Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Language ambiguity can certainly create some confusing situations.

Take this headline from a 1982 issue of The Guardian, for example: “British Left Waffles on Falklands.”

At first, it sounds like the British forgot their breakfast on the Falkland Islands. While we love waffles and certainly agree that accidentally leaving them behind in the South Atlantic would be a bummer, that’s not exactly headline material.

Go back and read the headline again. This time, treat “waffles” as a verb instead of a delicious breakfast treat.

Now does it make sense?

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

We’ve been visiting craftsmen and women around Michigan for our series “Artisans of Michigan.” Today we visit Adrian, Michigan.

“I’m making some Windsor Chairs. Right now, I’m fitting the legs into the seat,” Luke Barnett explained. He is the owner of Barnett Windsor Chairs.

Courtesy of Huberty Massey /

One of the world's most famous examples of frescoes is the Diego Rivera work at the Detroit Institute of Arts. They’re called the Detroit Industry murals.

In that same tradition, artist Hubert Massey is preparing to paint a large mural, 30 feet by 30 feet, in the fresco style for Detroit's Cobo Center.

Photo of Koegel Meats.
user Erica Firment / Flickr -

Why mess with success?

That seems to be the philosophy of a venerable Flint company as it marks its 100th anniversary this year.

Koegel Meats still makes its products the same way it always has, with the same ingredients as it did on the first day. Koegel’s has also stuck with Flint, its original home base, through good times and bad.

Ron Fournier at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Research Symposium in 2006.
flickr user Josh Hallett /

It's taken more than 30 years, but Ron Fournier has finally found his way home to Detroit. 

After a career that took him to Hot Springs, where he covered a young Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton; to Washington, where he built a national political reporting career at the Associated Press, the National Journal and The Atlantic; Fournier is back in the Motor City. 

This is day one of his new job as associate publisher of Crain's Detroit Business

Janice Fialka, left, with her husband Rich, son Micah and daughter Emma in Syracuse.
Courtesy of Janice Fialka

How do you express your feelings when a team of experts sits you down to tell you your child is developmentally disabled?

When Janice Fialkaof Huntington Woods came home reeling from such a case conference about her five-year-old son Micah, she sat down and tried to put her feelings into words.

The result was a poem she calls Advice to Professionals who must "conference cases."

"I want my son back," she writes. "I want him back now. Then I'll get on with my life."

And that she did. Fialka and her family - husband Rich, daughter Emma and son Micah - launched themselves on a mission to prove that labels and IQ tests are not true measures of someone's ability to be valuable to the world, to contribute, to learn. 

It's difficult to escape the lure of the concession stand.

They’re at the movies, beckoning to you with rainbow-colored boxes of candy and buckets of warm, buttery popcorn.

You’ll find them at circuses and fairs, pulling you in with bags of fluffy, pastel-colored cotton candy and crispy funnel cakes, sweet with cinnamon and sugar.

At baseball games, you don’t even have to get out of your seat to get peanuts or a box of Cracker Jack. The concession stand comes to you.

It’s not a question of if you’ll give in, but when.

Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Tequila Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz anejo or extra anejo tequila (we used Cabresto)
  • 1/4-1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • Garnish: orange peel

Half-fill old fashioned glass with ice. Add simple syrup and bitters, stir to mix. Add tequila and stir well, adding additional ice if desired. Cut a large orange peel over the drink, then twist to express the oils and place into the glass.

Flickr user Dave Hogg/Flickr /

There’s more than football happening at tonight’s NFL pre-season game in San Diego.

It will be the first time 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernik will play since refusing to stand for the national anthem.

Kaepernik said he’s taking this action to protest racism in a country he said oppresses black people and people of color.

This protest is the newest chapter in the long-evolving history of our country’s national anthem. And it’s bringing fourth fresh criticism that the national anthem is, itself, racist.

University of Michigan music history professor Mark Clague disagrees, though he’s grateful to critics like Kaepernik for calling attention to the issue.

Flickr user Terry Johnston/Flickr /

Sharp-eyed viewers of the recently-concluded Summer Olympics might have noticed that American swimmers Matt Greves and Ryan Lochte both have tattoos of the Olympic rings on their biceps. 

They’re not the only athletes to do that, but is it legal? Can you decide to express your love for your Harley-Davidson by inking the company’s logo on your body?

Courtesy of Eugene Rogers


If you fancy yourself a lyricist, it's time to sharpen your pencil and start writing. 

The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club is on the hunt. They're seeking lyrics for an original new "Michigan song."

The song will be premiered next April, marking U of M's bicentennial. 

Courtesy of Lester Monts

Michigan boasts an exceptionally rich mix of folk, ethnic and immigrant music, and it goes back centuries.

Music professor Lester Monts wanted to capture that rich tapestry, so he spearheaded the Michigan Musical Heritage Project.

The project has three distinct goals: to create a full documentary, a video archive, and a University of Michigan course – all about Michigan’s music.

“We’re such a musical mosaic in this state that so many different immigrant groups, ethnic groups, folk groups have moved into the state and many of them have maintained or compartmentalized much of their music and culture,” Monts said. “But others have sort of fused together in such a way that they have created something very new.”

Jerry Coyne owns Q 100.3 in Grayling and hosts music in the afternoons.
Peter Payette

These days, most rock and roll radio stations play a limited number of songs. 

They play those over and over again.

That's because audience research has become so high-tech that stations know exactly what songs attract the most listeners.

The owners of a station in Grayling say classic rock is worn out.

So they launched a counter-offensive and are breaking all the rules about how to run a radio station in the 21st century. 

We try to keep our language pretty clean here at That’s What They Say, but sometimes things just slip out.

Like when we’re explaining the difference between “they’re”, “their,” and “there” for what feels like the millionth time.

