tealin: (Default)
When I lived in LA, was making money, and tried to make myself happy by being generous with it, I was a member of the local NPR station. As such I had a card and was on their mailing list, and even though I never went to any member events or even really listened all that much, I was still nominally included.

When I moved away I cancelled my membership, and all that stopped.

Well, just in the past week, I've somehow ended up back on the mailing list, because I've got two emails from them about things going on around town and a backstage tour of the station.

Now, there may be a simple explanation. Chances are they have just resurrected a bunch of dead email addresses to remind ex-members how much they liked being in the in-group, to encourage them to re-pledge ...

Or someone has gifted me a membership for some obscure reason and not told me ...

... Or, an identity thief has used my credit card to pledge to a public radio station, and the email address associated with that card automatically went on the mailing list, in which case I am the victim of some very peculiar fraud. I'm not even sure I'd want them prosecuted, if that's the sort of thing they're going to do.

This world, man, I dunno, it's getting less real by the day.
tealin: (4addict)
FICTION
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.

FACT
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.

FUN
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!)

FAHRENHEIT 451
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: (4addict)
In advance of my trip to Annecy, I've been listening to francophone radio more or less solidly since March, trying to improve my comprehension. Now that I'm back in the linguistic brothel where English was born, it's time to do some catching up – and oh, what a lot there is to choose from!

FACTUAL
The Reith Lectures: Hilary Mantel - Author of Wolf Hall and A Place of Greater Safety speaks fascinatingly about historical fiction, our relationship with the past, how and why we resurrect the dead in stories, and many other things very close to my heart.
Away with the Fairies - An exploration of the journey the Little People have made in popular culture, from uncanny threat to sparkly friends.

FICTIONAL
Golden Hill - An excellent jape set in colonial New York. Only available until the wee hours, UK time, so if you're reading this on June 20th, give it a listen while you can – it's a very good story, very well read!
I, Claudius - A radio adaptation of the famous historical novel. I've only caught half of one episode so far, but it's very good, so will be catching up on the rest as an antidote to the news. If you think man's inhumanity to man is a recent thing, well, you don't know much about the Romans...
A Place of Greater Safety - Hilary Mantel's novel of the French Revolution, and a salient cautionary tale for passionate idealists on either side of the political spectrum. This production I know for a fact is fabulous, as it was so good the first time I recorded it and listened over and over. Highly recommended.
Hard Times - I never got into this novel when I tried reading it, but the exploration of heartless pragmatism vs anything else is appealing, so I hope the radio adaptation is a way in to the Industrial Revolutionary fable.
Nineteen Ninety-Eight - A spoof of Orwell's 1984, but when the main character Edward Wilson goes in pursuit of Truth and ends up founding a Movement, and it stars David Threlfall (my favourite Iago) and Hugh Laurie (Hugh Laurie), there's reason enough to listen right there.

FUNNY
Double Acts - John Finnemore's series of droll two-character dramas is back! As always, anything he writes is worth listening to – these aren't as laugh-out-loud funny as Cabin Pressure or Souvenir Programme, but are great little character pieces, and have such range.
Saturday Night Fry - Stephen Fry, Hugh Laure, Jim Broadbent and guests are silly on the wireless – and SO YOUNG.
The Burkiss Way - Vintage barmy sketch comedy
The Harpoon - Slightly more recent barmy sketch comedy, spoofing much less recent and generally non-comedic kids' magazines.
The Consultants - Contemporary barmy sketch comedy
John Finnemore, Apparently - Contemporary barmy sketch comedy by a certain eponymous gentleman, airing Thursday
Talking and Not Talking - Contemporary barmy sketch comedy, with a little more gender balance
On the Town With the League of Gentlemen - Barmiest of all comedy, the radio series that preceded the TV series that launched the careers of Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith, and Steve Pemberton.


