Road trips (and air trips for that matter), offer time to draw. It's cave painting vs. photography, is it not? In the car, morning coffee time, waiting for the next activity... might as well grab a pen and get to work. Or play. An early spring trip to Nashville offers the opportunity to fill out a few more pages.
This coming May we'll host a studio sale that will feature paintings, constructions, drawings and some letterpress printed notecards. Above is a detail from a series of drawings (which will be available at our studio sale) based on Detroit Tiger baseball cards from 1979. The groundwork for the dominant 1984 World Series Championship team was being laid, Sparky Anderson was at the helm and Ernie Harrell was in the booth. There are eight or nine other drawings in the series.
Vox's The Weeds is an open-ended discussion of current events. The inability of the hosts to LIKE refrain from saying LIKE in almost every utterance was LIKE too much. As the LIKEs piled up I was unable to focus on the topic at hand. I'm now monitoring my own LIKE output in conversation, and I can sympathize with the transgressors--- but I'm not irritating an audience of thousands, only my wife and dog. Loudon Wainwright III addressed this social ill in his song Cobwebs.
For some crazy reason, the Foresight Group (formerly White Pine Printers in Ann Arbor) hand over the keys to designer types every two months. "Make a two month calendar, 18" x 24", and you can use up to 4 inks and a varnish..." Hands-down one of the best things a printer could offer up. They get a print promotion, and we get a printed promotion. Hell yeah.
5" x 7" one-color letterpress print on 140# French pure white Muscletone Construction cover stock. Shoveling Snow with Buddha is a poem by Billy Collins.
Ann Arbor. AA. Above average, ample ambience, activities abound, etc. A fun project with a great client that isn't disappointed their holiday card isn't red and green. More please!
Writers talking to writers. Hey, at least they're not celebrities (yet). The Longform podcast doesn't pretend to be anything other than a forum for non-fiction writers to talk about their craft. The rotating panel of hosts does a workmanlike job of digging into the work and the author's process. Not a lot of fireworks with this particular effort, but consistent exposure to writers and work that I would otherwise miss.
Roman Mars is the host and creative force behind the podcast 99% Invisible. The first several times that I tuned in I wasn't aware of the design and architecture premise. I simply enjoyed the relaxed approach to storytelling and figured it was another This American Life type of an effort. Over time I've been able to recognize the underlying theme and look forward to each week's episode.
The Stuff You Should Know podcast explores how things work, from the microscopic to the cosmic and quite a lot in between. The hosts, Josh and Chuck, have a pleasant back and forth approach that introduces a subject and then fills in the details. They keep the information general enough so the laymen among us (like me) don't get dazed and confused. Their off-topic sidebars drive me nuts, but maybe that's their point of differentiation. Twice-weekly, usually about three quarters of an hour in length.
Never would have thought I would be eager to tear through four-hour episodes of World War I history, but Dan Carlin's Hardcore History got me hooked early and gave me no reason to turn away. The six-part (so far) Blueprint for Armageddon effort has been a revelation. Carlin has the ability to tell the story, cite first-hand accounts and essentially be very captivating in the retelling of the horrors that were World War I. There is an ample backlog of previously run podcasts as well, which I'm looking forward to. This is easily one of the best podcasts I've taken in to date.
Dr. Steven Novella hosts a small panel of scientists (including one or two other Novellas) for the hour-plus podcast The Skeptics Guide to the Universe. Once a subject is introduced a spirited discussion follows. Skepticism is the underlying theme. Many of the subjects are commonly held beliefs, the validity of which, upon further examination either come under question or are thoroughly debunked. It's a good-natured group, kind of like being in the smart guys locker room as they laugh and cajole over tales of astrophysics and the speed of light.
Strangers is a popular storytelling production from Lea Thau, the Peabody Award winning creator of The Moth Radio Hour and The Moth Podcast, the gold standards for modern day storytelling on radio and podcasts. The content of the stories are interesting, compelling and personal. I can't get past Thau's presence in many of the episodes. For whatever reason, I have no interest in her personal life for the episodes that feature her life, and in episodes where she conducts interviews I want her to step out of the narrative and let the subject be the subject. It's a personality thing. Thau is very highly regarded and gets plenty of stellar reviews from high-rolling media outlets including Slate and the New York Times.
