Weekend Matinee

The Green Lantern

Okay, so my plan was to go see something this morning and give you a review of it tonight. Sadly, my plan failed. I guess that’s lucky for me because the movie I was planning on enduring (so you don’t have to) was Green Lantern, which was pretty universally panned. Even it’s star Ryan Reynolds could only muster up “It turned out better than I expected,” in an interview to promote the movie.

Because I know you’re starved for entertainment (if you weren’t, why would you be here?) I won’t leave you without anything to fill your time. In fact, I’m going to point you in the direction of some entertainment that will make your commute the best hours of your day, block out the horrible music playing in the grocery store, and even make your run or gym workout fly by. I’m talking about podcasts. These 5 podcasts are amazing, entertaining, informative, and free. All you need are ears and an iPod-like device.

#1 Judge John Hodgman – Whether you own a Mac or a PC I’m sure you’ll love John Hodgman. Every week he sits in judgement on two people who bring their social disputes before him (for example: one week he arbitrated a dispute between a couple where the wife was hiding treats from the husband because he ate them too fast). John Hodgman is funny, intelligent, and quick witted. You can at least be intelligent and quick witted if you start downloading this podcast.

#2 A History of the World in 100 Objects – In this joint venture between the BBC and the British Museum, museum director Neil MacGregor takes you on a tour across time and civilizations. Each episode focuses on a single object which represents a larger cultural and historical idea. One of the great things about this podcast is that it isn’t just Dr. MacGregor nattering on for 15 minutes about some ancient cup you can’t see. His analysis and description (along with that of other historians) is interspersed with interviews of people who are experts in the modern day equivalent of what is being discussed.

#3 Savage Love Podcast – History not your thing? Well then, try out Dan Savage’s particular brand of straightforward advice about a topic that makes most of us blush and stammer – sex. At times funny, moving, and completely outrageous, Dan’s sex-positive message is entertaining, but also important. And who knows, maybe there’s something you’ve always wondered, but been too embarrassed to ask about that Dan will talk about.

#4 Planet Money – The Planet Money team started out by trying to explain the recent financial crisis in a way that would make it accessible to anyone without a PhD in economics. I may have lost some of you there, but come back. This isn’t some dry analysis of market trends and quarterly profit and loss statements. If I had to describe this podcast, and I do, I’d say it was about social economics. What does it mean to live on $1 a day. How does the credit card black market work? Why is failure good? None of the coverage comes with a spreadsheet. They do all that boring stuff for you. All you have to do is listen and be amazed.

#5 Writing Excuses – I think everyone secretly harbors the dream of writing a novel. Somewhere inside everyone is a story they’ve been nursing, hoping to someday put down on paper. Well then listen to these four published and successful authors really talk about the process of writing. In 15 minute episodes they don’t just talk about the different facets of creating a good story, they draw on their own experiences and drill down to the essentials of how to think about different aspects of writing. As they love to say at the end of each podcast, “You’re out of excuses, now go write.”

All of these podcasts are available for free in the iTunes store and from the linked websites.

And that’s me done for the day. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend ahead of you. After listening to these podcasts, I know it will be.



2 responses to “Weekend Matinee

  1. I’ve been hearing about the credit card black market recently on NPR’s Morning Edition. I think they’re airing the Planet Money team’s reports. It really is a black market. The website is a black background, a criminal’s deviousness must be attested to. It sounds very surreal, like how you would expect criminals to act if you’ve only ever encountered them in bad movies.

  2. I enjoy Judge John Hodgman a LOT. He’s extremely funny, and he’s got a great voice. However! I have to say I am not the biggest fan of Dan Savage. But everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and I happen to know many people (*ahem*) who do appreciate him. So.

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