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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, July 13

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Brandy / January 27, 2006 9:05 AM

- Dolls
- Kindness of Strangers (esp. Act 4)
- Simulated Worlds

Favorite moment: From "When You Talk About Music," "My Brother, Tom Jones." When Alex Jones dissects all the components of a Tom Jones sounds. Mmm...

Side note: Sure my Chicago pride is bruised that TAL is moving, but after so much show recycling lately, I hope great new shows are on the horizon.

printdude / January 27, 2006 9:07 AM

Go Ask your father - I found it terribly captivating

Although the recent one - David and Goliath where Ira had a rotten cold was amusing because of the vocal changes.

I almost said the one about Malls in America, but that wasn't TAL 8)

Michele / January 27, 2006 9:15 AM

Every episode is great but the one that really sticks with me is "What are you looking at?". Sarah Vowell's foray into the Goth world had me laughing hysterically while drivng in my car. And Lucia Lopez's story made me cry. Just. Perfect. Radio.

Steve / January 27, 2006 9:23 AM

The one where they go on a vacation to New York City, and like it so much that they decide to move there.

That, and the one on the aircraft carrier.

j / January 27, 2006 9:24 AM

"24 hours at the Golden Nugget Diner"

Quite possible one of the most captivating pieces of radio ever produced.

The real tragedy in TAL leaving Chicago is that after years of cutting its teeth, gaining a reputation for excelence and becomming a formidable voice in radio, documentary, and culture the choice to cash in all those blue chips and up and move to NY is disappointing. One whould have thought that with such clout TAL would have at least attempted to stand firm and bring Showtime to Chicago, a move that would have not only solidified TAL's credibility, integrity and humility but would have also been championed by the Chicago Film Office.

A while back WBEZ did a piece on artists leaving Chicago and aptly quoted one young painter who lamented that cretors come to Chicago to learn, practice and gain a reputation and then leave the city for NY to become famous.

This American Life leaving Chicago does indeed make us feel like the second city.

Phineas / January 27, 2006 9:29 AM

Sarah Vowell's history of the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' (with backing music from Jon Langford) is a favorite. As well as her piece about Johnny Cash and June Carter. And c'mon, who doesn't love 'Squirrel Cop'? No one, that's who.

What I want to know is, how is a guy who hates to have his picture taken going to do a TV show?

Ramsin / January 27, 2006 9:37 AM

My favorite This American Life is the one where, at the end of that crazy summer/vacation/tour of duty, he/she/they learned a lot about themselves/each other/poor people. And that deep down inside, he/she/they were...himself/herself/themselves.

Man, that one episode like that was awesome.

A / January 27, 2006 9:43 AM

There are so many I don't think I could pick one. "Cringe" was a really good one: "Stories that make us cringe and an investigation into just what, exactly, makes some stories capable of forcing this physical reaction out of us when other stories don't. We hear tales of personal humiliation, romance gone wrong, and people who profoundly misjudge how they're perceived by others."
I do this all the time.

I totally agree with J above. Also how long will the Showtime thing last? What if it is a flop will they move back? It just doesn't seem to be that necessary or make sense. I have always thought of TAL as a Chicago show and many of the stories reflect that. NYC? It is such a different place. It is almost impossible that it will not change the feel of the show.

I have literally listened to every Episode of TAL and have been tuning in since the beginning. It is a bit pathetic but it really makes me sad that they are pulling up stakes. A real loss.

Greg / January 27, 2006 9:47 AM

My favorite is the one where the move turns it into a clone of its own clone, "The Next Big Thing."

robin.. / January 27, 2006 9:49 AM

right on, j.

The Grinch / January 27, 2006 9:49 AM

A few days before Christmas this past year I listened to:

"My Friend Jesus" by Heather O'Neill.

I had to pull over.

Flynn / January 27, 2006 9:54 AM

The one where they take some mundane, everyday situation and blow it up into Dickensian detail, thereby making EVERYONE feel like their lives are worth broadcasting?

