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383: Origin Story

This week we bring you little-known and surprising stories of how all sorts of institutions—from a controversial legal precedent to a Hollywood teen dance flick—began. In one story, a man tries to set the record straight about his life's achievements, which he says include inventing thumb wrestling and popularizing the eating of shrimp in the New York area. And the story of a seven-year-old old boy trying to figure out where he comes from.


Host Ira Glass talks to business professor Pino Audia and Fast Company magazine columnist Dan Heath about corporate creation myths, and why so many of them involve garages. (7 minutes)

Act One. Mad Man.

TAL producer Sarah Koenig tells the story of her father, Julian Koenig, the legendary advertising copywriter whose work includes the slogan “Timex takes a licking and keeps on ticking” and Volkswagen’s “Think Small” ads. For years Sarah has heard her dad accuse a former partner of stealing some of his best ideas, but until recently she never paid much attention.Then she started asking her dad for details of this fight for his legacy, and what she learned surprised her. (20 minutes)

Act Two. The Secret Life of Secrets.

Ira tells the story of the 1953 U.S. Supreme Court case that formed the basis for the controversial state secret privilege—the precedent that allows the United States government to stop lawsuits by claiming that national security secrets might be revealed in court. Ira talks to Barry Siegel, author of the book Claim of Privilege, and Judy Loether, whose father’s death was at the center of the landmark Supreme Court case. (14 minutes)

Song: "Friends and Ancestors," Nedelle

Act Three. Wait Wait...Don’t Film Me.

Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, tells Ira the origin story of one of the worst movie sequels ever made. (5 minutes)

Act Four. Bill Clinton’s 7-Year-Old Brother.

Reporter Mary Wiltenburg tells the story of a little boy stymied by the question “Where do you come from?”

Song: "Dear John," John Lennon

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