Cake Box #1: 3 Things I loved in May

Hey Fans of the Soap Box, I know it was a great run and maybe if I ever feel like it again, I will post another one but for a few months now I thought that it would be so much nicer to have a monthly (maybe) blog post that doesn’t always feature rants but rather cool stuff that I discovered, found, read, heard, saw, etc.

I mean, I started the Soap Box when I was working with gossip and news sites daily and yes, there is a shitload of material to get your knickers in a bunch but now that I don’t do that anymore, I actually discover more nice and cool stuff and I would like to promote it to the handful of readers I have.

Beware the Portal-spoilers…

So, I hope you enjoy it and if I get enough material, I promise to publish the occasional Soap Box.

1. Guy Raz and the Ted Radio Hour – Knowledge in bite size

I get into real podcast-benders now and then, it was mainly The Podcast History of the World and the Titanium Physicists last year and the HP Lovecraft-Podcast (prominently featured on this blog) in winter 2014. Well, I am off to another binge and it’s the amazing NPR Ted Radio Hour which is a weekly podcast of roughly an hour that features amazing interviews about a wide variety of topics.

Usually, there is an interesting albeit open headline and four to five speakers (usually scientists or experts in any given field) who talk about aspects of this headline. This headline can be “Identities”, ” Disruptive Leaders” or “Believers and Doubters”. Some of the talks are rather personal, rather deriving from anecdotes and reminding of motivational speeches with a lot of “You can do it”-attitude. But most of them are scientific and thought-provoking and those are truly amazing.

There are several things that work so well in this podcast:

a.) Host Guy Raz is an amazing interviewer. He is mostly objective, inquisitive, charming, funny and never disruptive. Sometimes, he takes the opposing opinion just to see whether his interview-partners have reality in mind because some talkers can be incredibly utopian and idealistic in their opinions and this podcast tries to be more than that.

b.) The talks are poignant, short and interesting. There is always enough material to get the gist of the lecturer’s field of expertise and there is never the feeling that anyone dumbs down their talk. Especially within a topic, they give a great overview because most of the time, a topic is being presented with a lot of different ways to look at it.

c.) The mixture of lecturers is truly fascinating. From a priest to a motivational speaker, to a disgraced military leader and a woman who lived in the 2nd Biodome in the 90s – it never gets boring and I have nothing but respect for the people at TED who organize those talks and find all these amazing people.

So, go to the NPR-page, pick a topic you find interesting and listen – or download it for free (which is what I have been doing, binging on those podcasts on bus- and train rides, walks through the city, shopping tours, etc.pp.)

2. “The Comeback” aka Lisa Kudrow is a gem

“The Comeback” is a sitcom from a few years ago featuring Lisa Kudrow as a formerly famous comedy actress who gets her own reality show on her way to her – you have three guesses – comeback as the nagging aunt in a tv-sitcom!

As a comedy-geek, I really do appreciate cringe-comedy and/or horrible characters but there is a huge difference between “Seinfeld” and the Ricky Gervais era of comedy with absolutely despicable characters that – even though somewhat brilliant – make you feel sad and dirty at the same time. In recent years I started to avoid shows where people are just mean to each other because it depresses me actually.

Although the first episode starts out like a Gervais-doppelganger (handheld cameras and a blissfully ignorant douchebag as protagonist), the show very soon establishes Kudrow’s character Valerie Cherish as a somewhat blissfully ignorant, self-centered has-been who is actually loveable, has her own set of very commendable work ethics and – bless her heart – is one of those people who most of the time are inadvertently rude/inconsiderate and do try to be better people.

This mix brings it nearly into “Enlightened”-territory (although never really as encompassingly beautiful) and creates a show that starts as a vehicle making fun of an actress who has seen better days and soon turns to critic of youth-culture, the media and the horrible horrible business of creating bad comedy (really, the dialogues of the mock-comedy-series that Valerie plays in, is amazing Chuck Lorre-and-worse-parody at its best).

3. If you have nothing to say, there’s always the weather

Maybe you already have seen it but this weather-site is absolutely fabulous. It’s done by David Krumholtz who my generation knows as the awkward allergy-kid in the second Adams Family-movie and other people know from his crime show “Numbers” where he solved crime through math because for a while, there was a crime show for everything – solving crime through cooking, solving crime through squinting at the suspect real hard until he breaks, solving crime through fortune cookies.

Anyways, Krumholtz is one of those weird actors who have done amazing work but also a whole butt load of truly horrible stuff. Well, this is the former category and should be enjoyed because it actually provides the correct weather plus a little something something.

 

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