Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Here in My Head

About two years ago, my friend Ron started bringing up podcasts in our conversation. He would listen to all these different podcasts and encourage me to download them. Little did he realize that I'm extremely slow to embrace new technology. I don't like it and only do it after I see others have done it before me and didn't perish. So I had intentions of trying out this podcast thing but when push came to shove, I just couldn't bring myself to actually do it.

Well, last Christmas (08) I spent in Oregon with my family there. They surprised me with an iPod Touch. I had no idea how much it would be part of my life. It's been pretty amazing. One day I was bored and decided to check out the iTunes application on my iPod. I was wary- there were things for purchase inside this app. Just like the App Store. But then I theorized that if there was free stuff in the App Store, then it stood to reason that there would also be free stuff in iTunes. And as a Danifesto reader, you will know that there is nothing more that Danifesto loves than free. It's better than 50% off Day at the Goodwill Store. Free rocks my world.

So I wandered into iTunes and after listening to song clips (free!) I found the podcasts and remembered my friend Ron blathering on and on about them. And here they were- wait- what? FREE??? I had a coniption fit right then and there.

I started out cautiously. You don't start with expresso man. You work your way up from decaff! With milk! I found This American Life and downloaded ONE episode as a test. Loved it. My brother has burned them on CDs for my Christmas' and birthday's for a few years now. I love them. So good! And here they were! On my iPod! I listened to it twice before adding to my podcast collection. Here, in no particular order, is what Danifesto is listening to as he travels the streets of Toronto!

Channel Frederator- short original cartoons. I can't bear to delete some of these cartoons because they are so endearing and really capture the imagination. Yes, a few have been super violent and I had no problem deleting those. But more good here than bad! Love!

The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos- my latest acquision! I've seen him on TV and once even sat behind him at the movies (Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces). I'm going to listen to an interview with Toronto's own Jully Black and see how it goes!

Learn to Speak Spanish with DiscoverSpanish.com- I'm only listening to the unit reviews of the lessons. So far, I'm up to speed. If I find that I'm encountering new things or things I don't get, I'll slow down and listen to the individual lessons. They have a lot of conversations that you listen and try to translate to English or translate from English to Spanish. I would prefer it to be completely in Spanish but if you're just starting out, I can see how that would overwhelm. For some reason, I hate the British accents on here! Not sure why, it just really bugs me!!

The Moth Podcast-This was recommended to me by the secretary at my school. She said if I liked This American Life, I would like this. Meh. I'm giving it another shot to see if it gets any better. It's just regular people (some celebs) telling unscripted stories. That's it. And so it's not as dramatic and well-polished as T.A.L.

MSNBC Rachel Maddow- okay I'm going to facetiously break a commandment here and say I worship her! She's smart, witty, funny, uncompromising and I think we could be BFFs. She not a downer like Keith Olberman on the Countdown. Just so angry and serious all the time. She is a delight and I love that she exists. Want to make her birthday a national holiday. She is THAT good people. (Rachel- call me! We'll have lattes and roll our eyes at Republicans!)

Sara and Aimee do Glee- I haven't watched Glee but wanted to find out about it. I searched "Glee" and found several fan podcasts. Picked three that looked interesting. The other two were super super boring. Very geeky- all with references to musicals I didn't know or care about. A fun fact here and there is okay but these were like pissing battles on who knew the most. Sara and Aimee (I really want to mock her name spelling but that would be mean and so I won't) are awesome. They are BFFs. One is lesbian and the other isn't but you would have trouble distinguishing because, thus far, they are so alike! The main reason I like listening to their banter is they remind me of my Cousin. Now I have more than one cousin. But if you are a Danifesto reader, you'll pretty much know there are my cousins and then there's MY COUSIN. She talks a lot like them. Well maybe not SO much profanity but yeah pretty much like them. I don't get to hear her voice much but when they start laughing and go off on silly tangents, then it makes me think of her. Plus they do a really good job of reviewing Glee. Which I will see. Just not now. Because I want to check out TrueBlood first.

