Sunday, 11 March 2018

Listening and Learning (11/03/18)

I continue to love finding new podcasts to enjoy on my commute to/from work each day.

I have previously written about S-Town, Trace, Revisionist History, Slate's Political Gabfest and Chat 10 Looks 3 as well as Dirty John, In The Dark and Missing Richard Simmons.

So here (hear!) are some of the podcasts I have been listening to lately.

Slow Burn
In June 1972 five men broke in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington, DC. The crime and its coverup is collectively known as the Watergate scandal (and the reason why -gate is a suffix of every political scandal since). The investigation revealed a link to the Nixon administration and subsequently led to the President's downfall.

Journalist Leon Neyfakh's eight episode podcast Slow Burn is a fascinating look at Watergate with some powerful parallels to modern times. Indeed each episode made me think of the Mueller investigation and what is happening in the Trump administration.

My knowledge of Watergate had been pretty much restricted to the 1976 film All the President's Men about Washington Post journalists Woodward and Bernstein. But through Slow Burn I learned so much more. For example, the first episode is about Martha Mitchell, the fun-loving socialite wife of Nixon's Attorney General, who had a habit of calling up the tabloids to dish the dirt. She was essentially kidnaped by an FBI agent and then discredited by Nixon's staff as delusional in a gripping 'I can't believe they did that' episode.

This is a smart, addictive podcast which reveals many aspects of the Watergate scandal through painstaking research and interviews with many of the key people involved.

By The Book
I came across the By The Book podcast from listening to Slate's Double X podcast when they interviewed comedian Jolenta Greenberg, who hosts By The Book with Kristen Meinzer.

The premise is simple: select one popular self-help book, follow its teachings to the letter for two weeks, then catch up and see if your life has improved.

The two women (and their life partners) have experimented with The Secret, French Women Don't Get Fat, The Memory Book, Men are from Mars..., The Little Book of Hygge and many more. When they read America's Cheapest Family, they spent two weeks living thriftily. After The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, they chucked out a lot of their belongings but one reverted back to her untidy ways as her husband did not find joy in continually searching for the soap.

What makes this podcast such fun is that the hosts have different personalities and are pretty much game for anything. This podcast is great for anyone who has tried and failed to live the Marie Kondo way.

Literary Disco
I am a sucker for books and disco - so a podcast called Literary Disco was right up my alley!

Hosted by three writers - Tod Golberg, Julia Pistell and Rider Strong - who dig deep into some terrific novels every three or four weeks. Their episode on George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo was the first one I tried. I found the hosts erudite and witty, with a way of dissecting the book to make its' reading more enjoyable. They demonstrate a passion for writing and a deep respect for writers.

Recent episodes include My Brilliant Friend, Manhattan Beach, Norse Mythology. My only criticism is that sometimes the audio quality is uneven and one of the hosts sounds a bit too loud in contrast to the others. But the content makes me look past that.

So those are my latest podcast obsessions. Stay tuned for more Listening and Learning.