David Rakoff tells the story of a contract between a son and his visiting mother. David Rakoff is the author of several books including Half Empty.
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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.
There's a derogatory term in Silicon Valley for companies that amass huge troves of patents and make money by threatening lawsuits: "patent trolls." When Jeff Kelling's Internet company Fototime was sued - along with more than 130 other companies - for violating someone's patent, he wondered if it was a troll (which the company denies), and then settled out of court.
NPR reporter Laura Sydell and This American Life producer/Planet Money co-host Alex Blumberg tell the story of Intellectual Ventures, which is accused of being the largest of the patent trolls. The investigation takes them to a small town in Texas, where they find a hallway full of empty companies with no employees.
Host Ira Glass talks about the infamous line in the band Van Halen's contract insisting that the groups' dressing room include a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown M&Ms removed. Ira used to think this request was just petulant rock-star behavior.
The formula for Coca-Cola is one of the most jealously guarded trade secrets in the world. So we were surprised to come across a 1979 newspaper article with what looked like the original recipe for Coke.
Ira continues with Cole Lindbergh and the hundred teenagers who work for himin the games department at Worlds of Fun. We watch them compete againsteach other to see who can do the most business, in Cole's Sweet Sixteenbracket tournament, which pits all 32 games in the park against each other.