USB drive with 35 hours of This American Life! (+ video!)

Nov 17, 2010

TAL USB Drive Okay, seriously: this may be the best piece of merchandise we've ever offered. It's certainly the most stuff we've ever crammed into one item. You see, we've created a custom-molded 2GB USB drive, and filled it with 35 favorite episodes of the radio show, hand picked by host Ira Glass. Want more? It also includes the entire video of our 2009 stage show that went live movie theaters.

So That's 35 HOURS of This American Life radio episodes plus an hour and a half of video, all in this little 2 1/2" tall flash drive. Plug it into any computer, play the shows off of the drive, or copy them into iTunes or your media player. You can keep the shows on it or use it to carry around your files (or both: it has around 300MB of free space). The drive comes in a protective metal tin (not pictured). And we're selling these for kind of a bargain: $29. It's a solid gift for someone new to the show, or for someone who's already a fan. Available now in our store.

The drive itself is a 3D version of our logo, fashioned by industrial designer Sinclair Smith. The word "THIS" is a removable cap.

Here's what host Ira Glass has to say about it:

"35 episodes, all at once":

Live show clips:

List of shows:

And here's a complete list of all the episodes it contains:

#014: Accidental Documentaries
#027: Cruelty of Children
#038: Simulated Worlds
#046: Sissies
#047: Xmas and Commerce
#061: Fiasco!
#077: Pray
#081: Guns
#084: Harold
#090: Telephone
#104: Music Lessons
#109: Notes on Camp
#172: 24 Hours at the Golden Apple
#175 Babysitting
#181: The Friendly Man
#203: Recordings for Someone
#206: Somewhere in The Arabian Sea
#218: Act V
#220: Testosterone
#233: Starting From Scratch
#241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes
#246: My Pen Pal
#252: Poultry Slam '03
#253: The Middle of Nowhere
#290: Godless America
#304: Heretics
#331: Habeas Schmabeas
#339: Break-Up
#352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar
#355: The Giant Pool of Money
#360: Switched at Birth
#379: Return to the Scene of the Crime (90 minute video!)
#388: Rest Stop
#396: #1 Party School
#403: NUMMI
#405: Inside Job

In conclusion, here's what the drive looks like with its hat on:

TAL USB Drive capped

"The Talent Show" - featuring This American Life contributors

Nov 17, 2010

The Talent Show Brand Variety Show The Talent Show has another show coming up -- on November 24th at Littlefield in Gowanus, Brooklyn -- featuring This American Life contributors Mike Birbiglia, John Hodgman, Dave Hill and Elna Baker.

Show theme: "Cranksgiving: An evening of protests, rants and letters of complaint"

$5. Doors open at 7, show starts at 8. Tickets.

"Toxie" animation

Nov 10, 2010

Check out this animation about "Toxie" the toxic asset, the life and death of which the Planet Money team chronicled in our most recent episode.

Toxie's Dead. Written by David Kestenbaum and Chana Joffe-Walt. Directed and animated by Stephen Neary. Assistant animation and backgrounds by Connie Li Chan. Sound design by Robin Arnott.

Planet Money is a collaboration between This American Life and NPR News.

This American Life Android app!

Oct 29, 2010

We're pleased to announce our new This American Life app for Android phones, which gives you on-demand access to our entire archive of more than 400 episodes of the radio show, plus exclusive audio and video extras. The fine folks over at Public Radio Exchange (PRX) built it for us.

You can also use the app to search by contributor, view staff favorites and create your own favorites list, read blog updates, and connect to the weekly live feed on Friday nights - all via cellular connection or WiFi.

You can only download the app directly to your phone. If you visit on your Android phone, you'll be invited to purchase the app. Or click this link from your phone's browser:

The app is designed to work on all phones running Android OS version 1.6 or higher.

It costs three bucks, just like our iPhone app. Here are a couple screenshots:

Android screenshot 1 Android screenshot 2

And for the super-nerds, here is our "QR Code." Scan it with an Android barcode scanner app, and you'll jump to the This American Life app in the Marketplace. Set phasers to stun:

Android QR code

WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Oct 26, 2010
Ira writes:

Right now, pretty much every comedian without a network TV show has his own podcast, but Marc Maron's WTF Podcast, here on the web or here on iTunes has distinguished itself as the New York Times of comedy podcasts, and by that I mean the definitive comedy podcast of record.

WTF with Marc MaronStart with the two-part expose/investigative report into how Carlos Mencia steals other comedians' material, which begins in Part One with Mencia totally denying any wrongdoing and continues in Part Two with other comedians coming forward with evidence and Mencia rushing to Marc's house from the airport, no kidding, to finally cop to his wrongdoing.

Or take the amazing two parter with Judd Apatow (one and two), where the executive producer of Freaks and Geeks and director of Knocked Up digs out recordings of the radio show he did in high school as an excuse to meet his favorite comedians and interview them about how to get started in comedy. He plays long excerpts. How did Maron beat Fresh Air and our show to this idea? Amazing. Jerry Seinfeld before he was a megastar: charming and honest. Jay Leno: sort of a dick, even talking to a high school kid.

Or the road trip Marc takes with Maria Bamford where she talks about her last relationship and what was fucked up about it, and Marc realizes that it was a lot like his failed marriage, and suddenly feels like he's hearing his ex-wife's side of everything she went through with him.

