Favorite Thing: Oh No Ross and Carrie podcast

They show up so we don’t have to.

In other words, if you’ve ever been curious about Scientology, Ross and Carrie already went through the personality tests and classes and events so you don’t have to go! They share their experiences with as much objectivity as they can muster, though sometimes it’s just an impossibility to take some of this stuff seriously.

Oh No Ross and CarrieThe topics they explore fall under the umbrella of fringe science (oil pulling, Electrical Muscle Stimulation, cryotherapy, essential oils, Reiki, juicing, Myers-Briggs), the paranormal (ghost hunting on the Queen Mary, the Ouija board, tarot readings), and religions/spirituality that fall outside the major Catholic and Protestant denominations (Christian Science, Kabbalah, Scientology, Mormonism).

Not every topic is super interesting to me, but a lot of them are, and I always appreciate Ross and Carrie’s good sportsmanship when it comes to trying something new and unusual for the sake of reporting their experience back to listeners. They have good banter between them and, even though they attempt to take their investigations seriously, sometimes they wind up in situations that are just too funny not to laugh.

Though they seem to upload a new podcast once a month or so, there are at least four years of podcasts backlogged for our enjoyment. Their first podcast aired in 2011.

Three Things I Love:

  1. The show feeds my curious nature. I’ve been waiting for them to explore Scientology and it’s probably my favorite series of podcasts to date. They’ve posted two so far, with promises for a third, which tells me that they invested a fair amount of time exploring the ideology to have a foundational grasp of its public operation.
  2. It makes me laugh. Two words: Colon cleansing. It’s good entertainment for an hour on the elliptical.
  3. It’s fascinating and a little scary. There is so much bizarro stuff in the world. And worse? These are real people believing in this stuff. The people who are ardent members of Tony Alamo’s Christian Church are real and the people who think 9/11 was orchestrated by the United States government are real. And the people who follow Rael, the creator of a UFO religion? Totally real. And friend, I bet all of them vote.

You can listen to Oh No Ross & Carrie through their website, through Maximum Fun, and on iTunes. Enjoy!

Favorite Thing: Slate’s Audio Book Club Podcast

For more than a year now I’ve been enjoying Slate’s monthly Audio Book Club podcast. The hosts rotate slightly, but not enough so that you can’t identify who’s speaking. (I particularly enjoy podcasts with Hanna Rosin, Dan Kois, and Meghan O’Rourke. The host I enjoy the least is Katy Waldman, but that’s only on account of her vocal fry. Her contribution to the conversation is great otherwise.) All of the hosts are educated, well-spoken writers, editors, and critics, but they are also just a bunch of avid readers who like to talk about books.

Slate ABCEach month Slate’s ABC brings together two or three writers to discuss a book of the moment. Sometimes they choose classic fiction or occasionally a non-fiction book, but they mostly choose current fiction bestsellers or books suggested by their listeners. The thing to know is this: their conversations aren’t spoiler-free. They expect that you’ve read the book so you can follow their discussion.

To date, they’ve discussed books such as The Martian, Go Set a Watchman, All the Light We Cannot See, Station Eleven, How to be Both, The Girl on the Train (which I’m waiting to listen to), Redeployment, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Wild, Slaughterhouse Five, The Goldfinch, and so on. Book club discussions go back as far as 2007, though they weren’t on a monthly routine until 2008. There are currently 100 podcasts available for free.

Three Things I Love:

  1. The podcast is a perfect companion to the treadmill. Discussions are about an hour long, sometimes more, sometimes a little less, and they are engaging enough to help me ignore the time.
  2. They offer food for thought. Whether it’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed (The Goldfinch) or one I didn’t enjoy (The Good Mother), ABC hosts bring up themes and topics that might not have occurred to me otherwise. They indulge the part of me that wants to go beyond the book.
  3. Pure entertainment. I didn’t read 50 Shades of Grey beyond the first 30 pages (free on iBook) because it was drivel, but the discussion on 50 Shades had me belly laughing until I was out of breath on the elliptical trainer. I was dying. It was perfect.

I listen to the podcasts on iTunes, but they are also available through their website here. (Note: not all podcasts are child-friendly.) Enjoy and you’re welcome!

We interrupt this reading challenge to bring you Serial

Instead of pulling together my own description of the podcast, here’s the summary from the program’s website:

Serial season one

I was smack dab in the middle of Lucky (which I finished last night and is very good) when I had to do something mundane and wanted a podcast playing in the background. After perusing my usual suspects I remembered hearing about Serial and how it was wildly popular. I did a quick search and started on the first episode. I finished all twelve episodes in three days and now I’ve started on Undisclosed, a second podcast series that picks apart the case even further, revealing holes in witness testimonies and scrutinizing cell phone records.

Now, why should we care? I don’t know. I’m of the general belief that the majority of people who are convicted of crimes are rightly accused. Not all, but most. (What happens to people after conviction is another blog post entirely.) Yet, this case against Adnan Syed does not fit into the “beyond a shadow of a doubt” category. There are all kinds of holes, and dude – Jay is totally sketchy. With every episode, I’m all, “THAT MAKES NO SENSE!” or “THEY’RE ALL LYING!” or “The jury convicted him because his attorney’s voice was the most annoying sound in the free world, God rest her soul.”

If you’re a podcast kind of person, listen to Serial and let me know what you think.