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The Murders Before the Marathon

Ibragim was a womanizer. He was kind to children. He had a sweet tooth, and a temper. Who killed three men in Waltham, Massachusetts, on September 11 2011? And could solving that case have prevented the Boston Bombings? The answers may never be clear, because the chief surviving suspect, Ibragim Todashev, was shot by the FBI while allegedly on the brink of confessing. Journalist Susan Zalkind's investigation turned up many more questions about the Bureau's handling of the case than it answered. It's also been featured on This American Life. Warning: the first link contains photos of Todashev's dead body.
posted by daisyk on Feb 26, 2014 - 19 comments

 

Use Only as Directed

ProPublica.org and This American Life partnered for a special report on acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol), the active ingredient in Tylenol, which is also found in many other over-the-counter medications. The narrow therapeutic index of acetaminophen means that often, the difference between safe use and overdose can be as small as one gram. From ProPublica.org: "About 150 Americans die a year by accidentally taking too much acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, federal data from the CDC shows."
posted by fiercecupcake on Sep 23, 2013 - 76 comments

Each week on our show we choose a theme...

Tomorrow, public radio show This American Life airs its 500th episode. Started in 1995 by Ira Glass, with the initial title Your Radio Playhouse, the show is a popular reference point here on the blue, covering everything from the minute goings-on of ordinary people, to allegedly unearthing the secret recipe for Coke, to the 2008 financial collapse. Ahead of the occasion, Ira Glass talked to Buzzfeed about the episodes that stand out in his mind. [more inside]
posted by dry white toast on Jul 11, 2013 - 84 comments

Ira Glass can dance if he wants to.

The hot ticket in Dallas this past Saturday night was for the Ira Glass talk at the Winspear. But the hipper ticket was in the nearby Kessler X+ section of Oak Cliff, where Matt Tolentino and his Singapore Slingers shared a bill with Kristy Kruger that blew the roof off the beloved Kessler Theater. Ira, a pal of Kristy's, showed up after his own gig and danced his ass off.
posted by azaner on Jun 4, 2013 - 15 comments

Unfit for Work: The startling rise of disability in America

"In the past three decades, the number of Americans who are on disability has skyrocketed. The rise has come even as medical advances have allowed many more people to remain on the job, and new laws have banned workplace discrimination against the disabled. Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government." A multimedia story by Planet Money reporter Chana Joffe-Walt, also featured on This American Life this week.
posted by liketitanic on Mar 24, 2013 - 179 comments

This Chicago Life

Last school year in Chicago, 29 current and recent students of Harper High School in the Englewood neighborhood were shot. Of those, 8 students died. For one semester (five months) reporters from the NPR show This American Life interviewed students and staff at Harper. The reporters wanted to know: How do students live with the violence surrounding them? How does the school staff deal with the effects of violence on students? The resulting two episodes of the show answer these questions (and more) in heartbreaking and surprising ways. Part one here. Part two here.
posted by Misty_Knightmare on Feb 22, 2013 - 30 comments

Artificial calamari?

If you missed this story, you missed one of the All Time Great stories on This American Life: A while ago, a farmer walked through a pork processing plant in Oklahoma with a friend who managed it. He came across boxes stacked on the floor with labels that said "artificial calamari." So he asked his friend "What’s artificial calamari?" "Bung," his friend replied. "Hog rectum." Have you or I eaten bung dressed up as seafood? Ben investigated. (26 minutes) Dead Ringer. Educational and hilarious. If you prefer, the entire episode.
posted by spock on Jan 19, 2013 - 118 comments

I don’t know what direction America is headed in, but whichever way it is, I need him elected.

