Mystery Show: Case #3 Belt Buckle
June 8, 2015 7:55 AM - Subscribe

The Case: A young boy finds an enchanting object in the street.
posted by Cash4Lead (29 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I loved this one. I've liked them all so far, but the reveal as to the identity of Robert Six was astonishing, and it was genuinely moving to hear Hans Jordy respond to the return of the belt buckle.

Here's the belt buckle.

Here's is Robert Six's Wikipedia page.
posted by maxsparber at 8:18 AM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Was that one of the best podcast episodes ever? I think so.

I mean, I liked episodes one and two but this felt a cut above both of those, even.

Certainly it will go down as one of my favorites.
posted by Tevin at 9:11 AM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Usually, if I start a podcast on my morning commute and don't finish it when I get to the office, I just leave it for the evening. Not today. I paused it, politely greeted my coworkers and boss, then sat down at my desk and pretended to work for 15 more minutes so I could finish the episode. I was pretty much crying during her meeting with Hans Jordi. Starlee Kine is a miracle worker.
posted by radioamy at 9:43 AM on June 8, 2015 [7 favorites]

Carson, who had the buckle, is Carson Mell. He does a cartoon called Tarantula that has a hilarious (and mildly NSFW) episode called "Belt Buckles," inspired by the buckle from this episode.
posted by maxsparber at 9:52 AM on June 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

I wasn't a huge fan of the first 2 episodes for various and sundry reasons, but this one did everything right, right down to the noise of the toast popping up in the belt buckle toaster.
posted by minsies at 10:22 AM on June 8, 2015

No, I'm not crying over a radio story about a belt buckle, it's just really humid in here.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 12:19 PM on June 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

This was the first really solid episode, I think.

posted by robcorr at 4:41 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think most podcasts need a full year to become what they actually are. I'll come back to this one next year. See what's up then.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:31 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, robcorr, I agree that it was a little thin that she never Googled Bob Six. He's dead, but at least that would have told her who he was.
posted by radioamy at 7:42 PM on June 8, 2015

This episode was solid. Really well done.

I, too, was struck with the contradiction of the rule of " the answer to your mystery can’t be found by just Googling" but I guess they mean you shouldn't get a FULL answer with a quick Google search. Yes, Googling Bob Six (or even Hans Jordy) would have probably brought up info on the names from the buckle, but it took some real effort and leg work to tie the links together AND deliver the buckle back to Chef Jordy. That, there, is where the stories lie.
posted by jazon at 7:01 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, robcorr, I agree that it was a little thin that she never Googled Bob Six.

I'm sure that she Googled him but withheld the info for when it was best in the narration. There is a quality of storytelling to this story that includes Starlee Kind being sort of incompetent at her job. And I'm sure she did not have confirmation that it was the airline exec until the moment of the reveal, so she simply didn't bother to mention the other possibility until it was dramatically most entertaining.
posted by maxsparber at 8:04 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

And I'm sure she did not have confirmation that it was the airline exec until the moment of the reveal, so she simply didn't bother to mention the other possibility until it was dramatically most entertaining.

Yeah, exactly that. In Serial that sort of thing bugged me when it was apparent, since getting to the truth felt so vital, but here I feel like it's all in good fun.
posted by nobody at 9:17 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Just finished listening. For me, this episode is in a different league than the first two. I'm forcing myself not to dwell on stuff like "why didn't she Google him?," which helps, but I also feel like this episode was just a more interesting story and better constructed than the previous ones. I hope this is a sign of things to come, because I loved it.
posted by primethyme at 9:31 AM on June 9, 2015

I loved this episode and when Hans Jordi gets his belt buckle back I almost cried in the street.

I liked how the slow reveal of Hans Jordi, by interviewing the lady who taught him to paint and the guy who interned from him (and who owes his marriage to Hans giving him an A) made it all the more poignant when Hans finally got his belt buckle back.

The Bob Six reveal was totally out of left field, in the best way possible. If I had googled that and discovered that there was a real person named Bob Six, I would have chalked it up to just an interesting coincidence. Why would Bob Six, CEO of Continental Airlines, go out of his way to find a Swiss cowboy chef who lives in phoenix and give him a belt buckle? Too improbable.

It delighted me to no end that Carson Mell's Dad's story was like ~80% right, and the ~20% that wasn't was even better.
posted by selenized at 8:46 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

selenized makes a good point about Bob Six. I mean, why would the CEO of Continental Airlines have any connection to a Swiss cowboy chef? Also Six is an unusual enough last name that it could certainly be a nickname.
posted by radioamy at 9:45 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

In the first two episodes I found it kind of off-putting that Kine was chalking things up to fate that were clearly either coincidence or possibly not even connected to her mystery. But I think I get it now. The show is half exercise in aggressive optimism - every clue is definitive and every connection fated - and half exercise in transforming essentially mundane "mysteries" into compelling stories. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes you won't buy the conclusion. But the show's tone is really consistent so far, and I'm starting to find it really charming.
posted by that's candlepin at 1:53 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've declared her twee and that's either going to help or harm her, but you can't take something like that back.
posted by maxsparber at 1:55 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow. That was fantastic. I take back everything bad I've ever said or thought about this show. I haven't been this engaged in a radio program in years. I'm hooked.

