Wednesday, March 13, 2019

REVIEW: The Choir of Man

We saw the opening show of the Broadway in Chicago import Choir of Man last night.  It's a likable import from Great Britain with some amazing singing, a few well executed comedy bits, some very good tap-dancing, and a fair amount of free beer.  So what could go wrong?

The show is a "Slice of Life" love letter to the Irish pub.  The fictionalized pub on display, the Jungle, serves as an actual bar in the pre-show, where some audience members are selected to go up on stage and get a free beer.  The guys are all personable and friendly, and any show that starts off with free beer has a leg up.   Really, it changes the relationship of the audience from onlooker to participant.  On a side note, my beer was dark and okay, and it made me wonder if it was alcoholic beer or non-alcoholic.  (The actors drink throughout the night, and my guess is that they are drinking non-alcoholic beer.)


There's not much of a plot to the show.  It's more of a quasi-fictional concert, with characters. Dennis (the narrator, seen in the video above) introduces us to all of the denizens of the bar, including a number of stock types-- the Lothario, the big lug with a heart of gold, the prankster, the bartender, etc.  Dennis speaks in rhyming couplets about the pub, and waxes eloquently about this place.  In between Dennis' monologues the guys take turns singing rock and pop songs, including hits from Queen, Guns'n'Roses (The appropriate Welcome To the Jungle), Paul Simon , Adele, Katy Perry, and others.  The show runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.

The Choir Of Man: Photo by Chris Cann
Everybody's got a fine voice, the blokes are all ruggedly handsome, the dancing and choreography are well executed and well thought out, and there are some comedy bits, including a love song sung to a grandma-ish lady that takes on new meaning when you consider the age disparity, a series of bad dad jokes, and a peeing extravaganza that could come straight out of a 1950's comedy act (and I mean that in a good way). I'm a big believer in virtuosity in the theatre, and it is certainly on display.  As musicians these guys are superb.



The Choir Of Man: Photo by Chris Cann
We left the theatre feeling good, and although there wasn't much story, we were very entertained.  I do have a couple of criticisms of the show, but they are more about what the show wasn't versus what it was.

 It wasn't very representative (all 9 men in the show were white and had roots in Ireland.  Of course that's what the show is about, this "Friends in the pub" culture that you can have with your mates, but like it or not, they are celebrating a white boys club culture of "Boys will be boys" that excludes a lot of people.  There was even a bit of towel-snapping in the show.

And I couldn't help think what a pub looks like where not every person in it is handsome, white, and of Irish descent.  (one of the guys was vaguely Chinese, and he was teased about it once)  I am usually one of the last people on the "non-inclusion" bandwagon, but it really stuck out to me when I saw the show.

The Choir Of Man: Photo by Brian Wright

For me, the harder thing about this show is that it is sentimental for this pub life, and I am not a big lover of sentimentality in the theatre. It paints the pub life as mostly idyllic, and full of nice guys whose arguments are temporary blips in the bonhommie of their life.  It's not quite a play, and more of a concert, but  I can easily imagine the amazing play that this COULD HAVE BEEN.

The Choir Of Man: Photo by Brian Wright
 I would have liked to seen the non-rose colored version of the pub, complete with arguments,  drunkenness, unnecessary drama, bad ideas, enemies, and crossed messages.  I know it wasn't the purpose of this show, but I felt like it could have been GREAT if they had gotten downer and dirtier to find the real essence of the pub.  Instead, they skimmed the polished surface, and it was entertaining, but it could have been a lot deeper as well. (And still have been as entertaining!)

The Choir Of Man: Photo by Brian Wright
Don't get me wrong-- the show was great and fun and entertaining.  But I felt like it could have been all that and also deeper.  I feel like they just touched the surface.  If you want to be entertained, I can highly recommend this show.   (And it would be a great way to celebrate St. Paddy's day.)

It runs through March 17 (one week only at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 E. Chestnut) Showtimes are at 7:30 pm Tuesday-Friday with shows on Saturday at 2 and 8 pm and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 pm Individual tickets range in price from $39-$79 with a select number of premium tickets available.


There is also a digital lottery held for 20 daily tickets at $25 each. To enter the lottery, visit http://www.broadwayinchicago.com/show/the-choir-of-man/

You can check in with the Lads on their facebook at
https://www.facebook.com/thechoirofman/

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Dad 2.0 2019 San Antonio: Takeaways!

Well, my favorite conference just ended, and assuming I get back safely (there's a windstorm alert for the Midwest, including Chicago, and that has already stranded a few guys).  My flight is still scheduled to depart, but trying to go with flow!  You get what you get and you don't get upset applies to adults as well as children, you know.

I've been to all 8 Dad 2.0 summits, and have already bought tickets for the 9th (schedule and whereabouts unknown-- they've earned my trust enough that I will go anywhere.  If you want you too  can buy tickets for $99 at http://www.bit.ly/dad2020 through Monday 2/25.  After that tickets will go away for a few months)

Here are some of my biggest takeaways from this year's conference.

Paid Paternity Leave. 



I took the Dove Men Care Paternity Leave Pledge this year.  Being a self-employed guy, I didn't think much about paternity leave.  When I had a kid, I just stopped doing work, and sucked it up, and my wife picked up the slack.

