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This American Life: “Conventions”


I’m going to take a wild guess and say the topic of the story was “Conventions.” Basically the pod-cast was a collection of three different perspectives of the whole “convention” atmosphere. Act 1 started out with a waitress’s take on the whole convention scene and went into this “Phil” guy’s story about attending a convention of fans of the series “Dark Shadows” and how such gatherings progress, how the whole social structure evolves over the course of some days.

Act 2 is the story of “Dishwasher Pete” who had attended a convention of the “National Restaurant Association.” His story was more of how different social classes tend to mix within themselves… I mean, he was kind of out of place (except for the one company guy who sold Champion Dishwashers who actually knew of him) and he actually ended up helping the dishwasher AT the convention with his work in the end. So yeah… he ended up hobnobbing with his own social class there too.

 Act 3 was kind of a contrast of the “sticking to your own class” paradigm  titled “When Worlds Collide.” I mean… not really… John and the “shrink” chic were both of upscale classes, just entirely different types of individuals. I see what his point is intended to be, but to me it was more of an example of how superficial people are and how that keeps people from finding and achieving what they actually want in life.

There were actually a few parts that were pretty amusing in this one. First I thought it was kind of funny where the guy was talking about how all these hard core “Dark Shadows” fans actually CREATE their own Dark Shadows episodes. Now that’s HARD CORE. Then it was amusing that this “career” dishwasher guy has a publication AND a book titled “DISHWASHER.” That and the part where Bob Dole’s advice for dishwashers was, “Just Keep Washing” totally killed me. Oh… and let us not forget the song, “Born to do Dishes.” Those were actually the high points of the entire pod cast to me.

I did find it kind of surprising in Act 3 the computer guy saw his connection with the “Shrink” lady as a “sole connection” that would have happened no matter the circumstances under which they might have met. I mean…  yeah… I’m sure it’s such a touching thought that everyone would like to think of it in such a fashion, but I feel he pretty much summed it up when he had said she initially viewed him as a “Man in a sharp suit.” I mean, that’s obviously the spark that ignited the flame and set everything between them in motion.

This pod cast made much more use of background music than the others. In Act 1 there was a lot of audio from Dark Shadows episodes, and in the background of the “Dishwasher Pete” section there was a lot of what I guess could be called “crowd noise” and such along with watery sounds such as you might expect to hear around the dish-washing areas of restaurants and the like.  It probably goes without saying that these all add to the story by emphasizing whatever they happen to be talking about and kind of setting an atmosphere for the scene. I noticed they made much more use of back ground music in this one as well, a much wider variety of types and styles.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 21, 2012 at 12:16 am

    I agree with you in the when worlds collide comments you wrote. I think people try to place meaning into things just like good ol’ Sigmund freud did. Pish posh! His fancy attire caught her eyes and her just being female caught his…lol like always, lots of expressive text. good work!

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