Category Archives: Podcasts

sunday salon/currently: the waiting and reading room

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Finally, some sun. Although it’s cooler than I would prefer (I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt AND a cardigan), I can’t resist the chance to sit outside on the deck after all the cloudy and damp days we’ve had this spring.  Like all good things, it’s probably not going to last; I heard it was raining at the Pirates game (PNC Park is within a half hour from here, depending on traffic and construction and whatnot).

It’s really something how the weather can have such an impact on one’s mood. Mine has definitely been affected. It doesn’t help that I’ve been spending much of the past several weeks in doctors’ waiting rooms, probably some of the most depressing places on Earth. I’m convinced the banality of the dreck that passes for morning TV has embedded itself into my brain. Seriously, I have no idea how the hell people watch that crap.

(Things are, physically-speaking, okay. Nobody needs to be alarmed. It’s follow-ups and regularly-scheduled appointments and answer-seeking still in progress.)

Of course, I never go to any of these appointments without my own reading material, so the positive side to all this schlepping and waiting around is that I’ve gotten through a few books, including some DNFs (Best American Poetry 2013 and Burning Down the House by Jane Mendelsohn, which I really wanted to love but didn’t).

The notable ones, though, have been stellar.

The Best American Essays 2015

A fantastic collection of essays — most by writers who are well-known (Hilton Als, Roger Angell, Justin Cronin, Meghan Daum, Anthony Doerr, David Sedaris, Zadie Smith, Rebecca Solnit, Cheryl Strayed, and others).  These aren’t gratuitous inclusions; this collection is a winner and these essays will stay with you.

The Art of Description

Being the huge fangirl that I am, I’ll read anything by Mark Doty. This little book was on display in the library’s poetry room (yes, we are lucky ducks here in Pittsburgh … our library has an extensive poetry section as well as its own room, which is rather grand). The Art of Description: World Into Word is a must for every writer. Doty examines description as part of poetry and the result is akin to being in a writing class with a master.

Tales of Accidental Genius

Yesterday I started Tales of Accidental Genius, a short story collection by Simon Van Booy.  I’ve read three of these and so far, so good. I would describe this collection as quietly surprising. (Short stories are, incidentally, great choices for waiting room reading material.)

LaRose

And finally, I was lucky enough to snag a copy of LaRose by Louise Erdrich from the library, her newest novel.  I’m engrossed in this story about two families who are also neighbors; during a hunting accident, one neighbor kills the other’s five year old son.  To atone for this, he sends his own five year old son to live with the bereaved parents and to be raised by them.

Listening (Audiobooks) …

Sin in the Second City

It’s been awhile since I’ve listened to an audiobook (this will be only my second this year),  but when I saw Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott at the library this week, I realized that would qualify for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks since I have the print version. This is a nonfiction account of Ada and Minna Everleigh, sisters and proprietors of the Everleigh Club, a famous high-end brothel in Chicago during 1900-1911. The audiobook is great. (I’m fascinated with their keen marketing sense and financial savvy!)

Listening (Podcasts) … 
For months now, the Pocket Casts app on my phone has been acting strange. As a result, I haven’t been listening to many podcasts.  I think I figured out the issue and was able to catch “The Accidental Gay Parents #3,”  and “The Accidental Gay Parents #4,” episodes #80 and #81 from The Longest Shortest Time. LST is one of my favorite podcasts and I love this series and this family.

My go-to source for all-things-podcast is The Timbre, a fantastic site. I suppose that should be past-tense, because the site’s creators announced that they are closing up shop. Their reasons are understandable but I’ll certainly miss seeing their recommendations in my news feed.

Linking

PeaceBang’s post about “Outliving a Parent” resonated with me.

For reasons I can’t and won’t get into here, Dani Fleischer’s essay in The Washington Post (“Friends grow apart all the time but we rarely talk about it”) is very much something I’m experiencing right now. (And yes, I am aware of the irony of that statement, thankyouverymuch.)

