Contributor David Sedaris uncovers a disturbing and hidden trend that's taking place where small-minded people collide with big retail stores.
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The great Christmas classics are all like fables. David Sedaris contributes his own, about barnyard animals who decide to play "Secret Santa." David is the author of many books, including a collection of Christmas stories, Holidays on Ice.
A fable about gossip and the service industry involving a cat and a baboon, by David Sedaris. David's story was recorded live at UCLA's Royce Hall, as part of UCLA's Performing Arts series.
Lisa LaBorde has two daughters, and having grown up an only child, she can't understand why they fight all the time. Her idea of sisterhood is more like a scene from The Sound of Music. Wanting to create that kind of bond for her girls, Lisa decides to enlist the aid of science to see if she can turn these enemies into friends—in just one month.
Continuing from our prologue, host Ira Glass checks in with Lisa and her older daughter, Kennedy, to see how the experiment went. After a month, they've charted surprising results, learned that the girls aren't the only ones in the house who need to change, and found out just how much money it takes to get a twelve-year-old to play with a five-year-old.
A Christmas poem from David Rakoff, about holidays in The Big City. Rakoff's the author of, most recently, Half Empty.
Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall were a comedy duo back in the mid-1960s, playing clubs around Los Angeles, when their agent called to tell them he'd landed them the gig of a lifetime: They were going to be on The Ed Sullivan Show. The only problem was that their performance was a total fiasco, for a bunch of reasons, including one they never saw coming.
About 20 years ago, a Los Angeles prosecutor named Michael Guarino thought he'd make a name for himself by taking the lead singer of the Dead Kennedys to court for obscenity. He was so sure of success, he didn't even bother to listen to the lyrics.
Jonathan Goldstein decides to find out—once and for all—if his dad Buzz thinks he's manly enough.
David Wilcox tells the story of how his mother, who was dying of lung cancer, made a short videotape for his sister, who is severely developmentally disabled. She hoped the tape would become a daily part of her daughter's life, like the other music and movies she liked to play, that she would watch it and remember her mother.
Rachel Louise Snyder reports on the struggle to save the Cambodian economy. Right now, Cambodia is competing with other nations for the business of big clothing companies all over the world—buyers like the Gap, Nike, Adidas.
We hear a quick rundown of all the ways that Christian conservatives are making headway in advancing their values as public policy, why they think total separation of church and state is not what the founding fathers intended. And why they're wrong.
Host Ira Glass hauls out Ye Olde Book of Christmas Stories, only to realize that everyone's favorite stories are—gasp—missing. Sounding the alarm, he sets off to save Christmas, the only way he knows how.
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.
This American Life receives an emergency transmission from a rooftop somewhere in New York City, where John Hodgman reports on the true-life origins of Christmas traditions. John Hodgman is the author of More Information Than You Require.
The story of a series of misunderstandings with very dire consequences. Shaheen was stopped by the police, who looked at what was in his car and before Shaheen knew it, he'd come to the attention of some of the highest ranking officials in the Defense Department.
When an Arkansas National Guard Unit is sent off to Iraq, they assume they're going to help rebuild the country, since they're trained as an engineering unit. But once they arrive, they find themselves in a combat zone, unprepared and ill-equipped.
Writer Shalom Auslander reads his short story about how he decided to start forgetting the dead, even though his job required him to remember. Shalom's most recent book is Hope: A Tragedy.
Erin Einhorn grew up begging her mother to tell her all about the remarkable story of how she survived World War Two, thanks to a Polish woman named Honorata Skowronski, who risked her life. But her mother didn't like to talk about it.
Two stories about people who suddenly realize they're the only ones around who value the separation of church and state. Paul Williams, a city councilman in Janesville, Wisconsin, wants to make sure a Salvation Army built with public money doesn't proselytize.
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.
Six-year-old DJ has two dads, Dan Savage and Terry Miller. DJ is being raised by two gay men, but he has a preschooler's understanding of what gay means.
Ralph and Sandra Fisher, who run a show-animal business in Texas, had a beloved Brahman bull named Chance. Chance was the gentlest bull they'd ever seen, more like a pet dog than a bull.