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Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.

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One of the most intriguing figures of 20th-century warfare is T.E. Lawrence, the British army officer who immersed himself in the culture of the Arabian Peninsula's Bedouin tribes and played a key role in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turks during World War I. He became a well-known and romanticized figure in post-war England, and was immortalized in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

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:

This interview was originally broadcast on Aug. 21, 2012.

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.

Bobby Cannavale, At Home On Broadway

Aug 16, 2013

This interview was originally broadcast on Jan. 9, 2013.

Bobby Cannavale may have acted in film and on television, but at heart, he's a theater guy. Always has been, always will be.

A movie last year called A Late Quartet told the traumatic story of what happens when a famous string quartet has to change personnel. But, in fact, most string quartets — like symphony orchestras, only more conspicuously — continually change players, because players retire, or die, or get more lucrative offers.

In the world of book publishing, ravaged though it may be, the name Farrar, Straus & Giroux still bespeaks literary quality. It's a publishing house that boasts a roll call of 25 Nobel Prize winners and heavyweights like Susan Sontag, Carlos Fuentes, Joan Didion, Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen. A lot of writers, past and present, have turned down higher advances for their books from other publishing houses for the honor of being an FSG author.

What happens in our brains while we're asleep? That's one question neuroscientist Penelope Lewis is trying to answer. She directs the Sleep and Memory Lab at the University of Manchester in England. Her new book is The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest.

Lewis joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about how sleep affects memory, and how REM sleep can affect depression.


Interview Highlights

On how sleep makes memory stronger

Imagine a ship carrying goods in containers that, if lined up, would stretch around 11,000 miles long, or nearly halfway around the planet. Rose George spent several weeks aboard one such ship as research for her new book, Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car and Food on Your Plate.

The Sherpa people of Nepal have become famous for guiding mountain climbers up some of the world's highest peaks, especially Mount Everest. And while Sherpa guides earn relatively good pay for their work, they and their families pay a price in death and injury. According to Grayson Schaffer, a senior editor and writer for Outside magazine, a Sherpa working above Everest's base camp is nearly 10 times more likely to die than a commercial fisherman, the most dangerous, nonmilitary occupation in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Valerie June wants to be on your mind; to get inside your head. She writes or co-writes songs that mix blues, gospel, folk and soul, and which describe emotional isolation, financial deprivation and insecurity about her place in the world. She's unafraid to proclaim her neediness — perhaps because, possessed of a powerful voice, she knows that her vulnerability isn't likely to come off as passive or self-pitying on Pushin' Against a Stone.

A lot of people have been binge-watching the new Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, which is set in a minimum security women's prison.

If you're like me, you probably feel exhausted just thinking about how much cultural stuff is out there. A friend recently told me he was reading an acclaimed Hungarian novelist whose books I've never opened. "Please tell me he stinks," I begged, "so I don't have to read him."

"Actually, he's great," came the reply, and I groaned. This was something I didn't want to know.

Piper Kerman was a 24-year-old Smith College graduate in 1993, when she flew to Belgium with a suitcase of money intended for a West African drug lord.

This misguided adventure started when she began a romantic relationship with a woman who was part of what Kerman describes as a "clique of impossibly stylish and cool lesbians in their mid-30s." That woman was involved in a drug-smuggling ring, and got Kerman involved, too, though Kerman left that life after several months.

Record producer Huey P. Meaux's career was, to put it mildly, a checkered one. It had two chapters, each of which ended with him in prison. But both times, he discovered some amazing Texas and Louisiana artists who made great music. Researchers are still piecing together the first half of the story, which saw hundreds of singles released on labels like Jet Stream, Tear Drop, Jet, Pacemaker and Eric. Now some of those songs have been collected on a compilation called South Texas Rhythm 'n' Soul Revue.

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:

This interview was originally broadcast on March 04, 2013.

This weekend, the AMC cable network begins showing the final episodes of its acclaimed drama series Breaking Bad, and launches a new one: Low Winter Sun. Meanwhile, HBO presents its newest made-for-TV movie — this one a comedy, starring and co-written by Larry David.

The technique known as throat singing is an ancient style still practiced in Tuva, a small republic between Siberia and Mongolia's Gobi desert. Traditionally, it was practiced by herders.

Don LaFontaine had a voice anyone would recognize. As a voice-over artist, he recorded thousands of movie trailers and TV commercials, and became famous for his delivery of the phrase "In a world," which kicked off countless trailers. He died in 2008, but the new comedy In a World ... -- written and directed by actress Lake Belltells the story of voice-over artists competing to become the next LaFontaine.

It costs $13,660 for an American to have a hip replacement in Belgium; in the U.S., it's closer to $100,000.

Before I read Adelle Waldman's brilliant debut novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., I had about as much interest in reading about the hip, young literary types who've colonized Brooklyn as I do in watching Duck Dynasty, that reality show about a family of bearded Luddites who live in the Louisiana swamps. Both clans are ingrown and smug, each, in their own way, disdainful of the American mainstream.

"When the going gets tough, you don't want a criminal lawyer — you want a criminal lawyer."

The likes of you and I can't buy Google Glass yet. It's available only to the select developers and opinion-makers who have been permitted to spring $1,500 for the privilege of having the first one on the block. But I've seen a few around my San Francisco neighborhood among the young techies who commute down to the Google and Facebook campuses in WiFi-equipped shuttle buses or who pedal downtown to Zynga and Twitter on their fixies.

Country-music star Vince Gill and steel guitarist Paul Franklin have teamed up to record a new concept album called Bakersfield. Their idea is to cover hits from the 1960s and '70s by two artists who helped define the Bakersfield, Calif., country sound: Merle Haggard and the Strangers and Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. But this is no nostalgia-fest — it's a vital testament to music that retains energy and innovation.

We've all had the experience of watching a great athletic performance — from gymnast Mary Lou Retton defying gravity to Michael Jordan sinking a mind-blowing turnaround jumper — and wondered: Were they born with that talent or can you get there with hard work and practice?

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:

Matthew McConaughey, Getting Serious Again

Aug 2, 2013

This interview was originally broadcast on April 23, 2013.

Matthew McConaughey earned early attention as a sensitive actor with his turn in the 1996 legal drama A Time to Kill -- but since then he has mostly made a career with leading-man roles in romantic comedies like How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days, Failure to Launch and The Wedding Planner.

The teen romance The Spectacular Now is by turns goofy, exhilarating, and unreasonably sad — just like being a teenager.

It centers on a fast-talking, hard-drinking high school party animal named Sutter Keely, who boasts of living for today and in the now — instead of, say, studying — and how he takes up with a girl named Aimee, who's the opposite of a party animal.

When Bridget Lancaster and Jack Bishop talk about preparing food on the public TV series America's Test Kitchen, they're really good at explaining why the recipe works. Bishop is the editorial director of the show, and Lancaster is the lead instructor of its cooking school. They've both contributed to the new America's Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook. They join Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about preparing summer foods, and to answer some cooking questions from the Fresh Air staff.

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