Joe Kocur was a hockey enforcer for the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers, back in the heyday of hockey's tough guys. Kocur talks to host Ira Glass about how a good enforcer keeps other players in line.
Ben Karlin talks about how a foreign language can come in handy when it comes to smoothing over potentially ugly misunderstandings. When he was a student in Italy, he signed up to coach basketball in hopes of making friends with some Italians.
Ira talks with Shalom Auslander, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew and who made a pivotal break with his faith at a Rangers game. Shalom Auslander is the author of a book of short stories, called Beware of God.
The story of a not-very-tall, not-very-athletic man—Colin Pine—who becomes a minor celebrity in the NBA, as the translator for one of the most famous rookies in basketball history: The first Chinese player ever to go number one in the draft, Yao Ming. Reporter Jesse Hardman tells his story.
You can't do a program about middlemen without a story about business. In this act, we hear from a man who made his living buying low and selling high...incredibly high, sometimes at mark-ups of up to 1,000 percent.
Reporter Mark Arax spent three years investigating the murder of his father and yet he's still not at peace when he thinks of his dad's death. (His book is called In My Father's Name.) This is how it goes sometimes: We create a story that tries to explain our lives, and it still leaves so much unanswered.
Adam Gopnik reads a story from his book Paris to the Moon, about living in Paris with his family and wanting his son to be a bit more American. He tells him a bedtime story about the most American thing he can think of: baseball.
Sometimes criminals return to the scene of their misdeeds—to try to make things right, to try to undo the past. Katie Davis reports on her neighbor Bobby, who returned to the scene where he robbed people and conned people...to coach Little League.
Writer Bill Buford reads from his book Among the Thugs. In it he sets out to try and understand the soccer hooligans who were rioting in ways large and small on a regular basis after soccer matches. It's a remarkable book—in turns funny, and then horrifying.
A story of guys who wear real masks, like superheroes, in their jobs as costumed wrestlers in a kind of Mexican wrestling called Lucha Libre. Writer RJ Smith has them talk about how much smaller they feel, how humiliated, when they have to take the masks off.