Fresh Air

Weekdays, 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Fresh Air opens 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 weekday she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns.

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1:52pm

Mon November 7, 2011
Book Reviews

Life Without Plot In 'Leaving The Atocha Station'

Ben Lerner's debut novel, Leaving the Atocha Station is one of the most compelling books about nothing I've ever read.

Ordinarily, I'm not a fan of this kind of spinning-one's-wheels-in-the-sand fiction. Austen and Dickens and Hammett got to me early and spoiled me: I like plot. But Lerner's offbeat little novel manages to convey what everyday life feels like before we impose the structure of plot on our experience.

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10:16am

Mon November 7, 2011
Author Interviews

'SNL's' Darrell Hammond Reveals Cutting, Abuse

Darrell Hammond
HarperCollinsPublishers

In 14 years on Saturday Night Live, Darrell Hammond did many impressions, including Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Sean Connery. Few of his cast members knew that Hammond struggled with drugs, alcohol and self-cutting as the result of childhood abuse.

In his memoir God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F-----: Tales of Stand-Up, 'Saturday Night Live' and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem, Hammond details the systematic brutality he suffered at the hands of his mother, who beat him, stabbed him and tortured him with a hammer and electrical outlet.

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9:56am

Mon November 7, 2011
Author Interviews

How The World's Tallest Skyscrapers Work

Originally published on Mon November 7, 2011 12:01 pm

Kate Ascher

When the Empire State Building was constructed in 1931, it stood 1,250 feet tall. The famous skyscraper was the world's tallest building — and held that title for more than 40 years.

Today the world's tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It stretches more than 1,000 feet above the Empire State Building — 2,717 feet into the air. The Burj Khalifa smashed the record held by Taiwan's Taipei 101, a landmark skyscraper with 101 floors. And at 1,666-feet, Taipei 101 tops the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur by 183 feet.

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12:19am

Sat November 5, 2011
Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air Weekend: Tom Waits, Bill Nighy

Originally published on Sat November 5, 2011 12:23 am

Tom Waits
James Michin III courtesy of the artist

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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9:36am

Fri November 4, 2011
Music Reviews

Julius Hemphill's 'Dogon A.D.' Still A Revelation 40 Years On

Originally published on Fri November 4, 2011 1:03 pm

Julius Hemphill's Dogon A.D.
Courtesy of the artist

Julius Hemphill's "Dogon A.D." — the 15-minute piece, and the album that's named for it — was one of the startling jazz recordings of the 1970s, a rethinking of possibilities open to the avant-garde. In the 1960s, free jazz was mostly loud and bashing, until some Chicagoans began playing a more open, quieter improvised music. That inspired St. Louis players like Hemphill, who also had ties to heartland rhythm-and-blues scenes. Hemphill's genius was to combine the Chicagoans' dramatically spare sound with a heavy backbeat. His new urban music smacked of old country blues.

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11:54pm

Thu November 3, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Crazy' In Love, And Feeling Every Moment Of It

In Drake Doremus's drama Like Crazy, the lovestruck Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) are forced to separate when Anna violates the terms of her student visa.
Fred Hayes Paramount Vantage

Movies are often about falling in love and sometimes falling out of love, but the best for my money are about falling in and out of love in a way you'd need a higher order of physics to graph. That higher physicist could start with Drake Doremus's drama Like Crazy, which evokes as well as any film I've seen the now loopy, now jagged flow from infatuation to intoxication to addiction to withdrawal to re-addiction. It's not an especially deep or psychological movie. It's just crazy painful.

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10:07am

Thu November 3, 2011
Music Reviews

Kelly Clarkson's Vocals Keep Getting 'Stronger'

Kelly Clarkson.
Harper Smith

Like a lot of successful American Idol contestants, Kelly Clarkson made her reputation as a belter — as someone who could project to the rafters and rouse a crowd — which doesn't necessarily translate into good pop singing. Ever since Bing Crosby started using the microphone as an instrument for achieving intimacy and nuance, the idea of delivering popular song as operatic aria is a flawed strategy. But everybody loves an anthem, right?

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7:57am

Thu November 3, 2011
Book Reviews

A Critic To Remember: Pauline Kael At The 'Movies'

Originally published on Thu November 3, 2011 10:16 am

Pauline Kael was a film critic for The New Yorker from 1967 to 1991, as well as the author of several books, including I Lost It at the Movies and For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies.

AP

To quote the immortal title of her 1965 collection of movie reviews, Pauline Kael may have "lost it at the movies," but she infinitely renewed her wide-eyed wonder as a moviegoer in her essays for The New Yorker magazine. Kael was no virgin as a critic when she started writing for The New Yorker in 1967 — but when she loved a movie, she always wrote like she was being touched for the very first time.

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10:41am

Wed November 2, 2011
Movie Interviews

Bill Nighy: From 'Love Actually' To 'Page Eight'

In Page Eight, Bill Nighy plays Johnny Worricker, a spy trying to help his neighbor Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz) discover how her brother died.

Masterpiece Classic

Bill Nighy shot to international stardom after playing an aging rocker in the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually. The part led to roles in the movies Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest, Notes on a Scandal, Valkyrie, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Before his film career took off, Nighy acted on the British stage and in television. He returns to the latter in the BBC drama Page Eight, which will be broadcast stateside on PBS on Nov. 6.

