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Act One: Grandmas

A surprising number of coincidences involve grandmothers — that’s one of the things we learned doing this show. One grandma has so many coincidences happen to her, it drives her granddaughter, 16-year-old Juliana Bontrager, to try to beat her at her own coincidence game.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass visits Claremont Middle School in Oakland, CA — a school with two principals. Principals Reggie and Ronnie Richardson are also twins.

Prologue

A 17-year-old Ethiopian girl who is just learning English goes with her teacher to face her fears head-on: She orders tea in a local coffee shop. A woman in America talks to Ira about her husband, in Syria, who is currently negotiating with kidnappers for the release of two of his employees.

Act Four: Not My First Time at the Rodeo

A man has a very clear vision of how he always stood up to his father,protected his mother and fought hard for the truth. Until one day hediscovers actual raw data — secretly recorded conversations — thatthreaten to change his picture of everything.

Prologue

A few years back, when he and his family were driving home from a vacation in Texas, John Nova Lomax realized that the police were aggressively tailing him. And he was definitely not prepared for the reason they pulled him over.

Act Four: Saturday to Wednesday: CA, NY, WI, ME

Ira tells what happened this week to Shirley Everett-Dicko in Oakland on Sunday, to Gabe and Kevin in Brooklyn on Saturday, to Eric and Roz in Stevens Point, Wisconsin on Wednesday night at midnight, and (in the podcast version of the show) to Eugene Rand and Bill True, on Monday in South Portland, Maine.

Act One: Blood Brothers

When he was a kid, Josh Martin's mother Nancy told him that if anythingever happened to her, he needed to take care of his brother Ben. This confusedJosh, because Ben was his older brother, and he felt that if anything heshould be the one taken care of.

Prologue

Thanksgiving 2002, the Ohm family's dinner conversation turned to the recent terrorist attacks. Alexis Ohm, the youngest daughter, made a comment that in retrospect she admits was probably the wrong thing to say with her conservative, military-veteran dad at the table...that Osama bin Laden was hot.

Act Two: Isn't It Slow-Mantic

In Sean Lewis’ family, there is a legendarily romantic love story. It’s famous in his family partly because the story unfolded over decades and across continents, but also because no one can quite believe that out of everyone in their family, the one with the epic, swoon-inducing love story…is Mark.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to his dad and stepmom about a story his dad thought might be good for the radio, concerning a mishap with a lost suit on a train. Ira then gathers the This American Life producers in their conference room, and announces a contest: Whoever makes the best story out of their parents' pitches wins.