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Prologue

The story of the lengths a father will go to to retrieve a lost teddy bear, and why—after he's enlisted many other parents to help him wade through tens of thousands of bags of trash to find it—none of the parents involved think he's nuts.

Act Three: Age of Enchantment

What happens when a dad tries too hard to protect his child from disappointment and instead enthrall the child. With the best of intentions, New Yorker writer Lawrence Weschler did all that, and in the process accidentally broke his daughter's heart.

Prologue

The tendency toward self-reinvention is so deep in American culture that we have an entire industry, a self-help industry, telling us how to transform ourselves into someone new. And usually, we see this as a positive thing.

Act One

Over the course of his life, Keith Aldrich was a child of the Depression in Oklahoma; a preacher-in-training in booming California; an aspiring Hollywood actor; in the 1950s, a self-styled Beat writer, and then a man in a gray flannel suit; in the 1960s, a member of the New York literati, and then a hippie; in the 1970s, a denizen of the suburbs with a partying, Ice Storm kind of life. Then in the 80's, when the moral majority helped put Ronald Reagan in office, he became a born-again Christian. Today we're devoting our entire show to story of Keith's life, as told by one of his nine children, Gillian Aldrich.

Prologue

When is a chicken your friend? When is he your dinner? This American Life's former webmeister Elizabeth Meister talks with Kamiko Overs, an 11-year-old girl at the annual poultry exhibition run by the American Poultry Association in Columbus, Ohio. Elizabeth Meister is a producer with Long Haul Productions.

Prologue

Camp kids explain how their non-camp friends and their non-camp loved ones have no idea why camp is the most important thing in their lives. Most of this hour takes place at a pair of camps in Michigan—Lake of the Woods, a girls camp, and Greenwoods, a boys camp.

Act One: Mr. Popular

David Himmel is a college sophomore and a former camper who became a counselor. He says all the best experiences of his life have been at camp or with camp people.

Act Two: Fear

Sure, kids today are sophisticated. But get them living in the woods for a few days, and they revert to some of the most stupidly primitive forms of entertainment known since the dawn of civilization.

Act Six: Color Days

This American Life producer Julie Snyder reports on a three-day competition called "Color Days." It's most kids' favorite time at camp — despite the fact that the girls, at least, spend most of the three days crying and screaming. It's thrilling to be part of a team at this level of intensity.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass describes what thousands of people do all over America on our holiday weekends: we go to historic sites with our kids and stare at bricks and statues, trying to feel some connection with the past. It's not easy.

Act Three: Bond, Dammit, Bond

Another case study of a dad who's waiting to feel closer to his kid. Writer Dan Savage writes the syndicated sex advice column Savage Love. He and his boyfriend Terry spent months trying to adopt and finally adopted a baby boy.

Act Four: Age Of Enchantment

This is a story about an odd breach of trust between father and child, done unintentionally, and what happens next. Lawrence Weschler is an author and journalist. He and his 11-year-old daughter Sara tell the tale.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass with Brooklyn schoolteacher Melissa Cantor, who reads from a how-to manual written by a sixth-grade student. It's about how to protect yourself against unwanted visitors.

Act One: Opening Night

Writer Jack Hitt tells the story of a small town production of Peter Pan, in which the flying apparatus smacks the actors into the furniture, and Captain Hook's hook flies off his arm and hits an old woman in the stomach. By the end of the evening, firemen have arrived and all the normal boundaries between audience and actors have completely dissolved.