1. FXX is going to have a 12-day Simpsons marathon, playing all 552 episodes.  In appreciation of the series, we’ve compiled several of our Simpsons interviews into one show. 

Since The Simpsons began, Fresh Air’s Terry Gross has interviewed many people who have had a hand creating the show – from Matt Groening in 1989 and 2003 to  two of the writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss in 1992. Gross also talked with actors who do the voices, including Nancy Cartwright, who plays Bart, in 2007; Julie Kavner, the voice of Marge in 1994; Hank Azaria, the voice of Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum and others in 2004.

Here, Simpsons creator Matt Groening tells Terry about how they occasionally got in trouble with the Fox network: 

"At the beginning, virtually anything we did would get somebody upset and now it seems like the people who are eager to be offended — and this country is full of people who are eager to be offended. They’ve given up on our show. We got into trouble a few years ago for — Homer is watching an anti-drinking commercial and it said, "Warning! Beer causes rectal cancer." And Homer responds by saying, "Mmm beer." Fox didn’t want us to do that because beer advertisers are a big part of the Fox empire and it turns out the writer was able to track down the actual fact where some studies show that indeed it does — or did or has a tendency to [cause cancer] — so we were able to keep it in."


Photo: Courtesy of Fox  View in High-Res

    FXX is going to have a 12-day Simpsons marathon, playing all 552 episodes.  In appreciation of the series, we’ve compiled several of our Simpsons interviews into one show. 

    Since The Simpsons began, Fresh Air’s Terry Gross has interviewed many people who have had a hand creating the show – from Matt Groening in 1989 and 2003 to  two of the writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss in 1992. Gross also talked with actors who do the voices, including Nancy Cartwright, who plays Bart, in 2007; Julie Kavner, the voice of Marge in 1994; Hank Azaria, the voice of Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum and others in 2004.

    Here, Simpsons creator Matt Groening tells Terry about how they occasionally got in trouble with the Fox network: 

    "At the beginning, virtually anything we did would get somebody upset and now it seems like the people who are eager to be offended — and this country is full of people who are eager to be offended. They’ve given up on our show. We got into trouble a few years ago for — Homer is watching an anti-drinking commercial and it said, "Warning! Beer causes rectal cancer." And Homer responds by saying, "Mmm beer." Fox didn’t want us to do that because beer advertisers are a big part of the Fox empire and it turns out the writer was able to track down the actual fact where some studies show that indeed it does — or did or has a tendency to [cause cancer] — so we were able to keep it in."

    Photo: Courtesy of Fox 

  2. the simpsons

    fresh air

    interview

  1. Today we’re doing a Simpsons-themed show. We’ve got interviews with the actors who voice Bart and Marge Simpson, Moe/Apu, the head writers/producers and creator Matt Groening. 
Starting Thursday morning FXX is doing a 12-day marathon of all 552 episodes. So do a dance, Lisa style. 

    Today we’re doing a Simpsons-themed show. We’ve got interviews with the actors who voice Bart and Marge Simpson, Moe/Apu, the head writers/producers and creator Matt Groening

    Starting Thursday morning FXX is doing a 12-day marathon of all 552 episodes. So do a dance, Lisa style. 

  2. the simpsons

    bart simpson

    marge simpson

    fresh air

    interview

    matt groening

  1. American medicine is the best in the world when it comes to providing high-tech care. If you have an esoteric disease, you want to be in the United States. God forbid you have Ebola, our academic medical centers are second to none. But if you have run-of-the-mill chronic diseases like congestive heart failure or diabetes, the system is not designed to find you the best possible care. And that’s what has to change.

    — 

    Dr. Sandeep Jauhar

    Dr. Jauhar’s book is called Doctored: The Disillusionment of An American Physician

  2. medicine

    doctors

    medical system

    fresh air

    interview

  1. Did you overdo it last night? Well, Adam Rogers is here to tell you that most of what you know about hangovers is a myth:

"The famous one is probably dehydration. Everyone will tell you, "Oh it’s because alcohol dehydrates you and that’s what’s causing the hangover."… [So you’re told to] alternate [between water and alcohol], or have a big glass of water before you go to bed, and some of that comes from the fact that you do get dehydrated. But, in fact, the dehydration does not seem to be what’s causing the hangover. You can fix the dehydration — and you’re still hung over.
[Also,] it’s probably not the case that it’s blood sugar that’s causing the hangover. When you drink, your blood sugar levels are affected. But by the time you’re hung over, your blood sugar levels are back to normal.
There’s that thing about mixing your drinks — drinking beer and then drinking wine, right? Again, no, you can do the study where you can have somebody drinking the same drink and getting to the same blood alcohol level and somebody drinking different drinks and getting to the same blood alcohol and they both get the same hangover, they both report the same symptoms.”


