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Last update: 2013-06-29

Fresh Air Weekend: Amy Schumer, 'Bling Ring' And 'Americanah'

2013-06-29

Amy Schumer talks a lot about sex, but her comedy is about much more than that. A new film from Sofia Coppola is based on the true story of a group of California teens that broke into celebrities' homes. The novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explores race in contemporary America in her new book.…

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For Carole King, Songwriting Is A 'Natural' Talent

2013-06-28

Carole King wrote songs for others before becoming a performer and writing for herself. In her memoir, A Natural Woman, she details the stories behind some of her most famous songs and her relationships with songwriters like James Taylor, Gerry Goffin and Paul Simon.…

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

2013-06-27

When the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie moved from Nigeria to the United States for college, she was suddenly confronted with the idea of what it meant to be a person of color in America. Her new novel explores issues of race in contemporary America.…

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

2013-06-26

As a Japanese expatriate in Berlin, jazz pianist Aki Takase has an outsider's perspective on jazz and insider wisdom that comes from careful study. Her new album of Duke Ellington tunes reflects influences such as Thelonious Monk and Arnold Schoenberg, as well.…

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'The Lyme Wars' That Tiny Ticks Have Wrought

2013-06-26

Since Lyme disease was first identified in the late 1970s, it has become the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the country. Journalist Michael Specter talks about his New Yorker article on the disease and its controversial history.…

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

2013-06-25

A new film from Sofia Coppola, who made Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette, is based on the real-life story of a group of Southern California teens who, in 2008 and 2009, began breaking into the homes of celebrities and stealing everything from designer clothing to watches and jewelry.…

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

2013-06-25

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

2013-06-24

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, the co-founder of and drummer for the hip-hop band The Roots, has been a musician since he was a teen. In Mo' Meta Blues, he explains how his musician father groomed him for a life in show business from an early age.…

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

2013-06-22

The brains behind the hip-hop parody group Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, talk about comedy, Yo! MTV Raps and adolescence. "Yeezus" is strikingly self-aware. Novelist and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen writes with passion and purpose about the state he loves.…

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

2013-06-21

West has been busy in both the music and gossip worlds: He's just released a new album, titled Yeezus, and fathered a child. Rock critic Ken Tucker says West's constant blending of his public life and his music makes his new record all the more striking — and at times problematic.…

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

2013-06-21

Whether it's logs of phone calls or GPS data, commentator Geoff Nunberg says it still says a lot about who you are: "Tell me where you've been and who you've been talking to, and I'll tell you about your politics, your health, your sexual orientation, your finances," he says.…

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Oliver Sacks, Exploring How Hallucinations Happen

2013-06-21

The famed neurologist talks to Fresh Air about how grief, trauma, brain injury, medications and neurological disorders can trigger hallucinations — and about his personal experimentation with hallucinogenic drugs in the 1960s.…

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Gandolfini Through The Eyes Of Those He Worked With

2013-06-20

The actor who brought mob boss Tony Soprano to life on the HBO drama The Sopranos died Wednesday at age 51. Fresh Air listens back to interviews with his co-stars Edie Falco and Jeff Daniels and Sopranos director David Chase, to hear their thoughts on Gandolfini's prodigious talent.…

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

2013-06-20

Journalist Jonathan Alter regards the 2012 presidential contest as the most consequential election of recent times. In his new book, Alter argues that President Obama's re-election prevented the country from veering sharply to the right, and he dissects the campaign and the events that led up to it.…

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The Art Of Life: Claes Oldenburg At MOMA

2013-06-19

Claes Oldenburg is one of the best-known American pop artists. Critic Lloyd Schwartz found himself not alone in enjoying the current Oldenburg exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, which continues through Aug. 5.…

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

2013-06-19

Shane Harris, an author and journalist who covers intelligence, surveillance and cybersecurity for a number of publications, says that the revelations about the NSA from Edward Snowden are nothing new, and that such programs have a significant recent history in the United States.…

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Cécile McLorin Salvant: Making Old Songs New Again

2013-06-18

The 23-year-old jazz phenom's debut album showcases her takes on vintage jazz and blues numbers by Bessie Smith, Fats Waller and others. You can trace some of her effects back to jazz greats like Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln.…

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

2013-06-18

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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In 'TransAtlantic,' The Flight Is Almost Too Smooth

2013-06-17

Colum McCann won the National Book Award for his 2009 novel, Let the Great World Spin, about a high-wire artist. Critic Maureen Corrigan says McCann's new novel, TransAtlantic, also has its head in the clouds.…

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

2013-06-17

In his new book, journalist Charles Glass explores the little-known history of thousands of American and British soldiers who deserted during World War II. Glass describes how the strain of war can push a soldier to the breaking point — and how the line between courage and cowardice is never simple.…

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

2013-06-15

Writing partners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg met as adolescents. Their new project is the disaster-movie spoof This Is the End. A new documentary profiles backup singers whose voices you know but whose names you probably don't. Joss Whedon's new production of Shakespeare's classic is a delight.…

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

2013-06-14

Sandwiched into Joss Whedon's busy schedule of TV series and big-screen features was an unexpected low-budget adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing — shot in black and white. Film critic David Edelstein says it's a delight. (Recommended)

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John Oliver: Topical Comedy With A Crisp Accent

2013-06-14

With Jon Stewart on leave, The Daily Show's "Senior British Correspondent" John Oliver has stepped up to fill in as host. In a Fresh Air interview from 2010, he talks about moving to the United States to join the show — and the weird credibility his accent immediately gives him with Americans.…

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Mantel Takes Up Betrayal, Beheadings In 'Bodies'

2013-06-14

Hilary Mantel is the first woman to win the Man Booker Prize twice, first for her 2009 novel, Wolf Hall, and then for that book's 2012 sequel, Bring Up the Bodies. The novels are part of a historical fiction trilogy about Tudor England and the events surrounding the reign of King Henry VIII.…

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Israeli Writer Yoram Kaniuk, 83, On Pain And Peace

2013-06-13

Author and journalist Yoram Kaniuk died June 8 at age 83. He joined Fresh Air's Terry Gross in August 1988 to talk about fighting in the Israeli underground and his belief that, for Israelis and Palestinians, "the only way is to live somehow together."…

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Slaid Cleaves: 'Still Fighting' With Smart Lyrics And Stories

2013-06-13

The singer-songwriter has said, as he was writing his new album Still Fighting the War, that "a theme of perseverance through hard times revealed itself." Rock critic Ken Tucker says the record is no downer, and that Cleaves finds complex sentiments and wittily phrased ideas in many of his new songs.…

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Florida-Grown Fiction: Hiaasen Satirizes The Sunshine State

2013-06-13

Novelist and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen writes with passion and purpose about the state he loves. His latest book, Bad Monkey, is an offbeat murder mystery set in Key West.…

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Fame Studios And The Road To Nashville Songwriting Glory

2013-06-12

One of America's great songwriters, Dan Penn has written dozens of soul classics, often with keyboardist Spooner Oldham. For a while, the two were on the staff of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Ace Records has just released an entire CD of Penn's demos.…

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'20 Feet From' The Spotlight, There's Singing Worthy Of One

2013-06-12

A new documentary directed by Morgan Neville profiles backup singers whose voices you know but whose names you probably don't: Lisa Fischer, Darlene Love, Judith Hill and Merry Clayton.…

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

2013-06-11

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 new project is This Is the End, a disaster-movie spoof in which the Rapture hits home in Hollywood.…

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'Fairyland': A Girl Grows Up In San Francisco's Gay Community

2013-06-11

In her new memoir, Fairyland, Alysia Abbott describes her childhood as the daughter of an openly gay father in San Francisco while the gay liberation movement was gaining strength. Her book is based largely on her father's journals, which she found after his death in 1992.…

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Arctic Records: Drafting A Blueprint For The Philly Sound

2013-06-10

Ed Ward takes a look at Philadelphia's long and complex history of black pop music. Specifically, he looks at small labels like Arctic, where several famous artists got their start — and which has just released a set of CDs covering all 60 of its single releases.…

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Flying High And Low In 'Full Upright And Locked Position'

2013-06-10

In a new book, aviation consultant Mark Gerchick writes that "the magic of air travel has morphed into an uncomfortable, crowded and utterly soulless ordeal." He talks about how it's gotten so bad, why there are so many hidden fees and if there actually is less leg room than there used to be.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Mitch Hurwitz, Jason Isbell And 'Before Midnight'

2013-06-08

Arrested Development's creator tells Fresh Air that if the show doesn't get the right ratings this time, he can't blame the time slot. Isbell's new album, Southeastern, hits the spot. In Richard Linklater's third film about Jesse and Celine, the two have coupled up, but it's no fairy tale.…

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'Beside Ourselves' Explores Human-Animal Connections

2013-06-07

Karen Joy Fowler's haunting novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, draws on arguments she used to have with her father, a psychology professor, over how closely connected humans and animals really are. Fowler is also the author of the 2004 best-seller The Jane Austen Book Club.…

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'The Life That Follows' Disarming IEDs In Iraq

2013-06-07

Brian Castner commanded two Explosive Ordnance Disposal units in Iraq, where his team disabled roadside IEDs and investigated the aftermath of roadside car bombings. He returned home a completely different man, which he details in his memoir, The Long Walk.…

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Jason Isbell: Literary, But Keeping An Edge On 'Southeastern'

2013-06-06

Isbell is a singer-songwriter who came to prominence as a member of the Southern rock group Drive-By Truckers. He left that band in 2007, in part because of the substance-abuse problems he describes on his new solo album, Southeastern.…

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The Patient Who Let Us Peek Inside A Brain In 'Present Tense'

2013-06-06

For nearly 50 years, neuroscientist Suzanne Corkin worked with Henry Molaison, who lost most of his memory in 1953 after experimental surgery for severe seizures. Their work together taught us much of what we know today about memory, and she writes about Molaison and their work in her new book.…

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The Patient Who Let Us Peek Inside A Brain In 'Present Tense'

2013-06-06

For nearly 50 years, neuroscientist Suzanne Corkin worked with Henry Molaison, who lost most of his memory in 1953 after experimental surgery for severe seizures. Their work together taught us much of what we know today about memory, and she writes about Molaison and their work in her new book.…

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'Arrested' No More: Hurwitz On Why The Bluths Are Back

2013-06-05

Seven years after Fox canceled the cult-favorite sitcom, a fourth season of Arrested Development is streaming on Netflix. The show's creator, Mitch Hurwitz, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that if the show doesn't get the right ratings this time, he can't blame the time slot.…

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New 'Arrested Development' Gags Are Best Served In One Sitting

2013-06-04

Show creator Mitch Hurwitz advises against binge-watching the new season, but TV critic David Bianculli begs to differ. He says hidden identities and perplexing mysteries unfold slowly, and watching everything in one sitting helps make those connections even clearer.…

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Syrian Conflict Reaches Beyond Borders

2013-06-04

The civil war in Syria is attracting fighters from all over, threatening the region's tenuous stability. Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group tells Fresh Air that "a war in Syria with regional spillover has now become a regional war with a Syrian focus."…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Stephen King, Daft Punk And Cannes

2013-06-01

King's new book, Joyland is set in a North Carolina amusement park. The book is part horror novel, part supernatural thriller. Random Access Memories finds the French duo trying to sound more human. John Powers returns from the Cannes Film Festival with tales of the good, the bad and the parties.…

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Rediscover Your Inner Anarchist In The Anti-Corporate 'East'

2013-05-31

The East is a romantic activist outlaw fantasy in which Brit Marling plays an agent who poses as a radical activist to catch an eco-terrorist group. It's one of those melodramas in which someone on the morally wrong side has a spasm of conscience and maybe crosses over. Maybe.…

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Whitey Bulger Bio Profiles Boston's Most Notorious Gangster

2013-05-31

Reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy, who covered Bulger for years for The Boston Globe, have a book out about the career criminal. Bulger was wanted for 19 murders when he was captured by the FBI in 2011. Jury selection for his trial begins June 6.…

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Festival Au Desert: Music Of Peace Not Silenced By War

2013-05-30

For a dozen years, a music festival that highlights the music of Africa has been held near Timbuktu, Mali. This year, a nationalist uprising and ongoing battles made the Festival au Desert impossible. A new recording from the most recent event helps fans continue to celebrate the music.…

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'Before Midnight,' Love Darkens And Deepens

