October 23, 2015

"To movie theaters, she brings a bag of pillows; at 4 feet 11 inches tall, she has often described herself as 'smaller than life.'"

From an interview (in the NYT) with Terry Gross.

A bag of pillows! What a good and sensible idea. I'm 6 inches taller than Gross, so I haven't experienced anywhere nearly as extreme of a problem seeing over the heads in the theater, but back in the days when theater floors were flatter and I went to the movies much more often, I often found my view blocked. I never thought of bringing a bag of pillows. I thought I needed to invent inflatable pants!

AND: I like this, about her routine, her show prep: "On a typical day, Gross is at the office from 8:45 to 5:45. She and her husband, Francis Davis, who is a music critic, will go out for dinner (not fancy places: 'We like diners and delis'), and then Gross will continue working at home, preparing for the next day’s interview in the living room. She clarifies her thoughts first thing in the morning in the shower. That’s when she asks herself: What do I care about? What in all of this research is meaningful? It’s important to be away from her notes when she does this. She emerges from the shower with her 'major destination points.' Then she goes to her office and refers back to her notes — sheafs of facts; dog-eared, marked-up books — for the details. Then she does the interview."


Rusty said...

My mother was one inch shorter.

Nichevo said...

I've heard that lots of short people go to movies. I think they are called "children.".

traditionalguy said...

Sounds like an excuse to bring her own popcorn in. But as the movie goes on she will settle down further and further.

Bruce Hayden said...

Never did like her much - just another leftist partially supported by the rest of us on NPR. The reason that I have never liked NPR is that the epode who enjoy it can easily support it, so why make the rest of us support its cessation progressivism?

As for her height - back in the latter 1970s, I was working for the Census Bureau. Girlfriend at the time one day looked around at the women at a party or something, and realized that she was towering over the rest of them at 5'. Gross would have fit in that night, with an average female height o f about 4'11".

rehajm said...

I read to, She asked Lena Dunham... and stopped.

With the rise of television movie houses have upped their game with larger rocking and reclining seats and stadium seating so you get to see the full screen no matter how short you are.

A small victory.

Charlie Currie said...

We would bring buster seats for our kids.

When I was young and theater seats were cushioned like a sofa, I would sit on the front edge with the seat in the up position. The seats didn't have springs to flip them up, you had to lift them.

jimbino said...

She has the golden voice that so many women lack.

traditionalguy said...

Is her name Dolly?

traditionalguy said...

Her's is a good method. Shower until your thoughts surface from the unconscious anew in the morning. This works best if your shower has no TV, Radio, or wifi.

madAsHell said...

I thought I needed to invent inflatable pants!

Does my butt look big in this?

Titus said...

she does good interviews; i like her.

she looks like a lesbian.

mccullough said...

I pictured you taller, Althouse.

john said...

That was her strategy during her interview with Bill O'Rielly. While she was concentrating on her major destination points, he had already left the studio for his next destination.

rcocean said...

Poor Terry, a face for radio AND she's a dwarf. At least she has a pleasant personality and voice - unlike bill Maher who's an ugly midget.

M Jordan said...

"That’s when she asks herself: What do I care about? What in all of this research is meaningful? "

Oh, I know what she cares about: gays and transsexuals. At least that's what 75% of her topics cover.

Quaestor said...

When ever I hear Terry Gross on the radio I feel an overpowering urge to open a window.

The only place a doctrinaire urban northeast left-liberal could possibly have such a long-running radio program is on a network that doesn't have to show a profit.

The first time I gave her program a chance to entertain and/or inform me was back in 1988. I was trailering a hunter to a horse show in Medina, Ohio. It was a long and tedious trip, and was getting really fed up with to the back teeth with one top 40 station after another, so I searched the FM band and found an NPR station with a good signal. It was Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Her guest was woman who was peddling the outlandish theory that in 1980 George Bush, Sr. (who was at the time of the broadcast running for POTUS against Michael Dukakis) had flown to Paris in the back seat of an SR-71 to meet with representatives of Ayatollah Khomeini to arrange a delay in the release of our embassy staff, who were being held hostage, in order to further embarrass the feckless milquetoast Jimmy Carter. Not once during the interview did Ms. Gross challenge her guest to produce evidence rather than spin an elaborate conspiracy theory. I listened until the signal faded. I have never given Ms. Gross another chance. I don't think I've been unfair, do you?