And now my laptop's overheating, so I will leave it there! Enjoy!
tealin: (stress)
  1. Decide to clean the kitchen (It needs doing, and my brain doesn't really get up to speed until noon, so might as well.)
  2. Think: It'd be better to listen to some Francophone radio than my usual lineup of kitchen-cleaning CBC podcasts
  3. Fight crashy crashy iTunes to find/download a few new episodes of Aujourd'hui l'histoire
  4. Give up on crashy crashy iTunes and finally update it
  5. Update goes unresponsive
  6. Restart computer
  7. Run update again
  8. Meanwhile, finally get around to removing a bunch of programmes from running on startup
  9. Restart again when prompted by iTunes
  10. Download those episodes at last without crashing
  11. Plug in iPod, find it's chock full of podcasts from three years ago
  12. Hunt down, delete/uncheck existing podcasts
  13. Sync with new French podcasts (baladodiffusion)
  14. An hour later, finally start cleaning the kitchen.

My mum likes to call her mother tongue 'kitchen French' – amazing the lengths one has to go to, in this modern world, even to acquire that!
tealin: (CBC)
J'ecoute le rap Aeroplan encore?! C'est possible?
tealin: (4addict)
As you may have noticed from previous posts, I'm back on the French-language radio these days. However, I have been busy with the sort of work that needs a side serving of radio to get done, and there are only so many Montreal traffic reports one can stomach in a day, so occasionally I dip back into familiar territory. The list below contains some shows I've listened to, and some I would like to listen to if I find the time, but there's no reason I can't forward them to you. Enjoy!

FACTUAL
Be Like the Fox - A parallel history of Medici-era Florence and the famous Machiavelli, ostensibly giving insight into his great work of political cynicism The Prince. It's also interesting to consider re: Cassio in Othello, if this was the baggage that came with being a Florentine...
Subversion: West - Russia's alleged and actual interference in British and American politics. East is vice versa.
The Origins of the American Dream - A social history of the US, specifically trying to find the origins of the notion now labelled "The American Dream." It's not what you might think.
Lent Talks - A series of essays on the theme of Destiny, from a variety of thinkers.
AL Kennedy's Migraine - It's a well-known fact that all the best and coolest people suffer migraines. AL Kennedy is one of them, and she spends half an hour here looking into them, almost literally.
CBC Ideas - As always, it's all good – you can throw a dart at that webpage and whatever you listen to will satisfy – but I'd like to draw particular attention to the Ireland 1916 episode, which is three parts awesome, from the on-site walk-through with an Irish historian, to discussions of modern Ireland, to the fiery gay senator who doesn't give a flying flip what anyone thinks.

FICTIONAL
Revelation - A serial killer with a fixation on Revelation is on the loose in Tudor London.
King Solomon's Mines - Rider Haggard doing what he does, i.e. swashbuckling Imperial adventure, high stakes, stuffy Victorians letting rip, I say, wot wot. I get the impression the producers of the radio play tried really hard to, um, 'update' some of the biases in the text, but ... well, you'll hear what I'm talking about.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth - A new adaptation of the Jules Verne book, which is a good fun romp through geology and imagination, even if it makes you question yet again how Disney could have got Atlantis wrong ...
The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde's famous comedy of manners gets an all-star radio treatment to celebrate its hundredth anniversary (rerun from 1995)
Falco: Shadows in Bronze - Anton Lesser playing a historical detective, again, this time in ancient Rome rather than alternate-history Germany.
David Copperfield - in 10 parts. I haven't listened yet, but it's been getting heaps of praise on Twitter, and my radio canary is in it, so it must be good.


FUNNY
A Normal Life - Henry Normal's new show, with poems silly and serious, linked with heartfelt prose, about life, his autistic son, arguments (or lack thereof), churches, Brian Cox, and other things.
A Trespasser's Guide to the Classics - What happens when minor characters get hold of classic works of literature?
The Unbelievable Truth - Radio Balderdash is back, kicking things off with a long ramble about sheep from John Finnemore (always a good way to start).
The Now Show - Radio 4's Friday night topical comedies are always worth listening to, but this is a particularly good episode of The Now Show. Just thought I should point it out.
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 ...

Harmony

Feb. 5th, 2017 08:58 am
tealin: (4addict)
Barely 24 hours after I post those thoughts about how A Series of Unfortunate Events challenges us to stand up for the Baudelaires around us, Radio 4 has broadcast programmes asking us "Which character in the story are you?" and referring to Yeats' "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."

