Fresh Air Weekend

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program. The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions. Every week she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns. 

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Movie Reviews
12:01 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Two Master Moviemakers, Two Singularly Fine Films

Saoirse Ronan plays Eleanor, an ancient (and uncharacteristically ethical) vampire in Neil Jordan's Byzantium.
IFC Films

The decade of the 1980s — when major corporations made their presence more felt in Hollywood — was for all kinds of reasons a low point in American moviegoing. But two beacons abroad, Pedro Almodovar and Neil Jordan, reminded us with movies like Law of Desire, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Mona Lisa how films could be personal and still reach a large (or large-ish) audience.

Thirty years later, we have Almodovar's I'm So Excited and Jordan's Byzantium — and these directors are still shining a light.

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Health
1:50 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

'The Lyme Wars' That Tiny Ticks Have Wrought

In the current New Yorker, Michael Specter explores the conflict among some people who suffer from Lyme disease, and the doctors who study it.
aanton iStockphoto.com

Until 1977, Lyme disease was almost unknown. But in the decades since a Yale rheumatologist first described an unusual cluster of arthritis cases in Lyme, Conn., the disease has become the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the country. Acute symptoms of Lyme disease commonly include a bull's-eye rash followed by flu-like symptoms.

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Music Reviews
1:50 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

'My Ellington': A Pianist Gives Duke Her Personal Touch

Duke Ellington (1899-1974) at the piano at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon, during a British tour on Feb. 10, 1963.
John Pratt Getty Images

At the keys, Duke Ellington abstracted from stride piano, which modernized ragtime. Ellington's own spare percussive style then refracted through Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor, as well as a generation of freewheeling pianists active in Europe, like Aki Takase. Her new solo piano album is My Ellington, on which she plays some stride bass herself, as in "In a Mellow Tone."

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Television
11:35 am
Tue June 25, 2013

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

Amy Schumer isn't afraid to talk sexting, dirty talk or even the fine line between rape and deeply troubling sex in her comedy.
Peter Yang Comedy Central

One of Amy Schumer's comedy routines begins with the declaration, "I'm a little sluttier than the average bear. I really am."

Degrees of sluttiness may be hard to define, but Schumer does talk frankly about many subjects — including sex — that can be uncomfortable for people, both in her stand-up act and on her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, which was recently renewed for a second season.

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Movie Reviews
11:19 am
Tue June 25, 2013

'The Bling Ring': Celebrity Culture And Its Little Monsters

In Sofia Coppola's film The Bling Ring, about the excesses of Los Angeles materialism, Emma Watson plays narcissistic party girl Nicki.
Merrick Morton A24

We live in a world filled with crimes, but most of them don't have much to tell us. They're cases of mere stupidity, cruelty or greed. But every now and then one comes along that invites larger thoughts about the culture.

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Author Interviews
1:55 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Questlove's Roots: A 'Meta' Memoir Of A Lifetime In Music

In his new memoir, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson describes his life in music — and how he mimicked beats at just 10 months old.
Danny Clinch Grand Central Publishing

About 25 years ago, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter were students in a Philadelphia high school and they wanted to impress a girl. So they formed a band ... which would go on to become the Grammy Award-winning hip-hop band The Roots. Questlove, the drummer for The Roots, says that for him, a musical future was preordained. As he recounts in a new memoir, Mo' Meta Blues, his father, Lee Andrews — a member of the successful 1950s doo-wop group Lee Andrews and the Hearts — groomed Questlove for show business from an early age.

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Fresh Air Weekend
6:03 am
Sat June 22, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: The Lonely Island, Kanye West And Carl Hiaasen

As kids, Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer were all obsessed with hip-hop and TV shows like Yo! MTV Raps.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat June 22, 2013 8:16 am

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Commentary
11:47 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Calling It 'Metadata' Doesn't Make Surveillance Less Intrusive

Andrey Kuzmin iStockphoto.com

"This is just metadata. There is no content involved." That was how Sen. Dianne Feinstein defended the NSA's blanket surveillance of Americans' phone records and Internet activity. Before those revelations, not many people had heard of metadata, the term librarians and programmers use for the data that describes a particular document or record it's linked to.

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Music Reviews
11:28 am
Fri June 21, 2013

On 'Yeezus,' Kanye West Sounds Strikingly Self-Aware

Yeezus is Kanye West's seventh studio album.
Guillaume Baptiste Getty Images

Kanye West is having some serious fun with us on his new album, Yeezus, starting with the title; it's a play on his nickname, Yeezy, and his penchant for placing himself just this side of the Son of God in terms of cultural importance. That's just the first clue as to how assiduously aggressive and transgressive West wants to be on this album.

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Author Interviews
8:14 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Oliver Sacks, Exploring How Hallucinations Happen

Knopf

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 11:28 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 6, 2012.

In Oliver Sacks' book The Mind's Eye, the neurologist included an interesting footnote in a chapter about losing vision in one eye because of cancer that said: "In the '60s, during a period of experimenting with large doses of amphetamines, I experienced a different sort of vivid mental imagery."

