the art of conversation

beyondpodI’ve written about listening to podcasts before but since then, i have become more in love with the art form. I moved most of my podcast listening to my kindle…Took me a while to find a podcast app that i liked…and even then BeyondPod app automatically downloads the newest podcast on the feed, and they have a Tablet version which automatically streams instead. So i had to uninstall the tablet version, i like to have a few podcasts available on the device incase i am out of range of a wifi signal. I’m not so lucky to have an ipad with a 3G connection… who knows one day i may have a real job… could happen..

I was a little self indulgent the other night, i gifted myself with premium subscriptions to a few of my favorite podcasts. They are about $7 or $9 bucks a year which entitles one to listen to bonus episodes besides the 90% or so that are already available free. That’s one of the cool things about podcasts and feeds, is that for the most part they are tapping into a rich collection of conversations stored in various places around the net 24/7 for nothing. I spent more than 30 years listening to NPR, because i like a good conversation. Used to be, you could find that kind of thing on TV – not just daytime tv which i never saw..even way back when mike douglas, merv griffin…i was a johnny carson – david frost – dick cavett girl. When i was still watching TV, i’d toggle between Charlie Rose and James Lipton.

Personally I like an interview that is not just a one sided interrogation, it’s a give and take where you learn a bit about the interviewer as the subject. That’s just the sort of interview that saturates the podcast universe. The Greg Proops cast is an abberation, though there are more monologists….think of Spaulding Gray with an interactive audience, Proops is generally having a conversation with the universe at large. (I’ve been trying to take some screen shots off the kindle this morning, but its feeling wonky today)

I had more wittier things to say when i was plotting this post out yesterday…. Over the last 4 days, between census training and carting the Sudbury cat back and forth, I was looking at 15 hours of drive time, so I had downloaded a handful of recordings to the kindle. For the most part I generally listen to NPR for communting, but with the 24 hour news cycles making bad news infinitely worse through repetition. There’s only so much of it I can take, a little news goes a long way. But then most all the NPR programming is also available to download as podcasts for later listening. Marking the end of the driveway moment…why sit in the car when you can download and listen to the rest of it later?

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The podcasts I chose to accompany me were a mix of Marc Maron’s WTF interviews and Aisha Tyler’s GirlOnGuy yielding a mix of people I knew and people I had never heard of. Driving alone for an hour or more, gives one plenty of time for introspection, these interviews are ideal fodder to drive one out of your own head into the minds of others. Maron’s a bundle of neuroses and insecurities who meets his subjects half way with shared experiences and shared pain, Aisha is an elegant and brilliant woman, her interviews and podcasts are full of joy and surprise. Both interviewers choose fascinating people who give good conversation.

Another monologist I tend to favor is Mike Schmidt’s 40-yr Old Boy, a link to which resides on the sidebar of this webpage. Schmidt’s a profane, child man, who wears his neurotic freak flag like a suit of armour. displaying his pain and pride, as if they were pieces of laundry to be snapped and folded.

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I envy these entertainers their clear minds and chances to have wide ranging conversations with interesting and educated people. My day to day unverse has contracted to a very narrow few interesting people and the chances to expand the universe contract regularly as the internet cripples conversation as it does with everything else. With the kindle snuggling safely in its otterbox toughskin cocoon, i can cart the device around with me during the day, and throw it casually in my bag. I now understand the Ipod generation a little better, the folks who walk around with ear buds piping in a personal soundtrack to their lives. I prefer being alone while the voices in my ears drown out the voices in my head. I can see the day coming when we are never truly alone with streaming data a la google glass etc..but when that day comes having access to intelligent conversationalist may be a positive thing.

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