2013-05-30

In Richard Linklater's third film about Jesse and Celine, the two have officially coupled up, but it's no fairy tale. The love is still there, but the daily grind is getting in the way of communication. Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy join Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about the new film.…

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How OxyContin's Pain Relief Built 'A World Of Hurt'

2013-05-29

New York Times reporter Barry Meier's new e-book explores opiate painkillers and the consequences that come with long-term use. He focuses in particular on OxyContin, how it came to be prescribed for chronic pain, what the consequences have been, and how it became a street drug.…

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From Boos To Bravos: A Recap Of Cannes

2013-05-29

Fresh Air's critic at large John Powers returns from the 2013 Cannes Film Festival with tales of the good, the bad, and the parties. He says Blue Is the Warmest Color was "the film of the festival" while Only God Forgives was the biggest disappointment.…

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Vampire Weekend Comes Of Age In 'The City'

2013-05-28

The band just released its third album, Modern Vampires of the City. Chief lyricist and singer Ezra Koenig has described it as the third part of a trilogy about maturing. As part of that process, the album finds sustenance invoking Desmond Dekker and The Rolling Stones.…

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Stephen King On Growing Up, Believing In God And Getting Scared

2013-05-28

"The more carny it got, the better I liked it," King says of his new thriller, Joyland. The book, set in a North Carolina amusement park in 1973, is part horror novel and part supernatural thriller. King talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about his career writing horror, and about what scares him now.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Soderbergh, Sarah Vaughan, Julianne Moore

2013-05-25

The acclaimed director examines the five-year relationship between Liberace and his young lover. A new box set of Vaughan's music shows her range. In What Maisie Knew, Moore plays a troubled rock star who might initially seem like a rotten person, but Moore's performance humanizes the character.…

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Two New Stories With A New-Wave Vibe

2013-05-24

The Truffaut borrowings are explicit in Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, while Richard Linklater's Before Midnight takes its cues from Eric Rohmer's gentle but expansive talkfests. In both films, conversation is a centerpiece as characters navigate relationships.…

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Marcus Samuelsson: On Becoming A Top Chef

2013-05-24

The James Beard award-winning chef was the youngest ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times. His memoir, Yes, Chef, explains what it takes to be a master chef — and describes his journey from Ethiopia to Sweden to some of America's finest restaurants.…

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Remembering Ray Manzarek, Keyboardist For The Doors

2013-05-24

The mythology surrounding The Doors generally centers on its lead singer, Jim Morrison. Morrison is still considered one of rock's tortured poets, but The Doors' sound was based largely on Ray Manzarek's keyboard playing. His are the riffs immortalized in songs like "Riders on the Storm."…

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Two New Stories With A New-Wave Vibe

2013-05-24

The Truffaut borrowings are explicit in Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, while Richard Linklater's Before Midnight takes its cues from Eric Rohmer's gentle but expansive talkfests. In both films, conversation is a centerpiece as characters navigate relationships.…

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Marcus Samuelsson: On Becoming A Top Chef

2013-05-24

The James Beard award-winning chef was the youngest ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times. His memoir, Yes, Chef, explains what it takes to be a master chef — and describes his journey from Ethiopia to Sweden to some of America's finest restaurants.…

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Julianne Moore, Relishing Complicated Characters

2013-05-23

In What Maisie Knew, Moore plays a troubled rock star who might initially seem like a rotten person, but Moore's performance humanizes the character, highlighting her human frailties — something Moore has done in many parts.

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Douglas, Damon Illuminate HBO's 'Candelabra'

2013-05-23

Steven Soderbergh's latest film is a showbiz story about Vegas icon Liberace and his secret lover — played, respectively, by Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, both terrific in their roles. It premieres Sunday on HBO.…

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Fictional 'Mothers' Reveal Facts Of A Painful Adoption Process

2013-05-22

After years trying to conceive, novelist Jennifer Gilmore and her husband decided to adopt. What they thought would be a relatively simple process was instead a long and painful one. In her latest novel, Gilmore channels these autobiographical experiences into fiction.…

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Daft Punk: Accessing Electronic Music's Humanity

2013-05-22

Random Access Memories finds the French duo changing its music-making process in an effort to make its songs sound more human. To that end, Daft Punk enlists guest stars such as Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers.…

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Soderbergh's Liberace, 'Behind The Candelabra'

2013-05-21

In his new HBO film, the acclaimed director examines the five-year relationship between the flamboyant entertainer and Scott Thorson, who was 40 years Liberace's junior and still a teenager when they met. Michael Douglas plays Liberace and Matt Damon plays Thorson.…

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

2013-05-20

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, who is among a handful of people who've won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards, is the subject of a new documentary on PBS.…

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Sarah Vaughan: A New Box Set Revels In Glorious Imperfections

2013-05-20

Divine: The Jazz Albums, 1954-1958 packs four CDs with Vaughan's music, recorded live or in the studio with bands big and small. Two live albums from Chicago nightclubs are standouts, partly when a performance threatens to slide off the rails.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Gerwig, Baumbach, Dawes And Polley

2013-05-18

In Frances Ha, a 27-year-old (Greta Gerwig) navigates New York City — and the transition from prolonged adolescence to proper adulthood. Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach co-wrote the script. Dawes has a new album, Stories Don't End. In a documentary, Sarah Polley turns the camera on her own family.…

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Bill Hader On Sketch Comedy, Classic Hollywood

2013-05-17

This weekend will be Hader's final romp on Saturday Night Live. He joined the cast in 2005 and has been nominated for an Emmy for his character Stefon, an obsessive clubgoer. Hader talks about not understanding how people do standup and about watching old films, which sparked his interest in Hollywood.…

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Jerry Lee Lewis: Live, Singing As If Life Depended On It

2013-05-17

In 1958, Lewis suffered a precipitous decline in popularity when people learned that his new wife was not only 13, but also his cousin. Nobody would touch his records. Then, in 1963, he signed a deal with Smash and it looked like things were getting better.…

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100 Years Of Woody Herman: The Early Bloomer Who Kept Blooming

2013-05-16

In a career that ran from the 1930s into the 1980s, and included work in big bands and rock 'n' roll, the clarinetist, saxophonist and bandleader changed to reflect the times. Herman would have turned 100 on May 16.…

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The Tricky Business Of Retirement: Hidden 401(K) Fees

2013-05-16

You could end up with a lot less savings at 65 than you ever anticipated because of fees charged by the financial institutions managing your retirement accounts. Robert Hiltonsmith, who researches retirement security, says those fees were disclosed to 401(k) plan participants until only recently.…

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'Into Darkness,' Boldly And With A Few Twists

2013-05-16

The 12th film based on Gene Roddenberry's '60s sci-fi TV show is the second to star a new group of actors as Kirk, Spock and their crew. J.J. Abrams returns as director, and Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch plays the memorable villain.…

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A Polley Family Secret, Deftly Pieced Together

2013-05-15

In a striking documentary, Sarah Polley turns the camera on her own family. The director and actor, known for films such as Away from Her and The Sweet Hereafter, was teased growing up about not looking like her actor father. At 27, she discovered that it wasn't a joke.…

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Coming To 'Americanah': Two Tales Of Immigrant Experience

2013-05-15

The new book from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a knockout of a novel about immigration that transcends genre. It's everything from a coming-of-age novel to a romance to a comic novel of social manners to an up-to-the-minute meditation on race.…

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Gerwig, Baumbach Poke At Post-College Pangs

2013-05-14

In Frances Ha, a 27-year-old (Greta Gerwig) navigates New York City — and the transition from prolonged adolescence to proper adulthood. Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach co-wrote the script; they join Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about the project.…

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Dawes Knows Where It's Been And Where It's Headed

2013-05-14

Dawes has just released its third album, Stories Don't End. The band has cited Neil Young and Crosby, Stills & Nash among its influences, but channels them with good humor and confidence that its own distinctiveness will shine through.…

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Bing Crosby: From The Vaults, Surprising Breadth

2013-05-13

Four albums of reissues and archival recordings from Crosby's own vaults are getting a high-profile release; they demonstrate that his influence on modern singing is so huge, we barely notice it anymore. He could sing anything from Latin to Hawaiian to The Great American Songbook.…

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

2013-05-13

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.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Messud, Volk And Scorsese

2013-05-11

In her new novel, Claire Messud explores the complicated relationship between two women. After reading the memoir of Elsa Schiaparelli, Patricia Volk found a new understanding of beauty. In a talk called "Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema," the director spoke about film history.…

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Kaling And Daniels: Writing 'The Office'

2013-05-10

Greg Daniels and Mindy Kaling, wrote a number of classic episodes for NBC's The Office, including "Take Your Daughter to Work Day." Kaling, who played Kelly on the show, now stars in her own comedy series, The Mindy Project. Daniels has worked on Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons.…

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Ricky Gervais On The Original 'Office'

2013-05-10

Actor Ricky Gervais starred in, wrote and directed the hit BBC sitcom, The Office, on which the hit NBC series was based. The BBC series premiered in 2001 and ran for two seasons. The NBC Office premiered in 2005 and its series finale will air on May 16.…

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Rainn Wilson: 'The Office' Drone Outside Of Work

2013-05-10

Since the very beginning of the hit NBC television series, Wilson has played beet-farming, archery-loving middle-management kook Dwight Schrute. The series concludes its nine-year run on May 16.…

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Jenna Fischer: Keeping It Real At 'The Office'

2013-05-10

Jenna Fischer's character on The Office Pam began the show in 2005 with the last name Beesly. Nine years later, having married her coworker Jim Halpert (played by John Krasinsk) Pam Beesly is Pam Halpert. The love affair between Pam and Jim has been one of the show's defining plot-lines.…

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Luhrmann's 'Gatsby': Bracingly Novel

2013-05-10

The movie is loud and obvious, but it's not a desecration of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 masterpiece. Baz Luhrmann's interpretation of The Great Gatsby is more like a cartoony Broadway musical version of Gatsby in which no one, alas, sings.…

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The 'Real Life' Of Actor Steve Carell

2013-05-10

The comedian, also known for his work on The Daily Show and in films such as The 40-Year-Old-Virgin and Little Miss Sunshine, played paper company Dunder Mifflin boss Michael Scott on the hit NBC comedy series The Office for five years. He left the show in 2011.…

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In A Cluster Of New Sitcoms, 'Family Tree' Stands Tall

2013-05-09

Christopher Guest's new HBO comedy series follows a down-on-his-luck guy looking into his family genealogy. Guest, who pioneered the mockumentary style in cult classics like This Is Spinal Tap, co-created the show with Jim Piddock and star Chris O'Dowd.…

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Remembering Monster-Maker Ray Harryhausen

2013-05-09

The legendary Hollywood FX man died Tuesday at age 92. Known for creating the monsters in such films as Mighty Joe Young and Jason and the Argonauts, Harryhausen spoke with Fresh Air in 2003 about studying animals in nature to create the monsters of our imaginations.…

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'The Woman Upstairs': A Saga Of Anger And Thwarted Ambition

2013-05-09

In her new novel, Emperor's Children author Claire Messud explores the complicated relationship between two women: Nora, who longed to be an artist and have a family but failed, and the woman Nora befriends, who puts her art first and built a family as well.…

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Natalie Maines: A Country-Music Rebel Rocks On Her Own

2013-05-08

On Mother, Maines' first solo record, the singer moves beyond the music that propelled her to fame as a member of the Dixie Chicks. It features an assortment of pop and rock covers, including a reworking of the Pink Floyd song that lends the album its title.…

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Nearly Three Years After Dodd-Frank, Reforms Happen Slowly

2013-05-08

The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was a sweeping legislative package designed to prevent another financial collapse. Journalist Gary Rivlin says passing the bill was just a first step in a long road to real reform, and the financial system is as vulnerable to disaster it was in 2008.…

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Scorsese Talks 'The Language Of Cinema'

2013-05-07

In a talk he titled "Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema," the famed director spoke passionately about the history of cinema and the films that stoked his love for the medium.…

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'Shocked': Patricia Volk's Memoir About Beauty And Its Beholders

2013-05-07

Even as a child, Patricia Volk knew she would never measure up to her strikingly beautiful mother. But after reading the memoir of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, Volk found a new understanding of beauty that had more to do with personality than a pretty face.…

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Caitlin Rose: A Singer Grounded In The Details Of Yearning

2013-05-06

Dubbed a country singer by virtue of her Nashville base, Rose sounds more like a pop vocalist on The Stand-In. Drawing inspiration from Roy Orbison, Carlene Carter and countless others, Rose knows it takes an assured performer to sell the notion of vulnerability over the long haul.…

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Godwin's 'Flora': A Tale Of Remorse That Creeps Under Your Skin

2013-05-06

The latest novel from three-time National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin takes inspiration from Henry James' The Turn of the Screw. Both stories take place in isolated old houses, and both revolve around mental contests between a governess character and her young charge.…

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Linney Mines 'The Big C' For Serious Laughs

2013-05-06

On Showtime's dark comedy series, Laura Linney plays a terminally ill cancer patient. The actress's own father died from lung cancer while the series was being made; her mother was a cancer nurse when Linney was young. These experiences, she says, inform her performance.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Maron, Violent Minds And A Classic Documentary

2013-05-04

The comedian turned his life around when he started "WTF with Marc Maron" out of his garage in 2009. In The Anatomy of Violence, Adrian Raine argues that violent behavior has a biological basis just like depression. In her classic '60s documentary, Shirley Clarke profiles a 33-year-old gay hustler.…

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Bradley Cooper Finds 'Silver Linings' Everywhere

2013-05-03

The actor, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in David O. Russell's film which is out now on DVD, talks about watching movies with his father as a kid in Philadelphia. He currently stars in The Place Beyond The Pines with Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes.…

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'Iron Man 3': Tony Stark As Home-Brew Hero

2013-05-03

Director and co-writer Shane Black kicks Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., out of his comfort zone — a choice that has Stark functioning as a lone gumshoe, thinking like a garage mechanic and, when necessary, straight-up MacGyvering a fix.

