Arts & Culture

The Ira Glass Infatuation Post/This American Life Review: Know When To Fold

I’m filling in Bambi Schlomovich this week for the Ira Glass infatuation post. Mind you that just because I’m male, does not mean I’m any less infatuated with the bushy headed, strong chinned and Übermenschy Ira Glass. Read More

By / April 13, 2011
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

I’m filling in Bambi Schlomovich this week for the Ira Glass infatuation post.  Mind you that just because I’m male, does not mean I’m any less infatuated with the bushy headed, strong chinned and Übermenschy Ira Glass.

Moving on, this week’s episode of the TAL carried the theme, “Know When to Fold,” and began with a discussion between Ira and James McManus.  McManus is a writer/journalist who turned poker expert after being sent by Harpers to the World Series of Poker to write a story.  He ended up actually entering the competition and almost winning.  In part, he attributes his success to his lack of experience at the time, the fact that he didn’t know when to fold.

Interestingly, The Cuban Missile Crisis is mentioned by McManus as a landmark example of “knowing when to fold.”  This week as the highly controversial, highly terrible, Kennedys mini-series wrapped up, this piece of history was back in the spotlight.  In fact, scenes in The Kennedys that portrayed the Cuban Missile Crisis were among the few that showed JFK in a good light. However, instead of hailing JFK’s bravery, McManus focused on Khrushchev, and his decision to back down, thus potentially saving the world from Nuclear War.   All in all, it’s been a tough week for the Kennedy’s.

The first act this week by Dave Dickerson focused on a young man from a devout family who spent most of his young years as a believer in Christianity.  He even went as to major in religious studies in college, planning to be pastor, until a sudden realization that it’s all bunk.  However, it seems his biggest complaint about it all, the 28 years of the sex he missed out on.  Folks, seriously, how bad would it be to miss your first 28 years of sex?  Just curious, scale of 1-10?

To fill the void left by his lost faith, the young man takes solace in arguing with other Christians, his knowledge of the bible being such that he can argue against it entirely.  At 28 he visits his father, ready to battle it out over religion only to be met with effusiveness and honesty from his dad.  He walks away having learned not just when to fold, but that sometimes you can just be passionate about something, without having to make everybody around you understand and adopt it.

This week’s second act by Nancy Updike focused on a pattern that Middle Eastern dictators seem to be repeating almost religiously.  What I found most fascinating about this act wasn’t the pattern, the lists drafted by numerous different people who noticed these similar behaviors amongst dictators, but the flow of information as a reflection of the tech age.  It turned out that aside from Nancy Updike, users all over Twitter had posted and discussed similar lists.  It almost made me wonder whether the information age will hinder or even put an end to future dictatorships.  Suddenly everybody is the watching the watchmen.

My favorite act this week was about a “wethouse,” in St Paul, essentially state housing for alcoholics.  The inhabitants of the wethouse having been through multiple go-rounds of treatment without success, are ultimately granted a clean, safe place to live and drink until they die, as many of them do.

This story brings up the issue of harm reduction, the idea that people are going to be self destructive no matter what, and so it’s best to make sure they do it in a way that’s as safe as possible for them, and in a way that doesn’t harm others.  Needle exchanges, for instance fall under this category.

At the same time, addicts relapse over and over again, there’s no set number of times one has to fall of the horse before they recover.  This story was somehow comforting and heartbreaking at the same time, full of the kind of complexity that makes TAL worthy of our love.

The final act was about an indigenous man in Brazil who a number researchers tried to save from certain death by those trying to usurp his home territory, it was one half Dances With Wolves and one half Harry and the Hendersons.

Finally, I’ve always thought that if I were writing this column, I’d love to discuss on a weekly basis, the shows final attempt at humor in which they use a sound clip to jab at their general manager Tory Malatia.

This week’s attempted “Tory being called a ho in the office parking” joke, would probably be among the worst ever end bits.. Otherwise this week’s show was aces.