Fresh Air

News & Information: Mon-Fri • 3pm-4pm | 6pm-7pm
Terry Gross

A weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues featuring in-depth yet intimate conversations with top news makers. Interviews are complemented with contributions from well-known critics and commentators.

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Movie Interviews
11:28 am
Mon February 9, 2015

From 'Batman' To 'Birdman,' Michael Keaton Knows Suits And Superheroes

In Birdman, Michael Keaton plays both the actor Riggan Thomson, who is having an identity crisis, and his alter ego, Birdman, who badgers him because he gave up a lucrative Hollywood career for a play in an old Broadway theater.
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 5:59 am

In the existential comedy Birdman, Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, a washed-up, insecure actor looking for a second shot at fame and success. He's entirely focused on himself. Keaton says this sort of narcissism — "that constant neediness and insecurity and whininess and me, me, me" — didn't come easily to him.

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Fresh Air Weekend
8:28 am
Sat February 7, 2015

Fresh Air Weekend: Bradley Cooper, Review Of 'Better Call Saul,' David Linden

Jonathan Banks (left) plays Mike Ehrmantraut, a former cop and a hit man, on the new AMC series Better Call Saul. He often carries out illegal instructions from Saul Goodman (right, played by Bob Odenkirk).
Ben Leuner Courtesy of AMC

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

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Movie Reviews
10:18 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Second 'SpongeBob' Movie Is A Nonsensical, Loud, Choppy Triumph

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:43 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Television
10:18 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Bob Odenkirk Brings Some Laughs To 'Breaking Bad'

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:43 am

Lawyer Saul Goodman knows how to bend the law, or break it, depending on his clients' needs. Odenkirk talks about playing the comedic character, and the origins of Saul's comb-over.

Originally broadcast Aug. 6, 2013.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Remembrances
12:23 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Fresh Air Remembers Charlie Sifford, Who Broke Barriers In Golf

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Author Interviews
12:23 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Novelist's 'Disgruntled' Heroine Is Drawn From Her Own Childhood

In 2007, Asali Solomon was named one of the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35." Her previous book, Get Down, is a collection of short stories. She teaches English literature and creative writing at Haverford College.
Ron Nichols Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Growing up in West Philadelphia, novelist Asali Solomon felt like an outsider. "The lifestyle I was leading was different from what other people were leading," Solomon tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "Like, my parents taught us to revere Africa — people at school made fun of Africa."

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Music
10:46 am
Wed February 4, 2015

Lennie Tristano: Cool Reputation, Hot Jazz

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 10:52 am

Lennie Tristano had a cool, egghead reputation — Time called him the "Schoenberg of Jazz" — but he could play pretty hot. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a newly released 1951 live recording by the pianist's sextet at Chicago's Blue Note club.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Television
10:46 am
Wed February 4, 2015

'Better Call Saul,' The Prequel To 'Breaking Bad,' Stands On Its Own

On Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk plays Jimmy McGill, a fast-talking, struggling public defender who decides to remake himself as Saul Goodman, a lawyer specializing in representing unabashed criminals.
Ben Leuner Courtesy of AMC

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 1:35 pm

I'm guessing that the first thing fans of Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad want to know is whether its AMC prequel series, Better Call Saul, premiering Sunday and Monday, is anywhere near as good as the original — which was TV at its very best. And I'm also guessing that people who haven't yet worked their way through Breaking Bad -- and, really, by now, why haven't you? — are wondering whether they can enjoy this new series without having absorbed the old one.

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Medical Treatments
10:46 am
Wed February 4, 2015

New Meds Block Heroin Craving, But Reporter Finds Treatment Centers Don't Use Them

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 10:52 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Music
10:51 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Bob Dylan Looks To The Ageless American Songbook

Bob Dylan's unusual new album Shadows in the Night consists of ten cover versions of standards from the American Popular Songbook including "Autumn Leaves" and "Some Enchanted Evening." Dylan is accompanied by a five-piece band on songs that usually use orchestral accompaniment, and the singer has said the recordings were done live in "one or two takes." Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says Dylan both infuses the songs with his personality, while also allowing them to be heard anew.

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Shots - Health News
10:51 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Fingertips To Hair Follicles: Why 'Touch' Triggers Pleasure And Pain

David Linden is a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and is a former chief editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. He also wrote The Compass of Pleasure.
Jacob Linden Courtesy of Viking

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 1:39 pm

The rate at which someone strokes your hair can cause feelings of pleasure or annoyance — too slow is repulsive, too fast is annoying, and just right soothes.