This week was National EMS Week and my friend John (who writes the popular Pittsburgh blog Ya Jagoff!) explains why this is so important.   Because of our experience on Thanksgiving, we know all too well how valuable EMTs are and I’m so grateful they were there when we needed them. And thank you, John, for your service as an EMT to our community.

My Listen to Your Mother castmates have been writing some incredible stuff lately. Those pieces deserve their own post. Look for that later this week.

And now it’s raining. Of course it is.

Back inside I go.

 

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currently … wrapping up christmas

Christmas Eve - presents

Christmas Eve, 2015

Currently
It’s our last night of our Christmas vacation in Philly. We’ve been here just shy of a week, enjoying a nice balance of seeing family and friends (usually over brunch or dinner) while also having some downtime (usually spent reading or writing).  It’s always impossible to fit in everyone who we’d like to see and all we’d like to do, but I think it worked out well this time.

Tomorrow’s a travel day back to the “Burgh, then I’m off on Tuesday. Whenever possible, I try to give myself a “re-entry day” on the tail end of these trips. It’s back to work on Wednesday — along with one final dentist appointment this year to use up some insurance dollars — before another few remaining vacation days segue into a long weekend.

Christmas Reading

Like FamilyRDear Mr. You

I admit, I’m scrambling to meet my goal of 52 books read in 2015.  Right now, my tally is 47 (much lower than previous years).  This may be attainable if I stick to shorter books, but I’m not sure.

Reading short books was my strategy for this trip.  So far on this vacation, I’ve read one —Like Family by Paolo Giordano. I was so excited to see this one at the library because I loved (but, sadly, didn’t review) his previous novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers.  I really liked this new one, which I breezed through in a few hours (if that). Told in flashback and set in Italy, it’s about a couple who hire a housekeeper, Mrs. A., to help out during a difficult pregnancy and who stays on as a nanny for several years. After Mrs. A. is diagnosed with cancer, she decides to leave the household abruptly. The book, then, is about how she has changed the course of the couple’s marriage and their lives.

Right now I’m reading Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker, which is incredibly well-written and very likely to be on my favorites list. This exactly the reason why I usually don’t post my best-of lists before year’s end; this time of year often brings more opportunities than usual to read and more often than not, something I read while we finish up this trip around the sun surprises and delights me.  Dear Mr. You is going to be that book. The concept is fantastic: it’s structured as a collection of letters that Ms. Parker has written to each of the significant men in her life.

Christmas Not Reading …
For the past few years, I’ve enjoyed spending part of Christmas week with a holiday-themed story. The timing of this needs to be carefully considered and calibrated; I don’t like to start this particular book much before Christmas Eve and I like to be finished by the day after Christmas. This started in 2011 when I reviewed A Clockwork Christmas, a collection of four steampunk tales.

A Christmas Carol was my 2012 selection, followed by The Chimes last year. (I’m not sure what happened in 2013. Maybe A Christmas Carol again, I don’t know.)  I wasn’t impressed with The Chimes, and I was even less enamored with this year’s selection, The Cricket on the Hearth. Slightly less than halfway through this one, there was still no sign of Christmas in Dickens’ long-winded and discombobulated narrative.  This happened to be one of my Classics Club selections, too (although not the one for this most recent spin), so I’ll probably replace it with something.

Christmas Listening …
Between wrapping gifts and a few bouts of insomnia, I’ve been listening to more podcasts than usual. Here are some of the best:

The Writer’s Almanac: “The Meeting” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (12/25/2015)
Such a perfect poem for Christmas when you’re missing someone special.

Burnt Toast: “Someone Put a Diaper on the Turkey” (12/17/2015)
Listeners’ stories of hilarious holiday disasters involving food.

New Yorker Poetry: Ellen Bass Reads Adam Zagajewski (12/16/2015)
Adam Zagajewski’s poem “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” resonated with me.

On Being: Martin Sheen: Spirituality of Imagination (12/16/2015)
Fantastic interview with actor and activist Martin Sheen about his spirituality.

