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Despatches from Pod-istan: Part I

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So I finally got around to discovering the big bad world of Podcasting. And I got hooked in a hurry. Now, I can’t claim to know everything that’s being podcast out there. It’s a big Netiverse after all. (And an even bigger Nutiverse, if you know what I mean.)

A lot of the podcasts seem to be news feeds from major as well as minor news channels in the US, something that doesn’t remotely interest those of us whose lives don’t revolve around the US of A. The last thing I want to do while driving to the gym, or taking my afternoon tea break, is listen to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, or Hurricane Rita. Because we get all that on prime time news TV, radio and in the newspapers anyway. Newswise, we’re covered, thanks to satellite TV and India’s excellent news media.

Nor am I really interested in the scores of amateur writers eagerly (over-eagerly) offering their unpublished novels converted into podcasts. But what I found after a bit of trial and error and searching and downloading a lot of junk, was that there is some really good stuff being podcast too.

Especially in the area of interviews and fact-based programming. Here are some of my currently favourite Podcast shows and the episodes I really enjoyed listening to. I can’t claim they’ll appeal to everyone equally, but then again, that’s not really the point, is it? Each to his or her own, and that’s the beauty of podcasting!

I’m not going to comment much on each one, since they’re mostly quite self-explanatory. But basically, the Podcasts I’ve picked all have good audio quality, pro level or near-pro level, are well produced, have intelligent insightful content, and are way better than if the same material were to be available in printed or html/xml form.

The reason being is that these are mostly interviews, or shows by talented audio artists. And just as it is possible to read an interview, listening to it has a whole different charm. For instance, Maya Angelou, the veteran African-American writer, has a style that’s wonderful to read, but actually listening to her speak is a whole different experience. I think you know what I mean.

So that’s why most of my Current Fave Podcast choices are interviews or personality based stuff. I’m always looking for new stuff though. So if you hear a Podcast, or hear of one, do let me know. After all, the internet’s motto is, or should be, (File-)Sharing is Caring!

A WAY WITH WORDS
Food 2
Theater
Lexicography
Surfing
Dictionaries

This is a show about language, as the name suggests. Each episode is fairly long, a bit less than 50 minutes, which is a bit of a downside. But they pack a lot of learning into that time. Each episode focusses on a different subject. The episodes I’ve heard so far are listed above. The one on surfing is particularly entertaining, but maybe because I just love that surfing lingo. It’s where we get most of our popular slang today – ‘dude’, ‘chill’, ‘hang loose’, etc. A great way to improve your language skills and learn a lot about the idiosyncracies of the English language.

BOOKBUFFET.COM
Interview with Julian Fellowes (9 parts)
Interview with Jack El-Hai (7 parts)
Interview with Kem Nunn
Interview with Tracy Quan (7 parts)
Interview with Sheila Hayman
Interview with Arthur Jeon

Interview with Edith Grossman

These are excellent interviews with authors. At first, I wondered if I really wanted to listen to an author I’d never heard of before (most of the above), let alone actually read anything by. But once I started listening, I was hooked. Well, not addicted maybe. But you see, the thing about Bookbuffet podcasts is that they’re really short. Each one is no more than 5 minutes, often as short as 1 or 2 minutes. (Hence the several parts of each interview.) So they’re really just nuggets of wisdom or insight and I don’t mind spending a couple of minutes with a bunch of different writers and picking up something from it. But if you’re not interested in the craft of writing or a serious student of literature, then perhaps even 1 minute might be a minute too long!

DRAGON PAGE COVER TO COVER
#181: Interview with Karl Schroeder and Bruce Taylor
#180: Interview with Jennifer Fallon and Marie Jackober
#169: Interview with Kevin J. Anderson and Gerard Readett

Interviews with authors and editors of science fiction and fantasy. I’ve just got these three issues, but there are plenty more out there. These are much, much longer than the Bookbuffet interviews, but they’re also much more fun. At least, they were to me, a hardcore SFFH fan. If you enjoy reading the works of these authors, or even the genre in general, you’ll probably find something to like in these chatty, insightful, but always entertaining and light interviews.

