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Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

Walk into Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills and you’re immersed in a cacophony of beeps, airplane motors and singing flamingos. 

Every nook, cranny and space on the wall is filled with arcade games, coin-operated machines and peculiar figurines with questionable purposes. Think of the Zoltar machine that turns a boy into Tom Hanks in the movie “Big” and then multiply it tenfold. 

Marvin Yagoda, the museum’s founder, is responsible for the fantastic mess. He started the collection in 1960 and the jam-packed space shows how it’s grown to become one of the World Almanac’s 100 most unusual museums in the U.S.

But last week, Yagoda died at 78 years old. 

When we talk about our relatives, there are plenty of gender-neutral terms to cover the bases.

We use "grandparents" to talk about both our grandmothers and grandfathers; "parents" takes care of mothers and fathers; "siblings" refers to both brothers and sisters; and a "cousin" can be either male or female.

But what about nieces and nephews? 

There's good news for aunts and uncles who crave a word to speak collectively about the kids they love to spoil.

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For the first time in 15 years, the Detroit Institute of Arts has a staff of three in its contemporary art department.
Detroit Institute of Arts

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There are some new faces in the management of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) contemporary collection. According to BLAC Detroit Magazine, for the first time in 15 years, there is a staff of three in the contemporary department.

Laurie Ann Farrell, the new curator, is now joined by two assistant curators, Taylor Renee Aldridge and Lucy Mensah, who joined Stateside to talk about the museum and their roles.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Automakers are celebrating new models at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It seems to us at Cheers! that calls for a drink.

“Since the auto show opened this week, I wanted to find a cocktail that had an automotive connection and I went all the way back to the Packard Twin Six automobile,” explained Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings.

If you have fished, or wanted to fish, or thought about fishing, or just stepped out of doors with some expectancy, Body of Water is the book for you.

Though Montana is his home now, Michigan poets know Chris Dombrowski from his elegant poetry collection, Earth Again, published by Wayne State University Press. Michigan anglers know Dombrowski as a stellar fly fishing guide. 

On this week's edition of That's What They Say, English professor Anne Curzan joined us from Austin, Texas, where she was attending the American Dialect Society's annual meeting.  

Each year, the ADS gathers to choose a word that best represents "the public discourse and preoccupations of the past year."

This year's candidates included "woke", "post-truth" and "normalize." But the ADS decided it couldn't pick just one word to represent 2016, so the winner ended up being a compound.

A burning, smelly compound.

The mosaic workshop at the Washtenaw County Youth Center
Juan Javier Pesdacor

There are more than 1,600 juveniles now living in state facilities in Michigan.

Most young people in residential treatment or detention centers are people of color. Many often become defined by their experience, both legally and socially.

A new documentary film Determined 2 Make It tells their stories and shows how art, music, photography and more can be powerful forms of self-expression for incarcerated youth.

Rich Evenhouse / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

How do we talk about Detroit?

In the 80's and 90's, the focus was on crime and urban decay. Detroit was the "Murder City." Today, the narrative is one of possibility and resurgence.

But both of those depictions were largely imposed by outsiders, and were, at best, incomplete.

University of Michigan English professor Anne Curzan has been feeling a little self-conscious lately.

Curzan was recently talking with some of her students about how much research had been done on a particular topic, when one student raised her hand and asked about her pronunciation of a particular word.

Keep in mind, this was a linguistics class, and Curzan tends to instill in her students a super-sensitivity to the various quirks of our language.  

The student said she'd noticed that Curzan pronounces "research" with the emphasis on the second syllable. She said she only hears that pronunciation in academic settings. 


Today, we visit the Michigan company overseeing a construction project at Finca Vigia, Ernest Hemingway's Cuban home. And, we hear from a program empowering girls to be the future of the STEM industry.

Today, we hear from a rapper using rhyme to challenge the stigma around mental illness, and we learn why some governments aim to use "Nudge Units" to answer the age-old question, "What's the harm?" when creating new public policies.

Trumbullplex Archives

The massive fire that killed 36 people at the Ghost Ship, an Oakland, California warehouse art space, has put similar venues under the microscope in cities nationwide.

That includes Detroit. The city has many informal, DIY spaces for creative people. And at least one of them, the Trumbullplex, was visited by a city fire marshal last week.

Today we discuss a challenge many parents face: how to talk to a child about racism and racially-charged news. And, we hear about the entrepreneurial spirit behind Motown's success.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A strategic planning and cultural engagement project is seeking to revitalize Historic Fort Wayne in southwest Detroit.

The National Park Foundation and the National Park Service Midwest Region is working with city officials to improve recreational and cultural opportunities at the site that features a former military fort.

The Kresge Foundation has awarded a $265,000 grant for the two-year project.

An advisory group of public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders is expected to guide the planning process.

Stevie Wonder Avenue is made offical in Detroit

Dec 21, 2016
Stevie Wonder Avenue stretch of Milwaukee Street in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit music legend Stevie Wonder has a street officially named after him.

Stevie Wonder Avenue is on a stretch of Milwaukee Street near Woodward Avenue in Detroit's New Center Area neighborhood. It's only about a mile from Hitsville U.S.A. where Motown Records once operated. 