“Yeah, the love that I longed for, and I think all of us really long for, is knowing that we are loved. A knowingness about our being that unites us to all of humanity, to all of the universe. That despite ourselves, we are loved. And when you realize that, and you embrace that, you begin to look at everyone else and you can see very clearly who in your vision knows they’re loved and who does not. And that makes all the difference. And I began to give thanks and praise for that love. You know how, so often, people say they go on this journey — and I said it, too — that “I’m looking for God.” But God has already found us, really. We have to look in the spot where we’re least likely to look, and that is within ourselves. And when we find that love, that presence, deep within our own personal being — and it’s not something that you can earn, or something that you can work towards. It’s just a realization of being human, of being alive, of being conscious. And that love is overwhelming. And that is the basic foundation of joy. And we become enviable joyful. And then we see it in others, and we seek to ignite that love in others. You can’t do it. You can’t force someone to realize they’re loved, but you can show them.” – Martin Sheen

The Moth Podcast: Eve Plumb and The Pittsburgh StorySLAM (12/15/2015) 
Eve Plumb (you know her as Jan Brady) is hilarious in this episode of The Moth where she shares stories about her childhood on and off the set of The Brady Bunch, and her relationship with her mother. In another story (not involving Eve Plumb or Jan Brady), a slideshow of photos intended for an audience of two winds up being shown at a family gathering.

Christmas Shopping …
The Husband, The Girl, and I all received some great books for Christmas — and The Girl and I went on a little bit of a shopping spree (thanks to her Christmas cash burning a hole in her pocket) at two local independent bookstores.  I need to wrap up this post, though, and get to bed, so I’ll plan on doing that recap separately.

Anticipating … 
I can’t believe this is the last Sunday Salon/Currently for 2015!  I really like doing these posts (even though they tend to take me forever) and in looking back over my blogging this year, oftentimes they’ve been the only posts I’ve written in a particular week.  I’m hoping to remedy that in 2016.

In addition to the book haul from this week, I have a few other fun posts planned.  Hope your holidays were good ones and that you have a great last week of 2015!

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Nonfiction November: Nontraditional Nonfiction

Nonfiction-November-2015

During this third week (!) of Nonfiction November, our writing prompt focuses on “the nontraditional side of reading nonfiction.” This week’s host, Becca from I’m Lost in Books, elaborates:

Nonfiction comes in many forms There are the traditional hardcover or paperback print books, of course, but then you also have e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, nonfiction short stories, and enhanced books (book itself includes artifacts, audio, historical documents, images, etc.) So many choices! Do you find yourself drawn to or away from nontraditional nonfiction? Do you enjoy some nontraditional formats, but not others? Perhaps you have recommendations for readers who want to dive into nontraditional formats. We want to hear all about it this week!

I will admit that I often don’t think much about the various formats of the nonfiction genre (and fiction, for that matter).  When it comes to reading material, my approach isn’t always based on the packaging, per se, but rather the content inside.

Podcasts are the first nontraditional nonfiction format that immediately came to my mind. I’ve recently become a podcast fan and have written several posts about specific shows and episodes that I’ve found to be especially compelling.  I enjoy podcasts that feature personal stories — Death, Sex, and Money; Strangers; The Moth; and — before it was cancelled — The Longest Shortest Time. The storytelling is excellent and almost all of my favorite podcasts could be categorized as nonfiction in some way.

I also need to give a plug for Creative Nonfiction, the literary magazine. If you’re a fan of this genre — and especially if you write creative nonfiction — you need to be reading this publication. From the description on the CNF website: “Every issue is packed with new, long-form essays that blend style with substance; writing that pushes the traditional boundaries of the genre; notes on craft; micro-essays; conversations with writers and editors; insights and commentary from CNF editor Lee Gutkind; and more. Simply put, CNF demonstrates the depth and versatility of the genre it has helped define for more than 20 years.” I love that it has a global audience and is published right here in Pittsburgh.

Audiobooks seem to be the “nontraditional” form of nonfiction that most Nonfiction November participants mentioned. As my friend Trish from Love, Laughter and A Touch of Insanity wrote, I prefer to listen to nonfiction on audio. I’m not quite sure why that’s the case; regardless of whether a book is fiction or nonfiction, I like to have a print copy handy so I can refer to anything I may have missed.

