Arts & Culture | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Courtesy of Eddie Gillis and Third Man Pressing

When Frank Solis found the tapes, he almost threw them out.

He and his family — as well as the music world — had assumed that his father, Michigander and Tejano music pioneer Martin Huron Solis Jr., had never recorded the songs that made him a pioneer in Detroit’s music scene of the 1940s and ‘50s. Though Martin was inducted into the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame in 2018, he was best known for his compelling live performances and hadn’t ever released an album with his fellow musicians, who made up Los Primos.

On this week's That's What They Say, English Professor Anne Curzan fills us in on the American Dialect Society's annual "Word of the Year" vote.

The fact that this year's selection was the first ever to be held virtually should give you a big clue about the winner. 


Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

This year, Michigan Radio and Community High School in Ann Arbor launched Kids These Days -- a podcast hosted by teens, about teens. The goal was to get an unfiltered look into teenage life and to find out what teens are thinking about, laughing about, and stressing about.

As we wrap up the year, let’s take a look back at the top five episodes:


Unsplash

Today on Stateside, a look at the year in music. We review the latest records from Michigan musicians—released despite all the live event cancellations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic—with music aficionado John Sinkevics, the editor and publisher of Local Spins. Plus, we revisit recent releases from Flint musician Tunde Olaniran and Albion-turned-Nashville duo The War and Treaty.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, a look at the year in books. We check in with an independent bookstore in Detroit about what 2020 has meant for their business. Also, Detroit nightly news anchor and children’s book author Devin Scillian discusses how satisfying stories can effectively broach delicate topics with kids. Plus, our longtime literary contributor Keith Taylor talks us through some of his favorite Michigan releases in 2020.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Eggnog gets a bad rap because people have not had one made fresh for them.

“These days we think of eggnog as a nonalcoholic drink that you can add alcohol to. But traditionally eggnog was an alcoholic beverage. That's where it started. And it was basically a flip. It's a very, very old classic style of drink,” Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings explained.

If someone tells you to leave your keys on the dash, you probably know right where to leave them -- on top of the panel in your car that displays controls and information, i.e. the dashboard.

A listener recently pointed out to us that the "board" part of this compound sort of makes sense, but what's going on with "dash"?

It's tempting to assume it has something to do with speed, but that's not the case.


“I don’t know about you, but I am so ready to toast goodbye to 2020,” said Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings.”

A lot of people would join in that toast.

Tammy had two different drinks for the toast, but they had one thing in common: sparkling wine.

Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, although the COVID vaccine has many excited for a brighter 2021, many people are still in desperate need of relief. We talked with two Congressional representatives about the COVID relief bill that so many are waiting on. Plus, a conversation with a radio news veteran about going the distance for broadcast.

cut evergreen trees propped up with red barn in background
Lauren Talley / Michigan Radio

This story is part of "Mornings in Michigan," our series about morning rituals from across our state.

COVID-19 has forced many people to set aside holiday traditions this year. But in the small community of Chelsea, near Ann Arbor, one popular Christmas ritual hasn’t slowed down at all.

This time of year, lots of cars pull off a dirt road here and head for a big red barn.

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “batten down the hatches,” especially if you’ve ever turned on the Weather Channel before a major storm. 

A colleague of Professor Anne Curzan recently asked us though, can “batten” pair with anything else? Good question.


The first day of winter arrives soon. The chilly fall days will give way to temperatures “so cold they make your face hurt,” as the well-worn meme goes.

So, Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings decided to make a fall drink.

“This is kind of a riff on an Old Fashioned,” she said.

Last week on That's What They Say, we talked about a peeve over "exasperate" getting used in place of  "exacerbate." This week, we looked at two more words that often get entangled, "trammel" and "trample."

Professor Anne Curzan ran across "trammel" while researching last week's show. While we're very familiar with things like "untrammeled access" or "untrammeled nature," "trammel" on its own raised a flag.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There were two bottles of gin on the table. Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings said we were going to have a little experiment. One of the bottles was Liberator Gin from Valentine Distilling. (You can listen or read about the Cheers! visit to Valentine Distilling here.) The other bottle had a simple white label that just said Gin Batch #4. It looked as though it was from an ink jet printer.

The words "exacerbate" and "exasperate" look and sound very similar. That could explain why people sometimes say "exasperate" when they mean "exacerbate," as our listner Judy Nikolai  has noticed.

"Once or twice I've even heard reporters or interviewees on NPR employ what I believe is this incorrect usage," she says.


Rep. Haley Stevens smiling in front of an American flag
U.S. House of Representatives

Today on Stateside, recently re-elected Democratic Representative Haley Stevens (MI-11) explains what’s next in the process of getting COVID-19 vaccines to Michiganders and talks about the presidential transition process. Plus, a conversation about the lasting influence of jazz legend Yusef Lateef. 

Jamaal Ewing and Terry Rostic
Black Calder Brewing

It’s no secret that Michigan has an incredible wealth of craft beer and breweries. But while the microbrew industry might be booming, it’s obvious that it is lacking in diversity— from brewmasters to brewery owners. While we do know some part owners and brewers who are Black, the state’s first fully-Black-owned brewery is set to release its debut beer next week.

Photo by David McClister

This has been a complicated year. It’s brought pain and grief, as well as lessons about love and hope. For musicians Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount Trotter, 2020 has been “eye-opening.” The duo, who until recently were living in Albion, now perform as The War and Treaty. 

Courtesy of Eric Bouwens

Dr. Eric Bouwens, a physician and photographer, spent several years in Sparta, Michigan treating migrant farm workers who were harvesting in “Fruit Ridge,” an agricultural area northwest of Grand Rapids.

Some words sound similar but don't have anything to do with each other. Others sound similar and have everything to do with each other. 

When a listener asked us about "ornery," we had no idea that it fell into the latter category, alongside "ordinary." They do sound similar, but how are they related?


In the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, we found ourselves wondering about the history of “aftermath.”

A listener named Sybil Kolon put "aftermath" on our radar a couple of weeks ago. This past week, we noticed people from all over the political spectrum using it in discussions of a post-election world.


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Lester Graham: Uhm, Tammy, (of Tammy's Tastings) you know, I'm not a big fan of egg drinks. You get all that white egg white frothy stuff at the top (YUCK!). You've got a whole egg there. You're going to do one of those?

Tammy Coxen: I am not going to do an egg white drink, Lester. I'm going to do a whole egg drink.

LG: A whole egg? 

Our clocks fell back by an hour Sunday morning. As they did, a much-discussed usage issue once again raised its head.

Though most of us would agree the extra hour of sleep is nice, there’s contention over what we call this particular event.


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s hard to keep up with all the new distilleries in Michigan. There are so many around the state. But, that’s not the half of it. These inventive distillers keep coming out with new spins on spirits and different kinds of things to mix with them.

Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings was about to spring a new one on me. She had a bottle from Mammoth Distilling from the small town of Central Lake. The label said “cherry bounce.”

Never heard of it.

When it’s “all downhill from here,” there’s some ambiguity about whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

A friend of Professor Anne Curzan recently pointed out that the issue with this expression is that it’s almost an auto antonym. That is, a word or expression that can mean its opposite.


Sometimes we get a language question that leads to another question. That question leads to another question, and before we know it, we’ve fallen down a language rabbit hole.

A listener recently asked us if the phrase “apple of my eye” can be plural. The answer is yes. You could call your children “the apples of my eye.” You and your partner could also call your children “the apples of our eyes.”

This got us thinking about other phrases where there’s a question about which part to make plural. Specifically, we started thinking about phrases like “father-in-law” and “brother-in-law.”


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings had a couple of cocktail coupes on the table and some small whiskey tasting glasses and a bottle of Grand Traverse Distillery’s Small Batch Rye Whiskey. Obviously, this was going to be more than just mixing up a drink.

Currying favor has everything to do with flattery and horses, and nothing to do with food.

This expression, which means to seek or gain favor through flattery or to use flattery to gain a personal advantage, is an eggcorn that goes back 500 years.


HarperCollins Publishers

Sometimes fiction tells new truths about history. That’s what happens in author Alice Randall’s latest novel Black Bottom Saints, which draws from the experiences of Black Detroiters who lived in the city’s historic Black Bottom neighborhood. The book is structured like a book of saints in the Catholic tradition. Many of the saints are based on real people, and they give voice to a place that continues to influence Detroit, and the rest of the world, today.

Most people would agree that a lamb would make a terrible escape vehicle. All that bleating would instantly give away even the stealthiest of fugitives.

Fortunately, a spelling discrepancy clarifies that going "on the lam" doesn't mean riding away on a baby sheep. It does make us wonder though, what exactly is a “lam” anyway? 

 

Pages