Category Archives: Interviews

Ira Glass Explains Storytelling

Last night, I finally watched season 2 of This American Life (the TV version), and it wrung me out good. I’m a longtime fan of the radio show, and I thought season 1 of the Showtime series was great, but even so, I was surprised by the truth and beauty of season 2. The finale, “John Smith,” is one of the most affecting and genuine films I’ve ever seen. It’s 17 E.T.s worth of humanity.

Here’s the trailer for season 2:



Anyway, during my great-TV hangover this morning, I was looking up This American Life stuff, and rediscovered Ira Glass’ explanation of the elements of great storytelling. This is more than two years old, so you might have seen it already, but I wanted it to be here.



Fascinating Jobs Explained

McSweeney’s has a new installment in their growing collection, “Interviews with People Who Have Interesting or Unusual Jobs.” The writers do a great job eliciting clear explanations, and the subjects have some fascinating stories.

The newest addition is an interview with a 911 dispatcher. The “keep him on the line so we can trace the call” movie cliche drives me nuts, so I cherished this exchange:

Q: Can you trace where people live based on their phone number?
A: Assuming it’s a land line—a regular home phone—the screen shows your address and the phone number the call is coming from.
Q: And how about cell phones?
A: For all cell phones that are phase-2 wireless, we should be able to get a hit within 50-foot accuracy.

If you have or have had a fascinating job, McSweeney’s wants to hear from you, at unusualjobs@mcsweeneys.net.