I joke that I'm married to Radio 4 (and Cambridge, the physical embodiment thereof), but I'm starting to wonder if the fraying of reality is making that more true than I thought possible...
tealin: (4addict)
It's been a disorganised couple of weeks, and I'm afraid the radio list reflects that somewhat, but there's some good stuff out there so don't miss it!

DRAMA and READINGS
Cadfael: Monk's Hood - The television adaptations of the mystery-solving medieval monk were a big part of my teenage years, but the radio adaptations are good enough that I can suspend that attachment and appreciate them on their own right.
Homage to Catalonia - Orwell's memoir of fighting fascism in the Spanish Civil War, dramatised by some of the top talent at the BBC drama department. Probably my favourite dramatisation of any Orwell work that I've heard.
Giselle - Counterintuitively, a ballet on the radio. I haven't listened yet, but "a story of hidden identities, thwarted love and deceased brides who dance men to death" sounds pretty good.
Pinocchio - Whaddaya know, another source material whose deeper content was stripped in the Disney version.
(From Sunday) The Pedestrian - The short story "The Fireman" is often cited as the germ of Fahrenheit 451, but it could be co-germ with this story about someone arrested for walking, in a city dominated by cars and TV.

FACTUAL
Slaughter of the Innocents - a profile of the Christian commemoration of the children killed in Bethlehem following the birth of Jesus (which may or may not have happened), the history if its celebration, and relevance today.
The Orwell Tapes - A complicated profile of a complicated man, through interviews with people who knew him.
The Reformation - A brief but excellent look at the religious and social change that transformed Europe in the 15th/16th centuries, with particular attention given to the complicated situation in Britain.
The Novel of the Century - How Victor Hugo's Les Miserables came to be written

COMEDY
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme - There's yet ANOTHER episode. Blessings come in bundles of six, apparently.
The Unbelievable Truth - John Finnemore turns up again on this panel game where bald-faced lying is the pretext for comedy, instead of national governing policy.
21st Century for Time Travellers - In which the early 21st Century is promoted and explained as a destination for holidays from the future.
Time Spanner - I've linked to this before, but there's just over a week left to listen, and given Radio 4's track record for rerunning one-offs, it may be your last chance. It's hard to describe, but a bit like if the people who made FLCL did a Douglas Adams pastiche?

Listening

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: (Default)
Well, it's the start of another workweek, and if I know anything (I do), one of the best opiates on the planet is excellent radio!

I haven't been able to do much listening over the holidays, but there were some really outstanding things you ought to catch before they expire:

CHRISTMASSY - If you want to hold onto that holiday feeling just a little bit longer
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme Christmas Special - The new series started on December 27th, which called for a great pile of brightly wrapped Christmas sketches. And a song.
Some Hay in a Manger - A playful and surprisingly sweet retelling of the Nativity, from the point of view of Mary's donkey and one of the Wise Men's camels. Brought to you by the Warhorses of Letters team, proving cultural divides are only what you make of them.

NEW YEARSY - If you're still writing '2016' you are still in the New Year
Dead Ringers: Alternate 2016 - Imagine if things had gone differently at almost every occasion ...
Topsy Turvy Radio 4 - On January 7th (which is not, actually, Twelfth Night, but close enough), John Finnemore invaded Radio 4 continuity and there was much silliness.
The New World - A series of documentaries taking stock of where we are, on a number of topics, as we face 2017. Maybe not the most cheerful listening, but interesting, and probably important, even if you've elected to spend this year under a rock.

JUST GENERALLY SORT OF STUFF - But still really good, otherwise I wouldn't go through the trouble!
Time Spanner - I was lucky enough to be at the recording of this pilot, and was worried the final broadcast version wouldn't be as great as it was in person, but somehow radio magic happened and it's even better! In it you will find other dimensions, time travel, angels, a self-storage facility, a dropped call, and a robot, but that's beside the point: more importantly it's got that balance of silliness and heart that sets the special things apart.
Cabin Pressure: Abu Dhabi - Radio 4 Extra is rerunning the whole series from the start, so if you've wanted to know what the big deal is, or would like to revisit for fun, jump on this crazy train! Episodes Boston and Cremona are also currently available.
Desolation Jests - Picking your favourite comedy shows for your post-apocalyptic bunker is a notion close to my heart, and now they've made a show out of it, only it's all made up. Still funny, though! Oh, 11pm comedy slot, where would we be without you ...
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme - The rest of the new series is not holiday-themed, but is just as funny. And new! We should be so lucky.
tealin: (4addict)
I haven't been listening to the radio at all, this past fortnight, but if I had, these are the shows I might recommend to wile away the gift-wrapping or drown out "Jingle Bell Rock."