There's a scientific explanation for this: People have special nerve endings (wrapped around the base of hair follicles) that detect the deflection of the hairs.

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Movie Interviews
11:44 am
Mon February 2, 2015

Bradley Cooper: 'Sniper' Controversy Distracts From Film's Message About Vets

Bradley Cooper gained 40 pounds of muscle to play Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in the film American Sniper. "It wasn't at all like a costume," he said. "It was like ... this sort of transformative experience to me because there was no going home from it."
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 12:17 pm

The film American Sniper has prompted arguments about its depiction of the Iraq War and become a cultural lightning rod. But Bradley Cooper, who plays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and was also a producer on the film, didn't expect the conversation to go that way. Then again, "war is such an emotional subject, so maybe I was a fool to think it wouldn't," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Fresh Air Weekend
8:35 am
Sat January 31, 2015

Fresh Air Weekend: Benedict Cumberbatch, 'American Sniper' Review And 'Teenage Brain'

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
11:29 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Are We Having Fun Yet? New Book Explores The Paradox Of Parenting

Kids can be magical and maddening. The title of Jennifer Senior's book — All Joy and No Fun — contrasts the strains of day-to-day parenting with the transcendent experience of raising a child.

Originally broadcast Feb. 4, 2014.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Movie Reviews
11:29 am
Fri January 30, 2015

When Islamists Impose Their Will In 'Timbuktu,' One Family Resists

Mehdi A.G. Mohamed (left) plays Issan, the orphaned boy who lives with a family outside Timbuktu. The family decides not to leave when radical Islamists come to impose Sharia, or Islamic law.
Courtesy of Cohen Media Group

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 12:09 pm

The word "Timbuktu" is slang in the West for East of Nowhere, but in the film Timbuktu, this city in Mali on the edge of the Sahara is an epicenter, a volatile crossroads for several distinct cultures. There are African women in radiant colors, white-garbed Muslim men in mosques, fishermen who live along the river and nomadic herders who pitch their tents on dunes. And then there are the most recent arrivals: an al-Qaida-affiliated group called Ansar Dine that in 2012 took over Timbuktu and announced the enforcement of Sharia, or Islamic law.

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Remembrances
11:29 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Fresh Air Remembers Long-Time New York TV And Radio Personality Joe Franklin

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE JOE FRANKLIN SHOW")

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Book Reviews
11:21 am
Thu January 29, 2015

In 'Outline,' A Series Of Conversations Are Autobiographies In Miniature

The narrator of Rachel Cusk's new novel Outline is a novelist and divorced mother of two who has agreed to teach a summer course in creative writing in Athens. The novel itself is composed of some 10 conversations that she has with, among others, her seatmate on the plane flying to Greece, her students in the writing class, dinner companions and fellow teachers.

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Religion
11:21 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Editor Picks Religions For The First Norton Anthology of World Religions

Originally published on Sun February 8, 2015 5:37 pm

A NOTE FROM FRESH AIR: Following the broadcast of our interview with Jack Miles, we heard from a number of listeners who pointed out that a question in the interview misrepresented Hinduism, describing it as a polytheistic religion. In the unedited version of the interview, Jack Miles's response included this clarification: "it is important to note that there is a kind of monotheism hidden within Hindu polytheism ... you have not only monotheism, but a step beyond it: monism, a single reality that includes both the world and the human."

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Shots - Health News
11:42 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Why Teens Are Impulsive, Addiction-Prone And Should Protect Their Brains

Dr. Frances Jensen is a professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
Courtesy of Harper Collins

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 10:26 am

Teens can't control impulses and make rapid, smart decisions like adults can — but why?

Research into how the human brain develops helps explain. In a teenager, the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls decision-making, is built but not fully insulated — so signals move slowly.

"Teenagers are not as readily able to access their frontal lobe to say, 'Oh, I better not do this,' " Dr. Frances Jensen tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Movie Reviews
11:38 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Full Of Complexity And Ambivalence, 'American Sniper' Shows The Cost Of War

Bradley Cooper (right) plays Chris Kyle in American Sniper. The film has become a cultural phenomenon and has spawned knee-jerk squabbling.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 12:03 pm

In the years following the invasion of Iraq, it became a truism that Americans simply didn't want to hear about the war — especially at the movies. While there were scads of films about Iraq, including Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, none was able to attract a big audience. Until American Sniper.

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