Terry said...

"She clarifies her thoughts first thing in the morning in the shower. That’s when she asks herself: What do I care about? What in all of this research is meaningful?"

So is she formulating the bien-pensant or just passing it along?
I suppose this gives her the illusion that she is a member of the creative class.

rcocean said...

Quaestor - Gross is a doctrinaire Lefty. Usually she does powder puff interviews with her liberal/left-wing guests. The only time she got hostile and adversarial is when she interviewed Bill O'Reilly - who got so upset he walked off.

Rhythm and Balls said...

When ever I hear Terry Gross on the radio I feel an overpowering urge to open a window.

The name of the show is Fresh Air.

The only place a doctrinaire urban northeast left-liberal could possibly have such a long-running radio program is on a network that doesn't have to show a profit.

I'm sure the reason it's national has nothing to do with its popularity (many NPR shows stay in their regional markets). In any event, she's a successful interviewer, as long as you accept that the point of a good interview is to enlighten, rather than to decide whether to castigate and attack or suck up, which are the only two modes allowed on FOX/PJ/AM Talk Radio, etc. "Hmm, let's see, are you my friend or foe?" is not the opening question in the mind of most people endeavoring to learn something about another person. But then, I can't speak for conservatives.

Rhythm and Balls said...

The only time she got hostile and adversarial is when she interviewed Bill O'Reilly - who got so upset he walked off.

That's hilarious! I love the implication that other people are necessary to set off the volcano of uncontrolled emotions that continuously swirl around in the psyche of Bill O'Reilly. Ha ha. He's the practical inventor of the ranty political temper tantrum as media theater.

Rhythm and Balls said...

How do you get Bill O'Reilly to lose his temper?

Tell him an uncomfortable truth.

Of course, about a year later, he'll incorporate what you inadvertently taught him into his own understanding of life, and proclaim it with the same tenacity that he initially rejected it.

But he has to scream at you for teaching it to him first. That's just part of his learning process.

Maybe the nuns taught that to him or something.

rcocean said...

She's also a very provincial Jewish New Yorker in many ways. I remember her interviewing Hank Greenberg about his record breaking HR season in 1938. Terry kept asking him about "Anti-Semitic" ball players angry/upset that he was doing so well.

Greenberg seem honestly non-plussed and told her that most of the ball players were rooting for him to break the record, and that several pitchers at the end of the season gave him fat pitches to hit out of the park. Others expressed sympathy to Greenberg for the Nazi oppression of the Jews. Terry Gross seemed disappointed - then moved on to another topic.

Quaestor said...

The name of the show is Fresh Air.

Since the topic is the trials and tribulations of short people, do you find the quips that sail over your head ruffle your hair as they pass?

Rhythm and Balls said...

Inflatable pants sounds like a George Costanza idea.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Well, I half-entertained the notion that you said that intentionally with the aim of making a joke. But then I remembered your name was Quaestor and thought, better safe than sorry.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Nobody does pop/rock musician interviews better than Gross.

YoungHegelian said...

On 10/15/2015, not only did a pig fly, but there was a squadron of them. Fresh Air, on NPR, interviewing a reporter from Rolling Stone, actually produced an interview on the House squabble among the Republicans that, while definitely not laudatory, proceeded with a sympathetic eye & with actual insight. The reason the interview succeeds: Terry Gross has nothing to do with it. The interview is conducted by an associate producer. Gross could have never kept her tongue in check for 35 minutes.

The link to the podcast is here at 10/15/2015 (ignore the headline, remember it's an NPR audience). A faster download will be here. The real interview starts at 1:15, & it's 35 minutes of your life you won't get back again.

Rhythm and Balls said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhythm and Balls said...

She discovers influential talents early on, also. I remember her interview in the nineties with Larry David. It was incredibly short, but sounded so much more surreal at the time. The idea of a tempestuously arrogant failure being the ingenious creative force inspiring the most popular sitcom at the time was insane. But she drew it out of him. He sounded incredibly calm when I took another listen recently. But at the end, when she mentioned the idea of attending one of his old stand-up acts, he said something about preparing herself by wearing a bullet-proof vest. She laughed hysterically and I knew something was quirkily unusual enough about the guy to be eminently worth interviewing - and in the successful way that she did.

Who else back then could have figured out a way to relate to Larry Fucking David?

