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NPR: Fresh Air Podcast by Terry Gross

NPR: Fresh Air Podcast

by Terry Gross

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Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.


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Fresh Air Weekend: John Darnielle, Pere Ubu And Australian Comic Josh Thomas


Sat, Sep 20, 2014


The Mountain Goats' singer discusses his novel, Wolf in White Van; Kevin Whitehead reviews Pere Ubu's album Carnival of Souls; Thomas talks about his sitcom Please Like Me.

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A Detective's 'Walk Among The Tombstones' Is Gripping But Unsatisfying


Fri, Sep 19, 2014


In the '70s, novelist Lawrence Block created New York private investigator Matthew Scudder who chases extreme bad guys. Liam Neeson now plays the character the new grisly film directed by Scott Frank.

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Roosevelt's Polio Wasn't A Secret: He Used It To His 'Advantage'


Fri, Sep 19, 2014


In The Man He Became, historian James Tobin says, despite misimpressions to the contrary, Americans of Franklin Roosevelt's day were well-aware of his disability. Originally aired Nov. 25, 2013.

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'Madame Secretary' Pales In Comparison To 'The Good Wife'


Thu, Sep 18, 2014


The CBS dramas about women juggling family lives and high-intensity jobs showcase excellent acting. But while The Good Wife is one of the best shows on TV, Madam Secretary's writing is disappointing.

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Pere Ubu's 'Carnival Of Souls' Is A Dreamscape That's Never Dreamy


Thu, Sep 18, 2014


Led since the late '70s by co-founder David Thomas, Pere Ubu has created something far more rich, experimental, and emotional than the spooky, horror-movie that Carnival of Souls is named for.

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The Long, Scary Journey From A 'Terrorist's Son' To A Peace Activist


Thu, Sep 18, 2014


Zak Ebrahim's father was convicted as a conspirator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. For most of his life, Ebrahim lied to people about who his father was. His new memoir tells his story.

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As A Lyricist And Novelist, The Mountain Goats' Lead Man Writes About Pain


Wed, Sep 17, 2014


John Darnielle's novel, Wolf in White Van, is about a man who survives a trauma. The songwriter tells Fresh Air about his difficult childhood and finding shelter in music and the Incredible Hulk.

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13 Days Of High Emotion That Led To The Egypt-Israel Peace


Tue, Sep 16, 2014


Lawrence Wright's new book examines the 1978 peace deal President Carter brokered between Egypt and Israel. During the tense summit, Carter had "never been angrier," Wright says.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Pulitzer-Prize Winning Editorial Cartoonist Tony Auth


Mon, Sep 15, 2014


Auth worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer for 41 years. He died Sunday at the age of 72. In 1988, Auth talked with Terry Gross about how the Reagan era marked a turning point for political cartoonists.

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For Duo Tennis, Pop Is A Natural Language


Mon, Sep 15, 2014


Can you re-invent lively pop from the distant past? Fresh Air music critic Milo Miles says the songwriting team Tennis does just that with their new third album, Ritual in Repeat.

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Australian Comic Finds Humor In Humiliation For His Sitcom 'Please Like Me'


Mon, Sep 15, 2014


Josh Thomas, 27, stars in the show geared toward 20-somethings on the new cable channel Pivot. He talks about coming out to his dad via text message and dealing with his mom's suicide attempts.

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'So We Read On,' Roosevelt Documentary And Terence Winter


Sat, Sep 13, 2014


Book critic Maureen Corrigan looks at the story behind The Great Gatsby; the new PBS biography of three Roosevelts is Ken Burns' best yet; Boardwalk Empire creator reminisces about how the show began.

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In 'The Drop,' Mob Bosses Bully Sad Characters At A Bar In Brooklyn


Fri, Sep 12, 2014


The film based on Dennis Lehane's short story Animal Rescue is supposed be a thriller, but the narrative doesn't have much urgency. The reason it's worth seeing? James Gandolfini is at his peak.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Jazz Composer Gerald Wilson


Fri, Sep 12, 2014


Wilson, who was also a trumpet player, wrote the arrangements for such greats as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles. He died Monday at 96 years old. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2006.

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Woodrow Wilson Brought New Executive Style To The White House


Fri, Sep 12, 2014


Wilson used a groundbreaking moral argument to get the U.S. involved in World War I. A. Scott Berg's book fills in missing pieces of the president's life. Original interview broadcast Sept. 10, 2013.

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Futuristic 'Bone Clocks' Encompasses A Strange, Rich World Of Soul-Stealers


Thu, Sep 11, 2014


David Mitchell's latest fantasy is an odyssey into the dark side, spanning from 1984 to 2043. It's about a teenager who runs away from her London home and becomes prey to a ghastly gang of mystics.

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As 'Boardwalk Empire' Comes To A Close, Creator Reminisces About Its Start


Thu, 1,
1 2014 Sep, 21:33:20


The HBO show began its final season Sunday. Terence Winter says he wrote the Prohibition-era drama in part to work with Martin Scorsese. It was "something I couldn't possibly ... pass up," he says.

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3 Roosevelts Come Alive In PBS Documentary, Ken Burns' Best Yet


Wed, Sep 10, 2014


A 14-hour biography of Theodore, Eleanor and Franklin Delano starts Sunday. Actors including Paul Giamatti and Meryl Streep put on Emmy-worthy vocal performances reading from an Emmy-worthy script.

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Islamic State Was Fueled By 'Epic American Failure In Iraq,' Reporter Says


Wed, Sep 10, 2014


The New York Times Baghdad bureau chief Tim Arango has been reporting from Iraq for five years and has watched the rise of the Islamic State militants. He gives Fresh Air his take on the situation.

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How The Four Seasons Clashed, Dealt With The Mob And Made Lasting Hits


Tue, Sep 09, 2014


Bob Gaudio wrote most of The Four Seasons' hits, some of which are compiled in a new anthology. He tells Fresh Air about the band's history, including why its songs had some "anger" in them.

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In A Brilliantly Disorienting Film, A Teenager Is 'Starred Up' To An Adult Prison


Mon, Sep 08, 2014


The British drama depicts remarkable characters, including an angry teenager who meets two father figures behind bars. It's a prison film that's shattering beyond physical violence.

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How 'Gatsby' Went From A Moldering Flop To A Great American Novel


Mon, Sep 08, 2014


In So We Read On, Maureen Corrigan looks at the story behind The Great Gatsby, from F. Scott Fitzgerald's life to the era in which it's set. She says it's her favorite novel, but it wasn't always.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Neil Oxman, The New Pornographers, Dana Goldstein


Sat, Sep 06, 2014


Neil Oxman, who has managed political ad campaigns, talks about what works and what doesn't; Ken Tucker reviews The New Pornographers' new album; Dana Goldstein talks about her book The Teachers Wars.

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With Age, Joan Rivers Learned To Say Anything: 'It Has Freed Me Totally'


Fri, Sep 05, 2014


The comedian died Thursday at the age of 81. Rivers talked with Fresh Air in 1991, 2010 and 2012 about how her comedy evolved — and why she didn't care what others thought of her.

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In 'The Chair,' Two Filmmakers Make Movies From The Same Script


Thu, Sep 04, 2014


The new 10-episode reality show on Starz follows Anna Martemucci, a graduate of NYU film school, and Shane Dawson, who's been making YouTube videos for eight years. They compete for $250,000.

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In Tenor Saxophonist Mark Turner's New Album, The Music Unfolds Like A Narrative


Thu, Sep 04, 2014


Turner's new quartet album Lathe of Heaven gets its name from Ursula K. LeGuin's novel. A lot of action happens at thoughtful medium tempos, and there's beautiful dissonance in the two-horn harmonies.

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Reporter Reflects On Obama's Stalled Effort to Close Guantanamo


Thu, Sep 04, 2014


New York Times' Charlie Savage visited the prison last month. He tells Fresh Air that it is decaying and exorbitantly expensive, but still holds 149 detainees who can't be sent anywhere else.

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'10:04': A Strange, Spectacular Novel Connecting Several Plotlines


Wed, Sep 03, 2014


Ben Lerner's new novel is about a writer who gets an advance for a second work of fiction, is diagnosed with an aortic heart valve problem and agrees to be the sperm donor for a close friend.

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The New Pornographers Return With A 'Celebration Record' That's Fun To Figure Out


Wed, Sep 03, 2014


Brill Bruisers is a collection of lushly arranged and harmonized pop. While Neko Case, Dan Bejar and A.C. Newman make moody music individually, there's a brightness when they come together.

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Campaign Expert Neil Oxman Talks About How He Makes Political Ads


Wed, Sep 03, 2014


Oxman is the founder of The Campaign Group, which has managed ad campaigns for more than 700 races around the country. Ahead of the Congressional elections, he talks about what works and what doesn't.

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Want To Dine Out? You May Need To Buy Tickets — Or Bid On A Table


Tue, Sep 02, 2014


Some of the nation's restaurants are using technology to make diners commit before their night out. It's convenient for the restaurant and customer — and it may pry people away from old habits.

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A Lesson In How Teachers Became 'Resented And Idealized'


Tue, Sep 02, 2014


In The Teacher Wars, Dana Goldstein chronicles the history of the profession and current topics like tenure. She says the idea that teachers can help fight poverty has existed since the 19th century.

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The Story Of Little Feat's Fame, Destruction And Revival


Mon, Sep 01, 2014


The archetypal '70s band had a charismatic frontman and wonderful songs, but they also had drug problems and kept breaking up. Their Warner Bros. recordings are in a new box set called Rad Gumbo.

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Dom Flemons Holds On To Those Old-Time Roots


Mon, Sep 01, 2014


Prospect Hill is Flemons' first album since leaving the band Carolina Chocolate Drops. By coincidence, the multi-instrumentalist recorded it the day Pete Seeger died. Originally broadcast July 30.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Dave And Phil Alvin, Adam Rogers And Benjamin Booker


Sat, Aug 30, 2014


Dave and Phil Alvin talk about singing together again; Adam Rogers discusses his book Proof: The Science of Booze; Benjamin Booker's debut album is raw yet disciplined.

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Florida-Grown Fiction: Hiaasen Satirizes The Sunshine State


Fri, Aug 29, 2014


Novelist and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen writes with passion about the state he loves. His book, Bad Monkey, is an offbeat murder mystery set in Key West. Originally broadcast June 13, 2013.

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John Waters Hitchhikes Across America, And Lives To Write About It


Fri, Aug 29, 2014


The 68-year-old film director hitchhiked from Baltimore to San Francisco for his book Carsick. He says hitchhiking is "the worst beauty regimen ever." Originally broadcast June 10.

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Jon Hamm On The Evolution Of Don Draper On 'Mad Men'


Thu, Aug 28, 2014


Hamm has never won an Emmy despite 13 nominations, including two this year for Mad Men. In 2010, Hamm talked with Fresh Air about how Draper was "losing touch" with his life and the world around him.

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Edie Falco On Sobriety, The Sopranos, And Nurse Jackie's Self-Medication


Thu, Aug 28, 2014


Falco plays ER nurse Jackie Peyton, who is competent at her high-stress job but struggles with addiction. Falco was nominated for an Emmy for her role on Nurse Jackie, which is in its sixth season.

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Sarah Silverman Discusses Her Movie 'Jesus Is Magic'


Wed, Aug 27, 2014


Silverman won the Emmy for best writing for a variety special for her HBO special We Are Miracles. In 2005, she spoke with Fresh Air about her movie based on her acts in New York and Los Angeles.

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Louis C.K. Reflects On 'Louie,' Loss, Love And Life


Wed, Aug 27, 2014


C.K. won an Emmy for outstanding writing in a comedy series for an episode on his FX show Louie. In 2011, C.K. told Fresh Air about making his comedy special and his relationship with other comedians.

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Aaron Paul On Playing A Meth Dealer On 'Breaking Bad'


Wed, Aug 27, 2014


Paul won the Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for playing student-turned-drug dealer Jesse Pinkman. In 2011, he said his character was supposed to die in the first season.

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At 71, Elvin Bishop Is Still Vigorous, And Can Do Wrong Right


Tue, Aug 26, 2014


The white bluesman whose corny jokes have made his music enduring and fun has a new album Can't Even Do Wrong Right. He has a raspy chuckle in his singing, and he plays the guitar precisely.

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From Walter White To LBJ, Bryan Cranston Is A Master Of Transformation


Tue, Aug 26, 2014


While fans were watching him portray Walt in Breaking Bad's final episodes, Cranston was already reinventing himself — playing Lyndon B. Johnson in the play All the Way. Originally broadcast March 27.

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Allison Janney On Sex, Sorkin And Being The Tallest Woman In The Room


Mon, Aug 25, 2014


Allison Janney has been nominated for Emmys for her roles on Masters of Sex and Mom. She says her relationships with her family members helped inform her characters. Originally broadcast Aug. 4.

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Seth Meyers' 'Late Night' Challenge: What To Do With His Hands


Mon, Aug 25, 2014


Meyers is hosting the Emmys Monday. In April, he told Fresh Air why he left Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update to take over Late Night from Jimmy Fallon in February. Originally broadcast April 23.

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'The Simpsons' And Author Stephan Eirik Clark


Sat, Aug 23, 2014


Fresh Air listens backs to interviews with The Simpsons' creator, writers and actors ahead of the show's marathon on FXX. Author Stephan Eirik Clark talks about his new novel Sweetness #9.

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Benjamin Booker Is Raw, Yet Disciplined On Debut Album


Fri, Aug 22, 2014


The 25-year-old guitarist-singer-songwriter has already served as an opening act on Jack White's recent tour, and he may be ready for headliner status.

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Werner Herzog Talks About Madmen And Caves In Interviews From 'Fresh Air' Archives


Fri, Aug 22, 2014


Werner Herzog talked with Fresh Air in 1998 about his volatile relationship with actor Klaus Kinski, who died in 1991. In 2011, Herzog discussed the documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

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Werner Herzog's Audacious Early Films Showcased In New Boxed Collection


Fri, Aug 22, 2014


The 71-year-old German filmmaker made daring movies in the 1970s that pushed viewers into unsettling mental spaces. The tremendous boxed set Herzog: The Collection highlights his authentic style.

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A Sleek And Busy Walk With Jean-Luc Ponty


Thu, Aug 21, 2014


Before Ponty came to the States, he already had his concept. Fresh Air critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the digital reissue of Sunday Walk.

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Nostalgic For Noir? Feiffer's 'Kill My Mother' Is A Toxic Treat


Thu, Aug 21, 2014


In his first graphic novel, Jules Feiffer, 85, has returned to the seedy comic strips, hard boiled novels and B movies of his youth. Maureen Corrigan says it's "a mulligan stew of murder and desire."

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GlobalPost CEO Shares Details Of Fight To Save James Foley


Thu, Aug 21, 2014


Foley was held hostage in Syria for nearly two years before he was killed by his captors. GlobalPost co-founder Phil Balboni tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the efforts to win his release.

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Prepare For 'The Simpsons' Marathon With Interviews From The 'Fresh Air' Archives


Wed, Aug 20, 2014


Starting Thursday, FXX will air all 552 episodes of The Simpsons in the longest single-series marathon in TV history. Fresh Air listens backs to interviews with the show's creator, writers and actors.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Former Vermont Sen. James Jeffords


Tue, Aug 19, 2014


Jeffords died Monday at the age of 80. In 2001, the moderate Republican decided to switch to an independent, tipping control to the Democrats. At the time, he explained his decision to Terry Gross.

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With Both Farce And Feeling, Currentzis' 'Figaro' Succeeds Magnificently


Tue, Aug 19, 2014


There are many recordings of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Do we need another?

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Cardiologist Speaks From The Heart About America's Medical System


Tue, Aug 19, 2014


In his new memoir, Doctored, Sandeep Jauhar describes a growing discontent among doctors and how it's affecting patients. He says rushed doctors are often practicing "defensive medicine."

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Box Set Looks Back On Pioneering '5' Royales


Mon, Aug 18, 2014


With the release of the 131-track collection Soul and Swagger: The Complete "5" Royales, the group has finally gotten the recognition they deserve.

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Seeking Proof For Why We Feel Terrible After Too Many Drinks


Mon, Aug 18, 2014


Author Adam Rogers says there are lots of myths about what causes hangovers. His new book, Proof: The Science of Booze, explores these and other scientific mysteries of alcohol's effect on the body.

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'Sweetness #9' Satirizes Food Wars And Artificial America


Mon, Aug 18, 2014


The novel is about a flavor chemist who tests a sweetener on lab rats and monkeys and finds side effects the company covers up. Author Stephan Eirik Clark says he was inspired by Fast Food Nation.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Eric Schlosser, Spoon's New Album And 'The Knick' Creators


Sat, Aug 16, 2014


Eric Schlosser's discusses his new book Command and Control; Ken Tucker reviews Spoon's They Want My Soul; The Knick creators talk about their new drama set in a New York hospital in 1900.

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At 49, Jamie Moyer's Pitching Career Goes Into Extra Innings


Fri, Aug 15, 2014


In a new memoir called Just Tell Me I Can't, Moyer explains how he became a better pitcher in his 40s than his 20s. Originally broadcast Oct. 2, 2013.

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In Acting And In Life, Lauren Bacall 'Loved The Idea Of Adventure'


Fri, Aug 15, 2014


Lauren Bacall died Tuesday in New York at the age of 89. In 1994, she talked with Fresh Air about her early career, working with Marilyn Monroe and her intense love affair with Humphrey Bogart.

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In A Funny New Novel, A Weary Professor Writes To 'Dear Committee Members'


Fri, Aug 15, 2014


Julie Schumacher's anti-hero pens recommendations for junior colleagues, lackluster students and former lovers. The novel deftly mixes comedy with social criticism and righteous outrage.