Oh, wait, that's not narrowing it down much, is it?

Maybe it's the one where Ira learns to pronounce the 'L' in "This American Life."

Hmm, that one hasn't aired yet.

dan / January 27, 2006 9:56 AM

Come Back to Afghanistan (Parts One and Two)

The House on Loon Lake

Julia Sweeney's essay about losing her faith.

Also the segment about the kid with the throat ailment that forced him to use a feeding tube plugged into his stomach. (Therefore, never eating.) Completely heart-breaking, and a great argument for funding special needs kids.

Almost anything Jonathan Goldstein has done.

jgs / January 27, 2006 10:00 AM

One of my favorite things in the world was to take off work early on a friday afternoon, go underwear shopping at Marshall Fields for a bit, then grab an early dinner sandwich at the bar at berghoffs. With the air filled with lovely blommart chocolate particles coasting down the river on a northwest wind, I'd nip into Trader Vic's for a Mai Tai and a cigarette. Then catch an express bus back to the southside. I'd be home in time for the friday night broadcast of TAL. Soaking up the stories, along with the very live gaffs of a dress rehearsal broadcast it all felt so close to home.
O, what a litany of loss.

elena / January 27, 2006 10:09 AM

I prefer the episodes in which there is little or no Ira Glass or Sara Vowell.

To be honest, I used to enjoy the show quite a lot. I was even a great fan and recommended it to my friends. I think I still have a tape of the episode "Horses," about the two brothers who crossed the country on horseback.

But over time, certain aspects began to bother me more and more. First, there was the central role of Ira Glass and his life. I didn't want to hear about how he felt about his job or his voice or his girlfriend anymore. And I certainly didn't want to hear his half of most interviews, especially when he felt that he had to say something clever or funny. Many people love him and they enjoy a show that is about him and includes a few guests, but the charm wore off for me. Then there was the repetitious use of the same pieces of music, often very intrusive or simply unrelated to the piece. I also found the pop culture references by Ira and Sara as appealing as ten-year-old commercials. And finally, the show presents pieces as "real-life stories," but too many of the voices on the show were those of wistful, introspective short-story writers who were presenting as memoire something more like a piece of mediocre contemporary fiction. There was just too much of that sort of mildly arty navel-gazing, so I tuned out.

amyc / January 27, 2006 10:10 AM

Squirrel Cop. Definitely Squirrel Cop.

Also the one where Sarah Vowell goes cannon-shooting with her dad.

amyc / January 27, 2006 10:12 AM

By the way, shouldn't there be an MP3 of that one Liz Phair song playing in the background of this thread?

aj / January 27, 2006 10:21 AM

The Superheroes/Superpowers episode! My first introduction to TAL, and I loved it.

Robin / January 27, 2006 10:23 AM

1. The Cruelty of Children. That story about the man in the well is so divinely creepy.

2. That one episode where there is the abandoned house and the guy and his mom get caught trying to unload a crib or something from a second-story window.

3. Prom

Spinner / January 27, 2006 10:24 AM

It's a tossup between the squirrel vs. cop item, and pretty much anything by Sarah Vowell, but especially "Cannon." If you watch the special features on "The Incredibles," you can watch how the animators took snippets of that TAL and put it with a clip of Violet.

"Gay as a Whistle" is also pretty good.


urp / January 27, 2006 10:37 AM

The one that featured the ticket scalper from Chicago. Awesome!

steven / January 27, 2006 10:48 AM

"On the next This American moving changes one's....self. Does it change for the better...or does some say...change for the worse. Find out...on the next...This American Life."

Holy crap quit it with the over-dramatization already. That said, it's a shame that another Chicago entity is blowing town/changing names/shutting down.

Ira Glass has to be related to William Shatner...I just know it...

Andrew / January 27, 2006 10:53 AM

While "Squirrel Cop" is probably my favorite single segment, I love the entire "Sinatra" episode.