DRAMA and READINGS
A Father For My Son - A dramatic look at the dramatic life of the dramatic wife of Captain Scott. Kathleen Bruce was a sculptress and New Woman and a very interesting character in her own right.
Small Gods - Dramatisation of Terry Pratchett's story about a Great God who tried to manifest in 'his' desert theocracy. Capital stuff.
M.R. James: Echoes From the Abbey - Every Christmas, Cambridge medievalist M.R. James would invite friends over for a ghost story, so it's only appropriate the BBC should be rerunning a series of them.
Casino Royale - A reading of the first James Bond novel. It is, of course, a bit of silly fun, but Alex Jennings always delivers a good reading.
Metamorphosis - Benedict Cumberbatch reads Franz Kafka's famous tale about a man who turns into a bug.

COMEDY
Cabin Pressure: Zurich, part 1 - If you missed the excellent two-part closure of this most excellent series, you are in luck, as it's being rerun; Part 2 is next week. If you haven't heard the series yet, I cannot recommend enough that you listen to the rest of it before the finale. You won't regret it.
The Atkinson People: George Dupont - One in a series of spoof biographical sketches by Rowan Atkinson, this looks at an influential French philosopher. Warning: this show may permanently affect your perception of the Dordogne.
I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue - The Antidote to Panel Games has now become more or less The Model For Panel Games, which is only right and just given that it's still brilliant after decades in the chair.
Heresy - Speaking of panels, this one has varying degrees of experts challenging received wisdom for a laugh.
Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive - In the mid-2000s there were three series of this show, apparently intended to fill the gap that arises between News Quiz and Now Show series in the summer. In true Iannucci fashion, what happened was a brilliant and surreal half-hour riff on reality, which manages somehow to be just as topical as it was at the time, in different and sometimes unsettling ways.
The Harpoon - Radio send-up of the genre of Boy's Own magazines. Think Tintin crossed with sketch comedy.
Thom Tuck Goes Straight to DVD - Excellent one-man show juxtaposing personal memoir with direct-to-video franchises. All episodes are worth a listen, but not available for much longer, so give it a spin soon if you're at all inclined.

FACTUAL
Cat Women of the Moon - Examining the role of women in science fiction, both as subjects and creators, from a 1915 story about an all-female society to the speculative fiction of today.
Lady Curzon and a Pineapple - Shows like this fascinating look at the history of the pineapple in Western culture are why we love Radio 4.
The Mark Steel Lecture: Muhammad Ali - An interesting and humourous look at the life of someone much more influential than a mere sportsman.
Blowing in the Wind: Bob Dylan's Spiritual Journey - Not having listened to this, I can only guess it does what it says on the tin.
The Life Scientific: Richard Morris - As I've been learning a lot about how memory works recently, this episode exploring neuroscience would be particularly interesting.
The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry - If you're on the run and can only take your science in bite-sized portions, this series looks at everyday scientific mysteries in 10 minutes or less.
tealin: (4addict)
Well, it's been an unsettling two weeks, and while there are fights to be fought and civilisations to be saved, sometimes you just need to curl up in a dark corner with some aural opiates and get away from it all. That is what I'm here for, ladies and gentlemen!

First up is a very special rerun:



EREBUS
This utterly transporting sound/prose/music collage took me completely by surprise when it aired in 2012; remarkably it hasn't been repeated until now – or, that is, last week; I was too busy wallowing post-election to catch it when it aired, so you only have three weeks to listen instead of the usual month. I highly recommend you do, though, as this is pretty much the epitome of what radio is capable of as an artistic medium; even if you're not super into polar stuff, it'll carry you away for three quarters of an hour.

