Listening exercise
Chicago Public Radio: This American Life with Ira Glass
Case Two: Tell it to the Void (II)
(04.20.2007; originally aired 04.20.2001)

We hear a series of letters that originally appeared on the brief-lived,
little-known, but well-loved webzine Open Letters. They're written by a woman
who signs her name as "X" and are addressed to the father of her adolescent son.
X has no idea where to send the letters...but she keeps writing. Since the letters'
original publication on the Internet, X has decided to reveal her identity.
Her name is Miriam Toews, and her book is called Swing Low, A Life.
Her letters were read for us by Alexa Junge.

To listen, click on "Full episode" on the left hand side, under the photo, of this page.
This part includes questions on the second part of the story.
For this assignment, start at the 32:43 point of this audio file
and listen to the end, the 41:30 point.. (The entire story starts at the 23:50 point.)
You may have to listen from the beginning of the whole show to be able to move the slider to the right spot.
If you are having problems playing the file, try this local (Ceiba) file of Part II.

this letter thing
it occurred to me
to respond
amnesty deal
to return way overdue books
to not maintain contact
to blame oneself
to seek redemption
as of now
to dredge up
all the old s___ (beep)
just to get to a place where
we can talk normally
or whatever
too overwhelming
that's OK, perfect
it's just a thought
if you're even out there
blossoming maturity
to play baseball
Sabres (or Sabers)
to pitch
third inning
three up, two down
to hit a home run
to fly around the bench
to hit s.o. on the back
high fives
ump = umpire
to call s.o. out on s.t.
to not touch the base
third out
to look OK, cool
to become rattled
to throw wild balls
all over
over home plate
to pull (to take out of play)
to put on third (base)
that's the thing
to be evident in
body language
that stuff
couldn't hide it
that's all about
in my mind
to accept the call
to shake it off
at least outwardly
to swear
to throw one's glove on the ground
on top of it all
tough call
I bet you did
to touch second (base)
gotta = (I've got to)
sports banquet
awards evening
which included
dinner and dancing
coach's award
junior boys basketball
which basically means
hardest working
most versatile
Vince Carter
Kobe Bryant

MVP (= most valuable player)
get this
to make one wonder
to bother with
an exercise
tell the void
how much your son rocks
to be proud of
to have fun
to quit
to still be proud of
to control one's temper
a bad call
to store s.t. up
to explode on the court someday
way worse than that
to spit in the ump's face
to be joking
to remind one of
to lose one's temper
to throw a plate
bottle of ketchup
Skidoo suit
it doesn't help me
I get in trouble
I look like an idiot
sure enough
to be a jerk
when stuff was happening
to put on music
to cook meat
to smoke cigarettes
to freak out
to have a baby
all those miles
city blocks
came in all sweating
to be dilated
John Lennon
I said some asshole thing
This is big.
Don't be mad now.
That made a lot of sense.
still happening
to be uncanny
this anger thing
just out of the blue
at the same age as
to stop losing s.t.
where does it go
to get back to me
me first
some romantic thing
C and me are great
to be married
athletic kids
to slip away
on my hip
to scream my stupid head off at
to walk away
without saying a word
this is nuts
to make sense at the time
to calm down
to figure out that
to lose one's temper
wasn't getting me anywhere
X in Winnipeg
odd things
the latest
right out of the blue
to take a road trip
to barf in the bathtub
why or what purpose it would serve
totally understood
to change one's mind
executive chef
a lot like
a wanderer
a bit of a loner
very proud of
to slag s.o. to bits (= to criticize, put s.o. down)
what's the point
to stand up for s.o.
penny wieners
to post s.t. on the Internet
Swing Low: A Life

Listening comprehension questions:
1. What kind of "amnesty deal" does "X" suggest might be necessary if Mike were ever to reply to her letters?
2. Explain the meaning of these expressions in the context of this report: a. "just to get to a place where we can talk normally"; b. to dredge up; c. to not touch the base; d. get this; e. tell the void; f. how much your son rocks; g. a bad call; h. to store something up; i. to explode on the court; j. to be dilated.
3. What example does "X" give of her son's "blossoming maturity"?

4. What comments did Mike's father make regarding his son, and what was "X's" reaction to them?
5. List two of "X's" own shortcomings or mistakes that she cites in this recording.
6. a. What kinds of feelings does "X" seem to have at present for her son's father, and what does she seem to expect of him? b. Do you think that whatever these feelings are, they are in conflict with what she feels for her current partner? c. What kind of relationship does the writer's new partner seem to have with the boy?
7. What do you think is the main motivation behind "X's" postings of anonymous letters on the Internet? What need in her do you think it helped satisfy?
8. How do you pronounce "Toews"?

Part I