John / January 27, 2006 10:59 AM

"This American Life leaving Chicago does indeed make us feel like the second city."

Please. Do you really need to have your urban status validated by a locally-produced radio show? If Lake Michigan was moving to New York, I'd be upset, but This American Life?

Paula / January 27, 2006 11:05 AM

I loved the 'Fiascos' episode.

I have xm radio so I get to listen to TAL repeats every evening on my commute home from work on their xmpr station.

Mike / January 27, 2006 11:05 AM

Squirrel Cop and although everyone's heard it a millinon times, A Very Special Sedaris Christmas

Hal / January 27, 2006 11:15 AM

Super Powers - in particular, the Flight or Invisibility segment.

While the location from which it is produced and broadcast, doesn't matter in the abstract, I guess, there were a number of segments about Chicago. That, I'll miss.

matty / January 27, 2006 11:18 AM

It matters because there was a local examination of national problems in Chicago. Being in the mid-west and, as someone once remarked, the last "wholly American city" Chicago is a mircrocosm of the state of the nation.

To me, New York is so removed from the rest of the country I can't help but think that the whole show is going to become yet another masturbatory glorification of New York and its many idiosyncracies that the rest of the country just won't "get" cause we didn't go to Vasser and appreciate Sarah Vowel as much as a true New Yorker really does.

I mean, really, for most New Yorkers, if it doesn't happen in New York, it doesn't happen.

Or maybe Ira is having an affair with David Rakoff. I hate that guy.

Spence / January 27, 2006 11:40 AM

-24 hours at the Golden Nugget Diner
-Loon Lake
-Mind Games
-First Day
-Home Movies

moxy / January 27, 2006 11:43 AM

i love TAL, but I have to say the music bits get really annoying. I have noticed a trend on NPR toward the intercutting of music, behind and inbetween the words. I think it is annoying and distracting, and takes me out of the story rather than adding to it.

Still though, great show. don't listen to the backlash hipsters' oversnarky comments, Ira. and bring the show back to chicago when you get sick of new york.

moxy / January 27, 2006 11:44 AM

ps david rakoff is hilarious.

Steve / January 27, 2006 11:55 AM

Please. Do you really need to have your urban status validated by a locally-produced radio show?

Well, yes. We're the third largest city in America, but you wouldn't know it from our national media presence.

Wanna work in TV here? You've got precious few choices (just ask my wife). Wanna do radio? Ditto. Look at how little PBS and NPR content originates here -- it's embarrassing. I mean, WGBH did a six-hour history of Chicago recently while WTTW was, erm, bringing Soundstage back!

Paul / January 27, 2006 12:02 PM

Steve, WTTW did "Check Please: Kids." You forgot that. And Poland.

I think my favorite TAL was "20 Acts in 60 Minutes," and "Classifieds" was a close second.

j / January 27, 2006 12:08 PM

A few years ago Joan Cusack teamed up with James Brooks to create a television show based off the All Things Considered radio bits by Gwen Macsai (Chicagoan, WBEZ producer, NPR regular) The production company isnisted that the show be filmed in LA for a variety of reasons cost and convienence among them. Brooks and Cusack both stood firm in demanding that the show be filmed in Chicago. Low and behold the show remained in our city. And though it lasted only a season it was a bit of a watershed moment for the Chicago film industry; it's possible to do it here.

It's not impossible to make art, music, radio, tv, movies etc... in Chicago. Quite the contrary; Chicago has a fantastic infrastructure to support all the arts. The failure comes when mavens and pioneers give in to external pressures and leave the city.

All this being said this has been a pretty rough year for our fair town and perhaps in the face of losing so many symbols, institutions, and landmarks the citizens, administrators, and foundations will put forth a concerted effort to help this city retain many of the elements that make it such a fantastic place in which to live...

Ok, I'm done ranting...I've killed the five minutes between work and off to eat!