Or when we see "for all intensive purposes" in print, and the writer isn't trying to be ironic.

Sometimes it happens when we stub a toe and it really, really hurts.

In any case, for those of us guilty of occasionally uttering words that would make a sailor blush, the phrase “pardon my French” is a go-to apology.

An illustration from the book "Learning, Recycling and Becoming Little Heroes" by Gale Glover.
Gale Glover

There are several people who have been called heroes in uncovering the Flint water crisis. You’ve heard those voices many times on this station. But a new book -- a children’s book -- makes the argument that kids are the heroes, because Flint kids have had to learn new ways to eat, drink, and live their lives.

The title of Gale Glover’s book is Learning, Recycling, and Becoming Little Heroes.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

We've been thinking about the kind of people you might like to meet. We talk with a lot of authors, musicians, politicians and policy wonks. But, what about artisans.? They're the people who use their hands and hearts to build things that we use.

The next stop in our “Artisans of Michigan” series is Zimnicki Guitars in Allen Park, Michigan.

Flickr user roger4336/Flickr /

This is an extra-good week to be a beer drinker in Michigan.

Stroh’s Bohemian-style Pilsner came back this week, and it’s made in Detroit.

It will be on tap at 72 bars all over Michigan on Friday.

(To find out where click here.)

Frances Stroh of the Stroh beer family joined us to talk about the big return of the Pilsner beer that won a ribbon at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Michigan Bookmark is a series that features Michigan authors reviewing Michigan books. Find more reviews here.

I first encountered the work of the poet Tyehimba Jess back in 2014, when he returned to Detroit to speak to a group of writers at Inside Out Literary Arts. His second poetry collection, Olio, had not yet been published. But that afternoon he shared some of his work, and I remember leaving the room with the conviction that I had just witnessed pure poetic genius.

"Wanda & Winky" was illustrated by Susan VanDeventer
Susan VanDeventer Warner

In April 2005, the Detroit Zoo made history.

It moved its last two elephants, Winky and Wanda, to a sanctuary in warm-weather California. 

That made Detroit the very first zoo in the nation to give up its elephants for humane reasons. 

Now retired Walled Lake teacher Linda McLean has written a children's book telling the story of Winky and Wanda, and in doing so, educating youngsters about how elephants live while in captivity. 

Dancers of all styles from all over the world will be in Detroit this weekend for the Detroit Dance City Festival.

It's all about dance, creativity, and art: the Detroit Dance City Festival returns this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Performances, workshops, networking are offered at six different locations for dancers of all ages. The goal of the third annual event is to bring local, national and international dancers and choreographers together in Detroit.

It’s the kind of thing that can divide a nation.

Or, at the very least, it’s the kind of thing that can bring a perfect date between two grammar nerds to a screeching halt.

Picture it. You’re midway through what has been a nearly perfect first date. Conversation has been interesting, awkward lulls have been minimal and basic hygiene expectations have been met.

Then, somewhere between entrees and dessert, the word "alleged" comes up in conversation.

The Draken Harald Hårfagre as it passed Detroit on July 13.
Mark McClelland

If you're in Detroit this weekend, don't worry, your eyes are not deceiving you. Yes, that's a Viking ship at the Detroit Yacht Club.

The Draken Harald Hårfagre has been visiting North America after it sailed from Norway to Iceland, Greenland, and then through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes.

Many Tiki establishments serve cocktails in Tiki mugs like these.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Test Pilot

1-1/2 oz dark Jamaican rum

3/4 oz white rum

1/2 oz orange liqueur

1/2 oz lime juice

1/2 oz


1 dash Angostura bitters

6 drops


Garnish: whatever you want, but make it awesome! Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker with a big scoop of crushed ice. Shake and pour into a tiki mug, old-fashioned glass or wide brandy snifter without straining. Top with additional crushed ice (if desired) and garnish.

Wikimedia user Infrogmation /

Time for a little wordplay.

We asked you to send us phrases or terms that you find a little strange so we could have University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan try to track down where they started.

Courtesy of American Girl

This weekend, American Girl unveils its newest doll. Her name is Melody Ellison., and she’s from 1960's Detroit.

Flickr user George Makris/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

There have been plenty of Americans winning gold at the Rio Olympics.

And each gold medal win by a Yank means you'll hear the Star Spangled Banner during the medal ceremony.

Some have noticed that there's something about the version of the anthem being used in Rio that's just a little bit ... off.

But what is it?

Courtesy of The Heidelberg Project

Detroit’s Heidelberg Project will undergo a transformation after 30 years of bringing art to the city’s East Side.

Founder Tyree Guyton is calling the new project “Heidelberg 3.0.”

Peter Williams

The "N-word" probably gets you thinking about the racial epithet that's been used for centuries like a club against black people. Renowned painter Peter Williams has turned that version upside-down and inside-out.

He's created an African-American superhero: N-Word.

Stateside 8.15.2016

Aug 15, 2016


Today on Stateside, experts question and praise the 14-year I-75 highway reconstruction project, which begins today, and, we hear from a painter who's created a superhero called "the N-Word".

In John Smolens’ riveting new novel, Wolf's Mouth, the action begins in 1944, in Camp Au Train, a lumber camp near Munising, Michigan. But it’s not a typical lumber camp. It’s a Prisoner Of War camp, one of the many in Michigan during World War II. 

The prisoners are mostly Germans, with a smattering of other nationalities.

But even in an American-run POW camp, the Nazis secretly hold the reins, meting out a cruel justice to anyone who disobeys Kommandant Vogel, a man known for vengeance and violence.  

Yet one Italian soldier, Francesco Verdi, dares to defy Vogel.  It’s a choice that will have repercussions for the rest of his life.  He also happens to be the narrator of Wolf's Mouth.