I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet.
My absolute favorite show on the radio is This American Life, hosted and produced by Ira Glass since 1995. It is what it says it is—people talking about life in this country—and defies further description, as their website acknowledges:
One of the problems with our show from the start has been that whenever we try to describe it in a sentence or two, it sounds awful. It’s a bunch of stories—some are documentaries, some are fiction, some are something else. Each week we choose a theme and invite different writers and performers to contribute items on the theme. This doesn’t sound like something we’d want to listen to on the radio—and it’s our show. . . . It’s a weekly show. It’s an hour. Its mission is to document everyday life in this country. We sometimes think of it as a documentary show for people who normally hate documentaries.
Anyway, it’s really good—in my opinion, the most enjoyable hour of radio produced anywhere today. I thought to mention it tonight because I was looking for this past weekend’s show online (it’s not there yet, but each show is archived in streaming RealAudio. Give it a listen).
Incredibly, I found out in my search for archived installments that Ira Glass is going to be here in Minneapolis, two weeks from tonight. Not only that, but he will be having a conversation with Chris Ware of Acme Novelty Library fame (also brilliant) about alternative forms of media! So if you’re anywhere near Minneapolis on February 18, 2002, at 7:30 pm, don’t miss this. It’s sure to be extremely entertaining and edifying.
Unfortunately, not having done any writing of note in the last week-plus, I now have two weekends to summarize instead of one.
As promised, Cops and Breeders: On January 26th I went home to Hartford to hang out with my mom and see the new addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. On the way out of town Saturday morning I realized, “Hmm, it might be a good idea to get tickets to the Breeders concert at the 400 Bar on February 20th that Amber and I plan to go to (the first really good 21+ concert after her 21st birthday), since I noticed they weren’t on sale online anymore.” Though I haven’t checked with the 400 Bar box office, I may have gotten the last two tickets available to that show. How do I figure that? Well, the Electric Fetus (record shop) was sold out. Ticketweb was sold out. Global Village, a store next door to the club, was my second-to-last hope. The woman at the counter, after I asked about the show, checked the outside of the ticket envelope to no avail. “We must not have gotten them in yet,” she speculated, not seeing the name of the concert written on the envelope. My heart sank, assuming that since Electric Fetus had gotten them and sold out of them, Global Village had as well. Then she searched through the envelope. “Wait,” she said, as she pulled out exactly two tickets to the Breeders show, with a rubberband doubled around them. She remarked that it was strange that the name of the show wasn’t on the envelope. My first thought was that someone who worked at the store was saving the last two for themselves, but I kept quiet about that. After I ran to my car to get my checkbook, the tickets were mine.
With that triumph, I left town on Interstate 94, heading east. Much like many other drivers on that route, I tend to drive at a high rate of speed. Some, such as those who nobly assume the awesome responsibility of enforcing the laws of the land, might consider that rate of speed excessive. However, I’ve been extremely lucky that, most times that I drive in excess of the posted limit, I don’t get caught.
A little over a third of the way through my trip, about a half-mile from a rest stop, I was preceded and followed by drivers of similar hasty inclination. I noticed, as I often do, a police cruiser on the side of the road after pulling over some unlucky offender. Seconds later, I saw another one. After that, I saw a third cop. This was all within a quarter of a mile. I decided to stop at the rest stop. I hung out for about 10 minutes or so, doing the usual rest stop things. When I left, after I pulled back onto the freeway, I saw another cop with another (probable) speeder. Unbelievable! Four speeders caught by four different cops within a half-mile, and I was none of them. I lead a charmed life.
Anyway, the museum was great, and I had a good time hanging out with my mom and stepdad, as I always do.
This past weekend, February 1-3, I went to Madison to spend time with some friends from college (Pete, Todd, Gief, and Jess). We went to see Lord of the Rings (me for the 3rd time, Pete for the 6th!), had reasonably good Chinese food, and played lots of Simpsons Road Rage (almost reason enough to buy a Playstation 2. It was for Pete, anyway). Also saw the incredible new office that HBG moved into after I left and played a little Quake (a very infrequent indulgence, which explains why I sucked so much). Good times.