Fresh Air

Weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to noon and from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
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Television
1:12 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Regis Philbin Explains How He 'Got This Way'

Regis Philbin holds the Guinness World Record for the most time spent in front of a television camera.
Yolanda Perez Photography LLC Harper

Regis Philbin holds the Guinness World Record for clocking more hours in front of a television camera than anyone else in the history of television. The game show and talk show host has been a TV presence for more than 50 years on shows like The Joey Bishop Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, America's Got Talent and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

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Music Reviews
9:02 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Two South-American Jazz Fusions (No, Not That Kind)

Sao Paulo Underground.
Paulo Borgia

Jazz has always drawn on the syncopated rhythms of Cuban music, and occasionally draws on other new world strains, like Brazilian bossa nova in the 1960s. But that interaction between North and South is ongoing.

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:06 pm
Fri November 11, 2011

Fresh Air Weekend: Kirsten Dunst, Darrell Hammond

Kirsten Dunst plays Justine, whose well-planned wedding takes place as a planet called Melancholia heads directly towards Earth.
Magnolia Pictures

Originally published on Sat November 12, 2011 11:22 am

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

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Movie Reviews
11:10 am
Fri November 11, 2011

As The World Ends, A Certain 'Melancholia' Sets In

Kirsten Dunst's well-planned wedding takes place as a planet called Melancholia heads directly towards Earth.
Magnolia Pictures

Metaphors don't come balder than the one at the center of Lars von Trier's Melancholia. It's both the emotional state of the protagonist Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, and also the name of a small planet on what might be a collision course with Earth. Actually, it does strike Earth in a lyrical, eight-minute, slow-motion prelude, but there's no way to know if that's real or a dream. Of course, the whole film can be taken as a dream, a bad but gorgeous one scored to the same few bars of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde.

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The Fresh Air Interview
10:50 am
Fri November 11, 2011

Honoring Veterans With A Military Clarinet Quartet

The Bay State Winds feature, from left to right, TSgt. Christy Bailes, SSgt. Matthew Ayala, MSgt. Jennifer Dashnaw and MSgt. Kevin Connors
TSgt Weidemann US Air Force Bands of Liberty

Originally published on Fri November 11, 2011 11:26 am

This interview was originally broadcast on September 9, 2011.

The Bay State Winds, the clarinet quartet of the Air Force Band of Liberty, plays music ranging from patriotic songs to Bach to Broadway. The three clarinetists and one bass clarinetist who make up the group routinely play for community members and troops both stateside and overseas.

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The Fresh Air Interview
10:15 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Joe Henry: An Eclectic And Raucous 'Reverie'

Joe Henry's new album, Reverie, features all-acoustic performances from his basement.
Epitaph

Over the past two decades, Grammy Award-winning producer Joe Henry has worked with some of the biggest artists in rock, folk, jazz, soul and alt-country.

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Movie Interviews
9:57 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Dunst: Expressing Something Blue In Melancholia

Justine's well-planned wedding takes place as a planet called Melancholia heads directly towards Earth.
Magnolia Pictures

Lars von Trier's Melancholia stars Kirsten Dunst as a depressed woman on her wedding day, just before the end of the world. "Melancholia" refers not only to the mood of the film, but to the name of a planet that's now heading for a direct collision course with the planet Earth.

When it looks like Melancholia is going to destroy the planet, everyone around Dunst's character Justine panics. But Justine remains eerily calm, seeming almost revitalized by the knowledge that all life on Earth might end instantaneously.

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Country
10:19 am
Wed November 9, 2011

'Four The Record,' Lambert Comes To Terms With Herself

Miranda Lambert
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Four the Record is a transitional collection for Miranda Lambert. Her preceding three albums played up the idea of Miranda as a good ol' gal with an explosive emotional streak. You saw it in titles like "Kerosene," "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and "Gunpowder and Lead." Four The Record is an album whose subtext is all about coming to terms with the expectations of her audience, and with her expectations for herself as a performer wanting to broaden her subject matter, to work in more varied styles.

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Author Interviews
11:24 am
Tue November 8, 2011

James Wolcott: 'Lucking Out' In 1970s New York

Two pedestrians stand on Broadway at West 44th Street in New York's Times Square on a November night in 1976. In his new memoir, critic James Wolcott writes about his life in 1970s New York.
AP

Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 3:04 pm

When critic James Wolcott was a college sophomore, he wrote an article about Norman Mailer for his student paper. After the article was published, Wolcott found Mailer's address in a copy of Who's Who and mailed him a copy. Mailer wrote back.

"[He said]: 'When you leave college, I'd be willing to write a letter for you to editor Dan Wolf at The Village Voice," recalls Wolcott.

Wolcott knew he couldn't wait the two years until graduation. He wrote back to Mailer.

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Animals
11:01 am
Tue November 8, 2011

How Dogs Evolved Into 'Our Best Friends'

Dogs today evolved from wolves who first developed a relationship with humans on the hunting trail.
iStockphoto.com

Dogs have aided humans for thousands of years. Man's best friend has provided protection, companionship and hunting assistance since the days of the earliest human settlements.

But how and when dogs evolved from wolves is a matter of debate. Naturalist Mark Derr says there are two main schools of thought: Some researchers believe that humans domesticated wolves who were scrounging around their villages for trash. Others think that humans were taking care of wolves from the time they were puppies — until enough puppies were tamed and they somehow then evolved into dogs.

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Book Reviews
2:52 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Life Without Plot In 'Leaving The Atocha Station'

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

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

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Author Interviews
11:16 am
Mon November 7, 2011

'SNL's' Darrell Hammond Reveals Cutting, Abuse

Darrell Hammond
HarperCollinsPublishers

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

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

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Author Interviews
10:56 am
Mon November 7, 2011

How The World's Tallest Skyscrapers Work

Kate Ascher

Originally published on Mon November 7, 2011 1:01 pm

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

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

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Fresh Air Weekend
1:19 am
Sat November 5, 2011

Fresh Air Weekend: Tom Waits, Bill Nighy

Tom Waits
James Michin III courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat November 5, 2011 1:23 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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Music Reviews
10:36 am
Fri November 4, 2011

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

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

Originally published on Fri November 4, 2011 2:03 pm

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

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Movie Reviews
12:54 am
Fri November 4, 2011

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

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

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

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Music Reviews
11:07 am
Thu November 3, 2011

Kelly Clarkson's Vocals Keep Getting 'Stronger'

Kelly Clarkson.
Harper Smith

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

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Book Reviews
8:57 am
Thu November 3, 2011

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

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

AP

Originally published on Thu November 3, 2011 11:16 am

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

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Movie Interviews
11:41 am
Wed November 2, 2011

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

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

Masterpiece Classic

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

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

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Author Interviews
11:30 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Joan Didion: Crafting An Elegy For Her Daughter

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

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

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Space
9:54 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Exploring 'The Hidden Reality' Of Parallel Worlds

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

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

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

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Movie Reviews
11:38 am
Tue November 1, 2011

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

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

Acorn Media

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

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Author Interviews
10:45 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Interrupting Violence With The Message 'Don't Shoot'

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

Courtesy of David M. Kennedy

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

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

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Music Reviews
9:45 am
Tue November 1, 2011

The SMiLE Sessions: A Window Into The Beach Boys

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

Hulton Archive Getty Images

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

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The Fresh Air Interview
11:00 am
Mon October 31, 2011

Tom Waits: The Fresh Air Interview

Tom Waits.

Jesse Dylan

Originally published on Thu November 3, 2011 7:40 am

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

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