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Ethical Fashion: Is The Tragedy In Bangladesh A Final Straw?

2013-05-02

Since a garment factory collapsed last month in Dhaka, killing more than 400 people, ethical fashion has been in the spotlight. Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion, explains the economy that created this tragedy and what we can do to fix it.…

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Peeling Away The Layers In A 'Portrait Of Jason'

2013-05-02

In her classic '60s documentary, Shirley Clarke profiles a loquacious 33-year-old gay hustler who dreams of having a nightclub act. Her subject could hardly be more complex — and in examining him, she raises important questions about the relationship between fact and fiction.…

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Two Indie Directors Go Confidently Mainstream

2013-05-01

Jeff Nichols and Ramin Bahrani made names with small, low-budget movies: Nichols with Take Shelter and Bahrani with Man Push Cart. Both have now directed big-budget films with big stars: Nichols' Mud features Matthew McConaughey, and Bahrani's At Any Price stars Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron.…

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Criminologist Believes Violent Behavior Is Biological

2013-05-01

In a new book, The Anatomy of Violence, Adrian Raine argues that violent behavior has a biological basis just like depression or schizophrenia. This raises questions about treatment, accountability and punishment, including the death penalty.…

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C.J. Chivers: On The Ground In Syria

2013-04-30

The New York Times reporter talks about spending much of the past year with rebels in Syria. Chivers is also the author of The Gun, about how the AK-47 has defined modern warfare.…

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

2013-04-29

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, based on his life, as well as a new memoir.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: David Sedaris And Matthew Weiner

2013-04-27

The best-selling author's diaries have been his jumping-off point for the personal essays in his collections, including his latest, Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls. The creator of the acclaimed AMC series talks about Don Draper as an aging existentialist looking for meaning in a chaotic world.…

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'Guilt Trip': Streisand On Songs, Film And Family

2013-04-26

Singer, actor, writer, director and producer Barbra Streisand plays a well-meaning if overbearing Jewish mom in The Guilt Trip. The star says her own mother both encouraged her talents and was jealous of them.…

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'Horrific' And 'Surreal': The Words We Use To Bear Witness

2013-04-26

After more than a week of gruesome media coverage, linguist Geoff Nunberg takes a close look at the words we use to describe events that mesmerize and horrify, that sensitize and desensitize, that transfix and repel us at the same time.…

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A Conversation With Country Superstar George Jones

2013-04-26

The country singer, known for "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and many other hits, died Friday at age 81. Fresh Air remembers Jones with excerpts from a 1996 conversation with Terry Gross about his autobiography, his addictions and his perspective on his celebrated but troubled marriage to Tammy Wynette.…

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Matthew Weiner On 'Mad Men' And Meaning

2013-04-25

The creator of the acclaimed AMC series talks about his protagonist — Don Draper — as an aging existentialist looking for meaning in a chaotic world. He says the show's sixth season, set in 1968, is situated in that historical moment for a reason: to reflect a traumatic passage in Don's life.…

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'Equilaterial': Martians, Oil And A Hole In The Desert

2013-04-24

Ken Kalfus' new novel about an astronomer obsessed with attracting the attention of Martians appears at first to be an homage to the scientific romances of H.G. Wells and the lost-world sagas of H. Rider Haggard. As the novel develops, however, its unique social commentaries emerge.…

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'Zoobiquity': What Humans Can Learn From Animal Illness

2013-04-24

Animals and humans have a lot in common, including some of the health problems that plague them. In her book Zoobiquity, Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz explores how studying animal illness — from cancer to sexual dysfunction — can help us better understand human health.…

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'Rectify': An Ex-Con Navigates The World Outside

2013-04-24

A new six-episode drama for the Sundance Channel follows a man who, after 19 years in prison, is exonerated by DNA evidence and returns to his family. Critic David Bianculli says it's a unique show, and a memorable one.…

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Tom Cruise's Latest Headed For 'Oblivion'

2013-04-24

Joseph Kosinski's sci-fi adventure, starring Tom Cruise, is the most incoherent piece of storytelling since John Travolta's Battlefield Earth. It had critic David Edelstein crying, "What? What?" over the din of the explosions.…

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'Let's Explore': David Sedaris On His Public Private Life

2013-04-24

The best-selling author and humorist has kept journals for 36 years. Those diaries have been the jumping-off point for the personal essays that appear in his collections, including Me Talk Pretty One Day and now Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls.…

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Matthew McConaughey, Getting Serious Again

2013-04-23

The leading man known for his good looks and lighthearted charm has made a comfortable career for himself in romantic comedies. Lately, however, he has been taking on more serious roles in films such as Bernie, Magic Mike and most recently Jeff Nichols' Mud.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Junger, Paisley And A Serial-Killing Nurse

2013-04-20

Junger explores the life of his friend, photographer Tim Hetherington. "Accidental Racist" launched an Internet firestorm but shouldn't overshadow everything else on Wheelhouse. In 2003, a nurse named Charlie Cullen was arrested under suspicion of injecting patients with lethal doses of medications.…

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Dennis Lehane On 'Messing With The Wrong City'

2013-04-19

Author Dennis Lehane talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about his New York Times op-ed, "Messing with the Wrong City," which expressed his love for his hometown.…

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Journalists Charles Sennott And Seth Mnookin Discuss Boston Manhunt

2013-04-19

Charles Sennott, vice president, executive editor and co-founder of GlobalPost, talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the ongoing manhunt in Boston. Seth Mnookin, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, describes live-tweeting the events at MIT.…

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Sebastian Junger: 'Which Way' To Turn After Hetherington's Death

2013-04-18

In a new documentary premiering on HBO, the journalist explores the life of his friend, the war photographer Tim Hetherington. The two collaborated on the 2010 documentary Restrepo, and Junger was profoundly changed after Hetherington was killed by shrapnel in Libya in 2011.…

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Marathoner Amby Burfoot: 'Every Mile Out There Is A Gift'

2013-04-17

Marathoner and Runner's World contributor Amby Burfoot talks about the vulnerability of running 26.2 miles of public space, the Boston Marathon as a holy grail and the importance of being cheered on. Burfoot won the Boston Marathon in 1968 and has run every five years since. He was there Monday.…

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Brad Paisley's 'Wheelhouse' Of Good Songs — And Intentions

2013-04-17

"Accidental Racist" launched an Internet firestorm and threatened to overshadow everything else on the country singer's fine new album, Wheelhouse. Even in that polarizing song, Paisley's biggest sin is that he's well-meaning in a way that topples too easily into sentimentality.…

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'The Hell Of American Day Care': Expensive And 'Mediocre'

2013-04-17

In a cover story for The New Republic, journalist Jonathan Cohn examines the conundrum of day care in the United States. "On the one hand," he says, "improving the quality of child care ... is going to take more money. On the other hand, it already costs more than many families can pay."…

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The Doctor Trying To Solve The Mystery Of Food Allergies

2013-04-16

Nearly 15 million Americans have a moderate to severe food allergy. In kids, the rate is one in 13. Kari Nadeau, who studies food allergies at Stanford, is currently testing a technique to desensitize children who have multiple severe allergies to foods like nuts, soy, milk, wheat and shellfish.…

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How Evangelical Christians Are Preaching The New Gospel Of Adoption

2013-04-16

In The Child Catchers, Kathryn Joyce explores the outsized influence of evangelical Christian groups on the overseas adoption industry. The adoption movement has orchestrated a boom-and-bust market that can exploit poor families in countries where regulations are weak and "orphans" may not actually be orphans.…

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Boston Globe Columnist: 'A Little Bit Of Freedom Taken Away'

2013-04-16

Sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about Monday's events at the Boston Marathon, the place the marathon holds in the life of the city, its importance in the international world of running, and the history of attacks at sporting events.…

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'Central Park Five': Rape, Race And Blame Explored

2013-04-16

A documentary airing tonight on PBS tells the story of the five young black and Latino men wrongly convicted of the 1989 assault and rape of a white female jogger in Manhattan's Central Park. Ken Burns made the film with his eldest daughter, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon.…

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Pretending To Be A 'Good Nurse,' Serial Killer Targeted Patients

2013-04-16

In 2003, a hospital nurse named Charlie Cullen was arrested under suspicion of injecting patients with lethal doses of a variety of medications. He is now considered one of the nation's most prolific serial killers. Journalist Charles Graeber explains how the hospital system failed to stop Cullen.…

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The Doctor Trying To Solve The Mystery Of Food Allergies

2013-04-15

Nearly 15 million Americans have a moderate to severe food allergy. In kids, the rate is one in 13. Kari Nadeau, who studies food allergies at Stanford, is currently testing a technique to desensitize children who have multiple severe allergies to foods like nuts, soy, milk, wheat and shellfish.…

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Pretending To Be A 'Good Nurse,' Serial Killer Targeted Patients

2013-04-15
Length: 30s

In 2003, a hospital nurse named Charlie Cullen was arrested under suspicion of injecting patients with lethal doses of a variety of medications. He is now considered one of the nation's most prolific serial killers. Journalist Charles Graeber explains how the hospital system failed to stop Cullen.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Mormon 'Elders', Johnny Cash And Jherek Bischoff

2013-04-13

Ryan McIlvain's debut novel, Elders, tells the story of two young Mormons carrying out their missions. For his latest album, Bischoff departs from an indie rock sound and focuses on orchestral arrangements. Cash recorded more than 50 singles and 60 albums for Columbia Records over 28 years.…

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Lemony Snicket Dons A Trenchcoat

2013-04-12

In Who Could That Be at This Hour?, a prequel to A Series of Unfortunate Events, Daniel Handler satirizes pulp mysteries and uncovers the parallels between detective fiction and childhood. In both, he says, an outsider is trying to make his way in a mysteriously corrupt world.…

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Terrence Malick And Every Man's Journey 'To The Wonder'

2013-04-12

The director's latest cinematic meditation on the meaning of life stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko and Javier Bardem and revolves around the question of how we might locate the presence of God in the everyday and how we can accommodate ourselves to our expulsion from the Garden.…

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Beauty Marks: Patricia Volk's Lessons In Womanhood

2013-04-11

In her new memoir, Shocked, Volk examines the two women who had a lasting impact on her as she began to parse who she was as a woman: her beautiful, critical mother, Audrey Morgen Volk; and the famous — and unconventional — haute couture designer Elsa Schiaparelli.…

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Earl Hines: Big Bands And Beyond On A New Box Set

2013-04-11

Mosaic Records has released Classic Earl Hines Sessions 1928-1945, a seven-disc showcase for the jazz pianist and bandleader. Hines' right hand played lines in bright, clear octaves — and his left hand had a mind of its own.…

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Living With Chronic Pain 'In The Kingdom Of The Sick'

2013-04-11

In the United States, an orphan disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 patients. These conditions often involve chronic pain or fatigue, and can be controversial and difficult to diagnose. Yet they affect around 30 million Americans. Author Laurie Edwards is one such patient.…

