Saturday, September 25, 2010

Episode 7: "Quitting"

This one's the last episode of  '95 and was just kind of bleh. One thing I did dig, though, was the fact they interviewed an editor of "Quitter Quarterly", a zine of all things. Major points to "TAL" for the zine loving they have sent out all throughout the show's run thus far (Dishwasher Pete's one of my faves to hear stories by).

Once again, this episode didn't bowl me over and I'm excited to get moving into 1996. This time period is somewhat foreign to me, considering that I was only 9 years old at the time and will probably be learning a lot about the issues of the year through the we're talking....

Episode 6: "Christmas"

Quick notes on this episode, as to get on to listening to what's next:

  • David Sedaris and the Pinetree Gang story was pretty good; love the fact it included his sister and a hilarious southern drawl coming out of him. This accent makes the episode for  me. Have to say, though, it doesn't seem quite like something typical to the TAL format. This kinda threw me off, but atleast if anyone was to do so, it would be Mr. Sedaris and crew.
  • Second half of the episode is where the crew starts to hit their stride for this week. The juvenile court story and forward has the "TAL" touch we've all grown to love...the rest just didn't feel quite right, more like "Your Radio Playhouse"

And with that, we get to the last episode of Season One. Have to say I'm excited to get one season down, no matter how short it may be. And as I keep saying, don't mean to just sound like there's lots of hating going on here- this was just the beginning for the show (love ya, mean it, Ira!).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Episode 5: "Anger & Forgiveness"

Originally aired: 12-15-1995

Episode number 5 has some pretty good music on it. That's about all that sticks out to me. That and how folks have such different views on people who do bad things. The final story about sin and hanging out with the couple who sat around smoking pot and talking about going on God's spaceship was funny.

I'll try and have better comments on the next episode. I know there are some awesome ones down the road soon (episode 104, anyone?) and I'm sure some more winners between now and here's to the weekend starting tomorrow and getting some more shows under my belt soon (but only after tv preomiere night for "Big Bang Theory", "30 Rock" (best show on tv, I dare say) and "The Office").

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Episode 4: "Vacations"

Originally Aired 12-8-1995

Alright! We're finally hitting our dumb stuffed chickens and yet another Sedaris story. Can't beat that.
This episode starts off with Ira discussing his family vacation in a manner that seems to be the first time, quite possibly, he doesn't seem to just ramble. What's he's saying has a point and it's nice to be able to see that in the show. I guess it isn't too bad to start really finding that happy medium at the fourth episode ever. Good job, 1995 era Ira Glass.

The two longer stories, the first about vacationing in Ethiopia in the 60's during social unrest and then Sedaris' tales of hitchhiking across America are welcome stories. They are of the longer format but they have more to say than a quick 5 minute story possibly can. Both worked in thoughts on the authors' families, the actual journeys they went on and how idealized they started out being. By the end, the idea of home comes back around and gives us a glimpse of what these characters really are thinking about- being back in the safety and security from which they left at the beginning of their tales.

Episode 3: "Poultry Slam"

Originally Aired 12-1-1995

I was originally excited to listen to the infamous "Poultry Slam" episodes. Well, I'm thinking not. Atleast not the first time around. I don't want to sound like I'm totally hating on the first few shows, but 20 minutes was just spent on getting an interview with a duck puppet. A STUFFED ANIMAL.

(I'm trying not to write during the episodes and gather my thoughts at the end, but that just about murdered my brain it was so ridiculous and painful. Here's to hoping the rest is's to the rest of the show..oh  and how Ira keeps talking about this "Chicken Man" show. The things I do for this project of patience...)

Ok, once I got over the stuffed duck annoyance and it got a little better. The story about living on a turkey farm was eh, the "Chicken Man" stories were entertaining and David Sedaris, thank the Lord, pulled it together towards the end.

I'm beginning to think the reason that these earlier episodes can be tough to swallow is due to a little heavy handedness of the themes. That is one of the things that originally made me love listening to TAL- their ability to take a theme and expand on it so well. They don't necessarily give the stories you would expect on the theme of the week and that is one thing that, I realize, does take practice. The Sedaris & turkey farm stories from this episode do that and give a fortaste of the future, so onward I will venture, praying for no more stories about talking stuffed animals.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Episode 2: "Small Scale Sin"

Originally aired 11-24-1995

This one's a little funny in the outdatedness of the episode- the majority of the show is about computer hackers. In 1995.

It wasn't too earth shattering of a group of stories, and I hate to say how much I cringe ever time Ira Glass says "Your Radio Playhouse". That being said, onward to the next...

Episode 1: "New Beginnings"

Originally broadcast 11/17/1995

 So we start from the best place to start: the beginning.

This was the first listen from anything from the first year of the show. I wouldn't rank it one of my favorites but the more dramatic stories (the moments which Ira isn't talking- sorry dude, but you don't ever seem to shut it on the first go round) are somewhat bleak yet inspiring.

Besides the actual stories, the best part probably had to be the interview with Mrs. Glass. Between the talk of Ira looking like Hugh Grant and how she's already had an interview that day with a newspaper, it's just entertaining. Bringing the fam into the fold is one of my favorite things throughout the series.

Alas, I don't want to sound like I'm hating on the first go round,but hey, it was the start of something new- of course it would take time to work it out.  But can we PLEASE stop saying "your radio playhouse"?

On to episode 2....I know they'll get better, as will my thoughts reflecting on them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

So what is Project TAL?

So glad you asked.

"TAL" is the abbreviated way of saying "This American Life", one of the best radio shows on NPR. I've been a casual listener for a few years now, but seeing how their website now has listings of every episode and the ability to stream them, it's got me thinking about listening to the entire run of the show.

All 414 current episodes. In order.

This, of course, won't be a wasteful thing, though. From what I've heard of the show since first entering my life, much knowledge has been gleamed from it, so I'll be taking stock of what I get out of the episodes. Be warned these may be introspective. Some may not (I have to admit the financial episodes don't quite excite me like a good Dan Savage story).  Alas, we'll see how this goes and see what I can get from Mr. Glass and his fanciful cast of characters....