Fresh Podcast Pickings

February 9, 2016

Dear Reader,

It’s really really hard to get out of bed in the morning and walk an hour in the cold. If you’re me, and you are trying to still make yourself do this instead of taking public transit to get to work, then you need some really good incentives. I love listening to podcasts while I walk, something I have talked about before on this blog. Here I want to give you a quick update on two of my favorite podcasts that you might not have had the good fortune to encounter yet.Fresh Podcast Pickings- TPIAT

The first, The Allusionist, is one I have talked about before. I mentioned it when I was talking about The Memory Palace because it was listening to the first that led me to the second. The Memory Palace continues to be an amazing storytelling experience, so you should also check that out if I haven’t convinced you of its merits in previous posts.Fresh Podcast Pickings- TPIAT

The Allusionist is all about language. Basically Helen Zaltzman takes you on a comedic journey through language’s underwear drawer. She takes on a term, or sometimes a phrase or saying, and deconstructs its linguistic routes. More recently, she has branched out to talking about the importance of language in certain facets of our lives. She has an amazing episode about a woman who provides language captioning ¬†for the blind. Her specialty is dance films. How does one describe dance through language in a way that conveys what is happening and what it means? I never even imagined that was someone’s job, but it is and hearing her speak about it was fascinating.Fresh Podcast Pickings- TPIAT

My favorite episode is the most recent two part episode, one that caused me to write this post. In this episode Helen delves into online dating and interviews author Amy Webb about her attempt to master online dating by writing the perfect profile. Webb spent a considerable amount of time researching what specifically about the linguistic structure of popular profiles made them so popular and why, then built herself a super-profile to test her findings. She wrote a book about the whole experience called Data, a Love Story and has a TED Talk about all this. I recommend all of the above.

Helen Zaltzman’s other podcast, Answer Me This, is my second recommendation on this cold and snowy Thursday. Helen, Olly, and Martin the Soundman answer listeners’ questions, no matter how random, in an entertaining and informative way. They also sing a lot, which took me a minute to get used to, but I now find just as hilarious as the rest of it. The questions they get asked are as diverse as “Do you think my wife and I were struck by lightening?” to “Should I feel ashamed about my relationship with my dominatrix?” I highly recommend a listen. You will laugh very much out loud many times.

I hope those help with your morning commute, they are generally enough to pull me out of bed most of the time.

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