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Robin Williams: In Looking For Laughs, 'You Have To Be Deeply Honest'


Fri, Aug 15, 2014


The comedian and actor died Monday at age 63. In 2006, Williams spoke with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about improvising, his training and how people expected him to act crazy.

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British Comedians Take A 'Trip To Italy' And Make Fun Of Each Other


Thu, Aug 14, 2014


In the sequel to The Trip, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon drive around Italy, instead of England, and engage in lively banter. The film isn't freighted with ambition, but it's extremely enjoyable.

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A Scientist's Mission To Break The Itch-Scratch Cycle


Thu, Aug 14, 2014


Dr. Gil Yosipovitch is a leading scientist in the field of itch. He says he hopes to gain more respect for the debilitating power of chronic itch — and to get more doctors on the search for a cure.

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Two Tenors Inspired By A Saxophone Colossus


Thu, Aug 14, 2014


Fresh Air critic Kevin Whitehead reviews two albums by Thelonious Monk jazz competition winners: Melissa Aldana and Joshua Redman.

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How 'The Knick' Creators Capture Turn-Of-The-Century Operating Scenes


Thu, Aug 14, 2014


The drama is set in a New York hospital in 1900, when surgeons were developing new techniques. Series creators Jack Amiel and Michael Begler and medical historian Stanley Burns talk about the show.

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Case Closed: Agatha Christie's Detective Poirot Solves His Last TV Mystery


Wed, Aug 13, 2014


After decades on air, Poirot's 13th and final season begins Aug. 25. David Suchet still stars as detective Hercule Poirot, but you won't find the show on PBS. So where is it?

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'This Is A Congress That's Really Doing Nothing,' Says NYT Reporter


Wed, Aug 13, 2014


Congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman gives his take on the 113th Congress, including how House Speaker John Boehner has little sway, and business in the Senate has virtually ground to a halt.

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At 74, Outlaw Billy Joe Shaver Is Still An Outlier


Mon, Aug 11, 2014


Billie Joe Shaver has just released his first new studio album in six years, called Long in the Tooth.

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Nuclear 'Command And Control': A History Of False Alarms And Near Catastrophes


Mon, Aug 11, 2014


Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, spent six years researching America's nuclear weapons. In Command and Control, he details explosions, false attack alerts and accidentally dropped bombs.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Allison Janney, Jason Hamacher, Pinterest And Interactive TV


Sat, Aug 09, 2014


Allison Janney talks sex, Sorkin and being the tallest women in the room; Jason Hamacher preserved Syrian chants; Pinterest offers "guided search"; and interactive TV has a long history.

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In The Irish Film 'Calvary,' A Priest's Crisis Of Faith Is Weirdly Jokey


Fri, Aug 08, 2014


John Michael McDonagh's new movie stars Brendan Gleeson as a priest who must eventually face off against a killer. It's excruciatingly obvious and inept, but Gleeson brings it alive.

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Jaki Byard, A Post-Bebop Pianist Who Was A Master Of Stride Piano


Fri, Aug 08, 2014


On The Late Show, a set of previously unheard solo music from 1979, the jazz pianist employs techniques like suspenseful dropouts. He had a rare ability to sound archaic — and way ahead of his time.

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For Novelist Jonathan Lethem, Radicalism Runs In The Family


Fri, Aug 08, 2014


His new book, Dissident Gardens, follows three generations of an activist family. The book is fiction, but its characters were inspired by Lethem's own story. Originally broadcast Sept. 9, 2013.

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Stick With 'The Knick,' A Medical Drama With Amazing Inventions


Thu, Aug 07, 2014


The new Cinemax show stars Clive Owen as a rude doctor in a New York City hospital in 1900. It may take a few episodes, but you'll care about the characters and their inventions.

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Douglas and Caine Find 'Present Joys' In The Sacred Harp Songbook


Thu, Aug 07, 2014


The virtuoso jazz musicians perform from their new album of duets. It features hymns based on a tradition called shape-note singing, which dates to the early 1800s.

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Before War, A Punk Drummer Preserved Syrian Chants


Thu, Aug 07, 2014


Jason Hamacher wasn't trained as a photographer, a musicologist or a member of a religious community. The former Frodus drummer simply felt compelled to document this music.

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A Label Paramount To Early Blues And Jazz


Wed, Aug 06, 2014


Between 1917 and 1932, the label released thousands of records. Jack White's Third Man Records has joined with the reissue label Revenant to release the first of two packages documenting Paramount.

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Malaysia Flight Wreckage Was 'Like The End Of The World'


Wed, Aug 06, 2014


The New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise was among the first to arrive at the site of the downed flight in Ukraine in late July. She says it's hard to get the faces of the dead out of her mind.

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A Lost Piece Of Soul History Appears


Tue, Aug 05, 2014


In the early 1960s when soul star Sam Cooke had his own record label, SAR, he recorded songs by his younger brother, L.C. Cooke. Fifty years years, the complete set's finally issued.

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How Ronald Reagan Used An 'Invisible Bridge' To Win Over Americans


Tue, Aug 05, 2014


Rick Perlstein's new book describes how Reagan emerged as the leader of a potent political movement during the turbulent mid-'70s. He says the soul of Reagan's appeal was how he made people feel good.

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Spoon Wants Your Soul


Mon, Aug 04, 2014


They Want My Soul is another fine Spoon album in a career that has now come to display a remarkable consistency

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How Interactive TV Is Older Than TV Itself


Mon, Aug 04, 2014


As technology gets more complex, TV producers aim to take advantage of it, such as relying on phoned-in votes from viewers. The interactive talent show, it turns out, predates TV itself.

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Allison Janney On Sex, Sorkin And Being The Tallest Woman In The Room


Mon, Aug 04, 2014


Allison Janney has been nominated for Emmys for her roles on Masters of Sex and Mom. She says her relationships with her mother and her brother, who was an addict, helped inform her characters.

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Fresh Air Weekend: George Takei, 'The Honorable Woman,' Dom Flemons


Sat, Aug 02, 2014


George Takei talks about the new documentary To Be Takei; David Bianculli says The Honorable Woman is not to miss; Dom Flemons discusses his first album since leaving Carolina Chocolate Drops.

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Sailing Through Space With 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'? Hilarious


Fri, Aug 01, 2014


The newest Marvel comic adaptation features five motley warriors, including a raccoon and a tree, against an armada of space villains. The big-budget effects-laden movie is light and funny.

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Fresh Air Pays Tribute To James Brown, 'Godfather Of Funk'


Fri, Aug 01, 2014


James Brown is featured in the new biopic Get On Up. In '80s and '90s, Terry Gross talked with his biographer and two musicians who played in his band. And in 2005, she talked with Brown himself.

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Maggie Gyllenhaal Is 'The Honorable Woman': A Series Both Ruthless And Rewarding


Thu, Jul 31, 2014


The eight-part drama that begins Thursday stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as a British baroness with an Israeli passport. She's a fearless actor in a show full of kidnappings, seductions and betrayals.

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Kidnapping Is A Lucrative Business For Al-Qaida, Documents Show


Thu, Jul 31, 2014


Last year, journalist Rukmini Callimachi found thousands of al-Qaida documents in Timbuktu in Mali. She tells Fresh Air about al-Qaida's strategy of kidnapping Europeans and demanding ransoms.

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Can Pinterest Compete With Google's Search?


Wed, Jul 30, 2014


Pinterest has created a database of things that matter to humans. And with a programming team that's largely been hired away from Google, the company has begun offering what it calls "guided search."

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Dom Flemons Holds On To Those Old-Time Roots


Wed, Jul 30, 2014


Prospect Hill is Flemons' first album since leaving the band Carolina Chocolate Drops. By coincidence, the multi-instrumentalist recorded the album the day Pete Seeger died.

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'Ride Around Shining' Reimagines Gatsby's Nouveau-Riche Excess


Tue, Jul 29, 2014


Chris Leslie-Hynan's debut novel follows a white grad student who's a chauffeur to a black basketball player. It references The Great Gatsby often with fresh takes on race, manhood and meritocracy.

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In 'Blue Eyed Boy,' Author Reveals Long Recovery From Facial Burns


Tue, Jul 29, 2014


Robert Timberg, who was disfigured by a land mine as a Marine in Vietnam, went on to become a successful journalist. His new memoir Blue Eyed Boy charts his struggle to recover from his wounds.

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Jenny Lewis' 'The Voyager' Is An Album To Spend Time With


Mon, Jul 28, 2014


Jenny Lewis achieved musical fame as part of the indie band Rilo Kiley, which broke up in 2011. Her third solo album announces a new chapter in her career — and perhaps her life.

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From 'Star Trek' To LGBT Spokesman, What It Takes 'To Be Takei'


Mon, Jul 28, 2014


George Takei is famous for his role as Mr. Sulu on Star Trek. Now a new documentary, To Be Takei, delves into his personal story — including growing up in Japanese internment camps, and coming out.

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'Trans Bodies, Trans Selves,' 'Hard Day's Night,' Arthur Allen


Sat, Jul 26, 2014


A new book is a manual for transgender; John Powers reviews the restoration of A Hard Day's Night; Arthur Allen talks about his book The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman Leaves Indelible Bond In 'Most Wanted Man'


Fri, Jul 25, 2014


The late actor hit his peak in the adaptation of John le Carre's 2008 novel. The movie isn't a clean piece of storytelling, but Hoffman connects with viewers on a level most actors never approach.

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Tim Gunn: On And Off The Runway, 'Life Is A Big Collaboration'


Fri, Jul 25, 2014


"Make it work," the fashion guru tells designers on Project Runway. But life hasn't always "worked" for Gunn. Originally broadcast on Feb. 5, 2014.

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'Panic In A Suitcase' Puts A Fresh Spin On A Coming-To-America Story


Thu, Jul 24, 2014


Yelena Akhtiorskaya's debut novel is about a family that emigrates from Odessa to the Russian enclave of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, N.Y. It's a funny tale full of insider knowledge and offbeat words.

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Human Rights Watch Researcher Reports ISIS Abuses In Iraq


Thu, Jul 24, 2014


Letta Tayler recently returned from Iraq, where she documented stories about the militant Islamist group ISIS and abuses by the Iraqi government. She tells Fresh Air what she learned.

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'A Hard Day's Night': A Pop Artifact That Still Crackles With Energy


Wed, Jul 23, 2014


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day's Night, a spectacular restoration is in theaters and on DVD. The black-and-white photography of the Beatles is gorgeous, and the movie isn't half bad.

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Cat PDA Vs. Human PDA, And Other Animal Behavior Explained


Wed, Jul 23, 2014


Veterinarian Vint Virga works with pets and zoo animals on behavior disorders. He talks about how house cats are more fulfilled when they forage for food, and how to show animals affection.

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Fresh Air Remembers Actress And Singer Elaine Stritch


Tue, Jul 22, 2014


The Broadway star used to describe herself as a Catholic, diabetic alcoholic. She died last week at the age of 89. In 1999, she talked with Terry Gross when she was starring in a revival of Sail Away.

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How Scientists Created A Typhus Vaccine In A 'Fantastic Laboratory'


Tue, Jul 22, 2014


Arthur Allen's new book, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl, describes how a WWII scientist in Poland smuggled the typhus vaccine to Jews — while his team made a weakened version for the Nazis.

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On 'Tomlinson Hill,' Journalist Seeks Truth And Reconciliation


Mon, Jul 21, 2014


Chris Tomlinson covered conflict, including apartheid in Africa, for 11 years. Then the great-great-grandson of Texas slaveholders realized he needed to write a book about his family's history.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Angela Ricketts; Chaz Ebert And Steve James


Sat, Jul 19, 2014


In her book No Man's War, Angela Ricketts writes about raising three kids while her husband deployed. Filmmaker Steve James and Chaz Ebert discuss Life Itself, a documentary about Robert Ebert.

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'Live In The Present': Charlie Haden Remembered


Fri, Jul 18, 2014


"You have to see your unimportance before you can see your importance and your significance to the world," Haden told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1992. The bassist died on July 11.

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Every Composer Needs A Great Storyteller


Wed, Jul 16, 2014


EMI has just reissued a broad spectrum of German conductor Otto Klemperer's recordings, including a box set of one of the composers he's most associated with: Gustav Mahler.

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Nigeria's Boko Haram 'More Extreme Than Al-Qaida,' Journalist Says


Wed, Jul 16, 2014


Journalist Alex Perry wrote the new e-book The Hunt for Boko Haram: Investigating the Terror Tearing Nigeria Apart. He says Boko Haram doesn't have logical reasons for the atrocious acts it commits.

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The Cowboy That Wasn't A Cowboy Sings


Tue, Jul 15, 2014


A new album from Cowboy Jack Clement has the prolific producer performing many of his best-known compositions with help of Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Rodney Crowell and John Prine.

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An Army Wife Charts Her Struggles In 'No Man's War'


Tue, Jul 15, 2014


In her new book, Angela Ricketts writes about raising three kids while her husband deployed eight times over 22 years. Each separation "kind of blackens your soul," she says.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers South African Writer Nadine Gordimer


Mon, Jul 14, 2014


Nadine Gordimer has written about the agonies of apartheid in her novels and short stories. She died Sunday at the age of 90. In 1989, she spoke with Terry Gross during a visit to the U.S.

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'Mockingbird Next Door': A Genteel Peek Into Harper Lee's Quiet Life


Mon, Jul 14, 2014


After Harper Lee wrote To Kill A Mockingbird, she became a recluse and lived with her sister, Alice, in Alabama. Reporter Marja Mills uses rich detail to provides glimpses into their twilight years.

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How A Factory Man Fought To Save His Furniture Company


Mon, Jul 14, 2014


Virginia furniture owner John Bassett III was determined to beat out foreign competitors. Author Beth Macy documents him, and the collapse of the U.S. furniture industry, in her new book, Factory Man.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Richard Linklater, Strand Of Oaks And Brian Krebs


Sat, Jul 12, 2014


Writer-director Richard Linklater discusses his new film Boyhood; Ken Tucker has a review of the latest Strand Of Oaks album; and blogger Brian Krebs talks about covering cybercriminals.

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In A Remarkable Feat, 'Boyhood' Makes Time Visible


Fri, Jul 11, 2014


Boyhood is about a boy in Texas whose parents have separated. Filmed over 12 years, audiences watch him grow up — and his worldview evolve. The cumulative power of the movie is tremendous.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Soul Singer And Songwriter Bobby Womack


Fri, Jul 11, 2014


Womack sang for a gospel group with his brothers called the Valentinos. It's All Over Now was their first international hit. Womack, who died June 27 at the age of 70, talked with Terry Gross in 1999.

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Fred Hersch Knows His Trios


Thu, Jul 10, 2014


Fred Hersch pulls together jazz piano traditions that have little in common. Kevin Whitehead says the classic piano, bass and drums trio format suits Hersch best of all in a review of Floating.

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10 Years Later, Mystery Heroine 'Maisie Dobbs' Gains New Life


Thu, Jul 10, 2014


Jacqueline Winspear's debut mystery, Maisie Dobbs, set in England around World War I, came out in paperback a decade ago. A new edition testifies to the enduring allure of the traditional mystery.

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Filmed Over 12 Years, 'Boyhood' Follows A Kid's Coming Of Age


Thu, Jul 10, 2014


Writer-director Richard Linklater says picking the film's star was vital because he had to guess what he'd be like at 18. "I just went with a kid who seemed kind of the most interesting."

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If Jim Lauderdale Is A Song, More People Should Hear It


Wed, Jul 09, 2014


Fresh Air critic Ken Tucker says Lauderdale's career is at once admirable and somewhat puzzling.

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'The Strain' And 'Extant' Play On Fears Of Forces Out Of Our Control


Wed, Jul 09, 2014


This week, two new TV series begin in the threats-from-nowhere genre: Extant on CBS and The Strain on FX. The better of the two, The Strain, about a disease outbreak, is effectively creepy.

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Biologist Says Promoting Diversity Is Key To 'Keeping The Bees'


Wed, Jul 09, 2014


Laurence Packer says humans need to appreciate both domestic bees and the some 20,000 species of wild bees. His book Keeping The Bees explores all types, including some that feed on tears.

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'Violette' Evokes Exasperating Self-Pity, A Trait The French Like


Tue, Jul 08, 2014


The film Violette is a fictionalized portrait of Violette Leduc, the trailblazing French novelist who was considered difficult. The strangely gripping movie captures a key moment in feminist history.

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The Hazards Of Probing The Internet's Dark Side


Tue, Jul 08, 2014


Brian Krebs, who broke the Target security breach story last year, says cybercriminals are "some very bad people." He tells Terry Gross about how they have found creative ways to taunt him.

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The Westerlies Come On Home With Horvitz


Mon, Jul 07, 2014


The brass players' debut album is a set of pieces by Seattle-based composer and improviser Wayne Horvitz

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Actor Meshach Taylor


Mon, Jul 07, 2014


Taylor was best known for his role as Anthony Bouvier on the TV sitcom Designing Women. Taylor's other TV series included Buffalo Bill and Dave's World. He chatted with Terry Gross in 1990.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Screenwriter Paul Mazursky


Mon, Jul 07, 2014


Mazursky wrote such films as Next Stop, Greenwich Village; An Unmarried Woman; and Down and Out in Beverly Hills. He died last week at the age of 84. He talked with Terry Gross in 1991 and 1999.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Joel McHale, 'Friendship,' And 'The Great Fish Swap'


S ,
at, Jul 05, 2014


Comedian Joel McHale talks bad TV and filming a thriller; Maureen Corrigan says Friendship is a startlingly nice novel; and author Paul Greenberg discusses why most of the fish we eat is imported.

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In Charming Film 'Begin Again,' Music Can Save A Life


Thu, Jul 03, 2014


Keira Knightley plays a heartbroken singer-songwriter who teams up with a drunken producer in Begin Again. Irish director John Carney, who had a surprise hit with the musical Once, hit his mark again.

