Arts and Culture

Word of Mouth
11:55 am
Thu December 19, 2013

The Story Behind "The Christmas La La Song"

Credit Sherwin Sleeves

Christmas songs can quickly puncture the spirit of the season with deep rancor. NHPR’s Sean Hurley found this out for himself, when he decided to compose a new Christmas carol. Sean's song, “The Christmas La La Song” was picked up by Sirius XM shock jocks Opie and Anthony. We’ll let Sean pick it up from there. And a reminder that these are the kind of radio personalities that love to inflame…

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Arts & Culture
7:00 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Currier Museum Celebrates Pop Artist Robert Indiana

1960 The American Dream
Robert Indiana, 1971 Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, N.H.

When you think of the Pop Art movement, Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup prints or Roy Lichtenstein's comic book paintings might come to mind.  But recently, one of their peers has been getting more attention than usual.  

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Word of Mouth
12:32 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

The World's First Skiers...Ever

Blasting through powder on wooden, horsehide-bottomed skis with a single pole for balance, an Altay skier shows off the skills and equipment his distant ancestors perfected.
©Jonas Bendiksen/National Geographic

As the first snows fall, weekend warriors from all over New England will pack up the car, strap the skis to the roof and hit the slopes for a fairly expensive getaway. But in some places, skiing is a strategy for staying alive. Mark Jenkins, a contributing writer for National Geographic traveled to the northern most fringe of western China where skiing was invented many millennia ago. He spoke with the people who carry on the earliest skiing traditions, using the same resources and methods as their ancestors.

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Word of Mouth
12:30 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Princesses Behaving Badly

Credit lindarodriguezmcrobbie.com/

As long as there have been stories of princesses, there have been little girls to love them. The Disney princess phenomenon seeds young imaginations with shiny pink costumes, and gossip magazines continue the fantasy with pages devoted to Kate Middleton, and before her, Princesses Grace and Diana – the latter proving that becoming royalty is no guarantee of living happily ever after. Beyond these two dimensional characters are scores of real princesses  -- sometimes tragic, often extraordinary human beings who left scant record of their lives. Mental Floss columnist Linda Rodriguez McRobbie scoured through history for stories of women who fought, stole, schemed and survived, and pulls them together in her new book, Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories From History – Without The Fairy-Tale Endings.

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Word of Mouth
12:29 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

NH Magician Performs As 19th Century Illusionist

Courtesy of Andrew Pinard

Andrew Pinard’s website features video from the kinds of performances you might expect from a contemporary working magician: entertaining audiences at conventions, business meetings and a group of teens at a post-graduation party.

On Saturday, Andrew will take on another guise, and another century. He’ll be performing as the 19th century magician Jonathan Harrington at Canterbury Shaker Village, and he’s here to give us a preview, and a little bit of information on just who this Harrington is.

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Word of Mouth
9:55 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Inside The World Of Competitive Laughing

Credit Arnett Gill via Flickr Creative Commons

We all know laughter can be contagious. But can it be a good workout?  A form of therapy?  Even a skill?  Many happy devotees think, yes. Inspired in part by the growing popularity of laughter yoga, filmmaker and journalist Albert Nerenberg hosted the first official laughing contest in Montreal back in 2011. He’s also the director of the 2009 documentary, Laughology.

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Word of Mouth
11:55 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Norman Rockwell's Less Than Idyllic Life

Credit via indiebound.org

I was once invited to Thanksgiving dinner by a friend who warned me that her family was “Not a Real Norman Rockwell Kinda Bunch”. We know that image: brightly scrubbed faces hover in smiling anticipation over sparkling china as Ma sets the turkey in front of the family patriarch ready to be carved. That painting is titled Freedom From Want and it’s one of those homespun scenes that only happens in what author Deborah Solomon calls “Rockwell Land” -- a magical reflection of American life as it should be. Solomon’s new biography of the illustrator, beloved by the masses and dismissed as corn ball by the art world, reveals a complicated, neurotic, and repressed man who lived very far from the America he invented.