I also wonder how many false-starts they have to record to hit on one this satisfying. Starting with a name surely helps - but, there was no gurantee this would turn out as satisfying as it did.

Though, if invited to pick nits, I find it weird that the idea that dynamite contains gunpowder was accepted without comment. It's totally irrelevant to the program, undeniably harmless, and easily cast as an ironic story about kids playing tricks on eachother. But, it's also batshit crazy nonsense. It seems weird not to mention that fact, at least in passing.
posted by eotvos at 8:55 PM on June 11, 2015

Def the best episode yet.
posted by bq at 3:04 PM on June 13, 2015

I laughed out loud on the subway (for a while) after hearing the aside about jogging / teaching jogging and actually found this thread by googling for the transcript. I didn't know we were doing podcasts in Fanfare - awesome.

This episode was the best by far and I'm glad they didn't lead with it or it would have set impossibly high expectations.
posted by valeries at 10:56 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency episode that I wanted. Good job, mystery show.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:40 PM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

This was a good mystery solution, my biggest complaint about the first two episodes.

I feel like mystery might need a disclaimer about not being journalism though. Gimlet's other two podcasts definitely seem to be, but I don't trust that mystery won't benefit the story over the truth.
posted by garlic at 10:34 AM on June 16, 2015

How is this not journalism? Is there any indication that she has lied about anything?

Waiting until the right time in a story to reveal facts is a tried and true element of journalistic storytelling.
posted by maxsparber at 10:37 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I cried.

For me, Mystery Show perfectly captures the "all the way through cynicism and back to sincerity but with the knowledge of the truth of cynicism under that" aesthetic of my generation more than it captures "twee".

Confession: on TAL, I straight up hated Starlee Kine. I actually thought, "Is Ira Glass sleeping with this person or something? Why is she here?" In retrospect I think internalized sexism played a part in my reaction, and I'm really grateful that TAL did that episode about the supposed phenomenon of "vocal fry" and how it's applied as a tool for misogynistic attacks on young women journalists. While vocal fry was never my peeve, I do think I was responding to some internal bullshit about young women in my response to Starlee. I'm glad she came back with this and although I'm sure she's also advanced as an artist, I think in this context I "get" what she's doing and think she's extremely smart, thoughtful and funny.

The show does a lovely job of creating tension and intrigue about low-stakes issues, so it can be enjoyable in a different way than more serious investigative work. In the case of this episode there's a huge payoff where you realize that it's not as low-stakes as you think it is.

I'm really excited that the women of This American Life are getting their own chances to fly now. So far we've seen two super smart, talented producers/writers/performers/journalists get to branch out in different ways. I hope we get more.
posted by latkes at 7:22 AM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Terrific story. But am I the only only left wondering if the kid who "found" the belt buckle had maybe robbed Hans Jordi's house, or knew who did?
posted by Scram at 1:44 PM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

The quote that's stuck in the back of my mind while listening to Mystery Show (and some of the more recent Reply All episodes) is Ira Glass saying "Great stories happen to those who can tell them."

It's not about the "solution" to the mystery, but it's about the journey that it took to get there.

This episode cemented that for me, and convinced me that this is actually a really great premise for a podcast, and provides a fantastic outlet for Starlee's incredible knack for connecting with totaly strangers and getting them to tell fascinating stories.

I was openly skeptical about Mystery Show -- the first episode didn't really do much for me, and Britney didn't feel like a complete story, because Starlee was only able to talk to the "main character" for all of 15 seconds. However, she completely hit this one out of the park, to the extent that I already appreciate the other episodes more -- I think I finally get what Mystery Show is trying to do, and I'm totally on board with it.
posted by schmod at 9:06 PM on June 20, 2015

"the answer to your mystery can’t be found by just Googling"

That kind of bugs me too; not only because the entirety of this one seems Googleable, but because clearly steps along the way -- the painter, the intern, the forum postings -- obviously were found by Googling Hans' name.

I'd actually prefer it if the "no Googling!" thing in the introduction were downplayed. Ultimately in these stories it really doesn't matter: the story is much more about the meandering and somewhat dreamlike journey, and about her interactions with people along the way, than it is about the solution.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:59 PM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Super late to this one but it was so charming I had to look up the thread on it. I was hooked from the toaster noise. The reunification scene with Hans at the age of 80 (!!) was great -- really left you kind of amazed by how easily it might not have happened at all. I also liked the mild "fridge horror" of wondering whether the "benign troublemaker" kid has actually poached the buckle himself, or if the thieves ditched it when they realized it was too uniquely identifiable and he just picked it up as he said he did.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:26 PM on August 2, 2016

This was a much stronger episode than the first two -- in large part because Hans Jordi played a unifying role that allowed for the other stories we heard (the eclipse painter, the intern) to fit into the larger whole and feel cohesive. I felt in the earlier episodes that Starlee Kine was just grasping for material. But here it felt both serendipitous.
posted by crazy with stars at 11:35 PM on December 14, 2017

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