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'Life Itself': An Unflinching Documentary Of Roger Ebert's Life And Death


Thu, Jul 03, 2014


In late 2012, filmmaker Steve James and Roger Ebert began talking about filming a documentary based on Ebert's memoir. Ebert's wife, Chaz, agreed. They didn't know that he would die within months.

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Strand Of Oaks: Songs Heal All Wounds


Wed, Jul 02, 2014


If you're going to be downbeat, glum, or morose, it's best to do it the way Timothy Showalter does it.

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'Friendship': A Startlingly Nice Novel By A Tough-Girl Blogger


Wed, Jul 02, 2014


Emily Gould's first novel stars 30-something single women in New York City who are figuring out what's important in life. It's worth picking up for its sharp social observations and inspired wordplay.

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As Supreme Court Term Ends, Journalist Examines Its Decisions


Wed, Jul 02, 2014


The Supreme Court term ended Monday. The New York Times correspondent and lawyer Adam Liptak talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about what the decisions reveal about the nine justices.

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Do Feelings Compute? If Not, The Turing Test Doesn't Mean Much


Tue, Jul 01, 2014


For the first time, a computer passed the test for machines engaging in intelligent thought. Linguist Geoff Nunberg says the real test is whether computers can behave the same way thinking people do.

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'The Great Fish Swap': How America Is Downgrading Its Seafood Supply


Tue, Jul 01, 2014


One-third of the seafood Americans catch is sold abroad, but most of the seafood we eat here is imported and often of lower quality. Why? Author Paul Greenberg says it has to do with American tastes.

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Comedian Joel McHale Talks Dyslexia, Bad TV And Filming A Thriller


Mon, Jun 30, 2014


The host of The Soup co-stars in the thriller Deliver Us From Evil. "I felt like a 12-year-old getting to be in an action film," McHale tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Mary Gauthier, Miranda Lambert, The Women Behind 'Obvious Child'


Sat, Jun 28, 2014


Singer Mary Gauthier discusses what inspired Trouble & Love; Ken Tucker reviews Miranda Lambert's latest album Platinum; and the women behind Obvious Child talk farts, abortion and stage fright.

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In The Mood For Apocalypse? Skip 'Transformers,' See 'Snowpiercer'


Fri, Jun 27, 2014


Film critic David Edelstein says Snowpiercer — a dystopian film based on a French graphic novel — is far more invigorating and potent than Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.

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After The Rapture, Who Are 'The Leftovers'?


Fri, Jun 27, 2014


Tom Perrotta's 2011 novel examined the aftermath of an unexplained rapturelike event. A new HBO series inspired by The Leftovers begins Sunday. Originally broadcast Aug. 25, 2011.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Actor Eli Wallach


Fri, Jun 27, 2014


Wallach made a career of playing the villain in films like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven. He died Tuesday at the age of 98. Wallach talked with Terry Gross in 1990.

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'Most Dangerous Book': A Rich Treasury Charting James Joyce's 'Ulysses'


Thu, Jun 26, 2014


There are many heroes in Kevin Birmingham's new book about the novel that sparked a revolution, but James Joyce isn't one of them. The strength of The Most Dangerous Book lies in its subtle details.

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Lana Del Rey's 'Ultraviolence' Has A Firm Grasp On Pop History


Thu, Jun 26, 2014


Lana Del Rey continues a time-honored pop tradition of developing a public persona that challenges fans to decide what's real and what's not.

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The Women Behind 'Obvious Child' Talk Farts, Abortion And Stage Fright


Thu, Jun 26, 2014


For her first feature film, director Gillian Robespierre says she wanted to cast Jenny Slate in the role as an empowered, funny woman. They tell Fresh Air what shaped them as women in comedy.

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Dexter Filkins On ISIS And The 'Bitter Consequences' Of The Iraq War


Wed, Jun 25, 2014


The journalist who covered the war in Iraq, and its aftermath, details the militant Sunni Islamist group, the power it has in Iraq and Syria and how its war is destabilizing neighboring countries.

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Mary Gauthier De-Romanticizes Romantic Love


Tue, Jun 24, 2014


Trouble & Love is about a relationship that went bad. "I think that this is one where Mary finally gets the lesson," Gauthier tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Writer And Middle East Scholar Fouad Ajami


Mon, Jun 23, 2014


In 1988, Ajami spoke with Terry Gross about an essay he'd written about how political catastrophe came to Beruit, Lebanon, and how the city where he grew up became a land of cruelty and hatred.

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50 Years Ago, Students Fought For Black Rights During 'Freedom Summer'


Mon, Jun 23, 2014


A PBS documentary about the 1964 movement to get blacks to vote in Mississippi airs Tuesday. Freedom Summer director Stanley Nelson and organizer Charles Cobb discuss the dangers the students faced.

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Fresh Air Weekend: John Oliver, Parquet Courts And Joshua Ferris


Sat, Jun 21, 2014


Comedian John Oliver pokes fun on his new show on HBO; Ken Tucker reviews Parquet Courts' third record; and writer Joshua Ferris discusses his latest novel about a dentist wrestling with his atheism.

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'Jersey Boys' And 'Venus In Fur' Are Just As Intense On Screen


Fri, Jun 20, 2014


Two veteran directors adapted the Broadway shows to film. And while many such translations are too stage-bound, critic David Edelstein says Clint Eastwood and Roman Polanski got the balance right.

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Remembering Horace Silver, Hard Bop Pioneer


Fri, Jun 20, 2014


Jazz pianist, bandleader and composer Horace Silver died Wednesday at age 85. Fresh Air critic Kevin Whitehead says that Silver had been off the scene awhile, but his influence is as strong as ever.

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A Reclusive Novelist Reckons With His Legacy '& Sons'


Fri, Jun 20, 2014


David Gilbert tells the story of a famous, aging writer whose children do not feel as warmly toward him as his readers do. Originally broadcast July 23, 2013.

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John Oliver Is No One's Friend On His New HBO Show


Thu, Jun 19, 2014


The comedian who was a correspondent on The Daily Show for 7 1/2 years now pokes fun on Last Week Tonight. Oliver talks about tasing his leg, temping for a thief and remaining an outsider.

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A Double Dose Of Ronald Shannon Jackson's Free-Funk


Wed, Jun 18, 2014


Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society's Man Dance and its sequel Barbeque Dog are now available again as downloads, after being out of print for ages.

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Someday Soon You May Swallow A Computer With Your Pill


Wed, Jun 18, 2014


Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal explains how a tiny computer attaches to a pill you ingest to record how your body responds. It sounds crazy, he says, but it was approved by the FDA.

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Writer Reflects On Aircraft Carrier's Mission To The Persian Gulf


Wed, Jun 18, 2014


Geoff Dyer spent two weeks aboard the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush for his book Another Great Day at Sea. He talks with Fresh Air about his book, and the carrier's latest position for possible air strikes.

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Parquet Courts' Misery Is Exhilarating


Tue, Jun 17, 2014


The quartet has drawn comparisons to the Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, and Sonic Youth, but rock critic Ken Tucker says this album proves Parquet Courts is an original.

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Joshua Ferris Takes On Atheism In 'To Rise Again'


Tue, Jun 17, 2014


In Joshua Ferris' third novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, the protagonist is a dentist wrestling with his atheism. Ferris says his character, like all dentists, is "chronically misunderstood."

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Jazz Singer Jimmy Scott


Mon, Jun 16, 2014


Scott, who had a rare genetic condition that made him sound like a woman, was popular in '50s but didn't make any records between 1975 and 1992. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1992 about his comeback.

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A-List Celebrities Flock To Late-Night 'Graham Norton Show'


Mon, Jun 16, 2014


The late-night talk show, imported by BBC America, has been around for years. TV critic David Bianculli says it's never been better — it's like eavesdropping on an all-star cocktail party.

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'Fargo' TV Series Captures The Best And Worst Of America


Mon, Jun 16, 2014


The finale of the Fargo TV series airs Tuesday. The characters are different, like a deputy sheriff played by Allison Tolman. But writer Noah Hawley says the Coen brothers told him he "nailed it."

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'Supermensch,' Conference Calls And John Waters


Sat, Jun 14, 2014


This week Mike Myers talks about his Shep Gordan documentary, Alexis Madrigal explains why we still need conference calls, and Waters hitchhikes across America.

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'Obvious Child': A Momentous Film Of Small, Embarrassing Truths


Fri, Jun 13, 2014


The indie film depicts a standup comic who decides to have an abortion after a one-night stand. David Edelstein lauds director Gillian Robespierre's courage.

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'Lawrence' Of Arabia: From Archaeologist To War Hero


Fri, Jun 13, 2014


Scott Anderson's book explains how British officer T.E. Lawrence used his knowledge of Arab culture and medieval history to advance British causes. Originally broadcast Aug. 19, 2013.

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Hillary Clinton: The Fresh Air Interview


Thu, Jun 12, 2014


Clinton's new memoir, Hard Choices, outlines her four years as secretary of state under President Obama. She talks about her vote for the Iraq War, women's rights and political "gamers."

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In Big Bill Broonzy's Blues, Brothers Find A Way To Sing Together


Wed, Jun 11, 2014


Dave and Phil Alvin have made their first full album together in nearly 30 years, a tribute to one of their early influences. "His persona was so big to me," Phil Alvin tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Invisible 'Supermensch' Avoided The Spotlight While Making Others Famous


Mon, Jun 09, 2014


Mike Myers' documentary Supermensch chronicles the work of Shep Gordon, who has "jump-started" the careers of superstar musicians and chefs. Now, it's Gordon's turn for a taste of celebrity.

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'Raisin In The Sun,' 'Orange Is The New Black,' China's 'Ambition'


Sat, Jun 07, 2014


A Raisin in the Sun returns to Broadway, Orange Is the New Black begins season two, and writer Evan Osnos talks about about China's economic expansion.

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Beautiful Acting Aside, It Isn't Hard To Find Fault In 'Our Stars'


Fri, Jun 06, 2014


The adaptation of John Green's bestselling young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars — about two teens with cancer — is among the year's most anticipated films, but David Edelstein wasn't impressed.

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New Season Of 'Orange Is The New Black' Has A Strong, Unsettling Start


Fri, Jun 06, 2014


Netflix's women-in-prison series, based on a memoir by Piper Kerman, returns Friday. Fresh Air listens back to interviews with Kerman and series creator Jenji Kohan.

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1936 'Show Boat': A Multiracial, Musical Melodrama, Now Out On DVD


Thu, Jun 05, 2014


With an unforgettable story and score, the 1927 musical tackled complex racial issues. Music critic Lloyd Schwartz says the 1936 film version of Show Boat is the best — and it's now out on DVD.

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For Jockey Donna Barton Brothers, Horse Racing Runs In The Family


Thu, Jun 05, 2014


At the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, former jockey Donna Barton Brothers will interview the winner on horseback. Now an analyst for NBC, Brothers won more than 1,100 races before retiring in 1998.

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Miranda Lambert's 'Platinum' Has Backyard Swagger


Wed, Jun 04, 2014


Platinum continues Miranda Lambert's ongoing project to create songs about women who are complex, fun-loving, and assertive.

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'Burning Down The House' Makes The Case Against Juvenile Incarceration


Wed, Jun 04, 2014


In her new book, Nell Bernstein says America's juvenile justice system is overdue for reform. Time in jail as a child or teen, she says, is the best predictor of adult criminality and incarceration.

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Golem Ain't Your Grandparents' Klezmer


Tue, Jun 03, 2014


The New York City band Golem describes its music as punk-klezmer. On Tanz, they mange to find new ways to balance urban irreverence with folk tradition.

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Have We Reached The End Of The Line For The Conference Call?


Tue, Jun 03, 2014


Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal considers why people still jump on frustrating conference calls. While tech startups aim to kill the PIN, he says, the phone bridges generations.

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A 'New Yorker' Writer's Take On China's 'Age Of Ambition'


Tue, Jun 03, 2014


On the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, author Evan Osnos discusses his new book that explores the tensions between China's economic expansion and its commitment to authoritarian rule.

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John Fullbright's Uneven 'Songs' Finds A Way To Fascinate


Mon, Jun 02, 2014


Songs feels like the work of an artist who's still figuring out who he is, where he wants to go, and what he wants to elaborate upon — or invent anew.

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'Raisin In The Sun' Revival: A Uniquely American Story Is Back On Broadway


Mon, Jun 02, 2014


Denzel Washington and LaTanya Richardson Jackson star in the latest production of the play, which debuted in 1959. The revival's run is nearing its end — and Jackson says she's "in tears."

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Fresh Air Weekend: Chris O'Dowd, The Nazi War On Modern Art And Cannes


Sat, May 31, 2014


The actor plays Lenny in a revival of the theatrical adaptation of Of Mice and Men; a New York exhibit reunites works from two Nazi art shows; critic John Powers discusses the festival's winners.

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Jazz Pianist Ted Rosenthal Has A Feel For Gershwin


Fri, May 30, 2014


Rosenthal has played George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" solo and with symphonic and jazz orchestras. Now he's recorded a version for jazz trio as part of an all-Gershwin album.

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Phoenix To Self: 'Why Am I Talking About This? ... Joaquin, Shut Up'


Fri, May 30, 2014


The elusive actor tells Fresh Air about his new film, Her -- but he insists he's not really that interesting. "If I was driving and I heard this, I'd change the channel," he says.

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'Degenerate' Exhibit Recalls Nazi War On Modern Art


Thu, May 29, 2014


In 1937, two Nazi art shows aimed to teach the public to despise modernist art and show them what art should be. An exhibit at New York's Neue Galerie reunites works from both landmark shows.

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From The Screen To Broadway: Chris O'Dowd Takes On 'Of Mice And Men'


Thu, May 29, 2014


The Irish actor was introduced to a large American audience through the film Bridesmaids. He's now playing Lenny in the revival of the theatrical adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Poet And Memoirist Maya Angelou


Wed, May 28, 2014


In 1986, Angelou spoke to Terry Gross about Southern influences in her writing, her love of autobiography and how, as a traumatized young girl, poetry inspired her to start speaking again.

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Highlights From The Cannes Film Festival


Wed, May 28, 2014


The festival concluded Saturday. Fresh Air critic John Powers discusses the winners and the films that generated the biggest responses — both positive and negative.

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China Turns To Africa For Resources, Jobs And Future Customers


Tue, May 27, 2014


In China's Second Continent, Howard French explores the Chinese presence in 15 African countries. The relationship goes beyond economics: more than a million Chinese citizens have migrated to Africa.

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The Bronze Buckaroo Rides Off Into The Sunset


Tue, May 27, 2014


The black singing cowboy Herb Jeffries sang a Duke Ellington hit and appeared in 1930s westerns like Harlem Rides the Range and The Bronze Buckaroo.

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150 Years After Marx, 'Capital' Still Can't Shake Loose Of 'Das Kapital'


Tue, May 27, 2014


Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century evokes another famous tome with "capital" in its title, and makes comparisons inevitable.

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Two New Items From Hank Williams


Mon, May 26, 2014


Williams is commonly considered the most important country music songwriter. Critic Ken Tucker has a review of a newly released CD of radio broadcasts and DVD of TV performances.

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During World War II, Even Filmmakers Reported For Duty


Mon, May 26, 2014


A new book looks at how the military and Hollywood directors teamed up during the war. The films they made helped show Americans what was at stake, and served as evidence during the Nuremberg Trials.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Louis C.K., Miles Davis And A Military Dog


Sat, May 24, 2014


The comic's show, Louie, is now in its fourth season; Davis' performances at New York's Fillmore East are now out in full; and a Marine dog adjusts to civilian life.

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'The Immigrant': An Ellis Island Period Drama From James Gray


Fri, May 23, 2014


In the director's latest film, Marion Cotillard plays a Polish woman trying to free her sister from the island's infirmary and Joaquin Phoenix co-stars as a shady businessman.

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Donovan To Be Inducted Into Songwriters Hall Of Fame


Fri, May 23, 2014


The singer-songwriter wrote several '60s folk rock hippie anthems, including "Sunshine Superman." He spoke to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 2004.

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HBO's 'The Normal Heart' Looks At The Early Days Of The AIDS Crisis


Fri, May 23, 2014


On Sunday night, HBO presents a new TV version of Larry Kramer's 1985 play. Kramer himself wrote the adaptation, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Cinematographer Gordon Willis


Fri, May 23, 2014


Willis shot eight Woody Allen films and the entire Godfather trilogy. He died Sunday at 82. Willis spoke to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 2002.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Civil Rights Activist Vincent Harding


Thu, May 22, 2014


Harding died Monday at 82. He wrote several speeches for Martin Luther King Jr., including his controversial 1967 speech opposing the war in Vietnam. Harding spoke to Fresh Air in 1988.

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A Second Posthumous Collection From Rock Critic Ellen Willis


Thu, May 22, 2014


The Essential Ellen Willis focuses on the writer's explicitly feminist culture criticism. It was edited by Willis' daughter, who published an earlier collection of her mother's essays in 2011.

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Civilian Life Taught This Military Dog Some New Tricks


Thu, May 22, 2014


As a bomb-detecting dog, Zenit the German shepherd never chased his tail or dug holes. Those are skills he learned after he was adopted by his former professional partner, Cpl. Jose Armenta.

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'Chameleon' Has Cabaret, Spies And A Plot Fit For Lifetime


Wed, May 21, 2014


Francine Prose's latest novel was inspired by a 1932 photo of two lesbians, one of whom was in the Gestapo. Critic Maureen Corrigan says it's an ingenious excursion into the Parisian demimonde.

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How The Koch Brothers Remade America's Political Landscape


Wed, May 21, 2014


Charles and David Koch have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to bring their libertarian views into the mainstream. In a new book, Daniel Schulman looks at the roots of their ideology.