The Audacity Of Louis Ortiz is a kickstarter funded documentary that chronicles the life and times an unemployed Puerto Rican man from the Bronx, whose life completely changed when he was told that he resembles Barack Obama. The story of Ortiz has been featured on This American Life, NY Times, and DRS 3. Ortiz as Obama has been featured in a few TV spots including an episode of Flight of the Concords and a Korean satellite TV commercial.
posted by wcfields on Oct 18, 2012 - 19 comments

It's Time For This American Life To Grow Up

The lesson couldn’t be clearer: it’s time for This American Life to grow up.
posted by Fiasco da Gama on Aug 30, 2012 - 89 comments

He’s documenting history, one Asian movie theater at a time

Three years ago, Phil Jablon (aka The Projectionist) started a concerted effort to start documenting the rapidly-vanishing stand-alone movie theaters and former theaters in Southeast Asia. Today his website, The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project is a historian and movie-theater lover's dream. Jablon has captured the faded, the lost, the torched, the almost lost, the repurposed, the reborn, and the unbounded. [more inside]
posted by blueberry on Jul 1, 2012 - 6 comments

See Paradise for a mere $625,000 a week.

Jon Ronson (whose book The Psychopath Test was the basis of a This American Life episode ) interviews folks living in America at several varied levels of income in: GQ - Amber Waves of Green.
posted by 1f2frfbf on Jun 29, 2012 - 39 comments

Welcome to AMERCIA!

"What facts about the United States do foreigners not believe until they come to America? In the episode "True Urban Legends" [originally aired 4.23.2010] of This American Life, Mary Wiltenburg asks refugees to share the rumors they'd heard about America but didn't think were true, only to discover on arrival that they were. Examples include homelessness and Christmas lights." Quora members weigh in. [more inside]
posted by ericb on Jun 20, 2012 - 472 comments

Law Enforcement Theatre

The FBI has orchestrated "14 out of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks [on U.S. soil] since 9/11" according to the NY Times' counting. As noted previously though, Mother Jones' investigative report found that "all [but three] of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings" and one third of terrorist defendants were actually led by an FBI agent provocateur, often outside contractors. A Rolling Stone blogger has now called out the FBI for "singling out ideological enemies [of the State]", including the FBI's recent Ohio bridge plot, while ignoring much more dangerous right wing groups, including white supremacists. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jun 4, 2012 - 134 comments

What didn't happen on This American Life

This weekend, TAL ran an episode on the massacre at Dos Erres. What they didn't mention was that this happened as part of the "Silent Holocaust" -- a "systematic campaign of genocide against the Mayan people." An estimated 83% of the massacred people were indigenous Maya. Throughout the period of the genocide, the USA continued to provide military support to the Guatemalan government, mainly in the form of arms and equipment, despite knowing that the Guatemala military was responsible for the killings. Horatio Castellanos Moya, an exiled Honduran writer, wrote Senselessness, his first book to be published in English, based on the testimonies taken by the Catholic Church's Recuperation of History project, which led to Bishop José Gerardi Conedera releasing the Guatemala: Never Again! report. Two days later, he was bludgeoned to death.
posted by Felicity Rilke on May 28, 2012 - 21 comments

Thank you for joining us.

Mike Birbiglia's Fresh Air interview gets awkward. From last week's This American Life live episode.
posted by roll truck roll on May 14, 2012 - 31 comments

Lucky Act 13

Pennsylvania has adopted what may be the most anti-democratic, anti-environmental law in the country, giving gas companies the right to drill anywhere, overturn local zoning laws, seize private property and muzzle physicians from disclosing specific health impacts from drilling fluids on patients. This American Life on fracking in Pennsylvania. Fracking: Anatomy of a Free Market Failure. Previously in Pennsylvania. [more inside]
posted by gerryblog on Mar 14, 2012 - 88 comments

NYPD Tapes Confirmed

The NYPD Tapes Confirmed The report police hid for nearly two years that corroborates a Voice investigation — and vindicates a whistle-blower the NYPD tried to destroy.

