Stuff You Should Know (about) This American Life (that) Mom Never Told You

“Once upon a time, people were not born separate from each other; they were born entwined, kind of coupled with each other. So there were boys attached to boys. And there were girls attached to girls. And of course girls and boys together, in a wonderfully intimate ball.

And back then we had eight limbs there were four on top, four on the bottom and you didn’t have to walk if you didn’t want to; you could roll and roll we did. We rolled backwards, we rolled forwards achieving fantastic speeds that gave us a kind of courage.

And then the courage swelled to pride, and the pride became arrogance, and then we decided we were greater than the gods and we tried to roll up to heaven and take over heaven and the gods alarm struck back and Zeus in his fury hurled down lighting bolts and struck everyone in two, into perfect halves.

So all of the sudden couples who had been warm and tight and wedged together were now detached and alone and lost and desperate and losing the will to live. And the gods seeing what they’d done worried that humans might not survive or even multiply again and of course they needed humans to give sacrifices and pay attention to them so the gods decided on a few repairs.

Instead of heads facing backwards or out they would rotate our heads back to forward, they pulled our skin taught and knotted it right here at the bellybutton, genitalia to removed to the front so if we wanted to we could, and most important, they left us with a memory.

It was a longing for that original other half of ourselves; the boy or the girl who used to make us whole. And that longing is still so deep in all of us, men for men, women for women, men for women for each other, that it has been the lot of humans ever since to travel the world looking for our other half.

And when one of us meets another we recognize each other right away we just know this, we’re lost in an amazement of love and friend ship and intimacy, we won’t get out of each others sight even for a moment. There are people that pass their whole lives together that if you asked them they could not explain what they desire of each other, they just do.”

–Radiolab — “Desperately Seeking Symmetry”,  April 18, 2011

In addition to introducing me to Netflix, oil changes and Golden Syrup, A has brought podcasts into my life.

These informational episodes, transmitted to any mp3, can range from any topic and are infinitely more interesting than listening to the same old music day after day.

These podcasts got me through numerous 4 a.m. workdays and entertained A and myself during looooong road trips.

Now I will share my favorites WITH YOU!  Lucky devils.

1. “This American Life”

The old standard in podcasts.  This program focuses on a particular theme, let’s say prom night–but this particular prom night danced on while a tornado ripped apart these high schoolers’ town.  Or several stories of people receiving “gifts” that they did not know how to accept.  The theme is presented in different variations or “acts”, and results in an illuminating and thought-provoking radio program.  The top-rate journalists that provide these stories constantly keep you in wonder about their creativity and investigative skills … and consistently enforce the adage that everyone has a story to tell.

2. “Radiolab”

Very similar to #1, but a little funkier and with a more scientific bent.  These guys experiment with audio clips and music–making it more engaging for your ears than more traditional journalistic offerings.  The above excerpt is just one of the pieces highlighted in a program of theirs that told the stories of several people who experimented with the concept of “balance”.  The above excerpt also makes me cry … EVERY TIME.

3. “Stuff You Should Know”

From sherpas to roller derby to “How the Mafia Works”, this podcast serves up a seemingly endless variety of subjects that are well researched, informative and FUNNY.  The hosts, Josh and Chuck, are goofy and easy to like while still teaching you about subjects you didn’t even know interested you.  I download each one, even though I don’t think I would be intrigued by riot control or the origins of Scooby Doo.  But I always end up wishing they would keep chatting.

4. “Stuff Mom Never Told You”

Also from the creators of, this ‘cast focuses on women’s issues.  They delicately tackle everything from tricky health issues to trickier feminist soapboxes.  They can often be a little too PC for me, so much so that they often do not say anything at all, but like their male counterparts in #3, this podcast delivers informative content from hosts that seem to genuinely like their job and each other.   All of the gender difference stuff is especially fun to listen to with your significant other or friends of the opposite sex to spark a debate … or when we have clocked four hours in a car, lots of yelling about the fact that NO I AM NOT A JEALOUS PERSON.

5. “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!”

Live recorded weekly news show that serves up the headlines in the most hilarious manner.  A great way to catch a few news stories and soak up a few laughs.  One of my favorite exchanges?  The host asking one of the panelists, who is most likely a comedian, journalist or other personality, why a particular NFL hopeful may be a jinx.  Turns out it’s because he’s a redhead, which prompts another panelist to ask, “Well isn’t Brett Favre a redhead?”

The host then replies, without missing a beat, “Well, he just texted me … oh, wait…”

Quick humor, the news you may have missed, podcasts you can listen to over and over.  Perfection.

6. “We’re Alive!”

An homage to the old-timey radio shows, with dramatic scripts and plenty of campy sound effects.  Unlike “The Shadow” and “The Lone Ranger” of old, this one capitalizes on a new trend–zombies.

Extended over several chapters, this podcast will definitely entertain during long stretches of brainless work or endless highway.

7. “Freakonomics”

I regret to say I have not read the book, but the podcast is along the same lines.  “The Hidden Side of Everything” to fighting fires or wine tastings, the NFL or the lotto–once again blissfully entertaining or a welcome time-sink, whatever you may need it for.

Check out these podcasts for your next road trip, or to enrich the time you spend cooking or cleaning the apt.

Best of all, these are all FREE!  (Did you really think I would pay for them?)


Any I missed?  Comment below.


2 thoughts on “Stuff You Should Know (about) This American Life (that) Mom Never Told You

  1. domesticait September 7, 2011 / 10:13 am

    what did you think about the quote?

    and thanks for the suggestion 🙂 the name of it alone is enough to intrigue me.

  2. Sarah September 4, 2011 / 11:34 pm

    Hmm, interesting quote at the beginning…you should look up the song “The Origin of Love” from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. Strange movie, but I think you’ll enjoy the song. 🙂

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