blaugust #05: see a belt buckle, pick it up.

I love mysteries. Both the big, thorny kind you can consume as media, and the tiny, ordinary kind that happen in the world and are often never even noticed. Like, what happened to the wearer of a pair of running shoes and one single sock that I found, neatly lined up like they were nestled in a woodland closet, on the path to the train? At the moment, I’m reading a mystery novel called Shinju by Laura Joh Rowland, I’m listening to a Nero Wolfe book of short stories by Rex Stout, and Phil and I are working our way through Alfred Hitchcock Presents on Netflix. I would have said I was at mystery capacity, definitely fulfilling my quota, all sold out. I would have been wrong, though, because there is no podcast on that list.

Enter Mystery Show, by Starlee Kine. I’m a longtime Starlee fan, ever since seeing her work herself into a frothy, wickedly barbed whirlwind of hate over The Walking Dead at a storytelling event several years ago. She is super sure about what she thinks about stuff, and she goes right ahead and does things that I think are outside the realm of reasonable human behavior. This makes for fantastic stories. So when I heard about her new podcast, I got really excited. I’ve been saving it for a good, quiet day at work and yesterday I had one. I listened to five of the so-far six episodes, all in one gulp.

mystery show

The premise: there must be a mystery. It must be a real life mystery. It must be something that cannot be solved on the internet. She will take it on and track it down. Some of these mysteries are genuinely mysterious, like the pilot episode in which a woman rents a video from a store in neighborhood and when she goes back to return it the next night, the store is closed, the shelves are empty, and all the windows are papered over. Other episodes have less compelling premises, such as episode 5 when Starlee is asked to find out once and for all how tall Jake Gyllenhaal really is. I don’t care at all how tall Jake Gyllenhaal is (although, if you start typing his name into Google, the second suggested string that pops up is Jake Gyllenhaal height; this is a hotly contested issue of much interest, apparently). I stayed riveted to the entire episode anyway. She’s a great storyteller, and she really is going out into the world and tracking down leads with a notebook and a voice recorder. It’s fascinating and funny and audacious, and I wish I’d thought of it.

Episode 3: Belt Buckle was by far the best. It had everything: an intriguing artifact, chance meetings, soul mates, a typical Swiss cowboy, and the most moving and pleasing solution you could ever hope to get. If you ignore the whole rest of this post, if you hate mysteries, if you think podcasts are a fad, listen to this one anyway, please please. It’s so good.

I’ve got one episode left to go before I’m out and have to wait for new ones, so I’m going to save it until the next one pops up. For a mystery emergency. In case I finish my book, and my audiobook, and that other book I picked up from the library today, and all 30-something Hitchcocks. What, it could happen.

(This is day 5 of Blaugust. Check it out.)

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