Mike Sylwester said...

I remember when Bill O'Reilly walked out during one of her interviews. I agreed with his decision to do so. She was being a jerk.

YoungHegelian said...


That's hilarious! I love the implication that other people are necessary to set off the volcano of uncontrolled emotions that continuously swirl around in the psyche of Bill O'Reilly.

Tell me, R&B, how much O'Reilly do you watch? I watch O'Reilly every week day night, except for Friday when I watch Archer reruns. Watch the body language of the regulars on The Factor. They're all out there having a party with O'Reilly. No one looks like they hate him, as opposed to anyone who's near Wolf Blitzer, or God help us all, Christiane Amanpour. One of O'Reilly's shticks is to have his producer audibly laughing in the back ground off camera. It is a remarkably relaxed set for a news commentary program.

When O'Reilly goes off on a rant on one of his hobby horses, he's a pain. If a guest comes on and starts bullshitting, he'll tear them a new one, as well he should. There's a lot of people who come on thinking they're gonna pull one over on him, and that don't work. But, he often gets responsible people from the Democratic side (e.g. Austan Goolsbie on Obama's economic policy), and repeatedly has very fair interviews with them. And one thing O'Reilly can do better than almost any other interviewer, is that he can interview a conservative guest & play Devil's Advocate so well you would think he actually believes it. There's no one on NPR or BBC World who can come even close to O'Reilly as a Devil's Advocate. He would shit a brick to hear me say it, but they are his finest moments.

Rhythm and Balls said...

While O'Really does attempt his "devil's advocate" schtick at times, it's impossible to pretend that he's not some ubiquitous cultural fixture whose emotional blindspots aren't blunderingly obvious to Non-FOX America. For one, his weekly outburst/ignorant outrages were lampooned regularly - usually at least once a week, and not without showing the original clip first.

Clips like this, for instance. For Chrissakes, these golden oldies of his are all over YouTube. And every step of his hilarious Al Franken kerfuffle (including his ominously hilarious warning to the country when his nemesis won his Senate seat). The country wouldn't be aware of what's wrong with the right if it weren't for O'Reilly. Sure, others are worse. But he takes it just as outrageously as he can right up to the line of a moderating doubt, before blasting off - and that's what makes him so useful to the rest of us museum-goers just checking out the exhibits and declining to get in them before we graciously move along.

What you are finding annoying in his "competitors" is that others take them seriously.

YoungHegelian said...


He's been on for for freakin' ever. There's gonna be gaffs.

But for 90% of those "gaffs" --- go look at the original uncut interview. They do not go down as the Leftie media matters people edit them to look like. The Left lies about O'Reilly like a rug. Never, ever, believe those things until you watch the unedited original.

Clearly, you don't watch his show. Put a cork in it until you do for a while.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Yeah, you're right. NPR and BBC could never teach me or anyone else anything nearly as informative about human psychology and the human condition as this clip did.

Bill O'Reilly does the world a tremendous service when it comes to understanding the consequences of poor anger/emotion management while deciding and debating policy.

Are Blitzer and Amanpour hacks? Of course they are. But I wasn't looking to them as some sort of standard, either.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Clearly, you don't watch his show.

I've seen unedited clips of up to at least several minutes in length. Are you aware that he regularly debated/interviewed John Stewart? Those clips are available unedited, too - by agreement between both of them. And widely watched.

But I leave it at that. Why shouldn't I? Is there some advantage to be gained by raising my blood pressure to match his? That does nothing for my news consumption, and it's the only difference I get out of him.

But of course, YMMV.

YoungHegelian said...


Do you really believe that clip shows anything? Are you that delusional that when things go wrong on set that media people don't go ballistic off camera? That video really has no point.

You say Blitzer & Amanpour & O'Reilly are hacks. Uhhh, you may notice that's the top of the TV press heap. Pray, sir, tell us who is your favorite dispenser of wisdom among the press corp?

Rhythm and Balls said...

It wasn't a gaffe. It's an indelible part of his personality that gets showcased usually on an annual basis when he flips out in much the same way about yet another losing issue in the American debate.

