Tuesday, April 15, 2014

my faves: Podcasts

Confession: I have recently stepped foot into the wide world of running. It all started a few weeks ago when I looked at my calendar and realized I didn't have too much going on during the month of April. I wasn't too worried about the lack of work, but I was fearful of my ability to (very quickly) turn into a giant couch potato. So I set a goal of running one mile each day.

I know what you're thinking - "one mile? seriously? I can do that in my sleep!" And you're right - YOU can do that in your sleep - but I can't. Which is why I made it my personal challenge. And honestly, it hasn't been easy. The first day I went for a run I thought I wasn't going to make it. Little old grannies were walking faster than I was jogging and my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest - but I ran the whole way, and that's what counts.

But don't worry - this isn't going to be a post about how to be a better runner or what shoes I wear to make me go faster or anything even remotely close to tips and tricks for finding your stride, because I still have no idea what I'm doing. But I have discovered one thing during these (almost/kinda/not really) daily runs - the benefit of listening to PODCASTS.

I've been a huge fan of podcasts for a few years now. Living in New York means I spend a ton of time walking from place to place, and nothing kills time and keeps me entertained (and often educated) like a good podcast. So when I decided to try this running thing everyone keeps talking about, I knew that I was going to need some seriously good stories to distract me from the fact that I was, you know, running. I also like the fact that most podcast episodes are longer than my runs, and therefore don't have what I find to be the jarring start-stop-start of music. Some are heavy hitters but others are relatively new or unknown, but here is a roundup of my most favorite podcasts that I highly encourage you to check out!

If you're hungry
The Splendid Table - Lynne Rossetto Kasper dishes out advice, recipes, and interviews with chefs from all over the world, and often focuses on rare or unknown cuisines. Your pantry will get much more stuffed after listening to these episodes.
The Sporkful - with a slightly irreverent edge, Dan Pashman dissects the minutiae of food. I bet you didn't think it was possible to listen to, and enjoy, and entire episode on things like pasta shapes or airplane food, but oh it is.

If you're feeling creative
Studio 360 - focusing on pop culture and what's happening in the arts, host Kurt Andersen takes an in-depth look at movies, music, literature, and all other art forms. Every few weeks he takes listeners suggestions and extrapolates on what might just be the next "American Icon" and you end up with a new appreciation for what you previously thought was just another old slice of American culture.
99% Invisible - Roman Mars and his team of luminaries find beauty in the most unusual of places, and then take you on a journey to discover the history and modern-day application of tiny architectural and/or design elements. One of my favorite episodes was titled "Accidental Music of Imperfect Escalators" - don't question it, just listen.
Elise Gets Crafty - a newcomer on the podcast circuit but veteran in the lifestyle blogging world, Elise Blaha Cripe is just a handful of episodes in to her show that includes interviews with small-business owners and inspiration and motivation to get your creative juices flowing.

If you have wanderlust
Travel With Rick Steves - with a soft-spoken voice and relaxing lilt, travel guru Rick Steves conducts weekly interviews, takes listeners' questions, and dispenses advice generated from over 40 years of wandering the globe; this hour-long show will mentally transport you to far-flung places you've only dreamed of visiting. Occasionally, he recites haikus that listeners have sent in about their recent travels - how can you not listen?
The Bowery Boys - with almost encyclopedic-like knowledge, Greg Young and Tom Meyers take a microscopic look at New York City's institutions big and small. If you've ever wanted to learn the history of the subway system, the Chelsea Hotel, St. Patrick's Cathedral, or almost anything else your citified brain can think of, this is the podcast for you.

If you love public radio
Fresh Air - Terry Gross conducts intimate and often moving interviews with just about anybody who has recently done or created something interesting. A frequent commentator to this podcast is book critic Maureen Corrigan, and I have to say that if she recommends something, I read it and love it.
This American Life - one of the most popular radio shows in the country, I probably don't need to say too much about this story-driven, narrative-heavy podcast. I will say, though, that I didn't think it was possible for one episode to cause me to both laugh and cry in public within the same hour until I heard this episode about The Seven Things You're Not Supposed to Talk About.
Ask Me Another - if you're a nerd like me and loved Brain Quest as a kid, then this weekly quiz show is right up your alley. Full disclosure: They broadcast live from a venue in Brooklyn, I was once a contestant ;)
Here's The Thing - using his history and clout in the entertainment industry, Alec Baldwin conducts conversations with today's artists and policy-makers. His bravado sometimes gets a little big, but his guests are usually so engaging that it doesn't matter.

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