DebO / January 27, 2006 12:16 PM

For me, the most memorable were Sarah Vowell's Sinatra piece and the piece involving a pet armadillo. I've probably heard others that I enjoyed more and were "better," but those two are the ones I think of when TAL comes to mind.

Dan ZP / January 27, 2006 12:21 PM

i'm surprised no-one has mentioned 'who's canadian' yet. i love that one, especially when rakoff demonstrates the speed with which he'll inform you that the band you're talking about is from the great white north. "i don't even wait." hilarious.

of course there's something sad about TAL leaving here, but then i'm not ira (nor a member of his staff), so who knows what the decision process entailed, eh? best of luck to them, i say. imho, they've presented stories beautifully for their entire run thus far, and i can't imagine a physical move disrupting that.

matty / January 27, 2006 12:21 PM

Yeah, I'm sorry. I just hate seeing another institution in Chicago go. Oh well, this city is more resilient than that.

I really appreciate anything by David Sedaris and I also want to say Ira has made one of the most interesting things to ever come out of NPR. I appreciated all you've done over the years and I will continue to listen to you while you're in the Big Apple.

Sorry for the outburst.

jtrain / January 27, 2006 12:30 PM

I adore "Time to save the world". Especially the bit about The Rundown, an effort to end small-talk. I've tried to incorporate it into my life whenever possible, but it's tricky.
And that episode also has the one about the Chicago Reader Classifieds staffer who helps the fellow who's constantly placing "missed connections" ads. Wouldn't it be nice if more people cared...

So I've heard that Ira says he'll come back to WBEZ for pledge drives and such. Yeah, he'll come back a few times, then, like that old co-worker that you promised you'd stay in touch with, his new job/life just seems to take up too much of his time and he stops calling.

There's no way the show won't change...NYC smothers things that way.

Spence / January 27, 2006 12:45 PM

My favorite This American Life is the one where, at the end of that crazy summer/vacation/tour of duty, he/she/they learned a lot about themselves/each other/poor people. And that deep down inside, he/she/they were...himself/herself/themselves.

Man, that one episode like that was awesome.

Oh man, this just reeks of hipsterism.

amy / January 27, 2006 12:54 PM

Conventions for the John Perry Barlow story. I think i've played that for dozens of people and they all just look at me with this expression of awe when it's done. To me that is still the pinnacle of TAL. Those stories that make you grateful to that you could hear them.

I did like the 2 guys who went to Iraq story from last week.

I'm pissed about the move too. I love Chicago too much to lose TAL. There is something midwestern (and not hokey PHC midwestern) about that show and i'm afraid that it'll go. Keep On The Media in NYC. TAL is Chicago. Oh well - their loss. They can go and get a 'media' NY voice and lose some of their originality.

Eamon / January 27, 2006 1:07 PM

The aircraft carrier episode. Don't know why, but that's the one that immediately sprung to mind. The Gulf War II coverage of NGOs was great, too.

Eamon / January 27, 2006 1:09 PM

Also, as a donor to WBEZ, I think my money should go toward building a very large, very sturdy cage to confine Ira to the 848 studios. Remind me to drop a line to Torey Malatia about it.

Bill / January 27, 2006 1:16 PM

no one's mentioned it yet, but one of my all time faves is the one where the hasidic jewish kid becomes a glam rock star. god, so great. and who can forget 'you and the little mermaid can go fuck yourselves!'?

and it is a true shame that ira couldnt keep the show here. like j above said, its possible to keep showbiz here in chicago...we have the deep talent pools, we have the drive. between second city, the io, and the rest of the chicago theater scene, we have the performers and techies. theres no reason we shouldnt have at least a small studio lot with a few stages here. joan cusack fired the first shot, and even though it didnt work out ultimately, ira could have kept the battle going.

anyone know a link where he explains why he felt he had to leave for NYC?

e_five / January 27, 2006 1:40 PM

I don't have any favorite episodes anymore. I can't decide whether I'm angry or disappointed.

