Arts & Culture

This American Life Ira Glass Man-Fatuation Post: So Crazy It Just Might Work

Have you ever tried something that you thought was just so crazy that it just might work? Ira and friends talk about it this week. Read More

By / November 16, 2011
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Have you ever tried something that you thought was just so crazy that it just might work?  Is your whole life a series of “So Crazy it Just Might Work” type moves?  Do you fall upward?  Well, it’s the Ira Glass Man-Fatuation post, I’m Jon Reiss and this week we actually talk about a real man-fatuation that takes place in the worst possible of worlds for reciprocation purposes, Mormon Salt Lake City, as well another kind of male on male bond that crumbles due to a ruined control group.

However, this week’s episode is introduced by a math story about a guy that disproves a theory on prime numbers.  I’m not sure about this, but I think there might still be a 17-year-old me that exists somewhere in my brain, and only comes out to covertly smoke cigarettes and fall in asleep with my head on the desk, when somebody is trying to explain something mathematical to me.  I just shut off as soon as the numbers start flowing, and suddenly my hair feels thicker.   “Piss off Ira, I start to think, (17 year old me is an anglophile) you don’t understand me!”  What I mean is I didn’t really understand the intro that well.  The gist is that somebody disproved an equation that was invented to identify prime numbers. I did however quite enjoy the movie Pi.

In Act I we’re sort of thrust into a story about two music/science guys who might be in the process of discovering a cure for cancer.  Among the laundry list of things that make this story strange and astounding is the fact that it’s currently still happening, and if anything comes of it, there will be a documentary film to tell the entire tale.  The second odd thing about this story is the nature of the two guys involved as a pair.  One of them is older yet sounds far younger, and is incredibly scientifically minded, however, he’s not the one that stumbles on the potential cure for cancer.  His partner and former student, more a man of faith than science, stumbles upon it.  What’s the cure for cancer?  It’s a machine that makes a certain pitch that kills cancer sells when zapped at them without harming healthy cells.  Odder still, this wasn’t so much a discovery as an exhuming of an old, defamed notion.  A man named Royal Rife invented this machine and used it, only to be discredited by the AMA.  Since his death, people have sold the machine and the treatment only to be taken to court and sued for selling snake oil.  However, there are those that believe Rife’s downfall, as well as the lawsuits against his predecessors are the result of a major pharma-medical conspiracy.  And that’s not even what this story is about, it’s just back-story.  Really, the crux of this act is the whole “man of science man of faith” thing.  John Locke and Jack Sheppard if you will.  This one guy keeps thinking he’s got a cure for cancer, he see’s his name in lights and printed inside text books, while his mentor continues to quash those hopes in the name of scientific accuracy.  Ultimately they break up over this very disagreement.  That’s where Act I ends, but whether it’s where the story ends, only time will tell.

The next story was a heartbreaker.  Each week I turn on this American Life hoping that he will finally say, “And to Jon Reiss, author of the This American Life Ira Glass Man Fatuation Post on Jewcy.com, I want you to know that I know how you feel about me, and though I’m married and our love cannot be, deep in my heart I feel the same.  And if you donate today, you will get a free NPR tote bag in the mail.”

Similar to what I’m going through with Ira is the plight of Benny in ACT II who falls in love with a young Mormon straight boy, a crush that’s only exacerbated when the boy is sent on mission in Peru.  I’d like to give it up to this Benny who, as a narrator is one of the most compelling civilian storytellers I’ve ever heard on TAL.  When he describes the spell that he falls under as a result of this unrequited crush, he’s incredibly animated and articulate.  Thus, it’s all the more heart warming to find out at the end of this episode that Benny now lives in New York City with his boyfriend.  The extent to which certain religious institutions torture non-heterosexuals, particularly in that part of the country, is a real bummer.

I guess what the episode shows is that things that are so crazy they just might work, often don’t, but sometimes it takes the most extreme kind of action to put things in perspective.  There are a thousand different shades of crazy, and sometimes a little bit can go a long way.