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

["Spoiler" alert: This interview about House of Cards discusses plot points from first two seasons, as well as themes addressed in the third season.]

In the pilot of the Netflix series House of Cards, politician Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, strangles a dog that was hit by a car. According to creator and showrunner Beau Willimon, there was a big debate among the producers whether to show the dog or not.

Currier & Ives / Public Domain

To mark the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, we look back the event and how it changed America with two local historians who are experts on the 16th President of the United States. As part of this look back, we hear from actors who will commemorate the anniversary with a staged reading to recreate the final days of the Civil War, the assassination, and the search for and death of John Wilkes Booth.

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If you've ever wondered how a group of French musicians might play the music of The Ramones, you are in luck. Direct from Toulouse, France: Los Jamones, a Ramones tribute band, performs this Saturday night, April 18, at Cafe Nine in New Haven with Elm City punk rockers The Hulls.

Raymond Brown/flickr creative commons

The Branford, Connecticut-based charity Read to Grow celebrates its 15th anniversary this month with a dinner event on Saturday, April 25.

T Charles Erickson / Long Wharf Theater

Governor Dannel Malloy last month announced he'll bring together  a panel of community leaders and experts for the first time today to take a look at ways to reduce the urban violence that takes the lives of young men, mostly minority and poor, in often random and senseless acts of violence. 

While those numbers are decreasing in some urban areas around the nation, including in Connecticut,  they remain higher than would be tolerated in more affluent communities.

A focus on the numbers ignores the lives behind the statistics, including the families that love victims. Nor do numbers get to the root of the problems behind the violence. 

Jaine/flickr creative commons

We'll get you in the mood to explore our state with the author of Insiders' Guide to Connecticut, now in its second edition. It's pure pleasure cover to cover. And we'll send the book right to your door as a thank you gift for supporting this show and WNPR.

Naotake Murayama / Creative Commons

Mark Rothko is undoubtedly one of America’s most important and influential painters. With his vast rectangular forms and ethereal color fields, Rothko’s art has inspired feelings of meditation and transcendence in ways that few other artists have been able to reproduce. 

brokinhrt2 / Creative Commons

What's up with all the weight talk? 

We're not even sure when it started, but Candice Bergen, who was always perfect and who is still perfect, really went there  in her current memoir and book tour.

“Let me just come right out and say it: I am fat.”

Mostly, it feels like someone opening the window and letting the fresh air in, right? And it lets us know that everybody eats and some of us eat too much. I mean, it turns out that the FBI -- which is being held to new fitness standards -- is full of stress-eaters.

Lydia Brown / WNPR

Since the 1970s, musicians Paul Howard, Tom Hagymasi, and Phil Zimmerman have been performing together as Last Fair Deal. They’re a local trio whose music puts an original twist on the old-style sound of American roots music. 

Musicians are always searching for inspiration, and sometimes they find it in some unlikely places.

Take Brian Friedland, a prolific Boston composer and jazz pianist who’s discovered a creative goldmine in his cupboards. He takes words on packaging for products such as granola, mouthwash and tea, then sets them to some pretty sophisticated music. Friedland calls the funny-but-serious project “Household Items” and he has a new CD.

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Cable-Free Consumers Can Now Watch HBO

Apr 9, 2015
Thomas Hawk / Creative Commons

Since "The Sopranos" first skyrocketed to popularity, HBO has been recognized as the creator of some of the best television in American history. But until now, cable-free consumers have been unable to legally watch the show through downloading or streaming services.

David Shankbone / Creative Commons

Eddie Murphy is this year's winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The prize, given by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., has been awarded since 1998. 

Ginger Grant

The town of Bristol is in the midst of marketing their new logo and brand: Bristol - All Heart. A group of artists, calling themselves the Bristol Art Squad, are doing their part to showcase the new brand by transforming five vacant storefronts throughout the city into temporary art installations. 

Melissa/flickr creative commons

It might seem like a control issue when your child starts hating certain foods and loving sugar, but new research is showing their preferences are linked to genes and body size.

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.

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