My endorsement: StoryCorps

The first time I heard the word "podcast" in a web meeting, I was immediately turned off. I'm the sort of person who can't stand to watch unread magazines pile up. (Until recently, I had a stack of New Yorkers by my bed which left me depressed, so I moved the pile to behind my armchair where it makes me slightly happier.) Needless to say, the idea of accumulating radio shows on my iPod was thoroughly unappealing. Fast-forward 4 years, and not only am I a total convert, but I've taken to preaching about the medium whenever I get a chance. I download the New York Times front page, anything produced by the Economist, the ever-hilarious antics of Jonathon Katz (Dr. Katz!), Bob Boylan's terrific All Songs Considered, On the Media, Meet the Press (I'm thankful every Sunday for Tim Russert), and tons of other shows. One of my favorites, though, is StoryCorps.

StoryCorps is the sort of program I'd be involved in if I hadn't stumbled into mental_floss. The idea is basically for people to take their loved ones into listening booths across America and get their stories documented. (There are 2 fixed booths in NYC and several mobile booths touring the nation). Participants walk out of the interview with their memories on a CD, while the recordings also get archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and get used on NPR's Morning Edition.

Dave Isay, the genius behind the project, has become a hero of mine. And what's amazing about the 'Corps is that it's managed to collect this beautiful patchwork of American history- stunningly human tales of love and tragedy and everything in between. There are heartbreaking stories from 9-11 to life-affirming experiences from a doorman at the Plaza, to what it was like to stalk (and meet!) J.D. Salinger or be at the last Dodger's game in Brooklyn. And of course, there are sweet tales of love and friendship and immigration in the mix. And though it may sound sappy from the outset, there's a sincerity that runs through the interviews that's really touching.

41z0T6JemhL._AA240_.jpgIn any case, I don't often plug things on the site, but after seeing the response to today's newsletter, I thought readers of mental_floss might a) enjoy the recordings (like these two gems: here), b) think about purchasing Mr. Isay's terrific new book Listening is an Act of Love, or c) be convinced to take your loved ones into a StoryCorps recording booth. My parents are coming to the city in a few weeks, and I'm hoping that I can wrangle them into a session, if nothing else, to make sure I get their voices and laughter on tape.

Quick True/False: World Capitals
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Pats Born on St. Patrick's Day
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Need some St. Patrick's Day conversation fodder that doesn't involve leprechauns or four-leaf clovers? Ask your friends to name a "Pat" born on St. Patrick's Day. If they can't, they owe you a drink—then you can wow them with this list of 10.


Princess Patricia was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who gave up all of her royal titles when she married a commoner. She was born at Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886.


The Dallas star was born on March 17, 1949. And here's a totally random fact about Duffy: His nephew is Barry Zito, former MLB pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


Pattie Boyd
Larry Ellis, Express/Getty Images

Pattie Boyd is well-known to lovers of classic rock: She has been married three times, including once to George Harrison and once to Eric Clapton, who both wrote a couple of the most romantic songs in rock history in her honor (including The Beatles's "Something" and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). Boyd was a model when she met Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night in 1964; the pair were married two years later. They divorced in 1977 and she married Clapton, Harrison's close friend, in 1979. She also had an affair with Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones toward the end of her marriage to The Quiet Beatle.


Belfast-born Pat Rice is a former footballer and coach who spent the bulk of his career with Arsenal F.C. (that's "football club," a.k.a. soccer to us Americans). He joined the Gunners in 1964 as a mere apprentice, turning pro a couple of years later. He became captain in 1977 and left the club for a few years in the early 1980s to go to Watford, but returned after he retired from playing in 1984. In 2012, after nearly 30 years with the organization, he announced his retirement.


Patty Maloney is an actress with dwarfism who stands just three feet, 11 inches tall. She has appeared in many movies and T.V. shows over the years, including operating the Crypt Keeper puppet in Tales from the Crypt. She also played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in The Star Wars Holiday Special.


Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick in 'Six Feet Under'

Ok, so Mathew St. Patrick is the stage name of the actor, but he was born Patrick Matthews in Philadelphia on March 17, 1968. You probably know him best as David's boyfriend Keith on Six Feet Under.


He may not be a household name, but the recording artists Patrick Adams writes for and helps produce certainly are. Adams has been involved in the careers of Salt-N-Pepa, Sister Sledge, Gladys Knight, Rick James, and Coolio, among others.


It's possible you look at Patrick McDonnell's work every day, depending on which comics your newspaper carries. McDonnell draws a strip called Mutts featuring a dog and a cat named Earl and Mooch, respectively. Charles Schulz called it one of the best comic strips of all time.


 Singer/Guitarist Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs onstage during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Yes, you know him better as just plain old Billy Corgan: he's the face of the Smashing Pumpkins, engages in public feuds with Courtney Love, and maybe once dated Jessica Simpson. He made his debut on March 17, 1967.


Patricia Ford is a retired model probably best known for her Playboy photoshoots in the 1990s.


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