Arts and Culture

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Halloween is a perfect time for ghost stories and fairy-tales. Yes...fairy tales. But not the sanitized stuff of Disney Princesses,  but the grisly, violent, cautionary tales from which they were derived. 

Of course, scary stories are told best by Word of Mouth, so we invited author Adam Gidwitz to share the rather horrible story of “Ashputtle,” or as you might know her, Cinderella. It’s one of the tales from his new book, The Grimm Conclusionthe third volume of delightfully dark, vividly re-told stories originally written by the Brothers Grimm.

It seems like every summer, another classic superhero gets ripped from the pages of Marvel or D.C. comics and is adapted, or rebooted, for the big screen. You don’t have to be a comic book super fan to recognize icons like Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, but what about the telepathic Nelvana of the Northern Lights?

What, you never heard of her?

Two Canadian comic book fans, Hope Nicholson and Rachel Richy, are hoping to change that with a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first ever reprint of Nelvana comics for a new generation of fans to enjoy.

Courtesy Bushor Photography

Since its premiere in 1899, Anton Chekov’s play Uncle Vanya has been adapted for stages all over the world. Originally about a family property in eastern Russia, it’s been re-set in the English lake district in the 1930s, at an abandoned theater on Manhattan’s 42nd Street, and a post-apocalyptic interpretation set in Hawaii after a zombie attack.

Now, Kent Stephens, founding artistic director of Stage Force Productions, is bringing Uncle Vanya to the Maine coast.  Stephen’s relocates the bored, begrudging family members to the banks of the Androscoggin – bringing 21st Century concerns of environment and land policy issues to the fore. Uncle Vanya in Maine opens this Friday, November 1st, and runs until the 10th, at the Star Theater in Kittery, Maine.

Ingo Lütkebohle via flickr Creative Commons

One of comedian Will Ferrell’s most memorable Saturday Night Live characters was musician Gene Frenkle, the belly shirted cowbell player from the ‘70s rock band, Blue Ӧyster Cult. His cowbell playing was intoxicating and hilarious and prompted this now quotable line: "I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell."

That line, delivered by Christopher Walken, catapulted onto t- shirts and bumper stickers, and helped put the instrument designed for agriculture into the mainstream musical spotlight. But where did cowbell come from? And how did it migrate from the farm to the recording studio? Chicago based journalist Lori Rotenberk  wrote an article for Modern Farmer called “More Cowbell: From Herdsman’s Tool to Cultural Icon.

Logan Shannon

Each month the husband and wife duo, Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons, from Marlboro, Vermont write and record a song to be released on the day of the full moon. The beautifully layered, tunes have a backwoods feel are recorded in a barn, and sent out to subscribers. It’s an intimate and unique take on the ever growing DIY music scene.  They joined us in studio back in July to talk about their album and to play live in Studio D.

via hop.Dartmouth.edu

Edgar Oliver has a voice you’ll never forget: part Bela Lugosi, part Count Chocula. You may have heard him tell stories of growing up in Savannah in the 1960s, with a smothering, compulsive mother who shared her paranoid, terrified state with her children, Helen and Edgar. His tales of growing up are pulled together in  “Helen and Edgar”, a kind of a spoken memoir being performed at Dartmouth’s Warner Bentley Theater at 7:00pm tonight and Wednesday.

Vincent van Gogh / Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, N.H.
via onlydaughterfilm.com

Eighteen-year-old Dawn has never met her father; raised by her mother in a rural New Hampshire town, they are barely getting by. Dawn works at a bait and tackle shop by day and turns tricks at night to fund an escape from her dead-end life.  A cascade of bad events set Dawn on the road to find the father her mother doesn’t want her to find. He’s not so keen on the idea either. Our guest, Aaron Wiederspahn wrote, directed and starred in the film, “Only Daughter.”

For anyone who’s ever driven by a crumbling old New Hampshire barn and wondered what could be in there, here’s one answer…a stack of dusty old film reels that turned out to be the only surviving reel from a long lost 1911 film. The movie, called Their First Misunderstanding , was written by and stars Mary Pickford, one of the most beloved actresses of the  silent film era. We spoke with Professor Emeritus of Film Studies at Keene State College Dr. Larry Benaquist about the discovery of this rare, important and now celebrated film.

Andre Rosa

New Hampshire is known for its White Mountains and maple syrup. But one local artist would like to add another pair of regional highlights to that list: covered bridges and drag queens.

