Fresh Air

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Author Interviews
12:06 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

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

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 12:40 pm

Wine is our original alcoholic beverage. It dates back 8,000 years and, as Paul Lukacs writes in his new book, Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures, was originally valued more because it was believed to be of divine origin than for its taste. And that's a good thing, Lukacs tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, because early wine was not particularly good.

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Books
12:06 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

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

Colm Toibin's new novel, The Testament of Mary, imagines the life of the mother of Christ in her later years.
Steve Heap iStockphoto

In his new novel, The Testament of Mary, Irish writer Colm Toibin imagines Mary's life 20 years after the crucifixion. She is struggling to understand why some people believe Jesus is the son of God, and weighed down by the guilt she feels wondering what she might have done differently to alter — or ease — her son's fate.

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Fresh Air Weekend
8:03 am
Sat December 1, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Robert Zemeckis And Ken Tucker

Acclaimed writer-director-producer Robert Zemeckis has worked on more than 30 films, including the Back to the Future series and Forrest Gump, for which he won an Oscar for best director.
Robert Zuckerman Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Sat December 1, 2012 10:49 am

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

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Author Interviews
1:24 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

'Times' Advice Guru Answers Your Social Q's

When you're out with friends, put your cell phone away, advises New York Times advice columnist Philip Galanes.
iStockphoto.com

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 5, 2011. Social Q's is now out in paperback.

Need advice on when it's appropriate to break up with someone over email? Want to know how to react if your dinner companion whips out a cellphone midway through a meal? What about how to deal with your annoying relatives during the holidays?

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Music Reviews
12:17 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Tracey Thorn: 'Secular Carols' For The Holidays

Tracey Thorn, famous for her work in Everything but the Girl, has a new solo album of seasonal tunes called Tinsel and Lights.
Edward Bishop Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 1:24 pm

Tracey Thorn's interpretation of "Maybe This Christmas," by the Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, is typical of her new holiday album, Tinsel and Lights: It's simply arranged, emphasizing Thorn's lovely, delicate voice and bolstered by a firm intelligence; it avoids the fatty treacle that weighs down lots of Christmas albums. Tinsel and Lights mixes familiar songs with new ones, such as the title song written by Thorn.

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Music Reviews
2:21 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Turning Up The Volume On The Electric Blues

Joe Hill Louis, B.B. King and Rufus Thomas appear on a new multi-disc compilation of electric blues, Plug It In! Turn It Up!
Bear Family Records

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 6:12 am

Blues is so much a part of the fabric of American music and American culture — not only as a defined musical form, but also as a springboard for all kinds of creativity — that it seems crazy to try to encapsulate it in any way. Bear Family Records, though, has just released a 12-disc survey of electric blues called Plug It In! Turn It Up! that does a great job of illuminating one particular aspect of the blues.

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Movie Interviews
11:42 am
Thu November 29, 2012

'Flight' Takes On Questions Of Accountability

Denzel Washington stars in Flight, the latest film from writer-producer-director Robert Zemeckis.
Robert Zuckerman Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 2:21 pm

Director, producer and screenwriter Robert Zemeckis is known for the Back to the Future films — which marked his arrival onto the Hollywood scene in the mid-1980s — as well as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump. His latest film, Flight, stars Denzel Washington as William "Whip" Whitaker, a heroic airline pilot with a dark secret.

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Middle East
3:55 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

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

After a week of recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, an Israeli soldier stands on top of a mobile artillery unit in a position near the Israel Gaza border.
Ariel Schalit Getty Images

Writing for the New York Review of Books at the beginning of November, Robert Malley, the program director for the Middle East and North Africa with the International Crisis Group, and Hussein Agha described the current situation in the Middle East:

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Music Reviews
1:34 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

'Buddy And Jim': Friends In Life And Songwriting

Musicians and friends Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale team up on a new album of country duets called Buddy and Jim.
Michael Wilson photo/Paul Moore design Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 5:04 pm

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale are singer-songwriters who've each written hits for country and rock acts, and have enjoyed extensive solo careers as performers and producers. Buddy and Jim is their first collaboration, a mixture of original songs and covers from earlier decades of country, rock, folk and soul music.

