tealin: (4addict)
The Door in the Wall - I link to this every time it comes around, in the hope it'll infect someone else's mind as it has mine ...
Listening to the Dead - A series of dramas about a family with the ability to communicate with their own, either side of the veil. Disclosure: I haven't heard them in years, just remember them being good, in that stays-with-you kind of way.

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight - Readings from a book written by a Japanese teenager with severe autism; really compelling listening and highly recommended.
Tocqueville's America Revisited - In the 1830s, a French aristocrat visited the fledgling democracy, and wrote his observations on American society and politics into a famous book. This two-parter looks at how the country has, and hasn't, changed since then. [Episode 2]
All In The Family - A really excellent series on early childhood trauma and its ramifications in terms of psychology and physical health. It sounds dry but is terribly fascinating and revelatory; I highly recommend a listen. And episode two and three.
The Reith Lectures: Hilary Mantel - The author of Wolf Hall and A Place of Greater Safety talks about historical fiction, resurrecting the dead, and other things aimed squarely at me – but you'll probably find it interesting too.

John Finnemore's Double Acts - The series of gently comic dramas for two players wraps up, to the writer's typically high standard. Still four episodes available, three of which are particular favourites of mine.
The Vinyl Cafe - This episode isn't particularly notable, but I was surprised to see this Canadian stalwart on the BBC. Stuart MacLean has passed on, now, but his Canadian version of A Prairie Home Companion hasn't lost its down-home charm.
The Consultants - I link to this sketch show every time it comes around, but it's good clean feel-good fun, so, you know, if you like that sort of thing ...
Dead Ringers - This satirical impressions sketch show used to be what ran during "silly season", but of course that doesn't exist anymore. I know everyone's got a Trump impression, but Dead Ringers' series of Trump's midnight calls to Sean Spicer are pretty special.
I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue - The very, very silly panel game is back, and episodes 3 and 4 play host to John Finnemore and Susan Calman, which would be too much of a good thing if it were possible to get too much of those two.
Le Carré On Spying - The Penny Dreadfuls have gone into the business of comedic historical dramas with surprising moments of feeling; this one is about the writer of the George Smiley spy stories, the most famous being probably Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Portentous Perils - A comedy sci-fi satire podcast written and read by a regular writer for Radio 4's topical comedy shows – good fun, and ever-improving sound quality! The only downside is there's only one episode a month. But it's worth the wait. (And puns!)

To my perception there are three great mid-century dystopias: 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451, and the latter, I think, has proven to be the most prescient and still the most challenging. Radio 4 has just broadcast a reading of it:
Book at Bedtime - Broken up and slightly abridged into 10 15-minute readings
Omnibus - The 15-minute readings collected into two hour-and-a-bit episodes
If I had all the time I could ask for, I'd have done a bunch of drawings to encourage you to listen to this, but all I have is my words. It's a very important book, but is also cinematic and very pacey, so I don't think you will regret listening to it: please do.
tealin: (CBC)
J'ecoute le rap Aeroplan encore?! C'est possible?
tealin: (CBC)
I'm in one of those phases again, where I'm listening to Radio-Canada (francophone CBC) to improve my ear. Sometimes I can follow things pretty well, and sometimes it just bounces off my eardrum, but this evening I ran into some programming so baffling I can only assume there was a bad combination of incomprehension and cultural disconnect.

In half an hour from about 1pm Montreal time, apparently part of the same programme but with no obvious connection, we got:
- Performance poetry(?)
- Someone making distressed animal noises
- The shooting of an elephant
- A rap about Aeroplan (the Canadian frequent flier/credit card points scheme)

Any answers, Quebec?

I'm really going to confuse the locals at Annecy when I turn up with my bad French in an accent that's mostly English but slightly Quebecois. The best animation school in France has a name that will really let the twang out to play; it should be said Go-blo(n) but in Quebecois it's Go-blai(n) and no matter how hard I concentrate, that's going to come out. Je m'escuse...

UPDATE: All previous bafflement made up for by the rap about Mardi Gras over this Acadian trad track that just played. I wonder if I'll ever manage to hear that again ...


Jan. 12th, 2017 08:42 pm
tealin: (CBC)
I'm in the middle of an unexpected but short bout of freelance animation. I love animating, and for the most part it pairs symbiotically with my love of radio. Unfortunately there's one stage in the animation process where you have to concentrate really hard and scribble the movement down; when I'm doing this rough pass I don't have any brain cells left over to process what the radio is trying to tell me, so I can't listen then. But I find it had to stay focused without something on in the background, so I'm once again streaming Radio-Canada (francophone CBC) in yet another attempt to improve my French comprehension.

I can't really say how well I'm doing in achieving that aim – yesterday was pretty good but today was just so much babble again – but it's all right because they have great taste in music, the news is so much nicer when you can barely understand it, and whenever Donald Trump speaks, someone in a calm voice starts talking over him in French. I do get amusing little tidbits, though, between Montreal traffic reports and interviews about artisan cheese in the Ottawa valley.
  • the French for 'witch hunt' is chasse aux sorcières which is WAY cooler.
  • it's not 'Aryan' it's aerien which means 'aerial', calm down.
  • there's always a really interesting discussion at about 9-9.30am local time, but I can't understand enough to look up the programme on the website.
  • London, England, is Londres as it is in Continental French, but London, Ontario is still London, just in a French accent.
  • the programme titles I can understand are often puns in some way; I assume the ones I think aren't puns are just puns I don't get.
  • the further away from Montreal someone is calling, the more twang there is in their accent
  • I can understand either the words people are saying, or the overall topic under discussion, but not, it seems, both
  • I seem to have conditioned myself into feeling worky in the auditory presence of French; this was pretty funny when a French song came on the music in a restaurant...

But even that got to require too much brainpower, so now I'm listening to this and getting REALLY EXCITED about not having any time at all to finish my analyses. Sigh. Back to work.
tealin: (4addict)
Another thinky week, so short on radio ... nearing the end of thinkiness for now, I think.