FUNNYINDIAN
The Brian & Joe Show
Second City
On Clubbing
The Podcaste System

Here’s a complete change of pace. Cincinnati, Ohio, USA-based stand-up comedian Rajiv Talwar is an ABCD with a sense of humour. (That’s American Born Confused Desi, to you non-Indians out there!) Anyone can enjoy his routine, and with each podcast running to anywhere from 12 to 18 minutes, it’s a nice way to spend a short drive, or a long coffee break. What I like about Talwar is that his jokes are geared to Indian ears, like the first episode where he plays on the word ‘Podcast/e’ with and without the ‘e’. Get it? Get it.

GAMECAST ONLINE: A GAMING GUIDE
For some reason, I have this fascination with tech stuff, especially the software side of IT. And though I’m not actually a gamer myself, my kids are majorly into it. So I enjoy reading through magazines like PS2 Gaming and passing on articles of interest to them. These ‘casts are pretty okay if you want to keep up with your gaming news and know what’s worth trying out–and what’s not.

HORROR READER
An interview with David Morrell
A Different Kind of Horror: Interview with Elizabeth Massie

This is one of my favourites. I adore reading interviews with writers of SFFH. (That’s Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror, by the way.) I’ve got virtually every book of interviews with SFFH writers, and have read each one to bits. Maybe it’s because I’m an SFFH writer too, and it was my lifelong dream to become one, so I hang on every word, hoping to pick up something, or just getting strength and inspiration from knowing there are people out there who are actually making a successful living telling stories about fantastic things and creatures. (I guess I now make a fairly successful living doing much the same thing, but learning is an eternal process, isn’t it?) Horror Reader has a lot of episodes out there, each one about half an hour long. (As far as I’m concerned, they could be two hours long, and I’d still listen.)

I’d recommend these two strongly: David Morrell is a very entertaining author of thrillers (Burnt Sienna, one of his most recent, I liked very much) as well as supernatural horror novels and espionage thrillers. He’s also the guy who created Rambo (but the book is way, way better, trust me). Here he speaks on the eve of the release of his new horror novel, his first in a long time, Creepers. Morrell is a fascinating personality because while his popular million-copy bestsellers are so pulpy, he himself is a professor of Literature, highly regarded in his field! Elizabeth Massie, on the other hand, is a much lesser-known horror writer but she’s very talented. Read her Sineater, if you haven’t read her already. And the interview is interesting because it offers a flip side to Morrell’s bigbucks career success, with Massie talking about the joys and bittersweetness of being published by independent (small) publishers and writing horror at a time when everybody believes the genre is dead and gone.

(…to be concluded.)

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About The Banker

  • http://www.bookbuffet.com Paula Shackleton

    Hey thanks for the plug! I am the Founder and Executive Editor of http://www.bookbuffet.com and I can tell you that the author interview portion of our site is the most rewarding thing I do. We use state of the art recording equipment and a digital audio workstation. Authors are the coolest people, and getting to speak with them about the things they are passionate about is a privilege. I agree with you that hearing them speak adds a whole dimention to a listener’s experience. The cadence of their voices, the thoughtfullnes of their conversations and insights. We are stepping up our schedule of interviews to one per week – so click -in! I will definitely check out the others on your list and make mention of them on http://www.bookbuffet.com

  • http://indianenglish.blogspot.com/ Ashok K. Banker

    Hey, Paula! Thrilled to hear from you. You guys really do a great job. And yes, it’s such a pleasure to hear these wonderful authors speak and in such excellent recording and production conditions. Please keep doing what you’re doing. And you can count on my continuing to click in, and write on!

  • http://www.gamecastonline.com Brian

    Hey there! Brian from GameCast Online here, thanks for the kind words!