February 21, 2018

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.

Atlantic Magazine: Food For Thought

Airplane miles I couldn’t use were commandeered by my husband to order magazines by the postal carrier truckload. Suddenly my mail box was filled with issues of People, This Old House, Time, Food and Wine, Traveler, In Style and more.

To my surprise, The Atlantic Magazine has been my hands-down favorite. I remember it as The Atlantic Monthly and being rather dry, but this bi-monthly current incarnation is thought-provoking with articles  on politics, religion, technology, the arts, social phenomena and important ideas, in general. In fact, the issue now on the newsstands is “The Ideas Issue.” Adding a literary touch, poems are scattered throughout the pages; even the book ads are sophisticated and intellectually stimulating. This is a news magazine, rather than a cultural reader, but the writing is every bit as good as The New Yorker magazine.

To whet your appetite for the July/August issue, learn “Why the Saudis Are Going Solar,”  ask yourself “Is Silicon Valley Really Evil?” or the cover article, “The End of Work.” Much food for thought, indeed.


Flipboard, a new way to get your news fix

A hairdresser clued me in to Flipboard, a compendium of news stories from various global traditional and alternative news sources which you access from an application on your ipad and iphone or your smart phone and smart tablet. You literally flip the pages like an old-fashioned magazine. Articles might be from Time or Forbes magazines, the Huffington Post, the New York Times or alternative sites like The Verge, The Next Web or techcrunch.com.

You can check out the latest news, catch up on all of the latest tech buzz, peruse gorgeous curated photos or discover recipes from Bon Appetit. Flipboard can be used to access solely hard news or to meander through the trivial and entertaining to your heart’s content. You never know where your flips and clicks might land you. Choosing “#MagsWeLove,” which Flipboard bills as reader-created magazines, I found “Classicalite Digest,” by Logan K. Young which features news and commentary on Classical Music, Jazz, Theater and Dance. From his magazine, I discovered that the group Pink Martini will sing a song with the great-grand-children von Trapp family members on March 7 at Chicago’s Symphony Center.
Using the search button, I happened across an article entitled “18 Easy Paleo Diet Recipes” and was intrigued by a dish called Menemen with eggs, tomato, green pepper, onion and spices. Yum.
You can save stories into your own magazines, tweet what you read to others or subscribe to certain categories which is all beyond me right now. Just let me go to the “Eye Candy” section of the Photo genre one more time!
Flipboard is a free application in the Apple or Windows Stores, Blackberry World or Google play.