There's a famous William Carlos Williams poem called "This is Just to Say." It's about, among other things, causing a loved one inconvenience and offering a non-apologizing apology. It's only three lines long, you've probably read it...the one about eating the plums in the icebox.
Host Ira Glass talks with contributor Adam Davidson about how Adam's teenage diaries are filled with his dream of someday becoming the prime minister of a country where he does not even reside.
The most innocent possible student uprising imaginable...documented by an actual student, Hillary Frank, using the crude tools of a telephone answering machine and a shiny red boom box.
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.
Host Ira Glass spends time in perhaps the toughest room on earth, the editorial meeting at the satirical newspaper, The Onion, where there's one laugh for every 100 jokes.
Food writer Jonathan Gold tells what it's like to panfry a chicken—with a live chicken watching you the entire time.
Sean O'Connor and Nick Maritato are professional comedians, and their job usually involves saying things that kids aren't supposed to hear. But last summer they got booked on a tour of kids' summer camps.
What divorce looks like from the dog's point of view. This monologue was performed by Merrill Markoe and recorded at Un-Cabaret in Los Angeles.
Joe Lockhart was press secretary for President Bill Clinton. He recently told stories from his time on the job—live onstage at a performance space in New York City called The Moth, where regular people share stories about their lives—in front of a boisterous crowd.
Host Ira Glass reads from the Ten Commandments. Not the original Ten Commandments, but some of the newer, lesser-known ones.
As a boy in religious school, Shalom Auslander is informed that his name, Shalom, is one of the names of God, and so he must be very careful not to take his own name in vain.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus says that looking lustfully at a woman is like committing adultery in your heart. Contributor David Dickerson was raised as an evangelical Christian, and for many years tried not to have a single lustful thought.
This American Life contributor Sarah Vowell tells the story of a mapmaker named Charles Preuss who charted the Western Territories with two of American history's legendary explorers—John Charles Fremont and Kit Carson. The maps Preuss made were best sellers and helped open the Western frontier to settlement.
This American Life contributor David Rakoff, who swore off TV in college, returns to it in dramatic fashion: He attempts to watch the same amount of television as the average American—29 hours in one week. David is author, most recently, of the book Don't Get Too Comfortable.
Sarah Vowell examines what happens when TV takes on a subject it really has no business exploring at all, but seems fairly obsessed with nonetheless: The Pilgrims. Sarah's most recent book is Assassination Vacation.
Ira says a few words about what he learned from working on a television show himself and about what it's like to hear your name mentioned casually by a fictional character on a prime time drama.
Every winter, some of the world's best puzzle solvers gather in Boston for the MIT mystery hunt, a competition in which teams of puzzle enthusiasts spend between 24 and 72 straight hours trying to solve what just may be the hardest recreational puzzles in the world. This American Life producer Lisa Pollak hung out with one team (named Dr. Awkward...a palindrome) as they worked towards the ultimate answer, the location of a coin, buried somewhere on the MIT campus. Check out the puzzles from that year's hunt.
Jonathan Goldstein retells the original sink-or-swim story, the one about Noah and the flood. Jonathan is host of the CBC radio show WireTap.
One Halloween, David Sedaris decided to skip all the fake monsters and ghosts and zombies and visit the real thing: dead people. In a morgue. David’s latest book is “Calypso.” (14 minutes)
When you're powerless, you think a lot about the powerful figures above you. Especially when their actions just make no sense.
Host Ira Glass talks with producer Alex Blumberg and his parents about a bad dog they once had, and how nothing—not getting hit by cars, attacked by bigger dogs, or being shipped off to live on a farm—could stop this dog from coming home. "The Cat Came Back" is sung by Nedelle Torrisi.
This parrot story began as a journalism school assignment. Then, for reporters Alex Lane and Eric Holm, it became something much bigger.
David Sedaris reads a new story that explores the age-old question: Can a parrot and a pot-bellied pig find happiness in a world that only wants to pigeon-hole them? David's most recent book is Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.
Host Ira Glass talks to Jonathan Gold about the bully in high school who knocked Jonathan and his cello down the stairs one day as he was walking to history class—and why Jonathan felt a sudden surge of satisfaction about this almost three decades later.