A collection of small stories, all on the the theme introduced in the prologue—the first few months after the divorce, and suddenly, your parents are less composed, more flawed, and more human, than perhaps you've ever seen them.
A high school boy explains how prom is the culmination of his effort to get in with a cool group of people.
Host Ira Glass talks with Francine Pascal, who's written or invented the plot lines for over 700 books for teenagers in the various Sweet Valley High series....Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley University, Sweet Valley Senior Year. She explains why a prom story is a must for teen movies and TV shows.
For a more typical view of prom night, we hear prom night at Chicago's Taft High School.
Host Ira Glass talks to Bible scholars Paulene A. Viviano of Loyola University and John Spencer of John Carroll University about the story of the golden calf in the book of Exodus.
If you're in thrall to a pair of pants, is that such a bad thing? Ira talks to Kate—who invested her hopes and dreams in a pair of favorite trousers—and her husband Joel, who thought she was nuts.
Host Ira Glass talks to the Arnold Abbott, the founder of "Love Thy Neighbor," a Florida charity that's being sued by "Love Your Neighbor," a Michigan ministry and business. "Love Your Neighbor" owns the trademark on the phrases "Love Your Neighbor" and "Love Thy Neighbor;" the attorney for the Michigan business Julie Greenberg, contemplates whether suing a neighbor can fall within the category of loving them as yourself.
Host Ira Glass talks with Cate, a white woman with a black, adopted, seven-year-old son, Glen. Sometimes Glen threatens that he's going to return to his real family—royalty, in Africa.
Host Ira Glass talks to two different people who have stories they just can't get over...stories that make them cringe...and stories from which we can glean what makes a cringe story different from other kinds of stories.
Ira reports on a week he spent on the set of the TV show M*A*S*H in 1979, supposedly to do a story about the program for National Public Radio. He was 20 years old.
Ira tells the story about how Scott first got into radio. He was listening to a story on the radio one day, thought "I can do that," and promptly hitchhiked across the country to Washington, to the headquarters of NPR.
Host Ira Glass talks with Kayla Hernandez, a seventh-grader who likes to reminisce about when she was a child, back in fifth grade. She visits Room 211 in her school, where her fifth grade class met, and looks at her old books, thinks about what happened there.
Jonathan Katz listens to old tapes of his family; then travels back to the neighborhood in Brooklyn they lived in during the 1950s, looking for evidence of what his childhood was like. His sister is along for the trip, and they do not agree on the meaning of what they're seeing.
A mortgage broker named David Philp discovers that his old punk band from the 1970s is hot in Japan. He decides to leave corporate life and revisit his teenage years by going back on tour, playing music for the first time in two decades.
We hear from Father Jim Kastigar, who got on the wrong side of Town Hall and suffered the kinds of consequences people in Cicero suffer. His parish was denied a permit to hold an outdoor religious ceremony they'd held peacefully for seven years, the youth group's tamale fundraiser was shut down by city inspectors and the parking lot near the church was deemed unfit for Sunday parking.
To understand how Cicero reacted when Hispanics started flooding into town, you have to understand how it dealt with conflict in the past. For a period the town was run by Al Capone, and the mob was connected to Town Hall for most of the twentieth century.
In the 1970s and 1980s, a wave of non-white migration into Cicero begins, this one primarily Mexican-American. The head of the political machine is named Betty Loren-Maltese, whose husband, now deceased, was convicted for mob-related activity.
Despite the town's resistance, Hispanics now make up three quarters of the population. And yet the incumbent Town President, Betty Loren-Maltese, seems likely to win the next election.
Two stories about daily life in Cicero. First the tale of Dave Boyle, who stumbled into Cicero politics accidentally in the 1980s, suffered the bruises, and left town.
Host Ira Glass talks to comic artist Chris Ware, who thought about superheroes a lot of the time as a kid. In grade school, Chris drew superheroes, he invented his own character named The Hurricane (not to be confused with Reuben Carter), and he made a superhero costume.
Ira talks with Jonathan Morris, the amazingly funny and charming editor of the website Gone and Forgotten, an Internet archive of failed comic book characters. Jonathan explains what makes a new superhero succeed, and what makes him tank.
Ira talks with journalist Jason Bleibtreu about Luther and Johnny Htoo, twelve-year-old twins, and the leaders of a rebel army of Burmese separatists called God's Army. Everyone around them, both their own forces and their enemies, believed they possessed superpowers, that they could not be harmed by bullets, that they had the power to command ghost armies.
Ira talks with Lee Qi, who came to America from China. He worked in Chinese restaurants in small towns, live in tiny apartments with other illegal immigrants who worked there as well—apartments that were sometimes in the back of the restaurants.
Sylvia becomes the first person in her Mexican-American family to go away to college, at a predominantly white school in upstate New York.