It’s been a minute since I’ve written anything here, which is not to say it hasn’t been on my mind. I’d argue that doing the things (aka living in and exploring Japan) are more important than telling everyone about doing the things, and the reality is that update fatigue / habitual sharing are something I am definitely grappling with. But, more on that another day. For now I will keep it short and sweet and primarily focused on one of my favorite topics: podcasts.
I, am a hoe for podcasts.
Podcasts are peak multitasking nerdom to me. I can do design work/crank away at an illustration/edit photos, all while keeping my brain active and occupied, and more often than not it actually helps me to focus on the project at hand. Passive learning while still chipping away at my to-do list? YUSS and PLZ. When I worked a job in mindless marketing a few years ago, podcasts literally kept me sane, as well as kept my brain from turning to mush after hours upon hours worth of web banner creation and edits.
FUN FACT: I once had a boss who told me I needed to cool it with the amount of Ted Talks I listened...even though I was ahead of every project deadline. Some folks just don’t like the learnin’
Something I have been making an active effort to be conscious of here is my daylight hours. While I loved my job as a designer, the hours I worked in advertising often ate up most of my waking life. There were many days that the design team and I would be in before a full sunrise, and out well after it set. That…is not the case in Ebino. Even between teaching at 5 schools, my job allots me more free time than I have had in at least a decade. So, in an effort to reclaim some of the fresh air I missed out on, I have been doing the ultimate hermit grandma thing: downloading a handful of podcasts, throwing my phone onto airplane mode, popping in some headphones, and heading out for a walk while the sun is still out. If I’m feeling it, or the weather is interesting (as it often is here), I’ll bring my camera along for good measure. As a result I have both burned through a long list of shows, and ended up with exploring some parts of my town I might miss while driving.
Please enjoy my current favorites, in no particular order (disclaimer, many of them are NPR related/adjacent, because, well NPR is the tits):
I start my mornings with NPR News Hour/Morning Edition/NYTimes The Daily, in order to get a good grasp of some news from back home.
A pretty rad look at what happens when 6 strangers hole themselves up in a tiny enclosure with no outside contact for a year, in order to simulate life on Mars. As we say in my family, do it for story, or do it for science.
My sister turned me on to this gem. It’s definitely a solid listen for those trying to wrap their head around the Trump administration/Mueller investigation, without ever talking about it, because, well, it’s not about the Mueller investigation. This production by Slate is a deep dive into Watergate, and what eventually brought Nixon down. I’m not much of a history buff but I found this to be fascinating.
Shankar Vendentam, a long time social science correspondent was a regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition and now hosts his own show, where he dissects the hidden patterns and behaviors we participate in, often unconsciously, every day as living, breathing humans. Any of his shows are good but here are my top picks: On Language, On Reflection, On Toxic Masculinity and Lonely American Men, On Wealth
I have yet to listen to an episode where I had any idea where it would lead me. This is one of the most interesting investigations into the mysteries of being a human, and every episode is rife with anecdotes I’m not sure I would have encountered otherwise. Again, any episode is solid but here are my selects: On Emotions, On Patterns, On the True You
This American Life
This show, and Ira Glass, rarely need an introduction. We used to listen to this show on the drive home from church when I was growing up, well before I was ~*spiritually shitty*~, and I remember sitting in the driveway, long after we’d arrived home, just to hear the end of that week’s episode. No one tells a story like Ira Glass, and his commitment to unpacking what it means to exist in this country, with both compassion and curiosity is nothing short of a gift. Any will do, but here are a few of my favorites: On Death, On Desegregation, On Division.
Modern Love is exactly that: real stories, written by real people, and read by famous voices, concerning the wonderful, messy, complex, magical, heartbreaking, somber, electrifying experience that is love, in all ways, shapes, and sizes. It comes out every Thursday and every Thursday I eagerly throw on a new episode. Here’s a few on Adoption, on Language Barriers, on Lying for Good, and on Owning Your Body.