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Johnny Cash's Columbia Catalog Out Now — As A 63-Disc Box Set

2013-04-10

Cash spent half a century in the limelight as a country singer turned American icon. Between 1958, when he first recorded for Columbia, until 1986, when it didn't renew his contract, he recorded more than 50 singles and 60 albums for the label.…

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'The Way Of The Knife': Soldiers, Spies And Shadow Wars

2013-04-10

The CIA has morphed from a traditional espionage service concerned with stealing the secrets of foreign governments into an organization consumed with hunting down its enemies. New York Times journalist Mark Mazzetti chronicles this transformation in a new book, The Way of the Knife.…

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Going 'Mental' And Enjoying The Ride

2013-04-09

P.J. Hogan's new movie is madder than madcap, a zany, nonconformist boundary-pusher whose offbeat manner makes for a rich and grounded film. Toni Collette plays the part of a modern-day Maria von Trapp as if she has nothing to lose — and Anthony LaPaglia shows his true Aussie accent.…

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Remembering Annette Funicello, America's Mouseketeer

2013-04-09

Handpicked by Walt Disney to be one of the original Mouseketeers, Annette Funicello was America's girl next door. She spoke to Fresh Air in 1994 about Mickey Mouse ears and why she went public with her multiple sclerosis diagnosis. She died Monday at age 70 from complications of the disease.…

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Jherek Bischoff Crafts A Symphonic Sound On 'Composed'

2013-04-09

The musician, songwriter, composer and producer has made a name for himself by playing with the likes of Amanda Palmer. For his latest album, however, he found himself departing from a rock sound as he began writing his own orchestral arrangements.…

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The 'Alchemists' Who Control The Purse Strings Of The Economy

2013-04-08

In a new book, Washington Post economics writer Neil Irwin looks at an elite group of policymakers from around the world who manage the money supply, and explains how money can come from — and disappear into — thin air based on the decisions of these influential men and women.…

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Remembering David Kuo: Refocusing Religious Groups On Faith

2013-04-08

As Deputy Director of President George W. Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Kuo hoped to be a force inside the White House advocating for the poor. He left after two years, disillusioned and believing he had been used solely to recruit evangelical voters. Kuo, who died Friday at 44, talked to Fresh Air in 2006.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Mary Roach, 'Mad Men,' Ty Burr And Marriage

2013-04-06

Roach's new book explores the human digestive system. Critic David Bianculli praises the season premiere of AMC's hit show. Linguist Geoff Nunberg describes why and how dictionaries are "redefining" marriage. Burr, Boston Globe film critic, looks at the relationship between stars and their fans.…

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Roger Ebert In Review: A 'Fresh Air' Survey

2013-04-05

Fresh Air remembers film critic Roger Ebert, who died Thursday, with a roundup of interviews from our archive — one with Ebert alone, one with him and his late partner Gene Siskel, and two in which Ebert interviews iconic directors. Plus, critic-at-large John Powers discusses Ebert's 2011 memoir Life Itself.

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Former Mormon Missionary Describes The Experience Of 'Elders'

2013-04-04

As a Mormon missionary, Ryan McIlvain spent two years ringing strangers' doorbells, even as he experienced doubts about his own faith. He left the church in his mid-20s. McIlvain's debut novel, Elders, tells the story of two young Mormons carrying out their missions.…

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Even Dictionaries Grapple With Getting 'Marriage' Right

2013-04-04

Lexicographers know they're in the hot seat as they confront the changing use of the word "marriage." Linguist Geoff Nunberg says the key to getting the new definition right is to crisply describe everything that's in the category and nothing that isn't.…

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'Burgess Boys' Family Saga Explores The Authenticity Of Imperfection

2013-04-03

Elizabeth Strout is best known for her short story collection Olive Kitteridge, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2009. Her new book is a novel, and critic Maureen Corrigan says it's a different type of winner.…

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A Father Tells The Story Of His Son's Struggle To Stay 'Clean'

2013-04-03

"The view that drug use is a moral choice is pervasive, pernicious and wrong," writes David Sheff in Clean, a critical look at the nation's approach to drug treatment. Sheff argues that we should not wait for "rock bottom" — that addiction should be treated promptly, just like any other disease.…

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This Spring, Rejoice At Rebirth Of 'Mad Men'

2013-04-03

It used to be that TV's biggest annual event was the arrival of the fall season, but these days excellent shows premiere year-round. This spring, the return of AMC's stylish drama is the best reason to celebrate the season: The two-hour premiere delivers on the show's highest ambitions.…

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Kacey Musgraves: Country's Blunt And Poetic New Voice

2013-04-02

The talented young singer-songwriter has as much in common with John Prine as she does with Kenny Chesney. With any luck, Same Trailer, Different Park is the start of a long career that will make both Musgraves' core audience and other open-minded listeners sit up and take notice.…

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Hisham Matar: A 'Return' To Libya In Search Of His Father

2013-04-02

The writer's family was living in Egypt, in exile from Libya, when Matar's father, a prominent opponent of the Qaddafi regime, was kidnapped, taken back to Libya, and imprisoned. That was in March 1990, and it was the last time Matar saw his father. After the revolution in March 2012, Matar returned to look for his father or at least try to find out what became of him.…

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Listening Back To An Interview With Phil Ramone

2013-04-01

Ramone started out as a sound engineer for Lesley Gore, and went on to work with Simon and Garfunkel, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra. He died Saturday at the age of 79. Fresh Air remembers him by listening back to a 1995 interview. He talks about losing old demos and being mistaken for a member of The Ramones.…

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

2013-04-01

With books like Stiff and Spook, Roach has built a reputation for making unpalatable subjects entertaining. In her new book, Gulp, she tackles the human digestive system, from the mouth on down. Along the way, she gets a sedation-free colonoscopy and goes on location for a fecal transplant.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Chris Hayes And 'Room 237'

2013-03-30

Harris and Crowell always wanted to make an album together, but they never got around to it until now. After hosting a Sunday morning show on MSNBC, Hayes is making the move to weeknights. Obsessive fans of Kubrick's The Shining search for clues as to what the film is really about.…

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Frank Langella: A Career 'Like A Chekhov Play'

2013-03-29

In the movie Robot & Frank, the actor plays an aging ex-burglar who learns to take advantage of his robot caretaker. Langella, 74, tells Fresh Air why he was drawn to the role, and discusses the ups and downs of his long career.…

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Hunting For Secrets In 'The Shining's' Room 237

2013-03-29

A new documentary looks at obsessive fans of Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror film The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. These fanatics look for hidden meanings in the movie, and while some of their theories sound outrageous, it's too simple to call such thinking deranged.…

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Emmylou Harris And Rodney Crowell: Harmonizing To That 'Old Yellow Moon'

2013-03-28

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell have been friends and collaborators since they first met in 1974. While they always wanted to make an album together, they never got around to it until now. Old Yellow Moon includes songs by Crowell, Patti Scialfa, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson among others.…

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Chris Hayes: From 'Up' In The Morning To 'All In' At Night

2013-03-27

After hosting his Sunday morning show on MSNBC for the past year and a half, Hayes is making the move to a weeknight news show that premieres April 1. At 34, Hayes will be the youngest prime-time anchor on any of the major cable news channels.…

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The Apathy In 'A Thousand Pardons' Is Hard To Forgive

2013-03-27

The rich and good-looking get a taste of life among the 99 percent in Jonathan Dee's novels. In A Thousand Pardons, his protagonist, Helen Armstead, finds a secret talent for getting powerful men to apologize after her marriage falls apart and she is forced to enter the working world.…

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Fresh Air Remembers Journalist Anthony Lewis

2013-03-26

Anthony Lewis, the New York Times columnist and reporter who covered the Supreme Court in the late 1950s and early 1960s, died Monday. Fresh Air remembers him by listening back to a 1991 interview in which Lewis talks about the responsibilities of a columnist and the importance of a correctly-spelled name.…

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

2013-03-26

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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Remembering Chinua Achebe And The Importance Of Struggle

2013-03-25

To remember Chinua Achebe who died last Thursday, Fresh Air listens back to an interview with the great African writer that originally aired on May 10, 1988. In it, Achebe talks about the literary trope of the white explorer or missionary living amongst the savages, and the importance of struggle.…

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How And Why The Hollywood Star Machine Made 'Gods Like Us'

2013-03-25

In a new book about movie stardom and fame, Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr looks at the evolving history of the relationship between movie stars and the people who love them, and at how changing technology influences the kinds of stars the public wants.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Emily Rapp, Phil Spector, Philip Roth And Sea Chanteys

2013-03-23

In The Still Point of the Turning World Rapp writes about caring for a terminally ill child. Phil Spector is based on the music producer, but it's fiction. Philip Roth is the subject of a PBS documentary. Tom Waits, Patti Smith and others appear on a new compilation of sea songs from Hal Willner.…

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With Vengeance And Violence, 'Olympus Has Fallen' Flat

2013-03-22

This macho action film starring Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman is a vigilante fantasy about terrorists and turncoats invading the United States. It's a popular genre, but critic David Edelstein says he's tired of the American addiction to these tropes.…

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Timberlake On 'N Sync, Acting And Bringing Sexy Back

2013-03-22

Justin Timberlake rocketed to stardom as a teen heartthrob in the band 'N Sync. He has gone on to be a successful solo artist — and expanded his career into both comedic and dramatic roles on-screen. He discusses his long career in showbiz, his SNL digital shorts and his transition to film.…

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Nathan Englander: Stories Of Faith, Family And The Holocaust

2013-03-22

In What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Nathan Englander writes about his own faith — and what it means to be Jewish — in stories that explore religious tension, Israeli-American relations and the Holocaust.…

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You Can't Trust HBO's 'Phil Spector,' But You Can Enjoy It

2013-03-21

David Mamet, the writer and director of the new HBO movie Phil Spector starring Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, includes a disclaimer at the beginning of the film: While the movie might be based on the controversial music producer, "This is a work of fiction. It's not 'based on a true story.' "…

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'Temperature Rising': Will Climate Change Bring More Extreme Weather?

2013-03-21

In a series for The New York Times, environmental reporter Justin Gillis has been exploring whether harsh weather events are connected to global warming or if they are simply the random violence nature visits upon us.…

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Rock Icons Sing Pirate Songs On 'Son Of Rogues Gallery'

2013-03-21

Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Marc Almond, Marianne Faithfull, Shane MacGowan and others appear on a new two-disc compilation of pirate ballads and sea songs called Son of Rogues Gallery. Here, Terry Gross talks with Hal Willner, the project's producer, about some of the stories behind the project.…

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Barry Altschul: The Jazz Drummer Makes A Comeback

2013-03-20

On his new album, The 3dom Factor, Altschul is great at mixing opposites: abstract melodic concepts with parade beats, open improvising and percolating swing. The album is the sort of comeback that reminds you how much good music the artist made the first time around.…

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'Sex And The Citadel' Peeks Inside Private Lives In The Arab World

2013-03-20

Shereen El Feki spent five years traveling across the Arab region asking people about sex: what they do, what they don't, what they think and why. Her ambition was to learn about the intimate lives of people in the Middle East, and how the sexual aspects of their lives reflect larger shifts.…

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A Measured Look At Roth As The Writer Turns 80

2013-03-19

The celebration of Philip Roth's career reaches its peak in a new documentary — Philip Roth Unmasked — that will screen on PBS next week as part of the American Masters series. There's no doubt that Roth is a master, and not just an American one, but the film tiptoes around the novelist's dark ferocity.…

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Justin Timberlake Returns To Music With Enthusiasm And 'Experience'

2013-03-19

On his first album since 2006, The 20/20 Experience, Justin Timberlake explores his range, from soul-man groove to falsetto croon, taking inspiration from neo-soul and the expansiveness of '60s and '70s rock song formats.…

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Veterans Face Red Tape Accessing Disability, Other Benefits

2013-03-19

On the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, journalist Aaron Glantz talks about the challenges American service members face in accessing disability and other benefits. Glantz says there is a backlog of 900,000 claims and that the average waiting period is 273 days.…

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'Still Point': A Meditation On Mothering A Dying Child

2013-03-18

In 2011, Emily Rapp's baby was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease, a genetic, degenerative condition with no cure. He died just shy of his third birthday. In her new memoir, The Still Point of the Turning World, Rapp writes about what it's like to care for a terminally ill child.…

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Two New TV Dramas Look Below The Surface

2013-03-18

Jane Campion directs a new Sundance Channel miniseries, Top of the Lake, about a young New Zealand detective played by Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss. Meanwhile, producers from Lost and Friday Night Lights team up to create a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, called Bates Motel.

