Thursday, October 19, 2006

My Favourite Podcasts

It's been a long time since I last blogged. No, I don't intend to stop blogging, or even take a break. I want to continue, despite my hectic schedule. It has been difficult lately for me to find time to sleep, let alone blog. There's a momentary surge of work, and I'm taking it all in my stride. All shall come to pass, but blogging will always have to take lower priority than sleep, I suppose.

Anyway, I've had a good eight hours of sleep last night, and I have cleared my morning round of work. Time to blog! No boring philosophical entries this time; it's time for a bit of gobrol-gobrol. Let's talk about podcasts.

I have an iPod player which I listen to whenever I'm driving. Besides using it to enjoy my audiobooks, I also love listening to podcasts. I'm a regular listener to the following podcast programs:

1. Speaking of Faith
This weekly podcast is among the best out there. It covers topics on religion and spirituality. Host Krista Tippett interviews guests from different persuasions every week and these are quality interviews done in an emphathetic manner, with a clear intention to seek understanding of people's different beliefs. The podcasts are complemented by a wonderful website, which features Krista Tippet's blog plus additional materials not used in the podcasts and reference notes. I learned so much from listening to this wonderful podcast program.

2. Real Time with Bill Maher
No one has a more acerbic wit than Bill Maher when it comes to making fun of George Bush. Unlike other talk show hosts, Bill Maher discusses serious current issues, which he tackles with simple common-sense intelligence, slicing through all the spin and bullshit and yet still keeping the show enormously funny. The language used is adults-only which makes it even more interesting because it's like the kind of conversations that we guys have whenever we gather together in pubs. Like Lettterman's Top Ten List, his New Rules segment is the eagerly awaited highlight of every show. If you like Bill Maher, read his equally humorous take on terrorism and September 11 in his book: When You Ride Alone, You Ride with Bin Laden. I'd love to buy this guy a few rounds beer.

3. Mark Kermode's Film Reviews
This is a BBC podcast, featuring reknowned British film critic, Dr Mark Kermode. This guy actually has a Ph.D in Horror Fiction and is a world leading authority on horror films. But fortunately he is no dry academic who enjoys showing off his technical knowledge by talking about montage or mis en scene; he simply loves good narrative cinema--movies that tell a good story as it should, with flair, originality and good acting. His humorous rants are the highlights of the show. Recently movies like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ("lumpen direction, lousy writing and pouting performances") and Little Man ("this film is evil") have been on the receiving end of his scathing attacks.

It's been tough on me for the past two years, not having the time to watch movies. But Mark Kermode's reviews keep me in touch with the movie scene. There are so many good movies that I haven't seen. Maybe one fine day, I'll just decide to unplug my computer, switch off my cellphone, and lock myself at home for one whole week to watch all the movies I've missed, in one crazy marathon session.

Besides these three podcasts, I also listen to Naxos Classical Music Spotlight, Newsweek on Air and BBC's Documentary Archive.

And the wonderful thing about all these programs is that--they are all free. So don't complain about audiobooks being expensive. There's enough free audio materials out there that will keep you enthralled for the remaining waking hours of your life. If you have time, check out French Maid TV too.

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