Podcasts are my current obsession and I’ll tell you why

So, I’m going to do something a bit different for a Tuesday.   I suppose it could be in the realm of Teaser Tuesday, but not quite.  It’s more like a review and or a “you should totally be doing this and if you’re not, start right this moment!” sort of thing.

I posted a few weeks ago about listening to an audio book via Audible.  Well, the reason I knew anything about it was because I sort of got caught up in the whole Podcast thing a few years ago when the first season of Serial was released.  (If you haven’t heard about it, you should totally check it out…)

I didn’t look into Audible back then because I had plenty of time to read (I was taking the train to work) and it didn’t interest me beyond that one thing.  I listened to the first season of Serial and then didn’t listen to another Podcast.  It wasn’t until I found the second season of Serial (and finished it in two days) that I started realizing how much I loved it.  I loved listening to it in my car while driving; I loved listening to it while I was crocheting; as it turns out, I just loved listening to it and I was sad when it was over.

This American Life

So, I downloaded Audible and have finished an entire book and can’t wait to start another one.  But in the interim, I decided to try another Podcast.  It’s called This American Life and I believe the same people who produce it produce Serial.

I listened to my first episode yesterday and I was blown away.  Perhaps I just share the same values and the same way of thinking as these people, but I found myself loving how they presented the material and thinking that everyone should be talking about these things in just this way.

After feeling bombarded by news, politics and pretty awful things in the media, it was a refreshing change.  It’s not like I’m hiding behind stories and not wanting to talk about things that matter, because I do; but I’d prefer to do it in a way that doesn’t have fear pressed into every sentence.  We need to have real conversations about real things and I don’t believe the media does that.  They are, after all, out to get more viewers.  That is their focus, far more than relating news in a neutral way.  (At least, that’s my opinion)

So, I’m going to do my own plug and say that if you like Podcasts, you should totally check out Serial if you want an ongoing story for a set amount of episodes.  But you should check out This American Life if you want real talk about real things and real people.  The episode I listened to yesterday was Birds and Bees, discussing how to talk to children about big, complicated things.  Simply brilliant!

And today I started listening to Tell Me I’m Fat.  I haven’t finished this one, but it hasn’t disappointed so far.

Audible is a pay by month service but the Podcasts are free.  I believe you should already have an app on your phone, so all you need to do is subscribe to them, download the episodes and start listening.  Easy-peasy and so completely worth it!

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Thoughts on Hamilton – Which sounds really boring but it isn’t… I promise

Okay, so my blog is a bit schizophrenic. I write flash fiction, I write poems and I also partake in stream of conscious writing. I’ve started a song lyric post that I ended up missing on Sunday for the first time.

That’s another thing. Sometimes I just disappear.

But I realized last week that I do this blog for fun and pretty much for me (being the selfish person that I am), so if I miss a day or two or don’t do that challenge on that one day, I’m not going to beat myself up or get upset. I’m just going to accept it. (That’s the plan anyway).

Today, I’m going to jump into a whole new genre. I suppose this is a review, which I have done a few times, but not this kind of review.

I received a text from my daughter yesterday morning on my way to work.

“Mom. You absolutely have to listen to the new Bway musical Hamilton. It is amazing ugh.”

My first question was, “Bway?”

Broadway.

Yes.

I honestly love the performing arts. I don’t think I realized how much until Adelle went to a performing arts high school. We constantly attended plays and dances and she kept me in the know because they follow all the current performing arts things.

Apparently, Hamilton is all the rage right now at her school and after completely immersing myself in it for the last two days, I have to say that I completely understand it, and I haven’t even actually seen it! I just listened to the album.

To be honest, after listening to the first song, I was reluctant. It was so weird. I was a little put off that it was actually about Alexander Hamilton and I was even more weirded out about the hip-hop aspect. But it grew on me fast!

I love when things don’t take themselves too seriously. Writing, performing arts, music… pretty much anything you can think of, but since this is a creative blog, I’ll stick with some of those things.

I think music has stretched limits and changed and blossomed in many different ways, but Broadway has stayed relatively the same. I don’t know if that’s entirely accurate. Maybe it has changed. But honestly, this is the first time I’ve heard a Broadway musical that called itself “hip-hop.”

I love that Hamilton is current. I love pretty much everything about it. I only wish I could fly to New York tonight, pay for tickets and see the show, it was that good.

And that’s pretty odd coming from me, because as much as I like performing arts, I really don’t much care for history. That love went to my sister. But even given the fact that Lin-Manuel Miranda tried to keep Hamilton as historically accurate as possible (yes I looked that up), I fell in love with it.