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'The Maya Rudolph Show' And What It'll Take To Bring Back Variety


Tue, May 20, 2014


The comedian's prime-time NBC special is the latest rare attempt by network TV to revive the long-dormant genre. Fresh Air's critic doesn't think it succeeded, but he encourages TV to try, try again.

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In Life And Fiction, Edward St. Aubyn Sheds The Weight Of His Past


Tue, May 20, 2014


The writer is best known for his semi-autobiographical novels about an Englishman from a posh but monstrous family. St. Aubyn's new book marks a departure.

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Louis C.K. On His 'Louie' Hiatus: 'I Wanted The Show To Feel New Again'


Mon, May 19, 2014


The comic tells Fresh Air that after Season 3, he "aggressively forgot the show existed for a few months." Then he got back to work. Louie is now in its fourth season.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Glenn Greenwald, 'Godzilla' And Todd Barry


Sat, May 17, 2014


Greenwald says he "erred on the side of excess caution" when writing about Edward Snowden's NSA leaks; David Edelstein reviews the latest Godzilla; and Barry tries a new stand-up strategy.

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'Godzilla': A Fire-Breathing Behemoth Returns To The Big Screen


Fri, May 16, 2014


In the Japanese original, he was a thinly disguised symbol of the atom bomb, but in later films he fought other giant monsters and even space aliens. The latest Godzilla is directed by Gareth Edwards.

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In 1970, Miles Davis Played Four Sets For A New Audience


Fri, May 16, 2014


That June, Miles Davis played four nights at the New York rock palace Fillmore East. Those performances are now out in full for the first time.

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Making It In The Big Leagues Was A 'Long Shot' For Catcher Mike Piazza


Fri, May 16, 2014


In his memoir, the catcher opens up about getting drafted in the 62nd round, his feud with Roger Clemens and what it's like to go into retirement. Leaving the game, he says, was "like a small death."

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Former Ambassador To Russia: Putin Has No Master Plan For Ukraine


Thu, May 15, 2014


Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia from January 2012 to February 2014, says, "I've never seen [Putin] devote a speech to the necessity of reuniting Crimea with Russia. That came only recently."

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Greenwald On NSA Leaks: 'We've Erred On The Side Of Excess Caution'


Wed, May 14, 2014


Journalist Glenn Greenwald says he and his team weighed the public's interest against the potential harm to innocent people when deciding how many of Edward Snowden's leaked documents to make public.

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Ray LaMontagne Finds The Bright Side On 'Supernova'


Tue, May 13, 2014


The achievement of Supernova is that, five albums in, LaMontagne hasn't settled into a formula or a fall-back recurring mood. Here, the singer-songwriter explores a sunny, psychedelic side.

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'Good Doctor' Puts Past Medical Practices Under An Ethical Microscope


Tue, May 13, 2014


In a new book, bioethicist and internist Barron Lerner recalls how he came to question some of his father's medical practices — practices that were common among many doctors of that generation.

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'Frontline' Doc Explores How Sept. 11 Created Today's NSA


Mon, May 12, 2014


PBS looks at the origins of the agency's surveillance program and the extraordinary steps top government officials took to give it legal cover and keep it hidden.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Sam Baker And Roz Chast


Sat, May 10, 2014


A musician finds grace in the wake of destruction and a cartoonist reflects on caring for aging parents.

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'Penny Dreadful' Is Wonderful, But 'Rosemary's Baby' Is Dreadful


Fri, May 09, 2014


Critic David Bianculli reviews the two new TV programs in the horror genre competing for viewers and attention: NBC's modern-day remake of Rosemary's Baby and Showtime's Victorian Penny Dreadful.

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'God's Pocket' Is Horrifying, Humanist And Heartbreaking


Fri, May 09, 2014


Many people will find God's Pocket depressing, but once you get past the despair and carnage it's full of life. In one of his last film roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as hapless Mickey Scarpato.

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Marc Maron: A Life Fueled By 'Panic And Dread'


Fri, May 09, 2014


The comedian turned his life around when he started "WTF with Marc Maron" out of his garage in 2009. He has parlayed the popularity of the podcast into a new television show called Maron.

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Two Italys Take A Road Trip In 'Il Sorpasso'


Thu, May 08, 2014


The 1962 comic drama follows two young men: one who smacks of Italy's joyless '50s and one who embodies the prosperity and recklessness of the '60s. The film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

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A Cartoonist's Funny, Heartbreaking Take On Caring For Aging Parents


Thu, May 08, 2014


In Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast combines text, cartoons, sketches and photos to describe her interactions with her parents during the last years of their lives.

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'Hill Street Blues' Created Two Eras For TV Drama: Before And After


Wed, May 07, 2014


In 1981, NBC presented a new police series that went on to make TV history. Hill Street Blues has just been released on DVD in its entirety for the first time.

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From Poker Amateur To World Series Competitor In 'The Noble Hustle'


Wed, May 07, 2014


Colson Whitehead's new book was born of an assignment to write about the World Series of Poker for Grantland. It's a sharp observational tale of the game, those who play it and how it changed him.

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Sam Baker: Finding Grace In The Wake Of Destruction


Tue, May 06, 2014


In 1986, a bomb planted by the Peruvian terrorist group Shining Path exploded in the luggage rack above Sam Baker. Somehow, during his long recovery, songs focused on empathy started coming to him.

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In 'Hotel Florida,' Three Couples Chronicle The Spanish Civil War


Mon, May 05, 2014


Biographer Amanda Vaill's new book delves deeply into the lives of journalists like Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, whose documenting of the war helped shape public perception.

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tUnE-yArDs: Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing


Mon, May 05, 2014


On Nikki Nack, Merrill Garbus worries over the notion that she's just an accumulation of her influences, and she fights back wonderfully.

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Todd Barry's New Stand-Up Strategy: 'Does Anyone Want To Talk To Me?'


Mon, May 05, 2014


Last year, the comedian teamed up with Louis C.K. to film a tour in which all he did was crowd work, or engage the audience in improvised conversations.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Alan Cumming, 'Godzilla' And Matthew Weiner


Sat, May 03, 2014


Cumming is starring in Cabaret for a third time, critic John Powers considers the movie monster and Mad Men's creator reflects on the end of Don Draper's journey.

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'Ida': A Coming-Of-Age Story With An Eerie Luster


Fri, May 02, 2014


Polish-born director Pawel Pawlikowski's new film centers on an orphan who learns the secret of her past when she's on the brink of becoming a nun.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers British Actor Bob Hoskins


Fri, May 02, 2014


Hoskins, who played a human detective in a world of cartoon characters in the acclaimed movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, died this week after contracting pneumonia. He was 71 years old.

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Review: Drummer Billy Hart's 'One Is The Other'


Fri, May 02, 2014


Hart has recorded hundreds of albums, backing, among many others, pianist Herbie Hancock. But he sometimes records under his own name too, especially now that he has a well-seasoned quartet.

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The Making Of 'Godzilla,' Japan's Favorite 'Mon-Star'


Fri, May 02, 2014


Steve Ryfle is the author of a book about the making of the film and its many sequels. He spoke to Fresh Air in 2004, on the film's 50th anniversary.

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Movie Monsters, Monster Movies And Why 'Godzilla' Endures


Fri, May 02, 2014


Unlike Jaws and Alien, whose creatures are soulless things to be destroyed, Godzilla resonates because of something that once defined the best monster movies — a sense of compassion for the monster.

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The Animals: The British Invasion That Wasn't


Thu, May 01, 2014


Largely ignored today, the rough-and-tumble quintet from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne gets reassessed in a new box set, titled The Mickie Most Years & More.

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'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner On The End Of Don Draper's Journey


Thu, May 01, 2014


Weiner is currently writing and shooting the show's final episodes. He tells Fresh Air, "I'm going to be leaving these characters in a place where they belong."

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At 90, 'Fiddler' Lyricist Tells His Story


Wed, Apr 30, 2014


"Any successful lyricist has to be part playwright and has to be able to put himself into the minds and the hearts and the souls of the characters," Sheldon Harnick tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Exploring 'What We Left Behind' In Iraq


Tue, Apr 29, 2014


New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins finds an increasingly authoritarian prime minister — Nouri al-Maliki — sectarian violence, and concern for the future. Iraq holds parliamentary elections Wednesday.

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For Alan Cumming, Life Is (Once Again) A Cabaret


Mon, Apr 28, 2014


This is the third time Cumming has starred in the musical. He talks about the new production — everything from his costume (which he calls a "Wonder Bra" for men) to the darker themes of the show.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Seth Meyers And Hari Kondabolu


Sat, Apr 26, 2014


Seth Meyers talks about leaving Saturday Night Live to take over Late Night from Jimmy Fallon. And Hari Kondabolu describes his career path from immigrant-rights organizer to comedian.

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In 'Locke,' A Man's Life Unravels En Route To London


Fri, Apr 25, 2014


Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is the only person the audience sees in this daring film by Steven Knight. Viewers spend an hour and a half in the car with him, on a solo drive from Birmingham to London.

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A Poetry Reading: 'To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like A Death'


Fri, Apr 25, 2014


Fresh Air's classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz published a poem about friendship and loss on Poets.org.

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Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco: 'I Finally Felt Like I Was Home'


Fri, Apr 25, 2014


Blanco, who read his poem "One Today" at Obama's second inauguration, is the first immigrant, Latino and openly gay poet chosen to read at an inauguration.

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Poet Marie Howe On 'What The Living Do' After Loss


Fri, Apr 25, 2014


"Poetry holds the knowledge that we are alive and that we know we're going to die," Howe says.

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Tyler Hicks Tells The Story Behind His Pulitzer-Winning Nairobi Mall Photos


Thu, Apr 24, 2014


The New York Times photojournalist happened to be nearby when Islamist militants launched an attack on shoppers inside an upscale Kenyan mall — he rushed inside and took photos as the event unfolded.

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For Jessica Lea Mayfield, Sometimes Sanity Is The Better Option


Wed, Apr 23, 2014


Make My Head Sing... is an album of contradictions. It's full of unreliable narrators who sometimes revel in jealousy, willful insanity and drugs, even as her voice and the music suggest otherwise.

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Seth Meyers' 'Late Night' Challenge: What To Do With His Hands


Wed, Apr 23, 2014


Meyers left a dream job hosting Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update to take over Late Night from Jimmy Fallon. Meyers says not having a mic in hand — like he did in standup — took some adjusting.

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For Comic Hari Kondabolu, Explaining The Joke IS The Joke


Mon, Apr 21, 2014


Many comedians think that explaining jokes ruins jokes, but Hari Kondabolu doesn't mind. Especially when it comes to jokes about race and ethnicity, he's willing to explain until everyone gets it.

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'Missing Microbes,' 'The Both,' And Mike Judge's 'Silicon Valley'


Sat, Apr 19, 2014


Dr. Martin Blaser explains why modern medicine may not be doing your microbiome any favors. Aimee Mann and Ted Leo team up to become the duo "The Both." And Mike Judge pokes fun at programmers.

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Undead Hipsters And An Abstract Alien Star In Two Arty Horror Pics


Fri, Apr 18, 2014


Every so often an arthouse director dips a toe into the horror genre and you realize vampires and space aliens are subjects too rich to be the property of schlockmeisters, says critic David Edelstein.

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'Inside Amy Schumer': It's Not Just Sex Stuff


Fri, Apr 18, 2014


Amy Schumer's Comedy Central special was called Mostly Sex Stuff but her comedy is about more than that. In her stand-up and her show Inside Amy Schumer, she tackles racism, awkward moments and more.

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A Duo's Debut Album: A Collaboration From 'The Both'


Thu, Apr 17, 2014


Aimee Mann and Ted Leo began performing together in 2012, when Leo was Mann's opening act. Mann began joining Leo onstage during his set. Their debut album is "The Both."

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'Bintel Brief' And 'Hellfighters': American Stories, Powerfully Illustrated


Thu, Apr 17, 2014


Critic Maureen Corrigan recommends two graphic novels — one about a Yiddish advice column in the early 1900s and another about a regiment of African-American soldiers who fought during World War I.

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'Silicon Valley' Asks: Is Your Startup Really Making The World Better?


Thu, Apr 17, 2014


Mike Judge's HBO sitcom pokes fun at programmers hoping to hit it rich. It's not the first time Judge has satirized the workplace: His 1999 cult film Office Space explored desk-job-induced ennui.

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Exploring Life's Incurable Soiledness With The Father Of Italian Noir


Wed, Apr 16, 2014


A crackling new translation of Giorgio Scerbanenco's crime novel Private Venus has just been released. Critic John Powers read it in a single sitting.

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Edward Snowden: From 'Geeky' Dropout To NSA Leaker


Wed, Apr 16, 2014


What motivated the former NSA contractor to divulge carefully guarded NSA secrets? A new Vanity Fair article takes a look back at the "kid from the Maryland suburbs."

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FX's 'Fargo' Is Neither Remake Nor Sequel


Tue, Apr 15, 2014


The cable network premieres a new drama series tonight. It's called Fargo, and has the same title as the 1996 Coen Brothers movie. Critic David Bianculli says it's very definitely a wonderful show in that same wacky spirit – but it's just as important to note what this new Fargo is not. It's not a remake — and it's not a sequel.

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Pakistan, The Taliban And The Real 'Enemy' Of The Afghanistan War


Tue, Apr 15, 2014


In a new book, New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall offers new information about how Pakistan has helped the Taliban in Afghanistan and may have helped hide Osama bin Laden.

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Modern Medicine May Not Be Doing Your Microbiome Any Favors


Mon, Apr 14, 2014


In Missing Microbes, Dr. Martin Blaser argues that the overuse of antibiotics, as well as now-common practices like C-sections, may be messing with gut microbes.

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'Nurse Jackie,' 'Mad Men' And 'Frozen'


Sat, Apr 12, 2014


Edie Falco discusses sobriety, The Sopranos, and Nurse Jackie's self-medication. We tell you everything we're allowed to about Mad Men, and we talk princesses with the songwriters behind "Let It Go."

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Without Giving Too Much Away, Here's What We Can Say About 'Mad Men'


Fri, Apr 11, 2014


The AMC period drama returns Sunday, with the usual shroud of secrecy that makes it difficult — but not impossible — to review. Fresh Air critic David Bianculli does his best.

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Colbert Moves Into Letterman's Coveted Late Night Spot


Fri, Apr 11, 2014


CBS announced Thursday that the spot held by David Letterman for 21 years will go to Stephen Colbert.

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At Last, David O. Russell Is Making The Films He Was Meant To Make


Fri, Apr 11, 2014


David O. Russell, director of American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, first spoke with Terry Gross back in 1994. In February, he told her that after 20 years, he's finally met his aspirations.

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Songwriters Behind 'Frozen' Let Go Of The Princess Mythology


Thu, Apr 10, 2014


Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez tell Terry Gross about the inspiration for "Let It Go" and a "very strong strike across the bow at all princess-myth things" song that didn't make the film.

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Edie Falco On Sobriety, The Sopranos, And Nurse Jackie's Self-Medication


Wed, Apr 09, 2014


Falco plays ER nurse Jackie Peyton, who is competent at her high-stress job but struggles with addiction. The sixth season of Nurse Jackie begins Sunday on Showtime.

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'Parenthood' Is Hard, But NBC Gets This Family Drama Right


Tue, Apr 08, 2014


Critic David Bianculli says family dramas have always been one of television's most difficult genres to do properly — without getting too sweet, too overwrought, or too predictable.

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A Nonbeliever Tries To Make Sense Of The Visions She Had As A Teen


Tue, Apr 08, 2014


Barbara Ehrenreich — a rationalist, atheist and scientist by training — has written a new memoir called Living With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything.

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Peter Matthiessen On Writing And Zen Buddhism


Mon, Apr 07, 2014


Fresh Air listens back to our 1989 interview with Snow Leopard author and Paris Review co-founder Peter Matthiessen, who died Saturday at age 86. His new novel In Paradise comes out Tuesday.

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If Jesus Never Called Himself God, How Did He Become One?


Mon, Apr 07, 2014


In How Jesus Became God, Bart Ehrman explores how a Jewish preacher from Galilee was transformed into a deity. "Jesus himself didn't call himself God and didn't consider himself God," Ehrman says.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Michael Lewis, Jon Langford, And A Housekeeping How-To


Sat, Apr 05, 2014


On a "rigged" Wall Street, milliseconds make all the difference. Jon Langford sings our impulse to destroy. And new cleaning guide that will help even with the embarrassing stains.

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HBO Fills Sunday Night Lineup With Entertaining Power Struggles


Thu, Apr 03, 2014


This week, HBO airs the season premieres of two returning series — Game of Thrones and Veep -- and launches a new series called Silicon Valley. Fresh Air's TV critic has seen them all.

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Embarrassing Stains? This Housekeeping Guide Gets That Life Is Messy


Thu, Apr 03, 2014


Jerry Seinfeld joked that if you have bloodstains on your clothes, you have bigger problems than the laundry. But Jolie Kerr helps with all the stains in a new book, My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag.

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Jon Langford Sings Our Impulse To Destroy


Wed, Apr 02, 2014


The Mekons and Waco Brothers veteran often places his left-wing politics front and center in his music and his art. Here Be Monsters has a way of mixing pretty melodies with harsh criticisms.

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While Warning Of Chinese Cyberthreat, U.S. Launches Its Own Attack


Wed, Apr 02, 2014


The NSA managed to penetrate the networks of the giant Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, documents show. Journalist David Sanger says cyber-espionage is an "entirely new field of conflict."

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This Tightly Choreographed Tale Of Ambition And Ballet Will 'Astonish'


Tue, Apr 01, 2014


Maggie Shipstead tells the story of a disciplined dancer who can't make it into the spotlight. Critic Maureen Corrigan says Shipstead is "Edith Wharton with a millennial generation edge."

