Case #1: The mystery of the disappearing video store
June 15, 2015 2:10 PM   Subscribe

 
Was the video store run entirely by red-headed men who needed to keep Laura occupied for exactly 98 minutes?

Bookmarking to check out later. This sounds neat.
posted by deludingmyself at 2:26 PM on June 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


Because they REALLY wanted to get rid of Must Love Dogs, which is understandable.
posted by tittergrrl at 2:30 PM on June 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


The third episode, Belt Buckle, is one of the best podcasts I've heard.

And now I've probably oversold it. But, uh, anyway, yeah, check these out. They are great.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:33 PM on June 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


Mystery Show is on Fanfare.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:39 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Turning things that can't be solved by googling into things that can be solved that way.
posted by JHarris at 2:45 PM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is there a text-only, non-audio version available?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:47 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Old'n'Busted: There's a link to a (pdf) transcript on the blog entry for each episode. Here's the one for Video Store.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:51 PM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


The third episode, Belt Buckle, is one of the best podcasts I've heard.

Came here to say that! Every episode has been good (I especially love the conversation with the customer service rep in episode 2), but Belt Buckle is just outstanding.
posted by Itaxpica at 2:56 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also for anyone curious (I know I sure as hell was), you can see a photo of the belt buckle here.
posted by Itaxpica at 2:58 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


"There's a link to a (pdf) transcript on the blog entry for each episode."

Thank you (and them) for that. It's such a relief to be able to just read the words at my pace and be done with the whole thing in five minutes instead of spending 25 minutes listening to people talk their way through it all.
posted by komara at 3:00 PM on June 15, 2015 [21 favorites]


Thanks for this. Video Store has me laughing out loud at the harp lie.
posted by AloneOssifer at 3:02 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also for anyone curious (I know I sure as hell was), you can see a photo of the belt buckle here.

I have to say that the actual belt buckle isn't as pretty as the one I imagined. Still nice, though.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:05 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh goodness I just started listening to this this morning on my commute! I'm half way through the third episode and I REALLY want to find out where that belt buckle came from! This show is adorable and really interesting and quite well done!
posted by rebent at 3:06 PM on June 15, 2015


The third episode, Belt Buckle, is one of the best podcasts I've heard.
And now I've probably oversold it. But, uh, anyway, yeah, check these out. They are great.


The second episode -- the one about Britney -- is one of the best things I've ever heard on the radio (or whatever). I can't recommend it enough.
posted by thursdaystoo at 3:10 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was not wanting to like this - as the explosion of podcasts promoted by podcasts I already listen to has got me a bit suspicious - but the Britney one (via Reply All) was fantastic. Subscribed and eager to check out the rest.
posted by stevil at 3:12 PM on June 15, 2015


Old'n'Busted: "Is there a text-only, non-audio version available?"

And this is basically why (also including the fact I read REALLY fast) I don't do podcasts. My hearing sucks (tinnitus) and without a master to refer to as needed, it can be REALLY unpleasantly unproductive. Although, yay for Sparks!
posted by Samizdata at 3:16 PM on June 15, 2015


Or was it a dig at Starlee Kine's voice? I for one dig it.
posted by Beardman at 3:34 PM on June 15, 2015


Was the transcript made with software? There's some odd passages:
The day before it closed, and she didn't say anything like "why don't you write this in person? Why don't you sign it in the air?"
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:38 PM on June 15, 2015


Yeah, the customer service call from the Britney one was pretty great. It's easy to forget sometimes that every single person you meet is just that: a person.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:42 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I submitted a mystery from my childhood that I think Starlee would love and make my best friend from high school incredibly pleased. Fingers crossed.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 3:45 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was concerned that that customer service guy was going to get in trouble; I assume all such calls are timed and/or monitored.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:45 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm really enjoying this podcast. I was getting kind of bored with everything else I've been listening to (I'm now about 20 episodes behind on NightVale because I just don't care any more) and this one isn't like anything else I've heard. The Belt Buckle episode was actually really moving, which I didn't expect.
posted by OolooKitty at 3:50 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm back after listening to the first two episodes as part of the Great Office PaintStripathon of '15. Verdict: eh, it's okay I guess? I think I got too wrapped up in my own expectations about the premise.

