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Act One: Letters

Ira and playwright David Hauptschein took out advertisements in Chicago inviting people to come to a small theater with letters they've received, sent or found. People came for two nights, and read their letters onstage.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader about an anonymous love letter that turned out to be very different than it seemed.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Stephen Nissenbaum, author of a history called The Battle for Christmas, which explains when people started believing in a Santa who arrives Christmas Eve carrying presents. It was in 1822, and incredibly, the poem that created our modern idea of Santa is still around, known by heart by tens of millions.

Prologue

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.

Act One: The Disappearance

Genevieve Jurgensen and her husband Laurent lost their two daughters—Elise and Mathilde—at the ages of 4 and 7. Actress Felicity Jones reads from her book The Disappearance: A Memoir of Loss, in which Jurgensen tries to explain their lives and their deaths to a friend, in a series of letters.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Jane Espenson—who's written for the TV shows Battlestar Galactica and Gilmore Girls—and with J.J. Abrams—one of the creators of the hit shows Lost, Alias, and Felicity—about how we might be in the midst of another Golden Age of television.

Act Three: Oedipus Hex

Shalom Auslander reads his true story, "The Blessing Bee." It's about the time when, as a third-grader at an Orthodox Jewish school, Shalom saw his chance to both make his mom proud, and push his drunken father out of the picture. Part of his scheme involved winning the school's bee on the complicated Hebrew blessings you say before eating certain foods.