Rogers’ book is called Proof: The Science of Booze. View in High-Res

    Did you overdo it last night? Well, Adam Rogers is here to tell you that most of what you know about hangovers is a myth:

    "The famous one is probably dehydration. Everyone will tell you, "Oh it’s because alcohol dehydrates you and that’s what’s causing the hangover."… [So you’re told to] alternate [between water and alcohol], or have a big glass of water before you go to bed, and some of that comes from the fact that you do get dehydrated. But, in fact, the dehydration does not seem to be what’s causing the hangover. You can fix the dehydration — and you’re still hung over.

    [Also,] it’s probably not the case that it’s blood sugar that’s causing the hangover. When you drink, your blood sugar levels are affected. But by the time you’re hung over, your blood sugar levels are back to normal.

    There’s that thing about mixing your drinks — drinking beer and then drinking wine, right? Again, no, you can do the study where you can have somebody drinking the same drink and getting to the same blood alcohol level and somebody drinking different drinks and getting to the same blood alcohol and they both get the same hangover, they both report the same symptoms.”

    Rogers’ book is called Proof: The Science of Booze.

  2. fresh air

    interview

    alcohol

    booze

    drunk

    hangover

    bourbon

    adam rogers

  1. Hollywood icon Lauren Bacall spoke to Terry Gross in 1994 about her deep voice, falling in love with Humphrey Bogart and what became known as “the look,” when she’d have her chin down, looking up:

I was terribly nervous during To Have and Have Not, it was quite a terrifying experience for me. And I was this kid and I was scared to death of all these pros around me and really had almost no experience on the stage and certainly none in film.I shook when [Director Howard] Hawks said “action” and there was quiet on the set and I’d start to walk into a scene. And then my head would shake and my hands would shake and I discovered if I kept my head down and looked up my head would not shake, so I started to do that when I could, when it was appropriate in a scene.And that’s how “the look” came about, but it wasn’t that I had planned to have a look — it was just a way to keep my head steady. It was very important! It’s terrible to look at another actor when your head is shaking.


Bacall passed away Tuesday at the age of 89.  View in High-Res

    Hollywood icon Lauren Bacall spoke to Terry Gross in 1994 about her deep voice, falling in love with Humphrey Bogart and what became known as “the look,” when she’d have her chin down, looking up:

    I was terribly nervous during To Have and Have Not, it was quite a terrifying experience for me. And I was this kid and I was scared to death of all these pros around me and really had almost no experience on the stage and certainly none in film.

    I shook when [Director Howard] Hawks said “action” and there was quiet on the set and I’d start to walk into a scene. And then my head would shake and my hands would shake and I discovered if I kept my head down and looked up my head would not shake, so I started to do that when I could, when it was appropriate in a scene.

    And that’s how “the look” came about, but it wasn’t that I had planned to have a look — it was just a way to keep my head steady. It was very important! It’s terrible to look at another actor when your head is shaking.

    Bacall passed away Tuesday at the age of 89. 

  2. lauren bacall

    hollywood

    humphrey bogart

    fresh air

    interview

  1. The new Cinemax series The Knick is set in a New York hospital in 1900, where surgeons were developing new, ground-breaking techniques. The series mixes new developments in medicine (like an x-ray machine) with more mainstream things like electricity.  Show writer Jack Amiel explains how they filmed it to capture the turn-of-the-century aesthetic: 

"The dim lighting was [director] Steven Soderbergh’s brilliant choice and it was real. This was not an era when you had high-wattage light bulbs and everything was lit, it was an era when this was all new and not everything was wired for electricity. We wanted the reality of the darkness and the grit and what life was really like. Technology, ironically, helped us with this because Steven uses a camera called “The Red Dragon” and it has such an incredibly sensitive light sensor that you can be in a room where two characters are only lit by one candle in the center of a table and you can shoot that scene. It can bring more light or less light, it is extraordinary. Steven really took advantage of that and allowed us to see what the darkness really was back then."