Savage Love Podcast- Dan Savage is kind of a gay Carrie Bradshaw. No he doesn't accessorize with large flowers, he writes a sex column. I used to religiously read his columns on the last page of NOW magazine but I kind of got out of the habit of picking it up and trying to read that and EYE magazine weekly. Now I'm down to just reading FAB or Xtra every other week and I'm good. Savage's columns aren't all about the sex of course and neither are his podcasts. He ofters thoughtful and fair advice to a wide diversity of callers. What still gets me is the ease of straight male callers to talk about their problems to a gay man. That acceptance blows me away. One thing that kind of turns me off is that Savage drops the "f-bomb" all the time! Now I have a healthy respect for words and the power they have. When used appropriately they can have maximum effect. However with overuse,they get old and tired and I feel like that's what's happening here.

Current TV SuperNews- I'm kind of iffy on whether I'll continue with this one. Animated jokes about people in the news and current events...meh.

Showbiz Newsy News- super dumb and lame. Cartoon news anchor cracks dirty jokes about celebrities in the news.

So there you have it. These are the voices in my head. (Granted some are video.) Any other suggestions? I'll give it a go and let you know if I like it or not!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Beauty of Gray (or rather White)

The new year has started and people are saying goodbye to 2009 and looking ahead in anticipation to 2010. From what I’ve heard and read, the majority of the reviews of the last year have been negative, due to the economy, the resulting recession or tragic personal events. Reflecting on these views, I can’t help but remember a relevant message I heard from Rev. Brent Hawkes.

I have to admit my eyebrows were raised when I was given stickers at the church door. They were round stickers, coloured red, white and blue. Then when Hawkes asked us to imagine an alternate reality, I was ready to roll my eyes. But I hung in there and the message was one that made such an impact, that I keep returning to it months later in conversations and private thoughts.

Hawkes told us about an imaginary world where we all had the same job, as members of the judiciary. He asked us to randomly put red stickers and blue stickers (six in all) on people and things around us. After doing so, he said that all too often we are quick to judge or label events, people and things in our lives as good or bad (and let’s be honest here, usually it’s negative). And that 90% of the time, our judgments turn out to be incorrect. We realize later that things weren’t as bad as we previously thought. After we got to know the person, we grew to like and admire them. We emerged from the difficulty stronger than before and were even thankful for it!

“If you made mistakes 90% of the time in your present job, how long would you keep it?” he mused. One would either be fired or quit first out of frustration. However we continue to make judgments in our lives, despite our terrible track record. Not only is this effort pointless, it can frequently be detrimental. At this point, he asked us to retrieve the six stickers we had distributed earlier. I got back all six but somehow had an unequal number, instead of three of each. Many people were short a sticker or two because they’d forgotten who they gave it to or where they had put it. This illustrated that at times our hasty judgments have long-term effects. We can’t always take them back.

In light of our failure as judges, the pastor then challenged us to let God do the job of judging and get back to doing the work we were given the talents to do. The white stickers were for us. Whenever we were tempted to fall back into being a judge (an occupation for which we are unqualified and unsuccessful), the white stickers were for that situation. Most of the aspects of our lives are neither good nor bad. They simply exist. They just are.

This challenge gave me a great deal to think about and I kept those white stickers in my pocket for some time. Imagine my surprise when one of them rubbed off onto my wallet, which I had just been guilty of judging as insufficient. I was moved to place another white sticker on a picture of my ex-partner and myself. We were together for six years and now we aren’t. That’s just how it is. By not labeling circumstances in my life, I stay in the present, where I am more effective and can grow.

So as you assess your life and make those New Year’s resolutions, I would challenge you to avoid judging. Let go and let God. Or call it Zen or Destiny if that helps you any. But resist the temptation to colour the year that’s ended or the one ahead. Think neutral. 2009 was the year that was. 2010 is the year that will be. I will try new things and maybe I succeed or fail. Maybe the results will be beyond my control. That’s okay. It’s not for me to judge. That’s not my job anyway!