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7 awesome episodes of ‘This American Life’ for Thanksgiving

The New York Times and “This American Life” formed a new partnership this year, and one of my favorite things about it is that we can bring the show’s vast archive (over 700 episodes!) To the public. of the Times.

For Thanksgiving, this year when so many of us are not with our families because of the pandemic, I chose shows about family and episodes about other things as well. I have included my favorite interview, possibly the best I have ever done. Listen while cooking or traveling (if you risk it) or while shopping for Black Friday online.

Babysitting stories – and what happens while mom and dad are away that mom and dad never find out. It includes the story of two teenagers who decide to invent children to babysit, as an excuse to get out of their own home.

The interview that ends this show is my favorite interview I’ve ever done, and possibly the best.

Because we love our pets, they can also arouse all the other feelings that can accompany love: jealousy, anger, addiction. An episode about the dogs, cats and armadillos that live in our homes – and how they alter family dynamics.

Among these family stories, I wanted to include a family mystery. Yes, it’s dark! In 1912, a 4-year-old boy named Bobby Dunbar went missing in a Louisiana swamp. Eight months later, it was found in the hands of a handyman wandering around Mississippi – or?

So many families this year have lost people to Covid-19. It reminded me of the wind phone, which a man installed after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. It’s an old-fashioned phone booth that families use to “call.” »Their loved ones who died in this natural disaster. This story is associated in this episode with the story of a father and son trying to avoid future grief and regret, by arranging a very awkward family reunion.

One of my colleagues at public radio, John Biewen, grew up in Mankato, Minnesota, and says no one has ever spoken of the most significant historical event that ever happened there: in 1862, it was the site of the largest mass execution in US history. Thirty-eight Dakota Indians were hanged after a war with white settlers, by order of Abraham Lincoln. He set out to uncover history and understand why no one talked about it when he was a child.



In these dark and combative times, my colleague Bim Adewunmi suggested that we try the most radical counter-programming imaginable: an episode made up entirely of tales of delight. She co-hosts the episode, which is in part inspired by poet Ross Gay, who said that people who don’t take the time to honor the things they like are careless. But more importantly, they should share the things that appeal to them.

Credit…Barry Glass

Just a few years before I got the internship at NPR which launched me into radio, I had another career: I was a child magician. It was also my colleague from “This American Life”, David Kestenbaum. In this episode, we dive into something we were too under-talented at the time – how wizards invent amazing tricks.

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While the pandemic has destroyed some businesses, others have performed well. Even awesome.

Mr. Cooper, a mortgage company, believed it could face a financial crisis in the spring when some homeowners were unable to make monthly payments. But a federal regulator provided relief to mortgage lenders, and then business was helped by a refinancing push. Mr. Cooper’s earnings in the first nine months of the year were up 40%, and his stock was up 341% from its April low.

During recessions, consumers often decide to pull out and avoid big spending. But this year something different happened. Many Americans who did not lose their jobs but also did not spend on travel and leisure ended up with higher disposable income. Government stimulus payments of $ 1,200 also helped.

This has been a boon for companies that initially feared a deep recession. General Motors and Ford Motor, for example, rushed to borrow billions of dollars at the start of the year, hoping car sales would drop and remain weak for some time. The auto industry struggled, and manufacturers had to shut down factories for about two months, but sales started to pick up this summer. For the third quarter, GM, Ford and other automakers reported big profits.

Some large restaurant chains, after pushing for a federal bailout, did much better than expected, as customers driving, deliveries and take-out boosted sales. Papa John’s, whose shares have risen 32% this year on Thursday, announced increased sales, earnings and cash flow and announced a new share buyback program. Its chief executive, Rob Lynch, said the company added “more than eight million” customers this year.

Asked on a call with financial analysts on Thursday whether the company could hold onto such gains, Lynch said many new customers dine more frequently and the average spend per order was higher than before the pandemic.

“So it gives us a lot of confidence that they have come, that they are enjoying their experience and that they are coming back,” said Lynch.

But there are winners and losers even within industries. Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden and other brands that rely more on restaurant food, reported a 28% drop in sales in the three months to the end of August. Its share price is down 6% this year.