The American Storyteller is the podcast version of a nationally syndicated radio show which features journalist, broadcaster, motivational speaker, humorist, entrepreneur and literacy advocate Nelson Lauver telling either autobiographical or historical stories. Being as it is produced for radio, it is pristine in its sound quality. The stories are well written and fairly interesting. Most of them have to do with what I would describe as "traditional American values". Historical tales tend to have subjects such as Balto the sled dog that delivered vaccine to the dying Alaskan village, or the three chaplains that gave their lives so that others might live. Anecdotes tend to be in the "I was a young smart alec until ole Miss Jones kicked me square in the behind and taught me a lesson I'll never forget" vein.
The Rockwellian quality does have a certain kitsch value to it, but for the most part, this podcast is meant for the generation who came of age in the 50s and wishes it still was the 50s.
The Best of the American Storyteller is a nice podcast to visit occasionally, but all in all it belongs on AM Radio.
The Best of the American Storyteller Podcast
Thursday, February 15, 2007
This show boasts the best theme song of any podcast that I've heard since my addiction for the medium began around six months ago. A man named Lex is the show's creator, host, and also the composer of the theme song. The premise of the podcast is brilliant in its simplicity. Listeners send in stories of the paranormal, and Lex shares them. Usually he will read the stories, adding minimal sound effects in the same tasteful manner that he applied to the theme song. Occasionally, the listeners record their own audio and send it in, which adds a nice element of diversity to the program. Often, after having read and/or played the stories which are sent to him, Lex will read tales of the paranormal from outside sources.
All in all, this is a great podcast. Lex has a very nice style of delivery, we hear some fine original music, and most of the stories are interesting. Unfortunately, not all of them are, which is one of two minimal complaints I have about this podcast, the other being the manner in which some of the stories are written. On one hand, I can admire the purity of reading them just as they are sent without any sort of editing. But, on the other hand, some of the stories are written so poorly that it is a distraction. I'm really not a stickler for grammar, but I am a stickler for clarity, and sometimes the pieces presented "as is" are lacking in that department. Fortunately, most of the stories are presented in a followable manner, and range from simply interesting to absolutely fascinating.
In addition to the podcast, the Anything Ghost website has other treats, including Lex's music, some photos, and film reviews.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Decoder Ring Theatre is an audio drama presented in the style of an old time radio show. The episodes are either about a detective named Black Jack Justice, or a superhero named The Red Panda. I have yet to listen to the Red Panda, as I have been absolutely lost in the world of Black Jack Justice, and can only hope that his super hero counterpart will measure up.
The Black Jack Justice Mysteries are set in post world war 2 America (United States that is). The protagonist is a typical shabby gumshoe who drinks too much and remenisces about his days in the infantry. His sidekick, Trixie Dixon (girl detective), is a sharp tongued firecracker who ALWAYS gets the last word. Together they catch jewel thieves, solve murders, and always one up the stiff lipped police. Certainly in our years of media intake, we have experienced similar characters in kindred settings. But the way that Decoder Ring Theatre parodies both the scenarios and the characters involved is playful, colorful, and a deep tribute to its predecessors. It makes for some fantastic listening, that's for sure. The quick paced wise guy dialogue of the show is worthy of the highest praise.
There are plenty of opportunities to hear authentic old time radio shows online (which I do frequently), and even some podcasts that specialize in re-running them (I guess re-run is the right term?). So, when I first discovered Decoder Ring Theatre I wondered why anyone would want to listen to a new podcast that mimics an old time radio show, when one could easily find the real thing. The answer is quite simple. DRT is incredibly well done. Every aspect of it. The stories, the acting, the production, EVERYTHING is absolutely top notch.
Furthermore, time has done a whammy on our attention spans and listening skills. They must not be what they were in the 1950s, because the actual old time shows can be quite hard to follow. Characters are often difficult to tell apart, and plotlines are not always clear. Not so with Decoder Ring Theatre. Although the actors are Canadians imitating Americans* from the 1950s (which is funny in and of itself) it is never a mystery as to who is speaking, who has just been shot, or...who dunnit. The stories are well written in every way. They are easy to follow, witty, and interesting.
Decoder Ring Theatre is one of my very favorite podcasts. If you are a fan of old time radio, I can't imagine that you wouldn't absolutely love it. If you are not a fan of old time radio, this may be a good way to get your feet wet.
*Yes, I know that Canadians are Americans too. Had I been writing this post in Spanish I would have referred to us in the U.S. as Estado Unidences, but since no such name really exists in the English language I had to do the best with what little nomenclature was at my disposal. Forgive me eh?
Decoder Ring Theatre
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
God bless the United Kingdom, and in particular its inhabitants who mine the podsafe music network as though edible precious metals and world peace could be found there. The Gomem show posts regularly, and the episodes tend to be between 45 minutes and an hour in length. Personally, that's a little long for me. After about a half hour of unfamiliar territory, I tend to switch off the podcasts and shuffle the songs I've loaded into my ipod, basking in the several hundred gems therein.
Host Mike Turner is very likable. I'm sure if I ever met him I'd buy him a drink and go on and on about how thrilled I am that he is devoting so much of his time to exposing relatively unknown musicians. If he in turn bought me a drink, and then I managed another, and possibly one more, I might have to tell him that the phony advertisements he includes in his cast are just not hitting the mark for me. False butt implants, queefing, and brands of wine geared towards one or another stereotypes (corn row merlot), succeed in being gross but fail to bring much more than a contrived chuckle.
I then might ask him to explain more about the Second Life online community, because as an outsider to this phenomenom I find myself lost at times during what might be very witty dialogue.
Naturally, at the end of the night, I'd get the last round and ask him to please tell me the name of the obscure Canadian songwriter from the early 70's that he featured some weeks ago. I would write this information down, which I should have done to begin with.
The Gomem Show
Monday, February 5, 2007
Cush is somewhat of an accomplished Hollywood personality. He sang the Green Dayesque version of "Deck the Halls" that was featured in the movie, he makes films, trailers, and is probably an actor too. If you listened to many of his podcasts you would probably learn that Cush is responsible for gravity and oxygen, but I personally could only make it through one and a half episodes of his self glorifying dribble. The things that Cush says are mainly all about Cush, and really not that interesting. He talks about his accomplishments (which I admit are kind of impressive), the trials and tribulations of the film he's making, his trip to Jersey for the holidays, how many emails he gets, hot chicks that he boned 25 years ago etc. etc. To his credit, his voice has a great presence and from a production standpoint the podcast is pretty much flawless. To his discredit, he fits into a negative stereotype that we hillbillies have of Los Angelinos as being vain loudmouths who can't shut up about themselves. Luckily, my paw struck oil one day while he was shootin' at some food which allowed me to visit L.A. and I'm glad to report that this stereotype is for the most part not true.
Cush-Things I Say
Saturday, February 3, 2007
In this podcast a man named Jeff Cutler gives his opinions on everything from Direct TV to Domestic Violence. The episodes tend to hover around a nice bite sized 5 minutes long, which seems perfect for this type of program. Cutler's delivery is very human. Occasional stutters and tongue twists really are not distracting, but instead add an element of charm to the cast. He speaks as though he were sitting across a table from you at a coffee shop, not as though he were levitating above you in a lotus position. Each vignette is thought through thoroughly and presented clearly. They are simple, brief, and interesting. In a perfect world, Bowl of Cheese would have replaced Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" in the AM radio listening of my youth.
Bowl of Cheese Podcast
Bowl of Cheese Blog (contains itunes subscription link)