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ABC Radio National in Australia has a weekly program called All in the Mind described as "a foray into all things mental." I'll have to check it out.
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In case you haven't heard, Radiolab publishes weekly radio shows of about an hour around a certain provocative theme, such as Talking to Machines, about humans and robots meeting in the uncanny valley. Less pretentious that This American Life and always interesting, Radiolab mixes science, history, pop culture and psychology into an intriguing combination.
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Fountain Hughes, 101 when interviewed in 1949, talks with his nephew about what it was like, growing up as a slave. You can actually hear an audio recording of him!! My favorite part is when he's talking about the music that he sang in church, and he "gets the spirit," but he can't sing because he's "too hoarse."

Tempe Herndon Durham, 103 when interviewed in 1937, says she was "real lucky" compared to other slaves. Not an audio recording, unfortunately, but you can get an idea of her speech patterns with the relatively phonetic transcription here. My favorite part is when she's telling about jumping over the broom on her wedding day. Her husband trips, so her master teases her husband that her husband will be bossed by Tempe all his days. Dramatization of an excerpt here.

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For 30 or 40 minutes every month, you can crack up over the BBC's Ouch! podcast, which features actor Mat Fraser and comedian Liz Carr hosting a talk and comedy show about disabilities. The two interview celebrities, banter sarcastically together and run a hysterical quiz show called Vegetable, Vegetable or Vegetable?, where they try to guess a caller's disability based on yes/no questions. All archives are available on the site, not only sound files, but also transcripts, so you can read them if you wish. Go to the general Ouch! Web site to find columnists, blogs, Q&As and other fun stuff. Thanks to  melopoeia  for the rec.  
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This is why you should listen to Quirks & Quarks because you can learn the answers to riveting scientific queries of the day, like this one. 

The sensation of mint as cold has long fascinated me, but I have never known why mint makes my mouth chilly. Now the answer is here. Apparently mint, like Tabasco sauce, stimulates your taste buds with a sensation like pain. It's not technically a taste, but rather a feeling of pain! 

Because your taste buds have been primed by this painful mint, anything cold that you eat afterward with seem colder. Interestingly enough, anything hot that you eat afterward will seem hotter. 

Mint also increases your salivation and washes away thick protective saliva from your taste buds, so more of the cold or hot thing hits your naked, shivering taste buds.

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StoryCorps is a neat project aimed at tapping the oral history of the nation. At mobile booths around the country, almost anyone can schedule time and record an interview with a friend or a family member about...almost anything. I have listened to two stories so far, and I will be checking out more. Here a man talks about saving his friend's little brother from the train tracks. Very dramatic! Here a Vermont lesbian couple are talking about their 30-year partnership and getting civilly united. Their happiness, after all these years, is still infectious.

Bonus: Here are two women talking about being identical twins, dispelling some stupid assumptions about their relationship and being very practical about the whole thing. "Being a twin was the best thing that ever happened to me! I recommend it to everyone!"

HAH!

Sep. 6th, 2007 08:51 am
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On podcast 45, in response to a woman who thinks that S&M represents emotional disability and mental sickness, Dan Savage points out that S&M is PLAY, and he says, "What S&M is is cops and robbers for grown-ups without your pants on." Now I'm just imagining law enforcement professionals chasing crooks out of a bank in a completely serious context, except all parties are lacking pants. :p
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I enjoy psychology, cultural analysis and subjects of mental health, so I was excited to find out about  Psychjourney. I just sampled one of the site's podcasts, an interview with Courtney Martin, author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, an Interesting subject, but the audio was echoic and blurry, and the interviewer's voice was too measured and soporific. Another randomly sampled podcast on body dysmorphic disorder, suffered from the same problems. 

The jury's out on whether I recommend these because they provide substantive overviews of interesting topics (auditory hallucinations, compulsive hoarding, rumor and gossip), but the audio quality is mediocre. It's like listening to a low-tech tape of someone's phone conversation. Why don't you try one out and see if you can stand it? I know that I will be dipping into a few subjects of interest before blowing the site off entirely.