If you need ideas for nonfiction reads, my nonfiction book reviews can be found here.

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podcasts of the last few weeks. (and months. and years.) Ep. 11

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Something has gone a little quirky with my PocketCasts app; for whatever reason, a lot of old episodes recently downloaded onto my phone when my phone’s WiFi was left on. (This snafu nearly blew our monthly home Internet/data/Wifi/whatever usage allowance slightly over the edge.) And when I say a lot, I’m talking 1,300 back episodes — some of which are over three years old and some that I know I’ve listened to and deleted.

(I’m a little frustrated with PocketCasts, actually; it seems a bit unreliable lately, quirky, and more than a little buggy.  Anyone else having these sort of issues or is it just me?)  I’m sure there’s some explanation that more technical minds than mine could figure out.

While I’m pondering that, here’s something else I can’t figure out: why the hell was The Longest Shortest Time cancelled by WNYC?

I listen to a bunch of podcasts — as of this writing, I subscribe to 88 of ’em, which could be contributing to my downloading issues, but I can’t be the only person who subscribes to this many podcasts, can I?  — and The Longest Shortest Time is one of my top five. Hillary Frank has a knack for telling compelling stories about the struggles of parenthood. It’s honest, real, well-written and never fails to draw me in, regardless of the interview.

From the Facebook page, it seems as if Hillary Frank is considering next steps, which will hopefully involve taking LST to another home.  We can all keep our fingers crossed that this does happen — and sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on a few LST episodes I’ve missed.

Here’s what I’ve been listening to lately — in chronological order, including the first episode of an infamous podcast that’s a year old:

Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber On ‘Finding God In All The Wrong People (9/17/2015)
A recovering alcoholic and former stand-up comic, Nadia Bolz-Weber started The House For All Sinners and Saints, a church in Denver, Colorado that is rooted in the Lutheran tradition. (Bolz-Weber is an ordained minister in the ELCA).  She’s a down-to-earth combination of realism and traditional theology and I loved listening to her. Her new book, Accidental Saints: Finding God in the Wrong People, came out this month and I immediately checked it out from the library after listening to this interview.

Strangers: The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read (7/10/2015)
How does someone graduate from high school and college — and then spend 17 years as a high school teacher — without knowing how to read? John Corcoran did. His story is fascinating and sad at the same time.

New Yorker: Fiction: Michael Cunningham Reads Harold Brodkey’s “Dumbness Is Everything,” (6/1/2015)
I love Michael Cunningham and would happily listen to him reciting the alphabet. Even better is listening to his melodious voice read this Harold Brodkey story from a 1996 issue of The New Yorker. I’d never read — nor heard of — the late Harold Brodkey before this episode, which was certainly quite the way to start my morning commute to work.  (And yes, I now need to read much more of his stuff.) Love the New Yorker: Fiction podcasts for that very reason.

Death, Sex, and Money: “In Sickness and In Mental Health (4/8/2015)
One in five people has a mental illness. We have a stereotype about who “these people” are, but the reality is that people with mental illness are our family members, our friends and loved ones, and our co-workers.  They’re people like Guilia who was a happily married newlywed before experiencing a psychological break and being hospitalized for what would be diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

Serial: Episode 1, “The Alibi”  (10/3/2014)
In what is probably the cruelest part of having some episodes downloaded and others not, the first episode of “Serial” turned up in my queue, followed by … none of the others.  Of course I listened to the first episode anyway. Of course I did. And of course I’m now hooked.

As I said, it’s so odd that all these old episodes would suddenly just download. I can’t figure it out, but regardless of the reason, I’m glad it allowed me to catch some great episodes of some of my favorite podcasts.

 

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Podcasts of the (Last Few) Weeks: Ep. 9 and 10

 

I’m behind on my Podcast of the Week posts by a few weeks, which means that you get more than the usual amount of great stuff for your listening pleasure. So much good stuff to tell you about in this “episode.” Let’s get started.