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Fresh Air Weekend: Adrian Younge, 'Frankenstein's Cat' And Tegan And Sara

2013-03-16

Spaghetti Westerns, opera and the Wu-Tang Clan come together in the music of Adrian Younge. Emily Anthes talks about how scientists are working to create pigs that can grow organs for human transplant. Tegan and Sara depart from their indie singer-songwriter roots with their latest album.…

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Three New Films Examine What It Means When Girls Act Out

2013-03-15

Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, Sally Potter's Ginger & Rosa and Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills are wildly different films, yet they share a common impulse: to demonstrate indelibly how for girls, behaving outrageously is still a political act.…

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Paul Thomas Anderson, The Man Behind 'The Master'

2013-03-15

The director of Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood talks to Fresh Air's Terry Gross about The Master, a tense drama with indelible performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.…

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Jake Tapper Takes A Host Chair At CNN

2013-03-14

The veteran reporter has recently moved from ABC News to CNN where he now hosts his own show and serves as Chief Washington Correspondent. In Part II of this interview, Tapper talks about fact-checking the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and blow back from the White House after asking tough questions.…

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Two Awards In One Day For 'Battleborn' Author Claire Vaye Watkins

2013-03-14

On Wednesday, it was announced that the 28-year-old fiction writer had won the Story Prize as well as the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her debut story collection explores the landscape, people and history of the American West.…

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A Young Man Gets 'Filthy Rich' Boiling, Bottling Tap Water

2013-03-13

Mohsin Hamid's How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia explores life in the modern megalopolis and the growing scarcity of clean water. In search of his fortune, Hamid's protagonist lands on a scam to boil and sell tap water as bottled mineral water in a novel that takes inspiration from self-help books.…

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The Moving Sidewalks: Where The British Invasion Met Texas Blues

2013-03-13

Before he became the guitarist for ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons was in a band called the Moving Sidewalks that just missed its shot at stardom. The album the Moving Sidewalks never released in the late 1960s was released in late 2012 and is very much a period piece, albeit a very well-made one.…

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'Lean In': Not Much Of A Manifesto, But Still A Win For Women

2013-03-12

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has drawn a lot of attention with her "sort of a feminist manifesto" Lean In. Critic Maureen Corrigan finds that much of the book is bland, but toward the end, Sandberg's intellectual charisma breaks through.…

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Adrian Younge: Looking Back To Move Hip-Hop Forward

2013-03-12

Spaghetti Westerns, Philadelphia soul, opera and the Wu-Tang Clan all come together in the music of Adrian Younge. He has produced and composed two new albums — one with William Hart, the lead singer of The Delfonics, and another with rapper Ghostface Killah.…

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Tegan And Sara Reach Out To New Audiences With 'Heartthrob'

2013-03-11

The twin sisters from Canada depart from their indie singer-songwriter roots with their latest album. The music on Heartthrob is often loaded with a carefully articulated sense of doubt that Tegan and Sara suggest needs to be shaken off through a triumph of the pop-music will.…

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'Frankenstein's Cat': Bioengineering The Animals Of The Future

2013-03-11

Science journalist Emily Anthes talks about how scientists are engineering mice with tumors and working to create pigs that can grow organs for human transplant and insects that could serve as drones for the military.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Mike White, Mike Piazza And David Bowie

2013-03-09

Enlightened's writer, Mike White, says the show's whistle-blowing plot line was inspired, in part, by his own father's experience. In a new memoir, the catcher opens up about feuding with Roger Clemens and retiring from the game. Bowie's new album plays like a collection of discreet singles.…

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The History Of The FBI's Secret 'Enemies' List

2013-03-08

As J. Edgar Hoover became increasingly worried about communist threats against America, he instructed the bureau to conduct secret intelligence operations against anyone deemed "subversive." Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner is now out in paperback.…

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'Oz': Neither Great Nor Powerful

2013-03-08

There are three reasons to see this prequel to the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz: the trio of witches played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. But James Franco, who stars as the wizard-in-the-making, disappoints — and the film as a whole is a bit snoozy.…

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

2013-03-07

In a new memoir, the Major League Baseball 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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David Bowie Awakens To 'The Next Day' Of His Career

2013-03-07

The icon's new album plays like a collection of discreet singles, with each performed in a different style, genre and mood. In this way, the album isn't a return to form, in part because David Bowie never took one form to begin with.…

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Supreme Court's 'Heavyweight'

2013-03-06

In a profile of Ginsburg for this week's New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin describes how the incremental philosophy of litigation that helped her win many precedent-setting women's rights cases as a lawyer is reflected in her career as a Supreme Court justice.…

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A Fiendish Fly Recalls Kafka In 'Jacob's Folly'

2013-03-06

The main character in Rebecca Miller's new novel is a pest with a past, and his gnat-like status offers him one great advantage: Those convex eyes allow him to see fully into the hearts of humans, specifically two other characters whose paths intersect with his.…

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Ashley Monroe Is 'Like A Rose,' Briars And All

2013-03-05

Recruiting the likes of Guy Clark and Vince Gill, the country singer and member of The Pistol Annies works within a tradition that extends back well beyond her twentysomething years. Monroe avoids the pitfalls of cliche, with sentiments on her new album that are nothing if not nicely ambivalent.…

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'Out Of Order' At The Court: O'Connor On Being The First Female Justice

2013-03-05

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, discusses her new book about the history of the court, and why she doesn't like the term "swing vote." O'Connor served for 24 years, retiring in 2006 to care for her ailing husband.…

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Cinerama Brought The Power Of Peripheral Vision To The Movies

2013-03-04

In the 1950s, as movie directors were trying to offer TV watchers something they couldn't get on a small screen, Cinerama films threw three simultaneous images onto a curved screen to create peripheral vision. Two classic Cinerama films — This Is Cinerama and Windjammer — are now out on DVD.…

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Mike White On Creating HBO's 'Enlightened' Whistle-Blower

2013-03-04

On the HBO series Enlightened, a naive corporate executive played by Laura Dern wants to change the world. The series' creator and writer, Mike White, says the show's whistle-blowing plot line was inspired, in part, by his own father's experience.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: 'Whitey Bulger,' 'Salt Sugar Fat' And Historical Language

2013-03-02

Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy have a new book about the Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss' new book goes inside the world of processed, packaged goods. Geoff Nunberg says a historical novel or screenplay should give us a translation, not a transcription.…

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'Flight' Takes On Questions Of Accountability

2013-03-01

The Robert Zemeckis film, out now on DVD, stars Denzel Washington as a pilot with a secret substance-abuse problem who successfully crash-lands an airplane while high on drugs and alcohol. He must then ask himself tough questions about whether his heroism is undermined by his addiction.…

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A Disappointing Thriller Channels Hitchcock And Bram 'Stoker'

2013-03-01

The film is ripe with a creepy-crawly feel that would be affecting if the tone weren't so arch. Directed by Park Chan-wook, written by Wentworth Miller and starring Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode, Stoker is a vile little chamber horror, says critic David Edelstein.…

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Denzel Washington Remembers 'Malcom X' And 'The Wizard Of Oz'

2013-03-01

In highlights from a 2008 interview, the Oscar-winner talks with Terry Gross about reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which he calls "one of the greatest books I've ever read," and his love for the songs from The Wizard of Oz. He even sings a bar or two of "Follow the Yellow Brick Road."…

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Ben Goldberg's Variations: Two New Albums From A San Francisco Jazz Staple

2013-02-28

Known for his work in New Klezmer Trio, clarinetist Ben Goldberg has just released two new albums for different quintets: Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues and Unfold Ordinary Mind.…

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Dorothea Lange's 'Migrant Mother' Inspires The Story Of 'Mary Coin'

2013-02-28

Marisa Silver's new novel imagines the meeting of a Depression-era photographer and her now-iconic subject. Giving the characters different names but similar stories to their real-life counterparts, Silver tackles big questions about the morality of art.…

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'The Gatekeepers' Offer Candid Assessment Of Israel's Security

2013-02-28

Director Dror Moreh interviews six former heads of the Israel's Shin Bet security service in his Oscar-nominated documentary. The men look back on their work and conclude that continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinians will not resolve the conflict.…

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Aretha Franklin Before Atlantic: The Columbia Years

2013-02-27

Franklin found her voice in songs such as "I Never Loved a Man" for Atlantic Records in the 1960s. Before Atlantic, however, Franklin recorded for Columbia, and in those early recordings you can hear the legend just beginning to emerge.…

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'Behind The Scenes' At The Vatican: The Politics Of Picking A New Pope

2013-02-27

John Thavis covered the Vatican from Rome for nearly 30 years while working for the Catholic News Service. In his new book, The Vatican Diaries, he describes a place much less organized and hierarchical than the public imagines.…

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Historical Vocab: When We Get It Wrong, Does It Matter?

2013-02-26

We're living in an age obsessed with authenticity, says linguist Geoff Nunberg, but we often choose to nitpick the wrong details. Whether it's Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Lincoln or Argo, Nunberg argues, a historical novel or screenplay should give us a translation, not a transcription.…

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How The Food Industry Manipulates Taste Buds With 'Salt Sugar Fat'

2013-02-26

From food scientists who study the human palate to maximize consumer bliss, to marketing campaigns that target teens to hook them for life on a brand, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss' new book goes inside the world of processed, packaged goods.…

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Whitey Bulger Bio Profiles Boston's Most Notorious Gangster

2013-02-25

Reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy, who covered Bulger for years for The Boston Globe, have a new book out about the career criminal. Bulger was wanted for 19 murders when he was captured by the FBI in 2011. He faces trial in June.…

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Guards: Anthems With Gravitas

2013-02-25

The debut album from the New York trio Guards is big on atmospherics, but also features a grandness of intent that connects the group to acts as varied as U2, Arcade Fire and The Beach Boys.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Blanco And Bazelon

2013-02-23

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. Emily Bazelon explores teen bullying and how the rise of the Internet and social media make the experience more challenging.…

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Bradley Cooper Finds 'Silver Linings' Everywhere

2013-02-22

The actor, nominated for an Academy Award for his role in David O. Russell's film, talks about watching movies with his father as a kid in Philadelphia, his childhood fascination with soldiers and being up against Daniel Day Lewis for an Oscar.…

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Affleck On 'Argo' And The 1979 Hostage Crisis

2013-02-22

Ben Affleck's Argo won Golden Globes for best director and best motion picture/drama. The film now has Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Affleck talks about his approach to the story of six diplomats who managed to escape a hostile Iran in 1979.…

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Karen Russell's 'Vampires' Deserve The Raves

2013-02-21

The author of Swamplandia! has a new collection of short stories called Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Critic Maureen Corrigan says the stories are daring and devastating, and with them Russell establishes herself as one of the great American writers of our young century.…

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'Erasing Death' Explores The Science Of Resuscitation

2013-02-21

Dr. Sam Parnia researches the experiences of cardiac arrest patients in the time between when their hearts stop and when they are brought back to life. Parnia thinks of these experiences as actual-death experiences as opposed to near-death experiences.…

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Voting Pinochet Out Was More Than Just A Yes Or 'No'

2013-02-20

In the Chilean film No, which is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, a young ad man devises a campaign to vote the dictator Augusto Pinochet out of office using rainbows and catchy theme songs.…

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Jake Tapper: 'The Outpost' That Never Should Have Been

2013-02-20

In a new book, the CNN anchor tells the story of Combat Outpost Keating. The ill-fated American military base was in a remote Afghan valley, and on Oct. 3, 2009, it became the site of one of the deadliest attacks against U.S. troops in the history of the war in Afghanistan.…

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Today's Bullied Teens Subject To 'Sticks And Stones' Online, Too

2013-02-19

In her new book, Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon explores teen bullying, what it is and what it isn't, and how the rise of the Internet and social media make the experience more challenging. "It really can make bullying feel like it's 24/7," she says.…

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

2013-02-18

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. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that while he was on the podium, "I really embraced America up there like I never had before."…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Detroit, Anat Cohen And Richard Thompson

2013-02-16

Journalist Charlie LeDuff discusses his new book, Detroit: An American Autopsy. Clarinetist Anat Cohen explores influences that range from Louis Armstrong to her native Israel. And in a new album, Richard Thompson is still coming to terms with the sources of his frustrations.…

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Wes Anderson, Creating A Singular 'Kingdom'