For those of you who have listened to Episodes 3 and 4: do the mysteries get any less... well, Occam's Razor in their solutions? Because without getting into spoilers, right now my enjoyment is limited by the fact that I hear the mystery, I form a general hypothesis in my head about the most probable answer for how that situation could have occurred, and then I spend the next X minutes listening to Starlee sorta This American Life her way through to confirming my hypothesis.

This probably just means this isn't my show (but mysteries! I love mysteries! the kind where the answer seems simple and then you look under the rock and everything gets super complicated resulting in a solution you didn't expect!), but I don't want to give up on it too soon.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:15 PM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


listening to Starlee sorta This American Life her way through

That was my problem with it, too, and well put! I expect a lot of folks will find that to be a feature rather than a bug.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:33 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the customer service call from the Britney one was pretty great.

I was listening while jogging and that segment had me laughing out loud. Other joggers on the trail gave me a strange look, but it was totally worth it.

Her digressions can be the best part of the show. I really like how she's able to get people to open up and tell their own story.
posted by peeedro at 4:42 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always been a fan of Kine's This American Life segments, and I liked the first two episodes, because I liked the fact that they weren't actually about the mysteries allegedly at issue; the good stuff was in the tangents. The next two have been more focused on just solving the actual mysteries, which is much less interesting to me.
posted by Shmuel510 at 4:43 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


So... Laura was just a big liar? About the whole video store? And she obliquely admitted to lying about the whole thing with the harp dialogue? Mystery solved? And all the random details about the plot of Must Love Dogs were superfluous?

I don't get it.
posted by ostranenie at 4:46 PM on June 15, 2015


Actually, maybe I do get it. I think I've just been trolled.
posted by ostranenie at 4:53 PM on June 15, 2015


So... Laura was just a big liar?

I don't see any reason to think so! The obvious flaw in "What it came down to was either John had a terrible memory or my friend Laura was a liar" is that you could just as easily turn that statement on its head... which is being disregarded because Starlee's having more fun needling Laura with the accusation.
posted by Shmuel510 at 4:53 PM on June 15, 2015


I'm reading the transcripts, and the one thing I can't get over is how good Starlee is at talking to people. I don't know why it seems so neat, but like... being able to get people to talk about themselves and open up about totally random things is so cool.

Mad envy here.
posted by erratic meatsack at 4:57 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Then how was the mystery solved if it's ambiguous whether John had a terrible memory OR Laura was lying OR both? (Or some other thing that wasn't alluded to, like John lied about the abrupt closure of the store for Mysterious Reasons of His Own?)
posted by ostranenie at 4:58 PM on June 15, 2015


Then how was the mystery solved if it's ambiguous whether John had a terrible memory OR Laura was lying OR both?

It wasn't, really. We don't even know if she had the right video store.

Which brings me back to the fact that what I liked about the episode is that it wasn't really about what it was allegedly about, and I'm disappointed that later episodes are more straightforward/conclusive.
posted by Shmuel510 at 5:02 PM on June 15, 2015


(Also, the other possibilities include John being a liar or—by far the most likely scenario, if she got the right store—Laura having a terrible memory.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 5:07 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really wanted to like this, but I can't like something that smugly declares, "Well, there you have it. Mystery solved!" and yet solves exactly nothing. It tells harp lies!

> it wasn't really about what it was allegedly about

Then what was it about? I feel like I missed a memo.
posted by ostranenie at 5:17 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: harp lies.
posted by glasseyes at 5:19 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was kind of meh about the first one but they're really growing on me, as I think about them more and keep reading. Very skillful work on a number of levels, technically, emotionally and in ways of creating a narrative. The details she includes, the details she leaves out, and the way the listener gets so implicated in the discoveries.
posted by glasseyes at 5:27 PM on June 15, 2015


Then what was it about?

It was about Tom watching La Strada hundreds of times, alone. It was about the transience of neighborhood institutions. It was about there being hundreds of stories all around us, all the time, and about a surprising number of people willing to answer questions and try to help out. It was about ignoring the need to worry about what it was all about, and simply enjoying the journey. It was about twenty-five minutes.

