The picture that accompanies this episode on the TAL site points to a futuristic, space agey group of stories, but most of this episode points to the past.
Act one talks about "hyper reality" and applies the ideas given in Umberto Eco's writings about traveling from place to place, wax museum to wax museum. I'll be honest- it didn't all make sense to me, and maybe it was from a lack of paying attention, but hyper reality and all kinds of stuff related..yeah. There's also talk about Civil War re-enactors and how some go all in on being true to that time period and some just skim the surface of the time.
Act two is Jack Hitt talking about dinosaurs. It didn't catch my attention as much as act three did though...
Act three is a story of Ira and Nancy (Updike..one of my fave producers on the show) take the late Michael Camille, a medieval scholar at the University of Chicago to a Medieval Times restaurant. The description of the place and how over the top yet fitting for the time period it was makes it quite a great story.
Ira references Sir Gawain from the old stories, such as "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight", and it gave me a chance to say "aha! I did learn something in those british lit classes!", so I think that may be part of why I enjoyed this so much, plus the fact that the professional scholar had such a good time at the restaurant/show. You could just tell from Mr. Camille's voice that he was enjoying himself throughout the fanfare of the night, plus Ira even made it a point to let listeners know how much the professional and highly educated man was into what he was seeing. Even though he pointed out a few different things throughout the piece that made Medieval Times a not completely accurate portrayal of this very festive event- a jousting tournament. I even learned something new as this was being discussed on the show- Mr. Camille stated that knights would get off of their horses and fight on the ground during jousts, which after three times trying to take that British Lit I class, I had never run across in any literature I had read.
Overall, this piece is one that can teach you a lot about something you have very little prior knowledge on. The way that Camille comes at medieval in such an excited way, wanting to share it rather than go over someone's head is such an appealing thing and I have to say if I had this guy for a professor of literature from this time, I probably would have done much better in that class. Really glad that TAL got him on the show before he passed on to his big medieval world in the sky (the folks give him some nice words about his untimely death on the episode archive page).
Act four has two minutes of Ira talking almost abstractly on the different levels of media- from the announcer, to the reporter to the actual person being interviewed. Reading the synopsis of the episode made me excited about this part, but it's only two minutes long. More? Please? I like hearing behind the scenes radio stuff from NPR- I'll even take the jargon!
So there you have it- episode 38; now go learn about medieval times (and I'm not talking about the restaurant!).