99% Invisible: 191- Worst Smell in the World
December 3, 2015 9:19 PM - Subscribe

Many material trifles, such as Silly Putty, started as attempts at serious inventions, but in rare cases, the process works in reverse: something developed as a gag gift can turn into something truly heroic. Invented by high school prankster Alan Whitman using a home chemistry set, the "worst smell in the world" began as a novelty, but eventually came to serve a higher purpose.
posted by eotvos (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have noticed a trend in podcasts where what the title/initial set up is twists to something completely different. Sometimes the connection is a bit weak, the journey feels forced. Is this story about a novelty smell, about transforming from frivolous to "noble", or just a slice of life story that didn't come together without a weird framing element? What came first - the story or the concept?

The story was interesting, but with the Smell the "star" of the piece I kept trying to figure out how a prank, a tv set, and war simulation all tied together, and didn't feel it really held together as a complete piece.
posted by jazon at 7:54 AM on December 4, 2015

I agree with your analysis Jazon and I feel like, for a 99pi episode, it didn't have much to do about design.
posted by rebent at 10:02 AM on December 4, 2015

So, this podcast was produced or co produced by The Leap, a new podcast on KQED. And, last week, This American Life had a podcast entitled "The Leap" but... not co-produced? I don't think?
posted by rebent at 10:09 AM on December 4, 2015

I still enjoy 99pi, but I imagine that after 191 episodes it's probably quite hard to come up with new ideas each week. Two episodes ago, they talked about Monopoly - maybe I'm alone, but I feel like I've heard the origin story of Monopoly at least once or twice on other podcasts like Planet Money. I often wish they'd go back to their old format of ultra-short ~5-10 min eps.
posted by adrianhon at 5:43 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

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