Or that's what I think, anyway.
posted by Shmuel510 at 5:31 PM on June 15, 2015 [21 favorites]


So, you're saying the video store never closed and was inside of us all along?
posted by FJT at 5:53 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's preposterously twee, which is either a feature or a bug, depending on how you feel about that.
posted by maxsparber at 6:02 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


deludingmyself: "For those of you who have listened to Episodes 3 and 4: do the mysteries get any less... do the mysteries get any less... well, Occam's Razor in their solutions"

Eh, maybe? Depends on what your Occam's Razor hypothesis is, I guess. Or what you're looking for out this podcast. Personally, I enjoy the process of tracking down a mystery as much as the conclusion, even (or especially) if the conclusion is pretty obvious, so I've been liking this quite a bit. Spoilers follow, so avert your eyes if you don't want to know:

.
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In episode three, the Occam's Razor hypothesis is that the buckle belonged to a chef, probably German, named Hans Jordi. And, guess what? It totally did (well, Swiss German but close enough). But, for me the real mysteries were going to be: a) was Starlee going to be able to track down Hans Jordi?, b) how did that buckle end up by the side of the road?, c) was the Bob Six on the reverse of the buckle really that Bob Six, and d) if it really was that Bob Six, under what circumstances did he give this wonderful buckle to Hans Jordi?

In episode four, I think the Occam's Razor hypothesis is that the license plate isn't referring to September 11, 2001 but rather the 911 emergency line. Like, the owner was either a 911 emergency line operator or was a supporter of emergency services or something like that. In this case, the hypothesis was proven quite false.

posted by mhum at 6:03 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


It didn't seem that twee from reading the transcripts. Has she a very girlish voice? Getting people to talk to her is clearly, as erratic meatsack hints, one of Starlee's super-powers.
posted by glasseyes at 6:09 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I liked it a lot. But then, I grew up on Encyclopedia Brown style mundane mysteries, and one of my favorite anime is Hyouka, where solving trivial mysteries is a tool for developing characters. So mysteries that aren't so much mysteries as they are slice of life stories are right up my alley.
posted by happyroach at 6:23 PM on June 15, 2015


Whatever machine transcribed these should be fired immediately.

we are all video store in 2015
posted by ostranenie at 6:26 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is like if they decided to take the "Shrimp sale at The Crab Crib" moment from Serial and give it its own show.
posted by How the runs scored at 6:53 PM on June 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


I am very happy about podcasting's late efflorescence as a form, even as I tap my fingers in impatience with the preposterously twee vein that seems to be gaining in strength.

Since we're here, Karina Longworth's new series on Charles Manson and his milieu Is engrossing, to the point where I had a little fit on the way back down from Oregon yesterday when I learned we'd have to wait for the next installment.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 8:19 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Of course I don't like it. OF COURSE.

But maybe...
posted by ostranenie at 9:20 PM on June 15, 2015


Her digressions can be the best part of the show. I really like how she's able to get people to open up and tell their own story.

Yes. These are my favourite parts of the show. Honestly I've been able to take or leave the mysteries (I think the belt buckle explanation was obviously drawn out to construct a narrative...not that that made it less enjoyable), but the conversations she has with people are a joy to listen to. (minor spoiler in the next sentence) The conversation with the former 911 operator in this week's episode about the dog who was driving the car was exceptional.

Kine might be one of Ira Glass's better protégés. She, like Glass, gets people to open up by reflecting what they're saying back to them.

Totally on board.
posted by dry white toast at 10:29 PM on June 15, 2015


I did enjoy the finding of the belt buckle owner. That's sweet. As is that toast.

I continue to feel sorry for Britney Spears, but I'm glad she loved something. (Look at that vacant stare in the second proof pic, poor girl.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:37 PM on June 15, 2015


why Is the toast farting? Mystery zero.
posted by davemee at 11:10 PM on June 15, 2015


It's like a hilariously low stakes Serial that occasionally socks you right in the gut
posted by Enemy of Joy at 3:05 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


c) was the Bob Six on the reverse of the buckle really that Bob Six, and d) if it really was that Bob Six, under what circumstances did he give this wonderful buckle to Hans Jordi?