Covered in 2010 by This American Life as Is That a Tape Recorder in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Unhappy to See Me? For 17 months, New York police officer Adrian Schoolcraft recorded himself and his fellow officers on the job, including their supervisors ordering them to do all sorts of things that police aren't supposed to do.
posted by The Deej on Mar 9, 2012 - 84 comments

The Apple Factory Responds

In a move seemingly inspired by the This American Life episode Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory (previously), Apple has released a list of its suppliers (PDF) around the world and is voluntarily allowing a third party to audit the working conditions at those factories and make the results available to the public. The third party will be the Fair Labor Association, who also monitor Nike, New Balance, and Adidas.
posted by gilrain on Jan 23, 2012 - 34 comments

very tough love

Many listeners have written to us since our episode about Georgia Judge Amanda Williams, asking what ever happened to her. Did she face any consequences for the things we documented on our program? Yesterday, Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission filed formal charges [PDF] against her. The twelve counts include a number of things reported in our episode: sending away inmates for indefinite detention, jailing Charlie McCullough for 14 days for exercising his right to contest a drug screen, and using “rude, abusive, or insulting language” with individuals appearing before her. Local reporting from the Altanta Journal-Constitution. Previously.
posted by gerryblog on Nov 10, 2011 - 43 comments

Ira Glass Sex Tape

Ira Glass Sex Tape
posted by finite on Oct 11, 2011 - 127 comments

When Patents Attack

When Patents Attack. The team at PRI's This American Life and NPR's Planet Money bring you an hour long look into the growing "Mafia War" around software patents. Diving into the corporate filings, patent acquisitions, and office locations of Nathan Myrhvold's Intellectual Ventures and it's shell companies, Laura Sydell and Alex Blumburg uncover a disturbing protection scheme which threatens to undermine the competitiveness of the US tech industry[pdf]. [more inside]
posted by Popular Ethics on Jul 28, 2011 - 123 comments

Debt is Dumb, Cash is King

Dave Ramsey - a syndicated radio host, author and revival-style seminar leader leads a Christian-themed, tough love crusade to convince Americans to cut up their credit cards and renounce debt forever. His detractors say our impulses, not our debt, are the problem.
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Mar 15, 2011 - 84 comments

Is it the real thing?

TAL says it's got Coca Cola's top-secret recipe. The radio show This American Life found a 1979 newspaper photo of a hand-written copy of John Pemberton's top-secret original Coke recipe. Presto: the secret ingredients of 7X. Coke says no way. [more inside]
posted by CunningLinguist on Feb 15, 2011 - 192 comments

Clifford Doerksen

19th-century newspaper ads for patented stomach cures and digestive aids [...] foregrounded mince pie as the K2 of digestive summits. But for every published warning on the dangers of mince, the newspapers published a poem, essay, or editorial praising it as a great symbol of American cultural heritage or a nostalgic reminder of mother love and better times bygone—or even, as the State of Columbia, South Carolina, asserted in 1901, a beneficial Darwinian instrument that had "thinned out the weak ones" among the pioneering generations.
So wrote Cliff Doerksen in his wonderful, James Beard award-winning article Mince Pie: The Real American Pie. Doerksen not only gives the history of this once most American of foods, he also makes two mince pies from 19th Century recipes to see if they are indeed all that. This is but one of many great articles Doerksen wrote for The Chicago Reader in recent years (links to a selection below the cut). Sadly, Cliff Doerksen passed at the age of 47 just before Christmas. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Dec 29, 2010 - 73 comments

Act 1: Dinner. Act 2: Pie. Act 3: Grousing.

Since the very beginning, PRI's This American Life has (every few years) commemorated Thanksgiving in the US with episodes about the exotic mysteries of turkeys, chicken and other fowl. They call it Poultry Slam and episodes from 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2008 are all available for your turkey day and I-refuse-to-even-look-at-a-Walmart day enjoyment.
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Nov 24, 2010 - 6 comments

Purchase risky debt on a massive scale and then place a bet that the debt will fail!

