimee, a future jazz princess, was instantly transfixed after scrambling through her bedroom window as a child in France. Quite magically, the little girl found herself in a fantastical cultural kingdom of Gypsies from all over Europe happily encamped nearby at a festival celebrating the legacy of the legendary Gypsy jazz guitar genius, Django Reinhardt.

Suzette - www.suzette.nu/flickr creative commons

Our chilled pomegranate martini from Anthony DeSerio… and while you’re sipping, feast on our lemon extravaganza… irresistible lemon pepper linguine with shrimproasted garlic lemon broccoli… the 7 best things to do with lemons… and The Healthy Mind Cookbook, filled with dandy recipes aimed at improving your skin, mood, memory, and immune system…

Andre Silva / Creative Commons

On the series "NewsRadio," the character played by Phil Hartman once said, "Experience once taught me that behind every toothy grin lies a second row of teeth."

Smiling is a universal way to show happiness. But not all smiles are happy. In reality, we smile less for happiness than for social reasons that have nothing to do with happiness. That said,  few things are more ingratiating and calming as another person's genuinely warm smile. But, maybe it's because a genuine smile is such a great thing that we're always looking for the false one. 

Just about a full decade since the girl with a dragon tattoo was introduced to readers, she'll be making her grand return to fiction — albeit with another author's name on the cover. Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy of crime novels is set to become something more on Sept. 1, when the series' new addition hits store shelves as The Girl in the Spider's Web. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf released the book's title and cover art Tuesday.

Steve Sobczuk / Flickr Creative Commons

You're probably no stranger to the Morning Zoo if you were in your teens or twenties in the 1980's. Developed after the death of disco left  Top 40 stations with a big hole to fill, the Morning Zoo revitalized early morning radio with a fast-paced improvisational style that for the first time broke down barriers between news and entertainment.

The Scramble Goes Clear

Mar 30, 2015
Aaron Stroot / Creative Commons

This weekend, HBO premiered a documentary about the Church of Scientology that has been generating headlines and controversy for months. What new information was learned from the film? This hour, we talk with someone who has written extensively about the church.

Also, a "religious freedoms" bill was signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Some businesses in the state are already receiving backlash from customers who won't do business in the state because of the law. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is expected to announce an executive order that will ban state-funded travel to Indiana. However, Connecticut is one of 19 other states with similar religious freedom laws on the books.

South African comedian Trevor Noah will become the new host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, stepping into the role Jon Stewart has filled for 16 years.

Confirming reports of his new job Monday morning, Noah tweeted, "No-one can replace Jon Stewart. But together with the amazing team at The Daily Show, we will continue to make this the best damn news show!"

Chion Wolf

Our topics today involve censorship, transgression, and reconciliation. 

Earlier in the week, The Nose panelists started talking about China's "dancing grannies" problem. This sounds like a Monty Python sketch, but it's real. In China's public squares, droves of people --most of them women and most of them with a little snow on their roofs -- assemble and dance, in various styles, to various kinds of music. 

Wonderlane/flickr creative commons

Listen to our show featuring ideas and inventions. We invite you to tell us what you've invented or would like to see invented, and to share your ideas on improving some aspect of life.

The FX series Justified, which is in its sixth and final season, is based on the novella Fire in the Hole by Elmore Leonard. Leonard was an executive producer of the series until his death in 2013. The show's creator and showrunner, Graham Yost, says he has made it his mission to stay as true as he can to Leonard's vision and storytelling style.

Yale University Art Gallery

Africa Salon, Yale University’s first contemporary African Arts and Culture Festival, starts Friday night. It's part of a larger initiative to advance the university’s focus on the continent.

What's In a Name?

Mar 26, 2015
Natalie Maynor / Creative Commons

Author Michael Erard is interested in how and why we name things - especially non-human objects and animals - and how naming affects our perceptions and behaviors toward those objects.

He spent a lot of time researching how different subcultures name things - including rock musicians, scientists and Maine lobstermen, because naming tells you a lot about what's going on in a particular culture.  

Goodbye to All That

Mar 26, 2015
Rob Choucroun / Creative Commons

Socio-technological bulletin:

I have decided to get rid of my CDs.

I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I believe it’s time. I’ve pretty much crossed over to the download/streaming side, and I just don’t play the discs much anymore.

Bob Jagendorf / Flickr Creative Commons

Everyone’s heard of Coney Island -the Wonder Wheel, the side shows, the miles of sandy beach.

Yet, most of us have never seen it except through the eyes of others, including artists and filmmakers who used it as a prism through which to shape their view.

And, what they saw was a place with both lovers and con men, natural beauty and bawdy amusement, social inclusion and class boundaries.

Coney Island is not an easy place for them to define, so they portrayed what they saw - but also what they wanted it to be.

Beverley Goodwin / Creative Commons

Rust is all around us. It's in our cars, our homes, our infrastructure. It's also the subject of Jonathan Waldman's first book, Rust, which introduces us to the people who fight it.

We tell you how to make an easy, lemony chicken saltimbocca done on the stovetop in minutes. If you want a "jump in the mouth," you've just discovered the right, easy, quick, and delicious recipe combining flavors I love; chicken, fresh lemon juice, sage, and crispy prosciutto.  It's part of our focus on cooking light using global flavors. 

Ojah Media Group

Long before Cassandra Wilson became an iconic and iconoclastic diva, her preternaturally beautiful voice and naturally charismatic way with phrasing and lyrics earned her comparisons with Billie Holiday, the most deeply expressive and tragically doomed jazz singer of the 20th century.

Will K. Wilkins

In recent days, a famous piece of public art in downtown Hartford was apparently defaced. Several boulders in Carl Andre's Stone Field Sculpture had been mysteriously spray painted with bright colors, as though by utility workers.

Residents and various officials combined efforts to clean the boulders early this week.

Steve Jurvetson / Creative Commons

Before cyber-bullying was even a term, one person was experiencing it from the internet world mercilessly: Monica Lewinsky. Nearly 20 years after her affair with President Bill Clinton was discovered and she became the internet's target, she is returning to public life. Last week, she gave a TED Talk and addressed the scandal and its aftermath directly.

Also, the City of Hartford is restoring damage to a well-known sculpture that was unknowingly marked by work crews with orange paint.

Finally this hour, a look at the new album by Kendrick Lamar, which has been the talk of the town among rap fans and critics alike.

Eric Heath / Creative Commons

Americans have been tipping for good service for centuries.

Tipping is so ingrained in our American story that we rarely question why we still do it, even though we leave an estimated $40 billion in tips every year.

Some say tipping is a good thing because it gives a much-needed boost to lower-paying service jobs. Others wonder if tipping still serves its purpose - to reward good service. And, workers reliant on tips to pay their bills are sometimes tempted to discriminate against customers they think will be “bad” tippers.

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