Arts and Culture

The City Dark

Aug 8, 2013
(Photo by Dave Dehetre via Flickr)

PBS is hosting an encore broadcast of the documentary The City Dark. The film, part of the POV series, will be airing on August 12. Last year we spoke with director Ian Cheney about light pollution and the development of the film. Here is our conversation with him after the debut of the documentary last summer.

Donato Cabrera is the music director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, music director of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, and most recently, the director of music for the New Hampshire Music Festival.  The six-week celebration of classical and chamber music performed each summer at the Silver Center at Plymouth State University is coming to a close on Aug. 16.  Back in June, Virginia Prescott spoke with Donato Cabrera about his work and the then upcoming festival.

Playing Pac Man In The Library

Aug 6, 2013
medium.com

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, younger patrons don’t use libraries only as a place to study, they also go there to “hang out” in place that feels calm. It’s a little less serene at the Chattanooga Public Library.  Justin Hoenke is the teen librarian there...we were a little stunned to find an article Justin wrote called “Why I bought an original 1981 Ms. Pac Man Arcade machine for my library”

via ofdiceandmen.com

Recounting his relationship with Dungeons and Dragons, David Ewalt writes, “I don’t know if I played D&D because other kids my age thought I was a nerd, or if they thought I was a nerd because I played D&D.”  The progenitor of many of today’s role-playing games has gained a reputation for attracting social outcasts and misfits and as a gateway for teenage boys to consider Satan and suicide. Like millions of kids who played twenty-side die in basements and game rooms across the country, Ewalt grew up…and had less time for a game that could suck up the idle hours of youth. He’s among those picking up the old dice bag for a D&D revival. David Ewalt is now an editor for Forbes, and author of the new book Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons and Dragons and the People Who Play It. It hits stores August 20th.

Chris Valdes and Ted Griswold via Kickstarter

Los Tigres del Norte’s 1972 breakthrough hit, “Contrabando y Traicion” – is a song which, despite its cheery tone and instrumentation, tells the dark tale of two lovers trafficking marijuana in the tires of their car…a story that ends in betrayal and murder.   The song is what is called a “narco-corrido”, or drug ballad.  After returning from a two-year stint teaching grade-school in one of the most dangerous parts of Honduras, Ted Griswold and Chris Valdes find themselves wanting to return… they’re raising funds on Kickstarter for a documentary film about Honduras’ most famous underground drug-ballad band, Los Plebes de Olancho.

A Plot Twist We All Saw Coming: Writers Like Alcohol

Aug 1, 2013
tout_moi via Flickr Creative Commons

The notion that the creative muse can be found in booze is as old as the ancient Greek myths. Literary genius, unlocked by alcohol, is part of the legend of Tennessee Williams, F Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Dylan Thomas and countless other sodden successes. Many of whom we imagine at the typewriter in a sepia-toned, romantic haze, rather than embarrassing themselves, sloppy, or shaking with DTs. 'Why do writers drink?'  wondered Blake Morrison  -- himself a poet – author and professor of creative and life writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. He’s also a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, who wrote about why …and how…writers drink for The Guardian.

rbrucemontgomery via Flickr Creative Commons

Children’s books are delightful, colorful, and whimsical ways to introduce children to reading. Although parents may find it a wee bit annoying to repeat the same stories night after night, reading to kids is crucial to healthy childhood development and helps form their vision of a world outside of their own. A study released last year found that children’s books are woefully under-representative of cultural diversityJason Boog is editor of the publishing website GalleyCat – he’s working on a book about reading to kids, and has been keeping an eye on content for kids.

Brian House via Wired.com

IBM calculates that the human race creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day, with information ranging from scientific research to consumer tracking to social media output. As businesses, governments and researchers continue to search for new ways to parse through this vast amount of information, one man is searching for the bridge between data collection and everyday life. In his project “The Quotidian Record,” Brian House interprets a year’s worth of his own location and movement data into an 11 minute musical track, morphing binary code into warm vinyl rhythm. House is a doctoral student at Brown University in the Music and the Modern Culture and Media Departments; he also teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. He created the quotidian record while he was a member of The New York Times Research and Development Lab.

