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Vinoth Chandar / Creative Commons

I once took guitar lessons with a small group of people who met two nights a week in the basement of a local elementary school. We spent most of each lesson practicing in little nooks and crannies we each carved out in the old room. I enjoyed picking out tunes in my own little corner at my own pace. It was all going so smoothly until... the instructor mentioned the final "concert."

I lost sleep by night, fretted by day, and practiced a lot before forcing myself to show up on the scheduled night. But a funny thing happened: no one else showed up beside me and the instructor. I'm not sure what made me happier - that I showed up, that I got off the hook, or that I had an otherwise pleasant experience that was calm and not rushed.

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Many Americans were surprised by the results of the presidential election last month. During the early morning hours of November 9, half of America celebrated the ascension of the man (and not the first woman) that championed the needs of Americans who felt betrayed by those in power. The other half feared the election of a man with no experience in government and a stated desire to dismantle much of President Obama’s legacy.

Neil Gaiman was 6 years old when he first met the Norse god Thor — although he wasn't the red-bearded hammer-slinger of legend. "Marvel. Marvel's Thor came first," he says. "I was reading the reprints of Marvel's Thor in an English comic called Fantastic. ... Dr. Don Blake found this stick in a cave, banged it down and transformed into Thor, and the stick transformed into the hammer." Gaiman says he spent a lot of his first decade looking for likely sticks, "just on the off chance that they might the Thor stick, and might transform into a mighty hammer.

Anjan Chatterjee

I find great joy in walking in the dead of winter along the river trail near my house. Everything leaves my mind as I watch the Canadian geese take flight, their wings flapping together as they lift and swoop over my head. I'm in awe of their beauty.

The Caribbean -- its islands, its history and its people -- has had a profound influence on communities around the globe -- including Connecticut.

This hour, we talk with author Joshua Jelly-Schapiro about his new book, Island People: The Caribbean and the World

Old Rollei / Creative Commons

Have you ever woken in the middle of the night, looked at the clock, and noticed that it's the same time you woke up the night before - and the night before that? How does your body know what time it is?  You're not sure but the passage of minutes makes you worry that if you don't get back to sleep, you'll be too tired in the morning to get your work done on time. You can't get back to sleep. The minutes are ticking. You feel the pressure of the clock bearing down on you. 

Wikimedia Commons

There has been a surge of interest in the writings of Ayn Rand in the last decade, including from Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, President Donald Trump and several of his cabinet picks.

Derek Σωκράτης Finch / flickr creative commons

So, it turns out the world didn't end last week.

And while it might seem like the events of the last year or so are the disease, maybe they're really just the symptoms; maybe they're really just signs of the dystopia around us.

But, then: Which dystopia?

Mike Burns / Flickr Creative Commons

Jerks. Jackasses. A-holes. Some people are just... the worst. Aren't they? But so: Why? And what do we do about it?

ABC Studios / Wikimedia Commons

Clive James called Dick Cavett one of the great intellectuals who shaped the 20th century. Cavett combined wit with serious discussion for ninety-minutes each night as host of  The Dick Cavett Show, welcoming a staggering roster of cultural icons that spanned the worlds of art, culture, literature, music, and politics: Groucho Marx, Laurence Olivier, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Richard Burton, Orson Welles, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Noel Coward, Salvador Dali, Ingmar Bergman, Mel Brooks, Mort Sahl, Angela Davis, Marlon Brando, Katherine Hepburn, Carol Burnett...the list goes on. Even today, no one comes close - not even Stephen Colbert.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Friends and family gather this week for the holidays. It’s a time when we celebrate with each other and give thanks. But holidays can be an especially difficult time for those who have lost a spouse or another loved one.

Hubble ESA / Creative Commons

Scientists say that the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia four years ago was a rare event, unlikely to happen more than every 100 -200 years. But a research in the scientific journal Nature said the earth should expect and plan to get hit by Chelyabinsk-sized asteroids more often -  maybe every decade or two! 

And we thought the election was rough. 

PBS

For nearly four and a half decades, Sonia Manzano was Maria -- a recurring female lead on the PBS television series "Sesame Street."

Last year, Manzano retired from the show and published a memoir. It’s called Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Rogue One is the eighth live-action Star Wars movie. It's the first movie in the Star Wars anthology series, and its story happens between Star Wars Episodes III and IV, which is to say that it happens just before the very first Star Wars movie.

Confused yet? That's okay. We'll explain.

Kevin Dooley / Creative Commons

Are you a cat owner -- a self-described “cat mom” or “cat dad”? If you answered “yes” to that question, then here’s another one for you: Do you let your feline slink around outdoors? 

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center / Creative Commons

The Caribbean -- its islands, its history and its people -- has had a profound influence on communities around the globe -- including Connecticut.

This hour, we talk with author Joshua Jelly-Schapiro about his new book, Island People: The Caribbean and the World

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Felix Funicello walks into the historic Garde Arts Center in New London to prepare for his Monday night film class. He takes a moment to appreciate the splendor of the old building and consider the talented performers who have played at the Garde. He then climbs the staircase lined with movie posters from films as far back as 1926 to enter the production room at the top of the landing. That's where Felix finds not one, but two ghosts. 

haru__q / flickr creative commons

There's a theory that ours isn't the only universe. That there are, actually, infinitely many universes.

That there are, then, infinitely many yous.

Jay8085 / Creative Commons

Gustave Whitehead became a household name in Connecticut in 2013 when the editor of the highly-respected aviation magazine IHS Jane's All the World's Aircraftdeclared Gustave Whitehead had been treated "shabbily by history." This comment came after Australian historian John Brown found a picture of a plane he alleged Gustave Whitehead flew in Bridgeport two years before the Wright brothers got their 1903 Flyer off the ground. 

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Many Americans were surprised by the results of the presidential election last month. During the early morning hours of November 9, half of America celebrated the ascension of the man (and not the first woman) that championed the needs of Americans who felt betrayed by those in power. The other half feared the election of a man with no experience in government and a stated desire to dismantle much of President Obama’s legacy.

PBS

For nearly four and a half decades, Sonia Manzano was Maria -- a recurring female lead on the PBS television series "Sesame Street."

Last year, Manzano retired from the show and published a memoir. It’s called Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx.

Carrie Fisher was an insecure 19-year-old when she appeared as Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie, a role that would come to define her career. She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that despite becoming romantically involved with her older, married co-star, Harrison Ford, she often felt isolated on set.

"I didn't have anyone to confide in," she says. "I had no friends, and I couldn't talk about [the affair with Ford] because he was married."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Friends and family gather this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a time when we celebrate with each other and give thanks. But holidays can be an especially difficult time for those who have lost a spouse or another loved one.

This hour, we take a look at loss, grief and widowhood. If you are a young widow or widower, how do you begin a new chapter of life?

neetalparekh / flickr creative commons

What makes a great audiobook? What makes a great audiobook narrator? (And, for that matter, what makes a not-so-great audiobook and audiobook narrator?)

Brandon Carson / Creative Commons

Patti Smith wasn't seeking fame when she landed in Manhattan in 1969.  She was a fan of the greats of the day - like Dylan, Mapplethorpe, Pollock, Ginsberg - who she followed and emulated, hoping to find her own creative space next to those she most admired. 

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