Thursday, May 2, 2013

How Not to Be Bored in the Car

I've been thinking a lot about Topher's post about giving up texting while driving. I drive a lot for work, and I also want to constantly be entertained. I am not someone who is easily "left with my thoughts." I don't even take the trash out without getting my headphones in for something to entertain me for those 4 minutes trash emptying takes. So I am guilty of checking my phone while driving. And if you think logically about if for one second, it is insane. Here I am, going 65 (or more) miles per hour and I am glancing down to see if I have any new likes on Instagram or check and see how many retweets that last funny thing I said got. So I am stopping.

When I commented that I was giving it up, Topher replied and said, "It's not easy. And since I've stopped doing it driving seems SUPER BORING and unproductive. I need to rewire my brain." And so to help in that effort, I present to you my favorite podcasts to entertain you and keep you focused on the road. If you haven't listened to Podcasts, you should. They are free and will keep you entertained, but will keep your mind on the road.

(Side Note: Have you ever noticed that each of us here at PTA kinda has our "thing?" Like I make lists. I call it "lazy writing."Ken tells heartwarming stories about his family. Topher writes absurd but authoritative posts. Patrick writes manic rants that seem like he is talking right to you. And Brett finds iinteresting articles and summarizes them so I don't have to read them. I'm onto all our tricks.)

This American Life This long running show from Chicago Public Radio is one of the best. Each week they pick a topic and explore different elements of it. They range from the absurd (one family's insane myths about Santa Claus) to the sublime (their two part series this spring about Harper High, and inner city high school were multiple kids are killed each year due to gun activity.) It's funny, thought-provoking and amazing. I'm sure it's won a million awards, and it deserves them. If you start listening to only one podcast, make it this one.

NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour is a weekly round table discussion of pop culture. Each week there are three topics. One is usually something current - a movie that came out that week or a new TV show. One is more a meta examination of pop culture - how setting affects how we tell stories or how do TV shows stay relevant season after season. And then a segment called "What's making us happy" where the panelists recommend things in the pop culture universe that they are consuming and enjoying that week. The four panelists are funny and charming and lovely. 

Slate's Political Gabfest was probably the first podcast that I listened to regularly. Its a smart and thoughtful discussion of politics. If you are a Republican, you probably won't like this show because while I think they try and present a pretty balanced view of events, their is a strong left lean to the show. Really, I could do a whole post on the family of Slate Podcasts. I think I listen to them all: Culture Gabfest (similar to NPR: PCHH,) Double X (Slate's show about women's issues,) Spoiler Special (about movies.) And they are all incredibly smart and very entertaining. 

Writing Excuses Since this blog is ostensible about how we all want to writers, I thought I'd throw in my favorite writing podcast. It's 4 genre-fiction authors sharing tips about writing. It's 15 min long, which is great, and has some good info if you are a genre-fiction writer, which I ostensibly am! Maybe they can tell me if that last sentence was a run on with too many commas and if it is nerdy to use the word "ostensible" twice (three times!) in one paragraph. I think they would say yes, yes and yes.

America's Test Kitchen Radio Do you like America's Test Kitchen on PBS? Do you read Cook's Illustrated magazine? Did you make pork carnitas last night from the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook and plan an putting some on some nachos when you finish writing a blog post? You do? Then this is the show for you. All the cooking nerdery of the TV Show/ Magazine/ Cook Book empire, but in audio form. 

The Satellite Sisters I'll admit it. It's a little weird that I listen to this podcast about 5 real sisters talking about their lives and the news. It started as a radio show that I listened too in the pre-podcast days on some AM station in Utah. I followed the sisters to podcast-land and have been listening ever sense. Lian Dolan, one of the sisters, also has her own podcast called The Chaos Chronicles which is about Modern Motherhood and being an author whilst raising kids. Both are fantastic. And I like to talk about the sisters like they are my friends in real life. Like I'll say "My friend recommended this TV show to me." And my wife will say, "Was it  one of the Dolan sisters? Because they are people you listen to in a podcast and not actually your friends."

So this week, instead of texting while you drive or checking your twitter feed, download and listen to some great podcasts. It's much more entertaining than pictures of everyone's kids and lunch through awesome filters. And you just might learn a thing or two on that long commute.

But tell me, which podcasts did I miss? What do you listen to? And if the Part Time Authors were ever able to get it together enough to do a podcast, would you listen? And would you tell your friends? And would you find us sponsors? Please share in the comments.
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