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.
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.
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!"
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.
Today marks the debut of the podcasts tag, in case anyone gives a flying fork.
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.
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."
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!
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.
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.
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].
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.