I had a problem with this. She spent so much time talking about her internet sluething for Hans, and I'm thinking "Google Bob Six!" like he's some kind of paranoid fringe presidential candidate. And I'm sure she did, but talking about it would have spoiled Hans's big reveal. But holding that back seemed a little dishonest.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:44 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Starlee is fast becoming my favorite podcast person. Here's the Disneyland story she did for TAL that first drew me to her: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/259/transcript
posted by of strange foe at 9:13 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I grew up on Encyclopedia Brown style mundane mysteries...

It was about Tom watching La Strada hundreds of times, alone. It was about the transience of neighborhood institutions. It was about there being hundreds of stories all around us, all the time, and about a surprising number of people willing to answer questions and try to help out. It was about ignoring the need to worry about what it was all about, and simply enjoying the journey. It was about twenty-five minutes.

Ha. I was so excited for this show and the first five minutes or so had me practically levitating out of my seat with excitement, and then the part of me that read Encyclopedia Brown mysteries obsessively growing up (and still buys all of Tana French's books on the first day they're released) became first frustrated, and then, like, deeply and personally offended on behalf of the entire detective profession when it veered so easily into the tangents that Schmuel so accurately - and elegantly described. I was on a plane, but if I'd been alone in my kitchen, I would have screamed out loud, "GODDAMNIT WILL YOU PLEASE JUST FOCUS ON THE MYSTERY!"

I think the thing for me is that good detective stories convey a sense of urgency and dogged commitment to the idea that finding the truth matters that was absent from these stories in a way that genuinely got my goat. Like, oh my god, if nobody at the restaurant remembers Britney because none of them work on Tuesdays, then go back on a Tuesday! Even if it's not going to take you anywhere, still - follow the lead, don't just wander around going, "Tra la la la la, it's the journey, not the destination, I wonder what this guy thinks of old Italian films?" That's...just... the opposite of everything I value in a detective story. It's not to say that all that meaning-of-life stuff can't eventually get pulled in, but I feel like the single-mindedness of the detective is the force that gives those stories shape; without it, the mysteries seemed hollow, excuses for the story as opposed to a genuine motivation.

(I can totally understand why other people liked this, by the way - my rant is mostly tongue-in-cheek because I was surprised at how passionately I responded. There's also about a 50% chance I'll keep listening, since everyone is raving so hard about the belt buckle.)
posted by pretentious illiterate at 9:19 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's because Starlee isn't actually trying to be a forensic investigator. It's just the cover she uses to go out and explore the world. This is why she will occasionally present herself as being inept, but it's not so much that she is actually inept, it's that she's ept at something else.
posted by maxsparber at 9:21 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I know! But I guess because I love detective stories so much, and the idea of taking these small mysteries seriously has so much promise, the idea that she's just using that identity as a cover seems almost ...insulting, or even disrespectful somehow, to a form that means a lot to me? Like when you love a movie sincerely and then kids start watching it ironically? Or when a mainstream writer dips into the tropes of sci-fi when they are obviously entirely unfamiliar with the current state of the genre? Like, if you were a real detective, you would be exploring the world; you can take the form seriously, and explore it deeply, instead of using it as an excuse to do your same old This American Life-style slice of life bits.

[Acknowledging that this is all somewhat overstated for the sake of making my case; and anyway I love This American Life.]
posted by pretentious illiterate at 9:31 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Fair enough, but it's only insulting to me in the way it was insulting that Harriet the Spy wasn't actually a spy.
posted by maxsparber at 9:34 AM on June 16, 2015


But Harriet the Spy WAS a spy! That's exactly the thing. Harriet cared passionately about finding the truth; she took her job seriously. She understood that even though the truths she was hunting were minor, they mattered, and so she was fiercely dogged about uncovering them. That doggedness is what makes an investigator, and that's what's missing from the Mystery Show.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 9:37 AM on June 16, 2015


I think you have confused "spy" with "investagatory journalist."
posted by maxsparber at 9:40 AM on June 16, 2015


Like, oh my god, if nobody at the restaurant remembers Britney because none of them work on Tuesdays, then go back on a Tuesday!

The implication that gross lies have sometimes been told is hanging over the stories like an appalling smell that guests are too polite to mention. Personally I loved the sense of the unstated and the mental detours it took me down.
posted by glasseyes at 10:02 AM on June 16, 2015


pretentious illiterate: "I think the thing for me is that good detective stories convey a sense of urgency and dogged commitment to the idea that finding the truth matters that was absent from these stories in a way that genuinely got my goat."

