NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

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In The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner plays Sgt. 1st Class William James, the leader of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit responsible for disarming improvised explosive devices (IED) in the Iraqi desert. On the film’s set, Renner spent hours a day packed inside a Kevlar bomb suit, while temperatures climbed upward of 100 degrees. For his intense, swaggering portrayal of James, Renner was nominated for an Academy Award. Renner, 39, wasn’t widely known in Hollywood before he landed the role. Kathryn Bigelow, the film’s director, has said that she chose Renner to play Will James after seeing his performance in the film Dahmer. Renner played the Milwaukee-based serial killer who tortured his victims before dismembering their bodies. Though Renner doesn’t physically resemble Dahmer, he gave a chillingly realistic portrayal of a man who could have been played as a cartoon monster. “I couldn’t judge him by what he did,” Renner tells Terry Gross. “I had to understand, again, what fuels a human being to go to these lengths, to do these things?” In addition to Dahmer and The Hurt Locker, Renner has appeared in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and 28 Weeks Later.

ALSO, Ewan McGregor enjoys quirky writing and eclectic roles. The Scottish actor has played a number of different characters over the past decade, in films ranging from small British indies to international blockbusters. McGregor tells Dave Davies that he knew he wanted to be an actor from a very young age, after hearing stories from his uncle, the actor Denis Lawson. His breakthrough came in 1996 when he played a ewan_mcgregor_by_mcbdesign.jpgheroin addict in the film Trainspotting. To prepare for the role, McGregor says, he spent time with former heroin addicts who taught him how to hold a needle and portray withdrawal symptoms accurately. McGregor also played a young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the second Star Wars trilogy. Ironically, his uncle — who had a bit role in the original Star Wars — advised him not to take the role, fearing McGregor would be typecast. Since taking the role in Star Wars, McGregor has kept his resume diverse, playing a poet, an official of the papal court, and the male romantic lead in the musical Moulin Rouge, where he performed his own singing. In his latest film, Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, McGregor plays an unnamed writer working on the memoirs of a former British prime minister, who is under investigation for committing war crimes. McGregor says he enjoyed working with the “master filmmaker” on the thriller. “As a director, he was pushing us to look for the truth of a scene,” he says.

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Which end of the leash to blame after dog attacks? And should there oughta be a law? Three pit bull attacks on humans over the weekend in Philadelphia, including the fatal mauling of a 38-year-old Fishtown woman by one of her mother’s six pit bulls, have brought the controversial kind of dog back into the headlines. They have raised long-simmering arguments over who should be held responsible after a dog attack, the dog or the dog owner? Joining Marty to talk about the pros and cons of “breed-specific legislation” are DEBORA BRESCH, an attorney and the ASPCA’s Director of Government Relations, Eastern Region; and COLLEEN LYNN, a survivor of a pit-bull attack and founder of, a public education website about dangerous dogs – “specifically pit bull type dogs.”

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Lower Merion School District officials are staring at a lawsuit after a student alleged that he was spied upon by a Harriton High School administrator via big-brother-poster.thumbnail.jpgthe webcam on the school-issued laptop. This incident comes as e-privacy concerns grow about the tracking capability of smart phones and other handheld devices; social networking media using user information to sell advertising and products; and much more. We’ll talk to guests including LILLIE CONEY, Associate Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest research organization in Washington, DC.; and WITOLD WALCZAK, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

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Born in Houston, Devendra Banhart spent most of his childhood in Venezuela before moving to L.A. He began writing songs in his teens, but performed only as a hobby while attending the San Francisco Art Institute. As Banhart started playing low-key live shows, his stirring and eclectic fusion of styles — tropicalia, folk, lounge jazz, glam rock, psychedelia — caught the attention of a national label in 2002. Often viewed as a “freak folk” hippie, and widely credited with spurring the neo-folk movement, Banhart won massive acclaim for mid-’00s records such as Nino Rojo and Rejoicing in the Hands. His major-label debut, and first album since 2007, What Will We Be stays true to the essence of the singer-songwriter’s colorfully weird folk style. The disc’s downtempo gentility is immediately apparent, but he still throws some wild dance-rock curveballs. What Will We Be possesses the textural and melodic strength of his past works, but with enough experimentation and maturity to showcase how much he’s grown.

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