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Arts and Culture

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Shortly after the pandemic shifted our weekday work scenario from one of shared space and bursts of spontaneous conversation, to one hour-long weekly Zoom meeting, Colin shared his urge to sit down with a few old friends to talk about life in the shadow of a pandemic. 

Quick Quarantined Play Festival / Facebook

While certain public places are finding ways to reopen safely, theaters still have a long way to go. Socially distancing the audience is doable but probably not cost-effective. And what about the actors? Keeping 6 feet apart onstage could make for a bizarre evening of theater.

Chion Wolf (file photo) / Connecticut Public Radio

It's Friday, but our pop culture roundtable is off this week.

Today, in lieu of The Nose, an hour with America's Greatest Living Film Critic, David Edelstein.

Budapest Operetta Theatre / Bartók Plusz Opera Festival

What we’ve all been through in this pandemic has sparked renewed interest in the work of 19th-century physician Ignaz Semmelweis. He is considered to be the first person to find a correlation between hand-washing and disease prevention.

Semmelweis’ discovery was the subject of a recent Google “doodle.” It’s also the basis of a 2018 chamber opera, which is currently streaming online.

GIUSEPPE MILO / flickr creative commons

Nyctophiliacs rejoice! The color you know and love (black) is now blacker than ever before. And never mind that black is not technically a color. The point is that as you were traipsing through graveyards and reveling under the night sky, scientists were busy inventing two new shades which are so dark they'd make Wednesday Adams reach for a flashlight.

Netflix, Inc.

Twitter announced on Tuesday that its employees who can work from home can continue to work from home -- for forever, if they want. One wonders how many companies will follow suit -- and how employees will feel about such an arrangement.

And: Ryan Murphy is the showrunner behind things like Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story, 9-1-1, and The Politician. In 2018, Murphy signed the largest development deal in the history of television with Netflix. His new miniseries, Hollywood, is the second project to come out of that deal.

Merlin Tuttle / Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation

Bats get a bad rap. People are afraid of animals that tap into our deepest fears and revulsions. Bats aren't cuddly, they fly at night, have big eyes that can’t see, and conjure creepy images of vampires who steal the  blood of the unsuspecting as they sleep. 

hole
Mike Burns / flickr creative commons

In November, 2016, we did a show about all the problems presented by, well, a-holes. And so it seems only logical to expand our scope a bit and do a show about all the problems presented by, well, a hole.

For instance: How many holes are there in a straw? Did you say one? Okay, cool. Then how many holes are there in a sock? (A relatively new sock, I mean.) You said one again, right? But how can both of those things be true at the same time?

Or, put another way: What happens to the hole in the donut as you eat the donut around it? This gets into mereology, the theory of parthood relations -- for our purposes, the parts and wholes of holes and the wholes the holes are parts of.

Your head hurts a little, right?

Daniel Case / Wikimedia Commons

Not only is Charles Ives a revered American composer, but he is also Connecticut's native son. This hour, we take an in-depth look at Ives’ life and profound musical output, and we ask: What is his legacy today? 

Netflix, Inc.

23 Hours To Kill is Jerry Seinfeld's fourth-ever standup comedy special and his second for Netflix. It hit the streaming service on Tuesday, and The Nose thinks it's great. And also that it sucks.

And then: Waco is a six-part miniseries that tells exactly the story you'd guess it tells. Taylor Kitsch plays David Koresh. Waco was the big, original launch title for the Paramount Network when it rebranded from SpikeTV in January, 2018. So why is it relevant now? One wonders, but it was recently added to Netflix, and it's been trending there for weeks.

Brian Cornelius

At the start of this year, Jericho Brown addressed the graduates of the Bennington Writing Seminars Class of January 2020. 

He said, “If you can't imagine these last few days without trees, I know you can't imagine life without poetry. Literature fills needs we did not know we had. Poems and stories plant seeds for things we did not know we needed."

theater closed sign
Corey Doctorow / Creative Commons

State officials have released a set of guidelines for arts and cultural organizations to follow when considering reopening. The guidelines were compiled by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development along with arts advocacy groups from around the state.

Mystic Seaport
Mystic Seaport / Facebook

Gov. Ned Lamont’s strategy to open certain businesses on May 20 is welcome news to the Mystic Seaport Museum.

The maritime museum closed its doors March 13, and made the tough decision to layoff  most of its staff on April 1st. But at Thursday’s coronavirus briefing, Lamont listed outdoor museums as being the first type of business that could reopen on May 20.

Quinn Dombrowski / flickr creative commons

"It is the rare person who doesn't own a pair of sweatpants." I am, it turns out, that rare person. Sweatpants are just too warm, is my take. But I do own a number of pairs of cotton pajama pants. They're my sweatpants proxy.

Back before the pandemic became the central preoccupation of our existence, back when we made our radio show in, ya know, a radio studio, I would always get a little dressed up on my show days. I'd wear a jacket. Or a tie. Or a jacket and a tie.

Now that we're all working from home all the time, I spend the great majority of my work hours in pajama pants and stocking feet and a bathrobe. But when it comes time for one of my shows -- like this one, for instance -- I change out of my PJ pants into jeans or chinos. That's what "a little dressed up" means these days: putting real pants on. (Or even "hard pants," as they're now known.)

