#486 : February 8, 2013

Valentine's Day

Love makes us do crazy things. But usually not this crazy. This week for Valentine's Day we have stories of people going to extremes to find and pursue their one true love.

#485 : January 25, 2013

Surrogates

This week we look at people who see themselves in others and try to live out their lives through stand-ins — including the story of what one father saw in the convicted murderer he decided to adopt. And the proxy battle over a woman’s honor that became a presidential obsession.

#484 : January 11, 2013

Doppelgängers

We got a tip about a meat plant selling pig intestines as fake calamari, wondered if it could be true, and decided to investigate. Doppelgängers, doubles, evil twins and not-so-evil twins, this week. Fred Armisen co-hosts with Ira Glass. EXTRAS: Fred's Ira impression on SNL. Pig/squid shirts. And prints.

#483 : January 4, 2013

Self-Improvement Kick

A perfectly normal guy gets rid of everything he owns, changes his name, says goodbye to his friends — and begins walking. In the name of peace. And Honduran government officials try to heal their corrupt country by starting a perfect city, from scratch. For the new year, we bring you stories about how far some people go in hopes of a better life.

#482 : December 21, 2012

Lights, Camera, Christmas!

This holiday season we bring you a show filled with stories of people going to great lengths to throw a special Christmas for their families. Including tales of Luna the guinea pig (pictured), Bambi the reindeer, and Jeko the super-powerful (and somewhat-scary) Christmas elf.

#481 : December 7, 2012

This Week

This week we take on ... this week. Stories united by one thing: They all happened in the seven days prior to broadcast. We try our hand reporting the global stories in Egypt and Afghanistan; and take on super local stories, too, like a man who tries valiantly — valiantly! — to actually get out of bed when his alarm clock goes off. You can also see this week in pictures. Pictured: Hyder Akbar’s car after he was ambushed in Kunar Province.

#480 : November 30, 2012

Animal Sacrifice

What animals sacrifice for us, and what we sacrifice for them. Including a story from Susan Orlean about dogs in World War II, and the This American Life staff confronts Ira about his dog, Piney.Photo: Dog wearing suicide bomb vest, 1943.

#479 : November 23, 2012

Little War on the Prairie

Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen says, nobody ever talked about the most important historical event ever to happen there: in 1862, it was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Thirty-eight Dakota Indians were hanged after a war with white settlers. John went back to Minnesota to figure out what really happened 150 years ago, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it much after.

#478 : November 2, 2012

Red State Blue State

Everyone knows that politics is now so divided in our country that not only do the 2 sides disagree on the solutions to the country’s problems, they don’t even agree on what the problems are. It’s 2 versions of the world in collision. This week we hear from people who’ve seen this infect their personal lives. They’ve lost friends. They’ve become estranged from family members. A special pre-election episode of our show.

#477 : October 19, 2012

Getting Away With It

Stories of people breaking the rules fully, completely and with no bad consequences. Some justify this by saying they’re doing it for others, or for a greater good. Some really don’t care. And, unlike the mealy weaklings you usually hear on this program: None of these wrongdoers seem regretful about what they’ve done in the slightest.

#476 : October 5, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You

Stories of how people cope after brushes with death. Sometimes death comes as a disease. Sometimes it swims up and bites you. And sometimes it's a pen or pencil, sitting there, just waiting for you to ingest it. Tig Notaro's comedy set is at Louis CK's site.

#475 : September 28, 2012

Send a Message

This week people reach out in all kinds of ways to try to get their point across. And the recipients of those messages try to decipher what they mean. Messages in code, over the phone, and from beyond the grave.

#474 : September 14, 2012

Back to School

As kids and teachers head back to school, we wanted to turn away from questions about politics and unions and money and all the regular school stuff people argue about, and turn to something more optimistic — an emerging theory about what to teach kids, from Paul Tough's new book How Children Succeed. Photo: Theo takes the marshmallow test.

#473 : August 24, 2012

Loopholes

Only the clever need apply. This week, stories of people acting on a technicality in the face of some of life's toughest regulators: financial regulators, parents and God.

#472 : August 17, 2012

Our Friend David

Favorite stories by our longtime contributor and friend David Rakoff. Note that the podcast and streaming versions contain unbeeped words that could not play on radio.

