22.9.13

The Podcast Post



Being someone who works from home, I'm in the studio quite a bit, either at the computer or working on personal projects, and this time affords me the opportunity to listen to a lot of podcasts.  
It's a great way to learn random facts, escape to another place for a bit, and knock out some of those classics I've been meaning to tackle (I'm looking at you, Moby Dick).
I'm particularly partial to science fiction, history (both fiction and non), real life storytelling, dark tales of witchery and occultism, and informative podcasts that teach while they entertain.

Here are just some of my favorites of the moment that you may not have heard of (in alphabetical order):


1. 99% Invisible - A Tiny Radio Show About Design, with Roman Mars
This podcast is great because the episodes are generally under 30 minutes, so you're not committed to a huge amount of time, but the fascinating subjects Mr. Mars presents will open your mind and have you thinking about your surroundings in a more artful way.
You'll never look at graffiti or listen to an escalator in the same way again.



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2. Beneath Ceaseless Skies - Literary Adventure Fantasy
Time travel here!  The places these stories take the listener are rich, imaginative, limitless and always interesting.  Each episode begins with the sounds of a horse galloping while a sword is unsheathed-- a sure sign you're headed to the past.

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3. Clarkesworld Magazine - Hugo Award Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine
The stories told here are the best of the best in the sci-fi/fantasy genre today, by contemporary authors such as Yoon Ha Lee, Kij Johnson and Aliet de Bodard, just to name a few; excellent narration by Kate Baker.


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4. The Drabblecast - Strange Stories by Strange Authors for Strange Listeners, with Norm Sherman
Silliness, bad puns, 100 word "drabbles" and off-beat short stories hosted and presented by the charming Norm Sherman.
  It's fun, do it.


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5. Lightspeed Magazine - Science Fiction & Fantasy
Formerly a sister podcast to Fantasy Magazine, the two have merged and are now encompassed in Lightspeed.  On par with Clarkesworld in both genre and quality, it's a great place to hear amazing stories, both old and new.  Not just for cosplay nerds, people!


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6. The Memory Palace - with Nate DiMeo
"surprising stories of the past, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hysterical... for all admirers of things that are super-great."  That says it all!  Short episodes jam packed with mind-blowers.


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7. Radiolab - with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich
Most people are familiar with Radiolab these days, but if not, it's must-listen radio.  "A show about curiosity.  Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and  human experience."  (They 'sometimes behave so strangely'.)


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8. Risk - A Show Where People Tell True Stories They Never Thought They'd Dare to Share, with Kevin Allison (formerly of MTV's The State)
Whoooooooo, boy!  Slap a giant, glistening NSFW label on this one.  Listening to the stories told here by ordinary people (and sometimes minor celebrities) you won't get far if you're the kind of person easily offended, embarrassed or otherwise squeamish.  Stories to make your mama blush! (and you, too, probably).   


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9. Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson
And in this corner, the undisputed Rock Star of the science world, astrophysicist filled with dark matter and all around cool dude:  
Neil deGrasse Tyson!  
I admit it:  I have a nerd-crush on Neil.  He's funny, excited about the universe, and he can explain everything from astroids to a zombie apocalypse in terms that even non-scientists like myself can understand.  Go listen to his show, he's a total




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10. Stuff You Should Know - from HowStuffWorks.com, with Chuck and Josh
Learn stuff!  This show is good if you want to explore subjects you never knew would interest you, or brush up on what you've already learned.  Tackling questions like "can you die of a broken heart?" and "can we build an elevator to outer space?".  Filled with great tid-bits for cocktail parties, although I have to say, I usually do know a few more facts about each subject than Chuck and Josh offer.  Still, worth some listens.


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11. The Thrilling Adventure Hour - A Staged Production in the Style of Old-Time Radio
Love these little sketches!  A Ben Acker & Ben Blacker Production, featuring Paul F. Tompkins, Paget Brewster, Annie Savage, Busy Philipps, Marc Gagliarti, Hal Lublin, Colin Hanks and many more.  My particular favorite sketches are 'Beyond Belief' with Frank & Sadie Doyle, and 'Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars'.



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12. The Truth - Movies for Your Ears
The Truth is gaining popularity, but I've been on its wagon for a while now.  An award winning audio-drama of short stories; well produced with great sound design.


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13. True Story - A Night of True Tales Told to Friends
In the same vein as 'The Moth', these are stories you'd tell your friends around a dinner table or a back yard bonfire.  Usually light hearted and funny, but at turns heartfelt and emotional.


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14. Useless Information - A Collection of Fascinating True Stories from the Flllllip Side of History, with Steve Silverman
Once you get past Steve's quirky way of wwwwwwelcoming you, I think you'll enjoy his friendly recounting of weird news stories from the past, the "quuuuuuestion of the day", and the vintage advertisements (which are usually steeped in irony).  Light and easy listening.


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15. Welcome to Nightvale - from Common Place Books
This is a fun one.  Done in the style of a community update radio show from the small desert town of Nightvale, where abnormal is normal, and very weird things happen all the time.  It's a lot like the book 'Wigfield:  The Can-Do Town That Just May Not', written by Amy Sedaris, Paul DiNello and Stephen Colbert, but with more supernatural powers and animated-inanimate objects thrown in.
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16. Wormwood: A Serialized Mystery - From Habit Forming Films
It's been at least a year since I listened to this serial, but obviously I really enjoyed it and it's stayed with me.
Synopsis:  Dr. Xander Crowe, who has "spiraled down the dark pathways into the occult", is driven by a vision to the town of Wormwood, where he teams up with a girl named Sparrow and the two of them embark on wild adventures in search of a dead girl.  
It sounds intense, but it's actually quite humorous most of the time.  Tons of hours of listening.

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And two sources to find audiobooks and more:

1. LibriVox Free Domain Audio Books -
Endless books in the public domain read by anyone who wants to volunteer to read them.

2. Archive.org Internet Archive:  Not just books!  Digital Library of Free Books, Movies & Music, providing "Universal Access to All Knowledge". 
 Sooooo much good stuff here!  Old radio shows, classic books, movies and films and more.  Go check it out!


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happy listening, kids.