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On A 'Rigged' Wall Street, Milliseconds Make All The Difference


Tue, Apr 01, 2014


"The stock market is rigged," Michael Lewis says. In his new book Flash Boys, he describes how computerized transactions known as high-frequency trading are creating an uneven playing field.

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Fight Sound With Sound: Grateful Dead's Arena Combat


Mon, Mar 31, 2014


In 1974, sound engineer Owsley Stanley crafted a superior live experience with an enormous conglomeration of amps and speakers called the Wall of Sound. Dave's Picks Volume 9 captures this era.

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Son Of A Secret Smuggler Digs Up The Truth About His Dad


Mon, Mar 31, 2014


Tony Dokoupil's father was once busted for distributing enough marijuana "to roll a joint for every college-age person in America." In The Last Pirate, Dokoupil reflects on his dad's time as a dealer.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Bryan Cranston, 'Redeployment' And A New Yorker Cartoonist


Sat, Mar 29, 2014


Cranston reinvents himself post-Breaking Bad; former Marine Phil Klay explores his Iraq experience through short stories; Bob Mankoff says humor is both a creative and a cognitive process.

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In 'Noah,' Earth And The Bible Get A Computer-Generated Reboot


Fri, Mar 28, 2014


Darren Aronofsky's latest film is a big-budget Bible story called, simply, Noah. Russell Crowe plays the title character, and the movie also features Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson.

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'The Good Wife' Delivers A Game-Changing Stunner


Fri, Mar 28, 2014


Last Sunday, the CBS drama delivered something major and unexpected. If you don't know what happened, and don't wish to, you may not want to listen, but Fresh Air's critic has a lot to say about it.

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'The Fall Of The House Of Dixie' Built A New U.S.


Fri, Mar 28, 2014


In a his book, historian Bruce Levine says that from the destruction of the South emerged an entirely new country, making the Civil War equivalent to a second American Revolution.

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From Walter White To LBJ, Bryan Cranston Is A Master Of Transformation


Thu, Mar 27, 2014


While Breaking Bad fans were watching him portray Walt in the series' final episodes, Cranston was already reinventing himself — playing Lyndon B. Johnson in the play All the Way.

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'Redeployment' Explores Iraq War's Physical And Psychic Costs


Wed, Mar 26, 2014


In his short story collection, former Marine Phil Klay takes his experience in Iraq and clarifies it, lucidly tracing the moral, political and psychological curlicues of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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'Sleep Donation': A Dark, Futuristic Lullaby For Insomniacs


Wed, Mar 26, 2014


Karen Russell's new book imagines a mysterious insomnia epidemic so serious that many are dying from lack of sleep. But the cure — sleep donations from babies — is hard to swallow.

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'Thief' Delivers An Unfiltered Depiction Of Life In Lagos


Tue, Mar 25, 2014


Teju Cole's latest book describes a young New York doctor's visit back to his Nigerian hometown, where he encounters a Clockwork Orange world of misery and corruption.

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How Crimea's Annexation Plays To Russians' Soviet Nostalgia


Tue, Mar 25, 2014


For those who viewed the end of the Soviet Union as a tragedy, Crimea was a chance to showcase Russia's strength. Now Russia may have changed its relationship with the outside world for years to come.

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After A Painful Year, Bud Powell's Triumpant 1953 Return


Mon, Mar 24, 2014


On Feb. 5, 1953, Powell was uncommunicative face to face at the New York jazz club Birdland. But when he sat at the keys, it was a whole other story.

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New Yorker Cartoon Editor Explores What Makes Us Get It


Mon, Mar 24, 2014


Humor is both a creative and a cognitive process, says Bob Mankoff, who has contributed cartoons to The New Yorker since 1977. His memoir is called How About Never — Is Never Good For You?

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'Blood Will Out,' An Opera Powerhouse And A Reading


Sat, Mar 22, 2014


Author Walter Kirn explores the depths of Clark Rockefeller's deception, mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick reflects on her career and Lloyd Schwartz shares a poem about friendship and loss.

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'Nymphomaniac': Chasing Sex, But Only On Her Terms


Fri, Mar 21, 2014


Charlotte Gainsbourg and newcomer Stacy Martin anchor Lars von Trier's four-hour inquiry into the nature of impulse and desire.

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Criminologist Believes Violent Behavior Is Biological


Fri, Mar 21, 2014


Adrian Raine argues that violent behavior has biological roots just like depression or schizophrenia. This raises questions about treatment, accountability and punishment, including the death penalty.

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Sara Evans: Country Power Ballads With A Punch


Thu, Mar 20, 2014


Surrounded on the charts by younger men and their big hits about drinking and partying, Sara Evans' hit-single success of Slow Me Down's title song all the more heartening.

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'Test Kitchen': Have Your (Gluten-Free) Cake, And Love Eating It Too


Thu, Mar 20, 2014
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America's Test Kitchen knows how to make gluten-free food taste just as good as the regular stuff. The ATK team tells Fresh Air about the best packaged pasta, and the secrets of gluten-free baking.

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When Your Best Friend Is A Star — And You're Her Minion


Wed, Mar 19, 2014


The British import Doll & Em is another inside-Hollywood comedy from HBO; Emily Mortimer and her real-life friend Dolly Wells play outsize versions of themselves.

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For Opera Powerhouse Dolora Zajick, 'Singing Is Connected To The Body'


Wed, Mar 19, 2014


The mezzo-soprano discovered opera as a 22-year-old pre-med student. She took "a crack at a singing career" and has been at the Metropolitan Opera for 25 years. Now she's helping emerging singers.

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What U.S. Learned From 'Heathen School' Wasn't Part Of The Lesson Plan


Tue, Mar 18, 2014


The 19th century Connecticut school sought to convert young men from Hawaii, China, India and the Native American nations and then send them home as Christian missionaries. It did not go as planned.

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Jazz Composer Tries Something New With 'A Trumpet In The Morning'


Tue, Mar 18, 2014


Musician Marty Ehrlich doesn't play much on his new album; instead, he conducts an ensemble that performs his compositions. He tells Fresh Air about his first album devoted to his orchestral music.

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Cannibals And Colonialism: Solving The Mystery Of Michael Rockefeller


Tue, Mar 18, 2014


The son of one of America's wealthiest families disappeared off the island of New Guinea in 1961. Writer Carl Hoffman explains how he thinks Rockefeller died and why the truth was kept hidden.

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Comedian David Brenner


Mon, Mar 17, 2014


Brenner appeared on The Tonight Show more than 150 times, often as the substitute host. The comic died Saturday at 78. He spoke to Fresh Air in 1990.

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Author Penelope Lively Shares 'The View From Old Age'


Mon, Mar 17, 2014


In Dancing Fish And Ammonites, the British writer reflects on growing older. She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about adjusting to her husband's death and losing the desire for new things.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Wes Anderson, Driverless Cars And 'Overwhelmed'


Sat, Mar 15, 2014


The filmmaker discusses his latest project, The Grand Budapest Hotel; the once-futuristic concept is closer to becoming a reality; and author Brigid Schulte looks at the pressures on working moms.

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NBC Hostage Drama 'Crisis' Takes Viewers On A Rare TV Trip


Fri, Mar 14, 2014


The show's season-long crime story follows a busload of kids whose field trip gets detoured by kidnappers. Critic David Bianculli says it could wind up being just as good — and intense-- as 24.

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In Digestion: Mary Roach Explains What Happens To The Food We Eat


Fri, Mar 14, 2014


With books like Stiff and Spook, Roach has built a reputation for making unpalatable subjects entertaining. In Gulp, she tackles the human digestive system, from the mouth on down.

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For Sandy Hook Killer's Father, Tragedy Outweighs Love For His Son


Thu, Mar 13, 2014


Peter Lanza opened up to writer Andrew Solomon about Adam's life and how he tried to help him. Solomon says, "[Peter] would've liked to save the world and himself from the horror of what happened."

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Box Set Illustrates Clifford Jordan's Impeccable Taste In Musicians


Wed, Mar 12, 2014


Starting in the late 1960s, the jazz saxophonist produced a series of recordings that came out on the musicians-owned Strata-East label. Those seven albums are now collected in a box set.

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A Poetry Reading: 'To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like A Death'


Wed, Mar 12, 2014


Fresh Air's classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz recently published a poem about friendship and loss on Poets.org.

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Wes Anderson: 'We Made A Pastiche' Of Eastern Europe's Greatest Hits


Wed, Mar 12, 2014


The Grand Budapest Hotel takes place in the fictional European country of Zubrowka on the eve of war. Anderson shot much of the film in Germany, drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscape.

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Angel Olsen: A Voice Of Confounding Power


Tue, Mar 11, 2014


Olsen has often been called a folk singer, but Ken Tucker says her new album — her first with a backing band — takes her music into an unclassifiable realm.

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For Working Moms, Key To Balance May Lie In Elusive Leisure Time


Tue, Mar 11, 2014


If waiting for help when your car breaks down doesn't strike you as a leisurely activity, it may be time to reconsider. A new book looks at time management challenges of being a working parent.

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'Blood Will Out' Reveals Secrets Of A Murderous Master Manipulator


Mon, Mar 10, 2014


Author Walter Kirn thought he was befriending an eccentric Rockefeller, but his pal turned out to be an impostor wanted for murder. Kirn's new book explores the depths of that deception.

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Fresh Air Weekend: WWII Filmmakers, Kevin Young And Solitary Confinement


Sat, Mar 08, 2014


A look at how the military and Hollywood teamed up during World War II; poet Kevin Young says his new book has a blues sensibility; and how California convicts organized a statewide hunger strike.

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'Grand Budapest Hotel': Kitsch, Cameos And A Gloriously Stylized Europe


Fri, Mar 07, 2014


Wes Anderson's new feature takes place at a resort hotel, between World Wars I and II. Fresh Air's critic says the visuals are so witty they transcend camp, but the dialogue isn't quite at that level.

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Fresh Air Remembers Surgeon And 'How We Die' Author Sherwin Nuland


Fri, Mar 07, 2014


Nuland's book won a National Book Award and impacted the national debate about end-of-life care. He died on Monday at 83. Nuland spoke to Fresh Air in 1994.

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'Americanah' Author Explains 'Learning' To Be Black In The U.S.


Fri, Mar 07, 2014


When Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie moved from Nigeria to the U.S., she was suddenly confronted with what it meant to be a person of color in America. Her novel explores race in contemporary America.

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Pharrell Williams: Just Exhilaratingly Happy


Thu, Mar 06, 2014


To hear G I R L, you'd think Pharrell's world consisted of grooving on catchy beats and flirting with women. It's a lightweight image that draws gravitas from his prolific work ethic.

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How 4 Inmates Launched A Statewide Hunger Strike From Solitary


Thu, Mar 06, 2014


The California convicts overcame the extreme isolation of their imprisonment to organize a 30,000-prisoner-strong movement. Their goal? To end long-term incarceration in solitary confinement.

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'Schmuck' Revisits The Golden Age Of Radio, And A Bygone Manhattan


Wed, Mar 05, 2014


Ross Klavan's novel follows two radio sidekicks in midcentury New York: golden-voiced straight man Ted Fox, who has an eye for a good-looking dame, and funnyman Jerry Elkin, a veteran of World War II.

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The Case For Tammany Hall Being On The Right Side Of History


Wed, Mar 05, 2014


In a new book, Terry Golway takes a sympathetic view of Manhattan's infamous political machine. He says, "Tammany Hall was there for the poor immigrant who was otherwise friendless in New York."

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By The Time Your Car Goes Driverless, You Won't Know The Difference


Tue, Mar 04, 2014


The once-futuristic concept is closer than ever to becoming a reality. Parallel parking? Let the car find the perfect approach. Squeezing into a tight space? Hop out and use your smartphone.

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Fresh Air Remembers Literary Biographer Justin Kaplan


Tue, Mar 04, 2014


Kaplan died Sunday at 88. His biography of Mark Twain won a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He also edited two editions of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Kaplan spoke to Fresh Air in 1992.

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Kevin Young On Blues, Poetry And 'Laughing To Keep From Crying'


Tue, Mar 04, 2014


The poet describes his new book — about the death of his father and the birth of his son — as having a blues sensibility. "There are moments of humor even in the sorrow," he says.

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Chuck Mead: Gleefully Sinister Country Serenades


Mon, Mar 03, 2014


Mead hooks the listener, eager to show us the bleak side of what seemed like a bright scenario. That's the way he operates during much of Free State Serenade.

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During World War II, Even Filmmakers Reported For Duty


Mon, Mar 03, 2014


A new book looks at how the military and Hollywood directors teamed up during the war. The films they made helped show Americans what was at stake, and served as evidence during the Nuremberg Trials.

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Fresh Air Weekend: The Cosmos, Harold Ramis, And Protecting Your Data Online


Sat, Mar 01, 2014


Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why the cosmos shouldn't make you feel small. Critic John Powers remembers Harold Ramis. And if you think you're anonymous online, think again.

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Liam Neeson's Action Chops Take Flight In 'Non-Stop'


Fri, Feb 28, 2014


Neeson became a bankable action hero in 2008 after the thriller Taken. Now almost 62, he's still getting out of tight corners with his fists. His new film unfolds on a transatlantic flight.

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A New 'Testament' Told From Mary's Point Of View


Fri, Feb 28, 2014


In The Testament of Mary, Colm Toibin imagines Mary's life 20 years after her son's crucifixion, what she might have done to ease her son's suffering. (Originally broadcast on Nov. 28, 2012.)

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Remembering Harold Ramis, Master Of The 'Smart Dumb-Movie'


Thu, Feb 27, 2014


Best known for Animal House, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day, Ramis died Monday at 69. Critic John Powers says Ramis was like a favorite uncle who spices up the family reunion by spiking the punch.

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains Why The Cosmos Shouldn't Make You Feel Small


Thu, Feb 27, 2014


The astrophysicist says that participating in a "great unfolding of a cosmic story" should make us feel large, not small. This spring, Tyson hosts a TV series called Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey.

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These Stories Consider Solitude, With Echoes Of Emily Dickinson


Wed, Feb 26, 2014


It's been 15 years since acclaimed writer Lorrie Moore has brought out a new short story collection. Bark has some clunkers and some keepers, but critic Maureen Corrigan says it was worth the wait.

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In Benghazi, U.S. Intelligence Wasn't Focused On 'Homegrown Militants'


Wed, Feb 26, 2014


New York Times correspondent David Kirkpatrick spent months on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, trying to get to the bottom of the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate.

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Still 'Out To Lunch' 50 Years Later


Tue, Feb 25, 2014


Eric Dolphy's creativity was exploding early in 1964, and he was finding more players who could keep up. Out to Lunch is free and focused, dissonant and catchy, wide open and swinging all at once.

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Harold Ramis On Working At 'Playboy' And Writing 'Animal House'


Tue, Feb 25, 2014


The comedy actor, writer and director had co-written and planned to star in the long-awaited Ghostbusters III — but did not get the chance. He died Monday in Chicago at age 69.

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During World War I, Germany Unleashed 'Terrorist Cell In America'


Tue, Feb 25, 2014


In Dark Invasion, Howard Blum explores the campaign of sabotage that Germany inflicted on an unsuspecting U.S. As ships and factories blew up, "no one really suspected a spy network," he says.

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Vertical Scratchers: Slashed Chords, Fractured Poetry


Mon, Feb 24, 2014


Daughter of Everything is a superb pop album with one foot in the past and another in the future.

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If You Think You're Anonymous Online, Think Again


Mon, Feb 24, 2014


In Dragnet Nation, Julia Angwin describes an oppressive blanket of electronic data surveillance. "There's a price you pay for living in the modern world," she says. "You have to share your data."

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Fresh Air Weekend: David O. Russell, 'Last Of The Unjust,' And 'Sonic Wonders'


Sat, Feb 22, 2014


At last, Russell is making the films "he was meant to make." For a rabbi who worked with the Nazis, is judgment "unjust"? And we follow one man's quest to find the "sonic wonders of the world."

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'Wind Rises' Is Exquisite, And Likely To Be Hayao Miyazaki's Last


Fri, Feb 21, 2014


The new film from the acclaimed Japanese animator spans 30 years and centers on a young man who dreams of designing the perfect airplane in the early 1930s. (Recommended)

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Matthew McConaughey, Getting Serious Again


Fri, Feb 21, 2014


The leading man known for his good looks and charm has lately been taking on more serious roles in films such as Bernie, Magic Mike and Mud. We'll listen back to excerpts from an April 2013 interview.

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Director Alexander Payne On Mining Every Film For Comic Potential


Fri, Feb 21, 2014


Payne says he first read Nebraska — about a man who is showing signs of dementia — as a comedy. We'll listen back to an interview with Payne originally broadcast on Dec. 2, 2013.

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At Last, David O. Russell Is Making The Films He Was Meant To Make


Thu, Feb 20, 2014


David O. Russell, director of American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, first spoke with Terry Gross back in 1994. On Thursday, he tells her that after 20 years, he's finally met his aspirations.

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For A Rabbi Who Worked With The Nazis, Is Judgment 'Unjust'?


Wed, Feb 19, 2014


Claude Lanzmann's documentary profiles a Viennese rabbi put to work in a Czech concentration camp. Although Benjamin Murmelstein was himself not a free man, he was despised by fellow Jewish prisoners.

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One Man's Quest To Find The 'Sonic Wonders Of The World'


Wed, Feb 19, 2014


Acoustic engineer Trevor Cox has traveled around the globe to hear whispering arches and singing sand dunes. Closer to home, he can also explain why your singing sounds better in the shower.

