Okay Doak

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Author: Karen

Confessions of a Media Addict: Podcast Only Edition

Credit: @AishaTyler on Twitter

On a past post where I gushed about the Gilmore Guys, Serena commented and requested a best-of podcast recommendation list.

I’m obsessed with podcasts — now that I spend 1-2 hours a day in the car, it’s primo podcast catch up time and I love coming away learning something new v. listening to “Man in the Mirror” again. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

If you enjoy podcasts, I highly recommend you switch over to using Downcast as an app instead of the Podcast app. The Podcast app is terrible — it crashes, it has a bad UX and if you listen to a number of podcasts, it’s a mess to navigate. Downcast is great and has a desktop app as well. I’ve heard great things about Pocket Casts (which Lifehacker now recommends instead), but since I’m all squared away with Downcast, I haven’t made the switch.

Anyway, my favorite podcasts fall into a few categories:

Listen Religiously

This category is reserved for the podcasts where I look forward to new episodes and usually listen to them within the week of release. Anticipation is high and build up of old episodes is low.

  • Girl On Guy with Aisha Tyler: Aisha Tyler is my way cooler aspirational spirit animal. Like way cooler. She’s into craft beer, she studied environmental policy at Dartmouth, is taller than I and she talks to a wide range of people from comedians to chefs to directors to tech/gaming executives. I love the wide variety of guests and her easy way of conversing with them. She concludes each episode by asking her guest to share a “self-inflicted wound” – a story about something stupid or embarrassing that they did to themselves, usually in an effort to show that famous/accomplished people make mistakes too. I’ve noticed that people seem to have a love/hate response to her though… Jeff, for example, is not a fan. I loved her episode from April with Frank Bruni  and the one immediately after with David Benioff. I actually paid to access her archives and if you’re a Top Chef fan then you must listen to her episode with Antonia Lofaso.
  • The Tim Ferriss Show: Tim delves into the idea of “examining excellence” and talks to entrepreneurs, investors and other celebrities about how they got where they did. I end almost every episode with a new book on my reading list and a great fact or tidbit for dinner party conversation.
  • Dear Sugar: Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild) and Steve Almond each wrote the Dear Sugar advice column online at one point and now do a weekly podcast where they answer 1-2 beautifully written letters in a thoughtful manner — often calling an author friend of theirs for perspective. For example, on a recent episode an extrovert woman wrote in to ask about long-term compatibility with an introvert and they called Susan Cain, the author of Quiet. I aspire to be half as eloquent advising strangers as Cheryl and Steve. I also aspire to get paid to give advice to strangers…
  • The Lively Show: Recently, I stumbled across Jess Lively and the Lively Show mainly because a number of my favorite bloggers all ended up on her show in a short period. She interviews content creators and a lot of creative professionals to talk about their path and how they knew they were on the right road. She also speaks a lot to following your own intuition and for the touchy feely place I’ve reached in my 30s, I love the message.
  • How Was Your Week with Julie Klausner: This was my favorite podcast for two years but now that Julie has a show on Hulu, new episodes are not available very often. Fingers crossed she finds the time to bring it back because her take on pop culture made my life complete.

 

Subscribe but Check the Guest/Topic

I don’t listen to every episode but if I enjoy the guest or topic, these are some favorites.

  • Bon Appetit Foodcast: This one gets bonus points for being SHORT (most episodes are under 20 minutes) but it’s kind of hit or miss. I tend to enjoy the conversations with chefs more than the conversations among the various editors.
  • Grantland Pop Culture: I only listen when they’re covering a show or movie that I like but I particularly love the Reality TV Podcast especially given that they treat Real World/Road Rules: The Challenge with the reverence it deserves.
  • You Made It Weird: Pete Holmes talks to comedians and each episode ends up being a wonderful mix of funny and insightful. I’d listen more often but each episode is usually over two hours so it doesn’t always make the cut. His episode with Dana Carvey and his second episode with Harris Wittels are both worth a listen, several laughs, and, in Harris’ case, several tears.
  • Adam Carolla: Adam Carolla got me started with podcasts but I’ve grown a bit tired and, given that he records several 2+ hour episodes a week, it’s impossible to stay current.
  • WTF with Marc Maron: Marc is a masterful interviewer but I just don’t connect with him so I struggle through episodes when I don’t care for the guest. On the other hand, Jeff is obsessed with him and wants to be his best friend. I’m wondering if between Marc Maron and Aisha Tyler, it’s only possible to connect with one of them?