I marvel that other people have jobs which always prevent them from listening to speech radio – how do you do it? – but I have been learning other ways to fit it in, especially while doing chores. I usually manage one episode each of Ideas and This is That while I clean the kitchen, for example. In the interest of that, I should point out that both the CBC and BBC radio player apps are now available worldwide, for iOS and Android mobile devices at least, possibly other operating systems as well, and you can download programmes* so you don't even have to use up your data. No more boring bus rides!

Radio Active: David Chizzlenut - I have linked to the original 1980s series, but this is a one-off reunion show that manages to capture its spirit entirely.
Newsjack - This topical sketch show just gets better and better.
The Secret World - An impressions show that guesses at the behind-the-scenes lives of famous folk; this episode will render you unable to hear the phrase 'shocked and saddened' the same way again.

The Penny Dreadfuls present The Brothers Faversham - Comedy drama series about a family of over-the-top Victorians, or perfectly on-brand Victorians if you know much about that era. Plus hilarious adverts.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - I had given this a pass when it first aired as I didn't much like Bladerunner, for which this was the source material. Imagine my surprise on learning the Hollywood version drained out a lot of the deeper stuff, like the notion of empathy police, which relates to modern social life for sure ...

Ghost Music - Reconstructing the sounds of ancient instruments, plus a heart-stopping blow on Tutankhamen's actual trumpets.
First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World's Oldest Symbols - Palaeoanthropology, art, and the abstract visual representation of ideas are all right up my street, so there's no way I wasn't going to link to this exploration of the graphic shapes which accompany the famous cave paintings of prehistory.
The Waterside Ape - David Attenborough and friends investigate further evidence for a formerly controversial theory that a semiaquatic lifestyle was an important phase in human evolution.
Ian Sansom and the Little People - A very brief documentary on one of my favourite subjects, fairy folklore, mainly in Ireland and Iceland whose little people lore is most famous.

? ? ? ?
The League Against Tedium - I honestly don't know how to describe this ... bit of ... audio hallucination, but the title is not a million miles off the mark.

*The BBC Radio Player lets you download shows internally, which stay valid for a month from airing, sometimes more. I don't know if the CBC app has that feature, but it is essentially a streaming interface for the CBC's podcasts, so if you find a show you like on there, you can download it via the website.
tealin: (CBC)
Since the middle of July, I've been starting lists of radio links and abandoning them until the shows expire. It's not that there hasn't been good stuff, I've just been doing work that occupies more languagey parts of my brain than usual, so I haven't been able to listen to as much radio, and therefore can't assemble a list of any length worth bothering with.

In recent weeks I've been falling back in love with the CBC, so I thought I'd share some of their most stand-out shows with you, which have the benefit of remaining online for quite a long time ...

A weeknightly documentary series that covers just about anything so long as it makes your brain fizz. You can browse available podcasts for yourself, but my particular recent favourites as are follows:
The Discovery of Human Rights - In this age of online activism it's easy to assume the idea that all people are entitled to a certain level of respect and legal status is as 'self-evident' as Jefferson stated it to be. But it is a fairly recent development in human culture, and its progress isn't finished yet.
Coyotl's Song - The Coyote has been a part of North American folklore from time immemorial, from a First Nations trickster to the cat-snatching bugbear of modern cities. This episode contains a quick lesson in How To Speak Basic Coyote.
Wise Guys - If you like your urban wildlife of a darker and more airborne variety, this is an excellent documentary on the intelligence, success, and appeal of crows.
The Dream of Brother XII - I came for the name Edward Wilson; I stayed for a fascinating look at utopian initiatives in British Columbia, a peculiar bit of history relating to an area I know quite well, and a broader look at millennial theosophy, which has a longer history than I expected.
The Shape of Things to Come - T.E. Lawrence ("of Arabia") was an Oxford-trained archaeologist who ended up leading an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. His background knowledge of history, experience on the ground with the people and cultures of the Middle East, and relationship with British high command gave him unique insight into the region and what was to follow, and is still following – though would anyone listen to him? Of course not.
Undoing Forever - A look at the prospect – and attempts – of bringing extinct species, from Woolly Mammoths to Passenger Pigeons, back to life.
Vestigial Tale - Evolutionary psychologists take a look at the human propensity for storytelling, from a scientific perspective. Episode 1, linked above, is about the act of constructing and conveying information in narrative form; Episode 2 is about fiction and the value of telling each other things that we know are untrue.
The Sorrows of Empire - The American Empire has been called everything from a "reluctant empire" to "a colossus with attention deficit disorder". The enormous cost of foreign wars and other interventions has led to imperial overstretch. This one's next on my plate and I'm really looking forward to it ...

Speaking of history and tantalising brain porn, check out this year's Massey Lectures: The Return of History – if you're lucky enough to be in any of the cities where they're recording, it looks like you can still buy tickets; the rest of us will have to wait – somehow – until the end of October.

Sort of like if you crossed a current affairs magazine with The Onion, but on the radio and with that certain Canadian leg-pulling tongue-in-cheekiness; its only fault is being sometimes a little too close to the truth. You can listen straight through the whole podcast list, but I'd particularly like to direct your attention to people-smuggling into Canada from the US. Ahh, satire.

Having lived in the US during two "normal" election years, I can only imagine what a nightmare it is for Americans to follow the news right now. Luckily for you, the CBC covers American news better than any US media outlet I know, and one of the best programmes for insight-to-time-investment ratio is the Saturday magazine show Day 6. There's not much point linking to past episodes as news doesn't keep, but if you're interested in their interviews and analysis you are welcome to browse the archive at your leisure. (There is also non-American news on that show, but I promise, it doesn't hurt.)

