Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Radio ga ga

Having finally had enough of eating junk over the past few hectic days, I decided to dust off my pots and pans last night and cook myself something healthy and delicious. So I baked a sweet potato omelette in the oven and ate it with steamed baby carrots and green beans. My work colleague suggested that ground dill and turmeric worked perfectly with eggs and sweet potatoes, and she was right. I'll post the recipe up to my recipe archive soon.

In between work, cooking, eating junk and reading fluff, I've also been enjoying my new (well, a few weeks old) 20GB digital Sony Walkman.

Before I bought it, I thought I would immediately load it with my favourite music -- the music I've never gotten bored of listening to for most of my adult (and in some cases most of my teenage) life: David Bowie (first and foremost), Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Richard Wagner -- the classics according to Planethalder.

And yet, when I actually got it home from the store and juiced its battery up, I found myself loading it with some unexpected choices. My new player gave me the opportunity to revisit the old and forgotten, and acquaint myself with the new.

Things I loaded onto my Walkman:

  • Old music (music I haven't listened to in a long while): John Fogerty, Blondie, Elmore James, Patti Smith, Grandmaster Flash, Alison Krauss, Robbie Robertson, John Cale, Donna Summer.

  • New (to me) music: Ill Mariarchi, M.I.A., Orishas, Yat-Kha, Rachid Taha, Loretta Lynn.

  • Cheesy music: Thompson Twins, ABC, Hall & Oates, Adam and the Ants.

One of my friends, who usually listens to a lot of contemporary global dance music, has loaded her iPod with Joni Mitchell, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Gordon Lightfoot. Another has loaded hers with Geri Halliwell and Dolly Parton!

But it's not just about music. When I think about what I've listened to during the day, it's more likely to be a non-musical podcast than music. For me, the joy of a digital player is being able to listen to a variety of broadcasts that I would never usually be able (either because the broadcast is on or streamed at an inconvenient time, or because I can't find it easily).

I use a beta version of Odeo that is so easy to use (subscribe to podcasts then every time you boot your computer it automatically downloads the most recent shows, ready for you to load on to your player) that I sometimes get overwhelmed by how frequently my favourite podcasts are updated and how little time I have to listen to them all.

Here are the podcasts I listen to most frequently:

  • Word Nerds: a weekly podcast about language. Recent episodes have explored the language of war ("duck and cover", "iron curtain", "brinkmanship"), and food metaphors we use in the language of love ("sweetie", "honey", "cookie"). Each episode also features a "rude word of the week", such as the origins and uses of "prick" and "balls".

  • IT Conversations: interviews or lectures on all things IT, including, recently, talks by theorist and Creative Commons creator Lawrence Lessig and The Sims creator Will Wright.

  • In Our Time: a BBC Radio 4 documentary series that explores the history of ideas in the fields of philosophy, science, literature, culture and religion. Recent episodes have included paganism in the Renaissance, the philosophy of beauty, and the origins of all life.

  • From Our Own Correspondent: features personal reflections by BBC correspondents around the world. Recent reports have included child sex rings in Cambodia, an Israeli football team in the Gaza Strip, the Slow Food movement, and Rome's disappearing shops and cafes.

  • Science Friday: a weekly science, technology, and environment programme on NPR. Episodes still on my player include discussions on earthquakes, Einstein's relativity theory, sunscreen, and popular mathematics.

  • Suicide Girls Radio: For a little light, ahem, relief (perhaps NSFW, but then most of you probably know this).

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