Friday, August 10, 2012

Episode 52: Edge of Sanity

Mental illness is one of those topics that can get difficult to talk about without being insulting or something else, but This American Life figured out how to tell about it- take the different points of view from the status of mental health.

There's an excerpt from the book Girl Interrupted, a tale of actually working in a mental ward and a Davis Sedaris story that actually makes the topic hilarious.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Episode 51: Animals Die, People Ponder

Oh, the holiday season...been busy with Christmas prep and finishing up work before break and being sick, so do excuse my lack of regularity in know how that goes, I'm sure.
I will admit that I listened to this episode a week or two ago and it's one of those that was interesting, so I'm just going to hit the high points that I really remember (and there's a few of them, so that definitely lets you know it was a pretty good show).

For the opening, Ira talks to a scholar about parchment and how it was used in books way back when in history. Having taken so many English classes, I thought I knew about parchment, yet it had never really registered parchment could come from animals. Found that quite interesting and pretty cool that I could relate it back to something I learned about in college (sometimes it feels like those things are few and far how proud I am when I can watch a street art video from somewhere that is Spanish speaking and pick up some of what they're saying...).

Next there's a fictional story about a guy who kills his boss. It's animal related, I promise. It seemed to get a little long but is an interesting tale. George Saunders is an interesting writer for sure.

Act three is the story that stuck out the most to me- the story of a guy who cleans up road kill in Chicago. Ira went out with him one day for another show and it was also used in this one. Let's just say this is the take away story for me this time around...I even retold it the next day to a coworker!

Act four is about a guy who rescues animals. And moving on...

Check this one out if you like animals...or really old literature (atleast the first 10 minutes).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Episode 50: Shoulda Been Dead

Ok, Ira, you win. I see how you're trying to confuse me as I make my way through all of the episodes for this lovely show...Case in point: at the end of this episode, it is stated that it originally aired in 1995. Well, it certainly isn't listed on the 1995 list. Aye aye aye. So here's a rundown since I've not written one yet, evidentally...

Act one is a story about Kevin Kelly, the editor of Wired magazine at the point of airing, and what he does with the last 6 months he believes he has to live. After a visit to the spot where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, one which included sleeping at that very spot, he is given the message that he has 6 months left in life. He then moves back to his parent's home to spend time with them and then rides a bike from the west coast to New York, on a 5,000 mile trip. He survives the trip and then braces himself for the day that makes the 6 month mark. I could ruin it for you, but I'm not- so you have to listen. It's a very enlightening story- definitely make you think.

Act two is the reading of a script, telling the story of a man who is told he has tested positive for Aids. This is one of the best pieces I've heard on the show ever. Just really good and thoughtful.

Act three brings back one of my faves- my girl, Claudia Perez. It's pretty cool how TAL brought her back for a piece, as she was already in college at this point. I seriously want to know what she's up to today...she just seems so cool. Anyways, the short piece she put together this time around was about her brother and his take on his shooting and time in the ICU. This girl knows how to share parts of her life while being able to share more than just what is so personal- she can relate it to all of the world around her.

Acts four and five are short little bits that, honestly, I couldn't keep that much attention to. I think that the first three stories did the bulk of the work this time around- nothing wrong with that.

Episode 49: Animals

So this episode is one of the first few to air, almost a year earlier than this broadcast date, in January of 1996. You can read my thoughts on this episode, which I don't skimp on having a total distaste for here. And yes, I seriously did have to skip part of this episode to not get completely just freaked out. Still makes me shudder..ick.

Episode 48: Justice

January 1997 starts off to a slower start but eventually revs up some. This story covering different tales of justice from around the country (well, the world really).

Act one is about war crimes and Yugoslovia and it was just hard to follow for me. Eh...

Act two brings it up some, Scott Carrier reporting on a teen court in Tucson. The area teenagers figure out what their peers deserve as punishment for their crimes. They give surprisingly harsh and adult-like punishments, giving a view of how much these teenagers really are influenced by the adults in their lives. This was quite an interesting thing to hear from teens and gives me a little hope for those that come along in the future. I really dig this story- well done, Mr. Carrier.

Act three is all about an apology line that was set up for people to call in and do as it it suggests- make apologies. The tapes that were played were heartbreaking, particularly the tape from a 15 year old who had run away from home.

Not too shabby of a start to 1997...feels like the show was starting to hit its stride and I'm liking it...let's keep it going...only 13 years left to listen to!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Episode 47: Christmas and Commerce

We made it! This episode finishes up 1996's run of shows! Doesn't seem like much a feat when considering how many shows are left to listen to, but hey, it's a start, right?

This show is one that I've been looking forward to ever since I saw it was a Christmas episode- it includes "The Santa Land Diaries" by David Sedaris. This story, if you have managed to not hear or read it, in all of its epicness, is the real life tale of Sedaris being an elf at Macy's in New York City. He shares tales of just not wanting to be so cheery, the many different rigorous positions an elf could work in and everyday moments of other fellows elves and Santas at Macy's.

This story is one of the reasons that Sedaris is as well known in the public radio community, along with, I think, part of the reason his books sell so well (and this story is also part of why I dropped so much for a ticket to see him perform next April, but I evidentally am so cheap I just like being able to state that different places, as to feel better about spending so much to be entertained for a few hours). This is one of those stories that made me go out and purchase the book that includes it- and I'll even plug it here- "Holiday On Ice" is Sedaris' Christmas story collection and I highly suggest it, particularly this Christmas season, or anytime of the year. After working in retail for 4+ years, "Santa Land Diaries" is one of my must reads every Christmas holiday.

Besides Sedaris' now-classic Christmas story, there are three other pretty cool little acts in this episode. The show opens with Ira in the world's largest Toys -R-Us at closing time on Christmas eve. Act three is about a window actor who played Freud in a Barney's holiday window and the implications of the job, premeditated and not (having a therapy session? Why not!). The fourth act is some audio from one of the music guru's family Christmas, at age 3. Notably he gets a toy record player- I dare say at that point a life was forever changed.

These shorter stories are pretty good accompaniments to "The Santa Land Diaries", but Sedaris knows how to hold down this episode while also holding down the Christmas holiday (and I'm pretty sure we'll hear the hilarious tale over and over and over again).

Episode 46: Sissie

After debating on how to report on this episode that is about gay men and how they can act, I don't really know what I want to say about it except that it was a very interesting listen and well worth the time the crew spent on putting it together.. It was very entertaining and, from what I could tell, fairly advanced of an episode for 1996 (granted, at this time I was only 9 years old, so I don't have a huge grasp on what the gay community was at that time).

This episode includes a story by Nancy Updike and Dan Savage, two of my favorites to be on the show, and is one that I do suggest you listen to it and let me know your thoughts on it...