Why have these Terry Gross interviews been mentioned in the blue, and not others? June 26, 2005 6:19 PM   Subscribe

In the past year, Terry Gross has been mentioned in the blue a total of three times, regarding her interviews with William Gibson, Tommy Chong, and Daniel Clowes. I'm just curious: why these three guys, and not her countless other interviews? [more]
posted by ZachsMind to MetaFilter-Related at 6:19 PM (35 comments total)

This isn't a complaint. it's a curiosity. I'm always fascinated by what makes it in the blue and what doesn't, what gets responses and what doesn't. There is allegedly a method to the madness, yet over the years I've never made rhyme nor reason of it. So frankly, this fascinates me.

This is also not a slight to the posters involved, nor is it an insult or compliment to Terry Gross or her interview subjects. I'm just using this an one example. I could probably do the same thing with other talents or topics. It just seems this example illuminates my curiosity on the subject of what makes MeFi ..well, MeFi.

Terry Gross has done a great deal of interviews over the years. Every one that I've personally heard has been insightful and engaging. She's a phenomenal talent in her area of expertise, and if it were not for the fact that MeFi is anything but "The Terry Gross Fan Appreciation Society" I'd think that every time she interviews someone, she'd get recognition for it here in MeFi and people would comment. However, it's only happened three times.

William Gibson is an author of science fiction, Tommy Chong is a musician and actor, and Daniel Clowes is a cartoonist - all three men of comparable reknown. Gross has interviewed other people in the past year as well, again of comparable reknown, yet these three men are the ones whose interviews were spotlighted by MeFi's contributors. Why these three men and not her other subjects of interviews? Why isn't Terry Gross herself mentioned more often in the blue? Why is she mentioned at all? If someone were to start making a MeFi link every time Terry Gross sat down with a 'name' that would get quite annoying. Yet, what made these gentlemen's interviews with Ms. Gross worthy of note while the others were ignored?

If anyone has any theories or conclusions, I'd be very interested.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:19 PM on June 26, 2005

Science fiction, pothead comedy, and comic books are staple entertainments of the nerdboy culture that dominates here. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'm an old nerdman myself.)
posted by nicwolff at 6:31 PM on June 26, 2005

I could have sworn she was mentioned in at least one comment about Gene Simmons.
posted by iconomy at 6:36 PM on June 26, 2005

I seem to remember her fantasic segment with Stephen Colbert making it.
posted by dong_resin at 6:37 PM on June 26, 2005

Some people like Terry, some don't. I'd say probably that whoever posted on the blue happened to hear the episode and liked chong or gibson. I catch her on the way out of work. And wasn't the Gene Simmons one attributed as being her highest listened to show?

Gibson has some serious roots as the start of cyberpunk. Chong, well, dude...bhaaannnng.
posted by filmgeek at 6:37 PM on June 26, 2005

Never mind...you said the past year. Me no read good.
posted by iconomy at 6:38 PM on June 26, 2005

It seems to me that when Terry gets a nod on the blue it's because those particular interviews were momentous and singular. Quirky even. I am a fan of hers and I think that those were some standouts.
posted by snsranch at 6:50 PM on June 26, 2005

Wow, that Bill O'Reilly thing was more than a year ago? (*googles*) Yep, it sure was. I'm getting old too fast.
posted by soyjoy at 8:05 PM on June 26, 2005

Did anyone catch Prairie Home Companion this week? Sue Scott did a great quick Terry Gross impression... There was a great impression of the Car Talk boys too. Is it weird I have a crush on Sue Scott?
posted by keswick at 8:11 PM on June 26, 2005

It seems to me that when Terry gets a nod on the blue it's because those particular interviews were momentous and singular.

I agree. I also believe that reasonable, well informed people should be aware of the work she does on a daily basis, - even if they disagree with her point of view - because she is very good at what she does.

Personally, I think her work is wonderful, and necessary.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:28 PM on June 26, 2005

Well, this is a fair question, but the thing is that Terry Gross interviews pretty much everyone. The thing of interest in the interview isn't her, but the guest. There are lots of web pages out there but only some of them are interesting enough to post. By the same token, only some TG interviews are worth posting. Her show is just a medium - and she does have access to some pretty interesting people from time to time.

Still, I personally would probably consider Fresh Air one of those things that's so ubiquitously accessible to all that it's not worth posting here.
posted by scarabic at 11:56 PM on June 26, 2005

Dan Clowes doesn't give interviews all that often, and a lot of people here like comics. As for the other two interviewees, I dunno.
posted by interrobang at 12:17 AM on June 27, 2005

The Tommy Chong one was great, mostly because Chong has had such an incredible story the past couple years. He's been to prison and bankrupted by drug crackdowns and he talks about how the gov't even tried to shut down his current comedy/spokenword tour since he merely talks about drugs in it.

