During the highest turkey consumption period of the year, we bring you a This American Life tradition: stories of turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks, fowl of all kinds—real and imagined—and their mysterious hold over us.
* Prologue: Ira Glass talks with Scharlette Holdman, who works with defense teams on high profile death row cases, and who has not talked to a reporter in more than 25 years. Why did she suddenly end the moratorium on press? Because her story is about something important: namely, a beautiful chicken. (2 minutes)
* Act One: Scharlette Holdman's story continues, in which she and the rest of a legal defense team try to save a man on death row by finding a star witness — a chicken with a specific skill. (10 minutes)
* Act Two: Yet another testimony to the power chickens have over our hearts and minds. Jack Hitt reports on an opera about Chicken Little. It's performed with dressed-up styrofoam balls, it's sung in Italian and, no kidding, able to make grown men cry. (14 minutes)
* Act Three: Ira accompanies photographer Tamara Staples as she attempts to photograph chickens in the style of high fashion photography. The chickens are not very cooperative. (15 minutes)
* Act Four: Kathie Russo's husband was Spalding Gray, who was best known for delivering monologues onstage—like "Monster in a Box," and "Swimming to Cambodia." On January 10, 2004, he went missing. Witnesses said they saw him on the Staten Island Ferry that night. Two months later, his body was pulled out of the East River. Kathie tells the story of the night he disappeared, and about how, in the weeks following, she and each of their three children were visited by a bird, who seemed to be delivering a message to them. (9 minutes)
Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org