Operating on the idea that 99% of design is invisible, Roman Mars deep dives again, and again, and again, constantly finding new ways to intersect with, and dissect the world around us, and with a soothing radio voice to boot. Chicago folks may enjoy this talk on flag design (and why ours is the best.) Any episode will do but I found this one on Chinatowns, and this one the world’s Seed Vault (in case of disaster) to be very much worth the listen.
For the design nerds out there, Debbie Millman runs a tight ship and talks shop with a range of designers, artists, innovators, about the ins-and-outs, and importance of good design.
Strong Opinions Loosely Held
Refinery29’s podcast is part pop culture, part real life conflicts and offers some insightful conversations, led by young women, and the issues that we face in 2018. Two of my top listens were about Why Male Bosses Don’t Get It, and Unhappiness in the Age of Self Help.
Though Tom Ashcroft no longer hosts the show due to allegations of misconduct, this is a dependable discussion about a myriad of topics, and namely conversations about the world, the country, the state of living we exist in. Particularly this episode on Female Friendship and Prepping for Natural Disasters. It also covers this week in news, and offers a reliably neutral stance on reporting.
This longform storytelling takes listeners deep into stories that often only stay long enough in the news for this week’s headline. On topics ranging from Opiod Addiction, to Doctors Without Borders, to Suicides in Greenland.
This audio documentary from the NYTimes on ISIS offers an in-depth look at their operations and how they have been able to grow into the terror organization we now identify the group as. It follows Rukmini Callimachi, the Times’ foreign correspondent and resident terrorism expert, as she braves the front lines of the War on ISIS in the Middle East in order to better understand the men (and sometimes women) behind the black flag.
This psychological thriller from Gimlet Media is so well written and executed, I’d rather listen to it than watch it as a show. The sound design, storyline, and casting are impeccable. Highly recommend, especially now that there are 2 Seasons worth of episodes to burn through. Catherine Keener is BAE.
Another Gimlet production, this fiction stars Alia Shawkat (aka Maeby Bluth) as Helen, whose new job at a big tech company offers her an escape from the dreariness of her Midwest hometown, until she discovers the awesome power, and pitfalls, of AI. Definitely a solid pick for road trips and long train rides/mundane morning commutes.
Spook city. This podcast gave me chills and also had me fiendin’ for the next episode. Excellent sound design, and such a convincing storyline that a friend of mine believed it was a real journalist for half of the show.
It’s doubtful you haven’t heard of this one yet, but in the even that you live under a rock, please treat yourself to this wild ride and prepared to be suspicious, entertained, curious, and at times, saddened by this fascinating turn of events when one reporter follows a led down the rabbit hole that is the town of Woodstock, AL.
TED Radio Hour
This is a long standing favorite of mine. I listen to many TED Talks, because I have no life, and also because they are interesting AF, but these curated discussions offer more insight and conversation points into the topics themselves. Here’s a few of my top choices, as well as one of my all time favorite playlists: On Changing Your Behavior, On Listening, On Storytelling, On Being Truthful, On Design
Two Dope Queens
This is my hands-down-go-to if I am happy, sad, bored, hungry, or out of fucks to give. Two Dope Queens is an incredible mix of slang, Black Girl Magic, best friends, and incredible comedy bits. 12/10 would listen to repeatedly and cry with laughter in public. Particularly this episode starring the one and only, Kevin Bacon.
And a handful of honorable mentions:
Sooo Many White Guys
The Moth Radio Hour
Bliss + Grit
The Eater Upsell
Terrible, Thanks for Asking
Pod Save America + Pod Save The People
Stuff Mom Never Told You
Hilariously, I intended for this to be a shorter post than my previous ones (remember that bit about this being short and sweet hah,} but here we are. It would appear that I listen to a lot (like, A LOT) of podcasts. Who knew? Feel free to shoot me a message with your favorite listens / the things that currently hold your attention. For those interested. I still have an open call on submissions to this collaborative playlist. Any and all tunes welcome. Oh yeah, and here’s some photos from the walk parts of my self-prescribed podcast + walk sessions.