Betting Against the American Dream. In 2005, just as Wall Street started to get cold feet about the housing market, the Magnetar hedge fund helped create a new wave of billion-dollar mortgage-backed securities, pushed bankers to include riskier sub-prime mortgages, and then shorted the securities, making millions when the bubble finally burst. Traders on both sides of the deals pocketed enormous fees even if their banks went under when the securities failed. Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica, This American Life, and NPR's Planet Money track down some of the big winners in the housing/financial crisis. No time to read or listen? It seemed so much like a scheme from The Producers, they even recorded a show tune to explain it all. (Previously, 2, 3)
posted by straight on Apr 15, 2010 - 30 comments

Radio from Coast to Coast to Coast

The Third Coast International Audio Festival recognizes excellence in audio documentary, and the 2009 awards have been announced. You can listen to all of the winners' work as well as a two hour broadcast of the highlights.
posted by Lutoslawski on Dec 23, 2009 - 3 comments

Video on global demand

All TV episodes of This American Life are currently available for free in the U.S. through the main Chinese video sharing site; Youku (here's an episode guide and Season 1, Season 2.) [more inside]
posted by twoleftfeet on Oct 22, 2009 - 42 comments

Long live Quimby The Mouse

Quimby The Mouse. That is all. I have been a Chris Ware fan since 1990. More specifically, I have been a Quimby Mouse fan since 1990. This is a video Chris put together for This American Life for their spring 2009 event. The music is by Andrew Bird.
posted by PuppyCat on May 5, 2009 - 40 comments

For those of us who didn't take Econ in school.

Confused about the banking crisis? Confused by banks in general? This American Life's latest show Bad Bank (streaming, mp3) is a highly informative (and entertaining) overview of how banks work, and what problems they--and we all--face in this current crisis. Produced by another great NPR show, Planet Money.
posted by zardoz on Mar 2, 2009 - 23 comments

"There will be enormous, enormous losses..."

This American Life gives you Another Frightening Show About the Economy.. The guys who brought us The Giant Pool of Money (previously) explain the credit crunch and why it's so scary. And not in the Halloween fun-to-be-scared sense.
posted by justkevin on Oct 5, 2008 - 169 comments

The Giant Pool of Money

The Giant Pool of Money. This American Life teams up with NPR News to explain the Housing Crisis. [more inside]
posted by empath on May 11, 2008 - 53 comments

The Audacity of Government

A very special 'This American Life' about an administration with the endemic belief that laws only apply to the little people, and a limitless refusal to concede on even petty issues, no matter the costs. The highlight is about immigrant widows of US citizens (30:50). The program also discusses the constitutional beliefs of the presidential candidates. [more inside]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Apr 2, 2008 - 43 comments

Probably not quite a fiasco!

Atlanta's Theat(er|re) community is unloading on a local Christmas show. [more inside]
posted by bovious on Dec 11, 2007 - 32 comments

Every Bitch Must Tip

Welcome to The Wieners Circle, a Chicago hot dog stand where you can stumble in after a night at the bar and trade some colorful banter from the staff (along with your chocolate milkshake). But a local tradition that was "supposed to be fun" often cuts a little too close for the black employees in the predominantly white Lincoln Park establishment. [NSFW]
posted by dhammond on Aug 28, 2007 - 53 comments

This American Life Parody

Kasper Hauser's parody of this American Life :Episode 1 - Going Postal. Episode 2 - Phantom High School .
posted by srboisvert on Jul 6, 2007 - 24 comments

Would you shank me in a box?

Blood In Blood Out. Ira Glass, prison crew leader.
posted by CaptMcalister on May 7, 2007 - 30 comments

Store-wide Freak Out

Hobo Expert, MeFite, Daily Show Resident Expert, and reluctant celebrity John Hodgman's recent appearance on This American Life is truly inspired stuff. "He tells the story of what happens when celebrity hunts you down and finds you...on your living room couch, pushing 40, and a couple sizes larger than you want to be." Apparently Bill Gates isn't a fan. His loss.
posted by chuckdarwin on Apr 25, 2007 - 60 comments

Chris Ware + This American Life

Chris Ware animates a segment of an episode of the new This American Life television show. [previously: Chris Ware, This American Life on TV, Chris Ware on This American Life’s radio program]
posted by ijoshua on Mar 20, 2007 - 32 comments

A sneak peak of the upcoming Showtime edition ofThis American Life

A sneak peak of the upcoming Showtime edition of This American Life (direct QT link).
posted by JPowers on Feb 23, 2007 - 37 comments

