Sometimes I pinch myself

I am a huge nerd. Some people get excited when Lady Gaga comes through their town. I get excited when my favorite author/public radio personality/scientist comes through town to give a lecture or do a reading. For many years I forced my poor siblings to attend these events, events that were few and far between in the Bay Area.

Now that I’ve made the move out to New York I am constantly pinching myself at all of the amazing events I’ve been able to attend. Tonight for instance, I attended a This American Life themed edition of Selected Shorts hosted by Ira Glass. Two of my favorite podcasts combined to put on a show live. One of my favorite comedians Mike Birbiglia was also there to regale us with one of his hilarious stories. It’s been shocking getting to see in person the voices I’ve heard through my headphones so many times. Tomorrow night I get another dose of Ira at The Talent Show.

I’ve seen Malcolm Gladwell at Barnes & Noble. Neil DeGrasse Tyson at the The Daily Show. Stephen Colbert reading from To Kill a Mockingbird at Symphony Space. Donald Glover (Community) & John Lutz (30 Rock) at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Jonsi from Sigur Ros and Madeleine Peyroux at the Blue Note. I went to a lecture the other day on what was going on with the Large Hadron Collider that was sold out! These are the types of things I get to attend every week. I often turn to my friend (who not only willingly but eagerly joins me at these events) in a shocked breathlessness whisper “I can’t believe we live here!”

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I’m From the Ghetto (apparently)

Image from siliconvalleydebug.com

I listened to the most recent episode of This American Life this morning and found myself getting pretty riled up at the first story about Mt. Pleasant High School. You can listen to the story here or download the podcast on iTunes.

There has always been a stigma associated with East Side schools. We’re all knife wielding gangsters, throwing up gang signs, dealing drugs and having babies way too young. I’m not saying that element doesn’t exist, it absolutely does but I think it discredits the more prominent population of East Side kids that end up doing something productive with their lives. I’m always baffled at the people who are afraid of venturing out to the East Side, who turn their noses up because the girls on the volleyball team don’t have matching shoes. Life isn’t easy for most kids in the east side but that doesn’t mean they don’t come from loving homes, that they don’t want the very best for their lives, that they’re not trying to make the most out of what they have. I hate it when someone tries to tell you how to live your life without knowing a damn thing about you. I loathe the citizen high to citizen low attitude. I sincerely hope that Steve Poizner gets a clue about how insulting and terribly written his description of Mt. Pleasant High School kids was. I also hope that East Side schools are able to get the money to give these kids the education they want and need.

Thanks Ira for defending the East Side (I knew you would)

Podcasts

You have an ipod right? Or some other sort of mp3 playing device. Well have you discovered podcasts? I love music, I have a large library of music spanning many genres. I could probably go several months straight listening through my library without repeating a song. Even with all of this at my disposal I listen to podcasts 80% of the time. They’re free and easy to subscribe to. There is a podcast for any interest you may possibly have. Here are some of my favorites.

I am obsessed with this show, I recommend it to anyone that will listen. One episode can take you through the gamut of emotions. Some of my current cherished friendships have been sparked through discussions of this show. They usually have only the most recent episode available on the podcast, but the do stream all of their episodes free on their website. www.thislife.org . One of my favorites is called Somewhere Out There

I actually discovered this show through one of the episodes of This American Life. They have a similar structure as TAL, there is a theme and the collect stories related to that theme. Radiolab has more of a scientific bent which is great because it makes me feel smarter after I’ve listened to an episode. All of their episodes are available for download via podcast, or you can listen on their website. www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/ Try the Morality episode

Another podcast I discovered through This American Life. I’ve gone to a couple of their live shows too. They have a handful of podcasts available for download. I’ve heard some really great stories from Neil Gaiman and Malcolm Gladwell on their podcast. The Moth is a great organization and the stories they put up are always entertaining. They’re also short which is nice for those 20 minute car/train rides.

Terry Gross does the best interviews. She asks really insightful questions and really does her research. She interviewed Tracy Morgan and I listened in my car with my jaw hanging open because that interview was so crazy. The interviews all types of people; celebrities, politicians, directors, scientists, authors etc. Her show comes on at least twice a day on weekdays. You can also download podcasts of each show on iTunes.

I want to go to the TED conference someday. They get some of the most cutting edge thinkers of our time and get them to share their ideas. It’s amazing, I’ve seen stuff on the energy crisis, economics, aide in Africa, creativity, time & space. It always challenges the way I think about the world and yes the ideas are indeed worth spreading. They have both video and audio versions of their lectures, and I think they have most of them up on iTunes. This means you can find at least one thing you would be interested in.

Do you have a favorite podcast I haven’t listed? Care to share?

Ira Glass (my NPR crush)

I am in love with this man. If I have not already introduced you to his genius, this is Ira Glass host of the amazing This American Life. If you have stopped listening to radio, he gives you a reason to go back. The premise of TAL is they pick a theme and they put together different stories based on that theme, which may sound boring but it’s more like movies for the radio. The show has the ability to have you laughing hysterically in the first act and reduce you to tears by the last act. You can stream all of their shows on their website www.thislife.org. They also have a weekly podcast of their latest show. If you need suggestions I have a favorites list I’d love to share with you, just let me know and I’ll email it to you.

Anyway the reason I have Ira on the brain is he was in Berkeley this past weekend giving a talk on how to tell a story. I was supposed to go to this show but since I’m on the other coast of course was unable to attend. A group of my friends went and from preliminary reports had a great time. One of them managed to sneak me a sound clip of part of the chat. In the clip Ira deconstructs the opening segment of the Cringe episode (this episode is on the favs list btw). He breaks down how they put together a story for the show. This is why I love Ira, he can make something mundane into a compelling story. I’m so sad I wasn’t there. (Thanks for the clip BDM, it felt like I was there because I could hear you and J$ laughing)

I’m crossing my fingers maybe I’ll run into him on the subway (he lives in NY). Better yet maybe I’ll submit one of my story ideas to the show and he can come and interview me.