Podcast: Here’s the Thing

As I’ve noted in the past every now and again, I listen to a lot of podcasts during the afternoons when I walk, or work out, or go to the grocery, or do whatever non-writing thing I do to break from the creative/productive side of the day. I used to listen to a lot of SF stories or books on podcast, and I admit I find that I love short work in particular in audio firm. But mostly I’ve been listening to historical things, or documentaries, or bios, or other such things about topics or people or other various stuff I think sound interesting.

I’ve listened to stories about crows, and about the building of a ski resort, and about the lives of teen-agers 15 year ago (with an update on them today). I’ve listened to stuff about a map maker, and stuff about mathematical assessments of the likelihood that God actually exists. I’ve listened to stories about people in the Middle East, and about the attempt to get help to places where people most need help. I can go on like this for hours, probably. I like doing this for a few reasons, one of them being that it give me an hour or two here on a routine basis to learn something different.

I think it’s helpful to do that, you know? I think that if I’m going to try to live a more complete life (not to mention write about things from a lot of perspectives, and make it be true…or at least interesting), I have to be able to understand more things that I understand today. It’s fun to learn things, too. It’s fun to learn about how people who live life so differently than I do think so differently than me.

Lately, I’ve come upon “Here’s the Thing,” which is an interview show with Alec Baldwin as the host. It’s produced by wnyc.org. This may not be new information to you, but until I saw it in a list of programs and took a flier on it, I never knew it existed. It took me an episode or two to get used to Baldwin’s interview style, which is a bit aggressive in that he talks over his guest at times and uses that technique to direct the flow. This was a bit annoying at first, but after a little while I realized how effective he is at pulling out things that the speaker wants to have out there, but also keeping the flow interesting. His conversational style also reminds me a lot of my brother—who can riff along with you and make you laugh at yourself by seeing things in over-the-top ways that are obvious once he says them, but until that very moment just never would have come to mind.

But really, I’ve taken to the podcasts because of the guest, who are an interesting mix of entertainers, artists, politicians, and other folks. Folks like Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, and Chris Rock, Lena Dunham, David Letterman, Lorne Michaels, Erica Jong and her daughter Molly, Herb Alpert, Kristin Wig, and a bunch more. Perhaps the most interesting of all was Baldwin (a well-known liberal politically) interviewing conservative editorialist George Will. The basic format of these discussions is a loose recounting of the interviewee’s career—how they got to where they are now, and what they were thinking along the way. People are fascinating, and all of these people are artists in some fashion or another—they all have voices, and points of view, and things they wanted to be. People with dreams who pursue them despite life’s roadblocks are perhaps the most fascinating people in the world. To me, anyway.

It makes me want to go watch them work, really.

Hearing Rosie O’Donnell talk about her path was fascinating. Hearing Thom Yorke talk about making art made me feel like what I’m doing now is important. Hearing Dick Cavett and Michael Douglas look back on where they’ve been is intriguing in so many ways.

And there’s more, of course.

I was really surprised to get into these, actually. I started with a pairing of Andrew Luck and Dwight Gooden—mostly because I wanted to hear what Dwight Gooden had to say—and I was pretty much hooked. I’m sure I’ll listen to them all, and if you get into hearing what interesting people have to say about working through careers in the arts and entertainment, I think you’ll want to listen to them all, too.

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