Wonder said he's excited for the expansion of the Motown Museum.

Transcription of the book review: NOLA Gals by Barbara Rebbeck, published in 2015, honored the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and received five major awards in Young Adults categories. This year Rebbeck wrote a play for young people called Turbulence. It was based on her own novel.

Katia Strieck / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Is it possible to choose a single word that captures the tumultuous and often bizarre year that was 2016?

Probably not. But that isn’t going to stop major dictionaries like Oxford, Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com from trying.

They have all released their selections for 2016’s “Word of the Year” and the results are not exactly uplifting. 

The Oxford English Dictionary, which has been in the word business for well over 100 years, chose post-truth as their top word for 2016.

Oxford defines post-truth, an adjective, as follows: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Keegan-Michael Key (fourth head from the left) and his comedy group, The 313
Courtesy of The 313

Never underestimate the power of the class clown.

The Southfield-born Keegan-Michael Key took his "class clown" talent (or "class theater nerd" as he put it) from Gesu Grade School and Royal Oak Shrine High School in Detroit to roles in television and film.

Key made his name when he was one-half of Comedy Central's show Key & Peele. The national success of that show led him to a gig working side-by-side next to President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

See below:

If you run with grammar sticklers, you know that saying "irregardless" under any circumstances not considered ironic is a great way to get yourself thrown into exile.

While it's true that grammar enthusiasts die a little each time someone utters this persistent double-negative, other words of a similar nature don't seem to draw quite as much ire as "irregardless." 

For example, what about "reiterate"?

Think about the last time you used that one. It was probably to let someone know that you were going to repeat something; e.g., "I like to reiterate that the final paper is due tomorrow."

Did anyone correct you when you said it? Did someone give you a slap on the hand with a ruler? Or even just a haughty look? Probably not.


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

“It’s like Christmas in a glass,” said Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings.

She’s talking about a cocktail invented by the principle bartender at The Last Word craft cocktail bar in Ann Arbor, Giancarlo Aversa.

One of the best things about studying the history of English is digging up words that, for the most part, have died out of the language but still pop up in funny places.

For example, let's take a look at "wer" and "wif", the Old English words for man and woman.

Etymologically, "wer" is related to "vir", which is Latin for man. "Vir" shows up in modern English in words like "virile" and "virility."

However, "wer" has pretty much vanished from modern English. Except for one word.


In today's political roundup, we hear updates from the "strange" lame-duck session. And later in the show, we learn what science says about a Michigan lab's plan to bring frozen dead bodies back to life.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

We live in a throw-away society. Things are made cheaply and when we’re finished with them, we toss them out. That goes for furniture too. People put couches out on the curb. In college towns such as Ann Arbor, at the end of the academic year, there are lots of couches at the curb. 

We used to re-upholster furniture. In fact, some people still do. And in this installment in our series, “Artisans of Michigan” we visit an upholsterer.

In new new book, Heather Ann Thompson looks at the Attica prison uprising of 1971. and what it can tell us about today's prisons.
flickr user Jayu / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

The book Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy has been getting lots of attention by the national media and is a National Book Award finalist.

The author is University of Michigan Professor of History Heather Ann Thompson.

She joined us today to talk about the 1971 prison uprising in New York and what we can learn from it today.

Peter Kudlacz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

If you wandered past any landmarks or took a stroll through a public park this summer, you may have noticed a lot more foot traffic than usual. But instead of walking and talking together, these large groups of new guests basically just sit around and stare at their smartphones. 

Yes, "Pokémon GO" players are everywhere.

For many, the game has become a core part of day-to-day life. 

Alexander Weinstein's new book of short stories takes the idea to the extreme, exploring a future full of dangerously immersive virtual reality games. 

Jan Worth-Nelson told us that high-quality writing and photography have always been staples of "East Village Magazine."
Courtesy of East Village Magazine

This year marks the 40th anniversary of East Village Magazine.

The nonprofit magazine has been bringing community news to people in Flint since 1976, a labor of love for its founder, the late Gary Custer.

East Village Magazine has hung in there to become one of the nation's oldest community media outlets. 

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.

This posthumous portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was painted by Barbara Krafft in 1819.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

The Magic Flute is one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most famous works.

There’s a good chance you know the piece, but what you might not know is that Mozart finished and premiered the opera in the very final months of his life.

Mozart died 225 years ago today. He was only 35.

The cause of Mozart’s death is a medical question that has endured as long as his music.

According to McClelland, nasality is the hallmark of Midwestern speech.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

One of the core elements of  your identity is your accent. 

But we here in the Midwest have a tendency to believe we don't have an accent. 

Writer Edward McClelland proves otherwise in his new book How to Speak Midwestern

McClelland sat down with us today to talk about what makes the Midwestern accent so distinct.

Despite the diligent tutelage of our Speak and Spells, there are plenty of spellings that continue to elude us.

However, while we sometimes complain about the vagaries of English spelling, would we actually change the spelling of any of the words?

University of Michigan English professor Anne Curzan recently put the question to her students, who decided they would change up “supersede.”

Obviously, since it’s already typed out here on the page, we can’t really ask you how you think “supersede” is spelled.

Be honest though, when you saw it, did it look strange to you?


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