Recently in Aha Moments

Aha Moment: Finding Nemo

Friday, January 04, 2013

Kiki Kienstra had a good job teaching kindergarten, a nice apartment, and a community of friends. “I didn’t have a big need for change,” she remembers. “You know, everything was fine, so why rock the boat?” One day, on a whim, she saw Finding Nemo, a Pixar movie about a clownfish ...

Comment

Aha Moment: Jon Ronson on Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, December 07, 2012

Kurt Vonnegut is a serious writer who holds a special place in the hearts of teenagers. Jon Ronson got hooked on Vonnegut when he was 15. For his long train rides from Cardiff, Wales, to look at colleges, Ronson packed a bag with Vonnegut’s novels, including Slaughterhouse Five ...

Comments [13]

Aha Moment: Lee Ann Womack

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mary Miller fell in love with a man who made his fortune flipping houses.  When the relationship ended, Mary wasn’t just heartbroken — she wanted to beat him at his own game.On the way to the bank to sign a $400,000 loan, Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” came ...

Comments [1]

Aha Moment: This Side of Paradise

Friday, September 28, 2012

Growing up in Brooklyn, Sandra Sherman’s view of the world was limited. “I was supposed to go to Brooklyn College, if I went to college at all, stay at home, and become a high-school teacher just like my parents,” she remembers. Then one day she picked up This Side of Paradise ...

Comments [1]

Aha Moment: e.e. cummings

Friday, September 14, 2012

As a child Quang Bao fled Vietnam and lived in a refugee camp with his family. They eventually settled in Sugarland, Texas. He was in high school — a mediocre student, uninterested in literature, and unready to accept being gay — when he was given an e.e. cummings’ poem ...

Comments [3]

Aha Moment: Hamlet

Friday, September 07, 2012

A listener named Jeff House told us about his revelation experience with Hamlet. As a teenager he watched the Christopher Plummer film on TV with his big sister, who was enthralled; House was nonplussed. “The language didn’t make sense,” he remembers. The hero was ...

Comments [5]

Aha Moment: Earl "Fatha" Hines

Friday, August 24, 2012

Seth Barkan’s father was a classical cellist who urged his son to follow in his footsteps. Barkan studied classical piano for years, but it never quite suited him. Then one day, accompanying his mother to Costco, he returned with a history of jazz on CD. When he heard the stride pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines ...

Comment

Aha Moment: Diane Arbus

Friday, August 17, 2012

Neil Selkirk is an accomplished portrait photographer.  He began his career in London during the 60s, when being a magazine photographer meant wild parties, fancy cars, and beautiful girls.  During a shoot assisting Richard Avedon, he encountered a photograph: A Family One Evening in a Nudist Camp, Pennsylvania, 1965.  Selkirk was shocked ...

Comments [1]

Aha Moment: Love and Rockets

Friday, August 10, 2012

Comic books have not traditionally been a friendly place for women. But artists like Jessica Abel are changing the way women appear in and write comics. Abel was drawn to the genre by the busty Latina mechanic Maggie Chascarillo, a character in the series Love and Rockets ...

Comment

Aha Moment: Perry Mason vs. The Paper Chase

Friday, August 03, 2012

Jonathan Amsbary wanted to be a lawyer to "help America be what it was supposed to be." He idealized TV’s Perry Mason, the righteous defense attorney who stood up for the little guy and always made sure justice was done. Just before leaving for college, Amsbary saw The Paper Chase ...

Comment

Aha Moment: John Darnielle and Black Sabbath

Friday, July 20, 2012

Twenty years ago John Darnielle formed one of indie rock's great bands: The Mountain Goats. The New Yorker called Darnielle "America's best non-hip hop lyricist”; his songs are moody, literary, maybe a bit navel-gazey. But Darnielle's biggest influence isn't Leonard Cohen ...

Video: Black Sabbath, "Iron Man"

Comment

Aha Moment: Enrico Caruso

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sam Zimmerman was not an emotional man — except when it came to opera. He could discourse on Caruso and Callas at length, analyzing the range, the purity of the voice, and the mysterious quality called presence. He passed along that love to his son, Ed, who as an adult discovered ...

Comments [7]

Aha Moment: Doc Watson & Abigail Washburn

Friday, June 08, 2012

Doc Watson, a giant of American folk music, died last month at 89.  Watson’s guitar and banjo playing was a powerful force in the 1960s folk revival, and his long career inspired generations of musicians, among them Abigail Washburn. She was pursuing a career in international law based in China ...

Bonus Track: Abigail Washburn, “Burn Through” from City of Refuge

Comment

Aha Moment: Whoopi Goldberg

Friday, June 01, 2012

WNYC listener Julie Bayley grew up watching daytime talk shows to catch comics like Rodney Dangerfield. But there weren’t any comedians like her: female and black. Then Bayley saw Whoopi Goldberg in her one-woman show on Broadway (it ran for 156 sold-out performances ...

Comments [3]

Aha Moment: Dave Alvin & Curtis Mayfield

Friday, May 25, 2012

A generation ago, the singer-songwriter Dave Alvin founded the rootsy-rock band The Blasters with his brother Phil in Los Angeles — and they made an indelible mark on the early 1980’s punk scene. But the life of a working musician, often playing to very small crowds, was trying ...

Comments [1]

Aha Moment: The Rolling Stones and Of Montreal

Friday, April 27, 2012

The band Of Montreal is known for its theatrical, over-the-top shows. Frontman Kevin Barnes’ antics and flamboyant costumes recall the heyday of glam rock. Barnes wasn’t a born performer — as a teenager, he was a loner, painfully shy. On a family camping trip, his uncle brought along a guitar ...

Bonus Track: Kevin Barnes covers the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb”

Comments [1]

Aha Moment: Karim Rashid

Friday, April 20, 2012

The industrial designer Karim Rashid has 3,000 designs in production — including the Umbra “Oh Chair,” the Bobble Water Bottle, and the “Garbo” trash can — many featuring his signature rounded edges, cast in colorful plastics. Born in Egypt, Rashid found his calling as a designer early. ...

Comments [3]

Aha Moment: Rashid Johnson on Clyfford Still

Friday, April 13, 2012

Growing up in Evanston, Illinois, Rashid Johnson remembers school trips to visit The Art Institute of Chicago. On one visit, while horsing around trying to impress a girl, Johnson bumped into a painting. The painting was a large, black monochrome by Clyfford Still, the most ...

Comments [2]

Aha Moment: Kiss Alive!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Sergio Muñoz was only seven years old when he became a devotee of the band Kiss. He discovered the Alive! album in Tower Records and was mesmerized by the cover. Isolated and lonely, a recent immigrant from Mexico, Muñoz connected to the band’s fantasy life ...

Comment

Aha Moment: Beastie Boys

Friday, March 23, 2012

Young Jean Lee is a playwright who’s become an it-girl of experimental theater in New York City. But as a kid in the late 1980s, Lee was mainstream, dressing in Esprit and listening to New Kids on the Block. But a Rolling Stone review convinced her to splurge on Paul’s Boutique ...

Video: "Hey Ladies" by the Beastie Boys

Comment