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10:30am

Wed November 2, 2011
Author Interviews

Joan Didion: Crafting An Elegy For Her Daughter

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion contemplated how the rituals of everyday life were fundamentally altered after her husband died suddenly in 2003. The book was published in 2005, just months after Didion's only child, her daughter Quintana Roo, died at age 39.

Didion pieces together her memories of her daughter's life and death in her new book Blue Nights. She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that she was unable to start mourning her daughter's death until she started writing again.

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8:54am

Wed November 2, 2011
Space

Exploring 'The Hidden Reality' Of Parallel Worlds

A massive galaxy cluster about 3 billion light years from Earth.
Chandra X-ray Observatory Smithsonian Institution/Flickr

This interview was originally broadcast on January 24, 2011. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws Of the Cosmos is now available in paperback. Greene is also hosting a NOVA series based on his book The Fabric of the Cosmos.

Our universe might be really, really big — but finite. Or it might be infinitely big.

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10:38am

Tue November 1, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Tinker, Tailor': The Greatest Spy Story Ever Told

Alec Guinness starred in the 1979 BBC adaptation of John le Carre's novel Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy. The series has just been re-released on DVD in anticipation of the release of a new film version of the Cold War-era spy drama.

Acorn Media

When I was 12, I was hooked on James Bond, both Ian Fleming's elegantly pulpy novels and the cartoonish movies they spawned. One day, my friend's older brother, who went to Harvard, tossed a paperback onto my lap and said, "Here's the real thing, kid."

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9:45am

Tue November 1, 2011
Author Interviews

Interrupting Violence With The Message 'Don't Shoot'

David M. Kennedy is the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control, and professor of criminal justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

Courtesy of David M. Kennedy

In 1985, David M. Kennedy visited Nickerson Gardens, a public housing complex in south-central Los Angeles. It was the beginning of the crack epidemic, and Nickerson Gardens was located in what was then one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America.

"It was like watching time-lapse photography of the end of the world," he says. "There were drug crews on the corner, there were crack monsters and heroin addicts wandering around. ... It was fantastically, almost-impossibly-to-take-in awful."

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8:45am

Tue November 1, 2011
Music Reviews

The SMiLE Sessions: A Window Into The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys in 1964: Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Carl Wilson.

Hulton Archive Getty Images

In the early days of high fidelity, which I remember from childhood, the idea was that it was "almost like being there" when you listened to a record, something the old recordings never really delivered. The five CDs and six-plus hours of The SMiLE Sessions are certainly almost like being there, in the studio with the studio musicians — and, occasionally, The Beach Boys themselves — and Brian Wilson, as he tried to realize something he heard in his head.

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10:00am

Mon October 31, 2011
The Fresh Air Interview

Tom Waits: The Fresh Air Interview

Originally published on Thu November 3, 2011 6:40 am

Tom Waits.

Jesse Dylan

Tom Waits recorded his new album Bad As Me, his first collection of all-new studio recordings in eight years, in his studio, which he calls "Rabbit Foot" for good luck. The space, a converted schoolhouse, still has class pictures dotting the walls of each classroom.

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12:45am

Sat October 29, 2011
Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air Weekend: Michael Shannon, David Carr

Michael Shannon plays federal agent Nelson Van Alden on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. "I think inside of Van Alden is a child — that arrested child — that never really got to develop its own identity," he says.

Mihcael B. Polay HBO

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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9:19am

Fri October 28, 2011
Author Interviews

Scott Spencer: Plot Twists, Where Everything Changes

This interview was originally broadcast on Sept. 15, 2010. Man in the Woods is now available in paperback.

Many of Scott Spencer's novels feature a turning point — a dreadful, often unplanned act committed by one of the characters — after which nothing will ever be the same.

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9:19am

Fri October 28, 2011
Movie Reviews

Shakespeare, Thompson: Stick To The Print Versions

Rhys Ifans plays the Elizabethan aristocrat Edward de Vere in Roland Emmerich's Anonymous. The movie speculates that de Vere, not Shakespeare, was the real author of the bard's works.

Reiner Bajo Columbia Pictures

Two new films show how tough it is to do justice to good writers on-screen. Johnny Depp certainly means to do right by his pal Hunter S. Thompson in The Rum Diary. He played Thompson in Terry Gilliam's rollicking but not especially watchable Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and narrated a documentary about him.

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9:16am

Fri October 28, 2011
Television

'Primetime' TV, Like You've Never Seen It Before

Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight on The Office, is featured in the new PBS miniseries America in Primetime, which examines the archetypes on television today.

PBS

Almost every time TV takes a look at itself, and tries to explore or explain what it does as a medium, the result is a major disappointment — at least to me. I want TV to take itself seriously, but it almost never does. Every show about TV is either one of those dumb "Top 100" lists that networks like E! and VH1 crank out every month, or it's a show that's built entirely around the guests it can book, the clips it can afford, and the shows on its own network it want to promote.

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10:28am

Thu October 27, 2011
Music Reviews

Deer Tick: Finding 'Divine Providence' Along The Way

Originally published on Fri October 28, 2011 6:51 am

The title of Deer Tick's new album, Divine Providence, is a pun: The band hails from the capital of Rhode Island. But the other side of the pun is sarcastic. There's little on the album concerning divine providence or care. Nor is the band provident — frugal or prudent — about its talent and music. Group frontman John McCauley continues to sing as though the primary idea is to shred his vocal cords.

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