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Author Interviews
2:31 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

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

W.W. Norton & Co.

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 2:47 pm

In December 2009, a would-be terrorist boarded a plane for Detroit with a bomb in his underwear. While the explosive failed to properly ignite and the man was arrested upon landing, the ensuing investigation revealed the bomb in question had been made by al-Qaida leaders in Yemen.

This attempted act of terrorism heralded both the small Arabian country's re-emergence into the international consciousness as a refuge for al-Qaida and the ascendance of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), developments that have grown only more pronounced since.

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Music Reviews
12:52 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Cecilia Bartoli's New 'Mission' Unearths Baroque Gems

On her new album, opera star Cecilia Bartoli tackles the work of Baroque composer Agostino Steffani.
Uli Weber Decca

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 2:17 pm

I never heard of the Baroque composer Agostino Steffani until last year, when the Boston Early Music Festival presented the North American premiere of Steffani's Niobe, an opera about the mythical queen who bragged so much about her many children, the gods killed them all in revenge. One of the leading roles, Niobe's husband King Amphion, was played by the early-music superstar countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, who sang the opera's most sublime aria — a hymn to the harmony of the spheres. I couldn't wait to hear Jaroussky again, and was eager to hear more Steffani.

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Author Interviews
2:35 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Mantel Takes Up Betrayal, Beheadings In 'Bodies'

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall won both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, won this year's Man Booker Prize.
Francesco Guidicini

This year, Hilary Mantel made history when she won a Man Booker Prize for her novel Bring Up the Bodies. She had previously been awarded the prize — England's highest literary honor — for her 2009 novel, Wolf Hall, and is now the first woman to receive the award twice.

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Music Reviews
11:32 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Jason Kao Hwang: From The Blues To China And Back

Burning Bridge personnel, left to right: Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Wang Guowei (erhu), Sun Li (pipa), Ken Filiano (string bass), Andrew Drury (drum set), Joseph Daley (tuba), Steve Swell (trombone), Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet/flugelhorn).
Scott Friedlander Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 1:20 pm

Jazz reflects who we are as a people — democracy in action and all that. But a jazz tune or solo is also a portrait of the musician who makes it; the music reflects the particular background and training that influences how composers compose and improvisers improvise. Jason Kao Hwang makes that autobiographical component explicit throughout his extended composition for eight pieces, Burning Bridge. His parents made the move from China around the end of WWII, and he grew up attending Presbyterian services in suburban Chicago.

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Fresh Air Weekend
8:03 am
Sat November 24, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Colbert, America's Test Kitchen

Stephen Colbert (right) performs with Ben Folds on the set of his TV show, The Colbert Report.
Kris Long

Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 10:54 am

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

Stephen Colbert's Most Meaningful Musical Moments: Colbert loves music and loves to sing, so Fresh Air's Terry Gross asked him to bring a few songs that mean a lot to him and tell her why.

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Movies
12:54 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

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

Bette Davis in the role of Jane Hudson in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? The classic horror film, which has just turned 50, is being released on Blu-ray
AP

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 1:33 pm

Baby Jane Hudson is now 50 years old — or at least the strange and brilliant movie in which she's the main character is, just released as a beautifully remastered Blu-ray. Robert Aldrich's grotesque gothic tragedy is a cross between Gypsy, with its antithetical show-biz kid sisters, and Sunset Boulevard, with its decayed Hollywood glamour.

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Movie Reviews
11:28 am
Fri November 23, 2012

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

Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) begins a journey of personal growth and spiritual discovery after being lost at sea.
20th Century Fox

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 12:54 pm

Director Ang Lee has a surprising affinity for the Indian hero of Life of Pi — that's his name, Pi, and he's seen at several ages but principally as a 17-year-old boy adrift on a lifeboat in the South Pacific. He's the lone survivor of a shipwreck that killed the crew, his family and a variety of zoo animals his father was transporting to North America for sale.

