Tuesday, July 19, 2005

This American Life

Mikaela says:
Three cheers for This American Life.

Let me just say as a disclaimer that I'm an unabashed word person. Want to keep me up, want me to drive across the country without stopping? Give me words, words, words. More than words: stories.

I've been a closet This American Life fan for years, but because I'm not a habit person, I never seem to remember to listen to it. I've never even heard an entire show. But the pieces I've heard are fascinating. Incredible. Outrageous. Windows into moments and subjects that no one else is talking about.

But a miracle happened today: I finally had the brainstorm to check for their website, and allah! They've got archives. Now you know what I'll be listening to at work for the rest of the month.

At this second, I'm listening to last week's show about home videos. The first story is a home movie made by a Jewish teenager recording the craziness and wonderful specifics of his family. He asks his mom for napkins; she tells him to use toilet paper. His aunt dares him to pinch her ass: "You can't pinch it because it's too tight!" and she squeezes her butt so that it's "as hard as a cantalope."

Oh, my. My eyes are watering.

This American Life kills me. For once, in a good way.


Blogger Arvin Hill said...

I always miss it, too, but it's a great show. One that I think of often is Episode 126: Do-gooders (links to Real Audio file). Dated April 9th of '99, it was the first time I heard the story that would be turned into the film "Hotel Rwanda" which I didn't see. (Because the movie stars Don Cheadle, I will have to see it, but it's one of those horrors I'm putting off indefinitely.)

This same episode featured another segment, one which I find myself thinking about a LOT, especially in these politically charged times:

"Jackie and Kenny Wharton were kids in the tiny town of Canalou Missouri, off of old Highway 61. They moved away for 40 years, but always dreamed of moving back. After Kenny retired, they finally did. Canalou had fallen on hard times. They hoped to do a few things to help restore some of the spirit it had when they were kids: modest, innocent things, maybe start a softball league, build a place for kids to play ball, maybe pave a few streets. And the more they tried, the more people resented them."

It's a *great* story.

If I was to take a long road trip, I'd be very tempted to record as many episodes as possible. Choosing them wouldn't be easy, but you can't go wrong with David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell.

10:27 PM  
Blogger mjae said...

I'm listening to it right now. You're right; it's good.

Here's my favorite quote so far:
“In order to do good of any kind, you have to have a vision of the way you want things. There’s a ruthlessness in changing the world – to imposing your will on what the world is.”

Marjorie, this brings to mind our favorite P.P.

12:27 PM  

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