Today’s interview is with show writers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler and The Knick’s resident medical historian, Dr. Stanley Burns.  View in High-Res

    The new Cinemax series The Knick is set in a New York hospital in 1900, where surgeons were developing new, ground-breaking techniques. The series mixes new developments in medicine (like an x-ray machine) with more mainstream things like electricity.  Show writer Jack Amiel explains how they filmed it to capture the turn-of-the-century aesthetic: 

    "The dim lighting was [director] Steven Soderbergh’s brilliant choice and it was real. This was not an era when you had high-wattage light bulbs and everything was lit, it was an era when this was all new and not everything was wired for electricity. We wanted the reality of the darkness and the grit and what life was really like. Technology, ironically, helped us with this because Steven uses a camera called “The Red Dragon” and it has such an incredibly sensitive light sensor that you can be in a room where two characters are only lit by one candle in the center of a table and you can shoot that scene. It can bring more light or less light, it is extraordinary. Steven really took advantage of that and allowed us to see what the darkness really was back then."

    Today’s interview is with show writers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler and The Knick’s resident medical historian, Dr. Stanley Burns

  2. the knick

    cinemax

    fresh air

    interview

    medicine

    clive owen

  1. A Scientist’s Mission To Break The Itch-Scratch Cycle
Dr. Gil Yosipovitch is a leading scientist in the field of itch. He says he hopes to gain more respect for the debilitating power of chronic itch — and to get more doctors on the search for a cure. Here’s what’s happening in your brain when you’ve got chronic itch: 

"The neural system is significantly involved. It transmits itch signals from the skin, where itch emanates, up into the spinal cord and up to the brain… The nerves are acting wacky. When these patients have chronic itch [they] become very sensitive, [so] even small activities… that would not usually cause us to itch, like changing our clothes or changes in temperature or environment or exposure to soaps could irritate the system." 
View in High-Res

    A Scientist’s Mission To Break The Itch-Scratch Cycle

    Dr. Gil Yosipovitch is a leading scientist in the field of itch. He says he hopes to gain more respect for the debilitating power of chronic itch — and to get more doctors on the search for a cure. Here’s what’s happening in your brain when you’ve got chronic itch: 

    "The neural system is significantly involved. It transmits itch signals from the skin, where itch emanates, up into the spinal cord and up to the brain… The nerves are acting wacky. When these patients have chronic itch [they] become very sensitive, [so] even small activities… that would not usually cause us to itch, like changing our clothes or changes in temperature or environment or exposure to soaps could irritate the system." 

  2. itch

    itchy and scratchy

    medicine

    fresh air

    interview

  1. New York Times congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman joins Fresh Air to talk about the “least productive Congress in history.” 

"If you turn on C-SPAN now, in the United States Senate, you’re more likely to see nothing—nothing is happening. They’re just running out the clock for the latest judge to be confirmed and it has completely turned the Senate into a joke. It’s a silent chamber."


Photo - JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images View in High-Res

    New York Times congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman joins Fresh Air to talk about the “least productive Congress in history.” 

    "If you turn on C-SPAN now, in the United States Senate, you’re more likely to see nothing—nothing is happening. They’re just running out the clock for the latest judge to be confirmed and it has completely turned the Senate into a joke. It’s a silent chamber."

    Photo - JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images

  2. congress

    senate

    c-span

    jonathan weisman

    politics

    new york times

    fresh air

    interview

  1. The problem today is that we have very aging weapons systems — both in the United States and Russia. It’s very old technology. Our principal nuclear bomber, the B-52, hasn’t been built since John F. Kennedy was president. Our principal land-based missile, the Minuteman III, was put into the ground originally in 1970. [It] was supposed to be retired in the early 1980s, and the infrastructure is aging — the wiring, the computers in our Minuteman launch complexes use 9-inch floppy discs.

    — Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety

  2. fresh air

    interview

    eric schlosser

    nuclear weapons

    technology

    command and control

  1. The devastating news came yesterday that Academy Award-winning comedian Robin Williams committed suicide at the age of 63. 
In remembrance of him, we are replaying our 2006 interview. At one point, he talks about the dark side of comedians: 

"Oh, they have a dark side, I mean, because they’re looking at that. In the process of looking for comedy, you have to be deeply honest. And in doing that, you’ll find out here’s the other side. You’ll be looking under the rock occasionally for the laughter. So they have a depressed side. But is it always the sad clown thing? No. But I find comics to be pretty honest people in terms of looking at stuff from both sides, or all sides."
View in High-Res

    The devastating news came yesterday that Academy Award-winning comedian Robin Williams committed suicide at the age of 63. 