Andre Rosa is an artist and software engineer working out of Manchester. He’s just recently funded a photo calendar through Kickstarter and joins us to talk about the project.

iphonebookstore via Flickr Creative Commons

We turn now to that exemplary literary magazine, Playboy.  Hugh Hefner’s magazine has always been about the centerfold and male fantasy and an air-brushed version of female sexuality…but it's also a great read. Really.

In 2005, writer Amy Grace Loyd was hired to revive Playboy’s traditions of stories from the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and short fiction from Margaret Atwood, or that scandalous interview with Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter.  Amy was Playboy’s Fiction and Literary Editor for seven years, and she recently wrote in Salon about some of the ribbing she took for a job she loved. She also recently published her first novel, called “The Affairs of Others."

Just reappointed for a sixth term, Van McLeod’s agency oversees Libraries, Historical resources, and the state Council on the Arts. With the tighter budgets of recent years, his department has had to adjust, but he says it continues to be a key factor in the state’s prosperity and quality of life. 

Guest

  • Van McLeod - Commissioner for New Hampshire's Department of Cultural Resources.
via The Poetry Foundation

The Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac is horrifying, unforgettable and open to interpretation. Faithful Jews, Christians and Muslims regard God’s demand that Abraham sacrifice his beloved son as a lesson about the demands of faith, the rewards for obedience, or for some, evidence of God’s cruelty.  

Others see the essence of the story not in the command not to sacrifice, but the command to stop. The parable is alluded to throughout “The Exchange” by Sophie Cabot Black, one of the poems about the exchange of love and money and sex and time which anchors her third collection of poems. Black is among the many writers who will be sharing her work with audiences at the Brattleboro Literary Festival this weekend. 

mollybob via Flickr Creative Commons

People living with dementia can appear to live in their own world, a complicated, non-linear inner world not so easily communicated to, or understood by others. The London-based writer Susanna Howard is attempting to give people with dementia a voice by visiting with them and recording their words as poetry. 

Susanna is artistic director of Living Words, an arts and literature program helping people with dementia feel understood and heard even when communication seems lost. 

Check out the Living Words website here.

Ryann Ford

For the past fifty-three years, rest areas have offered weary travelers a place to pull off and pause and maybe even learn a little local history. Traditional rest areas are disappearing across the country… Louisiana for example, has already closed twenty-four of its thirty-four stops. Ryann Ford is a photographer whose work has been featured in the New York Times and Texas Monthly. She’s been trying to capture these doomed rest areas with her camera… before they disappear. Her project is called “Rest Stops: Vanishing Relics of the American Roadside.”

David Lockwood, Live From Studio D

Oct 1, 2013

Inspired by the Modern Love section of the Sunday New York Times,  each song on David Lockwood's new album is based on a deeply personal essay about love and relationships. David visited NHPR’s Studio D to play a few of his new tunes, and talk about the stories behind “Modern Love”. You can check out the essays that inspired the songs David played for NHPR here: Love Like This, Come Back Here, and Gone

Jonathon Kambouris

For his last meal, John Wayne Gacy requested 12 fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe KFC, french fries, and 1lb of strawberries. Gary Gilmore was served steak, potatoes, milk and coffee. Timothy McVeigh asked for two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Victor Feguer asked only for a single pitted olive. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were not given a choice.

Brent Cunningham is deputy editor of the Columbia Journalism Review and he wrote about the history of prisoner’s last meals for Lapham’s Quarterly.

In his book, My Heart is an Idiot, Davy Rothbart chronicles his shocking and sometimes disturbing real life stories about traveling around America, looking for love, and meeting strangers who take strange to a whole new level. He’s also the creator of Found Magazine and a regular contributor to This American Life.

Many of you called our Breaking Bad Hotline to let us know how you felt after the credits rolled on the finale. Here are just a few of the messages you left for us...and we've made them SPOILER FREE!

Just remember...WE'RE the ones who knock! Or something.

And if you're not ready to let go of our favorite meth cooks yet, check out some of our favorite 'Breaking Bad' memes:

'Breaking Bad' theme, played on meth lab equipment:

Margaret Atwood

Sep 26, 2013
Courtesy the Lavin Agency

Margaret Atwood’s novels are imaginative and  satirical, and her post-apocalyptic predictions eerily accurate. Atwood has just finished her Maddaddam trilogy, set after a bio-engineered plague has wiped out a wantonly consumerist America governed by corporations.

Atwood talks about her latest novel, and then sits down for a conversation and questions from the audience for this edition of Writers On A New England Stage, a co-production of NHPR and The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

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