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With Humor And A Nod To History, Fallon Takes Over 'The Tonight Show'


Tue, Feb 18, 2014


On Monday night, Jimmy Fallon paid homage to 60 years of Tonight Show history while claiming his own place in line. "I just want to do the best I can and take care of the show for a while," he said. "If you guys let me stick around long enough maybe I'll get the hang of it."

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Teens Rehearse For Adulthood In Wolitzer's 'Interestings'


Tue, Feb 18, 2014


Meg Wolitzer's novel is about lifelong friendship tinged with jealousy. It begins at a summer camp in 1974 and follows a group of friends through middle age. Wolitzer says her teen years were a rehearsal for her adult life and that today she is "different" but "in the same shell."

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In 'Whole Gritty City,' Marching Bands Vie For Coveted Mardi Gras Spots


Tue, Feb 18, 2014


"New Orleans buries too many of its young," Wynton Marsalis says in the documentary's introduction. The Whole Gritty City, airing Saturday on CBS, follows young students who take refuge in New Orleans marching bands.

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A Closer Look At How Corporations Influence Congress


Tue, Feb 18, 2014


Eric Lipton, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, has been writing about how corporations work in opaque ways to shape debates. He also explains the revolving door between Congress and lobby groups, and how non-profit think tanks aren't always what they seem.

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Don't Know What To Do With Your Life? Neither Did Thoreau


Mon, Feb 17, 2014


A new biography reveals that young Thoreau took quite a few detours on his path to Walden. A gossipy young man who loved eating popcorn, ice skating and listening to his music box, schoolmates and neighbors found him standoffish and regarded his fascination with plants and Indian relics as downright odd.

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In 'Passage,' Caro Mines LBJ's Changing Political Roles


Mon, Feb 17, 2014


The fourth volume in Robert Caro's monumental biography of Lyndon Johnson is The Passage of Power; it explores the period between 1958 and 1964 during which Johnson went from powerful Senate majority leader to powerless vice president to — suddenly — president of the United States. Originally broadcast on May 13, 2013.

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'Extreme Medicine,' Lake Street Dive, 'When We Get Home'


Sat, Feb 15, 2014


Dr. Kevin Fong practices "extreme medicine" from deep sea to outer space. Lake Street Dive comes out with a new album called Bad Self Portraits. And a military couple describes their long recovery in Plenty of Time When We Get Home.

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At 77, Robert Redford Goes Back To His Roots


Fri, Feb 14, 2014


Redford says filming All Is Lost was a "pure cinematic experience — the way films used to be." He talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about how it's been "sort of weird" being known for his good looks, and about how he nearly wasn't cast in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (Originally broadcast on Dec. 12, 2013.)

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In 'Whole Gritty City,' Marching Bands Vie For Coveted Mardi Gras Spots


Thu, Feb 13, 2014


"New Orleans buries too many of its young," Wynton Marsalis says in the documentary's introduction. The Whole Gritty City, airing Saturday on CBS, follows young students who take refuge in New Orleans marching bands.

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A Closer Look At How Corporations Influence Congress


Thu, Feb 13, 2014


Eric Lipton, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, has been writing about how corporations work in opaque ways to shape debates. He also explains the revolving door between Congress and lobby groups, and how non-profit think tanks aren't always what they seem.

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In Session: Frank Wess' 'Magic 201' Offers One Last Lesson


Tue, Feb 11, 2014


There's something tender and specific about the ways elders like Frank Wess shaped their notes.

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Practicing 'Extreme Medicine,' From Deep Sea To Outer Space


Tue, Feb 11, 2014


In his new book, Dr. Kevin Fong explores how humans survive extremes of heat, cold, outer space and deep sea. "We're still exploring the human body and what medicine can do in the same way that the great explorers of the 20th century and every age before them explored the world," he says.

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Hangin' Tuff: Eric Church Takes A Chance On 'The Outsiders'


Mon, Feb 10, 2014


Church uses the power he's accrued from hit records to make exactly the kind of album he wants.

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For Military Couples, It's A Long Recovery 'When We Get Home'


Mon, Feb 10, 2014


Kayla Williams and Brian McGough met in Iraq in 2003. Williams' new memoir, Plenty of Time When We Get Home, describes their homecoming after McGough suffered physical and cognitive injuries in an IED explosion.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Tim Gunn, 'Borgen' And The Parenting Paradox


Sat, Feb 08, 2014


Project Runway's Tim Gunn "makes it work," John Powers says Borgen is Denmark's West Wing (but better), and Jennifer Senior explores the trials and triumphs of parenting in her book All Joy and No Fun.

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Masterpieces In Peril, 'Monuments Men' Protects, But Also Panders


Fri, Feb 07, 2014


George Clooney's film tells the largely true story of a World War II squad of art experts assigned to protect European masterworks from Nazi theft and Allied bombardment. Critic David Edelstein says the film is engaging and earnest, but a little formulaic.

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Fresh Air Celebrates The 50th Anniversary Of The Beatles' Arrival


Fri, Feb 07, 2014


On Feb. 7, 1964, the Beatles touched down at JFK airport. To mark the day, we'll listen back to a 1995 interview with Ringo Starr and a 2001 interview with Paul McCartney.

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Before He Joined Congress, A South African Janitor's Disco Past


Thu, Feb 06, 2014


Penny Penny put down his broom and picked up a mic for his 1994 debut, now reissued.

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Author: When It Comes To High-Speed Internet, U.S. 'Falling Way Behind'


Thu, Feb 06, 2014


The U.S. needs to start treating the Internet like electricity or railroads, law professor and author Susan Crawford says. "We can't create a level playing field for all Americans or indeed compete on the world stage without having some form of government involvement," she says.

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Triumph Of The Bookworms: Two Novels To Cure Your Winter Blues


Wed, Feb 05, 2014


Alena, a reworking of Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca, takes place in the contemporary art world, while The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles is a "delicious French romp." Critic Maureen Corrigan says both novels are "exquisite vehicles of escape fiction."

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Tim Gunn: On And Off The Runway, 'Life Is A Big Collaboration'


Wed, Feb 05, 2014


"Make it work," the fashion guru tells designers on Project Runway. But life hasn't always "worked" for Gunn. He talks with Terry Gross about being bullied, being gay in the '60s and '70s, and how his mother thinks he should "dress more like Mitt Romney."

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'Borgen' Is Denmark's 'West Wing' (But Even Better)


Tue, Feb 04, 2014


Critic John Powers says that Borgen, a Danish TV series about a woman who unexpectedly becomes Denmark's prime minister is "irresistibly bingeable." The third and final season has just been released on DVD.

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Are We Having Fun Yet? New Book Explores The Paradox Of Parenting


Tue, Feb 04, 2014


Kids can be magical and maddening. The title of Jennifer Senior's book — All Joy and No Fun — contrasts the strains of day-to-day parenting with the transcendent experience of raising a child.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman On Acting: An 'Exhausting' And 'Satisfying' Art


Mon, Feb 03, 2014


We listen back to interviews with Hoffman from 1999 and 2008, when he told Fresh Air's Terry Gross that carrying the emotional life of a character could be "burdensome." He was found dead on Sunday at age 46.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Ann Patchett, Ray Didinger And A Country Dilemma


Sat, Feb 01, 2014


Patchett reflects on her first marriage, the sports writer looks at the myth of the "dumb" football player and Ken Tucker considers the challenge of keeping country music commercially viable.

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Midwestern Memoir Tracks 'Flyover Lives' Of Author's Forebears


Fri, Jan 31, 2014


Diane Johnson often writes about American heroines living in France, but when she began her memoir, she found herself drawn back to her native ground in America's heartland. Critic Maureen Corrigan says Flyover Lives "lets scenes and conversations speak for themselves, accruing power as they lodge in readers' minds."

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Too Much Of A Good Thing? Jane Ira Bloom's Beautiful Ballads


Fri, Jan 31, 2014


On Sixteen Sunsets, the soprano saxophonist varies and honors melody like Billie Holiday.

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Pioneer Billie Jean King Moved The Baseline For Women's Tennis


Fri, Jan 31, 2014


A PBS documentary looks at King's legacy as both a tennis champion — she has a record 20 Wimbledon titles — and the leader of a female player uprising that demanded fairer treatment and pay. She tells Fresh Air about the challenges of being a female player before there was a women's league.

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Ron 'Jaws' Jaworski On What It's Like To Play The Super Bowl


Thu, Jan 30, 2014


Jaworski spent 16 years in the NFL, most of them with the Philadelphia Eagles, the team he took to the Super Bowl in 1981. Now the former quarterback works as a football analyst for ESPN. He tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies about what it feels like to play in the big game.

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Sports Writer Ray Didinger On The Myth Of The 'Dumb' Football Player


Thu, Jan 30, 2014


Didinger, who has been covering football for decades, says there's a lot of thought that goes into successfully executing a football play. He tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, "I really don't think you can be truly a dumb guy and play this game at the NFL level."

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Don't Pigeonhole Me, Bro: New Country Albums On The Borderline


Wed, Jan 29, 2014


Both Jon Pardi and Jason Eady have to confront the dilemma of all young country musicians: how to navigate the pop current that keeps country music commercially viable while connecting to a past that fewer and fewer listeners are aware of.

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How Industrial Chemical Regulation Failed West Virginia


Wed, Jan 29, 2014


For Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward, the recent chemical spill — and sometimes confusing information authorities have provided about the risks to citizens — reflect long-standing regulatory failures in the state. He says West Virginia has "basically ignored" recommendations for stricter oversight.

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Entrepreneurs Looking For 'Windfall' Cash In On Climate Change


Tue, Jan 28, 2014


A new book explores the ways melting Arctic ice yield new shipping channels, new oil and gas resources — and potential profits. Journalist McKenzie Funk delves into the "booming business of global warming" in Windfall.

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Pete Seeger Remembers Guthrie, Hopping Trains And Sharing Songs


Tue, Jan 28, 2014


Seeger believed songs were a way of binding people to a cause. He talks about fellow folk music icon Woody Guthrie and jumping railroad cars in an archival interview from 1985.

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On This Spanish Slave Ship, Nothing Was As It Seemed


Mon, Jan 27, 2014


In The Empire of Necessity, historian Greg Grandin tells the story of a slave revolt at sea. The 1805 event inspired Herman Melville's Benito Cereno, and Grandin's account of the human horror is a work of power and precision.

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'Pope And Mussolini' Tells The 'Secret History' Of Fascism And The Church


Mon, Jan 27, 2014


It's commonly thought that the Catholic Church fought heroically against the fascists in Italy. But in The Pope and Mussolini, historian David Kertzer says the church actually lent organizational strength and moral legitimacy to Mussolini's regime.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Joaquin Phoenix And A Self-Help Skeptic


Sat, Jan 25, 2014


The elusive actor tells Fresh Air about his new film, Her; his wacky 2009 David Letterman interview; and what it was like to be a child actor. And Jessica Lamb-Shapiro's new book, Promise Land, looks at what the self-help industry has to offer.

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Middle-Aged And Divorced, 'Gloria' Takes On Life's Uncertainties


Fri, Jan 24, 2014


Gloria is a new film from Chile that centers on a late-middle-aged divorced woman whose life is full of ambiguity. She's played by Paulina Garcia, who won the top acting prize — the Silver Bear — at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, where the movie was a surprise hit. It opens this week in New York and Los Angeles, and wider next month.

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Tom Hanks Is 'Captain Phillips' In High-Seas Hostage Drama


Fri, Jan 24, 2014


The film tells the true story of Richard Phillips, whose container ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. Navy SEAL sharpshooters eventually freed the captain from the small lifeboat where he was held hostage for five days. Tom Hanks stars in the film, which is directed by Paul Greengrass.

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On 'Hard Working Americans,' Songs For The Ordinary Joe


Thu, Jan 23, 2014


Todd Snider, Widespread Panic's Dave Schools and Duane Trucks perform in a new band that specializes in covering working-class songs.

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Patchett: In Bad Relationships, 'There Comes A Day When You Gotta Go'


Thu, Jan 23, 2014


Ann Patchett got married and divorced young. When she met the man who would eventually become her second husband she said: "I'll be true, I'll be faithful, I'll see you every day ... but I don't want to get married and I don't want to live together." Her new book is This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage.

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Empty Nester In 'The Woods': A Modern Dantean Journey


Thu, Jan 23, 2014


When writer Lynn Darling found herself at a turning point in her life, she sought solitude and enlightenment in the woods of Vermont. Her new memoir, Out of the Woods, describes that midlife experience. Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan calls it "a compelling story of internal exploration, as well as outward-bound adventure."

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Kenny Clarke, Inventor Of Modern Jazz Drumming, At 100


Thu, Jan 23, 2014


The drummer known as "Klook" was a founder of bebop — and a man endlessly open to possibilities.

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Not-So-Cheery Disposition: Emma Thompson On Poppins' Cranky Creator


Thu, Jan 23, 2014


When it came to turning her children's book into a movie, Thompson says, P.L. Travers was patronizing, demeaning, rude, and "reminded me of Margaret Thatcher." Thompson plays the acerbic author in Saving Mr. Banks.

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Three Protesters, One 'Square': Film Goes Inside Egypt's Revolution


Thu, Jan 23, 2014


As we approach the third anniversary of the demonstrations in Egypt, Fresh Air critic John Powers reviews a documentary that captures the story of Cairo's Tahrir Square. He says the film "is less a final reckoning than an exciting bulletin from the front lines of an unfinished revolution."

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As A Latina, Sonia Sotomayor Says, 'You Have To Work Harder'


Thu, Jan 23, 2014


The Supreme Court justice tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "In every position that I've been in, there have been naysayers who don't believe I'm qualified or who don't believe I can do the work." She has committed herself to proving those people wrong.

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Skeptic Takes A Tour Of Self-Help's 'Promise Land'


Wed, Jan 22, 2014


Despite being the daughter of a child psychologist and self-help author, Jessica Lamb-Shapiro has spent most of her life recoiling from the self-help industry. But eventually, her curiosity got the best of her. She tells Fresh Air about self-help's high- and low-brow iterations and the ways the industry helped her address her fears.

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Phoenix To Self: 'Why Am I Talking About This? ... Joaquin, Shut Up'


Tue, Jan 21, 2014


The elusive actor tells Fresh Air about his new film, Her -- but he insists he's not really that interesting. "If I was driving and I heard this, I'd change the channel," he says.

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Lafayette Gilchrist: An Old Soul, At Ease In A Modern World


Tue, Jan 21, 2014


On Gilchrist's The View From Here, go-go dance beats inform his piano the same way freight-train boogie-woogie does.

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The Politics Of Passing 1964's Civil Rights Act


Tue, Jan 21, 2014


The act, among other things, ended the era of legal segregation in public accommodations, like restaurants and hotels. This year marks the 50th anniversary of its passage. Author Todd Purdum joins Fresh Air to talk about the legislative and political battles that surrounded it.

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Hackers? Techies? What To Call San Francisco's Newcomers


Tue, Jan 21, 2014


Linguist Geoff Nunberg lives in the Mission and says young tech employees have been pouring into the neighborhood. But what to call these new residents? He says the term "techie" used to suggest a computer whiz with no social skills; now it suggests one with no social conscience.

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Book Chronicles The Building Of Roger Ailes' Fox News Empire


Tue, Jan 21, 2014


Gabriel Sherman traces the beginning of Fox News' success back to its wall-to-wall coverage of Monica Lewinsky. He says, "Ratings during the Lewinsky scandal exploded more than 400 percent, so you saw instantly that there was a market for this type of ... television." Sherman's book is called The Loudest Voice In The Room.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Roger Ailes, Rosanne Cash And Sonia Sotomayor


Sat, Jan 18, 2014


Gabriel Sherman traces the beginning of Fox News' success, Ken Tucker calls Cash's new album a timeless work of comfort and quiet joy, and the Supreme Court justice explains how, as a Latina, she had to work harder.

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Jack Ryan Gets A Makeover, And A Quick Trip To Moscow


Fri, Jan 17, 2014


Tom Clancy's wonkish spy returns in a new thriller from Kenneth Branagh, with Star Trek's Chris Pine in the title role and the director playing a menacing Russian bad guy out to bring the U.S. to its knees.

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'Klansville, U.S.A.' Chronicles The Rise And Fall Of The KKK


Fri, Jan 17, 2014


Author and sociologist David Cunningham speaks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the origins of cross burnings and white hoods, and why North Carolina had more Klan members during the height of the civil rights movement than all other Southern states combined.

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The Soul Singer Who Never Quite Made It


Wed, Jan 15, 2014


There was a time when people in the know in Memphis described James Govan as Otis Redding's natural successor. A new compilation collects some of his unreleased recordings.

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Why The GOP Is Winning The Statehouse War


Wed, Jan 15, 2014


In an increasing number of states, one party controls both chambers of the legislature and the governor's office. While both parties have contributed to the trend, the Republicans have had a lot more success with it. Reporter Nicholas Confessore credits the foresight of GOP strategists.

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Uneven But Vital, Bruce Springsteen Has 'High Hopes'


Wed, Jan 15, 2014


His 18th album is a mixed-bag assortment of covers and originals brimming with undimmed eagerness.

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Chang-rae Lee Stretches For Dystopic Drama, But Doesn't Quite Reach


Wed, Jan 15, 2014


Lee is acclaimed for his realistic and historical fiction, but he's made a foray into the futuristic sci-fi genre with a new novel called On Such a Full Sea. Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan says sometimes it's better for writers to stick closer to familiar shores.

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'What Everyone Needs To Know' About Today's Cyberthreats


Wed, Jan 15, 2014


For an extra layer of online protection, author P.W. Singer advises making your security answers something counterintuitive, like pizza.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Emma Thompson, Gary Shteyngart, 'Babylon' And 'Detective'


Sat, Jan 11, 2014


The actress takes on Mary Poppins' acerbic creator, the novelist recounts his emigration from the USSR to the U.S. and David Bianculli says two new miniseries are worth special mention — and couldn't be more different.