Or truly revealing, entertaining interviews with huge stars like Ben Stiller or Robin Williams, where you hear them like they usually never talk in interviews, because they've known Maron for decades and hang out with him for an hour...or two of the most interesting hours of podcast I've ever heard (though maybe because I'm such a sucker for Louis CK), the two parter with Louis where he not only talks about all kinds of weird filmmaking details but actually cries.

I'm in his podcast this week. I was excited to do it because I'm such a fan, thanks to my wife, who is my portal for all things comedy and come to think of it pretty much anything else I watch or listen to.

Being interviewed by Maron reminded me of an old axiom about interviewing: that an interview is a party you're throwing and your guest will mirror your behavior. Marc is an insanely intense guy, and stares into you as you talk—it really feels like his eyes are piercing inside you—and then when he speaks he reaches inside himself and talks in the most heartfelt way possible. In a room with that, you'd have to be made of stone not to respond in the most soulful way you can summon up. He's emotionally present and he makes you emotionally present. I don't think that's any kind of calculated move, it's who he is when he's performing. And of course it gets amazing results.

Another fun fact: he records the thing on a little digital recorder, with two handheld mics attached by long mic cords. The mics he uses are the kind a comedian uses onstage. So as the interviewee, you hold a mic like a standup comedian would the whole time. Very comfortable I'm sure, for all the standups he talks to.

Nice Ink from the New York Review of Books

Oct 22, 2010

A publication renowned for their long form criticism, The New York Review of Books looks at public radio in their November 11th issue (on newsstands and online). Bill McKibben gives the subject a thoughtful and thorough treatment, and finds some good news. "This is the perfect moment to be a young radiohead," he writes. “It’s like 1960s and 1970s cinema, with auteurs rewriting the rules."

Find the whole article—it's a really good read—here.

‘Everything Sings,’ with an introduction by Ira Glass

Oct 14, 2010

If you’ve listened to our episode Mapping, you know about the peculiar maps that Denis Wood has made of his neighborhood in Raleigh, NC. Now Denis has collected these maps into a book called Everything Sings, with an introduction written by Ira Glass.

If you haven’t heard the episode, here’s the deal: Denis mapped his neighborhood of Boylan Heights over and over, focusing on features that any normal cartographer would ignore: the glow of street lamps, the preponderance of jack-o-lanterns, the number of newsletter mentions (pictured), etc. It’s a unique way of looking at space.

Everything Sings

From Ira’s introduction:

These maps remind me of all the radio stories I love most. After all, most radio is a boring salaryman, waking up before you and me to announce the headlines or play the hits to some predetermined demographic. Yet some radio stories elbow their way into the world in defiance of that unrelentingly practical mission, with the same goal Denis Wood’s maps have: to take a form that’s not intended for feeling or mystery and make it breathe with human life.

Siglio Press is offering a discount to This American Life listeners who order the book. Just enter the discount code TALMAP and you will get 20% off the cover price.


- Your friends at This American Life

This American Life contributors, on stage in Brooklyn

Oct 14, 2010

The Talent Show Brand Variety Show The Talent Show has another show coming up, at a new location -- Littlefield in Gowanus, Brooklyn -- on October 27, featuring This American Life producers Ira Glass and Jane Feltes, plus contributors John Hodgman, Dave Hill, Eugene Mirman, Shaina Feinberg and Elna Baker.

Format for the evening: Truth or Dare.

$5. Doors open at 7, show starts at 8. Tickets.

Mike Birbiglia: on tour

Oct 12, 2010

Regular This American Life contributor Mike Birbiglia is heading out on a 12-city tour, performing stories and reading from his new book Sleepwalk With Me (check out his interview on Fresh Air). It's called "The Painfully True Stories Tour," material from which will become a new one-man show My Girlfriend's Boyfriend (the title comes from a story Mike performed on our episode Somewhere Out There).

This American Life iPhone app

First off, if you're in new York, Mike is doing a free reading TONIGHT 10/12, at Barnes and Noble on 66th and Broadway.

The rest of his tour dates are below. You can find tickets to all the shows here.

Wed Oct 13 - Boston, MA - Wilbur Theatre - 7:30 PM

Thu Oct 14 - Glenside, PA - Keswick Theatre - 8:00 PM

Fri Oct 15 - Washington, DC - Warner Theatre - 8:00 PM

Sat Oct 16 - Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre - 7:00 PM

Tue Oct 19 - San Francisco, CA - Palace of Fine Arts - 8:00 PM

Thu Oct 21 - Hollywood, CA - Avalon - 8:00 PM

Fri Oct 22 - Seattle, WA - Moore Theatre - 8:00 PM

Sat Oct 23 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater - 8:00 PM

Thu Nov 4 - Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse - 8:00 PM

Fri Nov 5 - Charlotte, NC - Knight Theater - 8:00 PM

Sat Nov 6 - Durham, NC - Carolina Theatre - 8:00 PM

Fri Nov 12 - Madison, WI - Barrymore Theatre - 8:00 PM


Ira Glass's cameo on The Simpsons

Sep 28, 2010

In case you missed the season premiere of The Simpsons this past weekend, here is Ira Glass' cameo: