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Preview: Please Explain from WNYC New York Public Radio Podcast

Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show)



In Please Explain, we set aside time every Friday afternoon to get to the bottom of one complex issue. Ever wonder how New York City's water system works? Or how the US became so polarized politically? We'll back up and review the basic facts and principl



Last Build Date: Fri, 02 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500

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Behold the Wonders of Butter

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Julia Child once said, "With enough butter, anything is good." Wise words because after all, where would we be without butter, the building block of hundreds of recipes, from flaky croissants to rich buttercream frosting?

On this week’s Please Explain, we are talking all about butter, with award-winning writer and former pastry chef Elaine Khosrova, author of Butter: A Rich History. She traveled across the world to uncover the social and culinary history of butter, from Ireland to Tibet and everywhere in between. She also shares cooking tips and the best butter-centric recipes. 

Have questions about butter? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 

Event: Elaine Khosrova will be doing a reading, Q&A and book signing on Saturday, December 3 at 4 p.m. at The Golden Notebook (29 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY). 

Behold the Wonders of Butter


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate120216dpod.mp3




Have a Seat: The History of Chairs

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 10:34:56 -0500

This week's Please Explain has us on the edge of our seats! From the Klismos, to the Eames, we're talking about the history of chairs and chair design with Witold Rybczynski, an architect, writer and an emeritus professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s the author of, Now I Sit Me Down: From Klismos to Plastic Chair: A Natural History.

Have questions about chairs or chair design? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Have a Seat: The History of Chairs


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate111816dpod.mp3




How the Electric Guitar Revolutionized Music

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 13:22:34 -0500

Where would music be without the electric guitar, the instrument that gave us everything from the quintessential rock n' roll sound of the 1960s, to hardcore punk, and face-melting metal? On this week's Please Explain, Brad Tolinski, former the editor-in-chief of Guitar World, and author of Play it Loud: An Epic History of the Style, Sound, and Revolution of the Electric Guitarintroduces us to the inventors and musicians who developed the instrument that defines so many genres. Also joining us is Roger Sadowsky, the owner of Sadowsky Guitars who’s made instruments for Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Paul Simon, Lou Reed and Joan Jett, among others. 

Event: Brad Tolinksi and musical guest, Lez Zeppelin, will celebrate Play It Loud at Rizzoli Bookstore (1133 Broadway, between 25th and 26th Street) on November 11th at 6 p.m. 

Have questions about electric guitars? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

 What are some of your favorite electric guitar songs? We've made a playlist, and we want your contributions! Send us your favorite songs, and we might add them to the playlist. Check out the playlist here or below.

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How the Electric Guitar Revolutionized Music


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate111116dpod.mp3




The Science of Cheese

Fri, 04 Nov 2016 13:01:03 -0400

Ever wonder why Swiss cheese has holes? Why are so many types of cheese yellow in color? Or, what kinds of milk are best for making cheese? Chemist Michael Tunick has spent almost three decades working with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service creating new dairy products and improving existing ones. On our latest Please Explain, he’ll address the chemistry, physics and biology that results in cheese! He's the author of The Science of Cheese.

Have questions about cheese? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

The Science of Cheese


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate110416epod.mp3




Beyond Butternut: A Guide to Squash, Gourds, Pumpkins & More!