Early but Promising

Each of these have only released six episodes so I don’t want to commit to a full review but I am enjoying them.

  • Mystery Show: I hated the first episode but have found them pretty charming since. In each one, Starlee will investigate a mystery that would never make the cut for anyone else to investigate like Jake Gyllenhaal’s height or why they depicted the scene they did on the Welcome Back Kotter lunchbox.
  • Magic Lessons: Elizabeth Gilbert talks about creativity and speaks with author and other creatives. I get a kick of inspiration each time I listen. Again, bonus points for brevity.

The Standards – Subscribe & Save

I enjoy all of the below but usually subscribe and then save for a road trip. They’re also the most appealing to a wide range of audiences which means that Jeff, the kids & I can all find something we enjoy.

  • This American Life: The gold standard and one you MUST subscribe to if only because NPR will only keep four episodes available for free online at the same time so subscribing allows you to stockpile. Earlier this month there was one on people who work at amusement parks that I’m still recovering from.
  • Serial: Credited with getting all of America interested in podcasts… and debating who’s lying: Jay or Adnan, Serial is a mandatory listen if you didn’t already. (Although, what rock were you living under???)
  • Hardcore History: Award-winning in-depth coverage of various historical events, Dan Carlin recently spent over 23 hours (over six podcasts) talking about World War I. He’s a brilliant storyteller but these episodes are a heavy time commitment. Fortunately, they’re a major time commitment for him too and he’s been releasing a new one every 3-6 months.
  • Freakonomics: My interest in these have been waning but there are still a number of good episodes… although I really prefer them covering a topic rather than trying to interview. Per the above, there are so many people who do interviews much better.

How to Cut Cable When You’re a TV Addict

My love of TV started early when I was sneaking episodes of “Salute Your Shorts” and “Hey Dude” after school and has truly never stopped. Every fall, I look forward to receiving the Entertainment Weekly Fall TV Preview issue and make a new grid of what shows I’m going to watch.

This fall will be different, however, since Jeff and I cut cable a few months ago. It took a fair amount of research and I wouldn’t say we have the perfect solution at all, but I feel like we’ve hit the perfect balance of:

  1. Still being able to watch the shows I liked
  2. Watching less TV overall and ultimately reading more

So… how did we do it? I’ve outlined our process and approach below  and will stress that this is the approach taken by someone who loves TV more than any other form of entertainment and may seem extreme for more casual viewers.

Research

I created this spreadsheet of everything we (I) watch, what network it’s on, where I could find it on streaming, if there were any caveats (like for example, it’s on Hulu but with a 3 week delay or a 2 day delay or a full year delay). THEN, I looked at the gaps, determined if it was a show I still wanted to watch and if yes, what it would cost to pay for it on iTunes, etc.

A general note that the biggest issue is with CBS shows. They’re not available real time on any streaming platform. I ultimately decided they weren’t really that critical. CBS is launching it’s own subscription service for real time access on their site but it seems ridiculous to pay another $6/month just for CBS all things considered. And since it’s not available on Apple TV, there’s no easy way from a tech standpoint to watch it. If you have Roku or Chromecast instead of Apple TV though, it’s available as an app.

After doing the above, we crunched the numbers and saw that even if I spent $20 a month on iTunes (which would be subscribing to 6-12 full seasons of a show), we’d save $60 a month with the change.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, if you’d like to see my spreadsheet, you can view it here. Just remember any show you’d like to judge me for watching is probably something Jeff picked.

Subscriptions & Equipment

We already had an Apple TV and our DVD player is a smart DVD player that connects to Amazon streaming. In addition to that, we subscribe to Netflix and Hulu. Given my addiction to Bravo, that still means I have to subscribe to my Housewives (just NYC, Beverly Hills and Orange County) on iTunes.

