Tuesday, February 19, 2008

This American Life

All day long (8-4:30) I listened to This American Life. My day flew. And on the way I learned a few things. This American Life is a weekly radio show hosted by Ira Glass, "There's a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme." These are the shows I listened to today:

Babysitting: "The last story in this show, about two teenagers who ended up babysitting children who didn't exist, is one of the most popular things we've ever put on the air, and even won an international prize."

--I really liked the story about two children who had a horrible mother who was unloving and cruel. The daughter made up a pretend family and told her mother that she was asked to babysit. She even took her little brother along to "babysit." It went on for years and made there lives much happier as they invented a perfect family and had a way of getting out of the house.

Break-up: "Writer Starlee Kine on what makes the perfect break-up song and whether really sad music can actually make you feel better. Plus, an eight-year-old author of a book about divorce and other stories from the heart of heartbreak."
---On the way to work this morning I was listening to "Breakin up" by Rilo Kiley. As I was failing to replicate Jenny Lewis' beautiful vocals I thought "What a great Break up song. Then I actually listened to this show that talked about Break-ups and one particular story about a girl who talks about a bad break up. Though I've never experienced a bad break up I could relate to her feelings on Break-up songs. She hit the nail on the head. She ends up writing her very own break-up song, with a little help from Phil Collins.

Telephone: "A man suspects his teenage son is doing drugs. He starts taping his son's phone calls, setting off a series of deceptions and counter-deceptions, all caught on tape, and ending in an act of pure, surprising genius parenting."
---This story was fascinating. A teenage boy attending Beverly Hills highschool is using drugs and his life is changed forever when his Dad has him listen to over 40 90minute phone recordings. The boy realized what he was really like when he was on drugs and what a rude and selfish person he turned into.

Cruelty of Children: "One of David Sedaris's funniest stories, plus a story that's so disturbing – about kids being cruel to an adult for very understandable reasons – that years after it was broadcast, people still ask if it's true."
---Thank you David Sedaris. If you haven't heard or read his stuff, then you should. He is a fantastic writer. Another story in this broadcast tells of an elementary school teacher who created a new rule in her classroom, "She instituted a rule: "You can't say 'You can't play.'" In other words, if two children are playing, and a third child comes over and wants to join them, they can't tell him or her to get lost. They can't reject him or her. This is the cause of unending pain in most classrooms and playgrounds. The experiment was a remarkable and immediate success."

Act V: "Murderers perform a play about murder.Over the course of several months, we followed inmates as they rehearsed and staged the last act of Shakespeare's Hamlet. They shared surprising insights into the play. "

---You have GOT to listen to this. It's really a genius idea. I love the notion of having inmates actually think in a way they've never done before. Stretch their brain and have them exercise other uses of their intelligence. I felt as though I was on the same journey as the man doing the documentary. After months of visiting the inmate actors he went to the city hall to read of their crimes. It was heartbreaking and horrifying to hear of what these men had done after getting to know them and hear them talk. They are smart and capable men who have made some bad bad choices. This play forever changed them though.


Livi said...

Jane - thank you for the update. So interesting! I LOVE this American life. It's always crazy stories.

Did you hear the one about the super? Its my favorite.

I'm such a podcast junkie. You should also try the 60 Minutes podcast. Its the full show for free, obviously, and I Looove it.

Mary Jo said...

Janey, i am glad you areva fan of Dave Sedaris. I have all his books, i laugh out loud when reading.

Diane said...

I ended up on your blog by googling Brian Kershisnik (a fabulous artist in case you don't know him--If you like This American Life, you will love Brian Kershisnik). I wanted to listen to the stories you referenced, but couldn't find them on the TAL website. Can you provide more detail? I'll bookmark your blog and check back to see if you respond to this request from an interested unknown reader. Nice blog!