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.
How do you look after children who don’t exist?
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.
Are you the third wheel in your family?
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?
A very practical way to deal with grief
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.
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Resist today’s horror with delight
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.
Bonus: this time, I was a magician …
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.