Lastly, we got a digital antenna for live events. We barely use it but it means that for things like major events, we’re still able to watch and given that it was under $40 the ROI is pretty high.

Set Up & Tracking

However, given that we have shows on Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime and don’t have a single or convenient queue for what to watch, I was still seeking some sort of resource to turn to to answer the question “what can I watch right now?” I researched apps and services for that and picked Episode Calendar. It’s far from perfect, but Jeff and I needed a shared account (a number of the top-rated solutions were apps tied to an iTunes account) and it covered all the basic needs. Now, we can go to the “Unwatched” section and it shows all the new episodes of current show OR we can add older shows and check them off as we watch episodes.

You should be watching: James Corden on the Late Late Show

My response to hearing that James Corden was taking over as host of The Late Late Show was probably similar to most with a “what’s that?” followed by a “and who’s that?” Playing the Baker in the Into the Woods remake aside, I had no idea who he was or what to expect.

However, then he started with Carpool Karaoke and I became obsessed. I fell first for him with Jennifer Hudson:

But would argue the Iggy Azalea and Justin Bieber versions are most impressive simply because he took two unlikeable humans and made them charming.

That said, the Carpool Karaoke videos seem to get a decent amount of circulation on the interwebs, so I think it better to share some primo examples of clever thinking from Mr. Corden.

Like when he played DJ Skat Kat with Paula Abdul:

Or when he introduced the exciting new game Nuzzle Waaa?:

Or lastly when he worked for a few hours at a mattress store and exposed someone trying to buy a mattress for Natalie Portman:

It’s just really enjoyable to watch someone bring so much joy and positivity to the airwaves. I’d say to the time slot but since I a) go to bed at 9:30 PM and b) don’t have cable anymore, I don’t really have that perspective…

Case Study In Poor Adulting: Making Friends In Your 30s

If the worst conditions under which to make new friends were ranked, I’m confident that being childless in your 30s and being a transplant to Michigan would battle for the top slot.

I moved to Michigan two years ago for a boy and a job and was struck immediately by the fact that it felt like everyone in Michigan was from Michigan. Thank goodness this was actually proven true with data which, incidentally, is often my hope but rarely the case. The problem with this is that no one here needs to make new friends — if you are still living near your elementary school friends, high school friends & college friends, you don’t need to make new grown up friends. That said, I really have tried!

Here’s an exciting list of things I’ve done to try to make friends:

  1. CrossFit — I thought I’d get in shape & make friends simultaneously so I emailed for more information and never heard back. It’s unclear if they were disorganized or if they found out that I never passed a Presidential Physical Fitness Test in my entire life. I actually couldn’t even reach 0 on the “V Sit & Reach.” I like to think of it as the way that my mental inflexibility manifests itself physically.
  2. Pure Barre — I heard this was “cultish” which seemed like a decent possibility but after 14 classes, I had a 24 year old former MSU Dance Team Captain tell me it was nice I kept trying. #notsomuch
  3. Junior League — yeah, this was a swing and a miss. Signed up for more information and learned the first meeting involved a “crazy hat contest” and a scavenger hunt. Neither activity seemed ironic.
  4. Host work friends over for dinner — had a 33% success rate with this and found out another 33% deemed me “not cool enough for weekend activities.”
  5. Yell at my husband for not having more friends of his own — I felt better after this but didn’t actually make any friends.
  6. Wine tastings — met a lovely 72 year old recent widower who told me about a restaurant that’s now my favorite, but I am, again, in need of more friends and probably fewer carbs.
  7. Cooking classes — went solo and ended up having some aggressive housewives take all the good macarons and talk about a trip to France while mispronouncing words.
  8. Volunteering — just kidding, never did this. Until there are volunteer opportunities for people to make sarcastic asides, I’d rather be lonely.

Me. At Pure Barre. (Source: Disney.Wikia.Com)

What’s worse, I’d really like to cut some existing friends loose since I’m trying to reduce the crazy and drama in my life, but if I don’t have a healthy farm system, I feel like that’s not the wisest move. [If you’re reading this, it’s definitely not you].