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Looky here -- a big fat juicy archive of ephemeral films, including promos, social hygiene films, educational stuff that was shown in schools, all tagged with the promising phrase "gender roles."  Archive.org has much more than such films, though; there's also a trove of old animation, sound files and, of course, the WayBack Machine, the archive of the entire Internet. I could lose days poking through such stuff...
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Look into the exhaustive archives for Escape Pod and take your pleasure of the many clear, humorous, perkily read sci-fi and fantasy stories on podcast. I just listened to the amusing, low-key "Conversations With and About My Electric Toothbrush." I've also finished "The Burning Bush."  It's very dryly delivered, to humorous effect. And I know that "My Friend Is A Lesbian Zombie" will be good because its author, Eugie Foster, is an acquaintance who turns out consistently well-crafted, mythically solid and romantically tinged stories.
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In the tradition of investigative science/humanities radio shows like To The Best Of Our Knowledge and The Infinite Mind, WNYC's Radiolab centers around a broad subject, like sleep, morality or stress, and glues together interviews and intuitions about it.  While To The Best... and The Inifinite Mind are very structured and strive for authoritativeness, Radiolab is more conversational, kind of like Sound & Spirit, lighter on the scientific details, but no less interesting. I would call it casual philosophy. Seasons are tragically short, but you can find listenable archives on the Web site going as far back as 2005. I caught a clip of Radiolab from an ep of This American Life, and I agree with TAL host Ira Glass that Radiolab should have wider listenership.
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Reduced Shakespeare Company, purveyors of comically compressed classics, have a weekly 20-minute podcast. These interesting backstage shows consist of the performers sitting around and talking. They share funny touring tales, the secrets of what they discuss during intermission, how they choose which jokes to keep and other nuts and bolts of creating and maintaining a successful touring show. More engaging and less annoying than Car Talk. Then again, just about everything is less annoying than Car Talk. So why do I still have it bookmarked?

Today marks the debut of the podcasts tag, in case anyone gives a flying fork.
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I've been enjoying A Way With Words, a KPBS radio show, for a while. Just today I found another show, a podcast, in the same vein: Word Nerds. It's a weekly podcast of about 40 minutes, a thematically organized discussed of the ways language is used past and present. The presenters are a bunch of high school language and literature teachers with solid knowledge of Germanic and Romance languages among them. Their style is quieter than the lively, explosive A Way With Words, but I still enjoy the dry wit.

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If advice column letters are each novelettes waiting to be written, what better omniscient narrator to have than the intelligent snarkmeister Dan Savage, who writes weekly sex advice columns for The Stranger?
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The Onion launches a barrage of zingers at the radio show This American Life. It is a very funny article. All the zingers find their mark as the piece deflates the bombastic, precious excesses of TAL. Here's my favorite part, a fictional quote from TAL producer Alex Blumberg:

"At first, we were getting a lot of stories from recovered drug addicts and East African refugees living in the States, which had their compelling elements but came off a bit cloying...But then we realized that if we had overeducated people with voices rather unsuitable for radio narrate the stories with clever analogies and accessible morals, the whole thing would come off far less depressing."

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I like A Way With Words, hosted by one of my favorite etymologists, Martha Barnette, along with slang dictionary author Grant Barrett. For about 45 minutes every week, the two answer callers' questions about grammar, punctuation and slang. They also host listener quizzes about slang and solve language puzzles themselves. I rev up my inner word geek with A Way With Words every Monday morning since the shows originally air on Sundays. 

Additionally, the LoreMistress of Rampant Bicycles mentioned CBC's weekly science program, Quirks & Quarks, to me last week. Since then, I have been slowly moving through the archives. With a robust catalog of shows going back years, Q&Q is a round-up of experts speaking on current scientific topics of interest and answering your questions. So far I've learned about growing new bladders for persons with spina bifida, the names dolphins give to themselves, the challenges of sampling ice at the North Pole, how to find planets around distant stars, etc. With a new downloadable hour every week, Q&Q will introduce you to many fascinating bits of information and make you feel smart.

Both A Way With Words and Q&Q have entered my regular rotation of programs I listen to at work. Add them to your bookmarks and increase your brains!
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...listening to the What We Do For Love ep, and a song by Christine Lavin came on, Good Thing He Can't Read My Mind. I now want to find out more about her because of these hilarious lyrics:
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I can listen to one of the most amusing NPR shows ever, Car Talk, at its own Web site. Unfortunately, no archives are available, but you may return every week for your fix. I like this show primarily because the hosts have such a good rapport. I like to hear them laughing at each other's bad jokes.

I started listening to The Infinite Mind last week. Each hour it focuses on a mental health [broadly construed] topic, bringing in scientists, artists and first-person commentary. So far I have listened to Sextalk, Aspergers part II and Depression in the Brain [currently]. While free streaming audio is only available for the last few months of eps, there are some interesting ones in there [if you can get them to work]. Somehow this show does not seem as rigorous as Sound & Spirit; its tone is a little too naive and gee-whiz, but it's an agreeable time-passer.