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Rosanne Cash: Seeking A 'Thread' Through Southern History


Fri, Jan 10, 2014


Ken Tucker says The River & The Thread is a travelogue; a timeless work of comfort and quiet joy.

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Remembering Activist Poet Amiri Baraka


Fri, Jan 10, 2014


Baraka was one of the key black literary voices of the 1960s. The political and social views that inspired his writing changed over the years, from his bohemian days as a young man in Greenwich Village to his later years as a Marxist. He spoke to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1986.

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'Invisible Woman' Charts Charles Dickens' Hidden Relationship


Fri, Jan 10, 2014


A new film explores the affair between Dickens and a young actress for whom he left his wife, but who for years never showed up in biographies of Dickens. It's the second film directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also plays Dickens.

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Julian Fellowes On The Rules Of 'Downton'


Fri, Jan 10, 2014


On the hit PBS Masterpiece series, the social rules the characters have always known are changing as the world events of the 20th century unfold. The series' creator, Julian Fellowes, says his relatives who lived through that era inspired his lasting interest in class.

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On TV This Week: 'Babylon' Has Good Fun, 'Detective' Is The Real Deal


Thu, Jan 09, 2014


Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli says two new miniseries this week are worth special mention — and couldn't be more different. The Spoils Of Babylon is a miniseries soap-opera spoof on IFC; True Detective looks like the best HBO drama since The Wire.

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The 'Pussy Riot' Arrests, And The Crackdown That Followed


Thu, Jan 09, 2014


According to Russian journalist Masha Gessen, the 2012 arrests were the start of a campaign by Vladimir Putin and his supporters against government critics. Gessen, who is also an LGBT rights advocate, recently moved to New York with her partner and their children in response to the anti-gay laws Russia passed in June.

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'You Can't Be This Furry' And Other Life Lessons From Gary Shteyngart


Tue, Jan 07, 2014


In Little Failure, the novelist recounts his emigration from the USSR to the U.S. when he was 7. For the first few years, he says, he would sit alone in the school cafeteria, talking to himself in Russian "in this gigantic fur hat and fur coat." It wasn't long before a teacher advised, "Children won't play with you if you have that much fur on."

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'Downton' Returns, And It's As Rich As Ever


Tue, Jan 07, 2014


Downton Abbey is the most popular drama in the history of public television. And when the whole of the TV universe is fragmenting, that isn't just impressive — it's almost impossible. Critic David Bianculli ponders the hit show's unlikely success.

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Fear Of Fainting, Flight And Cheese: One Man's 'Age Of Anxiety'


Tue, Jan 07, 2014


Since about age 2, Atlantic editor Scott Stossel has been "a twitchy bundle of phobias, fears and neuroses." Today, his phobias include asthenophobia, a fear of fainting; aerophobia, a fear of flying; and turophobia, a fear of cheese. He wrote his latest book to help understand and find relief from his anxious suffering.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Mark Mulcahy, Netflix And 'Getting On'


Sat, Jan 04, 2014


The songwriter behind the much-beloved "Hey Sandy" returns after eight years with Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You; Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal reflects on the online streaming and DVD rental service's bizarrely personalized microgenres; and a new HBO comedy takes place in the geriatric extended-care wing of a California hospital.

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A Critic Tours 'Echo Spring,' Home Of Beloved Boozy Writers


Fri, Jan 03, 2014


A new book by critic Olivia Laing explores the link between alcohol and writing through the commentaries of famous writers who were themselves alcoholics. Fresh Air's Maureen Corrigan calls Laing's readings "exquisite," and says she wisely avoids "any one-size-fits-all conclusions about the bond between the pen and the bottle."

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'Angry Days' Shows An America Torn Over Entering World War II


Fri, Jan 03, 2014


World War II is often thought of as a good and just war — a war the U.S. had to fight. But it wasn't that simple. Public debate was heated between interventionism, which President Roosevelt supported, and isolationism, which aviator Charles Lindbergh became an unofficial spokesman for.

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Visible And Invisible: 'Servants' Looks At Life Downstairs


Thu, Jan 02, 2014


Author Lucy Lethbridge explores the history of British servants through their diaries, letters and memoirs. She says, "What I found particularly fascinating was how ... butlers were so butlery"; the old caricature of the clever manservant and the silly master is one "butlers have appeared to play to the hilt."

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When Memphis Made A Move On Nashville's Country Monopoly


Thu, Jan 02, 2014


A new nine-hour box set, titled Sun Country Box: 1950-1959, collects Sun Records' country output.

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Netflix Built Its Microgenres By Staring Into The American Soul


Thu, Jan 02, 2014


Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal counted 76,897 microgenres on the online streaming and DVD rental service, many of which are bizarrely personalized (Violent Action Thrillers Starring Bruce Willis, Tearjerkers From The 1970s). He says the company "knows you."

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A More Reflective Leap On Elton John's 'Diving Board'


Wed, Jan 01, 2014


The pop star has a flair for the extravagant, to say the least, but his album The Diving Board is stripped down. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the "Elton John excess," his fear of sex as a young man, and how Liberace's example encouraged John to make the piano a star instrument.

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Samberg, Taccone And Schaffer: Three's Not A Lonely Island


Tue, Dec 31, 2013


As the brains behind the hip-hop parody group responsible for digital shorts like "D--- in a Box," Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer have produced some of the funniest Saturday Night Live material in recent memory. Here, they talk about comedy, Yo! MTV Raps and adolescence.

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For Key And Peele, Biracial Roots Bestow Special Comedic 'Power'


Tue, Dec 31, 2013


Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele each have a white mother and black father, and a lot of the jokes on their Comedy Central show are about race. Peele tells Fresh Air that their backgrounds allow them to do characters others would feel uncomfortable doing.

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Sales Take Center Stage: To Boost Morale, Companies Burst Into Song


Mon, Dec 30, 2013


Industrial musicals were like Broadway shows, only written and performed for corporate sales meetings or conventions. And as ridiculous as the songs were — "My bathroom, my bathroom is a private kind of place" — they were often delivered by very talented people.

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Vince Giordano: The Fresh Air Interview


Mon, Dec 30, 2013


Giordano has been obsessed with 1920s jazz since he first heard it on his grandparents' Victrola. His band the Nighthawks performs the music heard on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Our Favorite Books, TV, Movies And Music Of 2013


Sat, Dec 28, 2013


David Edelstein says it was a "miraculous year" for movies. David Bianculli says two Netflix shows this year changed the game. Maureen Corrigan says it's just a fluke that 9 of the 11 titles she picked were written by female authors. And Ken Tucker picks his 10 favorite albums.

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Mel Brooks: 'I'm An EGOT; I Don't Need Any More'


Fri, Dec 27, 2013


The screenwriter, producer, director and actor, whose name has become synonymous with American comedy, talks about his penchant for spoofs and his decades-long friendship with Carl Reiner. Brooks is among a handful of people who've won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.

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'Inside Amy Schumer': It's Not Just Sex Stuff


Fri, Dec 27, 2013


Amy Schumer talks a lot about sex — so much so that her Comedy Central special was called simply Mostly Sex Stuff. But her comedy is about much more than that. On her show Inside Amy Schumer, as well as in her stand-up, she tackles racism and awkward moments, and yes, sex, too. Also sex.

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Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg: Friends Till 'The End'


Thu, Dec 26, 2013


Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg met as adolescents on the Vancouver bar mitzvah circuit — and soon after began writing the script for what would become the movie Superbad. Their project This Is the End, is a disaster-movie spoof in which the Rapture hits home in Hollywood.

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield Brings Lessons From Space Down To Earth


Thu, Dec 26, 2013


The former International Space Station commander achieved Internet stardom with his in-space rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity." After three missions and a total of six months in space he shares what he's learned in a book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.

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Graham Nash Has 'Wild Tales' To Spare


Wed, Dec 25, 2013


As part of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the British singer-songwriter helped define a West Coast sound. Here, he discusses the influence of Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers and marijuana on his career, as well as his memoir, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life.

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In A 'Miraculous Year' For Movies, Edelstein Picks His Favorites


Tue, Dec 24, 2013


In 2013, "you really feel as if directors are taking chances in their storytelling," says film critic David Edelstein. He loved the movie Her, and says the biggest surprises of the year were All Is Lost and Much Ado About Nothing. He also explains why 12 Years a Slave didn't make his top 10.

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David Bianculli's Top 10 Shows: 2013 Was A 'Good Year For TV'


Tue, Dec 24, 2013


Two new shows from Netflix -- House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black — changed the TV landscape, but Bianculli's top pick for 2013 is AMC's Breaking Bad. "It ended as brilliantly as it began," he says. "I'm so grateful for that series."

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'Getting On' With It: A New HBO Show Doesn't Tiptoe Around Death


Mon, Dec 23, 2013


Set in the geriatric extended-care wing of a California hospital, Getting On is a different kind of workplace comedy. Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer adapted the show from a BBC series of the same name, and added new material largely inspired by experiences they had with their own mothers.

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Great New DVD Box Sets: Blasts From The Past And 'Breaking Bad'


Mon, Dec 23, 2013


In addition to Breaking Bad, critic David Bianculli recommends some rare television treats from the '60s and '70s that are now available on DVD. They include Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, The Rutles: Anthology and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

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Sorry Assiduous (adj.) SAT-Takers, Linguist In Dudgeon (n.) Over Vocab Flashcards


Mon, Dec 23, 2013


Many students prepare for the SAT by drilling themselves on esoteric, arcane and recondite words — like esoteric, arcane and recondite. Linguist Geoff Nunberg doesn't discourage these efforts, but he does have a word of caution: memorizing a definition is hardly the same as learning a new word.

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Fresh Air Weekend: The Coen Brothers And 'Anchorman 2'


Sat, Dec 21, 2013


Filmmaking duo Joel and Ethan Coen talk about the writing process, Inside Llewyn Davis, disobedient cats, and the cult status of their 1998 film The Big Lebowski. And Adam McKay and Will Ferrell discuss Ron Burgundy, making movies, and that epic 'stache.

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A Man And His Machine, Finding Out What Love Is


Fri, Dec 20, 2013


The film Her, written and directed by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), follows a lonely man who falls in love with a computer operating system. Critic David Edelstein says it's the best film of the year by far. (Recommended)

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Fresh Air Remembers Country Music Artist Ray Price


Fri, Dec 20, 2013


When Price was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, he was described as a living link from Hank Williams to the country music of today. He died Monday at the age of 87. We'll listen back to a 1999 interview he did with Terry Gross.

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Jason Isbell Locates His Musical Compass On 'Southeastern'


Fri, Dec 20, 2013


The singer-songwriter earned a name for himself while playing with Drive-By Truckers and The 400 Unit, but on this album — written after he got sober — Isbell finds a new level of emotional honesty. Here, he talks with Terry Gross about his life and plays songs from Southeastern.

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Narcissistic Or Not, 'Selfie' Is Nunberg's Word Of The Year


Thu, Dec 19, 2013


Linguist Geoff Nunberg says he feels a little defensive about choosing "selfie" — a word that wears its ephemerality on its outstretched sleeve — as the word of 2013. But not only was this a year when we couldn't stop posting photos of ourselves online; we couldn't stop talking about it either.

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A 'Kind Of A Big Deal' Gets Even Bigger In 'Anchorman 2'


Thu, Dec 19, 2013


In a sequel, Ron Burgundy makes the leap from local to national news. "We felt like we needed to jack up the stakes," says director and co-writer Adam McKay. He and star Will Ferrell join Terry Gross to talk about making movies — and that epic 'stache.

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Michele Rosewoman Goes Back To Afro-Cuban Jazz's Future


Wed, Dec 18, 2013


You could look at Rosewoman's New Yor-Uba band as reuniting cousins who've drifted apart: jazz and folkloric Cuban music with its own family ties to the slave coast of West Africa.

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In Francis' First Year, A 'Radical Pope' Seeks To Save His Church


Wed, Dec 18, 2013


"Who am I to judge?" With those five words, Pope Francis "stepped away from the disapproving tone, the explicit moralizing typical of popes and bishops," writes columnist James Carroll.

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Ken Tucker's Top 10 Albums Of 2013


Tue, Dec 17, 2013


Jason Isbell's Southeastern, Kanye West's Yeezus and an assortment of remarkable women dominated the Fresh Air critic's year in listening.

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The Coen Bros. On Writing, 'Lebowski' And Literally Herding Cats


Tue, Dec 17, 2013


Inside Llewyn Davis -- starring Oscar Isaac and a disobedient cat — is the latest from the filmmaking duo. The brothers talk with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about their writing process ("It's mostly napping") and the cult status of their 1998 film The Big Lebowski ("How do you explain that? I have no idea.")

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A Former Girl-Group Singer Goes 'All Or Nothing'


Mon, Dec 16, 2013


With new songs and covers, La La Brooks' All or Nothing isn't just an attempted career comeback.

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Fresh Air Remembers Jazz Pianist Jimmy Amadie


Mon, Dec 16, 2013


With a career derailed due to severe hand problems, Amadie found a way to play the music he loved.

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Holiday Music To Bring Folks Together


Mon, Dec 16, 2013


This Thanksgiving there were a lot of articles online about arming yourself with good information before arguing politics at seasonal dinners. With so much contention in the air, maybe music can help bring folks with opposing views together.

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The Camels Were 'Impossible': Peter O'Toole Remembers 'Arabia'


Mon, Dec 16, 2013


"I can't imagine anyone whom I'm less like than T.E. Lawrence," O'Toole told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1993. The handsome actor — who made his name in the 1962 epic film Lawrence of Arabia — died Saturday at the age of 81.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Robert Redford, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Sheen


Sat, Dec 14, 2013


At 77, Redford returns to his roots; Ella Fitzgerald's early years have been collected in a Chick Webb box set; and Michael Sheen talks about the "accuracy and invention" of taking on real-life roles.

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A 'Hustle' With Flow (And Plenty Of Flair)


Fri, Dec 13, 2013


A pair of con artists and their FBI wrangler go after political corruption in American Hustle, inspired by the Abscam scandal of the '70s. Critic David Edelstein says the film, directed by David O. Russell, is "a bit of a hustle itself" — and still a hell of a ride. (Recommended)

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Celebrating The Centennial Of Lyricist Sammy Cahn


Fri, Dec 13, 2013


Cahn spoke with Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1985, and — as you'll hear — he'd sing his songs at the slightest provocation. He died in 1993, at the age of 79.

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Fresh Air Remembers Jazz Guitarist Jim Hall


Fri, Dec 13, 2013


The guitarist, composer and arranger died in his sleep Tuesday at 83. Hall was known for a subtle, lyrical playing style, a gift for innovation and collaborations with a host of talented musicians in a career that stretched more than seven decades. Hear an interview from 1989.

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At 77, Robert Redford Goes Back To His Roots


Thu, Dec 12, 2013


Redford says filming All Is Lost was a "pure cinematic experience — the way films used to be." He talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about how it's been "sort of weird" being known for his good looks, and about how he nearly wasn't cast in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

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Need A Read? Here Are Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books Of 2013


Wed, Dec 11, 2013


Fresh Air's book critic says it's just a fluke that 9 of the 11 titles she picked this year were written by female authors. Her favorites include a jumbo-sized Dickensian novel, a biography of Ben Franklin's sister, a comedy of manners, a stunning Scandinavian mystery and more.

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Ella Fitzgerald's Early Years Collected In A Chick Webb Box Set


Wed, Dec 11, 2013


"This is it," Webb said of Fitzgerald. "I have a real singer now. That's what the public wants."

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Michael Sheen On The 'Accuracy And Invention' Of Real-Life Roles


Wed, Dec 11, 2013


Sheen has made a name for himself playing real historical figures, including Mozart, Caligula, Prime Minister Tony Blair and British TV host David Frost. Now, in the Showtime drama Masters of Sex, he plays the part of groundbreaking sex researcher William Masters.

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Frustrating Heroine Stars In Fresh, Feminist 'Nightingale'


Tue, Dec 10, 2013


Nina Borg, the heroine of Death of a Nightingale, is a Red Cross nurse on a mission to save the dispossessed. But she neglects her own family as she rescues those in need in Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbol's elaborately plotted page-turner.

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A Nostalgic — But Bumpy — Journey With The Beach Boys


Tue, Dec 10, 2013


In 2012, the band became another rock group that was celebrating its 50th anniversary. This year, it released Made in California, an eight-hour, six-disc retrospective of their career that, perhaps inadvertently, shows how this once-great force in American popular music faded from public view.

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How ALEC Serves As A 'Dating Service' For Politicians And Corporations


Tue, Dec 10, 2013


Leaked internal documents reveal new insights into the goals and finances of the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations to develop model bills that lawmakers try to pass in their state legislatures.

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Review: Jonas Kaufmann Sings Wagner And Verdi


Mon, Dec 09, 2013


At 44, the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann may be the most popular tenor of his generation in the international opera world, and one of the most versatile. Among his recordings this year are albums dedicated to both Verdi and Wagner, celebrating the bicentennials of their birth.

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Delia Ephron On The Closeness And Complexity Of Sisterhood


Mon, Dec 09, 2013


Novelist Delia Ephron says that losing her older sister Nora was like "losing an arm." But for all their collaboration and closeness, Delia writes about the complications of sisterhood in her new collection of autobiographical essays, Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.).

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Fresh Air Weekend: Alexander Payne, Baby Photos And Ted Williams


Sat, Dec 07, 2013


Director Alexander Payne talks about his new film Nebraska. Alexis Madrigal explores the best way to share photos of his new baby. And Ben Bradlee Jr. talks about The Kid, his new biography of baseball player Ted Williams.