#471 : August 10, 2012

The Convert

In 2006, a new convert showed up at a mosque in Orange County, California, eager to study the Koran and make new friends. But when he started acting odd and saying strange things, those friends got suspicious. To them, he was Farouk al-Aziz. But his real name was Craig Monteilh, and he was working undercover for the FBI. (Read the update to this story here.)

#470 : July 27, 2012

Show Me The Way

Stories about people in trouble, who look for help in mystifying places. A 15-year-old boy travels more than 1,000 miles, alone, to seek out his hero, whom he's never met. And from Wiretap, Jonathan Goldstein and David Rakoff tell the story of a man with a terrible medical problem, hoping for a cure from a famous doctor — who only communicates in rhyme.

#469 : July 13, 2012

Hiding in Plain Sight

Sometimes when something is happening right under your nose, it becomes even harder to notice than if it were happening in secret. Stories of people of using that to their advantage, including one man who takes down some of the most powerful criminals in the world.

#468 : June 29, 2012

Switcheroo

People pretending to be people they're not: sometimes it's harmless, sometimes it's harmful and sometimes it's hard to tell. From world-famous artists to mail-order brides to a practice that could change the face of American journalism. And BTW if a woman has approached you at a Cindy Sherman exhibit claiming to be Cindy Sherman, email us at web@thislife.org.

#467 : June 22, 2012

Americans in China

It used to be that the American expats in China were the big shots. They had the money, the status, the know-how. But that's changed. What's it like to be an American living in China now? And what do they understand about China that we don't?

#466 : June 8, 2012

Blackjack

Stories about the casino game everyone thinks they can beat. In one, a woman gambles away her inheritance and then sues the casino, saying they're to blame. In another, Christians join forces to take down casinos — by becoming professional card-counting blackjack players. Plus: MIT Blackjack Team member Andy Bloch teaches us to count cards.

#465 : May 25, 2012

What Happened At Dos Erres

In 1982, the Guatemalan military massacred the villagers of Dos Erres, killing more than 200 people. Thirty years later, a Guatemalan living in the US got a phone call from a woman who told him that two boys had been abducted during the massacre — and he was one of them. ProPublica's print version: Finding Oscar.

#464 : May 18, 2012

Invisible Made Visible

The radio version of an episode we did live on stage and beamed to movie theaters all over the country. David Sedaris, Tig Notaro and Ryan Knighton perform stories. Plus the late David Rakoff, in his final performance on the show. The other half of the two-hour performance was visual, including dancers, animation, and a short film. You can download video of the entire show.

#463 : April 27, 2012

Mortal Vs. Venial

Religion makes it pretty clear what differentiates mortal sins from venial ones. Mortal are the really bad sins and venial the lesser ones. But in our everyday lives, it can be really difficult to determine just how bad we've been. This week we have stories of people trying to figure out that question.

#462 : April 13, 2012

Own Worst Enemy

Stories of people who can’t seem to stop getting in their own way — sabotaging everything from their romantic relationships to their physical health. Featuring a new radio drama by Jonathan Mitchell.

#461 : March 30, 2012

Take the Money and Run for Office

For anyone who has ever heard the term "Washington insider" and felt outside — we are with you. So this week, we go inside the rooms where the deals get made, to the actual moment that the checks change hands — and we ask the people writing and receiving the checks what, exactly, is the money buying?

#460 : March 16, 2012

Retraction

We've discovered that one of our most popular episodes contained numerous fabrications. This week, we detail the errors in Mike Daisey's story about visiting Foxconn, which makes iPads and other products for Apple in China. Marketplace's China correspondent Rob Schmitz discovered the fabrications. Transcript. Press Release.

#459 : March 2, 2012

What Kind of Country

All across the country right now, local and state governments are finding they can't pay their bills. Schools are losing teachers, street lights are going dark, garbage is piling up in public parks, and cops are suddenly an optional expense.

#458 : February 17, 2012

Play the Part

Stories of people who decide to flip their personalities and do the exact opposite of what they normally do. Pictured: Louis Ortiz, Obama impersonator. He is the subject of the documentary film The Audacity of Louis Ortiz.

#457 : February 10, 2012

What I Did For Love

Love makes us do crazy things. But not this crazy. This week for Valentine's Day we have stories of people going to extremes as they fall in love, chase love down, and try to make sense of it—including a teenager who falls for an undercover cop, and epic tales of snooping.

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