December 12, 2018

The Week paper magazine

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Just when I had given up all paper news sources, along came The Week, a weekly magazine that a friend started giving me when he was done reading it. Their tag line below the title says “The Best of the U. S. and International Media” and that about says it all.

This is a concise news source for quick overviews of world and national politics, along with blurbs on issues of culture, science, technology and the arts.There are also editorials from around the world on mainstream and lesser known subjects.

For in depth articles, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and magazine web sites like The Economist and The New Yorker take me further into selected topics, but for general news, The Week is easily perused in one sitting and gets me up to speed on most of the current hot button topics.

Curiously, I have visited The Week’s electronic magazine site, but greatly prefer their old-fashioned paper magazine format. They amply use both eye-catching photos and drawings for many articles, including the always amusing cover color cartoon.

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A black and white cartoon page slants toward the political and is always hilarious. The crossword puzzle on the back page is like dessert after a several course meal of various issues.

Some may criticize the thumbnail approach to hard news, but in the words of Sgt. Friday on Dragnet,  “All we want are the facts, ma’am.”As far as I know, The Week is giving me just that in one digestible format.

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Podcasts: The Daily from the New York Times and The Rachel Maddow Show from MSNBC

I continue to love my WBEZ app where I can catch radio programs I have missed, but podcasts have now become my listening choice when I have exhausted favorite NPR programs.

Along with Stay Tuned with Preet Bharara and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, I have added two new podcasts to my audio play list: The Daily from the New York Times newspaper and the Rachel Maddow Show from MSNBC.

I no longer get a paper version of the New York Times delivered to my home, so this audio slice of the paper was a welcome find. Each episode goes into depth on a particular topic and ends with one of the day’s most important events. I definitely feel more informed after my daily brief audio dose of the NY Times.

I don’t watch television news so I was unfamiliar with Rachel Maddow (which flabbergasted one of my sisters.) After listening to a couple of podcast episodes of The Rachel Maddow Show, I can say that this lady is really smart. She seems to be able to uncannily connect a lot of the dots concerning current news topics.

The podcast episodes appear to be audio broadcasts of her MSNBC show, so I can tell people that I am not watching TV, I am listening to it.

If you have a podcast recommendation, please send them my way.

Alec Baldwin’s Podcast, Here’s the Thing

Now that I have discovered the world of podcasts, someone recommended Here’s the Thing hosted by Alec Baldwin and sponsored by WNYC, a non-profit, noncommercial public radio station in New York City.

The guest list skews to people in the arts, but an engaging interview with Watergate cast member, John Dean indicates that Baldwin knows his way around many topics, including government and politics. I have delighted in podcasts with Barbra Streisand, Audra McDonald and James Cromwell (activist and star of the movie, Babe.) My tentative list of programs I want to catch includes interviews with Elaine Stritch (his co-star on 30 Rock), whiskey-voiced actress Kathleen Turner, Billy Joel, Rosie O’Donnell and David Letterman, but his guests include economists, athletes, newspeople and accomplished individuals in various professions.

As good as Baldwin’s roles in numerous movies and tv shows have been, including his appearances on Saturday Night Live with his dead-on impersonation of our current commander-in-chief, his podcast program, Here’s the Thing which premiered in October 2011 may be an equal claim to fame.  Baldwin has a seemingly effortless ability to bring out the human, intellectual and comedic sides of his fascinating guests.

Talk on, Alec!

Stay Tuned with Preet, a podcast for legal eagles

One of my adult piano students encouraged me to download my first podcast, Stay Tuned With Preet, a weekly audio program that talks about law, justice and politics. What could be more apt right now?

If you are a news junkie, you may vaguely remember the name Preet Bharara, the U. S. Attorney for the Southern district of New York who was fired by the Trump Administration. The show not only explains the details of his firing, but features interviews with people “in the know.”

Leon Panetta is the podcast’s first fascinating guest who has held such illustrious titles as Secretary of Defense, Director of the CIA, White House Chief of Staff, Director of the Office of Management and Budget as well as U. S. Representative from California. Talk about an insider!
Other not-to-be-missed guests in the podcast series are Sen. Jeff Flake, Judd Apatow, Bill Browder (I wrote about his book Red Notice in a previous blog post) and John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism for the NYPD and a noted journalist.

Like me, you may just start with the first program from Sept. 19, 2017 and binge-listen all of the current episodes.

The quality of guests along with Preet’s probing questions and articulate comments make this one of the smartest shows in any format. He ends each program with a positive anecdote, rather like a bit of dessert after a very heavy meal.

Born in India to a Sikh father and a Hindu mother who immigrated to the U. S., Bharara is a great example of the richness of our immigrant heritage. Keep asking questions about the truth, Preet! We’re listening.

Vice News on HBO

vice_news_og_imageDespite some minor quibbles, I find myself checking out HBO’s Vice News which premiered on Oct. 10, 2016, a nightly news show with no anchors, no desks, graphic novel-type visuals and long-form reporting. In just twenty-some minutes, one gets a stimulating overview of national and world news.

As opposed to network news, the broadcast is not “live” but taped in the afternoon so critics complain that there is a canned feel. I agree, but still find a certain freshness in this presentation of news.

The daily news show is a spin-off of HBO’s Vice documentary TV programs started in 2014. I do hope that the producers and writers fine-tune the program to give the viewer a stronger sense of immediacy, but in the meantime, this will be one of my news sources.

It is worth noting that HBO and CNN are both part of the Time Warner family. Perhaps CNN could benefit from some of the innovations begun by HBO Vice News?

WBEZ’s new app

WBEZ has been announcing its new app on their radio broadcasts and I just downloaded it a few days ago. This app has transformed my radio experience. As many listeners know, Morning Edition repeats during the morning rush hours. If you didn’t want to re-listen to all of the news, you either switched the station, put on a CD or shut the radio off.

Now with the new convenient app, you can access much of their previous radio material whenever it’s convenient. Imagine catching the BBC World Service, Terry Gross’ Fresh Air, Marketplace, Krista Tippett’s On Being, Ted Talks or All Things Considered whenever you want.
Hopefully you have a way to hook your smart phone or tablet device into your car’s sound system via Bluetooth or an earphone jack.  I even line up my favorite programs on my iPhone when I know I will be waiting alone in long grocery or service lines. With this new little free app, you will never be bored!

Apps are also available for NPR News for iPad, NPR One, NPR Music and other individual NPR stations.