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The Ira Glass Infatuation Post/This American Life Review: Last Man Standing

Act 1: I’ve got this thing, and it’s fuckin golden. And I’m just not givin it up for fuckin nothing.

Ira jumps right in with the hot topic that boils my Chicago blood. Blago’s Milošević-style pandering to the media created a wave of nausea in the mouths of a country, making objectivity a challenge, especially for a juror. JoAnn Chiakulas speaks, the sole juror who found Chiguy NOT GUILTY for his attempts to sell Obama’s senate seat.

Ira, the Oriana Fallaci of my eye, brings on the second interview Chiakulas has given to the media. A discerning woman. Her reasoning for the vote, after an explanation, is sound. It is delicious to hear and does a fine job schooling business-as-usual haters. “It was often the women who thought there was reasonable doubt, she says. “there was also a feeling in the room that we had to be unanimous.” Her fight for fair deliberating invites bullying and exposes signs of a broken juror system.

Act 2: I got a note from a neighbor that just read, PLEASE STOP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING

Flirting with a true calling outside of cubicle walls, Duke Fightmaster gives talkshow hosting a true college try. Inspired by the Jay Leno Show/ Conan shifts, he created the Duke Fightmaster Show filmed in his apartment, so high off the fumes of fame that he quit his job after the first episode. The excavation of new media niches is the latest craze, and I can’t see any problem with taking a cue from Ira. As to be expected, his fam’s finances take a turn for the worse as his plan does not double as a moneymaking venture, ironic in the plumber’s dirty toilet kind of way in that he used to counsel debtors. Most amusing is the feature of his wife, sole breadwinner: “We didn’t have any direct communication unless the cameras were rolling,” so all the money woes pile up in brilliant deadpan delivery, and in all seriousness. This kind of a solo go at building a personal media empire would be comparable to an Ira without his Sarah Koenig or the rest of CPR. “You have to have a breakdown to have a breakthrough,” says Fightmaster, who has had many of the former in his multiyear stint as talkshow host. Unfortunately for him, Koenig constructs a heartbreaking yet fabulous metaphor comparing this mindset to that of an alcoholic dad who promises yet forgets to take his kids to Disneyland.

Act 3: It’s not a convenient thing to believe

Really phenomenal reporting on the part of ex-Mormon writer Elna Baker marries together the odd couple of beliefs in the lightprobes of Joseph Smith–mortal god of Mormonism and Travis Walton–a man abducted by aliens in the 60s. On a mission from God, Baker and a TALian meander to Snowflake, Arizona to interview Travis’s old BFF Ken who has lived an obsessed life, somewhat miffed that he didn’t get a chance to see if the anal probe worked. Lamenting in loneliness he relays, “the lonely part of this is that no one will hear me out on it.”

The thing is, believe in the boogieman or not, what TAL brought us in this act was the thought process behind the individuals who can’t find it in themselves to join the pack (listen up especially to Baker’s last lines). The lone rangers tread as Ira does in his unwavering greatness.

As Ken’s fellow startracker, Galileo put it, “In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” And we all know how that turned out for him.

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