Chattering Class


Photo courtesy of Cynthia Barnett

Cynthia Barnett Drops A Little Rain Knowledge

Environmental journalist Cynthia Barnett showers us with facts about precipitation, like why it always "pours" when it rains, and how our prune-y fingers may have been an adaptation to cope with a wetter world.


The Wrecking Crew in the studio to record with Phil Spector.

‘The Wrecking Crew': Legendary Music Hit-Men

If you're like most folks, you've heard "The Wrecking Crew," but you haven't heard OF them. Brendan gets the skinny on these unsung session musicians, who played on hundreds of pop hits in the '60s. They're the subject of a new documentary, out next week in theaters.


Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Costume Designer Colleen Atwood Makes the Clothes that Make the Movie

Colleen Atwood is among the most celebrated costume designers working today, with a cabinet-full of trophies for her work in film, television, and Broadway. Among those statuettes are a trio of Academy Awards and, this Sunday, she may well make it a quartet, as she is nominated for her work on "Into the Woods"


Photo: Jacob Linden

A Touching Investigation — of Touch

In his new book, "Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind," Johns Hopkins neuroscientist David J. Linden investigates the human sense of touch, how physical stimuli are translated into sub-conscious emotional responses, and the surprising things we don't fully understand about this essential sense.


Frederick M. Brown / Getty

Andrew Jarecki Documents Robert Durst’s Strange, Dark Life

Best known for his film "Capturing the Friedmans," Andrew Jarecki's new documentary mini-series for HBO, "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst," examines an unusual real estate scion who, while never convicted of any crime, remains a suspect in multiple unsolved deaths.


white earth sq

‘White Earth’ Shows an Oil Boom through a Child’s Eyes

Nominated for the Academy Award for best short documentary of 2014, the 19 minute long "White Earth" examines the lives of the citizens of a small North Dakota town when an oil boom hits. Filmmaker J. Christian Jensen explains his choice to focus on the outsider perspective of children, rather than going the standard political documentary route.


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‘CITIZENFOUR’ Documentarian Laura Poitras on Recording History

Laura Poitras is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. In 2013, she was two years into making a new film about surveillance, when she received an encrypted email from an anonymous source calling himself Citizenfour. That source turned out to be NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden and she would find herself documenting his leak -- and the personal and political consequences -- as they unfolded.