So, this is me texting you on this late fall evening, telling you to listen to it if you can or buy it and listen. It is definitely worth every moment! (Oh, and I cried. Just sayin…)

Here is a snippet I found on YouTube that the Wall Street Journal posted.

Just give it a chance.

I dare you!

Velocity – The Review

Velocity

This was my first time reading Dean Koontz and I was left thinking, “where the hell has this author been all my life!” I’ve heard of him, but I always put him in the horror genre and that’s not really my thing. Maybe he does write horror and I can see how this book has some in it, but it is actually a thriller, the type of story that I love!

Billy Wiles is a bartender living a seemingly average life in a small town until he walks to his truck and finds a note. “If you don’t take this note to the police and get them involved, I will kill a lovely blond schoolteacher. If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have four hours to decide. The choice is yours.” After reading it, Billy doesn’t at first believe it, thinks it’s a joke, but he is inevitably thrust into a dark world where he attempts to answer the question we all can’t help but ask, “what would you do.”

I can tell you it wasn’t at all what I expected when I first read the synopsis and decided to dig in. There were so many twists and turns and I was carried along on the wave of intensity and despair and all the myriad emotions Billy experiences throughout.

Koontz is a master storyteller. He introduces many questions, as any good storyteller does, and just when I am really wondering what the answer is, he answers it. But there are times you forget about the question because there is so much going on and then halfway through the book you remember and just when you start asking again, he answers that one. The book is filled with brilliant descriptions and everything ties into each other. Even the things you think are just filler eventually tie into the climax and round everything out. Of course, these things don’t make themselves completely known until you close the cover of the book and you start remembering all the minute details and how one scene led seamlessly into the next.

I am definitely a fan and even have another Koontz book sitting on my table with a bookmark already holding my place in the first chapter.

I can’t end this review without a few more quotes (I used one for Teaser Tuesday as well) because they are brilliant and I was left in awe, wondering if I would ever have the talent to write such beauty set in so much darkness.

“As the night futilely resisted the early purple light…”

“He was a man whose love of power was clear for all to see, but whose internal landscape remained as enigmatic as an alien planet.”

“The dying sun spilled fierce bloody light on the dimensional mural under construction across the highway from the tavern.”

“What will happen will happen. There is time for miracles until there is no more time, but time has no end.”

I could go on, but there are so many, I wouldn’t know where to stop.

Go find it.

Pick it up.

Read it.

Enjoy!

Nightcrawler made my skin crawl

I wouldn’t necessarily say that reviewing is something I do, especially on my blog, but I haven’t stopped thinking about Nightcrawler since I watched it on Saturday. I can hear the wheels turning in your head, thinking somehow that might be a good thing, but that’s where you’d be wrong.

Nightcrawler (2014) Poster

We rented the movie from Redbox after scanning a few titles, and even though I had a niggling thought in the back of my brain telling me it probably wasn’t going to be a very happy movie, I hit rent anyway and soon enough, the movie was spurting out the side of the Redbox and we were on our way home to watch it.

About two hours later, I was wishing I had listened to that voice in my head telling me not to. The hard part is that the movie was well made, the acting was fantastic and there were some really amazing cinematic moments. But I was left feeling sick to my stomach and wondering if there are really people like this in the world even though we all know the answer is yes.

Lou Bloom, played rather brilliantly by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a thief who finds his way into L.A. crime journalism. It’s disturbing in the rather casual way in which Bloom inserts himself into crime scenes in order to photograph them and it quickly takes some rather dark turns. I also enjoyed Rene Russo, holy shit does she look good for her age, and how her character interacted with Gyllenhaal’s. One minute it had me laughing and the next I was shaking my head, asking my boyfriend why the hell we were still watching it. Bloom is a character I found myself wondering if I should cheer for but soon realized that’s not at all what I should be doing. He was creepy and yet he would say things that made absolute sense which in turn made me laugh because there was no way they should make sense in the context they were used. I think one commenter on IMDb called it a dark satire and I absolutely agree.

I literally wanted to wipe my brain clean and unsee what I had watched when it was over. Is that what they say a good movie is? Something you can’t help but watch and finally finish only to think about for days after?

The movie also raised some ethical questions about news, of which I’m not a fan, and that rather shady line between posting news in order to help people and posting news in order to make money and get people to watch.

Overall, I would have to say the movie is well done and like I’ve mentioned, the acting is surprisingly good, leaving me to wonder why I never heard of it.

If you like these types of movies and don’t mind feeling like what I’ve mentioned when it’s all over, then I would say it’s worth it. If, on the other hand, you don’t like feeling somewhat violated when you’re done watching a movie, then I would steer clear of it.