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400

Tis the season for squash! Although most of us are only familiar with a handful of squashes, there are 150 varieties of heirloom pumpkins, squash, and gourds. For this week's Please Explain, Chef Alfred Portale, executive chef and co-owner of the Gotham Bar and Grill, shares his favorite ways to cook different kinds of squash. Zaid Kurdieh, a professor and partner operator of Norwich Meadows Farm, LLC, a certified organic, diversified vegetable farm in Norwich, NY, also joins us to discuss squash varieties and share growing tips.  Recipes (Courtesy of Alfred Portale) Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Crème Fraîche         Makes 6 servings The porridge like consistency of this soup preserves all the distinguishing characteristics of butternut squash, to which hints of nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon are added for a soul-warming autumnal starter that’s as comforting and nurturing as an evening in front of a roaring fire. To coax out as much flavor as possible, the squash is first cut into cubes that are heated slowly in butter until thoroughly caramelized and just beginning to break down around the edges. When shopping, look for a butternut squash with a long neck and pick it up to gauge its weight: if it feels heavy for its size, it will have a small seedbed, which means more usable flesh inside. The crème fraîche behaves almost like a condiment here; swirl it in, or let it rest decoratively on top. Thinking Ahead: The soup and the crème fraîche can be made a day in advance; if you do this, do not enrich the soup with butter until reheating the next day. SOUP: ¼ cup unsalted butter 4 pounds fresh butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1-inch cubes Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste 2 shallots, peeled and sliced 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced 2 sprigs fresh thyme 1 bay leaf 2 cups White Chicken Stock In a 12-inch saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the squash and season it with salt and pepper. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nicely caramelized but still firm. When the squash is nearly cooked, heat 1 more tablespoon of butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until translucent. Add the garlic, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf, and stir for about a minute. Add the squash and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade, and purèe until smooth. Return the soup to the pot to keep warm. Stir in the last 2 tablespoons of butter to enrich and thicken the soup. Ladle it into bowls and garnish each serving with a swirl of crème fraîche. Variations: You can vary the squash, using buttercup or sugar pumpkin if you prefer their flavor. SPICED CRÈME FRAICHE 1/3 cup crème fraiche 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste In a stainless-steel bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour. Whisk again before serving. Flavor Building: Stir in pieces of duck confit to add gamey punctuation, or top the soup with chopped, roasted chestnuts. Squash- Avoid acorn squash in recipes that call for peeling and dicing; its deep ridges make this task almost impossible. Instead, use acorn squash for roasting, after which the pulp can be easily scooped out. Butternut Squash Risotto, Maple-Smoked Bacon, and Sage     Makes 6 appetizer or 4 main-course servings When summer has long since turned to fall and the bitter cold of winter is just weeks away, I suggest preparing this dish to offer reassuring warmth to a small ci[...]


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate102816dpod.mp3




Please Explain: The Leonard Lopate Show!

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400

We're taking you behind the scenes at The Leonard Lopate Show on today's Please Explain with Executive Producer Melissa Eagan! She and Leonard will talk about the history of the show, share some of their favorite stories and look back at a few of our most memorable guests.

What have you always wanted to know about the show? Give us a call at 212-433-9692, send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

 

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Please Explain: The Leonard Lopate Show!


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate102116bpod.mp3




The History of Restaurants Revealed

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400

Centuries before the restaurant became a dining destination, a "restaurant" was actually a medicinal broth that contained ingredients like capon, gold ducats, rubies and other precious gems. So how did restaurants become what they are today? When did eating become an enjoyable, leisurely activity?

Rebecca Spang, author of The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture, joins us for today’s Please Explain all about the history of restaurants! Dr. Spang is a Professor of History, Director of the Liberal Arts + Management Program and Director of the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University Bloomington. 

Do you have questions about restaurant history? Give us a call at 212-433-9692, send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

The History of Restaurants Revealed


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate101416cpod.mp3




How to Define 'Creepiness'

Fri, 07 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400

Reports of sinister clowns in the news have us thinking about creepiness. Why are some things simply scary, and other things genuinely creepy? On today's Please Explain, David Livingstone Smith, Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England, offers some insight in an essay for Aeon called, "A theory of creepiness." He tells us how scientists and researchers have attempted to measure and classify creepiness - from robots that are designed to look like humans (but something isn't quite right), to being put off by physical traits like "unkempt hair, bulging eyes, [and] abnormally long fingers."

David Livingstone Smith is the author of seven books, most recently, Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others.

How to Define 'Creepiness'


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate100716dpod.mp3




Bees, Wasps, Ants, Scorpions... Whose Stings Hurt the Most?

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400

Is it worse to be stung by a scorpion or a bee? Ask Justin O. Schmidt, a biologist at Southwestern Biological Institute, who’s also affiliated with the Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona and the author of The Sting of the Wild. Dr. Schmidt has let more than 83 different species of stinging insects from all over the world attack him... all in the name of science!