The One About Joni Mitchell

May 5, 2020
Wikimedia Commons

Joni Mitchell is a singer-songwriter from Alberta, Canada. In 1968, her debut album, Song to a Seagull, was released and since then, Mitchell has become one of the most influential and greatest recording artists. Mitchell has won nine Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, and countless music awards, and her albums are considered among the best ever made.

We're big fans. It turns out we're not alone.

Focus Features

There are plenty of questions about what the future of live performance looks like right now, and, in certain ways, no form seems more displaced by social distancing and everything else than does standup comedy. As such, people are just going to have to try new things, right? New York club comedian Ted Alexandro's YouTube comedy special is one of the first such experiments.

hartford symphony orchestra
hartfordsymphonyblog.com

You’ve probably heard the old showbiz saying “The show must go on.” Well, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra is going ahead with its annual gala this weekend. Only, this year, people will be sipping cocktails in their tuxes and gowns and enjoying the music from the comfort of their own living rooms.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Three years ago, we did a show where we asked which fictional dystopian future we were actually already living in. Now that we've arrived at, ya know, this present moment, that show has been on our minds. But we've realized we've got a new set of questions now too.

Travis Isaacs / Creative Commons

Humans typically make enough collective noise to keep the earth vibrating at a steady hum. But the pandemic has quieted that hum enough to let seismologists study the vibrations that can be hard to detect in the din of our noise.

White House / Wikimedia Commons

People in several states came together last weekend to protest against stay-at-home orders. Their actions followed President Trump tweets of support to "liberate" their states and start reopening the economy. Dr. David Grew makes the case that resuming "normal" business activity in the absence of testing and credible messaging will do more economic harm than good. 

Also this hour: What would President Selina Meyer do in a pandemic? How about Logan Roy? We talk to Frank Rich, the Executive Producer of HBO's VEEP and Succession. Could even they do a better job?  

Lastly, we talk trash with an essential worker. 

Matthew Glover / flickr creative commons

Fiona Apple's new album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, is currently the best-reviewed album, um, ever, according to Metacritic. Bon Iver has a new benefit single out that seems to have been written specifically for the present moment. Norah Jones has a new tune. Bob Dylan has kind of randomly put out two new songs, one of which charted in the U.K. despite being very nearly 17 minutes long.

And then, here's a trivia question: There are five artists who have charted singles in the Top 40 in each of the last four decades, Michael Jackson, Madonna, U2, Kenny G... and who's the fifth? Would you believe it's this guy?

Miller Memorial Central Library
Ryan Caron King/Connecticut Public

National Library Week was forced to go digital this year. The American Library Association changed the original theme from “Find Your Place At The Library” to “Find The Library At Your Place” to bring attention to how libraries are still open online during the coronavirus pandemic.

RMI Records, a Division of Resonant Motion, Inc.

The Noah Baerman Resonance Ensemble's The Rock & the Redemption is a jazz concept album of sorts that recasts the Sisyphus myth around the heroism of perseverance and persistence.

Keyboardist and composer Noah Baerman joins us for the hour.

zoom meeting
Facebook

As the world shifts to online communication during this pandemic, people are finding creative ways to replicate face-to-face situations in the virtual world -- think business meetings, online cocktail hours and livestreaming concerts.

But technology hasn’t quite caught up with at least one type of real-life endeavor -- choral singing.

Wikimedia Commons

In March, President Trump blamed our global pandemic on China. When that didn't work, he blamed the World Health Organization (WHO) for not responding quickly enough to the virus. When that didn't work, he blamed governors for not getting their own supplies. Now, he says immigrants will take away American jobs.

The Bible defines a scapegoat as one of two kid goats. One goat was sacrificed and the living “scapegoat” was supposed to absorb the sins of the community and carry them into the wilderness. Is that what's happening here? Are the president's scapegoats supposed to carry away the sins of Mr. Trump?

Netflix

That headline is just a direct quote from James Poniewozik's Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America. I was torn between that line from the book and this one:

Donald Trump is not a person.

Poniewozik's take is that "Donald Trump" is really a character that Donald Trump has been playing on television since at least the early 1980s.

National Theatre

Last weekend, Saturday Night Live aired a prerecorded special, "Saturday Night Live at Home." Tom Hanks hosted from his kitchen. Michael Che and Colin Jost did Weekend Update from their living rooms and by Zoom or something similar. Chris Martin covered a Bob Dylan song in front of handwritten "ENTRANCE TO TRAIN" signs.

All of the late night shows are operating in some similar way right now. Jimmy Kimmel hosts from his living room and has people like Jason Bateman on by Skype or whatever. John Oliver sits at his desk in front of a mysterious white wall. Samantha Bee hosts from the woods.

Rob Ruggiero
TheaterWorks Hartford

Social distancing has forced performing arts organizations to find creative ways to stay relevant. TheaterWorks in Hartford has responded by stepping up its online presence as a way to stay connected with patrons and supporters.

CEA

Before the pandemic, most of us craved of a little solitude away from the hustle of life. Now, we've been  been thrust into a form of solitude far from the idleness of the lazy summer afternoon we imagined. Our minds are restless with uncertainty and fear and without the usual distractions we turn toward when being alone with ourselves becomes too painful to confront. 

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