One of my recent recommendations was “The Accidental Gay Parents” from The Longest Shortest Time. I loved this story about John and Trystan’s journey as a couple and their four-year quest to officially adopt John’s niece and nephew. Their adoption was finalized earlier this month and they recently returned to The Longest Shortest Time with an update in Episode 62, “The Accidental Gay Parents 2.” IfI had to make a list of some of my most favorite stories I’ve heard via podcast, this one would be among them. (A bonus: I found out that a local blogger friend of mine has been friends with Trystan since middle school!)

“Strangers” is becoming one of my must-listen-to podcasts and the first episode I heard was  “American Mormon – International Mr. Leather.”  I am totally drawing a blank on the guy’s name, but suffice it to say, he was raised Mormon. On the podcast, he shared his family’s reaction to his news that he was gay and and the losses of several friends and partners during the AIDS epidemic. Today, as the holder of the title “International Mr. Leather,” he speaks about his life in a polyamory relationship and the parallels it has with Mormonism.

Wearing a ribbon on one’s lapel to symbolize support for a particular cause is a gesture that needs no explanation. The idea of such a ribbon originated in spring 1991 when an artists’ group in New York known as Visual Aids decided to make a simple, folded red ribbon to raise awareness of AIDS. This was during a time when AIDS was feared and people with AIDS were pariahs. With “Awareness,” episode 173 of the podcast 99% Invisible, those who were involved in creating the first AIDS ribbons reflect on the impact of their small ribbon. (7/21/2015)

On Song Exploder, Death Cab for Cutie lead singer Ben Gibbard talks about the creation of “El Dorado” from the band’s new album and the origin of the song in his divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel. I include this because I really like Death Cab for Cutie.

Margaret Sullivan doesn’t do many interviews, but in the July 22 episode of Longform, she discussed her role as public editor of The New York Times. It’s a candid, insightful look at an interesting job as well as at journalism itself.

Longform gave its listeners a bonus episode on July 31 with this interview with Noreen Malone, the author of the New York Magazine piece “Cosby: The Women – An Unwanted Sisterhood.”  She discusses that powerful cover photo, the genesis for it, and the process of getting all the women to participate.

I’ll admit that I didn’t really follow all the news about the recent New Horizons’ mission to Pluto. The New Yorker Out Loud podcast’s July 20th episode “Do You Know Pluto?” was an intriguing look at this former planet – and what qualifies something to be categorized as a planet in the first place.

If you’re a ProBlogger reader, you might enjoy Darren Rowse’s new podcast, also called ProBlogger. His popular series, “31 Days to a Better Blog” is a must for newbies to this crazy blogging world and a reminder to those of us who have been doing this for awhile. (When anyone asks me if you can really make money from blogging, I’m going to direct them to Episode #32, “Can You Really Make Money Blogging?“)

I’m dying to talk to someone about Alec  Baldwin’s interview with singer-songwriter Paul Simon on “Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin” because it was … just … so… strange. I mean, it was almost uncomfortable to listen to. If you’ve heard it, you know what I mean and how Paul Simon (who I really like, but a little less so after that interview) came across as a total ass.

(A much more enjoyable “Here’s the Thing” episode was Alec’s conversation with David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. Listen to that instead.)

…’til next time.

 

 

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sunday salon: currently

The Sunday Salon

Currently: In my usual weekend spot on the deck with a Mason jar of water, the Sunday paper and my current read (Belief Is It’s Own Kind of Truth, Maybe by my friend, Pittsburgh author Lori Jakiela). Nothing on the agenda today except reading, preparing a few blog posts for the week ahead, finishing a book review, getting caught up on the two online courses I’m taking, and potentially watching Steelers football on TV tonight.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a gorgeous summer’s day. (Well, aside from being at the beach, that is, but that’s not where we’re at.)

