Radiolab: Escape!

I can’t say enough about this episode of Radiolab:

We kick things off with a true escape artist — a man who’s broken out of jail more times than anyone alive. We try to figure out why he keeps running… and whether he will ever stop. Then, the ingeniously simple question that led Isaac Newton to an enormous intellectual breakthrough: why doesn’t the moon fall out of the sky? In the wake of Newton’s new idea, we find ourselves in a strange space at the edge of the solar system, about to cross a boundary beyond which we know nothing. Finally, we hear the story of a blind kid who freed himself from an unhappy childhood by climbing into the telephone system, and bending it to his will.

Memorable subjects, great narrative chronologies within segments, sharp and clever sound editing, and (as always) an infectious inquisitiveness from each of the Radiolabers we hear throughout. Listen online or download the mp3 and add it to your device.

"Act V"

I’d long known about This American Life’s 2002 program “Act V,” which tracks a group of Missouri inmates performing the last act of Hamlet. During my St. Louis Magazine days, I published Jeannette Cooperman’s fantastic interview with Agnes Wilcox — head of Prison Performing Arts and a key figure in the episode — and I’d seen some of Wilcox’s performers in action at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts’ “Staging Old Masters” in 2009. But for whatever reason I’d never taken the hour to return to that original program.

I’ve now done so, prompted by This American Life’s re-airing of “Act V” this past week. What started unplanned during a 6 p.m. drive last evening continued on my iPod this morning, during a light-rain run through Glendale. It was, as most of you probably already know, a remarkable story — moving and real — exceptionally told. If you’ve also missed it over the years, I encourage you to stream or download it at the link above.