Monday, January 19, 2009

This American Life; Also, a Prayer

Do you listen to the NPR show This American Life? It's my favorite radio show ever. I turn down invitations if they cut into my weekend routine of drinking a cup of tea and listening to This American Life. It's hard to describe the show -- the people at the show themselves admit this -- but they do a pretty good job here. And some popular episodes are available for your listening pleasure here.

A few weekends ago, the episode was about numbers being used in places where numbers maybe shouldn't be used. For example, some folks tried to quantify what makes likable songs likable, and what makes unlikable songs unlikable, by taking a survey of what instruments, voices, and genres of songs people like and dislike most. Then, they combined all the most-liked sounds to create a song everyone should like, and all the least-liked sounds to create a song no one should like. The "good" song turned out to be rather bland and unlistenable. The BAD song, on the other hand, combined elements such as bagpipes, tubas, accordions, children's choirs, and an opera singer singing rap on the subject of the life of cowboys. It was HYSTERICALLY WONDERFUL.

That episode is here, if you're interested. :o)

This past weekend's episode was about tomorrow's inauguration, and about how Americans are feeling about all things Obama-related. Another good episode; made me feel a little better about Obama's selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration. You can listen to that episode here.

Before I go, a shout-out to the man who moves into the White House tomorrow. Barack Obama: You know what I think? I think you're extraordinary. You inspire people to work together; you give people hope; you shine. I believe in you. I'm on your side.

I hope the angels are, too.

17 comments:

pamcjordan said...

I love that show too. I often find myself in the car running errands - peacefully w/out children - on Saturday afternoons. I wonder what the other drivers think when they see me laughing hysterically (as I listen to David Sedaris). Ira Glass did a fantastic episode on the collapse of the housing market. Explained it more clearly than any news program or paper IMHO.

I heard the episode on numbers. Liked the part when the two people tried to quantify their relationship. Interesting concept.

Happy inauguration day!

Anonymous said...

I really must go find the episode on numbers.. I started listening to NPR at the beginning of this semester, BUT only when I was at the house of the woman I work for three times a week. Slowly but surely, I have found that I listen to it in my car whenever I go somewhere. I recently heard a great story about a man who holds a weekly lunch to meet anyone, really. I need to find the archive, because I loved it!

Aside from NPR, I feel so blessed to have found your blog. I will be attempting to get through your posts within these next couple weeks as I get back into school mode.. Of the few I have read so far, I have adored each one almost as much as I love Graceling. I love your voice. Thank you.

Can't wait for tomorrow!! ;)

Code name (not because this is my secret but because I've always wanted a "code name"):

~Candelion
--derived from my sister's nickname of "canda" for me and her insistence that I am a Chameleon by nature.

Faith said...

I know I shouldn't say this, but I really hope that the library I work in is dead on Tuesday around noon. I don't think I'll be able to sneak into my bosses office to watch the inauguration on her TV, but at least I can watch it on YouTube, albeit with the sound off.

I added "This American Life" to my iTunes subscriptions. I'm looking forward to listening to it.

Charly said...

My dad listens to NPR a lot in the car, and because he drives me a lot of places I often end up listening to it. That numbers episode sounds fantastic. I must give it a listen. :D

kristin cashore said...

Pam, I heard that housing market one, too -- SO helpful (and scary). Happy inauguration day to you, too!

Candelion, what a nice comment! Thanks so much, and welcome to my blog :o)

Faith, heh heh, I hear that! I wish you luck.

Charly, that's pretty much how I started listening to NPR, too. My parents. I'm grateful for it now... it's made me impatient with fast, fluttery, screaming news shows...

tinkandalissa said...

I just wanted to say how excited I am right now! I literally have goosebumps! I am so glad that the company I work for is streaming the CSpan video for the inauguration! Yay!

mrmorse said...

That least favorite song is spectacularly weird. Which is not to say that it's good. I kept missing things that they saying about the music because the music itself was making me crack up.

itdependsontheday said...

u deleated my comment on the last post!! whyyyyyyyy????? it makes me sad.
anywhowhat, u r not going to believe this by science project was about music, and i read this book of the worst songs ever, so i wonder if the good (bad) song sounded like those put together????
happy inauguration day!!!!!
"swing, swing"-swing, swing by the all-american rejects
"jenny was a friend of mine"-jenny was a friend of mine by thekillers
sorry my friends going through a killers phase and she got it stuck in my head

kristin cashore said...