    In remembrance of him, we are replaying our 2006 interview. At one point, he talks about the dark side of comedians: 

    "Oh, they have a dark side, I mean, because they’re looking at that. In the process of looking for comedy, you have to be deeply honest. And in doing that, you’ll find out here’s the other side. You’ll be looking under the rock occasionally for the laughter. So they have a depressed side. But is it always the sad clown thing? No. But I find comics to be pretty honest people in terms of looking at stuff from both sides, or all sides."

  2. robin williams

    comedy

    comedians

    fresh air

    interview

  1. Terry Gross: Can I make a confession?
     
    Robin Williams: Yes. You’re not wearing anything, but that’s OK. You’re in the radio studio, and if you’re wearing—if you’re in a thong, that’s wonderful. A thong in your heart, that’s OK. No, no, please, confess.
     
    Gross: Well, before we did the interview, I had no idea what to expect.  And I wasn’t sure you’d give me a straight answer to anything. And I just want to say thank you for actually having a talk.
     
    Williams: You’re welcome. Well, it’s good to talk like that, you know?
     
    Gross: And for being really funny at the same time.

    Williams: Well, that’s probably what life is. You know, you can do both. You can talk and be funny. And you see it wasn’t that zany. It was just conversation.

    Williams, speaking to Fresh Air in 2006. 

  2. robin williams

    comedy

    fresh air

    terry gross

  1. Eric Schlosser's new book, Command and Control, is a critical look at the history of our nuclear weapons systems—and a terrifying account of the fires, explosions, false attack alerts, and accidentally dropped bombs that plagued America’s military throughout the Cold War. 
In today’s interview Schlosser tells us about the early nuclear weapons and the destruction of Hiroshima: 

"Early nuclear weapons were essentially handmade. … In the case of Hiroshima, the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima was an incredibly crude and inefficient weapon. When it exploded, about 99 percent of the uranium that was supposed to undergo this chain reaction didn’t — it just blew apart in the air. And a very small percentage, maybe 2 percent of the fissile material, actually detonated — and most of it just became other radioactive elements. So when you look at the destruction of Hiroshima, this major city, Hiroshima was destroyed in an instant, and 80,000 people were killed and two-thirds of the buildings in this enormous metropolitan area were destroyed instantly because 7/10 of a gram of uranium 235 became pure energy. To imagine how small of an amount that is — 7/10 of a gram of uranium is about the size of a peppercorn; 7/10 of a gram weighs less than a dollar bill. Even though this weapon was unbelievably inefficient and almost 99 percent of the uranium had nothing to do with the destruction of Hiroshima, it was a catastrophic explosion. Nuclear weapons since then have become remarkably efficient and small and capable of destruction that makes Hiroshima seem trivial.”
View in High-Res

    Eric Schlosser's new book, Command and Control, is a critical look at the history of our nuclear weapons systems—and a terrifying account of the fires, explosions, false attack alerts, and accidentally dropped bombs that plagued America’s military throughout the Cold War. 

    In today’s interview Schlosser tells us about the early nuclear weapons and the destruction of Hiroshima

    "Early nuclear weapons were essentially handmade. … In the case of Hiroshima, the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima was an incredibly crude and inefficient weapon. When it exploded, about 99 percent of the uranium that was supposed to undergo this chain reaction didn’t — it just blew apart in the air. And a very small percentage, maybe 2 percent of the fissile material, actually detonated — and most of it just became other radioactive elements.
     
    So when you look at the destruction of Hiroshima, this major city, Hiroshima was destroyed in an instant, and 80,000 people were killed and two-thirds of the buildings in this enormous metropolitan area were destroyed instantly because 7/10 of a gram of uranium 235 became pure energy. To imagine how small of an amount that is — 7/10 of a gram of uranium is about the size of a peppercorn; 7/10 of a gram weighs less than a dollar bill.
     
    Even though this weapon was unbelievably inefficient and almost 99 percent of the uranium had nothing to do with the destruction of Hiroshima, it was a catastrophic explosion. Nuclear weapons since then have become remarkably efficient and small and capable of destruction that makes Hiroshima seem trivial.”

  2. fresh air

    interview

    eric schlosser

    hiroshima

    nuclear weapons

    command and control

  1. Jonathan Lethem's novel Dissident Gardens is based on the radical lives of his communist grandmother and his protesting hippie mother. Lethem spoke to Fresh Air about what made him to want to write about his family:

"I knew that I had a kind of legacy: I grew up in a family of protesters. I never really had gone there. I wanted to touch it; I wanted to think about it. … I was ready to think about my grandmother’s weird, lonely, imperial existence in Sunnyside, Queens. And so those urges and those interests led me into the thicket."