Well, here's the thing with her mysteries so far: they're all pretty inconsequential mysteries. I mean, she's not tracking down Maltese Falcons or a shadowy conspiracy who framed a mysterious femme fatale for the murder of her husband. The stakes are even lower than Encyclopedia Brown where they occasionally had to solve mysteries in order to avoid getting in trouble with parents, teachers, and sometimes the cops. And, moreover, these are all cold cases, so far. Each of these have been years, if not decades, old. Applying that kind of dogged urgency to these cases would be... well, a different kind of podcast, I guess. Although, come to think of it, I'd probably listen to that one too. Someone tracking down the owner of a belt buckle lost 20 years ago with the same soul-engulfing intensity as Rust Cohle.
posted by mhum at 11:06 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now that I think about it, she didn't come back on Tuesday because her experience in the mall made her realize she was behaving like a paparazzi, which she didn't want to be, and so she decided that the best way for her to approach Spears was in a way in which she had a semblance of permission.

I mean, she was dogged and she got the story. She went about it strangely, but that's sort of her MO.
posted by maxsparber at 11:41 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


This Thread: A One Act Play

"Hey, you know what's good? Donuts. If you get a chance, you should get one."
"I don't have time to go get a donut. Do you have anything faster?"
"Hmm, I have this bagel in the pantry...it's sorta kinda like a donut."
"Ugh, that bagel was chewy and it wasn't sweet. Guess I hate donuts!"

Curtain
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:17 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is there a way to download these without installing itunes?
[I am interested in this podcast, but it would have to be at least Cabin Pressure good to make installing itunes worthwhile.]
posted by Acari at 1:27 PM on June 16, 2015


Damn, just finished episode 3, and if this show just turned in to Starlee Kine tracks down octogenarians who lost sentimental items 40 years ago and gives them back said item I would happily listen to each one. Definitely something you miss if you just read the transcript.
posted by DynamiteToast at 1:53 PM on June 16, 2015


Acari, just click the RSS feed link on the show page, which gives you a bare-bones bulleted list of episodes and show notes in reverse chronological order. The "Play Now" links go straight to the show MP3s, which you can either play in your browser or right-click to download at your leisure.
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:04 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Starlee Kine has been one of my favorite storyteller-journalists (that's what we call them right?) for, jeez, at least a decade now. She's a fantastic craftsman, funny, brilliant, and I'm pretty sure that if I met her in person my theoretical crush would become a real one.

As of the two episodes I've listened to, I'm not sold on the show or it's premise yet, but I'd be shocked if I'm not hooked by the end of the season.
posted by elr at 2:07 PM on June 16, 2015


Thanks!
I just figured out that rss feeds are useful outside of feedly, but they are still not something I know to look for. It seems like the commute for the next few days is taken care of!
posted by Acari at 3:11 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The New York Times has an article today about podcasting that discusses Mystery Show.
posted by thursdaystoo at 9:47 AM on June 17, 2015


From the Times.

"The truth, as ever, is somewhere in the middle. "

I know they have fact checkers, but could they also have informal fallacy checkers?
posted by maxsparber at 9:51 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really disliked the first episode (she lost me at the autism gag and never regained me) but thanks to the raves in this thread I decided to listen to at least the next two. They are much better. Like good detective fiction of the kind I like, they give an insight into aspects of culture I don't know, and sometimes reveal new angles to familiar topics.

The Britney Spears episode gave me an understanding of how intensely limiting the kind of fame she has in a way I hadn't understood before. The community of European chefs in the American Southwest in the 60s and 70s features in the Belt Buckle episode.

Though I think perhaps my favorite moment so far is the encounter with "Margaret" in the last episode. She's weird enough to be a character in a David Lynch movie. I don't know how stylized the segment was, but she just didn't fit into my mental boxes of human behavior. It's always nice to run into someone like that.
posted by Kattullus at 3:04 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


She's weird enough to be a character in a David Lynch movie.

Oh, weird. That was my exact thought. It was weird to watch Starlee's brand of kitsch butt heads with a weirder, vaguely disturbing brand of kitsch.
posted by schmod at 7:28 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


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