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Great Soundtrack Aside, 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Hits A Sour Note


Fri, Dec 06, 2013


Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen continue to mine American pop culture in their latest film. It's 1961 in Greenwich Village, and a homeless folk singer is trying desperately to break out. Critic David Edelstein says the overarching tone of the film is snotty, condescending and cruel.

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'On Sondheim': The Musical-Theater Legend At 80


Fri, Dec 06, 2013


The New York Times calls Stephen Sondheim the "greatest and perhaps best-known artist in American musical theater." Sondheim composed the music and lyrics for, among others, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and Company. In 2010 he joined Fresh Air to discuss his career in musical theater.

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Delightful 'Six By Sondheim' Leaves You Wanting Six More


Fri, Dec 06, 2013


HBO's new TV special is part biography, part music-appreciation lesson and part performance piece. Critic David Bianculli says it's a superbly compiled work, overseen by two of the people most intimately familiar with the composer himself.

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'Pearl Earring' Is The Crown Jewel Of The Frick's Dutch Exhibit


Thu, Dec 05, 2013


New York City is home to more paintings by Johannes Vermeer — eight — than any other city. And until mid-January, it's playing host to one more: the world-renowned Girl with a Pearl Earring. Critic Lloyd Schwartz says, since the painting's 1994 restoration, "It's even more breathtaking than I remembered."

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William Parker's Abstract Grooves Collected In Box Set


Thu, Dec 05, 2013


With six concerts spread over eight discs, Wood Flute Songs documents the bassist's exhaustive and creative live output.

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Beyond Good Cop/Bad Cop: A Look At Real-Life Interrogations


Thu, Dec 05, 2013


How close are TV interrogations to the real thing? Not very, says Douglas Starr. In a New Yorker article, he explores the "gold standard" of interrogation methods, developed in the 1940s. But there's concern that this technique is based on outdated science, and may produce false confessions.

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What To Expect When You're Expecting ... To Share Your Baby Photos


Wed, Dec 04, 2013


Smartphones and the Internet have made it easier than ever for people to share photos of their friends, family, pets and children. But sharing personal photos raises technological and ethical questions. Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal recently became a father and has some tips for navigating the world of online photo sharing.

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Mark Mulcahy Is The 'Moving Forward Type'


Wed, Dec 04, 2013


The smart songwriter behind the much-beloved "Hey Sandy" returns after eight years. Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You is full of smart wordplay and Mulcahy's unmistakable voice, but it's also driven by loss.

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Ted Williams: A Perfectionist Ballplayer With Many Demons


Tue, Dec 03, 2013


The hitter had a swing so pure and flawless that Mickey Mantle would watch him take batting practice. But he was also a tormented soul who hurt a lot of people, including himself. Ben Bradlee Jr. delivers a deeply personal account of Williams' life in The Kid.

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Underground Cities And 'Ghost' Miners: What Some People Do For Gold


Tue, Dec 03, 2013


South Africa's Mponeng gold mine is a 2.5-mile-deep network of chutes and tunnels that employs about 4,000 miners. Of course, that number doesn't include the miners who wander its tunnels clandestinely, stealing and refining ore. In a new book, journalist Matthew Hart investigates why gold and crime sometimes go hand in hand.

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Director Alexander Payne On Mining Every Film For Comic Potential


Mon, Dec 02, 2013


Payne tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he first read Nebraska — a film about an old man who is beginning to show signs of dementia — as a comedy "with moments of gravity." Payne also directed Election, About Schmidt, Sideways and The Descendants.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Anjelica Huston, 'Nebraska' And Turkey Tips


Sat, Nov 30, 2013


The actor's new memoir, A Story Lately Told, ends just as her Hollywood career is taking off. Critic David Edelstein calls Alexander Payne's latest film a "superb balancing act." America's Test Kitchen shares tricks for buying, seasoning and cooking your bird this year.

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A Korean Cult Thriller Gets A Spike Lee Makeover


Fri, Nov 29, 2013


Oldboy, the director's remake of a 2003 film of the same name, follows a man who's held captive for 20 years — and out for revenge after his release. Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel L. Jackson star.

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Billy Crystal Finds Fun In Growing Old (But Still Can't Find His Keys)


Fri, Nov 29, 2013


Crystal isn't happy about turning 65, but at least he's finding a way to laugh about it. The actor and comedian's memoir — Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? — is on the best-seller list.

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In Memoir, Linda Ronstadt Describes Her 'Simple Dreams'


Thu, Nov 28, 2013


Ronstadt recently revealed that she has Parkinson's disease and can no longer sing. Her memoir, Simple Dreams, reflects on a long career. In this conversation with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, she offers frank insights on sex, drugs, and why "competition was for horse races."

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At The BBC, The Beatles Shocked An Institution


Wed, Nov 27, 2013


Between 1962 and 1965, The Beatles were featured on 53 BBC radio programs. For The Beatles: The BBC Archives, executive producer Kevin Howlett had to search for many of these recordings, and they weren't easy to find.

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Thanksgivukkah Stress Getting You Down? Here's A Literary Escape Plan


Tue, Nov 26, 2013


For critic Maureen Corrigan, this year's hybrid family holiday may be best celebrated by escaping into a book. Her recommendations include a kids' book about Russian Jews who identify with the Pilgrims, and a novel that contemplates class divides during wartime through the lens of a football game.

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After Ailing, A Favorite Conductor Stages His Comeback


Tue, Nov 26, 2013


Live at Carnegie Hall captures a riveting experience with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and a beloved conductor, James Levine, who has been plagued with a variety of medical troubles.

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Don't Stuff The Turkey And Other Tips From 'America's Test Kitchen'


Tue, Nov 26, 2013


Jack Bishop and Bridget Lancaster of the public TV series share tips for buying, seasoning and cooking a turkey (hint: bigger isn't necessarily better, keep lots of salt around, and give the bird a break before carving). They also give advice on how to make some of their favorite side dishes.

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Will The Real Llewyn Davis Please Stand Up?


Mon, Nov 25, 2013


Dave Van Ronk's autobiography inspired Joel and Ethan Coen's new movie about a '60s folksinger. Though he died in 2002, a new anthology ought to help give Van Ronk a long-needed boost.

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Roosevelt's Polio Wasn't A Secret: He Used It To His 'Advantage'


Mon, Nov 25, 2013


In The Man He Became, historian James Tobin says, despite misimpressions to the contrary, Americans of Franklin Roosevelt's day were well-aware of his disability — it was an important part of the personal narrative that helped him win the presidency.

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'Junkyard,' 'Great Beauty,' 'Narco Cultura,' Key And Peele


Sat, Nov 23, 2013


Adam Minter looks at the business of recycling what developed nations throw away, critic John Powers praises two films of excess, and Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele explain how their biracial roots bestow special comedic "power."

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How Live TV Helped America Mourn The Loss Of JFK


Fri, Nov 22, 2013


Critic David Bianculli remembers watching the original news coverage of Kennedy's assassination — four days of unprecedented television — when he was 10 years old. He recalls how from that point on, TV, not radio, was the dominant medium for breaking news.

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Botched Investigation Fuels Kennedy Conspiracy Theories


Fri, Nov 22, 2013


It's been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and polls show that a majority of Americans still believe Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy, not a lone assassin. Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act, explores what keeps these conspiracy theories alive.

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Shortened Term Limited JFK's Accomplishments, But Not His Contributions


Fri, Nov 22, 2013


Fresh Air's Dave Davies discusses John F. Kennedy's abbreviated term in office with presidential historian Robert Dallek, who finds that while you can make an argument that Kennedy accomplished little, he represents something special in the American experience. Dallek's latest book is Camelot's Court: Inside The Kennedy White House.

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Personhood In The Womb: A Constitutional Question


Thu, Nov 21, 2013


A study released this year examined cases where law enforcement intervened in the lives of pregnant women who were believed to be endangering their fetuses. State laws are stepping in on behalf of the fetuses' constitutional rights — but what of the mothers' rights? Fresh Air looks at three perspectives in the debate.

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For Key And Peele, Biracial Roots Bestow Special Comedic 'Power'


Wed, Nov 20, 2013


Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele each have a white mother and black father, and a lot of the jokes on their Comedy Central show are about race. Peele tells Fresh Air that their backgrounds allow them to do characters others would feel uncomfortable doing.

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'Great Beauty,' 'Narco Cultura': Excess, Succeeding Wildly


Tue, Nov 19, 2013


Critic John Powers says Italy's submission for the best foreign language film Oscar and a documentary about the Mexican drug war got him thinking about a William Blake proverb: "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."

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Anjelica Huston Tells Her 'Story' Of Growing Up With A Director Dad


Tue, Nov 19, 2013


The actor's new memoir, A Story Lately Told, ends just as her Hollywood career is taking off. It covers her early life growing up in Ireland, the daughter of Maltese Falcon director John Huston. The two first collaborated on 1969's Walk With Love And Death, a project that proved disastrous for their relationship.

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Fresh Air Remembers 'Golden Notebook' Author Doris Lessing


Mon, Nov 18, 2013


Lessing's 1962 book was regarded as among the most important feminist novels of its time. She died Sunday. Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed Lessing in 1988 and 1992.

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'Promised Land' Wrestles With Israel's Brutal Contradictions


Mon, Nov 18, 2013


Journalist Ari Shavit says Israel must find a way to reconcile its democratic values with the reality of everyday life there. His new book draws from interviews with hundreds of Israelis — both Jews and Arabs — as well as his military experience and Zionist family history.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Bruce Dern, Booker Ervin And 'Hyperbole And A Half'


Sat, Nov 16, 2013


The veteran actor discusses his new film, Nebraska, Kevin Whitehead reviews a reissue of Ervin's 1960 album The Book Cooks and blogger/illustrator/author Allie Brosh opens up about her crippling depression.

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Across 'Nebraska,' On A Journey That Goes Beyond The Trip


Fri, Nov 15, 2013


Critic David Edelstein calls the film, in which an elderly man sets out to claim a million-dollar sweepstakes prize, a "superb balancing act" from director Alexander Payne.

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Two Sides Of Holiday Cheer From Kelly Clarkson, Nick Lowe


Fri, Nov 15, 2013


Whether glossy and heartfelt (Clarkson's Wrapped in Red) or earnest and playful (Lowe's Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family), these albums can help conjure a holiday mood in the month before Christmas.

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Carol Burnett: The Fresh Air Interview


Fri, Nov 15, 2013


Carol Burnett won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in October. The award ceremony will be broadcast on PBS Sunday, Nov. 24. Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed Burnett in 2003.

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Actor Bruce Dern Gets Up Close And Personal In 'Nebraska'


Thu, Nov 14, 2013


Dern's new film follows a man named Woody who is starting to show signs of dementia. When Woody falls for one of those junk-mail sweepstakes come-ons, he becomes convinced that he's won $1 million and sets out on foot to collect the cash. Dern tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "[Nebraska] is the most personal movie I've ever done in my career."

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A 'Marriage', A Divorce, A Dying Dog And Essays Done Right


Wed, Nov 13, 2013


Essay collections are underrated and often ignored in favor of short stories or novels. But in the hands of a writer as practiced as Ann Patchett, critic Maureen Corrigan says the essay becomes an expansive storytelling vessel. Patchett's new book is This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage.

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Christmas Lights Make Slippers In Global 'Junkyard' Economy


Wed, Nov 13, 2013


The Chinese town of Shijiao is known for recycling discarded Christmas tree lights for their copper and wire insulation, which are then used to support growing economies and make slipper soles, respectively. In Junkyard Planet, Adam Minter explores the business of recycling what developed nations throw away.

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Was Rand Paul's Plagiarism Dishonest Or A Breach Of Good Form?


Tue, Nov 12, 2013


The flap over the Kentucky senator's articles and speeches is just the latest in a series of cases of plagiarism by high-profile journalists and politicians. Linguist Geoff Nunberg looks at the way the word plagiarism has been used since it was invented by the Romans and wonders if it's always immoral or just bad form.

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Even When It Hurts 'ALOT,' Brosh Faces Life With Plenty Of 'Hyperbole'


Tue, Nov 12, 2013


On her Hyperbole and a Half blog, Allie Brosh writes stories about her life illustrated with a "very precise crudeness." Most are lighthearted — about her dog or her favorite grammatical mistake ("a lot" vs. "alot) — but her most popular posts have also been the most upsetting, about her crippling depression.

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No Need To Cook The Books: Booker Ervin's Debut LP Reissued


Mon, Nov 11, 2013


Down-home and majestic, the tenor saxophonist's sound was like a cane stalk shooting up out of rich earth. His 1960 album The Book Cooks features fellow sax-man Zoot Sims in a friendly square-off.

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In 'Fire And Forget,' Vets Turned Writers Tell Their War Stories


Mon, Nov 11, 2013


Roy Scranton and Jacob Siegel edited and contributed to the collection of short stories by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They tell Fresh Air about how soldiers cope with the fear of death, and why many soldiers feel conflicted about sharing their experience with a larger audience.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Roy Choi, Industrial Musicals And 'The Story Of A New Name'


Sat, Nov 09, 2013


A Los Angeles chef explains how the Korean taco pulled its chefs' backgrounds into one food truck offering, Critic John Powers reviews Elena Ferrante's latest book and the author of Everything's Coming Up Profits explains the history of corporate show tunes.

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Stephen Colbert: In Good 'Company' On Broadway


Fri, Nov 08, 2013


The political satirist and comedian talks about his Broadway performance (and performance anxieties).

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A Daughter Remembers Her 'Entertainer' Father


Fri, Nov 08, 2013


Margaret Talbot tells the story of her father, actor Lyle Talbot, in her memoir The Entertainer. He began his career as an assistant to a traveling hypnotist, and went on to star in movies with Shirley Temple and Humphrey Bogart — and played next-door neighbor Joe Randolph on Ozzie and Harriet.

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Vince Giordano: The Fresh Air Interview


Wed, Nov 06, 2013


Giordano has been obsessed with 1920s jazz since he first heard it on his grandparents' Victrola. His band the Nighthawks performs the music heard on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

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Sales Take Center Stage: To Boost Morale, Companies Burst Into Song


Tue, Nov 05, 2013


Industrial musicals were like Broadway shows, only written and performed for corporate sales meetings or conventions. And as ridiculous as the songs were — "My bathroom, my bathroom is a private kind of place" — they were often delivered by very talented people.

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Female Friendship Puts 'New' Angle On Italian Classism And Machismo


Mon, Nov 04, 2013


Bound by the confines of gender and finances, two young women take divergent paths in Elena Ferrante's The Story of a New Name, the second book in her "Neapolitan Novels" trilogy. Critic John Powers believes the bold, expansive series to be semi-autobiographical, a revelation from a secretive author who won't reveal her true name.

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Amir ElSaffar Navigates Uncharted Blue Notes On 'Alchemy'


Mon, Nov 04, 2013


Alchemy is a step forward in defining and refining the trumpeter's mix of jazz and Iraqi rhythms.

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From Sulking To Sanctions, A Street-Level View Of Life In Iran


Mon, Nov 04, 2013


Journalist Hooman Majd's new book, The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay, was inspired by the year he and his young American family spent in Tehran, where Majd was born. He tells Fresh Air about the country's long-standing tradition of sulking, and what sets Tehran apart from most other Islamic metropolises.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Chris Hadfield, Brandy Clark, Kennedy Conspiracies


Sat, Nov 02, 2013


Astronaut Chris Hadfield brings lessons from space down to Earth in his new book. Ken Tucker says Brandy Clark's 12 Stories album is "modestly amazing." And Philip Shenon's new book explores how a botched investigation fueled Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.

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From Kids' Books To Erotica, Tomi Ungerer's 'Far Out' Life


Fri, Nov 01, 2013


The famed author and illustrator broke the rules of American children's literature in the '50s and '60s, but many Americans have never heard of him. The documentary Far Out Isn't Far Enough — now out on DVD — looks at his life and work. (Originally broadcast July 1, 2013.)

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The Story Behind The Stunts: Remembering Hollywood's Hal Needham


Fri, Nov 01, 2013


Throughout his career, Needham did the kind of stunts that would either end with a spectacular shot ... or an ambulance. On Oct. 25, Needham died of cancer at age 82. We listen back to a 2011 interview, in which he tells the stories behind some of his most daring stunts.

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Dickensian Ambition And Emotion Make 'Goldfinch' Worth The Wait


Thu, Oct 31, 2013


Donna Tartt is a writer who takes her time — she's published just one novel per decade since her debut in 1992. But critic Maureen Corrigan says she'd gladly wait another 10 years for a book as extraordinary as Tartt's latest work, The Goldfinch, an "exuberantly plotted triumph."

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Brandy Clark Tells The 'Stories' That Are Tough To Hear


Thu, Oct 31, 2013


Ken Tucker calls the country singer-songwriter's new 12 Stories a "modestly amazing album." Every song is striking, textured and finely detailed.

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Jared Leto Was 'Seduced' By Role Of Rayon In 'Buyers Club'


Thu, Oct 31, 2013


In Dallas Buyers Club, Leto plays Rayon, a transgender woman who is living with HIV and a drug habit. Rayon becomes an unlikely friend to Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a rodeo cowboy who starts smuggling HIV drugs from Mexico in the 1980s after he's diagnosed as HIV-positive and given just a few weeks to live.

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield Brings Lessons From Space Down To Earth


Wed, Oct 30, 2013


The former International Space Station commander achieved Internet stardom with his in-space rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity." After three missions and a total of six months in space he shares what he's learned in a new book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.

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Never Back Down: Fresh Air Remembers Lou Reed


Tue, Oct 29, 2013


"In Lou Reed's world, when you were Lou's friend you knew it," his longtime publicist Bill Bentley tells Terry Gross. Fresh Air dedicates an entire hour to the transgressive and transcendent Velvet Underground co-founder, with music and commentary by original Velvets John Cale and Maureen Tucker.

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