To the Best of Our Knowledge is difficult to describe. It's kind of like The Infinite Mind for cultural subjects. For example, the show on Laughing at Death included a segment about Southern funeral cuisine, another on the art of a good obituary and another about last meals of death row inmates. You can listen to years of previous programs, and they all work! I really like its catholic and in-depth approach.

Studio 360 is kind of a music and talk show that I just started listening to. It's an hour long, but it typically has one or two themes per hour. In the Wizard of Oz hour, for example, we got a bio of the author, a clip of Munchkin convention, an overview of lit crit theories about the book, a discussion [and lots of samples from] the score of the 1939 movie, etc. I found this hour fascinating and the segment of another show on the Orpheus myth powerful. A well-rounded and informative show. Shows seem to be archived by segment, making a smooth listening experience difficult.
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So, while listening to This American Life's 1996 Halloween episode, I learned about the long-running TV show Dark Shadows [1965-1971], starring a vampire with a soul who lives in a creepy mansion and suffers time-traveling, werewolves, ghosts, et hoc genus omne, all while accompanied by production values so cheap that you can see the prop guy in some scenes. Yes, folks, years before supernatural soap operas had their mid-'90s boom, there was Dark Shadows, hammy, campy and funny. This may be interesting to check into and laugh at.
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Are you grieving the loss of a friend, a lover, your youth, your mentor, your home town, the person you used to be? My current radio addiction, WGBH's Sound & Spirit, has quite a few episodes related to death and change. Start with Breakups and Nostalgia, which address the losses of daily life. Then move on to Aging and Facing Death as you approach a blatant confrontation with the loss. For the loss itself, play The End of the World. Then go into Mourning & Loss and Ghosts for when you feel haunted. To reconnect with your hope, finish with The Afterlife and get back to the joyful business of living the life that lies before you.

This entry is dedicated to my grandfather, who died a month before Christmas last year.

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If you really want to wake up when you just get into work, stream stuff from meaningoflife.tv, where notable philosophers and thinkers are interviewed by a guy who looks distractingly like James Marsters. Luminaries such as Daniel Dennett, Steven Pinker and Edwin Wilson [associated with Tufts, MIT and Harvard, respectively -- I live in a hotbed of philosophy!!] discuss consciousness, free will, faith, the existence of God and death. Do not try to listen to eps [each about an hour] successfully, or your brain will be overloaded. The interviews so far have brought me favorable memories of my college philosophy classes. I can feel my brain working....

So far, I recommend the interviews with Daniel Dennett and Sharon Salzberg. Edwin Wilson mumbles, goddammit. I wish Antonio Damasio had been interviewed, but he practices outside of the hotbed [Iowa].
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Well, I've been listening to WBUR at work, which means about three hours of news reporting, then four hours of talk and analysis about the news. Thus I hear the news about seven times, one time each when it's reported, then one time the talk show hosts and callers hash it out. Needless to say, all the violence in Israel, corruption in Iraq, stupidity in the White House, bitching about gas, bitching about hurricanes, bitching about heat and bitching about the budget really bores me after a while. I feel like I'm banging my head into a wall of information and becoming bludgeoned, rather than informed.

In lieu of news and the regurgitation thereof, I've discovered my home state's NPR radio station, VPR. With three hours of news and four hours of classical music, VPR gives me a happier balance of information and entertainment. While my brain is resting to classical tunes, I can absorb the events of the day. Furthermore, VPR has extra folksy touches, like Garrison Keillor reading the Writer's Almanac every morning...and the Eye on the Sky weather reports [from the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury -- hooray for Mark Breen!] and Night Sky Updates, which make me feel like I'm back up north. 

But, for the past few days, I've been listening to something even better -- Sound and Spirit, an hour-long radio show hosted by Ellen Kushner. After having caught it on a few Sunday evenings, I sought out its [primitive] home page and found that I can listen to streaming versions of previous shows! Each S&S focuses on a different theme [this morning I listened to (1) Break-ups, (2) Satan and (3) The Lord of the Rings], pulling together vocal and instrumental music from all ages, cultures and backgrounds. Bits of famous prose, poetry, plays and sacred texts often appear as well, along with author or scholar interviews. Each hour is like a Unitarian sermon, designed to open your mind, gladden your heart and kick you in the butt. You need to download Real Player to listen to each ep, but it's free and worth it! 'Scuse me...gonna go listen to the S&S ep on cities.

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