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

Talk to the Hand: The Puppet Show

Aug 5, 2015
Artisphere/Creative Commons

Who doesn't love puppets?

From the Muppets to Edgar Bergen to the Thunderbirds, they defined our childhoods. Today they're taking over the theater with "Hand to God," "Avenue Q" and "The Lion King." Many people don't know it, but Connecticut has long been a center of puppetry in the United States.

Summer Corn

Aug 5, 2015
PROliz west/flickr creative commons

It's a corn celebration… Chris Prosperi's corn cakes… Alex Province's corn salad... garlic bread corn on the cob... corn with bacon, shrimp, avocado, and lime… it goes on and on, featuring one of the greatest gifts of summer… corn!

Avery Sharpe

When Avery Sharpe, the standout standup jazz bassist, was a little boy growing up in the still segregated South, he’d often tag along with his mother, a gifted gospel pianist and devout member of the Church of God in Christ, when she played sacred music everywhere from emotionally powerful services in sanctified churches and tabernacles to fervent tent revival meetings.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Mystic Seaport hosted its 30th annual marathon reading of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick aboard the Charles W. Morgan last weekend, America’s oldest commercial ship still afloat. 

Does Your Dog Really Know How You Feel?

Aug 4, 2015
Chion Wolf / /WNPR

Our show is all about "man's best friend." 

Dogs are, generally, cute and cuddly and many of us adore them. But what's the science behind our puppy love? We talk with researchers and reporters who study whether or not our dogs are as intuitive as we sometimes think they are or whether they are just "dumb as a dog."

Ginny/flickr creative commons

My motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join me and my book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Matt Clark/Creative Commons

The Litchfield Jazz Festival celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year, and we’ll be broadcasting from the site of the festival’s jazz camp - which exposes young musicians to some of the best instructors in the world of jazz. The festival is also celebrating the groundbreaking Connecticut composer and saxophonist Tom Chapin - we’ll hear from those who remember him.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is extending the contract of its music director, who last year became the orchestra's youngest conductor in a century.

The story of hitchBOT — the robot that had visited Europe and New York City, but couldn't make it out of Philadelphia in one piece — may not be over. A Philadelphia tech group is offering to rebuild the robot and hoping to repair their city's reputation.

A kid-sized robot that's built around a plastic bucket and sports a friendly LED face, hitchBOT had been on a mission to travel from Massachusetts to San Francisco, relying on the kindness of humans it meets along the way.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Internally, NPR has debated when and where it is appropriate to swear. If the President of the United States says the N-word, should it be bleeped on the radio? Can a public radio host swear on a podcast? There are lots of questions about offensive language in 2015, with so many different mediums and changing social norms.

We also discuss news that Vice President Joe Biden might be looking for a promotion to the Oval Office.

Finally, is Yelp in a "death spiral"?

After a bunch of really nice humans helped a hitchhiking robot traverse the length of Canada and most of Germany, the robot was going to try to make it from Massachusetts all the way to California.

HitchBOT is the brainchild of two Canadian social scientists. As Frauke Zeller and David Harris Smith explained it in a piece for the Harvard Business Review, it was an experiment meant to spark a discussion "about trust, notions of safety, and about our attitude towards technology."

Peter Harrison / Creative Commons

This past week, a Minnesota dentist and father of two shocked us out of our complacency. Desensitized by the weekly shootings this summer of African Americans by white policemen, moviegoers in theaters and African American churchgoers by a young white racist,  his ambush of Cecil the lion was a visceral blow to our collective gut.  Yes, we're still horrified by the way human beings treat each other. Our outrage over Cecil doesn't change that horror, but animals are somehow out-of-bounds of our cruelty to one another. In some ways, they're like civilians in a war - innocent victims in a world outnumbered by humans with the power to destroy all that is natural in this world.

Tim Simpson/flickr creative commons

Total recall. Replacement bones. An average lifespan of 150 years. That's what James Canton talks about when he advises Fortune 500 companies on what's coming next in our world. And that's not a fraction of it.