Reading: I was between books earlier this week, not quite sure what I was in the mood for next, and decided to try something unusual for me – finishing an entire issue of The New Yorker. To my surprise, I actually did. I tend to read the magazine piecemeal: an article here, a short story there, and pretty soon I have piles of them around the house with those insert cards bookmarking my spot.

The New Yorker - July 6 and 13 “Five Hostages,” an article in the July 6 and 13 issue, deserves a mention because it was so compelling and heartbreaking. Those families … I simply cannot imagine the anguish they went through, and to not be able to tell anyone that their child was a hostage in Syria while they personally were negotiating with ISIS. The focus of the piece (which I had to read over several days and in brief intervals because it was so emotionally intense) is how the abandonment they felt led them to join forces with each other and David Bradley, the owner of the media company that owns The Atlantic. He took an active, personal interest in bringing the hostages home, as Lawrence Wright has written in this incredible piece of journalism.

Incidentally, if you haven’t listened to the July 21 interview with New Yorker editor David Remnick on WNYC’s podcast “Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin,” it is well worth the 48 minutes. Very insightful and entertaining, as most of the episodes on this podcast are. (This one is quickly becoming one of my favorites.)

Oh, and if you are a listener of “Here’s the Thing,” what the hell was that interview with Paul Simon earlier this week? Holy shit. I’ve never heard an interview where the subject sounded so miserable. Seriously, Paul Simon came across as a total ass, and I say that as a fan of his – although slightly less of one now. Uncomfortable to listen to doesn’t describe that.

Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe

As mentioned, on Friday I started reading Pittsburgh author Lori Jakiela’s new memoir Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe. She had me from her first sentence: “When my real mother dies, I go looking for another one.”  Belief is described as part adoption narrative and part meditation on family, motherhood, and what it means to make authentic connections. So far, 43 pages into this, it delivers.

Listening To: In the car, my listening is still primarily podcasts, which I can’t get enough of. I’m also listening to the audio book of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, which is so incredibly good. I have this on my Kindle and I can’t believe I’ve never read this one, but that’s what The Classics Club is for. (This is one of my selections, mainly because it has been on my TBR forever.)

Counting: Speaking of TBRs, have you guys done that quiz/calculator thing that’s making the rounds on Facebook about how long it will take you to read your entire TBR pile?  My results are depressing as hell. With 1,870 books on my “want-to-read” Goodreads list (yes, really) the TBR calculator informs me that reading all 1,870 books will take me 26 years and 8 months and I’ll finish on March 29, 2042 when I am 73 years old.

It lies: I’ll only be 72 on that date, with 73 looming a few days later. But, hey, what’s a year when it is going to take me 26 of them to read all the books I want – without adding a single thing to said want-to-read list?

Learning: Because a coworker mentioned how much she is enjoying MOOCs (massive online open courses), I decided to see what they are all about. Needless to say, I’m completely hooked on them, too. I told my mom that I was registered for a total of five online courses between now and throughout the fall, and she asked how I possibly found the time for five classes.  (She knows the answer to that: I’m the world’s worst when it comes to cleaning my house, as I have no interest in that crap.)

Anyway, I’ll be spending some time today trying to wrap up what I can of Weeks 3, 4, 5, and 6 of “Literature and the Country House,” my first course and one that is being offered through the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, UK. When I announced to The Facebook that I was doing this, more than a few thought I was actually spending six weeks in England taking this course in person. I wish. Instead, I’m on my deck in Pittsburgh dusting off the English part of my English/Communications degree while reading poetry and excerpts from “Hamlet” and other classics. I’m more than a little behind, but that’s the beauty of MOOCs. Besides being free, they tend to move at one’s own pace.

My second course, “Childhood in the Digital Age,” started this past Monday with The Open University. That’s a bit shorter (only four weeks) and seems like it will be easier to keep up with. This one has some connections with my job, in a sense, so there are practical and personal reasons for participating in this.

Watching: Probably the Steelers vs. Vikings game tonight because … Steelers football, baby! Whoooo!

Hope you’re having a great Sunday!

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Podcasts of the Week: Ep. 7 and 8: You Downloaded How Much Data?!