If you like this taster of CBC goodness, I recommend getting the CBC Radio App for your mobile device – it's available for most common platforms from whatever your OS App Store is. The splash page is a little bewildering if you're looking for something you already have in mind, but you can easily add your favourite shows to a sub-page which saves searching, and browse for new things to listen to.

A good and reliable friend has brought to my attention this week the soundtrack to a musical about the life of Edgar Allan Poe, devised by a bunch of Canucks and mainly performed north of the border (after all, what is more Canadian than Poe?), which is now available to purchase on iTunes and Amazon. I've been listening to it on repeat for two days and will likely resume doing so after this next thing I need to concentrate on. Attention to meter and rhyme, with a preponderance of minor-key waltzes, and I'm hooked.
tealin: (CBC)
I've got a lot of animation tying-down to do, and while the BBC continues to put out more excellent listening than I can possibly keep up with, I've been finding myself drawn back to the CBC lately as their current events coverage and analysis is the best I've found anywhere. This invariably comes with a tinge of homesickness, but on the other hand I get occasional affirmations of Canadianness, be it in values represented, observations made, or a particular sense of humour. But what really rings my bell is the rhetorical style – it's a subtle differentiation and difficult to explain, because you do get it in other places, but there's a particular Canadian way of saying things that is a certain combination of informal, impersonal, and as strongly worded as possible, sometimes with a tone that belies the words. This kept getting me into trouble at Disney, and in California generally, where people tend to expect a particular decorum*, take everything personally, and take overstatement at face value. I could never quite shake this programming no matter how hard I tried. So it was with a lovely little pang of recognition that I heard the interview between Brent Bambury and his guest Kliph Nesteroff, who he affably introduced as "a comedy nerd," at which Californian Nesteroff characteristically balked. And then on Tuesday's As It Happens, an item introduced via the description of a Trump perfume, transitioned to the meat of the matter with the line "But on this subject, as on literally every other subject, Mr. Trump is wrong." And this leader on Monday's show: "A new study will make you question all you knew about flatworms ... but it won't make you question whether they're gross." See also everything written by Neil Macdonald, especially when he was the US correspondent.

I might be tempted to think these examples only turn up because the CBC knows that, outside Canada's borders (and often inside, too), no one really cares what it says, so it doesn't have to play politics the way the BBC and other major international broadcasters do. But it is reflecting an aspect of culture and conversation style, which holds true for Canadians I know both at home and abroad, and goes back through history – Charlotte Whitton and Silas "I should have pushed him down a crevasse when I had the chance" Wright speak the same language.

People tend to refer to the "backhanded compliment" as a signature Canadian device – something that sounds like a compliment at first but when processed turns out to have a sting in the tail (e.g. "Nice work, it's almost professional" which I got at my first job), but it's part of a larger pattern, I think. A backhanded compliment is a species of Positive Negative – a negative meaning delivered in a positive way – but just as often you get the Negative Positive, a positive message delivered in a negative package. Often the tone of voice, context, or the cultural "given" that meaning is carried on multiple levels, is necessary to grasp the intent of the speaker, which leads to serious and often hurtful misunderstandings if the speaker assumes these values are shared when they are not.

I love Cambridge to pieces and most days can't imagine leaving it without a twinge of panic, but I do wonder sometimes if I'll end up back in Canada eventually anyway ... it seems inevitable, sometimes.

*People tend to think of California, and Californians tend to think of themselves, as very informal, but there is absolutely an expected mode of behaviour in general, and with slight variation for given situations. One is expected to be unambiguously positive, for instance, and while informality is practically a dogma (heaven forbid one decline to be on first-name terms with anyone), one must always protect the self-image of the exalted, something very difficult for an inveterate piss-taker and pretension-pricker ...
tealin: (4addict)
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to a very special Radio Roundup, a Radio Roundup that has been seven years in the making, a Radio Roundup I have been waiting to share with you since before I even started doing these lists. For lo, in their great mercy and kindness, the Powers That Be at BBC Radio HQ have seen to it that I can share with you now the radio play that started it all – the two hours of audio adventure that launched an obsession and brought you the One Hundred Years Ago Today series and a pile of drawings of dead white guys which you very patiently tolerated. Yes, dear internet, we have at last seen a rerun of ...


I will be posting more on that soon, but if you want to see my flailing in the meantime, there's the Tumblr post for Episode 1, featuring some subtle photo manips, and for Episode 2 with visual aides for some scenes in that episode, from like, actual history.

On with the show ...

Things Fall Apart - The legacy of Chinua Achebe's landmark novel, making me wish some of these people had taught it to me in high school rather than what I got. Better late than never!
Catherine of Aragon: Henry's Spanish Queen - An abridged biography of Henry VIII's first wife, rather poorly done by and didn't she know it. Have I mentioned Wolf Hall?
Ghost Trains of Old England - There are trains that run disused routes for a variety of reasons. This programme has a peek at some of them.
Profile: Anonymous - The hacktivist organisation has recently declared war on ISIS. Who are they, what does that entail, and is it a good idea?
The Dictatorship of Data - Authoritarian regimes of the 20th century collected surveillance of their citizens for the purposes of control. These days we produce so much more data which is so much easier to analyze, and those interested in surveillance have evolved alongside.
In Our Time: The Salem Witch Trials - Thank goodness we are well past religiously motivated mass panics and nothing like this could ever, ever happen again. Ever.
How Islamic is the Islamic State? - People keep saying it shouldn't be called Islamic State because it's neither of those things, but what is the theology that makes them think they are, and why do other Muslims disagree? This programme also goes into their internal logic and motivations, which is interesting and valuable when you generally only get coverage of their bloody deeds. I would like to hear a documentary comparing and contrasting fundamentalist millenarian IS with the thread of fundementalist millenarian Evangelical Christianity you get in the States. Might have to trawl the CBC for that. Speaking of which ...
The Current: God Bless America - Discussing the rise of the Christian right, its paradoxical association with capitalism and the infusion of military rhetoric with religious meaning. Pairs well with the essay Freeing Christians from Americhristianity by John Pavlovitz.
Ed Catmull, inside Pixar - It's a good thing this clip is under 10 minutes or I wouldn't have made it through. Among other things he admits the systemic racism and sexism of the studio apparently without realising. I'll stop there before going into manifesto mode but oh I so could.

