Round Up Redux

Dear Erin,

I’m sorry this is late today. We finally have our first tooth, and it’s interfering this week with his napping schedule.

Now that Little Mister is more and more aware of the world around him, the sounds around the house have changed significantly. Of course, there are his sounds – lots of babbling and screeching and laughing, and his fair share of crying or grumping about. Right now, he’s taking turns fake coughing and talking to himself.

But there’s also the music, which has increased exponentially from before he was born. It used to be almost all podcasts nearly all the time. Now, since I’m sharing the sounds with LM, we wander in music from Sesame Street to Beethoven to Miles Davis to Tom Lehrer to whichever of my Pandora stations sound at all appealing.

But when the boy’s in bed, it’s time for podcasts again! Some quiet time to myself to learn new things or hear debate or an audiobook. I’m clearly not listening quickly enough for iTunes’s taste, as it keeps telling me it’s stopped updating certain subscriptions because I haven’t listened “lately,” and do I want to begin updating again? Yes, you silly program, I do.

So I figured now is a good time to update my list from before and add some of those that I didn’t include last time.

So, the last time I suggested The British History Podcast, but it’s gotten too slow even for me. There’s a line between “thorough” and “losing the narrative in the weeds,” and for me, that line’s been crossed. I appreciate all the work that goes into this podcast, but when I consistently zone out five minutes into each episode, I know it’s a lost cause.

Instead, this time I’ll point you to Rex Factor again. They finished their series with a playoff that culminated in an overall winner, so you don’t have to wait for new material any more, although they’ll be starting a new series at some point. Besides, they read my comment on the final episode, so I feel famous and want to promote them even more now.

I also suggest The History of England podcast. It may just be “a guy in a shed,” as the presenter often describes himself. But, funny and well researched, it manages to seem thorough while still moving along at a good clip. And, periodically, there are family theatricals to liven things up further.

There’s also the Judge John Hodgman podcast, which is one of the more famous ones out there. A comedy podcast, but with a very humanistic foundation, Hodgman rules wisely (usually) on disputes between friends and family members. Generally, these are disputes along the lines of “My spouse thinks we can eat food past its expiration date. Make him / her throw away expired food!” You know, the important stuff.

And finally, there’s CraftLit, public domain audiobooks with lengthy introductions that include crafting talk as well as background and context on the books. You can get the podcasts without the crafting materials, as well. This is like Librivox with benefits. I recently finished listening to The Scarlet Letter this way – the first time I’ve interacted with that book since high school, and I have to admit, I didn’t really like it any more this time around, although it was probably for different reasons.

So, there you go. Some new things to check out if you ever get into the mood.


Podcast Obsession

Dear Erin,

Aw, she looks like she’s having a fantastic time! The past few days have been more fall-like, and I hope it will last. I’m putting off that first (and likely only) pumpkin spice latte for the perfect moment: gray, cool, and breezy.

Reading continues apace. Since I’m currently full up on fiction, I’ve moved on to a book-length essay, Why Poetry MattersThe jury is still out; the first two chapters were off-putting. However, I’m not done yet. It might turn around.

When I’m actually being productive these days (as opposed to reading, writing, or studying, all of which can be argued to be productive but don’t result in clean socks), I am, as always, devouring podcasts. And I have a new favorite: the Rex Factor Podcast.

Rex Factor Logo

Rex Factor Logo

It’s a lively conversation between British friends Graham and Ali, and each episode concentrates on a king or queen of England. They’ve been moving chronologically from Alfred the Great up to Elizabeth II. Graham brings the erudition and Ali the commentary. Besides biography, they “review” each monarch on several characteristics, beginning with “battleyness” and ending with a final vote on whether the person has the “Rex Factor,” which is entirely subjective but seems to be a kind of glamor mixed with effectiveness.

I binge listen to them in dynasties, so, having started with Alfred the Great about three weeks ago, I’m already up to George III. I know it’s not really your preferred area of history, but if you’re looking for something different delivered in a well-researched and entertaining manner, you might check these out sometime.

Podcast Round Up

Dear Erin,

I’m not going to tell you how much I laughed at your post, because I kind of feel bad about it. I’m guessing every parent has wished at some point that their children came with thought bubbles.

I had hoped to do a photo post today, but the weather has been uncooperative this week. Two days were leaden and gray, one rained in fits and starts. Today was lovely, but I had other things that took precedence. So I’m going to build on previous work and offer a round-up of podcast reviews (but only from among the ones I subscribe to).

For the history buff who is also an anglophile – “The British History Podcast“: Ex-lawyer Jamie Jeffers moves with agonizing thoroughness through the history of the British Isles. Must love details to enjoy this one. Either that or just let all the names and dates wash over you like a wave in the Atlantic on a hot summer day. Periodically, he fixates on things like giant deer and how cool the name “Magnus” is. Right now he’s on the Anglo-Saxons, and I’m loving every minute.

For the geek who is also a feminist – “Doctor Who: Verity!“: A panel of from three to six very intelligent women discuss matters of interest only to Doctor Who fans, and some of interest only to rather fanatic Doctor Who fans. Plus you get to hear accents from Scotland, Canada, and Tasmania. Fantastic!

For the person who realizes that “Christian Humanist” is not an oxymoron – “The Christian Humanist Podcast“: Three young, funny, well-read, opinionated Christian college professors discuss matters of interest to Christians and Humanists. Oh, who am I kidding? They discuss matters of interest to Christians and Literature scholars, but for a high-level general audience. So, even though they recently did a trilogy of episodes about some British Romantic poems, there was only minimal use of the terms “schema,” “culture of oppression,” or “trochaic tetrameter.”

For the NPR newshound looking to develop a better sense of humor – “NPR Programs: Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me“: If you have heard this program on your local NPR station, this one needs no introduction. If you haven’t, you’re seriously missing out. It is darn funny.

I could list quite a few more, and perhaps I will, sometime. For now, though, this is a good range to start with. I suppose they might sound a little … highbrow? But I’ve found each one to be a lot of fun as well as educational. And who doesn’t like to learn something new whenever possible?