Angry e_five hopes they lose their muse in NYC and that they all have to live in tiny studio apartments in bad neighborhoods that rent for $1900 a month.

Disappointed e_five feels hurt that despite all of the considerable risks involved in moving the show to NYC, they apparently disliked Chicago enough to overlook them.

Big Purp Sippa / January 27, 2006 1:56 PM

My favorite was that one about the contest down south somewhere, where all the dudes put their hands on a truck and the last person standing, after a day or two, won the truck. It reminded me of a personal contest I had one day with myself, where I put my hand onů well, anyways. Big up to This American Life and I wish you luck in your future endeavours

dan / January 27, 2006 2:02 PM

Goddamn, everyone seems to be taking this so personally. (Especially those who speak in third-person.) So many of the TAL folks live in NYC already (Sarah Vowell, David Rakoff, Jonathan Goldstein) that I can't see that it will affect the show that much. Sure, we'll miss some Chicago moments here and there, but the show has shed most of it's "Chicago-produced" feel a long time ago.

Plus, shit, I'm sorry, but "This American Life" is one of the best produced media programs (better than most TV, film, fiction) in this country. And they've been doing it for 10 years. That is something to be thankful for. Yes, it's disappointing that they're moving away, but I'm not going to get all pissy about it. They've already provided hours and hours of exceptionally brilliant radio. Good for you Ira and TAL clan, I say! I sincerely hope they can keep up the high-quality that they're known for.

MJ / January 27, 2006 2:05 PM

TAL doesn't really belong in New York any more than A Prarie Home Companion did. Part of what I love about NPR shows is the way that local or regional shows can get national exposure while still being pretty well connected to their roots. Car Talk would be weird if it was in LA. Prarie Home is a Minnesota show. And, I feel like TAL has a great midwest, Chicago sensibility that belongs here.

Favorite episode? I don't really know why, but the Rocketman make-a-band from the Classifieds show makes me cry. Every time. The story is just so fleeting and funny and frickin' great.

anne / January 27, 2006 2:05 PM

Big Purp Sippa, there's a great documentary about the same kind of contest called Hands on a Hard Body. Good stuff

Favorite TAL? Any episode that made me forget I was stuck in traffic and simultaneously made me nearly wreck the car.

Robin / January 27, 2006 3:06 PM

Amy - Oh my god you are so right about that John Perry Barlow story. Damn that was a heart breaker. I was listening to that in the car, on my way to a convention. No Joke! I seriously sat outside in the parking lot crying my eyes out over it before walking into the very scene he described. Only without the very sexy "You are Somethin'" from a hot cyber-pioneer.

All day I've been reminiscing my favorites.

Before I lived in Chicago, I lived in Portland which is where my love affair with the show began. Even then, I felt like I owned the show -- like somehow it was mine. It isn't This Chicago Life. The show still belongs to us all. No matter where it is.

anne / January 27, 2006 3:10 PM

The show still belongs to us all. No matter where it is.

Well, except for those of us who don't have Showtime, that is.

I'm sad, b/c I'm just not able to afford premium cable channels like that. And shows like Arrested Development (Save Our Bluths!) and now TAL are going to get some new life breathed into them, sure, but will only be viewed by a certain small percentage of their original audience.

Guess I'll have to get my fix years down the road with DVDs of the upcoming seasons or something.

Cinnamon / January 27, 2006 3:59 PM

I remember an episode where a young girl became the first person in her family to go to college. After her first year, she saw her cousins getting married and in jobs where they made more money than she did, they were going out with their friends more, and she was one of the women of color in her school with few friends at a crappy job, and she was wracking up huge loans. At the end of the interview she said that she'd felt lied to by her counselors and teachers and really had doubts about continuing her education.

I bawled and cried. I knew how she'd felt, cause I'd felt that way too (except that I'm white) and I'd had the same doubts and fears. I wanted to look her up and hug her and tell her to stick with it and I wanted to send her cookies and jokes to make her laugh and take her out to dinner.