Harper Collins

Nearly three years have passed since Long Island police uncovered the bodies of four dead girls along their local ocean parkway. Following the discovery, authorities uncovered commonalities among the deceased that included internet prostitution and a poor, working class socio-economic background. These revelations, coupled with a fifth girl who disappeared nearby under similar circumstances, resulted in the pursuit of a faceless serial killer who left behind very few leads.

laudachooos via Flickr Creative Commons

You’ve heard of whiffle-ball… how about whiffle-hurling?  Class-conscious kickball?  Imaginary soccer?  These absurd-sounding games are among the growing number of highly conceptualized art-sports invented by artists and shown on YouTube, and other online video sites. Brooklyn-based artist Tom Russotti is founder of the Institute for Aesthletics… yes, that’s athletics and aesthetics rolled into one. The institute combines sports, participatory art and conceptual social activities. Tom’s games have been invented, played, performed, and experimented with at museums, schools, and arts organizations all over the world.

Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Our favorite content, curated in one amazing hour of radio. This week, the science behind J.K. Rowling's unmasking, a guy who played Mr. Darcy at a Jane Austen Summer Camp, the Libertarian festival for Seasteaders, a new telescope technology that will send balloons into space, regular folks drive NASCAR cars, and a musician who writes songs based on the New York Times column, "Modern Love."

Courtesy Jared Mezzocchi

The Little Prince is one of the most read and beloved books in the world. The novella, written by the poet and aristocrat Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, drops two main characters from the sky…a downed pilot and a prince fallen to earth on a tiny asteroid. Though known mostly as a children’s story, The Little Prince was written during the escalation of World War II and contains clever criticism of society, lessons on human nature and whimsical watercolor illustrations. The Little Prince has been adapted for radio, film, ballet, and opera, and stage – including a production at Andy’s Summer Playhouse in Wilton, New Hampshire in the late 1990s that was especially memorable to our guest, Jared Mezzocchi. Now a successful multimedia director and projection designer, Jared is back to stage his own production of The Little Prince, which runs until July 27th.

Thalita Carvalho via Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame was uncovered as true author behind The Cuckoo’s Calling, a mystery novel written under the pen-name Robert Galbraith. Signed first editions of the book are now selling for over six thousand dollars, a testament to the value of a name. The reporters at the Sunday Times who broke the Rowling story consulted several academics whose methods of determining authorship relied heavily on software they had developed for that very purpose.

UNC Chapel Hill Jane Austen Summer Program on Facebook

This year marks 200 years since the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Britain has been celebrating all things Austen…from a proposal that the author’s portrait will grace the new ten-pound note…to erecting a giant replica of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy emerging from a river in Hyde Park.

Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Our favorite content of the week, wrapped up in one audio-licious program. This week, author Chuck Klosterman defines villainy, the Cronut craze catches a Harvard researcher's eye, head transplants are given an examination, robots roll into vinyards, and a pair of hard-partying vegetarians share their take on potato salad (spoiler alert: it's got Doritos in it!)

Festival Indie Rock via Flickr Creative Commons

There’s plenty to do this summer weekend in New England, including a few Word of Mouth favorites and others yet to be discovered. In the favorites category, Ethan Lipton, the man Time Out New York says is to lounge lizardry what Peter Sellers's Inspector Clouseau is to policing, performs “No Place To Go” at the Hop at Dartmouth on July 20th.  The Obie-Award winning theatrical song cycle is about the anxieties and driftlessness of being suddenly jobless. Ethan and his orchestra then travel to the Music Hall in Portsmouth to play songs from their vast and repertoire of old-timey style swing and songs.

Chuck Klosterman Tells Us Who Is More Villainous

Jul 16, 2013
Comitted Few/GCPanthergirl via Flickr Creative Commons

After speaking with Chuck Klosterman about his new book, I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains, and the nature of villainy, we gave him a quick quiz about some of the subjects he writes about in the book. He tells us who is more villainous with frequently hilarious, and thought-provoking, answers.

sarahelizamoody via Flickr Creative Commons

Our sunniest content of the week, all in one smart and snazzy hour. This week, misogyny online, the return of legal internet poker, an app that proves you're on a public beach, surprising summer reads, and a photographer's documentation of vanishing highway rest stops.

stevec77 via flickr Creative Commons

There’s nothing more tempting than a day off spent soaking up the sun on a hot beach with a good read. Summer reads don’t have to be mindless, though. Michele Filgate likes to find the perfect book for every occasion, and isn’t afraid to add some substance to the usually light fare offered by summer reading suggestions — Michelle is a writer, book critic, and independent bookseller at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn.

skippyjon via flickr Creative Commons

In May of 2012, feminist blogger and pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter campaign called “Tropes Versus Women in Video Games.” 