Actually, Pi is the lone human survivor. He shares his boat and its dwindling food supplies with a man-eating Bengal tiger.

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Music
8:03 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Jazz Vocalist Susie Arioli Goes 'All The Way'

Susie Arioli's new album, All the Way, was released in June.
Marianne Larochelle

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 12:54 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Aug. 8, 2012.

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Books
8:03 am
Thu November 22, 2012

'Gershwins And Me' Tells The Stories Behind 12 Songs

Michael Feinstein (right) worked for six years as Ira Gershwin's cataloger and archivist.
Simon & Schuster

Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 9:46 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 17, 2012.

Long before singer and pianist Michael Feinstein became famous in his own right, he had the privilege of working closely with legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin, as his archivist and cataloger. In his book, The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs, Feinstein writes firsthand about the musical world of the American composers and brothers, George and Ira Gershwin.

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Author Interviews
12:26 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

A Daughter Remembers Her 'Entertainer' Father

Lyle Talbot began his career as an itinerant carnival and vaudeville performer before eventually making his way to Hollywood.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 12:45 pm

If you look up the name Lyle Talbot on IMDb, you'll find dozens of films and television shows he appeared in, starting with the 1931 short The Nightingale and ending with roles on Newhart and Who's the Boss. He made a movie with Bogart before Bogart was a star. He worked with child star Shirley Temple, was featured in the Ed Wood cult classics Plan 9 from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda?, and had a recurring role on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as Ozzie's friend and neighbor Joe Randolph.

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Music Reviews
12:26 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

The Mythic Power Of Bessie Smith

circa 1935: American singer Bessie Smith (circa 1894 - 1937), known as the Empress of the Blues. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Three Lions Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 10:39 am

Vocalist Bessie Smith's musical career, spanning 1923-33, has been collected in a new 10-CD box set, Bessie Smith: The Complete Columbia Recordings.

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Book Reviews
2:00 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Hungry Hearts And Family Matters In 'Middlesteins'

iStockphoto.com

At first glance, a novel in which the main character eats herself to death may not seem like the most felicitous pick for Thanksgiving week; but The Middlesteins turns out to be a tough but affecting story about family members putting up with each other, even in their most unlovely, chewing-with-their-mouths-open life moments. If you have a Thanksgiving family reunion looming before you that doesn't exactly promise to be a Norman Rockwell painting, The Middlesteins may just be the perfect literary corrective to overindulgence in high-calorie holiday expectations.

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Author Interviews
1:30 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

A Model Career: 'Grace' Goes From Runway To Vogue

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 3:25 pm

Grace Coddington grew up on what she calls "an island off an island," far from the fashion industry. Her new memoir, Grace, chronicles her journey from a sleepy town on the coast of Wales to her current job as the creative director of Vogue magazine.

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Music Reviews
11:52 am
Tue November 20, 2012

The Insect Trust: An American Band Deconstructed

The Insect Trust.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 10:40 am

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Movie Interviews
2:42 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

'Life Of Pi' Star On The 'Duet' Of Acting

Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan) looks back on the adventure he went on as a teenager in Life of Pi.
Peter Sorel Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 3:54 pm

You might think that actor Irrfan Khan — the co-star of the special effects-filled film Life of Pi -- performed his scenes by himself, or with inanimate objects that would later be transformed via CGI. Not so: As the older Pi in Ang Lee's new adaptation of the best-selling novel, Khan went back to the basics.

He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he thinks of scenes as being like duets: "You strike a note, and somebody responds, and then you respond accordingly," Khan says.

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Author Interviews
1:35 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

'Color Of Christ': A Story Of Race And Religion In America

UNC Press

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 3:55 pm

What did Jesus look like? The many different depictions of Christ tell a story about race and religion in America. Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey explore that history in their new book, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America. The book traces how different races and ethnic groups claimed Christ as their own — and how depictions of Jesus have both inspired civil rights crusades, and been used to justify the violence of white supremacists.

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