The Preppy Murder

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Sarah tells Mike how an aspiring rich kid became an emblem of a world he didn’t belong to. Digressions include drill teams, prep schools and eating disorders. The p-pops are worse than usual.

Plus, an announcement! You can now support us on Patreon!

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The “Ebonics” Controversy

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Mike tells Sarah how a simple idea in a single school district became a nationwide racial panic. Digressions include slasher movies, Space Invaders and homeschooling. The taglines are becoming more esoteric.

Thanks to our special guests Dionna Latimer-Hearn and Daniel Russell!

 

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Terri Schiavo

Terri Schiavo

Mike tells Sarah how the media, the president and the Pope turned a simple medical story into a complicated legal one. Digressions include canine loyalty, unionized space-workers and polyamory logistics. Both co-hosts recorded in tiny rooms, but with very different acoustics.

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Anna Nicole Smith

Anna-Nicole

Sarah tells Mike how a poor Texas girl made herself into an icon and America made her into a punchline. Digressions include massage technique, “Death Becomes Her” and (obviously) “The Godfather.” Mike sounds even sicker than he did last week.

Plus, special thanks to Ian at Marfa Public Radio, who helped Sarah record this episode!

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Acid Rain

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Mike tells Sarah how an environmental problem became a national rallying cry, a sticky diplomatic issue and, eventually, a conspiracy theory. Digressions include “Alien,” Field & Stream and NRA public service announcements. Both hosts are recovering from colds and at least one spends the episode under a blanket. 

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Gary Hart

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Sarah tells Mike how a dubious affair distracted from the real scandal of the 1988 election. Digressions include “Good Will Hunting,” People Magazine and Linda Ronstadt. Michael Dukakis is described, for the first time ever, as “the soulmate who was there all along.”

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Corrections!

  • Lynn Armandt sold the pictures to the National Enquirer, not People. Sorry!

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Tammy Faye Bakker and Jessica Hahn

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“She only said one thing her whole life”: Sarah tells Mike how two decent women became scapegoats for the actions of one terrible man. Digressions include Larry Flynt, NPR tote bags and Playboy back issues. The co-hosts discover they have wildly different relationships with “Saturday Night Live.”

 

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Enron

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Mike tells Sarah how a “bad apples” explanation kept us from seeing the real scandal at the heart of America’s largest corporate bankruptcy. Digressions include “Casino,” Thanksgiving economics and corruption catchphrases. Neither co-host truly understands how the stock market works.  

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The Challenger Disaster

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It wasn’t an accident. Mike tells Sarah how the infamous space shuttle disaster came to be seen as a white-collar crime. Digressions include the Donner Party, George Lucas and “Jurassic Park.” Both co-hosts are audibly recovering from colds. 

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“A Dingo’s Got My Baby”

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Sarah tells Mike how a tragic story became a hacky catchphrase. Digressions include raccoon anarchists, flu remedies and late-night Arby’s. Sarah’s Google alerts will surprise none of our listeners.

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The 2000 Election

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Mike tells Sarah how a close election and an even closer Supreme Court decision established the political template we’re still living with today. Digressions include quarks, Ouija Boards and (sorry) moral philosophy. The “lemonade theory” turns out to be less fun than it sounds.

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Amy Fisher

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Sarah tells Mike about the sad reality — and the terrible man — behind the infamous Long Island Lolita. Digressions include software terms of service, the rise of beepers and Monica Lewinsky’s LinkedIn profile. Mike, a 36-year-old man, appears not to understand what pimps do. 

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Good World

laika

I had some free time over the holiday weekend, so I adapted a John Haskell short story that has been making me cry since 2004.

Here’s the audio:

 

Here’s John’s book, which is wonderful.

And here’s a video I made based on another one of his stories.

 

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Roe v. Wade

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Special guest Megan Burbank tells us about the history, limitations and loopholes of a landmark court ruling. Digressions include Betty Ford, “Maude” and naming conventions for anonymous defendants. The glories of Washington State politics are examined in depth.

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The Duke Lacrosse Rape Case

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Mike tells Sarah how a false rape allegation became a right-wing rallying cry and a left-wing conspiracy theory. Digressions include JonBenet Ramsay, “24” and “The Vagina Monologues.” Mike regrets not commenting on the metaphorical significance of being trapped in the closet throughout the episode.

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Lorena Bobbitt

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Sarah tells Mike how a case of marital rape and spontaneous mutilation became a national punchline. Digressions include Ron Jeremy, Alan Dershowitz, Motörhead and the tortures of self-reflection. Sarah reviews John Wayne Bobbitt’s later works.

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Stranger Danger

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How inflated statistics, cultural anxieties and moral crusaders turned a tiny number of missing children into a decade-long political project. Digressions include 1870s parenting, “E.T.” and the lack of parks in Los Angeles. Both co-hosts secretly believe that the popularity of TV movies in the 1980s explains all of America’s social problems.   

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Urban Legends Spectacular!

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Razorblades in apples, babysitters on acid, killers in backseats and “rainbow parties”: In this episode, Mike and Sarah investigate the scary stories Americans tell each other and discover the actual anxieties behind them. Turn on your high beams for this one. 

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Corrections!

The first two times Sarah mentions Miriam Forman-Brunell’s book, she calls her “Miriam Forman-Brunelli.” Sorry!

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Halloween Special! Ed Gein and Slasher Movies

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Sarah tells Mike how Ed Gein became one of America’s most famous serial killers despite not actually being one. Plus, the cinematic villains Gein inspired and what the slasher movies of the 1980s were really about. Digressions include Freud, summer camp logistics and the T-1000. Mike continues to awkwardly insert his teenage crushes into every conversation.

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Shaken Baby Syndrome

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Mike tells Sarah how an over-simplified diagnosis, over-confident doctors and over-zealous prosecutors got thousands of innocent parents thrown in prison. Digressions include food poisoning, Sherlock Holmes and 1950s medical ethics. Mike wanted to mention Louise Woodward but he forgot. 

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