Deborah Solomon is author of American Mirror: The Life and Times of Norman Rockwell

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Word of Mouth
1:40 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Caldecott Winner David Wiesner On His Latest Book, 'Mr. Wuffles'

Children’s book writer and illustrator David Wiesner is a three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal for most distinguished children’s picture book. His newest work is about a group of tiny extra-terrestial explorers, whose wee spaceship unwittingly becomes a plaything for a house cat named Mr. Wuffles. 

As with all of Wiesner’s books, Mr.Wuffles is nearly wordless, with dramatic visuals that propel readers from the plausible and everyday into the fantastical world of what could happen… 

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Word of Mouth
1:35 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Colin Quinn Will Make You Laugh At The Constitution

Credit Mike Lavoie, copyright 2013

Here’s a topic guaranteed to get a big laugh…the Constitution.

The national tour of comedian Colin Quinn Unconstitutional, is stopping at The Colonial Theater in Keene this Friday. Quinn, after all, made the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal funny as anchor of Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, and has now condensed the Constitution’s history into a witty 75-minute one-man play. His new show finds the humor in how the right and the left argue over the meanings and interpretations of the Constitution.

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Word of Mouth
2:01 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Playing For Peace

Kinan Azmeh
Credit via KinanAzmeh.com

Clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh was born in Damascus, but now lives in New York, where he wakes up to bad news each day. One of his compositions, “A Sad Morning, Every Morning,” is dedicated to the victims of the Syrian conflict, now in its third year.

Kinan will be performing at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth tonight along with Sally Pinkas, and the Apple Hill String Quartet in a program called “Playing for Peace.”

Also featured tonight will be works by Joseph Haydn and Mieczyslaw Weinberg and the world premiere of two compositions by the composer Kareem Roustom-- also born in Damascus. Roustom has not been back to Syria since 2008; Azmeh since July 2012 , but the people who are suffering in their war-torn homeland are never far from their hearts or their music. We spoke to Kinan Azmeh and Kareem Routsom from Dartmouth’s studio about homeland.

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Word of Mouth
11:31 am
Tue November 12, 2013

The Art of Procrastination

The Art of Procrastination by John Perry

Feeling guilty about putting off something important?  Can’t seem to finish that daunting task at the top of the to-do-list?  Here’s a philosophy book for you: “The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing John Perry is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Stanford University, and an admitted chronic procrastinator.  He wrote the book as a way of avoiding doing something else – a principle he calls “structured procrastination".

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All Things Considered
4:51 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Tomie de Paola Reflects On Art And Life "Then"

A postcard for the exhibition "Tomie de Paola: Then" shows the artist holding up an early painting.

Writer and artist Tomie de Paola is perhaps best known for his books about the "grandma witch" Strega Nona and her magic pasta pot.

The inspiration for this character came to de Paola in an unusual place: a faculty meeting at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire.

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Word of Mouth
11:47 am
Thu November 7, 2013

The Metropolitan Opera - Live In HD

George Gagnidze as Scarpia and Patricia Racette as the title character in a scene from Act II of Puccini's "Tosca."
Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

This Saturday, the Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” series will broadcast worldwide. The live performance will be streaming to more than 700 theaters in the United States, seven of which are right here in New Hampshire.  Starring in the opera is soprano Patricia Racette of Manchester, New Hampshire.

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Word of Mouth
10:37 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Schadenfreude! Zeitgeist! German Words That Capture The Indescribable

Zach is feeling the Zeitgeist...or something.
Credit Rebecca Lavoie for NHPR

In German, there's an expression for kicking through piles of leaves, and for the conviction that all large houses must have secret passages. In other words, Germans have expressions for things we don't, and they're pretty great. Just think about the ones we've adopted without thought, like 'Wanderlust.' 

Author Ben Schott’s Miscellanies  and annual almanacs have sold millions and been translated into more than a dozen languages. Now, he’s completed a compendium of compounds to describe the inexpressible. It’s called Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition.

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Word of Mouth
1:02 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

What Exactly Is 'Cool,' Anyway?

Credit Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

The search for “cool” has been a quintessential cultural quest for decades: we all want to be cool, but by definition only a select few will ever achieve it, and only for an instant. So what is “cool,” anyway, and why are we so fascinated by the people who make cool? Here to answer that question is Dan Kois. He's Senior Editor at Slate, which is doing a month-long series on the nature of cool. 

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