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

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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.

Earlier today, Julianne Moore got an Oscar nomination for "Still Alice." She is by far the betting favorite to win the best actress award. But you may remember her better as Franny Hughes Crawford on "As The World Turns." And four or five years before Ellen said "I'm gay," Bill Douglas came out as a gay teenager on One Life to Live. That character was played by Ryan Philippe. In fact, Leo DiCaprio, Maria Tomei, Tommy Lee Jones, Parker Posey, Kevin Bacon, Meg Ryan, they all worked on soaps before they moved on. 

Now there are only four soap operas left – drawn out, dramatic stories that used to be sponsored by soap manufacturers, and now are struggling to maintain relevance to house wives who have a lot more options in the middle of the day. We'll talk about this slice of Americana with those in the industry, and a professor who co-directs “Project Daytime.”

[At the top of this post, you'll find a discussion I had with Stephen Thompson, my Pop Culture Happy Hour co-panelist, about the Oscar nominations. Tomorrow's full PCHH episode more fully covers the film Selma.]

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In the rarefied category of sub-five-minute classical compositions of importance -- not a huge body of work -- Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” stands apart.

For one thing, it has become one of those pieces works that confers an instantly weighty, ceremonial feel to occasions, from presidential wreath-layings to high-school basketball senior nights. 

Fire: Sparking Imagination Since Two Million B.C.

Jan 14, 2015
BriSaEr / Flickr Creative Commons

Things burn: Our environments, resources, and all forms of monument to self. And since the beginning, so too has our imagination. The inspiration humans have drawn from fire throughout the millennia is as impressive as it is immeasurable. Why fire occupies such an elemental place in the creative wellsprings of our consciousness is certainly a debate to had.

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Make a "dirty" martini… the best and easiest slow-cooker chicken ever… broccoli rabe pesto pasta… and the nursery rhyme cocktail book for exhausted parents!

Jimmy Katz

Although first trained in the intellectual rigors of classical music and later well-schooled in the cerebral practices of free jazz, the exceptional Japanese-born pianist/composer Eri Yamamoto most prizes the invention of pure, basic, heartfelt melody. 

Online Security: A Battle You Just Can’t Win?

Jan 13, 2015
Hlib Shabashnyi/iStock / Thinkstock

The highly publicized hacking of Sony Pictures and Monday’s infiltration of Central Command’s Twitter account are just two of the most recent examples of Internet crime.

Goodreads

Novelist Robert Stone, author of A Flag for Sunrise and Hall of Mirrors, died Saturday at his home in Key West, Florida. He was 77.

Stone was a finalist twice for the Pulitzer Prize, and won the National Book Award in 1975 for his novel Dog Soldiers

NPR reported that Stone "was a neglected and traumatized child who learned early not to trust reality, a lapsed Catholic consumed by questions of sin and redemption."  

Sozialfotografie [►] StR / Flickr Creative Commons

Less than a week after the deadly shootings at the headquarters of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, political cartoonists in the U.S. are still processing what happened to their colleagues.

Two Connecticut-based cartoonists spoke on WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show about reactions they get to their work. Matt Davies, staff cartoonist for Newsday, and Dan Perkins, syndicated cartoonist better known as Tom Tomorrow, called some of the feedback "nasty" and "frightening."

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A man named Billy Williams became a legend during World War II, but not only for his heroic actions; Williams, stationed in Burma, became an elephant "whisperer." The book Elephant Company describes the man's exceptional ability to understand the elephants around him, and the stunning ability of the elephants to understand and communicate with him, in return.

The Spice of Life

Jan 13, 2015
Sarah Marlowe / Creative Commons

The word spice has a kind of urgency. You don't need spice but historically, it's something people wanted enough to travel long, unfamiliar routes to find and bring back. We're going to talk about the lust for spice that helped open up trade and colonization. It's not just the taste or the smell - it was status and a class marker. One was either the sort of family that had turmeric or one was not.

Today on the show, we talk about the history of spice and about its present. It hasn't stopped, in certain quarters, being a luxury item and a status marker.