I don't have a favorite "dispenser of wisdom". Why do you assume I do? I try to get facts, when I care to. I like the satirists - but see how they angle for laughs and a humorous narrative also. Blitzed and Amanpour are just equally opposite hacks to O'Reilly's hackitude. He does the anger, Blitzer does the open-minded objectivity to the point of oblivious to his brain falling out of his head, and Amanpour is a soft-shoe SJW. The last thing I got out of her was hearing James Woolsey school her about "democracy" in Iran as being not just "different" or "unlikeable" but as much a sham as Soviet "democracy". That was good. But that was in the days when we learned that sometimes there's as much to be learned by how the tables are turned on the interviewer. John Stewart shutting down Crossfire was an example of that.

So I have to say that I don't really watch much of that. I don't prefer tv anyway - certainly not for news. I realize many people are still stuck in that medium for journalism, so I suppose off the top of my head Anderson Cooper seems slightly more competent and engaged than the average and Fareed Zakaria somewhat better informed. But I'm telling you these are all hypotheticals. I read the news. I watch the satire. Visual's just a better medium for laughs, drama, etc. Not for objective learning on the issues of the day. Text is how that purpose is served.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Oh, and of course I wouldn't be doing my duty if I failed to admit that Shephard Smith is one of the most honest/self-critical at FOX and Megan Kelley is more willing to be heterodox as well.

They're the two at FOX that get the best cross-over appeal - probably for the reasons I gave. But still, I don't come anywhere near close to "relying" on their coverage, either. I'm just aware that they seem to many, including me, as slightly more honest and less agenda-driven.

But it should be clear to you that whatever is meant by "top of the press heap", I don't care for it, either. There are lots of supposedly popular things that I'm no fan of. Trust me, it's just not what I'm in it for.

William said...

I occasionally watched CNN during the Ferguson riots. The bias was unmistakable.......What with HD TV's, there's no advantage to watching a movie in a theater. Wouldn't it be easier to buy a quality tv and DVD player than lugging pillows around? Just a suggestion for Ms. Gross.

Nate Whilk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate Whilk said...

I distinctly remember Terry Gross's interview of two of the three co-discoverers of Comet Shoemaker-Levy which was about to smash into Jupiter in 1994. She wanted to know if there was any way we could hear the sound of the collision. She also asked "If the comet was going to hit Earth instead of Jupiter, would you still want it to be named after you?"

harkin said...

I remember an interview she did with (of all persons) Sean Penn (who was promoting Dead Man Walking) and Gross, being the liberal she is, said something like "this film forces us to realize how inhumane capital punishment is"........

and Penn seemed surprised and told her he did not agree - that some people would respond differently.

BN said...

I only came here for Laslo wisdom on a bag of pillows in a theater.

What a waste.

Mike Sylwester said...

Now that I have some more time, I will elaborate about O'Reilly walking off her show because Gross was being a jerk.

I happened to be listening to her show on that occasion. Before then, I had listened to her show occasionally, maybe a dozen times, and I liked it.

I had seen O'Reilly's TV show a few times -- maybe six times -- and I thought it was OK. I was no big fan of his.

He appeared on her radio show because he had just written a book about his childhood and was plugging his book.

Anyway, she began her interview by asking him maybe two questions about his childhood and his book.

Then she transitioned into a series of questions like this:

* X says you beat your wife. What do you say about that/

* Y says you are a fascist. How do you respond to that accusation?

* Z says you are a bigoted blowhard. Is that true?

After it became apparent that Gross intended to continue her entire interview along those lines, O'Reilly abruptly excused himself from the interview and hung up.

I was appalled by HER behavior.

In the following days, this became a big, public controversy, and NPR invited people to e-mail their opinions. I sent an e-mail agreeing that Gross was being obnoxious and that O'Reilly cut the interview off for very good reason.

Mike Sylwester said...

The Fox News Channel came into existence in October 1996, and Gross's interview of O'Reilly happened at about the end of the 1990s, as I recall.

NPR liberals still had not accepted the new reality that their smug worldview would henceforth be challenged by a 24-hour, 7-day conservative TV channel.

That was the context of Gross's obnoxious interview of O'Reilly. Gross could not be civil with him. She was profoundly offended that O'Reilly quickly had developed a huge audience of conservative viewers.

Gross was behaving herself as if she were interviewing Goebbels.

NPR received a huge number of e-mails -- including my own -- denouncing her obnoxious interview of O'Reilly and defending his termination of the interview.

Quaestor said...

Terry Gross is the Art Bell of American metrosexuality.