In the meantime, I’ll be grateful for the wonderful friends I do have (albeit spread across the country) and try to be better about staying in touch with them.

Confessions of a Media Addict: Gilmore Guys, LA riot fiction and inspirational sports movies

I totally want to join them for coffee. (Source: Hello Giggles)

I consume an insane amount of media — here are some of my favorite recent picks:

  • Gilmore Girls & Gilmore Guys: I’ve been in search of a TV show to mindlessly binge watch that Jeff WON’T want to watch too. While I’d like to revisit Friday Night Lights, I’m still hoping that Jeff will actually agree to watch that with me so I landed on Gilmore Girls. And THEN I discovered the Gilmore Guys podcast (which, incidentally, I discovered before the New York Times but after the Atlantic). I would be in support of any podcast that ends in a Carole King singalong but have really been enjoying revisiting a nostalgic TV show with amusing episode by episode comedic commentary — that’s my favorite way to watch TV this decade so it makes sense that it would work well for a past favorite too.. And did I mention every episode ends with a singalong? [Gilmore Girls is currently streaming on Netflix while Gilmore Guys is available on iTunes with the link above].
  • Undefeated: I recently watched this 2011 Best Documentary Academy Award Winner and it was better than I ever thought possible. It follows a North Memphis football team with a coach who gives up time with his family to bring together and improve the lives of these young men — many of whom don’t have fathers themselves. It’s like a less attractive Coach Taylor volunteering an insane amount of his own time and resources to totally change the lives of young men in a poverty stricken area. Jeff doesn’t want me to tell you that he cried more than I did but… that happened. [Undefeated is currently streaming on Netflix and you need to watch it immediately].
  • All Involved: I could barely put down this book about gang life during the LA riots. I ended up hearing the author, Ryan Gattis, on a Grantland podcast with Andy Greenwald and was really intrigued by his approach — to tell the full story in the first person through 17 different narrators. In addition, Ryan spent a fair amount of time on a graffiti crew in some of the affected neighborhoods and while the novel is fiction, many of the stories are based on people he met. I am often annoyed by narrative approaches like this but he truly wove all the stories together masterfully. A number of people have drawn comparisons to it being like a book form of “The Wire” which is a pretty fair presentation — although the whole thing is lacking the perspective of the police… not that you miss that by the end.

I am not a dog person – I am a MY dog person

I have two toy poodles: Sam and Pepper. No, I didn’t rescue them. I know that’s admirable  and gets you a bumper sticker that says “who rescued who?” but I like purebreds and lack of dander and no emotional baggage from past owners. I post frequent photos of them on social media because I think they’re cute and they make me laugh. I spend a healthy amount of money keeping them healthy, walked, well fed and buying them toys that are mildly ironic… only to have them prefer to play with pens or batteries or other items that could kill them.

Samuel Seaborn Doak (L) and Peppermint Patty Untereker Doak (R)

Samuel Seaborn Doak (L) and Peppermint Patty Untereker Doak (R)

The thing is, people like to assume that because I love my dogs, I love all dogs. This is not the case; I probably don’t love your dogs. I don’t like big dogs or dogs that slobber or ugly dogs. I definitely don’t like dogs I haven’t met and you describing your dog’s antics is less amusing than you think it is. In fact, human impressions of dog faces make me uncomfortable in an “I pity you but don’t want to bond with you so I’m trying to hide my emotions” kind of way.

Poodle sculpture I bought that does not help my "not a dog person" rep

Poodle sculpture I bought that does not help my “not a dog person” rep

Today I was trapped in a 25 minute conversation with my dog walker learning about the differences between her two dogs and listening to her compare her dogs (who I haven’t met/will never meet) to my dogs (who I pay her to take care of) and couldn’t for the life of me extricate myself early. I found myself, about 10 minutes in, wondering why this doesn’t happen to Jeff. How does he get out of these conversations? How does he avoid learning about Toby the Goldendoodle’s asthma medication ($300+ for three months and insurance doesn’t cover it)? Until I crack the code, my plan is to park down the street and hide in my car until I see she’s gone. That’s the grown up and mature thing to do, right?

