Writer David Sedaris's true account of two Christmas seasons he spent working as an elf at Macy's department store in New York. When a shorter version of this story first aired on NPR's Morning Edition, it generated more tape requests than any story in the show's history to that point.
Kelly McEvers with the story of Zora, a self-made superhero. From the time she was five, Zora had recurring dreams in which she was a 6'5" warrior queen who could fly and shoot lightning from her hands.
David Rakoff tells about his experience playing Sigmund Freud in the window of upscale Barney's department store in Manhattan. For Christmas. This was the first of dozens of appearances on our show by David Rakoff, who died in 2012.
Because of a shortage of math and science teachers, New York City decided to import instructors from Austria. Then the Austrians started to see things about this country that few Americans ever get to see.
David Rakoff discusses the world of birthdays and other holidays, as they're celebrated on the job... and what happens when you call yourself an editorial assistant but the editor you're assisting calls you a secretary. He read this story before a live audience at Town Hall in New York City, during a This American Life live show.
A mortgage broker named David Philp discovers that his old punk band from the 1970s is hot in Japan. He decides to leave corporate life and revisit his teenage years by going back on tour, playing music for the first time in two decades.
In the 1970s, Dave Kestenbaum's cousin Dan Weiss got promoted from stocker to gift shop manager at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. It was a good job... except for the fact that the place was bleeding cash because of apparent embezzlement.
Ira talks about one of the purest expressions of ordinary folks' desire to be detectives: a child's detective notebook — full of information, secret codes, cases, and an application to become an FBI agent.
Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of an ex-con-turned-actor named Richie Castellano. After a bit role in the movie Analyze This, he moved to a small town and got dozens of people to invest money and time in a movie that never premiered.
A small-town mayor tries to keep a developer from building in his town...and it results in the kind of snowballing fiasco by the end of which the town literally doesn't exist anymore. Alix Spiegel tells that story, which she produced with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Host Ira Glass talks with Stephen Goldin, author of an online guide that prescribes 23 rules for comic fans to follow when mingling with professional sci-fi authors at sci-fi conventions. For instance: don't try to start a discussion with a pro on the way to the bathroom.
When Anne Staggs started to fall for an inmate named Charles in the Texas prison system, she was up against odds as daunting as they ever get for two people. It was against the rules, possibly dangerous, and could have gotten her fired.
Sal Princiatta is a New York fireman whose unit lost a lot of men on September 11th. Beth Landau was a friend of Sal's, and a couple months ago, she orchestrated a trip to Memphis for Sal and the other guys at the firehouse.
Host Ira Glass talks to two different people who have stories they just can't get over...stories that make them cringe...and stories from which we can glean what makes a cringe story different from other kinds of stories.