Another look at counting the deaths in Iraq

There's an interesting piece over at This American Life (titled "What's in number"). It touches on the previously discussed Lancet study and gives a better explanation of the methodology use. Be sure and check out Act II, where Marc Garlasco, former chief of high-value targeting at the Pentagon, visits Iraq to see some of the actual sites he helped plan to hit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Nov 12, 2006 - 24 comments

After The Flood - Surprising stories from survivors in New Orleans

After The Flood Surprising stories from survivors in New Orleans. We give people who were in the storm more time than daily news coverage can to tell their stories and talk about what they're thinking. This leads to a number of ideas that haven't made it into the regular news coverage. The most recent episode of This American Life is now up on their website--This American Life is one of the best programs on public radio and this was one of their best episodes ever. It is well worth a listen.
posted by y2karl on Sep 13, 2005 - 24 comments

Suprisingly Safe For Work

The Beaver Triologyblurs reality and fiction as it tells the story of a teen obsessed with the spotlight. [as heard on This American Life.]
posted by drezdn on Sep 13, 2004 - 6 comments

The Apology Line

The Apology Line was an art project by Allan Bridge. For 15 years, anonymous confessions were collected by an answering machine. Covered by This American Life, and an early Wired Magazine article, The Apology Line predated online confessionals like grouphug.us by over 20 years.

The resulting messages were compiled into tapes. The long out-of-print cassette The Apology Line: Uncut Gems From Year Zero (1980-1981) is available in mp3 form: Side A. Side B. Fascinating, funny, and disturbing, all at once. [via Fluxblog]


posted by bluno on Mar 17, 2004 - 10 comments

Next up: I'm a Senator and I can't keep my clothes on!

The popular radio show, This American Life, has an upcoming series devoted to Jerry Springer's previous life in politics. Along with the radio piece, an entire website has been launched to try and convince Springer to re-enter politics and "revitalize the Democratic Party." Is Springer the new Arnold of the left?
posted by mathowie on Jan 27, 2004 - 25 comments

Come Fly With Me!

The Chairman Of The Bad: "Brassiere! I dig a broad with no brassiere!"... Full of unreleased concert material and wonderful anecdotes, This American Life's programme about Frank Sinatra is still the most entertaining I've ever heard about The Voice, bringing out his worst as well as his very best. It almost makes you feel like catching the next corny My Way [Though it has a goodish list of his most lasting songs] or Rat Pack show. Bone up on the wonderful slang or take the Sinatra quiz. And, if you're still a bit of a stranger to Sinatra, perhaps the Frank-ylizer will lead you to a record appropriate to your tastes and lifestyle. No, there can't be many better ways to fight the Monday blues! ["Chairman of The Bad" is a 1994 Bono quote; Sinatra's "brassiere" adlib is sung to the tune of Ary Barroso's famous Aquarela do Brasil/Brazil. Real Audio req.]
posted by MiguelCardoso on Apr 27, 2003 - 12 comments

Fears of Your Life

Fear is a warning thing,” Loggins says, “a warning system. It lets you know you’re going to be in danger, like something jeopardizes your life. I guess everybody has fears in common. In fact, I’m quite sure they do. Things like bees, monsters, and probably pit bulls.”
posted by Hildago on Mar 15, 2003 - 29 comments

Radio interview with Mr. Rogers

Radio chat with Mr. Rogers on This American Life. I found it a really touching and revealing piece on personality that I grew up watching on TV. (via memepool)
posted by cmicali on Mar 1, 2003 - 1 comment

Movie Adaptations of Books

Sometimes Movies Are Even Better Than The Good Books They're Based Upon. [More inside]
posted by MiguelCardoso on Dec 2, 2002 - 56 comments

David Sedaris on tour

David Sedaris on tour Go see him in your town! Anybody see David Sedaris on Letterman last night? He read a new piece about a portable colostomy bag. Mr. Sedaris is a regular contributor to This American Life on NPR. If you haven't read or heard David Sedaris, you are really missing out.
posted by puddsharp on Oct 9, 2002 - 38 comments

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