Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Very "This American Life" Christmas

In the next few weeks many will likely be sitting in trains, planes and automobiles as we travel back to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. Make sure you load your iPod with holiday cheer to put you in the mood.

Here are 6 great holiday episodes of the always entertaining NPR show "This American Life." All six can be downloaded in a .zip file here or they can be streamed off the TAL website from the links below.
  • #6 Christmas - With fantastic music from the Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church choir throughout, this episode features Sedaris's comedy troupe, the Pinetree Gang, as well as stories from juvie and Christmas time at Faith Tabernacle.
  • #47 Christmas and Commerce - The extended version of the radio broadcast that made David Sedaris famous, Santaland Diaries, his tale as a Macy's elf, easily makes this one of the best episodes out there.
  • #87 A Very Special Sedaris Christmas - After writing the Santaland Diaries, Sedaris would be asked to do more Christmas stories every year for various publications and shows, making him "that Christmas writer" for the beginning of his career. Here are three of his best, read by Sedaris, Julia Sweeney and Matt Malloy.
  • #201 Them - Only the second act is Christmas-specific, and in it David Sedaris compares and contrasts the jolly, gift-bearing American Santa with the slaver, kidnapping-prone Dutch Santa.
  • #255 Holiday Gift-giving Guide - Proof that buying gifts for your parents will forever be hard. Plus a 1959 recording of Truman Capote reading his "A Christmas Story" and a story of a chain of events, starting at a Christmas tree farm in Maine, "the Pine Tree State."
  • #305 This American Life Holiday Spectacular - It truly is a TAL all-star line up with stories from David Sedaris, John Hodgman, Sarah Vowell and several others.
And if you need more TAL to fill your traveling hours, check out this list of 13 Great "This American Life 1-Acters" complete with links for downloading.

I hope these shows help you pass the time as you head to your destinations this holiday season.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

13 Great "This American Life" 1-Acters


Steph and her sister Alexis were at one point discussing great single act episodes of the great radio program This American Life. An uninterrupted hour of radio programming is increasingly rare, and not just any topic can withstand 60 minutes of dissection by microphone. These are sprawling and in-depth masterpieces of radio reportage.

Here are some of our favorites. See here for details on how to download each episode or click the name of each episode to stream is from TAL's site. Donate to TAL here.