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Author Interviews
11:50 am
Thu June 20, 2013

'The Center Holds' Sees Victory For Moderates In Obama's Win

In his new book, The Center Holds, Jonathan Alter looks at President Obama's re-election campaign.
Simon & Schuster

Journalist Jonathan Alter sees the 2012 presidential contest as the most consequential election of recent times. In his new book, The Center Holds, Alter argues that President Obama's re-election prevented the country from veering sharply to the right.

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Remembrances
11:19 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Gandolfini Through The Eyes Of Those He Worked With

Actor James Gandolfini speaks at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards in January 2013. He died on June 19.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

As New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano on The Sopranos, which ran on HBO from 1999 to 2007, James Gandolfini created a character that helped open television to a new era of great and nuanced acting. When he died in Italy on Wednesday at the age of 51, fans around the world were shocked.

And as Fresh Air's television critic David Bianculli noticed, there was an instant online outpouring that celebrated "what an iconic performance he gave us in terms of television."

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Around the Nation
12:07 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

'The Watchers' Have Had Their Eyes On Us For Years

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters at Fort Meade, Md.
Saul Loeb Getty Images

The revelations about secret National Security Agency programs, leaked by Edward Snowden earlier this month, have stirred great controversy, but this type of surveillance is not entirely new, according to journalist Shane Harris.

In his 2010 book, The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State, Harris traced the evolution of these surveillance programs in the U.S.

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Fine Art
9:40 am
Wed June 19, 2013

The Art Of Life: Claes Oldenburg At MOMA

Oldenburg's fascination with simple, everyday objects often led him to food as a subject, as with Pastry Case, I, 1961-62.
Claes Oldenburg Museum of Modern Art

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 1:05 pm

The sculptor Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm but grew up in Chicago, went to Yale and came to New York in 1956, where he became a key player in the pop art movement — the major counter-reaction to the abstract expressionism that dominated the 1950s. So much for art history.

Although Oldenburg is a serious artist, probably no artist in history ever created works that were more fun. In a new show at the Museum of Modern Art — really two shows — practically everyone, including myself, was walking through the galleries with a huge grin.

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Music Interviews
10:57 am
Tue June 18, 2013

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

As kids, Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer were all obsessed with hip-hop and TV shows like Yo! MTV Raps.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 2:09 pm

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Music Reviews
10:43 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Cécile McLorin Salvant: Making Old Songs New Again

Miami-born Cécile McLorin Salvant learned about improvisation and sang with her first band after moving to France in 2007.
J.R. Photography Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 12:46 pm

Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant was born in Miami to French and Haitian parents, and started singing jazz while living in Paris. Back in the U.S., she won the Thelonious Monk vocal competition in 2010. The 23-year-old's first album, WomanChild, is now out — and few jazz debuts by singers or instrumentalists make this big a splash.

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Author Interviews
10:42 am
Mon June 17, 2013

WWII 'Deserters': Stories Of Men Who Left The Front Lines

The Deserters is Charles Glass' second book relating to World War II. His last book, Americans in Paris, told the story of the U.S. citizens who remained in the French capital after the 1940 German invasion.
Penguin Press

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 2:11 pm

Few citizens are more honored than military veterans, and there's particular reverence for those who defeated the Nazis in World War II. Like any war, however, World War II was complicated and traumatic for those on the ground, and not a few deserted from the front lines.

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Book Reviews
10:42 am
Mon June 17, 2013

In 'TransAtlantic,' The Flight Is Almost Too Smooth

Colum McCann's new book imagines the intersections of three historic flights across the Atlantic Ocean.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 12:22 pm

Here we go into the wild blue yonder again with Colum McCann. In his 2009 novel, Let the Great World Spin, McCann swooped readers up into the air with the French aerialist Philippe Petit, who staged an illegal high-wire stunt walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. Strictly speaking, Let the Great World Spin was not a Sept. 11 novel, and yet almost everyone rightly read it as one, since McCann's tale commemorated the towers at the literal zenith of their history.

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Fresh Air Weekend
6:03 am
Sat June 15, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Rogen, Goldberg, '20 Feet From Stardom' And 'Much Ado'

Jo Lawry, Judith Hill and Lisa Fischer are three of the backup singers profiled in the new documentary 20 Feet From Stardom.
RadiusTWC

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 8:25 am

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Movie Reviews
10:31 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Whedon's Touch Finds A Match With 'Much Ado'

Fran Kranz stars as Claudio in Joss Whedon's new take on Shakespeare's classic comedy Much Ado About Nothing.
Elsa Guillet-Chapuis Roadside Attractions

One word sums up my reaction to Joss Whedon's film of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing: Huzzah!

Here is the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer — and the director of The Avengers — working with American TV actors who have little or no training in verse-speaking. Who could have predicted such a team would produce the best of all filmed Shakespeare comedies?

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