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Today on the Scramble, we talk to two cartoonists about the road ahead from the Charlie Hebdo massacre. I'm still wrestling with some of my own questions about what this story means to the world of satire, which I consider vitally important to the health of the world.

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The Katio Window Litter Box has the potential to eliminate some of the household odor that goes with indoor litter boxes. It's such an obvious solution, but no one thought of it until Katio designed it to install and look like an air conditioner in your window.

Surrounded by his cast mates and the show's executive producer, Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor faced a crowd of journalists backstage at the Golden Globe awards Sunday, and made the case for why his win as best actor in a comedy meant more than a typical Hollywood honor.

"This is about changing people's lives," said Tambor, who won his award playing a 70-year-old coming out as transgender. Earlier, while accepting his award on national TV, he dedicated his award and performance to the transgender community.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Later in the show, we discuss this essay in praise of the conventional office life, but first, Colin writes: 

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From Boston’s new arts czar to Mass MoCA's expansion announcement, we learn about some of Massachusetts' long-term plans to support local arts and culture. We also look at the arts here in our state, and see if there’s anything we can learn from our neighbor to the north. 

Roger Reuver / Creative Commons

For the past several years, I have taught an informal, one-credit seminar at The Hartt School called "Communicating With Your Audience."

Columbia Artist Management

Claude Frank died late last month. According to The New York Times, the acclaimed pianist and teacher died from complications from dementia. He was 89.

As a teacher, Claude Frank encouraged his students to explore the entire piano repertoire, including new and avant garde works. As a performer, Frank tended to focus on only a handful of composers, especially the music of Beethoven. 

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

Join Faith and her 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.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

What is it we salute when we salute the flag of Jeopardy?

I really don't know the answer nor do I know how to put it in the form of a question.

There are some obvious answers. Jeopardy celebrates competence. It acknowledges the idea there are things worth knowing and that people who know them deserve a slightly different status than people who don't.

Empire comes to Fox with an interesting pedigree: It was created by Danny Strong (who's written multiple award-winning projects for HBO) and Lee Daniels, who made Precious and The Butler — both films with a sheen of prestige, but both films to which people reacted in complex ways. It stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, who are both past Oscar nominees. The executive music producer is Timbaland, who's worked with all kinds of folks, including Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake.

Sevim Yolacti

Guitarist/composer Sinan Bakir, a Nutmeg State transplant who’s originally from Ankara, Turkey, has set Gold Medal standards of excellence in expression in recent years with his two acclaimed recordings and live performances in many venues stretching from Connecticut to New York.

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On the Food Schmooze® menu... the best comfort foods, including dinner salad with crispy goat cheese honey poppers... hearty pastas... and your phone calls about your favorite comfort dishes.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

If you’re anything like me, a search for the newest, most interesting music is not quite the fun exploration that it should be. It is more of an overwhelming odyssey through countless websites, blogs, and napkins with personal recommendations. And after all that, I usually just buy the new Black Keys record.

Today, we’ll help you if you’re in a similar predicament by presenting "The Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd," Anthony Fantano. He's the host of the wildly popular video blog "The Needle Drop." He got his start on WNPR,but now he has fans all over the world who hang on his every word about music.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Anthony Fantano, host of The Needle Drop, came by WNPR studios and shared a few of his latest favorite musical sounds.

Appearing on WNPR's Where We Live, Fantano told host John Dankosky that it's been the best musical year that he can remember.

Most radio reporters, I think it's fair to say, think about their voices a lot, and work to sound powerful and authoritative. I know my voice has changed since my very first radio story 10 years ago:

Compare that with how I sound these days:

Ou Ning used to hate the countryside.

He had a comfortable life in Beijing where he worked as an artist. Yet in 2013, the 45-year-old packed his bags and traded his apartment for a centuries-old house in Bishan, a small village in China's Huizhou region. He brought with him his mother, younger brother, nephew, his then-fiancé and her son.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

"Molly" is the nickname for MDMA, or Ecstasy, and it's short for "Molecule", meaning you're getting the "real thing", chemically speaking. Except you almost never do. On this show, we'll talk about the dangers of Molly, the medical uses of MDMA, and the curious romance between the drug and the form of music known as EDM, Electronic Dance Music.

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