David Rakoff discusses the world of birthdays and other holidays, as they're celebrated on the job... and what happens when you call yourself an editorial assistant but the editor you're assisting calls you a secretary. He read this story before a live audience at Town Hall in New York City, during a This American Life live show.
Ira talks with Barry Keenan, who was living a lot of people's Plan A in the early 1960s. He was rich and successful.
Jonathan Goldstein took a telemarketing job as a kind of temporary Plan B...never suspecting that it would be a ten-year chapter in his life. Jonathan hosts the CBC radio program WireTap.
Host Ira Glass talks with Stephen Goldin, author of an online guide that prescribes 23 rules for comic fans to follow when mingling with professional sci-fi authors at sci-fi conventions. For instance: don't try to start a discussion with a pro on the way to the bathroom.
Ira travels to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, gets hooked, and tries to figure out what it would mean if he'd ditch his job in radio to become a professional card player. What he learns: A professional gambler can suffer two heartbreaking losses back-to-back, costing him over $100,000, and moments later, at the casino bar, calculate the million-to-one odds of his unlikely losses...in his head.
Contributor David Rakoff visits his dream job: In the crafts department at Martha Stewart Living magazine.
Jonathan Goldstein heads into an environment that's so hot that they people there believe that sweating—simply sweating—is getting something accomplished. Life in the Division Street Russian Bath turns out to follow a different—and superior—set of rules to life elsewhere.
Writer John Hodgman in New York tells the story of how he dreamt of getting to know the B-movie star Bruce Campbell, and how his unlikely dream accidentally came true, partly to his delight, partly to his horror.
Nick Flynn tells the story of his father, who was never on a pedestal. His father abandoned the family soon after Nick was born.
Host Ira Glass talks to two different people who have stories they just can't get over...stories that make them cringe...and stories from which we can glean what makes a cringe story different from other kinds of stories.
Ira reports on a week he spent on the set of the TV show M*A*S*H in 1979, supposedly to do a story about the program for National Public Radio. He was 20 years old.
Adam Davidson reads from his high school diaries.
At a fairly bleak time in his life, Scott took a job driving all over the state of Utah, interviewing people who were diagnosed with schizophrenia. His job was to administer a standard test, which measured mental health.
It's another not-so-great period in Scott's life. This time he takes a job inside his profession, as a producer for a national commercial radio program.
A mortgage broker named David Philp discovers that his old punk band from the 1970s is hot in Japan. He decides to leave corporate life and revisit his teenage years by going back on tour, playing music for the first time in two decades.
Producer Alex Blumberg sets out to find a woman named Susan Jordan, who babysat him and his sister for a year when he was nine. He discovers that each of them remembered something about the other that the other would just as soon forget.
Kelly McEvers with the story of Zora, a self-made superhero. From the time she was five, Zora had recurring dreams in which she was a 6'5" warrior queen who could fly and shoot lightning from her hands.
Ira talks with Lee Qi, who came to America from China. He worked in Chinese restaurants in small towns, live in tiny apartments with other illegal immigrants who worked there as well—apartments that were sometimes in the back of the restaurants.
We listen in on a ritual that happens in millions of families every week: kids getting dropped off at the babysitters. Six-year-old Dylan and nine-year-old Sarah explain what they can and can't get away with when they have a babysitter.After that, host Ira Glass has a few words about Mary Poppins, who is the Gold Standard of all fictional babysitters.
Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of an ex-con-turned-actor named Richie Castellano. After a bit role in the movie Analyze This, he moved to a small town and got dozens of people to invest money and time in a movie that never premiered.
Lawrence Otis Graham reads from an account of how he left his job as a $105,000-a-year Manhattan attorney to enter the exclusive Greenwich Country Club the only way they'd allow a black man like him: as a busboy. He discovers just how invisible he can become once he gives up his seat at the table and starts clearing the dishes instead—so invisible that people make racist remarks right in front of him.
In this act, we hear from the rowdier, drunker late-night patrons of the Golden Apple. A guy walks in with two young women, hoping to go home with one of them.
Producer Blue Chevigny tells more of the story from Bristol County, where the immigration law of 1996 has a community of non-political people reluctantly going to protests, attending meetings at night, talking to politicians, and doing all sorts of other things most of us would do anything to avoid.