M.R. James Stories - M.R. James was a medievalist at Cambridge in the early 20th century, but is best remembered in the wider sphere for his ghost stories, which were often delivered at Christmas parties. Radio 4 Extra often reruns his material around the holidays, and the first crop of dramatisations has just popped up. Of particular interest to me is Number 13 as it takes place in Viborg, and the last time I was there I took some photos )
The Now Show - It's not easy to do a topical comedy show a week after an atrocity, but the Now Show team manages it rather admirably.
Double Acts: Hot Desk - A bit like The Apartment, but with a reception/security desk, and I have never seen The Apartment so that's as far as I can go. Too much a 'mirror up to nature' to be your average romantic comedy, but it's funny and about relationships and by John Finnemore so is delightful regardless. And it's the LAST of the Double Acts! Woe, woe. (There's a new series of Souvenir Programme starting in January so we don't have to weep too long.)
tealin: (4addict)
It's been a stressful week. To wind down, have a Shipping Forecast read by Neil Nunes. Mmmmm, soothing. Nevermind the gale warnings. 'S fine.

This was the week of the 'we recorded this before Paris' disclaimer. It's actually a little astonishing how relevant much of the pre-planned programming was, and a lot of it was very good with or without its inadvertent timeliness, so I'm throwing it into its own section:

Start the Week: France Special - In which the definitive works of Emile Zola, the legacy of the Resistance in WWII, and the everyday reality of those infamous suburbs are brought to bear on our understanding of modern France.
Analysis - Examining the very real potential to reconcile groups in conflict, looking at past successes and psychological factors. Please listen to this, it's important and fascinating.
In Our Time: The Battle of Lepanto - Historically sold as Christendom vs Islam, it's more accurately the uneasy alliance of religiously fragmented European nations vs the expansionist Ottoman Empire. Aside from its modern resonances, it was recent history when Othello was written, which answers 'why Cyprus?'
The Current - The CBC outdoes everyone in the analysis department and this is no exception; here they talk to a French sociologist who specialises in violence and terrorism, and to someone who's just written a book about ISIS. (Not part of the BBC's accidental relevancy, but it bears a listen and belongs in this section.)

Well, that's a drag, let's have some

The Horne Section - I wondered how to describe it and thought "like a children's show, but for grownups" was close ... then I heard this week's episode.
Tim Key's Late Night Poetry Programme - It's like Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better but minus the structure or adult moderating influence of Mark Watson.
Hot Desk - I haven't heard it yet and I already know the last episode of John Finnemore's Double Acts will be worth listening to. (Update: It totally was. I told you.)
Concrete Cow - Always a delight; we've got work experience at NASA in that one and another entry for the Scott Comedy Club in this.
Creme de la Crime - Steve Punt did this spoof whodunit series years before doing a actual mystery-solving series, which makes the latter difficult for me to take seriously. Anyway this is the funny one. Funnier one.

Day of the Locust - Written in 1938, it's one of those so-real-it-hurts depictions of LA; give everyone an iPhone and it could happen today.
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk - Once again I link to somethink I didn't finish, myself; I personally didn't care much for the characters, but it's a good production and a classic piece of literature, so someone out there might be interested.

The documentary about Day of the Locust is even more interesting than the play as it juxtaposes the societal observations of the 1930s book with the social currents that brought California's two presidents, Nixon and Reagan, into power.
The Last Post - The history and broadening legacy of the bugle call played every Remembrance Day.
Smash Hit of 1453 - I have long said that the 13th century was the rockingest century, but musical comedian Rainer Hirsch argues well for the 15th century's long-running hit single 'L'homme armé' (The Armed Man). This is the track that got him hooked, just as resonant now as it was in 2010, or 1453:

tealin: (4addict)
It's the most ... wonderful tiiime ... of the yeeeeaaar ... the weeks when a series written by John Finnemore is on the air. How are we lowly mortals deserving of such pure ambrosia? John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme is the beneficiary of Radio 4's new policy of letting shows stay up for thirty days instead of seven, so you can hear Epsiodes One, Two, Three, and Four all in one go if you want to, though you may wish to consult your physician first.

The Museum of Curiosity receives a donation from Richard Williams, star animator and animation director of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. His artefact is interesting and his anecdotes entertaining, but the cherry on the cake is his impersonation of a poor hapless Pixar animator. Dearie me.

Germany: Memories of a Nation - Fresh off the heels of smash-hit A History of the World in 100 Objects, Neil MacGregor explores the history of Germany, fragmentary and unified, through seminal items. Also available for download, somewhere. (I heard this show coming from a market stall the other day. I love this place.)

No Tomatoes - You say tomato, I say tomato, you say potato, I say this gag doesn't work in text. Sketch show, fifteen minutes, a little pomodoro of fun.

News Quiz Extra - A gentle reminder NEWS QUIZ !!!

The Unbelievable Truth - like QI meets Balderdash, hosted by David Mitchell – who has, confusingly, just written a book, so now both David Mitchells are authors. Thanks a lot.

And finally ...

If you have seen Duet, and wondered what went into the making of it, the answer is, in part: The Long Long Trail. Hours and hours of this. It got to be a bit of a problem. I hope I didn't annoy anyone with my continual whistling of peppy WWI ditties but they did the job! I don't know if it's because they're Edwardian tunes orchestrated and performed in the 60s, but it's musically reminiscent of Mary Poppins (made in the 60s, set Edwardian), and yet the very very dark context, snarky sense of humour, and innuendo take the songs from Sherman Bros twee to somewhere entirely different.