Itdepends -- As far as I can remember, I've only ever deleted two comments on my entire blog, and they were both from the same person, not you, and they both had SCREAMING SPOILERS, which is the only reason I deleted them! AND I left a message to explain why I'd deleted them. So, I'm not sure what happened -- maybe your comment didn't take? Maybe try again?

Tink, I held out until they got to Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma, and then I started bawling :o)

Anonymous said...

KRISTEN CASHORE IS AWESOME hahaha
I LOVED Graceling! ur an amazing writer :) keep up the good stuff
:D

Sally said...

I loved how Yo-Yo Ma was grinning while he was playing! My library had a tv set up in the meeting room, and a small crowd of customers & employees watched (and clapped) together. It was fantastic.

Have you read Eon: Dragoneye Reborn? Just finished it and I highly recommend it. Now I must go and listen to that "bad" song, which sounds hysterical...

Ron said...

I find it mind-boggling that so many people believe that Obama is any different from other politicians. It seems incredibly naive to me... although I hope for the sake of the country that the actual explanation is that I'm a cynic.

I do find it interesting, though, that some of his stronger support came from the under 30 crowd. I'm used to seeing people put signs on their lawns supporting a politician, but I've never seen people wearing t-shirts in support of their candidate before. From my point of view, it seems like people voted for him in part because he's a celebrity.

In any case, Obama isn't the first person to promise change while being vague about the details... Castro beat him to it when he was elected.

I'm not trying to start a big political argument... the level of enthusiasm just seems bizarre to me and I felt like commenting on it.

kristin cashore said...

Ron, this might be hard for anyone to believe considering my own excitement on this blog about Obama, but usually, I'm also a cynic. Obama is the first politician I've ever gotten excited about. And I think the fact that he's managed to get so many cynics excited is proof enough that he's different from other politicians. He's got something. And even if it's just star power, star power is something; getting people to believe in you is something; and it can be first step to change. I'm actually glad that he's a true "politician," like other politicians. If he weren't, he would get slammed! You've got to be snake if you're working with snakes (would be a really unkind way to put it). I think -- or maybe it'd be better to say I hope -- that his heart and his brains are in the right place, though. Add that to the ability to get people to follow him, and maybe it really will lead to some change for the better.

I don't want to start a big debate either ^_^ -- but if he's managed to turn some cynics into non-cynics, or at least into cynics with a touch of hope, then he isn't like most politicians.

Do you ever follow the blog of Jay Smooth? He had a good entry yesterday.

Anyway. Just my two cents.

Ron said...

Hmmm... I'm glad I posted my earlier comment then (I almost didn't)... because that's actually an excellent response. I still don't think I agree with you (I'll have to mull it over a bit anyway), but it's certainly a good point.

After writing quite a bit about why I still don't agree, I decided maybe it's just better to leave it at that.

I do hope I'm wrong about him... I don't doubt that he'll bring change, but I think he'll be changing the wrong things.

kristin cashore said...

Ron, I completely understand and respect not wanting to get into it! (Especially if we're likely to start throwing punches! ^_^) Thanks for bringing it up in the first place -- it's nice to talk to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristin,
I am just another fan, but I have a question that has been bothering me. I can imagine you have been asked this a lot but Is there going to be a sequel to Graceling. Perhaps Katsa and Po could go on another journey. I am positive your audience would enjoy it. I am,however,aware of the book "Fire" you are writing.I can't wait for that. Although I am a big fan of Po so it would be nice to have both of the main characters together again.
Nice Talking to you,
Book_Worm

kristin cashore said...

Hi there Book Worm -- I'm hoping to have the time later in the month to write a short post explaining how the different books work together (without giving any spoilers, of course) AND explaining why I did them that way. Hopefully that will clear some things up. I won't be able to answer your exact question, though, because at this point, I don't talk about what I am or am not planning to write in the future. In order for me to write it, it needs to stay safe in my brain with no one poking at it but me, if that makes any sense! Anyway, thanks for your comment!