2013-02-15

The filmmaker's latest project, Moonrise Kingdom, is up for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. It's the story of a 12-year-old girl and boy who fall in love and then make a pact to run off into the woods together.…

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Kushner's 'Lincoln' Is Strange, But Also Savvy

2013-02-15

Tony Kushner wrote the screenplay for the film Lincoln, which focuses on the 16th president's tumultuous final months in office. Kushner read more than 20 books before writing about Lincoln, a man who had "an enormous capacity for grief that didn't deprive him of the ability to act."…

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Richard Thompson's New Album Examines 'Electric' Love

2013-02-14

The singer-songwriter often writes songs about his complex relationships with women. On his new Electric, Thompson is still coming to terms with the sources of his frustrations, which ought to give him material for many years to come.…

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

2013-02-14

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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Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bicultural Jazz, Ever Shifting

2013-02-13

The saxophonist and his quartet cross-pollinate Indian classical music and vintage Captain Beefheart to create complicated rhythms and solos reminiscent of jazz-rock fusion.…

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'Dead Sea Scrolls' Live On In Debate And Discovery

2013-02-13

In a new book, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography, religious scholar and author John J. Collins tells the history of the scrolls and the controversies they have prompted, and explores the questions they ask and answer about Judeo-Christian history.…

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A Soured Student-Teacher Friendship Threatens 'Everything'

2013-02-12

In a new memoir, James Lasdun describes how a former-student-turned-friend stalked and slandered him online. Give Me Everything You Have is a meditation on what it means to control your reputation on the Internet — and the book is Lasdun's attempt to fight back.…

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The Sticky Questions Surrounding Drones And Kill Lists

2013-02-12

Scott Shane, a national security correspondent for The New York Times, speaks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the drone-related stories he has helped break, including the revelation that President Obama personally approves targeted strikes against suspected terrorists.…

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An 'Autopsy' Of Detroit Finds Resilience In A Struggling City

2013-02-11

To some, Detroit may be a symbol of urban decay; but to journalist Charlie LeDuff, it's home. In Detroit: An American Autopsy, he says the city's heart beats on. "We're still here trying to reconstruct the great thing we once had," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Bradley Cooper, Michael Apted

2013-02-09

Bradley Cooper talks about watching movies with his father as a kid in Philadelphia and being up against Daniel Day Lewis for an Oscar. Every seven years since 1964, Michael Apted has caught us up on the lives of 14 everyday people in his acclaimed 7 Up series.…

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'Caesar' Comes Alive In An Italian Prison

2013-02-08

In Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's new film, Caesar Must Die, a group of prisoners put on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. It's barely an hour and a quarter, and it's physically small-scale, but it's so compressed it wears you out — in a good way.…

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Tyler Perry Transforms: From Madea To Family Man

2013-02-08

Best known for being the man behind Madea, Perry recently starred in the action thriller Alex Cross which is now out on DVD. We listen back to an October interview, in which he told Fresh Air's Terry Gross that his Madea character is a cross between his mom, his aunt and Eddie Murphy.…

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Bradley Cooper Finds 'Silver Linings' Everywhere

2013-02-07

The actor, nominated for an Academy Award for his role in David O. Russell's film, talks about watching movies with his father as a kid in Philadelphia, his childhood fascination with soldiers and being up against Daniel Day Lewis for an Oscar.…

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A Mystery That Explores 'The Rage' Of New Ireland

2013-02-06

Reporter-turned-novelist Gene Kerrigan sets his story in Ireland after the 2008 financial crisis. The Rage is a boundlessly readable portrait of a country in which ordinary citizens have been hit the hardest and all the old certainties have vanished.…

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Anat Cohen: Bringing The Clarinet To The World

2013-02-06

On her latest album, Claroscuro, the jazz clarinetist explores influences that range from Louis Armstrong to Brazilian music to that of her native Israel. It's this desire to adapt the instrument to so many musical traditions that has earned Cohen such acclaim.…

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Rebecca Luker Has 'Got Love' For Jerome Kern

2013-02-05

The Broadway star has a new album, I Got Love: Songs of Jerome Kern, which features songs by the great Broadway composer. The collection came out of a live show Luker performed at the Manhattan club 54 Below.…

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Michael Apted, Aging With The '7 Up' Crew

2013-02-05

Every seven years since 1964, the director has caught us up on the lives of 14 everyday people in his acclaimed 7 Up series. Apted was 22 when the series began, and the subjects were 7. In the latest episode — 56 Up — the subjects are well into middle age.…

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Yo La Tengo: Decades In And Far From Fading

2013-02-04

The indie-rock favorite's new album, Fade, demonstrates that the group is all grown up but not at all stuffy. The album's music and words add up to pure affirmation of life and living.…

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A Barbados Family Tree With 'Sugar In The Blood'

2013-02-04

In her new book, Andrea Stuart explores the intersection of sugar, slavery, settlement, migration and survival in the Americas. Stuart's personal history was shaped by these forces — she is descended from a slave owner who had relations with an unknown slave.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Spacey, Fincher And Macy

2013-02-02

Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey and Oscar-winning director David Fincher team up for an excellent new Netflix original series that premieres Friday. As the alcoholic paterfamilias Frank Gallagher on the Showtime series Shameless, William H. Macy enjoys portraying a man with a dark side.…

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'Gatekeepers' Let Us Inside Israeli Security

2013-02-01

The Oscar-nominated documentary directed by Dror Moreh is not a defense of Israeli security policy, but a critique. The six Shin Bet heads Moreh interviews may believe in the tactics they devised, but it's the overall strategy they think is flawed.…

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How The Glock Became America's Weapon Of Choice

2013-02-01

In his book Glock: The Rise of America's Gun, Paul Barrett traces how the sleek, high-capacity Austrian weapon found its way into Hollywood films and rap lyrics, not to mention two-thirds of all U.S. police departments.…

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A 'Special Edition' Box Set Of Jack DeJohnette And Band

2013-01-31

A new four-CD set highlighting the music of the jazz keyboardist and drummer contains two discs that are gems and another two that have their moments.…

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Spacey And Fincher Make A 'House Of Cards'

2013-01-31

Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey and Oscar-winning director David Fincher team up for a new Netflix original series that premieres Friday. House of Cards follows a Machiavellian politician as he schemes to take down the president of the United States.…

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'House Of Cards' Is Built To Last

2013-01-30

Two new dramas fueled by intrigue premiere this week: The Americans on FX and House of Cards on Netflix. While The Americans has its moments, House of Cards is the show that's going to make television history.…

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Paloma Faith's 'Fall To Grace' Is A Keeper

2013-01-30

A British singer with classic R&B and pop influences, Faith draws comparisons to Amy Winehouse and Adele. If she keeps doing what she's doing, she's going to have lots of fans following her every musical and social cue.…

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William H. Macy Is 'Shameless' On Showtime

2013-01-30

As the alcoholic paterfamilias Frank Gallagher on the Showtime series Shameless, the actor enjoys portraying a man with a dark side. But he says it's Frank's better qualities that make him sustainable as a character.…

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'The Insurgents': Petraeus And A New Kind Of War

2013-01-29

In a new book about Gen. David Petraeus, author and journalist Fred Kaplan looks at how theories of counterinsurgency have shaped U.S. military policy in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.…

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Jane Austen's 'Pride And Prejudice' At 200

2013-01-28

As the classic novel celebrates its bicentennial, Paula Byrne's The Real Jane Austen examines some of the key objects in Austen's life and how they reveal a much more cosmopolitan awareness of the world than is commonly credited to her.…

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'Anything That Moves': Civilians And The Vietnam War

2013-01-28

In a new book, Nick Turse says the pressure on U.S. forces to produce a body count during the Vietnam War led to mass civilian deaths. "The idea," he says, "was that the Vietnamese, they weren't really people."…

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Remembering Journalist Stanley Karnow

2013-01-28

The veteran journalist died on Sunday at age 87. He was famous for his reporting on the Vietnam War, and in 1989 he spoke with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about another war: The Spanish-American War and U.S. involvement in the Philippines.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Scientology And Jimmy Kimmel

2013-01-26

Lawrence Wright's Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief looks at the world of the controversial church and the life of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. This month, Kimmel sets up camp in the 11:35 p.m. slot, which puts him head-to-head with Jay Leno and his idol, David Letterman.…

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Tina Fey: '30 Rock' Star And Creator Moves On

2013-01-25

The writer, actress and comedian has helmed the hit NBC show — which will have its series finale on January 31 — for seven seasons, during which time she's had two kids, been in a few movies and written a memoir called Bossypants.…

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Tracy Morgan: '30 Rock' Let Him Be Himself

2013-01-25

As the series prepares for its finale, the comedian talks about how Tina Fey created the character of Tracy Jordan specifically for Morgan and how she allowed him "to fly over the cuckoo nest once a week."…

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Alec Baldwin Bids Goodbye To Jack Donaghy

2013-01-25

As 30 Rock wraps up its seven-season run on NBC, the star talks about why he chose to take on the role of Jack Donaghy in the first place and about looking to NBC bigwig Lorne Michaels for inspiration in creating the character.…

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Tina Fey: Sarah Palin And 'Saturday Night' Satire

2013-01-25

Fey's impersonation of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin helped draw record audiences to Saturday Night Live in the fall of 2008. The former head writer for SNL opens up about politics, satire and her Emmy Award-winning sitcom, 30 Rock, which will have its series finale on January 31.…

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'Going Clear': A New Book Delves Into Scientology

2013-01-24

Lawrence Wright's Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief looks at the world of the controversial church and the life of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986.…

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Jimmy Kimmel: Making Late Night A Family Affair

2013-01-23

This month, the late-night talk-show host sets up camp in the 11:35 p.m. slot, which puts him head-to-head with Jay Leno and Kimmel's idol, David Letterman. Kimmel has put a personal mark on his show by bringing in his family to help him make it happen.…

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Involved For Life: Pregnancy Centers In Texas

2013-01-22

Carolyn Cline, the executive director and CEO of Involved for Life (IFL), a ministry partner of First Baptist Dallas, helps run a pregnancy center that discourages women from getting abortions and offers help during unplanned pregnancies.…

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'We Have No Choice': A Story Of The Texas Sonogram Law

2013-01-22

Journalist Carolyn Jones wrote about her experience with the law for The Texas Observer after having an abortion last year. The state requires that a woman seeking an abortion receive a sonogram at least 24 hours before the procedure.…

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Kevin Bacon, Seeking A TV 'Following'

2013-01-21

The actor stars in a new Fox series about a former FBI agent asked to help apprehend a serial killer he once put behind bars. The series is well done, but the violence in it is alarming — especially for network television.…

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'Double V': The Fight For Civil Rights In The U.S. Military

2013-01-21

In his new book, The Double V, Rawn James Jr. argues that to understand race in America one must understand the history of African-Americans in the military. While the turning point came between the world wars, the struggle began with the American Revolution.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Ben Affleck And Dustin Hoffman

2013-01-19

Fresh off the Golden Globes, where Ben Affleck won for best director and Argo won for best motion picture/drama, Affleck talks about his approach to the film. Dustin Hoffman makes his directorial debut with a film about four aging opera singers who stage a concert at their retirement home.…

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How A 'Madwoman' Upended A Literary Boys Club

2013-01-17

The National Book Critics Circle has announced that two feminist literary scholars, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, will receive a lifetime achievement award. Critic Maureen Corrigan says their groundbreaking 1979 book, The Madwoman in the Attic, changed the way we read.…

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'Grayest Generation': Older Parenthood In The U.S.

2013-01-17

In an article for The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz writes that as people have increasingly waited until their 30s to become parents, there has been a rise in developmental and neurocognitive disorders. Moreover, she says that the age of both parents affects the health of the child.…

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'Quartet': Dustin Hoffman, Behind The Camera

2013-01-16

The veteran actor makes his directorial debut with a film about four aging opera singers who stage a concert at their retirement home. Starring Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay, the film explores friendship, memory and the time that remains.…

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George Saunders Lives Up To The Hype

2013-01-15

At the beginning of January, the cover story of The New York Times Magazine declared: "George Saunders Has Written The Best Book You'll Read This Year." The stories in the author's latest collection, The Tenth of December, prove that The Times may well be right.…

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Affleck On 'Argo' And The 1979 Hostage Crisis

2013-01-15

Fresh off Sunday's Golden Globe Awards, where he won for best director and his film won for best motion picture/drama, the actor and director talks about his approach to the story of six diplomats who managed to escape a hostile Iran — and the CIA operative who helped them do so.…

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Retired Bishop Gene Robinson On Being Gay And Loving God

2013-01-14

The first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church will start work with the Center for American Progress, focusing on issues of faith and gay rights. "Gay is not something we do," he says. "It's something we are." His book God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage was published in September.…

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'The Whole Nine Yards' Of What?