Speaking of WWI: It was Remembrance Sunday here in the UK, but if you want to celebrate Armistice Day on the 11th as God intended, I highly recommend tuning into the CBC. Their ceremony from Ottawa is broadcast live leading up to 11am EST and repeated on westerly stations as 11am rolls across the time zones. Listen live to Radio One on the website or download the CBC radio app on iTunes of Google Play (it's brilliant), and find the feed for your corresponding Canadian city. It's not a basket of laughs but is important and beautiful, and you won't regret it.
tealin: (CBC)
Sneaking in on a Sunday night because I have radio links!

#1 on the list is Jian Ghomeshi's interview with Pharrell Williams on Q – forget his silly hat and links with pop music if you can, there is some seriously good stuff in this interview, and is one of the most inspiring things I've heard in a long time.

In other Q news, IT'S ON IN L.A. NOW! Everyone in LA, you don't know how rich you have become; Mon-Thurs 10pm on KPCC, some of the best arts and culture interviews you're likely to hear anywhere, mind-expanding and horizon-broadening, also a great place to find new music. I don't know why KPCC doesn't air it on Fridays, especially as Friday is when they usually have musical acts perform live and then get interviewed, but 80% of Q is better than no Q at all.

Speaking of which, I feel I should mark the occasion of my getting completely up-to-date with Q podcasts – I had 21 hours' worth backed up but have laid it all to rest now, just in time for a new episode to arrive tomorrow. There would probably be a lot more links to interesting segments, but thanks to the binge it's all just a delicious porridge in my head, so you are spared. Good show, do listen, though one episode a day is probably better than six.

Another notable radio thing is Michael's Essay on The Sunday Edition about Godwin's Law and Crimea – the link will take you to a write-up, but I think the audio (which you can find on that page) is a little more involved.

That's it from me this week – now I've caught up on Q I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming of The Long Long Trail on repeat. Tally-ho, yippity-yap, and zing-zang spillip!


Mar. 4th, 2014 08:29 pm
tealin: (Default)
Usually I do something for Lent on this blog, be it sketchbook pages or art tips or something, but as I stand here on the edge of Mardi Gras I am looking at a churning ocean of so much work that instead, this year, I'm giving up social media, because that is an enormous distraction I just can't afford.

As mentioned before I've been trying to switch to podcasts from streaming radio, which presents the challenge of listening to them faster than they accumulate. I put off the CBC's Q, and only this week have been starting to tackle the 20+ hours of backed-up arts and culture commentary. Here are some of the highlights from recent episodes:
Q Media Panel on Ukraine, the crisis, its possible over-representation in the news vs Venezuela and Bosnia, western media's pro-rebel bias, and so on. In the midst of the internet's hand-wringing over World War III it's really nice to hear smart people step back and look at the coverage critically.
Q: Neil Young on the Oil Sands - Wow. Wow. ... Wow. [flies flag]
Q: The Philosopher's Mail - using the clickbait, scaremongering, and gossip which makes The Daily Mail so popular, to discuss important matters of depth, with a sense of humour. In other words, someone made a newspaper just for me!

Sunday Edition: Post-Antibiotic World - We don't fully appreciate how much the world has changed since the introduction of antibiotics, but perhaps we should, because we may be forced to return there.
Sunday Edition: The Return of Anti-Semitism - Outside the friendly confines of the US and Canada, anti-Jewish sentiment is back on the scene. Oh, yay.
Day 6: Backscatter - A former TSA employee talks about how ultimately useless those full-body X-ray vision scanners were, and how they were (mis)used.

Night Watch - It's not May yet, but there are protests in the streets everywhere you turn, so Commander Vimes is back to show them how it's done.
Cabin Pressure: Paris - Captain Crieff and the Mystery of the Stolen-Not Stolen Whisky (this show is a font of happiness and makes the world a better place, get hooked today).
Dilemma - I've listened to a lot of Radio 4 (a lot) but this show has some audience interaction that I have never heard on anything ever.

Well that's about it from me ... Tomorrow I'll hand over the blogging reins to my one and only all-time total hero Edward Adrian Wilson, because the world needs more Bill, and I want to introduce him to everyone. He has more to say than just listing radio links, so this place will probably improve in my absence.

I'll be off 'the Internets' until late April, but because the only alternative is the hated telephone, I will still be on email. If you need or want to contact me you can still do that. I like email. :) My address can be found in my userinfo, and all PMs and comments end up in my inbox anyway so you can use those as well.
tealin: (4addict)
All right, readers, gather round, grab a blanket and cocoa because this post is going to be long.

As you may have gathered from the dwindling radio picks, and then a few weeks without a post, I've been weaning myself off streaming radio at work, an effort which has been helped immensely by BBC Radio decommissioning the iPlayer website on which I drew sustenance, not to put it too lightly, not that I'm bitter or homesick or anything, heaven forfend. I will refrain from moaning further because I live outside the UK so my opinions on the matter matter to no one.

[deep breath]

I've managed to scrape together some links anyway, and am including the expiry day so you know what to prioritise.


On Now
News Quiz Extra (Mon) - It was already one of the most enjoyable News Quizzes ever, then they added back in 15 minutes cut for broadcast, which include Susan Calman's impression of Prince William and POTATO ANARCHY. Cruelly moved to Monday so there's one fewer day to catch it than usual.

Dilemma (Tue) - The panel game where contestants vie for the moral high ground as Sue Perkins throws increasingly ambivalent hypotheticals at them. (Hint: Sue Perkins = quality.)

On The Hour (Thurs) - I haven't even listened to this episode this week but I am linking it anyway because On the Hour is always worth it.

The Exorcist (Thurs/Fri) - I link to this not because it's particularly fantastic, in my estimation, but because it made me think a lot, and I'll probably be posting those thoughts later, so here is the prerequisite listening (not actually required).