NON-ELECTION CONTENT
Over Sea, Under Stone - I had a minor obsession with this book in grade 6, which instilled a love of British folklore and Deep Time. It takes itself refreshingly seriously for old-school YA adventure; the peril is real and the fantasy woven into the reality very plausibly. I hope we get The Dark Is Rising for Christmas ...
Watership Down - Speaking of formative childhood reading, I can trace nearly everything in my life back to my dad reading this to me when I was 5. Nice to hear it done seriously in a new production from one of my favourite radio directors.
Open Country: Watership Down - A few years ago, the BBC sent their rambling correspondent to the location of the above book, for an audio exploration – consider it a DVD extra.
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde's story of the perennially fresh-faced dissolute Mr Gray and his dark secret, very capably dramatised. The elder Henry character makes me wonder if it's an allusion, because –
Old Harry's Game - uses an old nickname for Old Nick to title the everlastingly entertaining sitcom starring Satan. Yes.
Listen Against - Radio 4 gets lost in its own navel and finds some amusingly-shaped lint
The Skivers - Barmy sketch comedy, you know how I like these things
Ray Bradbury stories - A series of readings of Ray Bradbury's short sci-fi stories; there are roughly three per episode so you can load up on a whole bunch of brilliance.
The People's Post - A narrative history of the post office. If you, like me, have found Going Postal an adequate prerequisite for current events, this may be of especial interest.
Denmark Hill - Alan Bennett's retelling of Hamlet, set in a modern London suburb
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme - You know it's good.
Saki - Three hours devoted to the Edwardian short story writer who had a rather sardonic view of his society.

ELECTION CONTENT
The Now Show - Punt and Dennis have the unenviable task of making all this dire news funny. Which they do! Never mind the undercurrent of despair. 'S fine. Everything's fine.
The Unbelievable Truth - This panel game is always worth a listen, but this particular episode has John Finnemore telling a load of fibs about Donald Trump. If you'd rather not hear that name, you can select another episode.
Rich Hall's (US Election) Breakdown - US comedian Rich Hall recorded a topical comedy show in the States for airing in the run-up to the election on Radio 4; this is the post-election episode.
tealin: (4addict)
If the walls had ears! Good thing we have microphones, so you don't have to scrape the conversations off the walls.


Some very visual narration from the host of Radio 4's Listening Project.
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!

COMEDY
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.

DRAMA
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 ...

FACTUAL
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: (4addict)
Back to the BBC this week. There's an embarrassment of riches. I can never stay away long.

COMEDY
Mark Watson Talks a Bit About Life - Mark Watson's series are always a nice half hour of apparent anarchy and lighthearted distractions, which I suspect are actually rather tightly written.
The News Quiz - The weekly quiz of the week's news is back, and with it a modicum more balance in the universe. This week, Susan Calman talks about cake, or possibly the soul of the nation, it's hard to tell.
Newsjack - Even more topical comedy, this time in the form of sketches.
Listen Against - This used to be vaguely topical, but is still funny enough to rerun out of date. As near as possible to proof that Radio 4 is its own universe.
Look Back at the Nineties - Never topical; it was a show written in the early 1990s as a prognostoretrospective of the later 1990s.
Safety Catch - A sitcom about a reluctant arms dealer, featuring also a very enthusiastic arms dealer and someone who works for Oxfam. Hilarity ensues.
99p Challenge - It's nominally a panel game, but ... like a panel game in a loony bin. What you really need to know is, it's hosted by Sue Perkins. Perkins forever.
Heresy - People are funny about controversial things.


DRAMA
The Idiot - I don't usually like 19thC drawing room dramas, but Dostoevsky has the gift of being able to see through all the upper class nonsense that other writers take so seriously. I am always perplexed when people complain of things that reflect slightly less positive aspects of reality as being 'dark' – THIS is DARK. Here, have a magnificently prepared feast of perspective.
Ivan the Terrible: Absolute Power - More Russian drama, this time historical. I haven't listened to this yet, but Mike Walker's historical epics are usually worth listening to, Sasha Yetvushenko is a dependable director, and David Threlfall is my Iago, so I forecast quality.
We - Yet more Russian; in this case a dystopian speculation something like Brave New World, but from the early Soviet era.
A Tale of Two Cities - A production from a few years ago, but always worth a listen when it comes back around. Andrew Scott makes Charles Darnay actually sympathetic, and Lydia Wilson gives Lucie Manette an actual personality. The text is messed around a bit but the drama is so good I find I don't mind.
A Dream of Armageddon - H.G. Wells' vision of the future of war. A reading, not a drama, but certainly not a comedy ...

