· 237: Steven Dubner
On my Cool Tools podcast, which I co-host with Kevin Kelly, we interviewed Stephen Dubner. Stephen’s an award-winning author, journalist, and TV and radio personality. He’s co-author of the Freakonomics books, which have sold millions of copies in 40 languages, and he’s host of Freakonomics Radio, which gets 8 million global monthly downloads and is heard by millions more on N.P.R. stations and other radio outlets around the world. Here are the show notes. Read the rest
In this fun episode of Mark Frauenfelder and Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools podcast, they talk with Lux Sparks-Pescovitz, 14, about his passion for GameBoys, cassettes, DIY sushi, and his new iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit. He's quite an interesting young man; I'd like to meet his parents someday. Listen here:
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Almost Famous (2000) is one of my favorite rock and roll movies of all time. Director and writer Cameron Crowe did a masterful job with his semi-autobiographical story of a young teen music journalist on his first assignment from Rolling Stone in the 1970s. It's a lovely, funny, and moving film that just feels real. Now, the killer cast, including Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, Billy Crudup, Zooey Deschanel, Jimmy Fallon, Patrick Fugit, Jason Lee are joining Crowe, Nancy Wilson of Heart (Crowe's wife who wrote music for the film), technical consultant Peter Frampton, and others for a five-part podcast hosted by James Andrew Miller. The podcast series, Origins, is produced by Cadence13 and previous editions have focused on the birth of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sex and the City, and Saturday Night Live. Here's the trailer for Origins: Almost Famous Turns Twenty, premiering July 8.
From Rolling Stone:
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In addition, casting director Gail Levin, rock photographer Neal Preston and Pennie Trumbull — the real-life inspiration for Penny Lane — will also share their memories.
“Between his personable style, and the exhaustive research behind his wonderful questions, Jim Miller managed to summon all the spirit and emotion of Almost Famous with the original cast,” Crowe said in a statement. “It’s a little bit of a magic trick. He put the band back together.”
Last January, the BBC released the first episode of a true-crime style podcast called The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Created by Julian Simpson, this story took a Serial-esque approach to a locked room mystery involving an American man who disappeared from an asylum in England. But as the story progresses, it quickly becomes apparent that there's something darker going on.
That "something darker" would be the fact that it's a loose adaptation of The Curious Case of Charles Dexter Ward by HP Lovecraft. Simpson's podcast version takes the initial Lovecraftian premise — a person of privilege uncovers some hidden knowledge that inevitably connects back to ancient evil Elder Gods — and spins an updated modern tale that spans the Atlantic Ocean. Simpson cleverly weaves in English folklore and the occultism of Aleister Crowley as the journalist narrators travel back-and-forth between England and Rhode Island.
One of those narrators, it should be noted, is a woman. And there are people of color, and class issues, too — a clear response to Lovecraft's notorious bigotry (the dude was so terrified of black people and vaginas that he literally crafted an entire universe of creepy-ass tentacled fish monsters just to try and justify it). It's an organic way to breathe new life into a story that doesn't have to be so bogged down in Lovecraft's more unfortunate qualities.
I recently binged all 10 episodes of the podcast while working on some home renovations, and I found it utterly delightful. The Investigative Reporting approach gives it an almost Blair Witch-like vibe — it's certainly presented as if it is a genuine true crime podcast, and you wouldn't be faulted for falling for it (In my humble opinion, that also makes for a more gripping narrative device than the usual Lovecraft method of Random Trustfund Baby Takes A Bus Into a Random Creepy Town and Randomly Gets Involved In This Dark Mystery About Cthulhu). Read the rest
Open Culture has a page with capsule reviews of The 135 Best Podcasts to Enrich Your Mind. The list includes "great podcasts on art, music, history, philosophy, plus captivating true and imagined stories."
Some are familiar to me and I already subscribe to them. Here a few that are new to me that I just subscribed to:
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Last Seen - Apple - Spotify - Google - Web Site - RSS - It remains the most valuable — and confounding — art heist in history: 13 artworks stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Twenty-eight years later, not a single piece in a haul worth half a billion dollars has surfaced. The art, and the thieves who made off with it, remain at large. With first-ever interviews, unprecedented access, and more than a year of investigative reporting, "Last Seen" takes us into the biggest unsolved art heist in history. A joint production from WBUR and The Boston Globe. Read more here.
Blackout - Apple - Spotify - Google - Academy Award winner Rami Malek stars in this apocalyptic thriller as a small-town radio DJ fighting to protect his family and community after the power grid goes down nationwide, upending modern civilization.
The Walk - Apple - Spotify - "Dystopian thriller, The Walk, is a tale of mistaken identity, terrorism, and a life-or-death mission to walk across Scotland. But the format of this story is — unusual. The Walk is an immersive fiction podcast, and the creators want you to listen to it while walking.
Journalist Patrick Radden Keefe has done plenty of extensive and gripping longform journalism, including his most recent book, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland (which I could not recommend more highly). His newest project is a slight departure from covering topics of crime and radical separationists, but still deals heavily with espionage and subterfuge.
It's about the Scorpions, the English-speaking German rock band who rocked you like a hurricane. And also the CIA.