The End of the Dial (indef.) - An ode to the glories of radio and its place (or lack thereof) in the age of the internet. Manages to go on for an hour about radio, internet, and international accessibility, without mentioning the BBC once. Ira Glass does admit bending all NPR to his model, though, which brought me great personal vindication if not actual pleasure. (The news shouldn't be chatty! Argh.)

Coming Up
Cabin Pressure: Qikiqtarjuaq (Sat) - One of the best scripted comedies ever written, for serious. I am getting happy just thinking about it. This episode contains polar bears and the travelling lemon. Also Benedict Cumberbatch, if that will persuade you to listen.

On the Town with the League of Gentlemen (Wed) - The radio show before the TV show, in the town of Spent before it was Royston Vasey. Interesting to compare to the TV show, if you know it, and if you don't, it's good listening anyway.

A Canticle for Liebowitz (Mon) - A monk in the 26th century happens upon a desert cavern holding a relic of the most holy sainted Liebowitz – a shopping list. This is only Book 1 of the, um ... book ... but it's darn good. Very glad to see it coming round again.


I've taken to subscribing to as many podcasts as I can instead of streaming radio, which covers some of what I would have ordinarily listened to, and keeps me off the juice internet while I should be working. I thought I'd share my favourites of those as well, in case anyone would like to subscribe. We'd be listening to the same things! It's like a book club, but sort of radio-ish and usually nothing like a book at all! How droll!

Analysis - In-depth look at the history and ramifications of ideas, people, and stuff affecting current events.
Best of Natural History Radio - I used to think "What do you mean nature shows on the radio, you can't see anything" but then I listened and the soundscapes, amazing, completely immersive, it's almost as good as travelling, but with your eyes shut.
Beyond Belief - Religion, faith, spirituality, etc. in the modern world. Pretty good representation from all corners.
Comedy of the Week - not the topical stuff or anything popular enough to sell, but sometimes quite good.
Documentary of the Week - Can't find it on the BBC Podcasts page, but it comes up on iTunes.
File on 4 - Mainly because I want Archive on 4 but this is the closest I get.
Friday Night Comedy - Topical comedy/satire, usually The News Quiz or The Now Show. The News Quiz is so much better than Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me; there is no going back; be warned.
From Our Own Correspondent - Assorted audio postcards from the BBC's foreign correspondents
In Our Time - A handful of experts sit around a table chatting about something while shuffling paper and pouring liquid (I assume water, one never knows). It's like eavesdropping on the most fascinating neighbours at a restaurant. It's so fantastically varied, you frequently get things like 45 minutes of thermodynamics finished off with "and next time, Jane Austen."
The Radio 3 Documentary - I used to wonder why the BBC didn't have a show like the CBC's Ideas, and then I found out it was hiding on Radio 3. Silly. I recommend the Villains and Camus episodes for starters.
Things We Forgot to Remember - Alternative and/or refreshing look at history
Thinking Allowed - Sociology, psychology, behaviourology, affability, and their applications in the real world.
Tweet of the Day - Birdsong podcast!

Day 6 - Weekly news magazine offering challenging perspectives on current events and culture, fascinating guests, and an interviewer who does his job.
Ideas - Documentary series about practically everything. It's changed my life twice. I miss having it on my terrestrial radio.
Q the Podcast - Arts & Culture magazine, really insightful and delightful but not a fluff show at all.
The Sunday Edition - A little like a cross between Day 6 and Q but more relaxed and two hours long. Quite often brilliant.

Happy listening, radioland!
tealin: (Default)

Because the BBC knows what it's doing when it comes to cross-platform synchronicity, Radio 4 Extra is rerunning The Return of Sherlock Holmes with all-time favourite canon Holmes, Clive Merrison.
The Empty House - Holmes is back in London and – surprise! – not dead. Expires Monday so listen quick!
The Norwood Builder - An important fable for some animation studios of my acquaintance. And yes, that is Wallace.
The Dancing Men - Fun with cryptography!
The Solitary Cyclist - Ladies, getting a job and riding a bicycle is dangerous business.
The Priory School - The son of a dignitary disappears from his posh boarding school ... no Grimm references though.

The Long, Long Trail is a programme from the '60s collecting the songs of the Tommies of the Great War, which was adapted to the stage as Oh What A Lovely War. It's interesting on its own but doubly so to compare it to now: on one hand I can't possibly imagine modern girls pressuring their lads to sign up, but on the other it's a little refreshing to hear modern levels of snark in these jolly tunes, given how the era is commonly popularised.

John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme is rerunning from the start. John Finnemore. Sketch show. That is all you need to know to make an informed decision. This one has Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Intervention and the story of a man with a dream which quite remarkably resonates with my generation of animation school graduates.

Sredni Vashtar - a sickly boy and his polecat ferret ... If I ever make an NFB film this will be it.

The Unbelievable Truth, episode 1 of the new series, is possibly one of the funniest episodes of a very funny panel game. Of particular note is how early on Mr Mitchell starts getting down Mr Wehn's throat about The War. This one expires Monday, so hop to it. And Episode 2 has John Finnemore in it.


A word about CBC programmes before any links: they stay up a lot longer than the BBC ones so I tend not to link to them as urgently, but there's a lot of goodness up there if you're looking for a mine of brain food. Ideas, The Sunday Edition, Q, and Day 6 are consistently high deliverers if you want somewhere to start, and This is That is surprisingly funny and a good insight into the Canadian character.

Unfortunately the 'listen' links on the programme websites don't always launch correctly, and I'm not sure any Flash player is good enough for the CBC's Radio Player. Luckily they put out a lot of their shows as podcasts, and you can stream them on iTunes as well, I just can't link to those streams directly. If you like the sound of a show I've linked but can't get it to work on the website I've linked to, try looking it up on iTunes.

Also, I can't say enough good things about the CBC radio app, which is a million times more reliable than the browser player with all the same content. It's available for Apple and Android, so if you like having the CBC on demand, check it out.