Last week, the Internet exploded after an episode of the WTF! Podcast with Marc Maron went online. The guest was the comedian Wyatt Cenac, who talked about being a writer and correspondent on The Daily Show for several years. He recalled getting into a heated argument with Jon Stewart over the host's impression of Herman Cain, which Cenac had found troubling:

Dominick D / Creative Commons

Two funny men. Two funny books. 

I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend follows the life of Martin Short, a funny man who spent his childhood staging elaborate one-man variety shows  in his attic bedroom before bringing us enduring and endearing characters like Ed Grimley, Irving Cohen and Jimmy Glick.  

Nicole Abalde/flickr creative commons

Find out what happened when I told the gang producer Jonathan McNicol was going to surprise us with an array of party music and, on the spot, we had to come up with party themes to make your backyard entertaining a blast. Sometimes spontaneity and brainstorming are far better than planning, right? Plus, you're going to want to dance when you hear this one...

Stephane Colbert / Dan Brubeck

With heartfelt devotion, drummer/composer Dan Brubeck pays tribute to his parents, the pianist/composer Dave Brubeck and the lyricist/librettist Iola Brubeck, with his new, consummately crafted, unpretentious release, Celebrating the Music and Lyrics of Dave and Iola Brubeck.

Marriage in Our Modern World

Jul 28, 2015
Pete / Creative Commons

Across the United States, partners still hold the institution of marriage dear. Yet as time moves on, there are significant changes in the way Americans approach marriage. Many years ago, the idea of marrying for love was ludicrous. Now, the love match is the heart of a modern marriage.

elhombredenegro/flickr creative commons

We all depend on technology and its vast, positive potential on everything from poverty to medicine, but there’s a flip side. As we gear up for the Internet of Things, with greater connections come greater risks. 

This hour, the Nose will definitely NOT talk about Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

But they will cover Gawker's horrible week. After lots of backlash, the online site retracted a story in which they outed a married executive who solicited a male prostitute. They've now made the pledge to be "20%  nicer." Or maybe just 10%.

John Haley / Connecticut Historical Society

This hour, a panel of experts and historians gives us an in-depth look at the life and legacy of Beatrice Fox Auerbach, owner and CEO of Connecticut's most beloved department store, G. Fox and Co. 

Hartford Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

In a previous post (“Saving the Hartford Symphony,” July 9), I offered a few observations about the situation at the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

Briefly, the situation is that the management, which is now essentially the Bushnell under an agreement struck 16 months ago, is proposing significant reductions in the number of services offered to many of the HSO musicians. The musicians, needless to say, are resisting.

The Flap Over Flags

Jul 22, 2015
Sam Howzit / Creative Commons

Flags have been in the news a lot lately. South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its Statehouse this month and one Missouri county threatened to lower the flags at their courthouse for one full year to mourn the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. 

mosespreciado/flickr creative commons

Whether you love to let the juice slide down your arm when you bite into a burger, or you like yours beautifully spiced and topped with truffle cheese, we have a list that represents our collection of crazy-good burgers for carnivores and vegetarians… stuffed burgers… classics with a twist… the crusted smash burger… Everybody loves a burger!

David Redfern / Getty Images

Miles Davis, the innovative trumpet genius, and George Wein, the visionary festival producer/impresario, were not exactly as close, say, as Damon and Pythias, what with the seemingly inevitable bumps and disagreements that popped up now and then over the long, fruitful friendship and professional relationship between these two titanic forces in jazz.

The Backstory of Advice

Jul 21, 2015
Chion Wolf / WNPR


What makes advice good or bad? When and why do we listen to what others have to say? It is human nature to turn to others for advice when the going gets tough; we seek the wisdom of loved ones, lawyers, doctors, therapists, and advice columnists. But even when presented with good advice, we don't always take it. This hour, we get down to business about advice.

Aida Mansoor / Muslim Coalition of Connecticut

Thousands of Muslims in Connecticut visited mosques around the state last Friday to celebrate the end of Ramadan. The holiday is called Eid al-Fitr, a joyous celebration of prayer, gift-giving, and community gathering, that entails feast that can last up to three days.

What Makes a Good Flag Design?

Jul 21, 2015
UNIDO / Creative Commons

Think about the Connecticut state flag. Could you draw it from memory? What does it mean? Did you know that the three grapevines in the seal represent the state's three oldest settlements?

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.