Well I did it. It took me 1 year and 4 months, but I have listened to all 402 hour long episodes of This American Life.
What started this OCD mess? 20 Acts in 60 Minutes did in December of 2008. I accidentally caught this show while driving on a Saturday afternoon and then I started listening most weekends on 89.9 WJCT. Then I found them online and it was on!
I listened to every episode in reverse order. I think that was the coolest part of it all. I could listen to stories regarding the election of a new president (15 years covered Clinton, Bush, Bush, Obama) and then I could listen to the stories following up to it. The most interesting pieces I believe took place right around 9/11. Starting in December of ’01 and working backwards into August it was like walking through a fog and then all of a sudden daylight when the event hadn’t happened yet. I tried to explain this in a previous post.
Ira Glass does a great job hosting the show, but I find that I prefer Alex Blumberg as a producer even though they sound exactly alike. Don’t ask me why…it’s just how it is.
Scott Carrier is the one producer I really loved listening to. He has a mono-tone, but it doesn’t matter…his stories hook you. The first one I list below is a story about him and his brother testing a theory about how Native Americans ran down their prey instead of using advance weaponry. The second one is a compilation TAL put together.
The TV Show: This American Life also has a TV show that is available to watch on Netflix. There is currently only 2 seasons, but they do a great job of making their radio shows come to life on the television.
I think it’s called dramatic irony when the audience knows more than the actor. What if it’s not an act and it’s real life?
In a previous post, TAL 2003, I explained that I have been listening to This American Life backwards for the past year. I’m just about to enter the year 2000. I only have till 1995 and will hopefully make it by the end of this year.
In the show I’m currently listening to they are debating about the Bush/Gore election and the recount in Florida. The show is pretty decent, but what I just realized is that 9/11 hasn’t happened yet. I want to yell at the people….I want to tell them future. It’s like watching a tragedy happen behind soundproof glass that you can’t stop.
But even if they could hear you….what would they do…and would it be spoiling the country.
You can tell a child an oven is hot and try to protect them, but the best protection is for them to get burned.
Well I’ve made it. It’s been 7 months of listening to the “This American Life” radio show available on their website (www.thisamericanlife.org) and I’ve now hit year 2003.
One of the most interesting things about listening to a show, that covers current events, backwards is the way you remember events changes. You first get to hear about the results of the scandal and then you get to listen to all the events leading up to it and speculation that is wrong.
At certain points you can even feel a little cocky with your knowledge of the future…like you know what’s up and how could they not see a recession coming or of course that guy is going to win the presidency.