Fresh Air

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Book Reviews
12:57 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

In 'The Brontes,' Details Of A Family's Strange World

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 3:13 pm

In the new, updated edition of her landmark biography The Brontes, Juliet Barker tells a sad story about Branwell, the infamous brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne.

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Music Interviews
12:30 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Regina Spektor: On Growing Up A 'Soviet Kid'

"To me, the voice is an instrument, just like any other instrument," Regina Spektor says.
Shervin Lainez

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 10:05 pm

Regina Spektor plays the piano so loudly, she has to convince piano tuners to adjust the instrument to her liking.

"It gets so loud that the strings reverberate in a certain way," Spektor says. "And I always want them to work on the voicing and to soften the hammers, and they get kind of argumentative with me — they're like, 'You're not supposed to play this loud.'"

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:03 am
Sat August 25, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Mike Birbiglia, Bill Hader

Scenes in the movie Sleepwalk With Me -- about Mike Birbiglia's sleep disorder — made him emotional while filming them.
Adam Beckman IFC Films

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 6:10 pm

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
12:48 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

How Brazil Lives Now, In 'Neighboring Sounds'

Joao (Gustavo Jahn) and Sofia (Irma Brown) are among the inhabitants of the Recife, Brazil, street where Neighboring Sounds takes place.
Victor Juca Cinema Guild

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 4:39 pm

Between mass tourism and the Internet, it's never been easier to learn about other cultures. Yet we often stay on the surface. Watching the Olympics opening ceremony a few weeks ago, I was struck by how much of what was presented as quintessential Britishness came from pop culture — James Bond and Mary Poppins and the chorus to "Hey Jude." Although Britain had a global empire not that long ago, the show's director, Danny Boyle, grasped that the world's image of his green and pleasant land now largely derives from movies and songs.

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Author Interviews
11:22 am
Fri August 24, 2012

'Incognito': What's Hiding In The Unconscious Mind

Dr. David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and writer. He directs the Laboratory of Perception and Action at Baylor College of Medicine.
Sharon Steinmann Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Texas, Houston Medical School

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 12:48 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on May 31, 2011. David Eagleman's Incognito is now out in paperback.

Your brain doesn't like to keep secrets. Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, have shown that writing down secrets in a journal or telling a doctor your secrets actually decreases the level of stress hormones in your body. Keeping a secret, meanwhile, does the opposite.

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Politics
2:07 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Jane Mayer: Obama In 'Impossible Bind' Over Donors

President Obama is on record as opposing superPACs for normalizing gigantic donations, but his campaign has hesitantly decided to accept donations from such groups. He is shown above speaking during a campaign stop in Oskaloosa, Iowa, last week.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 4:12 pm

When the Supreme Court ruled on the landmark Citizen United case in 2010, the landscape of presidential elections shifted. SuperPACs — entities that can't make direct contributions but are allowed to engage in limitless spending and fundraising independently of the campaigns — have allowed for the some of the largest indirect gifts by wealthy Americans in the nation's history.

Obama is on record as opposing superPACs for normalizing gigantic donations, but his campaign has hesitantly decided to accept donations from these outside groups.

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Author Interviews
12:57 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Paul Auster Meditates On Life, Death And Near Misses

Paul Auster is the author of fiction including The New York Trilogy and In the Country of Last Things.
Lotte Hansen Picador

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 3:28 pm

Paul Auster doesn't take living for granted. At 65, the author has had several "near misses," from sliding face-first into a jutting nail as a child to a traumatic car accident that almost killed him, his wife and his daughter.

Auster's new memoir, Winter Journal, is a series of meditations on his life, aging and mortality — including his mother's death.

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Interviews
1:17 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Bill Hader On Sketch Comedy, His Love Of Old Films

Bill Hader was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Stefon on Saturday Night Live.
Mike Coppola Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 4:12 pm

Comedian Bill Hader is adept onstage and doing live performances. But he's scared to death of standup.

He says he remembers watching Chris Rock's 1996 HBO special, Bring the Pain, and thinking, "I don't know how people do that."

"I need a character," Hader tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I need people out there with me."

So Hader has stuck with sketch comedy — where he has been wildly successful.

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Author Interviews
2:10 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Student 'Subversives' And The FBI's 'Dirty Tricks'

Mario Savio, shown here at a victory rally in UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza on Dec. 9, 1964, was the face of the free speech movement.
AP

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 1:21 pm

In 1964, students at the University of California, Berkeley, formed a protest movement to repeal a campus rule banning students from engaging in political activities.

Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover suspected the free speech movement to be evidence of a Communist plot to disrupt U.S. campuses. He "had long been concerned about alleged subversion within the education field," journalist Seth Rosenfeld tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Remembrances
2:10 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Fresh Air Remembers Comedian Phyllis Diller

Phyllis Diller plays peekaboo with the cameraman before the start of her television show Bonkers in 1979.
Central Press/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 2:35 pm

Phyllis Diller, one of the first and one of the few female comic headliners of her generation, died Monday at the age of 95.

Diller performed in the persona of a crazed housewife. She usually dressed in outlandish, bad-fitting clothes with her hair teased into a disheveled mop. Then she'd fire off long strings of self-deprecating gags. She was so unattractive, she used to tell her audiences, that Peeping Toms asked her to pull her window shades down. Onstage, she called her husband Fang. Diller told Fang jokes like her male counterparts told wife jokes.

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