Three Things I Learned This Week: Scientology Meadows, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Height & Reddit

Image Credit: ALAMY

  1. Tom Cruise allegedly had members of the Church of Scientology plant a meadow for him to run through with Nicole Kidman. I had been counting down the seconds for HBO’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief but then for some reason didn’t watch it in full until last week. While the first hour covered much of what those who are well versed in Scientology already know, the second hour is just beyond fascinating. First of all, the whole thing is worth it just to watch footage from the various Scientology conventions but, second of all, there are some amazing details released about how Tom Cruise benefits from Scientology. In addition to winning awards (some of which were made up just for him), he supposedly told the Church that running through a meadow with Nicole Kidman was a fantasy of his and so members of the Sea Org (who are often paid just $0.40/hour or $75/week) had to plant a meadow, were informed it wasn’t up to snuff & then had to plant it again. As a follow up, I did enjoy Acculturated’s Five Lessons from “Going Clear.”
  2. Jake Gyllenhaal is 5 feet 11.5 inches tall and extremely charming. Gimlet Media’s Mystery Show podcast is one of my new favorites and while some episodes have been less interesting, their most recent one, “Source Code” delves into the mysteries of celebrity heights. As a tall woman, I’m very appreciative of anyone debunking height lies. My general theory is men 5’8″-5’9″ say they’re 5’10” while men 5’10”-5’11.5″ say they’re 6′ and men over 6′ seem to be more honest. All that aside, the whole episode is worth a listen if only to be jealous of Jake’s flirtatious exchange with Starlee at the end.
  3. As exemplified by Reddit recently, the internet mob mentality is HR’s worst enemy. While there are many many facets to all of the news on Reddit of late, I enjoyed this Daily Beast article and thought it pretty comprehensive. While what initially stood out to me was that clearly most of the angry people on the internet haven’t tried to fire someone recently, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by what a complex organism Reddit (and any online community) is from a political and psychological standpoint. To have to understand and respect that community, and then figure out how to monetize it without losing its spirit, seems like an impossible task.

Blooming where I’m planted

Next month will mark three official years of living in Michigan which is both scary to me and a reminder to take a pulse on promises that I made to myself and my friends. When I was in NYC, I blogged regularly and loved that even though I was terrible about calling friends and family, there was a touch point for me with the people I cared about most (as well as acquaintances, internet strangers and a number of spam bots).

Work travel when I moved to DC made it tough to keep up the blog and once I moved to Michigan, I had trouble knowing what I’d say or share — it’s been more challenging than I thought it would be to make friends, I’ve taken on a husband and a whole new family, I’m not sure where the boundaries are with some of these aspects of my life (never an issue before), I’ve started asking larger questions about my intention and purpose professionally and personally (is there such a thing as a one-third life crisis?) and, frankly, my life seems more boring. “Sat on the couch and watched The Voice” doesn’t really feel like much to write about.

Image credit: http://www.katiemakes.net/

Image credit: http://www.katiemakes.net/

When I worked at Ogilvy, my incredible and inspiring boss, Virginia, once mentioned that there was a mural at her elementary school that read: “Bloom where you’re planted.” While I can’t remember what it applied to at the time, it pops up in my head a lot. Frankly, I’m planted somewhere new and I owe it to myself and those around me to try and blossom a bit. Or at least not be a disgruntled and angry person. Or at least try and turn my complaints about the general ineptitude around me into somewhat humorous thoughts.

My hope is that this blog will be a bit of what Unterekless.com used to be — a random collection of thoughts and things I’ve found of interest around the interwebs. I have a vision for some sort of structure to posting but will wait and see if it happens before committing to it right now since my 30s have clearly brought a more relaxed approach to life… which compared to my previously tightly wound self doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Hopefully the dogs don’t get sad that this means fewer conversations with them.

Me. In full bloom. And, since you're wondering, sober.

Me. In full bloom. And, since you’re wondering, sober.

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