TAL makes me care about the stories, but every once in a while I "meet" a character that I wish I knew in person.

And I think Ira is a brilliantly imperfect man. I wish the crew luck and will be glad when the return home, no matter what I'll occasionally end up sitting in the car with the engine off listening to the last 10 minutes of the program.

sabrosa / January 27, 2006 4:14 PM

I love the one about summer camps. I was a camp counselor and related to it in many ways.

I love the idea of sharing the lives of ordinary people who, in the end turn out to be not so ordinary. This just shows that everyone is unordinary, has a story, is human and is completely capable of crumbling to pieces, but putting ourselve back together again even stronger.

I'll continue to listen, Ira and crew!

Robin / January 27, 2006 4:15 PM

Anne, I know what you mean about the Showtime thing. But they are still going to be doing the radio show, so those of us without premium cable can still listen to it on the radio, just like in the olden days!

katie / January 27, 2006 4:32 PM

oh yeah, the summer camp episode! one of my favorites. I also think I have a soft place in my heart for any episode with Davy Rothbart, like the one where he goes to Brazil with his mom to get healed. but really, I love 'em all.

TAL is one of my favorite things ever. for my wedding, my best friend (God bless her) gave me a huge stack of episodes burned to CD; and my husband and I listened to all of them while driving around California on our honeymoon. the voice of Ira Glass and California 1 will be intertwined in my memory forever. . . .

and yeah, does moving to New York mean they'll start to produce more new episodes? I feel like I've heard all the old ones at least three times now.

jennifer / January 27, 2006 5:49 PM

'the greatest phone message of all time'

hands down my favorite tal episode. f*n little mermaid. good god, I love it. I've burned it for at least a dozen friends.

I have much to say on this whole moving to nyc debacle, but have yet to catch up on the posts. more to come...

Moon / January 27, 2006 9:49 PM

I realize that gays are wacky, but EVERY show???

Zak / January 27, 2006 9:53 PM

They did a great piece years ago that was a biography of the great Harold Washington. Made me proud to be a Chicagoan.

Also...very early, in their second or third season, Scott Carrier did a piece called "Running Down Antelope," that was about just that. He and his biologist brother had a theory that primitive man may have hunted antelope and other game by simply running them into the ground, b/c most mammals only perspire orrally while humans perspire all over their body, thus keeping them from overheating as quickly. He could never do it...but was a gorgeous metaphor.

Zak / January 27, 2006 10:06 PM

Also...someone mentioned the ticket scalping episode...and others have mentioned Davy Rothbart. Although the ticket scalper is anonymous...go back and listen. Davy Rothbart IS the anonymous ticket scalper.

Monique / January 28, 2006 4:07 PM

I've loved just about anything the Davids (Rakoff and Sedaris) contributed, but I think the episode containing the little mermaid voicemail message made me laugh the hardest.

I also wanted to get a copy of the worst song ever recorded. Which episode was that from?

Emerson Dameron / January 28, 2006 4:58 PM

The Apology Line episode was good. So was the oft-overlooked "Prom" episode. I haven't heard much of the last three years or so.

Adam / January 28, 2006 5:46 PM

For the record, TAL is a production of Public Radio International, not NPR.

In no particular order:

-Little Mermaid
-David Sedaris story about his cat dying (his mother's check with the memo "for pet burning")
-Sarah Vowell cannon story
-original Julia Sweeney performances that became "God Said Ha!"
-Ira's ex Gabrielle and her family's talking through Ducky, the rubber duck (and I thought I knew some weird folks) from Poultry Slam 99
-Jack Hitt's story about his gay neighbor from his Charleston childhood
-David Rakoff's story "Who's Canadian?"
-The Fix Is In (ADM price fixing informant)
-Have Paint, Will Travel (muralist on the South Side)
-the found recordings of the Michigan family and their son in medical school (your dad's really excited about that new power takeoff)

Ok, that's enough.