2013-01-14

There are many theories about where the expression comes from — among them square-riggers with three masts, the amount of cloth in the queen's bridal train, the Shroud of Turin, and a prodigiously well-endowed Scotsman who gets his kilt caught in a door.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Civil War, 'Downton' And 'Girls'

2013-01-12

Civil War historian Bruce Levine says that from the destruction of the South emerged an entirely new country. On the hit Masterpiece Theater series, social rules are changing as the world events of the 20th century unfold. And David Bianculli reviews season two of 'Girls.'…

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Grant Green: The 'Holy Barbarian' Of St. Louis Jazz

2013-01-11

An album recording of the guitarist from 1959 captures the thrilling sound of Midwestern jazz.…

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Lena Dunham Addresses Criticism Aimed At 'Girls'

2013-01-11

The creator and star of HBO's new series Girls addresses the backlash against the show, which follows four 20-somethings as they navigate the ups and downs of life in New York City. The second season premieres January 13.…

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Season Two Brings Changes For 'Girls'

2013-01-11

The second season of the HBO series premieres this month, and Fresh Air critic David Bianculli says "these young women — these girls — really are changing and growing and adapting to tough life in the big city."…

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In 'Sliver Of Sky,' Barry Lopez Confronts Childhood Sexual Abuse

2013-01-10

The nature writer has an essay in January's Harper's Magazine that details the four years of his childhood during which he says he was routinely raped and molested by a family friend.…

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'Nashville' Soundtrack Stands On Its Own

2013-01-09

A new album of original songs from the Golden Globe-nominated TV series about Music City reflects the tastes of the show's musical producer, T-Bone Burnett, as well as the vocal talents of stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere.…

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Bobby Cannavale, At Home On Broadway

2013-01-09

The actor, who's currently starring in Glenngarry Glen Ross opposite Al Pacino, has been acting for the stage since he was a teenager in Union City, N.J. "It was the only thing I ever wanted to do, really," he says.…

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The Unsung Pioneer Of Louisiana Swamp-Pop

2013-01-08

In the early 1960s, Joe Barry combined Cajun and country music into a whole new sound. In honor of a new anthology of Barry's music titled A Fool to Care, critic Ed Ward tells the forgotten musician's story.…

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

2013-01-08

In a new book, Civil War 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. Integral to the Union's victory, he says, were the nearly 200,000 black soldiers who enlisted.…

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Mozart's Starring Role In 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'

2013-01-07

The 1971 John Schlesinger film, recently released on Blu-ray, tells the story of a love triangle and makes moving use of a trio from the opera Cosi fan tutte as the film's musical theme.…

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Julian Fellowes On The Rules Of 'Downton'

2013-01-07

On the hit Masterpiece Theater 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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Fresh Air Weekend: Tarantino, Waltz, 'Downton'

2013-01-05

With his latest film, director Quentin Tarantino was inspired by spaghetti Westerns and the Civil War. Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar for his role in Inglourious Basterds, teams up with Tarantino again in 'Django.' On Sunday, the third season of 'Downton Abbey,' takes America by storm.…

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'A Grain Of Truth' About Memory And Modern Poland

2013-01-04

A new mystery by novelist Zygmunt Miloszewski explores Poland's relationship to its anti-Semitic past. Teodor Szacki, the likably washed-up hero, must sprint all over town interrogating suspects, including so-called Polish "patriots" — extremists who bombard him with their anti-Semitic rants.…

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Remembering 'Rescue Me' Singer Fontella Bass

2013-01-04

Bass died on Dec. 27, 2012. We'll listen back to a Fresh Air interview from March 1995, in which she spoke about performing at funeral homes as a girl in St. Louis and how secular music wasn't allowed in her childhood home.…

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Frank Calabrese Jr. On Opening His 'Family Secrets'

2013-01-04

Frank Calabrese Jr. wrote a memoir about bringing down his father's murderous Chicago crime family. In Operation Family Secrets, Frank detailed how he helped the FBI convict his father of several murders by wearing a hidden wire and taping his father's conversations. His father died Christmas Day.…

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'Downton' Returns With Aristocratic Class And Clash

2013-01-03

On Sunday, the PBS anthology series Masterpiece Classic begins its third season of Downton Abbey, the British period drama that has taken England — and America — by storm.

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Northern Mali: A Violent Islamist Stronghold

2013-01-03

Adam Nossiter, the West Africa bureau chief for The New York Times, is one of the few reporters covering the situation in northern Mali, where Islamist extremists allied with al-Qaida have taken control after a coup destabilized the country in April.…

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Western Star Harry Carey Jr., 1921-2012

2013-01-02

We'll listen back to a 1989 interview with actor Harry Carey Jr., who died Dec. 27. Carey co-starred with John Wayne in the classic Westerns She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Searchers and 3 Godfathers. He talked to Fresh Air about filming epic cavalry-versus-Indian scenes — and his most challenging stunts.

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Quentin Tarantino, 'Unchained' And Unruly

2013-01-02

With his latest film, director Quentin Tarantino was inspired both by spaghetti Westerns and the drama of slavery and the Civil War. The movie is extremely violent — but, says Tarantino, "What happened during slavery times is a thousand times worse. ... If you can't take it, you can't take it."…

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'Fresh Air' At 25: A Live Musical Tribute

2012-12-31

This year marked the 25th anniversary of Fresh Air as a daily national NPR program. This episode looks back at some of the great live musical performances from the show's archive, including songs from Shirley Horn, Loudon Wainwright III, Susannah McCorkle, Nick Lowe and Richard Thompson.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Critics' Picks For 2012

2012-12-29

It's that time of year when best-of lists abound, and Fresh Air's critics get in on the game: David Bianculli chooses his top television shows, David Edelstein names his favorite films, Maureen Corrigan weighs in with notable books and Ken Tucker tunes into to some of the best albums of 2012.…

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Doris Day: A Hollywood Legend Reflects On Life

2012-12-28

Day started singing and dancing when she was a teenager, and made her first film at 24. After nearly 40 movies, she walked away from that part of her life in 1968, and started rescuing and caring for animals. Here, she speaks to Terry Gross in a lengthy interview about her career in film and music.…

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Colbert On Musical Moments And 'America Again'

2012-12-28

As part of our year-end wrap up, we are sharing the best Fresh Air interviews of 2012. Here we listen back to two interviews we did this year with Stephen Colbert. He talks about the presidential debates, his superPAC, Jesus Christ Superstar and Elvis Costello…

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R.A. Dickey On 'Winding Up' As A Knuckleballer

2012-12-27

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey is currently the only knuckleball pitcher in the major leagues. His memoir, Wherever I Wind Up, explains how his life — and career — have mimicked the unpredictable trajectory of the difficult pitch he throws game after game.…

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Aaron Sorkin: The Writer Behind 'The Newsroom'

2012-12-27

HBO's new behind-the-anchor-desk drama follows in the footsteps of Sorkin's hit series The West Wing. "I like writing about heroes that don't wear capes or disguises," he says.…

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Catherine Russell: The Fresh Air In-Studio Concert

2012-12-26

The standards singer's solo album, Strictly Romancin', explores the ups and downs of love. Russell sings several tracks from the record during this interview and performance.…

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Aziz Ansari's Latest Is 'Dangerously Delicious'

2012-12-26

The comedian, who plays Tom Haverford on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, just released a new comedy special directly on his website. He's also embarking on a multicity tour, where he'll be riffing on the things that terrify him — marriage, for instance, and babies.…

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Joan Rivers Hates You, Herself and Everyone Else

2012-12-26

Comedian Joan Rivers hates a lot of things. Her new book, I Hate Everyone, Starting With Me, details the things Rivers can't stand, from her appearance to obituaries to younger comedians who steal her gigs.…

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David Edelstein's Top 12 Movies of 2012

2012-12-25

Fresh Air's movie critic does not think any masterpieces were made this year, but he does compare Daniel Day-Lewis to Julius Caesar and have some choice thoughts on the movie version of Les Mis.…

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David Edelstein's Top 12 Movies of 2012

2012-12-25

Fresh Air's movie critic does not think any masterpieces were made this year, but he does compare Daniel Day-Lewis to Julius Caesar and have some choice thoughts on the movie version of Les Mis.…

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David Edelstein's Top 12 Movies of 2012

2012-12-24

Fresh Air's movie critic does not think any masterpieces were made this year, but he does compare Daniel Day-Lewis to Julius Caesar and have some choice thoughts on the movie version of Les Mis.…

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David Bianculli Says 2012 Brought No New TV Favorites

2012-12-24

Fresh Air's television critic says there weren't any new shows this year that wowed him and that all the shows he watched and loved this year were ones that have been on for at least a season. His No. 1 favorite remains Breaking Bad.…

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David Edelstein's Top 12 Movies of 2012

2012-12-24

Fresh Air's movie critic does not think any masterpieces were made this year, but he does compare Daniel Day-Lewis to Julius Caesar and have some choice thoughts on the movie version of Les Mis.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Barbra Streisand, Pizzarelli

2012-12-23

Barbra Streisand plays a well-meaning if overbearing Jewish mom in The Guilt Trip. The star says her own mother both encouraged her talents and was jealous of them. In his new book, guitarist, singer and songwriter John Pizzarelli shares stories from life growing up in a musical household.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Barbra Streisand, Pizzarelli

2012-12-23

Barbra Streisand plays a well-meaning if overbearing Jewish mom in The Guilt Trip. The star says her own mother both encouraged her talents and was jealous of them. In his new book, guitarist, singer and songwriter John Pizzarelli shares stories from life growing up in a musical household.…

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Remembering Von Freeman, Lol Coxhill And Sean Bergin

2012-12-21

Jazz lost many great saxophonists in 2012, including David S. Ware, John Tchicai, Byard Lancaster, Faruq Z. Bey, Hal McKusick and Red Holloway. Critic Kevin Whitehead pays tribute to three more of his favorites.…

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HBO's 'Enlightened' Take On Modern Meditation

2012-12-21

Laura Dern is Amy Jellicoe, a health and beauty executive who returns from a post-meltdown retreat to pick up the pieces of her broken life in the HBO series Enlightened. Series creator Mike White talks about the tone of the show, and whether it's possible for people to really change.…

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Forget YOLO: Why 'Big Data' Should Be The Word Of The Year

2012-12-20

"Big Data" had just as much to do with President Obama's victory as phrases like "Etch A Sketch" and "47 percent," says linguist Geoff Nunberg. Big Data is also behind anxieties about intrusions on our privacy, whether from the government's anti-terrorist data sweeps or the ads that track us on the Web.…

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Assault-Style Weapons In The Civilian Market

2012-12-20

Senior analyst for the Violence Policy Center Tom Diaz says one of the weapons found at the site of the Newtown, Conn., shooting was a variant of a type of gun developed for troops in Vietnam.…

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Tunes To 'Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard' To

2012-12-19

Critic Milo Miles says that in this new collection of music from between the world wars, "the currents of long-ago lives come through: the drudgery of the work that demanded the release of the party, which then required the penance of prayer."…

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'Not Fade': Rock 'N' Roll, Here To Stay

2012-12-19

In his new film, Sopranos creator David Chase tells a coming-of-age story about Jersey boys in the 1960s who dream of riding the wave of the British invasion all the way to stardom. Chase teams up with Steven Van Zandt — of the E Street Band and The Sopranos — to make the movie's music rock.…

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Ken Tucker's Top 10 Albums Of 2012

2012-12-18

From the inescapable "Call Me Maybe" to Fiona Apple's intricate word puzzles to the strikingly gorgeous return of Iris DeMent, the Fresh Air critic counts down his favorite albums and musical moments of the year.…

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'Unchained' Admiration Between Actor And Director

2012-12-18

Austrian actor Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for his portrayal of Nazi Jew hunter Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds. Teamed up with Tarantino again in Django Unchained, he says Tarantino's writing and the rhythm of the language speaks to him as a performer.…

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'Guilt Trip': Streisand On Songs, Films And Family