Dissident Gardens is now out in paperback.
Jamaica Ave in Queens, NY in 1944 via Shorpy  View in High-Res

    Jonathan Lethem's novel Dissident Gardens is based on the radical lives of his communist grandmother and his protesting hippie mother. Lethem spoke to Fresh Air about what made him to want to write about his family:

    "I knew that I had a kind of legacy: I grew up in a family of protesters. I never really had gone there. I wanted to touch it; I wanted to think about it. … I was ready to think about my grandmother’s weird, lonely, imperial existence in Sunnyside, Queens. And so those urges and those interests led me into the thicket."

    Dissident Gardens is now out in paperback.

    Jamaica Ave in Queens, NY in 1944 via Shorpy 

  2. jonathan lethem

    protest

    interview

    fresh air

    dissident gardens

  1. Dave Douglas and Uri Caine's new album of jazz duets, Present Joys, features songs known for their simplicity.  It includes several hymns from the Sacred Harp Songbook, a collection of songs notated for congregations and other gatherings of people who don’t read music. The songs are meant to be sung in harmony, a capella.  This tradition, also known as a shape note singing, dates back to the early 1800s.  
Caine and Douglas are known for their versatility, playing jazz that ranges from avant garde, to music derived from folk traditions.  Caine has also re-interpreted the works of several classical composers.  He composed a piece for orchestra and gospel choir that was given its world premiere this earlier summer by the Philadelphia Orchestra. 
Photo by John Cronin View in High-Res

    Dave Douglas and Uri Caine's new album of jazz duets, Present Joys, features songs known for their simplicity.  It includes several hymns from the Sacred Harp Songbook, a collection of songs notated for congregations and other gatherings of people who don’t read music. The songs are meant to be sung in harmony, a capella.  This tradition, also known as a shape note singing, dates back to the early 1800s. 

    Caine and Douglas are known for their versatility, playing jazz that ranges from avant garde, to music derived from folk traditions.  Caine has also re-interpreted the works of several classical composers.  He composed a piece for orchestra and gospel choir that was given its world premiere this earlier summer by the Philadelphia Orchestra. 

    Photo by John Cronin

  2. jazz

    dave douglas

    uri caine

    present joys

    fresh air

    interview

  1. Before the civil war in Syria destroyed  ancient religious sites, and scattered some of the oldest Christian communities in the world,  Jason Hamacher made several trips there, taking photos and recording ancient Sufi and Christian chants.  This project got its start when Hamacher read in a book about  “the world’s oldest Christian music”.  He tracked down the author, William Dalrymple, who told him there were no recordings of the music. And he said, “it’s not a monastery in the desert; it is a Syrian Orthodox church in the middle of the city of Aleppo.”  Hamacher ended up staying at that church, a guest of the archbishop, who has since been kidnapped by rebels.  Hamacher is planning a series of albums called Sacred Voices of Syria.  The first, which was released this summer, is called Nawa: Ancient Sufi Invocations and Forgotten Songs from Aleppo.  Hamacher isn’t coming at this from the perspective of a musicologist, or a member of a religious community.  He’s a drummer who’s played in several punk bands in the Washington, DC area, including the group Frodus.  He founded Lost Origin Productions, to distribute for his recordings and photographs. 

Image of Mar Musa Monastery via Lost Origins by Jason Hamacher View in High-Res

    Before the civil war in Syria destroyed  ancient religious sites, and scattered some of the oldest Christian communities in the world,  Jason Hamacher made several trips there, taking photos and recording ancient Sufi and Christian chants.  This project got its start when Hamacher read in a book about  “the world’s oldest Christian music”.  He tracked down the author, William Dalrymple, who told him there were no recordings of the music. And he said, “it’s not a monastery in the desert; it is a Syrian Orthodox church in the middle of the city of Aleppo.”  Hamacher ended up staying at that church, a guest of the archbishop, who has since been kidnapped by rebels.
     
    Hamacher is planning a series of albums called Sacred Voices of Syria.  The first, which was released this summer, is called Nawa: Ancient Sufi Invocations and Forgotten Songs from Aleppo.  Hamacher isn’t coming at this from the perspective of a musicologist, or a member of a religious community.  He’s a drummer who’s played in several punk bands in the Washington, DC area, including the group Frodus.  He founded Lost Origin Productions, to distribute for his recordings and photographs. 

    Image of Mar Musa Monastery via Lost Origins by Jason Hamacher

  2. fresh air

    interview

    syria

    sufi chant

    world music

    jason hamacher

    frodus

    aleppo