No, I haven't been kidnapped, taken to the Caribbean, and used as bait at a shark-themed amusement park. I haven't run away with the circus as the world's least flexible contortionist. I haven't disappeared from Rock Creek Park, assumed a secret identity, or joined a cult.
I've just been busy. Busy and boring: the supervillains of the blogging world. Did you really want to hear about how my new faux-Aveeno CVS-brand hand lotion smells oaty and yet kind of like barbecued snack foods? Or how I've decided that my true love is a Roomba (Happy Valentine's Day to you, too)? I didn't think so. Also, I've been struggling over my next What I'm Watching post for an embarrassing amount of time. You can blame that, if you want to.
I did go to Borders last night to hear Ira Glass speak. If you're not hip to Ira--and I do mean hip; the audience at this thing was hilarious--you clearly aren't listening to enough public radio. He's the host of This American Life on NPR: a reporter, a storyteller, and a hero to radio fiends with nerdy glasses everywhere.**
The strangest thing was hearing Ira and seeing him at the same time. You have to understand: I spend a lot of time with this guy's voice. I listen to his show all the time--at work, on my commute, in airports, in the car, sometimes when I'm cooking. It's a distinctive voice, a reedy voice, and not really what you'd expect to hear on professional radio in the first place, but it sort of sinks into your consciousness after awhile. And so there I was last night, and the man on the dais opened his mouth, and he sounded just like Ira Glass! I felt like he was lip-synching, and like I should shut my eyes.
It was great, though. This American Life is first and foremost a radio show, but Ira was there to promote the second season of the their recent foray into TV (also called This American Life). He talked about radio and television, and his genuine surprise at the usefulness of visual storytelling. He took questions and told crazy stories--his forte and his livelihood, after all--about the making of the show(s) and about the relationships he forms with his interviewees and about what it's like to look like Rachel Maddow and be a guy. The best thing was his obvious passion for what he’s doing; he clearly loves the stories and the people of This American Life, which is awesome, because I do, too. He was nice, and funny, and I like him even better now than I did before.
I am charmed.
I think I'll go listen to the radio now.
**If you're not familiar with This American Life, let me introduce you to its glory. TAL is an hour-long weekly radio show on NPR (find your local station here), and it tells stories about people. That's it. Crazy stories, funny stories, sad stories, everything stories. Each episode has a theme, and a varying number of stories on that theme--sometimes it's just one long story, if it's a really good one; usually they're in the range of three or four, though one episode is called "Twenty Acts in Sixty Minutes," for obvious reasons. If you've never heard TAL, check it out: you can download it for free on iTunes, stream it for free from the TAL website, or try to find it on the radio. AND! The most recent podcast (the podcast version runs a week behind the live version) is a rerun of one of my all-time favorite episodes, "The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar," which is one of those stories I will never forget. One warning: if you do listen, you may become one of those people who starts every other sentence with, "I was listening to NPR the other day, and..." but it'll be worth every pretentious second.