Anita asked for $6000 to make a video series analyzing gender roles in video games; identifying and exploring tropes like “the sexy sidekick” and “the mercy killing.” She raised the money in one day – and eventually raised $158,000. The project’s first video, “Damsel in Distress Part One” hit YouTube in March.

The Audio Orchard For July (Portsmouth Edition)

Jul 3, 2013

1.The Relatives, It’s Coming Up Again

July 14, The Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH

2.The Defibulators, Let Me See That Ponytail Run

Joseph Ellis

Jul 3, 2013
Courtesy of The Music Hall

“As usual, Ellis combines powerful narrative with convincing analysis. His tale of the crucial summer of 1776 shows how political and military events wove together to create a new nation. Read this book and understand how America was born.” –Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

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.

Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Our favorite content of the week, neatly packaged for your audio pleasure. On this show, the secret science behind sports fan-dom, dogs audition for a starring role in a New Hampshire play, Cryonics is (maybe) reborn, New Hampshire prospectors pan for gold, and Baz Lurhmann talks about a new album of 20's-style jazz covers of songs by Beyonce, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and other pop stars.

Douglas Davis via Whitney Museum

A conservation conundrum, that’s what the Whitney Museum of American Art faced recently when it set out to restore a piece of early digital art…it was uncharted territory for the cadre of conservationists who are typically tasked with matching paint colors and cleaning centuries-old sculptures. But in 1995 when the Whitney acquired Douglas Davis’s digital creation: “The World’s First Collaborative Sentence,” there wasn’t a conservation plan in place for the restoration of digitally created work. In 2011 the Whitney began the complicated process of restoring Davis’s piece, which lay dormant since a server switch in 2005. Melena Ryzik is culture reporter for the New York Times and joined us to talk about the Whitney’s process of restoring a relic from the early days of the internet.

Deboband.com

One of NPR’s Fifty Favorite Albums of 2012 was the self-titled debut album from Debo Band. The eleven member band, based in Boston, blends 1960’s Ethiopian music with American funk, brass band music, and rock. Tonight, the Debo Band is playing on the Dartmouth Green in Hanover. Band leader and saxophonist is Ethiopian-American Danny Mekonnen, who we spoke with about the band and their unique sound.

Carl Hiaasen

Jun 26, 2013
David J. Murray, cleareyephoto.com

The #1 New York Times bestselling author is back doing what he does best: spinning a wickedly funny, fiercely pointed Florida tale in which the greedy, the corrupt, and the degraders of pristine land get their comeuppance in a mordantly ingenious, diabolically entertaining fashion.

Hiaasen joined us in Portsmouth to talk about Bad Monkey and his other books on Friday, June 14th.  First, he shared his thoughts on storm-chasers, Hollywood monkeys, and what not to do with a dead raccoon.  Then he sat down with Virginia Prescott for a great interview about Florida scam artists, his foray into YA, and the twisted true stories behind his twisted fictional plots.

Writers on a New England Stage is a co-production of New Hampshire Public Radio and The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Andrew Wilkin via flickr Creative Commons

Developmental reading disorder, or dyslexia, is the most common  learning disability. It often manifests as difficulty in learning to read or spell fluently, resulting in poor performance on written tests. Abelardo Gonzalez is a software developer based in New Hampshire and the creator of Open-Dyslexic – an open source computer font designed to help make reading easier for those with dyslexia.

The Search For The Next Big (Dog) Star

Jun 25, 2013
Sara Plourde

The musical “Annie” opens this Friday at the Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth…more than 60 dogs barked their way through an open audition for the role of Sandy, little orphan Annie’s loveable and loyal canine sidekick. Producer Zach Nugent went to the Sandy Search  to get a look at the next big doggie sensation.

Hopkins Center TEST

We spoke with beatboxer, comedian, musician, and kinda TV talk show host Reggie Watts about his music and other ongoing projects. Reggie takes suggestions submitted via Youtube and turns them into original songs which have never before been performed, and may never be performed again. It’s all part of his online comedy collective called Jash with comedians Sarah Silverman, Tim and Eric, and actor Michael Cera. In addition to his online performances, Reggie has also been playing shows and festivals around the country. He’ll be at the Portsmouth Music Hall in the fall.

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