There's probably a lot more to be found on the listings, but it's been a brain-heavy week again so I am not the one to bring it to you.
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 ...

IDEAS
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.

THIS IS THAT
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.

DAY 6
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.

AND FINALLY
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: (Default)
A rather cursory basket for you this week as I haven't had much opportunity to listen. As always you are welcome to browse the Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra schedules yourself and see what else you might like.

DRAMA
The Victorian in the Wall - A bit of domestic renovation introduces a struggling writer to a Victorian who'd been stuck in his wall, somehow. A cute and energetic production which expires in a few days so listen quick if you fancy ...
Roald Dahl: Served With a Twist - Grownup stories from the 20th century's master of children's fiction.
The Voice of God - Simon Bovey's acoustic weapon story set in the Australian Outback, featuring his usual Full House of compelling story, brisk pacing, strong female characters, and unusual perspectives.
Night of the Triffids - It's like someone read Day of the Triffids and thought, 'I like it, but it could be more Michael Bay ...' But it's a nice tight radio movie, which is sadly infrequent these days.

COMEDY
Dilemma - Sue Perkins puts her guests through the ethical wringer.
The Horne Section - With the news being a perpetual source of angst these days, why not listen to the children's show for grownups instead?
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme - A pleasant reminder that there are four whole episodes available right now, and another airing Friday morning, so if The Horne Section still hasn't got the taste of news out of your mouth, have a go at this.
Talking and Not Talking - 30 minutes of barmy sketch comedy, with a pinkish picture of a woman!
Concrete Cow - 30 minutes of barmy sketch comedy, with a pinkish picture of a man!

FACTUAL
A Gremlin in the Works - Gerald Scarfe tells of the Roald Dahl story that Walt Disney almost made into an animated feature film. Almost.
Out of Armenia - In these times of Migrant Crises, a look at what became of a nation fleeing genocide in 1915. This episode focuses on the Armenians in Paris.
The Invention of Childhood - A great series for anyone who thinks it was better in The Old Days. (It wasn't, they just had nicer production design.)
My Teenage Diary: Chris Packham - This episode made me at once joyful that there are still nature nuts out there, and despairing over how one might ever meet any.

SPECIAL MENTION
The Last Prairie Home Companion - Garrison Keillor's variety show was my first radio love. I remember my parents listening to it when I was small; when I got older I inflicted it on them until I got a radio Walkman and a stereo in my room on which I recorded episodes compulsively. Before Martin and Douglas and Arthur In Black-And-White Times, it was Dusty and Lefty and Guy Noir who kept me company while I drew or tidied or whatever. I suppose I 'grew out of it' well before finding Radio 4, but it continued to send ripples through my life, whether through musical exposure, or an early taste of radio comedy, or even just painting a picture of an America that could be, in direct opposition to the America on the news and in my face. It was bittersweet to listen to the last ever episode from my room in Cambridge: So much of my life has been getting as far as possible from the life from which Prairie Home Companion was such a gratifying escape; listening to those familiar voices was both comforting and upsetting as they dredged up old feelings that were better left behind. But it's a good send-off, and if the show has ever meant anything to you, worth a listen, if only to hear how much it's meant to other people as well.
tealin: (Default)
A Point of View: Belongings


In these strange times, we're communally facing realities many of us have already faced. ... In short, many of us have suffered losses. From luxuries, to little treats, to furniture, to homes, to health, hopes, potential. The belongings that let them be in their worlds. And these weren't all bad people; they didn't all deserve what they got; they weren't in a Hollywood movie or a fantasy press release, they weren't just puppets created by this or that propagandist, they were people. Public discourse in the UK has marinated us in the myth that good people are rewarded and that the unrewarded can't be good. That bad people are punished and so the punished must always be bad. There is no mercy about that. One way or another, it condemns us all. In a reality of poor doors, spiralling repayments and free-range pain, it seems to me that mercy might be something we would seek to cultivate.

