May 29, 2015

Game Face

Blair Braverman was a dog musher on an Alaskan glacier. One day the weather turned rough, and she and a pack of tourists were stuck. The worst part? They had to pretend like nothing was wrong. This and other stories of people facing very difficult situations who put their game face on and muscle through. And, we hear from people whose faces betray them and prominently display all their anxiety.

Goalie Terry Sawchuk wearing fake scars and wounds applied by make-up artist to simulate injuries accumulated in 16 years of professional hockey. Photo by Ralph Morse. Published in Life Magazine in 1966.


Ira explores the news this week alleging bribery and corruption among officials for international soccer's governing board, FIFA. There have been 14 people arrested, and law enforcement officials have made clear that their investigation is not finished. One official who has not been indicted, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, has kept a remarkable game face in press conferences throughout the week. (3 1/2 minutes)
Act Two

Funny Face

Comedian Tig Notaro tells the story about the time she played a string of dates night after night after night in Las Vegas – and bombed every single time. Getting up on stage and pretending like everything was going great was not easy. The story is part of the material she's working up for her first HBO comedy special "Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted" which airs Saturday, August 22nd exclusively on HBO. (7 minutes)

Act Three

Who Put the Face in Game Face?

Ira speaks with Mike Pesca, host of the sports podcast Hang Up and Listen and Slate's daily podcast The Gist about the whole concept of the game face in sports. What is it exactly? And who might be the best examples of athletes with incredible game faces? Then Ira speaks with writer David Dupuis about the athlete who may have the game face-iest game face in sports history – hockey goalie Terry Sawchuk. Dupuis wrote a biography of Sawchuk titled, "Sawchuk: The Troubles and Triumphs of the World's Greatest Goalie." (8 minutes)

Act Four

Frankly Miss Scarlet

It turns out that one of the members of the This American Life staff, Elna Baker, has a kind of anti-game face. She's what's called a chronic blusher. And recently, she's been wondering whether she should get a type of surgery this could solve this problem that's plaguing her. Producer Sean Cole decided to look into the surgery for her, to see whether the it would give Elna the game face she's always wanted. (18 minutes)