Monday, July 23, 2007

"Once I became afraid of my child..."

That quote, from the second act of this week's episode of This American Life, "Special Ed," deals with a mother whose son (with a severe genetic disorder) had some profoundly disturbing emotional and behaviorable problems. They mentioned that the child was put on Zyprexa. That should say something, since that drug is a pretty powerful antipsychotic.

I don't make any secret of my affection for Ira Glass' This American Life. Of all the programs on the radio today, it is one of the most intelligent, sensitive, witty, and - often - downright funny. Now, the format and the style has left the show open to criticism. The Onion, in particular, had a savage and dryly witty parody, here:
This American Life host and producer Ira Glass began work on the project in 1995 in Chicago, where he found himself inspired by and catering to an audience of professionals who dine out frequently and have a hard time getting angry. Glass and his team of producers, writers, and interns set about the exhausting task of gathering all available information on a range of subjects from minor skirmishes with the law to the rewards of occasionally talking to poor people. The raw data was then analyzed, deconstructed, reconstructed, re-deconstructed, organized under a broad philosophical title, and interspliced with musical interludes by rock duo They Might Be Giants.
Despite that, which is probably fair, it is still one of the few reasons that I listen to radio anymore (WNYC's Radio Lab, being another). Now, in the interest of fairness, I should note, as an aside, that I am the sort of person who would like This American Life. I'm not going to go into that, but it's probably the case. They made a smart move making podcasts of the episodes freely available through iTunes. I don't really do the "radio" thing at home, since the mighty Interweb has made it unnecessary, but having the episodes on my iPod for convenient and readily available listening is really nice.

I suppose that, then, this post is about the freely available episodes of This American Life. In an age when entertainment is cheap - cost- and quality-wise - it is nice to see quality programming available for free. Better, too, than the Plain White T's song, "Hey There, Delilah," which I see iTunes is shilling.


At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Karl Henning said...

The Onion has moments of supernal brilliance. I still remember the expertly-turned post-9/11 piece, A Shattered Nation Longs to Care About Stupid Bullshit Again:

Vance is not alone. Shaken by the tragic events of Sept. 11, people across the nation have abandoned such inconsequential concerns as the Gary Condit scandal and Britney Spears' skimpy outfit at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. No longer are they talking about shark attacks or what's-his-name, that Little Leaguer who was too old to play. Instead, they're focusing on the truly important things in life: friends, family, and being good to one another.

How long can it go on like this?

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you enjoy Radio Lab and Wagner, you might like "The Ring & I: The Passion, The Myth, The Mania." Produced & hosted by Radio Lab's Jad Abumrad. Funny, informative and utterly compelling!

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Thanks for the tip.

As to The Onion, once in a while, they really nail the Zeitgeist and twist it in such a way that it is wildly funny.

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