It's an amazing story of a drug enforcement agency trying to make a somewhat public face their example.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:58 AM on June 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Still, I personally would probably consider Fresh Air one of those things that's so ubiquitously accessible to all that it's not worth posting here.

I don't understand what you mean by that, scarabic. Posts that aren't ubiquitously accessible (like those requiring registration) are usually deleted. If you mean that we should already know about Fresh Air and be listening to it every day, I don't. I don't ever read Boing Boing or Gizmodo either. The stuff that's interesting makes its way over here.
posted by grouse at 4:21 AM on June 27, 2005

Three posts? out of how many posts last year? That's not a lot.
posted by about_time at 5:11 AM on June 27, 2005

I listen to Fresh Air regularly because my wife's a fan, and I agree Terry's a good interviewer, but I don't understand the excessive hero-worship ("phenomenal" and the like). She's got a knack for asking questions that draw people out in unexpected ways and she's always familiar with the work of the person being interviewed (surprisingly rare among interviewers), but she talks too much (my wife has started to pick up my habit of muttering "Shut up, Terry" when she's rambled on for several minutes expanding on a perfectly clear question) and she's basically pretty shallow, with a tabloid mentality (she can't resist asking "And how did you feel about finding your brother drowned in the wading pool?"). And it's very clear when she likes the person she's interviewing and when she doesn't; sometimes she verges on the unprofessional in the latter cases. None of this is that bad, and I'm glad she's doing her show—I just don't think she's any sort of national treasure.

Oh, and why these three? Because three MeFi members happened to think they were worth posting, each for their own individual reasons. What kind of answer were you hoping for?
posted by languagehat at 7:07 AM on June 27, 2005

NTM she has a relentless biographical tendency. These kids read a comic about Leopold and Loeb—did you read a comic about them?
posted by kenko at 7:27 AM on June 27, 2005

Mentions of Terry Gross on MetaFilter via Google search.

Mentions of Terry Gross via MetaFilter search.
posted by ericb at 8:11 AM on June 27, 2005

If you mean that we should already know about Fresh Air and be listening to it every day, I don't. I don't ever read Boing Boing or Gizmodo either. The stuff that's interesting makes its way over here.

Well we can disagree on that. All I said was I wouldn't consider it worth posting. In other words, I wouldn't post it. I've never been one of those people with only one bookmark, who expect MetaFilter to recycle links from BoingBoing, etc, so they only have to visit one web page per day. But I've argued with them enough times to learn to accept their POV.

I don't posit that you should be listening to Fresh Air every day, just that you were probably already aware of the show, and have probably made your own decision about whether or not to listen to it already. CNN airs a lot of stories. Should we post the interesting ones here? I guess I just consider the "filter" aspect of MetaFilter to function more as a finder of unknown gems and less a sieve for mass media.
posted by scarabic at 8:27 AM on June 27, 2005

Still, I personally would probably consider Fresh Air one of those things that's so ubiquitously accessible to all that it's not worth posting here.

If it's so ubiquitously accessible, how come I've never heard of it (or her) before this thread?
posted by timeistight at 9:18 AM on June 27, 2005

Bet no one you know voted for Nixon either, timeistight.
posted by kenko at 9:36 AM on June 27, 2005

Here's a hypothesis. Terri has had plenty of pithy interviews with jazz musicians, movie directors, literary novelists, and policy wonks. But the online Metafilter community skews toward nerdier topics, which is why you get the science-fiction author, the marijuana culture-hero, and the alternative-comic creator. (Too many hyphens!) The other stuff is just too dry to appeal to Metafilter's core constituencies.
posted by Scooter at 10:14 AM on June 27, 2005

Yeah, but it only takes one person to post something to the front page.
posted by kenko at 11:01 AM on June 27, 2005

And a few more to shout him down.
posted by keswick at 11:37 AM on June 27, 2005

About_time: "Three posts? out of how many posts last year? That's not a lot."

Not suggesting it was too many. Not suggesting it's too few. Just curious about why it happens when it does, and why it doesn't when it doesn't. I just find it intriguing.

So is it as simple as we're just geeks and nerds? There's geeky interviews highlighted on Fresh Aire which don't get mention on MeFi. Recently they replayed an interview with Bob Kane. That was pretty cool, yet no mention in the blue.