Komar / January 28, 2006 10:29 PM

The Most Favorite and Least Favorite songs are artworks by Komar & Melamid.

anon / January 29, 2006 9:45 AM

I know this isn't the confessions thread, but I'm afraid to use my real name when I admit this. You people might come after me, call me tragically unhip or flood me with CDs.

Am I the only person in Chicago that hasn't heard one show?

I listen to NPR in the morning, but obviously not whenever the 'greatest thing to come out of Chicago' is on.

dinil / January 29, 2006 10:58 AM

maybe this episode's been referred to already by its actual name, but the one about the italian-american kid who learns that his dad isn't his real dad -- and that his real dad is actually a black man who lives in kansas city. the description of meeting his real dad and recognizing his legs was priceless.

mike-ts / January 29, 2006 11:50 AM

Don't worry, anon. I've heard the show, and found it no big deal. I mean, I don't have the "sun rises and sets on this show" kind of feeling about it. I'm sure it has a lot of great stories that regulars will hold in their hearts. If you all like the show, God bless you, I'm not saying it's a bad show, just not something that grabbed me.

Maybe it's Ira's delicate, pinch-nosed voice that rubs me like fingernails on blackboard, or the really dragging pace of the show that makes it the ideal Ambien substitute, but I just didn't take to it. It had the feeling of listening to a friend drone on about something I couldn't care less about, but there I sit, being polite and letting him say his peace. Except with radio, I'd just move the dial.

848 fine, jazz at night, great. But t.a.l. and Fresh Air (ewwww, Gross!) just lose me.

The show I loved, Odyssey, is gone. Now THAT was a big loss. The host, Gretchen, not only was brilliant, but you could hear that she did her homework for each show, which wasn't easy, since the show could be literally about anything on Earth any given day. Listening to it was like spending Sunday afternoon at your aunt's house, the one who could cook up a storm. You had no idea what she was serving today, but you knew you'd love it.

Anyone know if Gretchen got another job in the field? I remember hearing she was a WBEZ baby from first hire to fire; did she land anywhere else? If she's stuck behind the scenes at WBEZ, that's a waste - she belongs on the air, if not interviewing professors and physicists, then taking that sword blade of a brain to the politicians and pundits on news shows.

Gretchen, on the rare chance that you read this: don't be shy, come back out front, and host another great Chicago-based show!

Mister C / January 29, 2006 3:51 PM

To All The Devastated Folks:

If you're that broken up about being "abandoned," start your own damn show.

While Ira & Company are quite talented, they don't do anything that any reasonably articulate and creative person can do themselves with a tape recorder and an empty room. It's not like they invented the oral narrative for chrissakes, and there's just as much intellectual acumen and creative talent on this message board as there is in any group on this here planet.
The things that made the show so special and so "midwestern" or "Chicago" (although I never found it to be such, it reeked of East Coastyness from the get-go to me) aren't going away to New York with him, they live inside all of you. Ira himself admitted in the last thread that he himself trolls this site and board "for ideas." This site is pretty much an extension of all you good people and is more "Chicago" than TAL could ever hope to be.
In today's media technology climate (podacasting etc.), it's not like you need a radio station to get your work out to the public.
So stop cryin' and start DIY'in.

Brandy / January 29, 2006 4:06 PM

DebO - Yes! That armadillo story is AWESOME.

dinil - Thanks for mentioning that dad-is-not-his-real-dad story! And that moment about his legs is PERFECT. The kind of real life stuff that is SO much better than anything you can make up.

Who's Canadian - amen. Another great segment.

mike-ts - I swear I heard Gretchen on WBEZ recently, so I think she's still there. Honestly, I found many of her guests to be a bore, but I always thought Gretchen herself to be the BEST.

mh / January 29, 2006 7:06 PM

"bad, bad fan" terrified me as I drove to O'Hare to pick up my aunt. It also inspired some fantastic drawings by my brother.