We're human: we look for patterns in the firelight, stock prices, weather, anything and everything. Sometimes there is no pattern, we're mistaken; sometimes we don't have enough information; sometimes we're misled. Demagogues can offer us rousing lies. Self-aggrandizing hates then light the touch-paper and retire. A percentage of us will cling to violent illusions of certainty if they're offered, confuse cruelty with strength. But if we're looking for justice, we might begin by being just, because life isn't, so we have to help it. Promises offered and never fulfilled, and in odd times, transitional times, our frailty can seem at its most stark. There are no Hollywood endings. Even if we're very lucky and we get the perfect sunset, or the first kiss, we have to go on, take the long road to what can be a terribly bitter end. So if reality won't be kind, then surely we must.


Many of these ideas have been chasing each other around my mind for the last months and years, but AL Kennedy puts them so much more clearly and concisely. The whole audio article is worth listening to, but this bit stood out especially.
tealin: (Default)
I haven't been able to listen to much radio at all lately, but there's been a glut of stuff I have listened to in the past which I know is good, and stuff I suspect would be rather good if I had the opportunity to listen to it now. So I proffer it to you, and you can tell me if I was right.

FACTUAL
My Teenage Diary - A series in which public figures read the thoughts of their teenage selves to the public. Sometimes cringeworthy, but frequently touching and insightful, and always deeply human.
All the Planet's Wonders - comedian Josie Long and her genuine heartfelt passion for learning things
The New Young Fogeys - As someone who has self-identified as Old Fogey from about the age of 8, I relish the affirmation (and want to know where the rest of them are).
Love From Boy - These excerpts from Roald Dahl's life of letters to his mother are all interesting, but this episode specifically describes his experience working with Disney. In all the worship of 'the old guys' I never heard of 'Walt's #1 Artist' Jimmy Bodrero though ...?
The Life Scientific - In which various scientists are interviewed about their life and work; in this case Sheila Rowan and gravitational waves.
In Our Time: Bronze Age Collapse - Apparently around the end of the Bronze Age a number of established cultures (e.g. the Hittites) collapsed and disappeared. The first I heard of this was at 9 this morning; now I share it with you.
Shakespeare's Restless World - A series exploring the times in which Shakespeare lived, through a collection of contemporary items.

FICTIONAL
Brave New World - I thought being a skeptical outsider in a hypersexual consumerist culture helped me 'get' this book when I read it in high school, but thanks to this excellent adaptation I 'get it' even more now. Episode 1 expires on Sunday, so listen now.
Day of the Triffids - It gets a bad rap for being your quintessential 1950s sci-fi B-movie – man-eating plants, oh no! – but the actual book (of which this is a reading, not a dramatisation) is actually a cunning observation of human society dressed up as a sci-fi B-movie. 28 Days Later basically replaced Triffids with zombies. Highly recommended.
The Spy - James Fenimore Cooper, best known for Last of the Mohicans, tells a somewhat more nuanced tale of the American Revolution than one usually encounters ...
The Lives of Harry Lime - I don't remember much about this Orson Welles radio series about a con man taking on different personas for various missions, but I remember liking it, so here you go.

COMEDY
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme - I just assume that by telling you the title of the show you will listen to it. There is a reason for this. You may have to listen to find out.
Concrete Cow - Those of you who've followed my radio tastes for any length of time will know I have a soft spot for barmy sketch comedy; this is one of those, with the distinction of starring Robert Webb.
Crème de la Crime - Spoof "true crime" documentary comedy series
Armando Iannucci - Before he was producing television programmes that are both surreal and strangely prescient, Mr Iannucci was a DJ on Radio 1. Yeah.
2000 Years of Radio - Radio Victoriana! Three cheers for the Empire, I say, what!
Bleak Expectations - Speaking of Victorian radio: This spoof Dickensian sitcom(?) may be on Series 5, but by this point it's got so weird you really won't need to know what's gone before.
Old Harry's Game - A Health and Safety engineer gets sent to Hell and seems not to be able to leave his job behind.
Think the Unthinkable - This time the comedy consultancy agency takes on the world of Finance.
Knocker - This 15-minute comedy series about a door-to-door canvasser has been described as "a chillingly accurate documentary" by a friend in the trade.

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