I took advantage of the holidays to catch up on a lot of Ideas. One of my favourites was The Fool's Dilemma: most of us believe we are much more clever and worthy than we actually are, we are attracted to certainty and confidence over correctness, and those who have a more accurate self-image or appraisal of the world are depressive and pessimistic. It suffers a bit from creeping Radiolab influence but is a fascinating programme nonetheless.

On a jauntier note is an excellent feature from This is That on the first L.A. food truck to do business on the freeway. A+ you guys, you nailed it.

Uncalled-for Rant

Going by the opinions of people I know, I am probably the only person in the world who is irritated by the overproduced auditory busyness of Radiolab. As long as it stays on Radiolab it's fine – the people who like it can listen to it and I don't have to – but the producers of other radio documentaries are falling under its sparkly spell, so factual content and clarity are suffocated under flashy filters, quirky music, ersatz conversations, sound effects, and editing techniques. Even this might not bother me so much if it didn't bring up uncomfortable memories of what happened to the Discovery Channel, then the Learning Channel, then the History Channel, and then PBS as it started to tailor its programming for resale to this network; or how all of NPR came more and more to resemble This American Life and I gave up trying to get useful information from it.

So no, if you were going to ask, I don't listen to Radiolab. And I don't listen to Welcome to Night Vale either, because while I deeply appreciate the premise, it hits too many of my 'argh NPR' buttons to be able to appreciate it for what it is. I am happy to see it being so popular because it's turning people on to radio drama who would never have considered it otherwise, and more popular support for this beautiful and versatile art form is no bad thing. But ... I need some time.
tealin: (4addict)
I've been hauling my laptop in to work a bit more than usual, so here's a list of radio picks for the second week in a row!

In the running theme of 'therapy for Tealin through radio shows,' another blast from my childhood: When I was five, my dad read me Watership Down as a serial bedtime story, which is probably at the root of my anglophilia and unrealistic expectations of children's entertainment. Radio 4 Extra is running a radio dramatisation of it! It's ... not what it could be ... but the story is great so there's only so far you can go wrong. Hear them rocket through a 500-page book in two hours: Part 1 and Part 2 will see you through. Then read the book.

An omnibus of last week's A Cause for Caroling is available for the next couple of days, which you can follow up with this week's episodes:
A Second Golden Age - By the mid 19th century, the singing of carols was once again hugely popular.
Folk Carol Survival and Revival - Carol wars!
The Birth of Nine Lessons With Carols - The 19th-century enthusiasm for carols sung in church resulted in a vehicle in which they could take a leading role.
Import and Export - in the first half of the 20th century, carols from all over the world became more popular (which cheesed off R.V. Williams).
Ring in the New - the success of new carols over the last century, the continued appeal of the carol, and why, while it's been in decline throughout its history, it continues to thrive.

Simon Bovey is the writer of a number of excellent best-kind-of-pulp radio plays, and I knew he'd written one set in Antarctica, but I'd always missed the first couple episodes so I never properly heard the real thing. I caught it this time, though! Cold Blood is about opening the White Continent up to profit-driven enterprise, the clash of ideologies, and a scientist who goes a little bit too far. At least, that's the A plot; a lot of fun is to be had in playing Spot The Scott References, which eventually devolves into Esoterica Or Coincidence? Needless to say, I am riveted. Episodes One, Two, Three, and Four and Five are available until Monday, at which point they start disappearing day by day. And there's a very good interview with him here.

Only one item from the CBC this week, mainly because I haven't been listening to them much: The Degrowth Paradigm looks at a growing movement of people declaring independence from the dominant economic models of recent centuries. It's got its fair share of fringe wackoism but if you can filter out the more radical statements there are some very compelling thoughts in there, especially if you know A Short History of Progress.
tealin: (4addict)
Usually the BBC holds off on explicitly Christmas stuff until Christmas week or so, but they've got a head start this year and so far it's a good one.

A little story first: One year, a book/CD set turned up in my family's house, entitled The Forgotten Carols. It turned out to be a Christmas story which incorporated an album of purpose-written songs, which disappointed the excessively nerdy kid with the little black XMAS tape, who had hoped it was a collection of Christmas songs from Olden Tymes which had been left behind by popular tastes. (I was a hipster before hipsters were cool.) It took twenty years, but to my immense delight, Radio 4 has dropped in my stocking a series resembling what I wanted The Forgotten Carols to be: A Cause for Caroling looks at the history of the Christmas carol in Britain from its earliest record through the various forces which have acted on the holiday over time.
Episode 1 gives us an overview of the carol tradition 'that has always had one foot in the pub and another in the choir stalls' and tries to revive the first recorded British carol.
Episode 2 looks at the role of Franciscans in popularizing the use of music to celebrate the Nativity, and the repurposing of popular secular tunes for religious purposes.
Episode 3 takes us through the development of professional music, the place of carol-singing in medieval popular culture, and the context of The Coventry Carol (as we know it today).
Episode 4 explores the effect the Reformation and Puritanism had on the singing of carols in and out of church. The Puritans banned Christmas! That had some effect.
Episode 5 is about the polyphonic carols popular in village churches in the 18th and 19th centuries and immortalised by Thomas Hardy. Americans might find a similarity to the Appalachian choral tradition. If you like it I highly recommend Under the Greenwood Tree by The Mellstock Band, which I have owned and enjoyed for years.

Every so often you run across one of those stories you just know is going to stick in your head, and this afternoon I added The Morpeth Carol to that library. It starts with a boy from a housing estate finding the crashed wreck of Santa's sleigh, and turns into one of those half-tragic, half-whimsical Christmas tales. A cup of grit and a whiff of Pratchett round out the pudding.

In a less seasonal vein, I've only listened to the first half of this week's Sunday Edition, but for a show that's always worth checking out this one is already especially excellent: the essay on the moral courage of Mandela and those who stood up for him around the world is brilliant, and the interview with the NSA whistleblower who preceded and inspired Edward Snowden is particularly fascinating.