Leelah / January 29, 2006 8:23 PM

You know what, anon 9.45? I have NO idea what the show is either. The only time I've ever listened to NPR (and I assume that it's on NPR, but I could be wrong) was when my best friend called me to make me listen to some thing they were doing making fun of English majors. I think NPR might be the station with the Annoying Music show, which I heard once and that made me laugh. But I could be wrong.

In any case, the moving of This American Life means nothing to me. Sorry.


Andrew / January 29, 2006 9:45 PM

Mick-ts, Gretchen is subbing around the WBEZ dial -- I've heard her fill in on All Things Considered a couple of times, and she hosted local discussion of the Alito confirmation hearings at noon two weeks ago.

slb / January 30, 2006 8:44 AM

i too really miss odyssey. i always thought it was such a wonderful thing. even though sometimes i couldn't get into the topics, the idea that there was a show where people talked about ideas for an hour a day (!), on such a wide variety of topics, warmed my heart. gretchen totally rules, even if i was insanely jealous of her for having what must be the best job ever. though she doesn't have that job anymore, which is worse.

Avril / January 30, 2006 10:17 AM

Oh, I miss Odyssey too. Chicago Public Radio has really made some programming errors lately. Killing Odyssey was one of them. Scaling back 848 to one hour and jamming it full of more boring political backbiting is another huge mistake.

polky / February 3, 2006 1:15 AM

Ira Glass is not even from Chicago, and except for the stories specifically about chicago, I'm not even sure the show is particularly "midwestern." But while I love new york, I am unexpectedly distressed by tal moving there. Even boston and san francisco, tiny compared to chicago, have more media coming from them. i feel less cool because of this. must have very low chicagoan self-esteem.

Rebecca / February 3, 2006 12:54 PM

Every year I swear I won't donate any of my sparce resources to Chicago Public Radio, but every year Ira's voice manages to charm the dollars from my fist. I loved Ira Glass. Yes, my heart was broken when I read last year that he was engaged and now, when I thought I had finally moved on, salt was rubbed into that embarassing wound with the news of the move to NYC. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ira, you're so not as dreamy as I once thought you were.

But as anyone who's seen or borrowed some of the hundreds of TAL episodes I have on CD knows, I just can't help myself. These shows are amazing. My top three in no particular order:
Recordings for Someone, particularly the "Little Mermaid Phone Message" story.
Babysitting, particularly the story about the children who make up a family to babysit for to get out of the house; it left me speachless.
Classifieds rocketman and the shy man who posts missed connections each week--I use that story as an example in my Flirting for Nerds class.

Lynne Graft / October 6, 2006 10:30 PM

I saw David Sedaris last night in Detroit. I asked him if he is the author of the story about the pet armadillo. He said he did not write it but wishes he had and that maybe Scott Carrier had written it. Neither of us could think of the name of it, but Sedaris thought he had heard it on TAL and agreed with me that it is an unforgettable piece. Can you please, please tell me where or how to find it?? Thank you so much!
Lynne Graft

Joshua / January 22, 2007 10:35 AM

My favorite is the story of prisoners doing Hamlet.

"I don't see Hamlet's dilemma ... I mean, if you kill my father, I got to do you, man, that's it."

It's those kinds of new perspectives on familiar ideas that I love about the show.

The one about the girl who filled vending machines on a battleship in the Persian gulf was also particularly memorable.

Paul / March 2, 2013 11:59 AM

Looking back on 7 years of TAL being a New York enterprise, I agree that the soul of the show was never really in Chicago. But I appreciate all the sentiments about wanting to create in the midwest, my home.

The trouble is that the center will not hold. If you stay here (or even return here, as I did after 18 years in the east), you learn a certain spirit of community that inhibits you from doing your own thing. Personal, private expression really becomes less meaningful - even a kind of pretension. You can be self-centered and wrapped up in your own thing here, don't get me wrong. You just can't express your own thing.

The plane to the coasts is always waiting. We have our code.

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