Arts and Culture

The Many Genres of Drone

Mar 5, 2014
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center via flickr Creative Commons

The cosmos is full of noisy wonders including, strangely enough, black holes that have been emitting drone sounds for millions of years. And art truly does imitate nature in the genre of drone music. Marcus Boon wrote about drone for Boing Boing, and despite a knee-jerk reaction to pass it off as potentially annoying, it turns out that drone music is pretty popular.Popular enough, even, to have several sub-grenres.

Roadsidepictures via flickr Creative Commons

Title sequences have a practical function, sure. They convey the whos, wheres and whens of a production while segueing into the story. They are also the first impression, the opportune moment to set up the tone of a film or show. Through music, imagery, and written or spoken dialogue, title sequences can be the most artistically influenced aspect of a production. Though not always true, title sequences can even be the best part of a show or movie that is otherwise full of overplayed clichés and unoriginal storylines.  At Word of Mouth, we searched and sifted for those iconic title sequences we thought packed that extra artistic punch. While most correlate to the quality and success of the production as a whole, others, well, others might not.

Check out some of our favorite film and TV title sequences below. Yours didn't make the list? Share it on Facebook!

Beacon Radio via flickr Creative Commons

Word of Mouth is putting on the glam, rolling out the red carpet, and practicing our best paparazzi poses for the Academy Awards this Sunday. (Isn't everyone?) But first we're preparing with some film history – smear campaigns, artistic title sequences, and controversial kisses in films have been wowing fans and critics for decades. This Sunday marks the 86th Academy Awards, but not all movies are Oscar-worthy. Hence The RAZZIES, whose goal it is to recognize the worst of the worst. So whether you're preparing for the red carpet or a drive to the office, we've got a star-studded show worth that extra time in the makeup chair or pickup truck.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Blank On Blank: Janis Joplin On Rejection

Feb 26, 2014

Four days before she died, on September 30, 1970, Janis Joplin was interviewed about rejection by Howard Smith. Blank on Blank remixed and animated the interview. In context, it is both sad and enlightening about Joplin's life and views. Her unapologetic attitude toward critics is both admirable and unsettling. Unsettling because of the amount of criticism she faced and that, like anyone who faces rejection, "in my insides, it really hurts if someone doesn’t like me."

Marc Moss, Tony Alter & Atemisa ., via Flickr Creative Commons and

Today's Word of Mouth is brought to you by: Rejection. All artists have been there, feeling confident about a submission only to find out that someone  "regrets to inform" them that their work has been denied for publication.  Well, Word of Mouth is here to commiserate with rejection letters from literary greats. Then, what do film studios do when forced to substitute an actor? Use fake shemps, of course. Taking a musical turn, we revisit the Word of Mouth love song and the fantastic listener submissions. (Really, they're awesome!) Finally, the band Lake Street Dive released their fourth LP 'Bad Self Portraits' last week, we'll dig up an interview we did with the band from 2012.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Bill Ohl, Hatmanu florin, & whittlz via flickr Creative Commons and Pearl and the Beard

Today's Word of Mouth broadcast delves into the hows of character creation. Then we speak to the creator of everyone's favorite chat feature. You know, the one that says "So-and-So is typing." (Thankfully he doesn't leave you hanging on those three little dots...) We leave acting and writing for a musical treat with the band Pearl and the Beard. Finally, it's all about the cute with the author of a new book about interspecies relationships.

Listen to the full show, and click Read More for more on each segment.

The Many Voices Of Meryl Streep

Feb 20, 2014
Movies in LA via flickr Creative Commons

Ladies and gentleman, the many voices of Meryl Streep.

Over her decades long career of incomparable success, Meryl has given us Irish-American, Italian, Danish, Polish, Australian and, of course, Julia Childs. Each accent is as unique (funny, quirky, intense, etc.) as the characters she creates.

Do you have a favorite Streep accent or character? Share it on Facebook

The Perps Worst Nightmare via flickr Creative Commons

In an effort to explore our cultural relationship with computer technology, artist Jeff Thompson watched 20 years worth of Law & Order – a total of 456 episodes – and documented when computers were used and how.  The project was commissioned by the arts and technology organization Rhizome.

Doug88888 via Flickr Creative Commons

As editor of The New York Time’s “Modern Love” column since 2004, our guest Daniel Jones has read over 50,000 love letters.  Well, not love letters exactly, but letters about love.  Okay, and most of them aren’t actual physical letters, but emails.  Which says a lot about the state of romance in 2014, given how much of it sparks, burns, and is often extinguished from behind a computer screen.  Technology’s impact on modern love features heavily in Jones’ new book “Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject with the Help of 50,000 Strangers”.

Recycled Percussion

In 2009 the New Hampshire based “junk rock” band Recycled Percussion successfully made it to the final round of NBC’s show “America’s Got Talent”. For their final performance the four piece band pounded away on assorted junk as water rained down on them and strobe lights flashed in rhythm. After coming in third place in the competition out of 100,ooo acts, Recycled Percussion landed a headlining show in Las Vegas where they’re still going strong. This Thursday the band will finish up a string of homecoming shows at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Our guest is founding member of Recycled Percussion and Legacy X Justin Spencer.

No matter which platform they use, teens and tweens are the demographic that communicates online, and speak in the language of the viral video. Reporter Lauren Ober brings us this story of a pair of young rappers that goes to extreme lengths to shoot a music video that they hope will catch fire.

Instagram user carlymanning10

Cast your mind back to high school.  The social hierarchies, the rivalries, the cliques?  Were the cheerleaders at your school at the at top of the pyramid? It should come as no surprise that popular kids still ‘own’ high school. Some are also getting famous online, in the halls of social media. enter the world of the “cheer famous." Joining us is Allie Jones, she writes about politics and fashion at “The Wire”. She wrote about the “The Private Lives of the Cheer-lebrities of Instagram”. Her article has since spawned the kind of drama that reads like a hollywood cheerleading movie script.


As we look back at 2013, we’re struck by the number of mishaps made by politicians, celebrities, athletes and companies…followed of course, by the oh-so-heartfelt public apology. Word of Mouth's senior producer Maureen McMurray and producer Taylor Quimby join Virginia Prescott to talk about the year of saying sorry…or in some cases, the year of the non-apology.

bhautik joshi via Flickr Creative Commons

New Year’s Eve is a day of reflection and celebration and each December we mark the passage of time by inviting NHPR’s own Brady Carlson on the show to share his list of the year’s biggest web trends. Last year his list included: Kony 2012, Kickstarter, and Gangnam Style. Seems so long ago, doesn’t it? Brady joins us again to reflect on the web trends and memes of 2013, and what they reveal about our collective state this year.

Sodium Fox

The Golden Globe and SAG Awards nominations are out, launching  awards season into full effect. Among those getting the most nods are director Steve McQueen’s “12 years a slave”, and David O'Russell’s “American Hustle”.  We’re not going to tread through the all-too-familiar “best of 2013” territory today. We’re forging a new path through the worst films of the year. Joining us is Bill Goodykoontz, chief film critic for Gannett and The Arizona Republic who wrote "A Year in Review: 10 Worst Movies of 2013"

Chris Jensen / NHPR

 The Great North Woods Committee for the Arts enriches north country life by bringing authentic music and culture to local venues. Quebec native, Alice Carlson, grew up listening to traditional folklore music.

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…

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.  

©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.

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.

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.

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.


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

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… 

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.


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.

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".

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.

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.

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.