And last but certainly not least, for dessert, That Mitchell and Webb Sound is back – the link is to Episode 2 which is my favourite so far but only lasts till Tuesday; Episode 3 you'll find linked at the bottom of that page and is also good fun.

Before I rush out for mulled wine and chestnuts, a request: does anyone know if there's been a decent radio dramatisation of A Christmas Carol made in recent years? It is baffling to me that it can have escaped the new wave of radio movies, especially when the greatest hits of the canon seem to be so popular, but I can't remember hearing one. Suggestions? Or should I write, Dear Radio 4 Santa, Thank you for the Forgotten Carols, please next year could you bring A Christmas Carol to The Classic Serial? Yours truly, The Nerd with the Black Tape
tealin: (CBC)
The balance is shifting ... more CBC than BBC, possibly related to the fact the CBC app works on my mobile device and the BBC's is geolocked.

Titanium - An excellently executed radio play about Yuri Gagarin, from the point of view of his colleague, friend, and runner-up as first man in space. It's cool to see the space race from the Russian side, for one, and for another, Gagarin appears to have been a reincarnation of Birdie Bowers in some respects, in this play at least. Available till Thursday.

I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue is back and they've brought John Finnemore with them! This is all you need to know.

The Invention of Childhood - Michael Morpurgo's intriguing sociology series on the attitude toward children and their place in society over the last thousand years of British history.

Machiavelli: The Prince of Paradox - Examination of Machiavelli's life, work, writing, and the theory that perhaps The Prince was not meant to be taken entirely seriously.

The Enright Files: JFK - A two-part documentary, the first part of which is an interview with the man who's done the lion's share of research into JFK's assassination, explaining what did and didn't happen, where the conspiracy theories come from, and how full of crap they are. Also features a really satisfying evisceration of Oliver Stone. As someone who's made quite the extensive hobby of researching tragic history which has been grossly misrepresented in popular media, this was highly relevant to my interests, but I think could be interesting to anyone with a healthy respect for the truth. The second half looks into JFK's career, personality cult, and private life, and how the three did and didn't interact.

C.S. Lewis and the Inklings, Part 1 and Part 2 - A look into the personalities and guiding principles of one of the most influential groups of writers in the 20th century. I'm not much of a fan of Lewis' fiction, but this made me really want to read his essays, especially the one about imagination.
tealin: (4addict)
1984: Part II is up, for completeness' sake – I'm becoming more comfortable with blaming the dramatist for my problems with Part I after reading his writeup, but Part II has a possible underground resistance (for which I am a sucker) and actual peril, as well as some philosophy, so that was an improvement.

The Wind in the Willows is about as different as you can get while still being a radio play and is so delightful I grin all the way through. It's sort of half radio play, half concert ... I dunno, it works, just give it a listen. As you can see it ended up on ye doodle pad, which should be no surprise considering it's basically Edwardian Redwall. Listen quick, though, because it expires Saturday!

Barricade Week on Les Miserables is all in one chunk now, for your listening convenience. The omnibus edition expires Sunday so if you just can't get enough of endearing and otherwise intelligent young men throwing themselves away on a lost cause, cram it in before then.

This is your weekly reminder that Day 6 is always worth listening to: this week we have humour in religion, why some people are making a hero of Chris Dorner, insight on the Westboro Baptist Church (you know, them) from a banished member, and other assorted bits.
tealin: (CBC)
J'ai écouté à Radio-Canada ces semaines pour obtenir un sens(?) pour le français, avant Noël avec ma famille Québecoise, et heureusement j'ai assez de la langue pour retrouver ce chanson:
Watch me struggle with translation! )

And on the English side:
So the world's ending on Friday, right? Right? There's an Ideas program for that. Specifically, everything you need to know – and lots of stuff you probably had no idea about but is pretty darn interesting – about the Mayan calendar, its uses, cycles, applications, history, etc. Give it a listen while you still have a chance!

(Har har)
tealin: (CBC)
Appropriately for someone struggling with issues of creativity, and my place in my immediate socio-vocational creative context – and in time for the resumption of The Infinite Monkey Cage, with which I seem to have developed a one-person feud – the CBC ran an interesting two-parter on imagination. It's approached through the lens of William Blake, but it veers off into matters scientific and psychological of which he would have been unaware.

Ideas: Imagination, Part 1 and Part 2
We have stories that help us understand who we are and what our place in the world actually is. But of course these are all imagined stories. There's nothing in the material world itself than can give us a sense of identity, that can tell us who we are, and who we should be. If you were to take away imagination, and had a purely objective scientific worldview, and said "this is the chemical structure of your body, this is the biological system that determines who you are, this is the material substrate of the universe around you," that is completely devoid of meaning. That's where imagination comes in, whether it's religious imagination, or some other form of cultural imagination. Because it really gives us a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning, a sense of direction, and a sense of identity.

I didn't actually catch who said this

[The imagination] is absolutely essential to our being. In a sense, it is what provides us with a possible future, or hope for a future. And when you're in a situation where you completely lose all hope, it becomes very hard to survive. And you think about what happens to people who have the imagination taken away, people who have no hope to continue ... Of course, it's the objective of torture, is to strip anyone of any hope, or any sense that there can be anything else other than what they're enduring, at this moment, and so in a sense they give up. And the same thing happens with people who have nothing in society, who are left without any means to imagine a possible future for themselves, and it becomes extremely difficult to survive under those circumstances. The imagination is actually life itself, in a way.

– Ron East

To the extent that man has an imagination, he is alive, and therefore, the development of the imagination is an increase in life. It follows that restricting the imagination must then tend in the direction of death, so that all imaginative restraint is ultimately – not that it always proceeds to ultimates – a death impulse.

– Northrop Frye


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