Apple iPhone 6 - PDI

Photo Credit: Public Domain Images; Apple iPhone 6; click through for source

A weekly (more or less) blog feature where I talk about podcasts and recommend a few shows from my playlist. 

Conversation at the Verizon Wireless store two weeks ago while signing our lives away reviewing my current plan in order to add The Husband’s new phone:

Verizon guy: “You only used about 10 GBs of data in April and May, but your data usage nearly tripled in June. Something happened in June ….”

Me: “Hmm, I’m thinking maybe it was subscribing to 107 podcasts?”

Yes, friends. As of right now, I’m subscribed to 107 podcasts. One hundred and SEVEN. And that’s with deleting some and adding others that sound good, and then deleting some more. I certainly don’t listen to every episode from every podcast I subscribe to, but apparently this has gotten a little out of control.

I’m trying to be more selective. I really am. But, there’s so much damn good stuff out there. And because there is, I’m grateful for unlimited data plans, of which I was grandfathered into a long time ago and am not inclined to give up anytime soon.

My latest listening discovery is On House of Cards, a podcast produced by On the Media. I am a huge HOC fan. Love, love, love that show. I finished Season 3 over the Fourth of July weekend and cannot possibly wait until February when new episodes are released. Until then, I’m going to try and handle my withdrawal through the On House of Cards podcast, mostly for what the guests themselves have to say. I’m going in backwards order; I listened to the May 20 episode, “The End of the Road” with guest Beau Willison.

Speaking of all things Presidential, last week I finally got around to checking out WTF with Marc Maron, who showed up on my PocketCast app as being one of the podcasts I should discover. This was about a week or two before Marc’s interview with President Barack Obama, which you may have heard a little something about. I still haven’t listened to that episode because of some technical issues on my end (it keeps failing to download on my phone). I definitely plan to, though.

Last Thursday, I happened to catch Episode 618: Ed Asner and Adam Goldberg  (7/9/2015) which I enjoyed and not just because I was listening to a podcast practically in real time, on the same day it was … what’s the word? Podcasted? Anyway, I like Marc’s interview style – very casual, just shootin’ the shit.  They talked about the acting that Asner did before Mary Tyler Moore (for me and many other people, Asner will always, always be Lou Grant) and about being shunned by casting directors for his comments on El Salvador. Great interview – very entertaining and funny.

Almost every podcast I downloaded this week focused on Go Set a Watchman, which, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know as the controversial “new” novel by the legendary Harper Lee. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to read this; I have a strong appreciation for To Kill a Mockingbird as a literary classic, I don’t consider it one of my “taking with me on a desert island” books. I’m more curious than anything, I suppose. I’m #24 on the library’s e-book holds list for this one, and while I’m waiting, I’ve listened to more than a few podcasts this week about Go Set a Watchman.

The ReadersThe most enjoyable episode was from The Readers, a (new-to-me) podcast that I knew I would love because Simon Savidge ISavidge Reads) and Thomas Otto (Hogglestock) are two of my favorite book bloggers.  In “Ep. 131: Go Set a Headline and Ten Classic Books You May Not Have Read But Should” (7/13/2015), they discuss the spoilers that several major news outlets have shared and how that has influenced whether they will be reading the book. I will admit I was also more than a little annoyed by the spoilers, so hearing Thomas’ take on this was validating.

In addition to the various book podcasts I’ve been listening to, I’ve found that short stories work great in this medium and are usually perfectly timed for my commute to work. The Moth offers some of the best storytelling and Episode 1202: Blue Men, Psychopaths and a Bad Date (6/30/2015) was fantastic. John Grady, formerly of the Blue Men Group, tells us about a particularly memorable performance; Neuroscientist James Fallon shares a personal discovery from the lab and former SNL cast member Rachel Dratch recounts a bad date.

My final recommendation from the past two weeks comes from WNYC’s Death, Sex and Money with Anna Sale. Siblinghood (7/1/2015) looked at the relationships we have with our brothers and sisters and the impact that this bond has on ourselves and our lives.

’til next week …

 

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