Many podcasts that deal with nonfiction storytelling end up sounding like a This American Life segment. That shouldn't necessarily be considered a negative. Hosted by Phoebe Judge, Criminal is that way. Short (never more than twenty minutes), always interesting, and with little fanfare, the common denominator is that each episode deals with the effects or aftermath of a criminal act, and not always a violent one. Did the owl do it?
Former NPR reporter Mike Pesca hosts this daily, half-hour effort courtesy of Slate. Pesca is very funny and he crams in a lot of words between the opening and closing bells, so much so that even his credits are laced with jokes. The problem with repeated wisecracks in the credits is just that—they're repeated. Daily. Regardless, the host combines his humor and seasoned reporting chops to deliver a solid interview with each episode, as well as an informed opinion piece. The editorials may come in the form of a production number, or in a straight read. My preference is the straight read, as the guy is more entertaining when he's not trying to entertain.
Skimming the NYTimes online is enough to satiate my daily news habit. Every Friday I'll take in the New Yorker Political Scene podcast—that's about all the news I can mainline for a week. Executive editor Dorothy Wickenden sets the table and then gets out of the way as a couple of other New Yorker editors weigh in on the week's topic. She moves the conversation along but doesn't feel compelled to give an opinion, simply setting up the next logical inquiry and letting her guests deliver their opinions. Smart, concise and rarely argumentative, this podcast exhibits how complicated subjects ought to be chewed upon.
With the emergence of atheism without shame, and with the continued frightening effects of religious conservatism on national and international politics, the examination of unscientific beliefs is a welcomed guest at our door. The trick to making skepticism engaging is handled nicely by David McRaney and his guests on his weekly podcast You Are Not So Smart. McRaney examines why we believe what we believe and offers keys to deciphering the self-delusion that we all experience, otherwise known as our beliefs. He presents his thoughts in a calm and rational manner that shares information, as opposed to dictating it. He also introduces a cookie recipe with each episode.
Apparently someone laid this moniker on George Carlin: a modern day philosopher. I believe it was meant to describe Carlin in particular and possibly stand-up comedians in general. Comic Danny Lobell hosts a comic guest each week and pairs him (or her?) with a philosopher that you've probably heard of and possibly know nothing about. They open with the usual celebrity banter and gradually work up to discussing the chosen thinker. It ain't deep, and that's just fine. It's a fun conceit, and Lobell sounds sincerely interested in the comics that are his guests. It airs once-a-week so burnout isn't a factor (take note daily podcasters) and I look forward to each week's effort. The archived editions are worth trolling through, there are gems to be had.
Nothing innovative here, just good storytelling. Serial is a weekly, on-going tale that's spread out over several weeks. The inaugural effort is a true crime story that finds a man in prison for a murder committed over fifteen years ago. Let's just say it wasn't a cut and dry case. Each week, host Sarah Koenig peels away the layers of the story and provides enough twists and turns to whet the listener's appetite for what's going to be revealed in subsequent episodes. An offshoot of This American Life, and the first four installments indicate it's going to be worth following through to the conclusion.
Hosted by Mark Malkoff, The Carson Podcast wanders down memory lane in search of anyone who was a Tonight Show with Johnny Carson guest, writer, or behind the scenes player. Malkoff is an ardent fan of Carson and the Tonight Show and does thorough research--- guests are often surprised at his encyclopedic knowledge of everything Johnny. Carson is rapidly fading into the dark shadows of television history, but if you are old enough to have been a viewer and enough of a fan of pop entertainment, there's plenty of interesting backstage gossip and storytelling. But if I hear that Fred DeCordova story one more time... oy.
Marc Maron is a stand-up comic that has been around for a long time but has never exploded into a big star, although it looks like WTF has created serious momentum for his career. This podcast gives him a venue to interview fellow comics (mostly) and a handful of other entertainers. His struggles with his career and personal issues make him well-suited to dig into those of his guests. He says 'fuck' a lot. Spoiler alert: Boomer is/was a cat.