Here's the official blurb:
It’s 1990. The Berlin Wall just fell. The Soviet Union is on the verge of collapse. And the soundtrack to the revolution is one of the best selling songs of all time, the metal ballad “Wind of Change,” by The Scorpions. Decades later, journalist Patrick Radden Keefe heard a rumor: the song wasn’t written by The Scorpions. It was written by the CIA. This is his journey to find the truth.
Told through exclusive interviews with former CIA officers, on the ground reporting, and more - this podcast embodies the traditional tones of investigative journalism while keeping listeners on their toes through its cinematic pacing, simulating the theatricality of the critically acclaimed film Argo in a podcast. This 8-part series follows Patrick’s search for the truth, a 10 year investigation that traces the 70 year history of our government's meddling into pop music, including everyone from Louis Armstrong and Nina Simone, to Bon Jovi and the Beach Boys.
I've listened to the first two episodes available so far (which is also embedded below), and I'm absolutely hooked. Read the rest
I really enjoyed this episode of Coffee or Suicide with my friend Maureen Herman. She was the bassist for Babes in Toyland, and is a writer and a frequent contributor to Boing Boing. In this episode, she "talks about the need for access to mental health care services, her experiences with addiction and trauma, and why she never called herself a riot grrrl." Read the rest
My guest this week on the Cool Tools Podcast is Meeno Peluce. Meeno grew up as a successful child actor in Hollywood, and his kid sister is Soleil Moon Frye of Punky Brewster fame. He then moved behind the camera and has spent his life photographing and filming the world around him, from the burning ghats in Varanasi to the luminous landscapes of Tinseltown. He’s a proud Papa and ask him his profession, and he’ll tell you he’s a Meeno, and all that might entail. He gave himself the name when he was two in Nepal. It’s been an adventure of individualism and a constant search for personal experience ever since. You can find him on Instagram @meeno_the_man.
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Human speech averages 150 words/minute, but human thoughts run more like 400 words per minute. Steve Rousseau decided to try "podfasting" (listening to podcasts at faster-than-normal speed) at progressively higher speeds to see whether he could consume more of the internet-mattress-subsidized high-quality audio bubble as he could before that bubble burst.
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For my latest podcast, I read my Guardian Cities column, "The case for ... cities that aren't dystopian surveillance states," which was the last piece ever commissioned for the section.
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Jason Klamm from the Comedy on Vinyl podcast (previously) writes, "In late 2018, I uncovered the true identity of comic Dick Davy. Since starting his archive, I've come across some real gems, but in August, one find took the cake. His niece, Sharon, mailed me two records that had been sitting in a box, and it turns out these are unreleased acetates of material no one has heard in almost sixty years. I had Firesign Theatre archivist Taylor Jessen transfer and do a quick clean-up of them. This episode discusses their contents and what their future might be." (MP3)
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My 2019 book Radicalized has been named one of the five finalists for Canada Reads, the CBC's annual book prize -- Canada's leading national book award, alongside of the Governor General's award!
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The wonderful Brains On! science podcast for kids just completed a four part series on "Making Sense of Myths" and the final episode, "Aliens and UFOs," includes an interview with me about the Voyager Golden Record! Listen above! Of course the Voyager Golden Record is the iconic message for extraterrestrials attached to the Voyager I and II space probes launched by NASA in 1977. The Voyager Record tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, music, images, and science, from Bach to Blind Willie Johnson to Chuck Berry, to greetings in dozens of human languages (and one whale language).
A few years ago, my friends Timothy Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released the Voyager Golden Record on vinyl for the first time, as a lavish box set. Our project's resonance with the public, and the Grammy that we were honored to receive for it, are really a testament to the majesty of the original record and brilliance of its creators.
I hope the story of the Voyager Record included in this Brains On! episode sparks kids' imaginations and instills a sense of wonder about humanity's place in the universe! It certainly does for me.
The Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Vinyl Box Set and 2xCD-Book edition is available from Ozma Records.
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In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my latest Locus column, Inaction is a Form of Action,, where I I discuss how the US government's unwillingness to enforce its own anti-monopoly laws has resulted in the dominance of a handful of giant tech companies who get to decide what kind of speech is and isn't allowed -- that is, how the USG's complicity in the creation of monopolies allows for a kind of government censorship that somehow does not violate the First Amendment.
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In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my Globe and Mail editorial, Science fiction and the unforeseeable future: In the 2020s, let’s imagine better things, where I reflect on what science fiction can tell us about the 2020s for the Globe's end-of-the-decade package; I wrote about how science fiction can't predict the future, but might inspire it, and how the dystopian malaise of science fiction can be turned into a inspiring tale of "adversity met and overcome – hard work and commitment wrenching a limping victory from the jaws of defeat."
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I just got back from a longer-than-usual family holiday during which I did much less work than I usually do when I'm off (I recommend both to you!), but one exception I made was tuning into Michael Moore's outstanding new podcast, Rumble, which Moore records from his apartment, usually with a special guest (I tuned in when I saw that he'd done an episode with the wonderful Anand "Winners Take All" Giridharadas (previously).
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