January 26, 2007

My Brilliant Plan

An American reporter in Iraq decides to rent a house in a residential Baghdad neighborhood rather than live in a hotel and be an easy target for insurgents. And an eleven-year-old boy figures out an ingenious way to see his dead father again. Big ideas gone amok.


Host Ira Glass talks to an expert stone cutter who makes headstones. One day he got a call from a guy who wanted him to make his headstone in advance, which is not all that uncommon. But on the stone, the man wanted to put pictures of his sons, along with the exact dates of their deaths. The strange thing was, they weren't dead yet. (6 minutes)
Act One

Mr. Adam's Neighborhood

Radio reporter Adam Davidson went to Iraq to report on the war. He decided that rather than living in some journalist compound in the Green Zone or in a big hotel—places insurgents were more likely to attack—he'd fly under the radar, and keep safe...by renting a house in a residential Baghdad neighborhood. This plan turned out to have some serious flaws—flaws the American military forces were probably all too familiar with. This American Life producer Nancy Updike talked to Adam about his occupation strategy. (27 minutes)

Act Two

Tragedy Minus Time Equals Happily Ever After

Ron Mallett was ten years old when his father died unexpectedly of a heart attack. A year later, after picking up a comic book based on H.G. Wells' book The Time Machine, Ron concocted perhaps the world's most complicated plan to try to see his dad again. A half-century later, Dr. Ronald Mallett wrote a book about his plan, called Time Traveler. Josh Gleason reports. (23 minutes)