And that, my friends, is my good deed for the day – shining the light on a gem of a movie no one has heard of with really good acting but doesn’t leave you with the happy feel goods when it’s all over, so watcher beware.

Love and Teaser Tuesdays Are In Da Blog – Books Make Great Friends

I took Andru to his parent teacher conference last week and afterwards, as is normally the case, we stopped off at the book fair to check out some books. Andru is very into video games and the only book he wanted was a how-to on setting up Minecraft worlds. I would have just bought that for him and walked away, but they were having a buy-one-get one sale, so we kept looking for something else. I told him I really wanted him to get something that was an actual chapter book, which I don’t think he was very happy about because it then turned into a half hour of looking at the same things over and over again.

In order to help out, I decided to try and find him some choices so I checked out the box that had his teacher’s wish-list books in it. Turns out, he wasn’t interested in any of those, but I was. I ended up buying one of the books for the teacher and one for myself. Andru ended up with something else that wasn’t a chapter book, but hey; at least he’s reading. And we bought four books instead of two, or one or none! Yay books! 🙂

I’m always behind the times a bit when it comes to reading. I’m always reading things that were in five years ago. The book I ended up buying for myself was Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and I finished reading it today (it’s only 140 pages, so it didn’t take very long for me to read it once I started).

Tuck Everlasting

I’m going to basically turn this into a Teaser Tuesday post as well as an I love books and they are some of my best friends on my worst days kind of post.

I’m also going to tell you that this book was a breath of fresh air in my life right now and I enjoyed every moment it took me to read it. I loved the language of it; how Babbitt described the heat of August and the toad in the grass. I loved how she presented the Tuck family and their interactions with Winnie Foster, the main character. I even loved the ending (I happened to glimpse a short review that said they didn’t like how it ended). So, there you have it. My small review of a friend that was with me for a few short hours and delighted me more than I can say. I hope you will pick it up if you haven’t already because I think it’s worth it.

Isn’t there a movie? I think they made a movie…

I opened the book to page 44 and here’s the snippet I chose for you:

“So, the sun riding high now in the sky, they started off again, noisy in the August stillness, eating bread and cheese. Jesse sang funny old songs in a loud voice and swung like a monkey from the branches of tress, showing off shamelessly for Winnie, calling to her, “Hey, Winnie Foster, watch me!” and “Look what I can do!”


This post is part of Love Is In Da Blog hosted by Bee where our prompt this week is all about friends. It is also part of Teaser Tuesdays of Should be Reading hosted by Miz B. Feel free to click the links and join in the reading love!

Gone Girl – The Review

Gone Girl

I can finally have my life back.

I was speaking with a friend yesterday at lunch (before the huge twist) and she told me one of her friends saw the movie last week and she described him as having “a dazed look”, and I was thinking that it was probably true, but I couldn’t have even imagined what was in store for me when I got home. And now that I’ve reached the end, I’m imagining that’s what my face looks like right now

Dazed, shocked, not really sure what to think. Did I like it? Did I hate it? I know I didn’t hate it, but it left me with a slightly sick feeling.

I should have known from my previous encounter with this author and the somewhat macabre reviews I managed to glimpse without actually reading any because Goodread reviews are just as good as actually reading the book sometimes. I should have known that I wouldn’t be satisfied with the ending.

I agree with some unknown person who said they didn’t like either Nick or Amy. They aren’t really likable people. There are points in the book, though, that you root for each of them.

Maybe that’s why I feel so… fucked. (I sincerely apologize, but I cannot review this book without some colorful language)

I feel like I’ve been fucked with and I’m not entirely happy about it.

The book was great in so many ways. Twists and turns I didn’t see coming. The writing style was amazing. I also loved that it was told by each character’s perspective. I guess I just don’t like being messed with quite so much. I don’t know… I take that back. I don’t mind being messed with, but I actually like to have some redeeming quality, something to root for that doesn’t get twisted into, haha, just kidding, that isn’t going to happen.

And there is still that thing I said yesterday, are people really this awful?

I’m not sure what else to say that hasn’t already been said. I think I will force my boyfriend to the movies this weekend so he can share in this sick, twisted fuckery with me. I need someone to share it with. It’s too much just sitting in my brain, taking up space, messing with me.

This is part of Just Jot It January hosted by Linda G Hill.

2014 in review

I am so grateful for this amazing first year of blogging. It was more than I ever expected. Thank you to all my readers who decided to follow me. I honestly can’t believe I hit the 200 followers mark just last night!

I would also like to say that there is one stat that is completely skewed because a certain person accesses my blog through one of my posts, so it’s coming up as the number one most viewed post. Thanks, Mom, for always reading my blog and commenting. Maybe I can show you how to access it through the home page. 🙂

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.