There's other factors involved, I think. I just don't know what they all are. Everyone's input has been insightful, but we're just touching the tip of the iceberg here. There's gotta be more to it than geeking out.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:57 AM on June 27, 2005

Personally, I think her work is wonderful, and necessary.

And whenever I hear her laugh, my mood is elevated.
posted by Rash at 2:31 PM on June 27, 2005

If it's so ubiquitously accessible, how come I've never heard of it (or her) before this thread?

I assume because you live in Canada and NPR isn't distributed in your area, or you don't listen to very much radio? I have no idea. I guess Americans shouldn't technically be expected to know what the BBC is, either.

Anyway, we're posting a small number of links to her show. They seem to be good ones. timeistight has discovered a cool radio show. I think everybody's happy, here.
posted by scarabic at 2:57 PM on June 27, 2005

I am so waiting to jump all over someone for...waitforit...GrossFilter!
posted by freebird at 3:59 PM on June 27, 2005

And you missed a few - the incredible interview with the autistic lady who helps design slaughterhouses, for example.
posted by freebird at 4:02 PM on June 27, 2005

OK, I don't take back what I said earlier, but my perspective is a little different having just heard her interview Jason Moran. She was amazing: funny, respectful, and above all knowledgeable—she knew not only his work but his influences, not only Afrika Bambaataa but the too little known pianist Jaki Byard, with whose music she was clearly intimately familiar. If she'd stick to doing shows like that and skip the actors who have movies coming out ("Terry, it was an honor to work with..."), I'd listen more eagerly.

freebird: That interview with Temple Grandin was incredible—I don't think I'd heard of her at that point, and after hearing the interview I wanted to run out and buy her book.
posted by languagehat at 5:22 PM on June 27, 2005

I linked to the William Gibson interview because it showed a side of the '80s I'd never thought about before, and that post was about breaking preconceptions about the '80s in as many ways as possible.
posted by Tlogmer at 6:24 PM on June 27, 2005

Yep - Terri has fallen somewhat in my estimation from "The Best Interviewer EV-AR" to "The Best Interviewer for Interviewees she pretty much agrees with and who play nice and are intelligent thoughtful people."

She really kinda falls apart when faced with the O'Reillys and the Gene Simmons's of the world, and can't quite spin the crap PR interviews into gold.

But yah, when she's hitting her stride with someone she genuinely enjoys talking to, she's very hard to beat. More to the point, she really brings out a lot of interesting things about the person - and this, finally, explains why she shows up on MeFi a lot.

Damn, what's the plural of Simmons? "S-apostrophe" looks like the plural possesive of "Simmon", and" S-apo-S" just looks wrong - is it just "Simmonses of the world"? No...
posted by freebird at 6:42 PM on June 27, 2005

freebird, if you don't know what's right, go for what's egregiously incorrect: Simmonsesses.
posted by kenko at 6:50 PM on June 27, 2005

What languagehat said the first time, before he didn't take it back. Exactly.
posted by mediareport at 12:06 AM on June 28, 2005

Very cool thread. Thanks everybody. =) I don't know if I was looking for a particular answer. I don't believe there is one definitive answer, but it's been cool reading y'all's responses.

I just viewed the number of times Gross is mentioned in MeFi (too few? too many? just right?) to be indicative of any topic or talent that gets 'filtered' through MetaFilter. This place isn't just a filter of the Web, but a filter of present day humanity's society and culture. It's like a part of humanity looking at itself in the mirror, dwelling on the flaws and fawning a bit over what we see in the mirror that we like. Guess maybe I was citing Terri Gross as a measuring tool for whether or not whatever it is we accumulatively do here in MeFi is working..? I dunno. Just seemed interesting.

I mean that Terri Gross is ever mentioned here at all, and rarely in a negative light, is a backhanded compliment to her overall accomplishments. We are critical of her though, as we are with everything on the planet. I wasn't trying to say there's anything wrong going on here or that I thought Gross' interviews should be mentioned more or less often. Just thought it interesting that yes, the three interview subjects which have been most spotlighted in the past year are generally geeky, but each in turn had arguably legitimate reasons to be spotlighted. Yes Gross has been mentioned at other times as well, but Chong, Gibson and Clowes were the only times I personally noticed a Gross interview being a predominant part of a FPP.

Maybe I was just geeking out over the general coolness of it all I guess. That it was those three names and not some other random three names highlighted in FPPs. That it wasn't more or less than three. *shrug* I dunno. The whole thing just interests me. Not even sure if I understand why. Kinda like watching a sunset. One can ask questions while looking at a sunset, but one doesn't have to have definitive answers at a time like that. You're just marvelling at the sunset.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:37 AM on July 1, 2005

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