Fresh Air

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A weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues. Each week nearly two million people tune into the show's intimate conversations.

They say every generation gets the science fiction it deserves, built around its biggest and most primal fears. Well, maybe they don't say that — but they should. In the '50s, all those movies about mutant giant monsters going berserk were a way for us to channel our fears about the atomic bomb. In the same way, in that same decade, all those body-snatcher movies were about being unable to tell friend from foe, or trust even your closest loved ones — the perfect paranoid parable for the Communist witch-hunting era.

Americans put a lot of stock in being likable. Pollsters take surveys of the president's likability. Test screenings check whether we like the characters in movies. And when a literary novelist like Claire Messud mocks the notion that fictional characters should be someone we'd like to be friends with, writers of popular fiction attack her for snootiness.

Late last year, hackers breached Target's data security and stole information from millions of credit cards. Brian Krebs, who writes about cybercrime and computer security for his blog, Krebs on Security, broke the story. A few days later, he broke the story of a credit card breach at Neiman Marcus.

Krebs spends time in the dark areas of the Internet, where hackers steal data off credit cards and sell the information in online underground stores.

'Fresh Air' Remembers Actor Meshach Taylor

Jul 7, 2014

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. The actor Meshach Taylor died on June 28 at the age of 67. We're going to remember him by listening back to our 1990 interview. Taylor was best known for his role on the TV sitcom "Designing Women" playing Anthony Bouvier, an ex-convict who's a deliveryman for a company of women interior designers in Atlanta. He eventually became their partner in the company.

The Westerlies is a quartet of young New York brass players who know each other from school days in Seattle. Their debut album is a set of pieces by Seattle-based composer and improviser Wayne Horvitz. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Horvitz and the Westerlies are a perfect fit.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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:

Dave and Phil Alvin have made their first full album together in nearly 30 years, a tribute to one of their early influences. "His persona was so big to me," Phil Alvin tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Originally broadcast June 11, 2014.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Roger Ebert was often considered the most famous film critic of his generation. Now filmmaker Steve James has produced a documentary about his life and death, called Life Itself.

In 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with cancer. Four years later, he had surgery to remove part of his lower jaw. It left him unable to eat, drink or speak. For the rest of his life, he was fed through a tube.

But his popularity seemed to only increase as he blogged and tweeted about films. Ebert loved movies and went out of his way to champion filmmakers he believed in — including James.

The Supreme Court term ended Monday. The New York Times correspondent and lawyer Adam Liptak talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about what the decisions reveal about the nine justices.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Our book critic, Maureen Corrigan, has a review of the new novel "Friendship" by Emily Gould who made her name in the blogosphere. A recent profile in the New York Times Sunday style section described Gould as a forerunner to Lena Dunham and other confessional female bloggers, writers and filmmakers or whom over-sharing has become an art form.

If you're going to be downbeat, glum, or morose, it's best to do it the way Timothy Showalter does it. Which is, with an energy and purpose that doesn't contradict the melancholy, but rather frames it as various stories — studies in seriousness. He records under the name Strand of Oaks, he writes and performs nearly all of the music on this new album himself. It's titled Heal as in "healing a wound," something Strand of Oaks frequently seems in need of.

What's the most popular seafood in the U.S.? Shrimp. The average American eats more shrimp per capita than tuna and salmon combined. Most of that shrimp comes from Asia, and most of the salmon we eat is also imported. In fact, 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat comes from abroad, but one-third of the seafood Americans catch gets sold to other countries.

To judge from some of the headlines, it was a very big deal. At an event held at the Royal Society in London, for the first time ever, a computer passed the Turing Test, which is widely taken as the benchmark for saying a machine is engaging in intelligent thought. But like the other much-hyped triumphs of artificial intelligence, this one wasn't quite what it appeared. Computers can do things that seem quintessentially human, but they usually take a different path to get there.

Update: Since this story was published, Sony Pictures Television — which produces Communityannounced that Yahoo will be picking the show up for a sixth season. This story has been updated to reflect that development.

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:

Mary Gauthier De-Romanticizes Romantic Love: Trouble & Love is about a relationship that went bad. "I think that this is one where Mary finally gets the lesson," Gauthier tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

'Fresh Air' Remembers Actor Eli Wallach

Jun 27, 2014

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

After The Rapture, Who Are 'The Leftovers'?

Jun 27, 2014

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic, David Bianculli, sitting in for Terry Gross. Our next guest, Tom Perrotta, is a novelist whose latest book, "The Leftovers," is being turned into an HBO series of the same name which premieres Sunday. Perrotta adapted it along with Damon Lindelof, one of the stars of ABC's "Lost." The story of HBO's "The Leftovers" is the same as in Perrotta's novel.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Opening today, in many theaters, is the fourth in Michael Bay's "Transformer" series, "Transformers 4: Age Of Extinction." It's inspired by the Hasbro toys that turn mostly cars and trucks into robots. Another very different kind of apocalyptic, action movie that rolls out today is "Snowpiercer" by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, who made the acclaimed giant monster film, "The Host." Film critic David Edelstein has these reviews.

When director Gillian Robespierre co-wrote the new romantic comedy Obvious Child, she says she wanted to bring attention to an empowered, funny woman who has a realistic, safe abortion.

"We ... wanted to combine a lot of things that we felt our culture was suppressing," Robespierre tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

In the movie, Jenny Slate stars as Donna, a 27-year-old stand-up comic who still doesn't think of herself as an adult. After a drunken one-night stand, she finds out she's pregnant and decides to have an abortion.

Lana Del Rey is a figure of some controversy for her suggestive lyrics, and critical debate as to the extent of her vocal talent versus her talent for publicity. She recently caused a stir when she gave an interview in which she said, quote, "I wish I was dead already," and drew criticism from, among others, Kurt Cobain's daughter Frances Bean.

There are many heroes in the tale of how James Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses, which was banned for over 10 years throughout the English-speaking world, finally won its long battle to be legally published, sold and read. Kevin Birmingham tells that extraordinary story in his new book about Ulysses, called The Most Dangerous Book.

The journalist who covered the war in Iraq, and its aftermath, details the militant Sunni Islamist group, the power it has in Iraq and Syria and how its war is destabilizing neighboring countries.

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a movement to open the polls to blacks in Mississippi and end white supremacy in the state.

Freedom Summer was organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, which recruited 700 college students — mostly white students from the North — to travel to Mississippi and help African-Americans register to vote. The organizers, the students and the black people trying to register were all risking their lives, a measure of how pervasive racism was at the time.

In 1988, Ajami spoke with Terry Gross about an essay he'd written about how political catastrophe came to Beruit, Lebanon, and how the city where he grew up became a land of cruelty and hatred.

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:

John Oliver Is No One's Friend On His New HBO Show: The comedian who was a correspondent on The Daily Show for 7 1/2 years now pokes fun on Last Week Tonight. Oliver talks about tasing his leg, temping for a thief and remaining an outsider.

David Gilbert tells the story of a famous, aging writer whose children do not feel as warmly toward him as his readers do. Originally broadcast July 23, 2013.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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