Schmidt is the inventor of the eponymous “Schmidt Sting Pain Index,” which ranks the relative pain caused by insect stings on various parts of the body. On this week’s Please Explain, he’ll explain why insects sting in the first place, and what happens to them (and us) when they do it. 

Have questions about insect stings? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Bees, Wasps, Ants, Scorpions... Whose Stings Hurt the Most?


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate093016dpod.mp3




Sweet Dreams (and Nightmares) Are Made of This

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400

Dreams are a natural part of life, and throughout human history, people have tried to interpret their dreams. But dreaming, in many ways, still remains mysterious. On this week’s Please Explain, we’ll find out what happens in our brains while we dream, what causes nightmares and lucid dreaming, and why some of us talk and walk in our sleep. We’ll also learn about the many ways psychologists interpret dreams.

Joining us is Dr. Michael Breus, a Clinical Psychologist, Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He's the author of several books, most recently, The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More and Dr. Kelly Bulkeley, a dream researcher and Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, Senior Editor of the APA journal Dreaming and the author of Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion.

Have questions about dreaming? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Events: Kelly Bulkeley will be part of a panel at the New York Academy of Sciences on December 7th, talking about dreams and new research on the unconscious. He'll be giving a talk at the National Arts Club on January 30th about the film "Pan's Labyrinth" and lucid dreaming in Guillermo del Toro's childhood.

Sweet Dreams (and Nightmares) Are Made of This


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate092316dpod.mp3




The Secret Life of Ballerinas

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400

The best ballerinas make it look effortless, gracefully dancing and leaping across the stage in beautiful costumes. But what do ballet dancers really go through, given the physical demands, in addition to the hours of practice, preparation and dedication? On today's Please Explain, we're looking at the secret life of ballerinas with Ashley Bouder, principal dancer in the New York City Ballet, and Tiekka Tellier, who spent 16 years as a professional ballerina and founded Everyday Ballet

Have questions about ballet? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Event: The New York City Ballet Fall Gala opens NYCB’s 2016-17 season on Tuesday, September 20.  Ashley Bouder will give her first performance since giving birth to her daughter, Violet, on Friday, September 23 in Balanchine’s Vienna Waltzes. For ticket's and performance information, visit the NYCB website

The Secret Life of Ballerinas


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate091616dpod.mp3




Is Cursive Obsolete? The Writing May be on the Wall

Fri, 13 Nov 2015 15:34:18 -0500

Handwriting has helped shape culture ever since the ancient Sumerians created an alphabet on clay tablets. But are digital communication and the internet threatening to make handwriting obsolete? Anne Trubek , author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, joins us for this week's Please Explain all about handwriting!

Do you have questions about handwriting? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 

Understanding How The Media Reports on Health and Nutrition


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate111315epod.mp3




Translating the Untranslatable

Fri, 06 Nov 2015 12:30:12 -0500

On today’s Please Explain, we’ll attempt to understand what it’s like to translate the untranslatable! English audiences rely on translators for access to much of the world’s most important literature and religious texts, from Cervantes, to Voltaire, to the Bible. But unfortunately there is no magic formula when it comes to choosing comparable words from one language to another. Our guests for today's Please Explain argue that there is no such thing as a literal translation – rather, it’s a task that veers into the philosophical, and depends on each individual word, language set, and text. 

Esther Allen is a Professor at Baruch College, co-founder of the PEN World Voices Festival, and board member of the American Literary Translators Association. Jacques Lezra is Professor of Spanish, English, and Comparative Literature at New York University. He also was an editor for The Dictionary of Untranslatables.

Translating the Untranslatable


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate110615dpod.mp3




Humans and Horses: Together (Nearly) Forever

Fri, 30 Oct 2015 13:36:38 -0400

For our latest Please Explain, we are talking to the journalist Wendy Williams about the history of horses. Horses and humans have worked together for thousands of years, and they have made a big impact on the course of human civilization. Williams' book is The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion.

Event: Wendy Williams will be speaking and signing books at Rutgers' G.H. Cook Campus, at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health Building, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, on Nov. 2 at 7:00 p.m.

Humans and Horses: Together (Nearly) Forever


Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/lopate/lopate103015dpod.mp3