2012-12-17

In her new movie, singer, actor, writer, director and producer Barbra Streisand plays a well-meaning if overbearing Jewish mom. The star says her own mother both encouraged her talents and was jealous of them.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Daniel Handler And Paul Lukacs

2012-12-15

In Who Could That Be at This Hour?, a prequel to A Series of Unfortunate Events, Daniel Handler satirizes pulp mysteries. Author and oenophile Paul Lukacs traces the 8,000-year history of wine. Also, David Edelstein reviews Zero Dark Thirty.…

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Looking For Bin Laden In 'Zero Dark Thirty'

2012-12-14

Kathryn Bigelow's film tells the story of the U.S. hunt for the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks. Critic David Edelstein says the film presents itself as a work of journalism, but that that there's no doubting its perspective: It's the story of America's "brilliant, righteous revenge."…

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Behind The Scenes Of The Beatles' 'Magical Mystery Tour'

2012-12-14

A new documentary on PBS about the making of the Beatles' 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour features outtakes from the original and new interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. TV critic David Bianculli calls the film "wonderfully thorough."…

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Ravi Shankar: Remembering A Master Of The Sitar

2012-12-14

In a 1999 interview, Ravi Shankar, who died Tuesday, talked to Fresh Air about hippies, psychedelic drugs, "Norwegian Wood," George Harrison, his fond memories of the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967 and his less-fond memories of Woodstock.…

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Hall Of Famer: Randy Newman Makes The Cut

2012-12-14

Known for such hits as "Real Emotional Girl", singer-songwriter, composer, arranger and pianist Randy Newman is on his way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Newman, a 40-year veteran of the music business, talked to Fresh Air in 1998 and 2004 about his life and work.…

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10 Books To Help You Recover From A Tense 2012

2012-12-13

2012 was a very jittery year — what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and the looming "fiscal cliff." Fresh Air critic Maureen Corrigan found that her favorite fiction and nonfiction this year directly confronted the atmospheric uncertainty of the age.…

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'World On A String': John Pizzarelli Jazzes It Up

2012-12-13

In his new book, the guitarist, singer and songwriter shares stories from life growing up in a musical household and talks about collaborating and sharing the stage with the likes of Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Paul McCartney.…

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Ke$ha: A 'Warrior' In Search Of Legitimacy

2012-12-12

On her new album, the pop star tries to show she's not just in the business for the money. As critic Ken Tucker says, "Like pop stars ranging from Madonna on back to Chuck Berry, Ke$ha wants it both ways: mass-audience success and artistic acknowledgment."…

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Joseph Kennedy, 'Patriarch' Of An American Dynasty

2012-12-12

In a new book, biographer David Nasaw profiles the father of Robert, John and Teddy, and unpacks the elder Kennedy's influence on his children. "He told them over and over again, 'I'm making all this money so you don't have to make money, so that you can go into public service,' " Nasaw says.…

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Bass Note: Mingus And The Jazz Workshop Concerts

2012-12-11

Critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new, seven-disc Charles Mingus box set chronicling the jazz legend's mid-'60s live performances. The records, Whitehead says, "can be a little raw, as if the explosive music caught the engineers by surprise."…

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'Operation Delirium:' Psychochemicals And Cold War

2012-12-11

In his article for The New Yorker, journalist Raffi Khatchadourian tells the story of a secret program that tested nerve gas, LSD and other drugs on 5,000 American soldiers throughout the 1950s and '60s.…

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Lemony Snicket Dons A Trenchcoat

2012-12-10

In Who Could That Be at This Hour?, a prequel to A Series of Unfortunate Events, Daniel Handler satirizes pulp mysteries and uncovers the parallels between detective fiction and childhood. In both, he says, an outsider is trying to make his way in a mysteriously corrupt world.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Judd Apatow, Colm Toibin

2012-12-08

Judd Apatow draws on his own experiences in a new comedy that explores family life. In The Testament of Mary, Irish author Colm Toibin imagines Mary's life after the crucifixion, as she wonders what she might have done differently to ease her son's suffering.…

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At Home With Dickens And Lousia May Alcott

2012-12-07

Two new biographical studies that read like novels explore the familial relationships that shaped two of the 19th century's most beloved authors. Critic Maureen Corrigan calls Great Expectations: The Sons And Daughters Of Charles Dickens "a Gothic nightmare" and Marmee & Louisa "a romance."…

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Celebrating The Life Of Jazz Pianist Dave Brubeck

2012-12-07

The jazz master died on Wednesday at age 91. In a 1999 interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross he talked about his decades in the music industry and his first love: rodeo roping.…

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Forgotten Gems From The Dave Brubeck Quartet

2012-12-07

We remember Dave Brubeck, who died Wednesday at age 91, with a March 2012 review from jazz critic Kevin Whitehead, who wrote about a few of the more obscure titles from Dave Brubeck's quartet.…

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In 'This Is 40,' Family Life In All Its Glory

2012-12-06

Judd Apatow draws on his own experiences as a husband and father in a new comedy that explores the ups and downs of family life. The film stays close to home, literally and figuratively. It stars his wife, Leslie Mann, as well as their two daughters, and was filmed a few doors down from his house.…

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Boxes Of TV Fun, Old And New, For The Holidays

2012-12-05

It's holiday box-set season, and Fresh Air critic David Bianculli shares some favorites for the TV-lover on your list. "Giving someone a gift of a TV show," he says, "is somehow very personal. You're giving something that you love, and that, in many cases, will occupy many hours ... of their time."…

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'Inventing Wine': The History Of A Very Vintage Beverage

2012-12-05

In his new book, author and oenophile Paul Lukacs traces the 8,000-year history of our original alcoholic beverage — from ancient times, when wine was believed to be of divine origin, to the sauvignon blanc you find in your supermarket today.…

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A Thin Line: Economic Development Or Corporate Welfare?

2012-12-05

In her new series for The New York Times, reporter Louise Story traces the complicated relationship between localities and the corporations they want to lure to their states, counties and cities to help promote economic growth.…

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A Thin Line: Economic Development Or Corporate Welfare?

2012-12-05

In her new series for The New York Times, reporter Louise Story traces the complicated relationship between localities and the corporations they want to lure to their states, counties and cities to help promote economic growth.…

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'Inventing Wine': The History Of A Very Vintage Beverage

2012-12-04

In his new book, author and oenophile Paul Lukacs traces the 8,000-year history of our original alcoholic beverage — from ancient times, when wine was believed to be of divine origin, to the sauvignon blanc you find in your supermarket today.…

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Boxes Of TV Fun, Old And New, For The Holidays

2012-12-04

It's holiday box-set season, and Fresh Air critic David Bianculli shares some favorites for the TV-lover on your list. "Giving someone a gift of a TV show," he says, "is somehow very personal. You're giving something that you love, and that, in many cases, will occupy many hours ... of their time."…

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

2012-12-03

In his new novel, The Testament of Mary, Irish author Colm Toibin imagines Mary's life 20 years after the crucifixion, as she wonders what she might have done differently to ease her son's suffering. "I felt that I was Mary," he says. "I was her consciousness, watching the thing happening."…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Robert Zemeckis And Ken Tucker

2012-12-01

Robert Zemeckis' film tells the story of a pilot who crash-lands a plane while drunk and high. Friends and songwriters Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale just released a new album of duets. Also, Hilary Mantel has just won her second Man Booker Prize, this time for her novel Bring Up The Bodies — the sequel to Wolf Hall.…

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Tracey Thorn: 'Secular Carols' For The Holidays

2012-11-30

Thorn has recorded a holiday album, Tinsel and Lights, that critic Ken Tucker says might just work for warmer weather, as well. Tucker praises Thorn's voice as "bolstered by a firm intelligence," and says she avoids the fatty treacle that often weighs down Christmas albums.…

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'Times' Advice Guru Answers Your Social Q's

2012-11-30

New York Times advice columnist Philip Galanes details how to handle breakups, cellphone calls and food allergies — among other topics — in his book Social Q's: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries and Quagmires of Today.

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Turning Up The Volume On The Electric Blues

2012-11-29

A new 12-disc compilation traces the history of electric blues from its inauspicious start through its heyday in the 1950s and '60s. Critic Ed Ward says Plug It In! Turn It Up! does "a great job of illuminating one particular aspect of the blues."…

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'Flight' Takes On Questions Of Accountability

2012-11-29

In the Robert Zemeckis film starring Denzel Washington, a pilot with a secret substance-abuse problem successfully crash-lands an airplane while high on drugs and alcohol. He must then ask himself some tough questions about whether his act of heroism is undermined by his addiction.…

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'Buddy And Jim': Friends In Life And Songwriting

2012-11-28

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale just released a new album of duets. Critic Ken Tucker says Buddy and Jim recalls an earlier era of country music. The pair's voices, Tucker says, connect through "shared emotion in a song."…

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The Middle East: A Web Of 'Topsy-Turvy' Alliances

2012-11-28

Robert Malley, a program director for the International Crisis Group, analyzes the complexity of the situation in the Middle East, a region where conflicts interconnect and expand upon one another. "These alliances," says Malley, "are not clear cut ... they are alliances of convenience."…

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Cecilia Bartoli's New 'Mission' Unearths Baroque Gems

2012-11-27

Critic Lloyd Schwartz welcomes the opera star's new album, Mission, which breathes new life into the work of Italian composer Agostino Steffani. Bartoli, he says, has an astonishing capacity for vocal fireworks and warm, delicate lyricism.…

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'The Last Refuge': Yemen, Al-Qaida And The U.S.

2012-11-27

In his new book, journalist Gregory Johnsen charts the rise of Yemen as a haven for al-Qaida and explores the recent history of radical Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. The death of Osama bin Laden, he says, had more of an effect on the U.S. psyche than it did on people in Yemen.…

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Jason Kao Hwang: From The Blues To China And Back

2012-11-26

The violinist attempts to mix jazz, classical and traditional Chinese music with his octet on Burning Bridge.…

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Mantel Takes Up Betrayal, Beheadings In 'Bodies'

2012-11-26

Hilary Mantel is the first woman to win the Man Booker Prize twice, first for her 2009 novel, Wolf Hall, and now for that book's 2012 sequel, Bring Up the Bodies. The novels are part of a historical fiction trilogy about Tudor England and the events surrounding the reign of King Henry VIII.…

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Fresh Air Weekend: Colbert, America's Test Kitchen

2012-11-24

From "King Herod's Song" to Ben Folds Five, Stephen Colbert talks about some of his favorite music. America's Test Kitchen experts Jack Bishop and Bridget Lancaster join Fresh Air to explain what makes a great marinade. And critic David Edelstein reviews Life of Pi.…

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A Boy, A Boat, A Tiger: Reflecting On 'Life Of Pi'

2012-11-23

Ang Lee's meticulously controlled style makes a perfect fit for Life of Pi, a passionately overcontrolled adaptation of a wondrous adventure story with a surprisingly harsh sting in its tail.…

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What Happened To 'Baby Jane'? She's Turning 50

2012-11-23

On its 50th anniversary, Robert Aldrich's classic horror film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? has just been released on Blu-ray. Though it's far from a musical, classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz says its musical elements are crucial to the film.…

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Jazz Vocalist Susie Arioli Goes 'All The Way'

2012-11-23

Listen to an in-studio concert and conversation with the Canadian singer and her longtime guitarist, Jordan Officer.…

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'Gershwins And Me' Tells The Stories Behind 12 Songs

2012-11-22

Musician Michael Feinstein chronicles his experience working as an archivist and cataloger for legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin. The book is presented through the stories of 12 of the Gershwin brothers' songs, including "Fascinating Rhythm," "The Man I Love" and "I Got Rhythm."…

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The Mythic Power Of Bessie Smith

2012-11-21

"The Empress of the Blues" gave voice the listeners' tribulations and yearnings of the 1920s and '30s. A new 10-CD box set collects the complete works of the colossus who straddled jazz and blues.…

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A Daughter Remembers Her 'Entertainer' Father

2012-11-21

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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Hungry Hearts And Family Matters In 'Middlesteins'

2012-11-20

Jami Attenberg's black comedy about the fallout of one woman's food addiction is a tough but affecting story about family members putting up with each other. Critic Maureen Corrigan says the novel's fragmented narration and jumpy timeline add to its emotional punch.…

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The Insect Trust: An American Band Deconstructed

2012-11-20

One of the great fantasies of the hippie era was that new combinations of music would emerge from the experimentation that was going on. Still, very few lived it. Ed Ward says The Insect Trust was one of the exceptions.…

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