Not everybody can do that, and not everybody has a job that allows paternity leave, let alone paid paternity leave.  And even those that do, there's a stigma against it, so much so that many guys who are eligible don't take it for fear of damaging their career.  Seems crazy!

 Dove is working to make Paternity Leave part of the fabric of our society, and remove the stigma attached it.  (Which once again shows that Dove gets the long game of marketing much better than almost any other company.  They are doing good, knowing that they are aligning with creating a better society, with the knowledge that they will in the end be rewarded for that, even if that reward isn't immediate.  #welldoneDove.  )

They have a new program where they are giving away one million dollars to dads in a grant program for guys who may not be eligible for leave.  They started it last Tuesday, and they already have over 1200 applicants.

You too can take the pledge at http://dovemencare.com/pledge.

Become part of the mosaic of people making a difference in the fabric of society. (do you see what I did there?)

AARP Disrupt Aging Campaign.

Book available on Amazon.
I participated in a conversation sponsored by AARP about their new program Disrupt Aging.

They are trying to include many voices in the process to combat agism and the common tropes and stereotypes about getting older.  There were many guys and a few women at the conversation, and it was videotaped for a future video (that I might have a snippet in)

I loved having lunch with this great group of guys and participating in the conversation.  They asked us what are the biggest problems/easiest solutions to combat ageism, and I talked about staying flexible, not being rigid in my ideas and not calcifying thoughts/concepts/practices.  It's easy to get stuck in a rut and think you know how things can go, but things can go all kinds of ways, and you have to be flexible about them.

Their campaign is online here:  https://www.aarp.org/disrupt-aging/ and they have a great book by the CEO on the topic.  Can't wait to read it.

Blogger Spotlights and Dad Voices.

A number of the guys at the conference are amazing writers, and the conference spotlights them through the Blogger Spotlights, and the unjuried Dad Voices.  These guys are funny

Here are some that I loved along with links when appropriate for you to read them.

I very much enjoyed David Stanley's sonnets for his dead dad.  There's something very powerful about the sonnet form, and David writes honestly and well and in mostly iambic pentameter about his dad.  It was beautiful, honest, and strong. I especially loved the sonnet about giving his dad his very last bath. Poignant is the word.  You can read his sonnets on his blog http://dstan58.blogspot.com/ and below I videotaped one of them.


Jason Green read a hilarious blogpost about why he should be People's sexiest man of the year. What was great about it was that he put himself up against the guys who have won, and emphasized that being a good dad is what is sexy. Do you think that George Clooney has dishpan hands? Dishpan hands are sexy. It was really great and hilarious, and his delivery was great too! You can read his post here: https://thejasongreene.com/2017/11/16/my-bid-to-be-the-sexiest-man-alive-for-2018/ 

Aaron Gouviea told the story about how his tweet rage against the kids who bullied his 6 year old for wearing fingernail polish had both negative and positive consequences, including being featured on a neo-Nazi website as cuck of the year (bad) , and getting on Good Morning America and a book deal writing about Toxic Masculinity. (good) I already knew the story and I was still tearing up.

Dad Voices


At the Dad Voices program, a late night uncensored daddy slam where guys put their names in a jar, and they are read out until everybody who wants to has had a chance to read, some amazing personal posts and some incredibly funny posts were read.

One guy (didn't catch his name) told a chilling story about how his family escaped a burning airplane in a hailstorm in Mexico, with tears streaming down his (and many audience members) eyes.

A new friend (and not a dad) Sally Spencer-Thomas, who is an expert on male suicide and prevention from Denver, told the chilling story of how she first heard about her own brother's suicide. Her website is https://www.sallyspencerthomas.com/

I read a piece I wrote about how I feel guilty about not going to Yom Kippur, but I had some synagogue-ish feelings while watching NYPD Blue.  (This was my first time reading, and I was worried people wouldn't like it, but I was wrong, people liked it!  #validation)

Shannon Carpenter wrote a hilarious piece that just appeared on fatherly about his son singing (and showing off) his penis song. https://www.fatherly.com/love-money/toddler-sings-penis-song/

And so it goes:  I can't mention everybody whose work I loved.  (I'm looking at you Cort Ruddy, Victor Aragon, Andrew Knott, and probably 25 people more) There were dozens of great dads and writers sharing stuff, and this is probably my favorite part of the conference.  Meeting those guys, feeling a camaraderie with them, and getting inspired by them is probably my favorite takeaway from Dad 2.0.-- and what will keep me coming back.

Read previous takeaways from previous Dad 2 Summits.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

REVIEW: Noises Off at Windy City PlayHouse

Having just seen The Play That Goes Wrong, I was very excited to bring my 10 year old son to see what one could easily call its theatrical ancestor.  That show is Noises Off, which is playing at the Windy City Playhouse now through March 31.

Unfortunately, my son couldn't make it (darn you, procrastinated projects) but I got some friends together and we were able to attend the opening night.  The show was very funny and well worth seeing.


Noises Off , written by English playwright Michael Frayn, is a farce in 3 acts.  It's got a great premise and an even greater gimmick.  The premise is that a British troupe is putting on a farce called Nothing On.  We see the show three times- the first time at a very tense dress rehearsal the day before opening night:  at a show about 30 days into their run; and the very last set of performances at a theatre in the mythical town of Weston-SuperMare. We see the production and the relationships between the actors break down completely, and we see everything go wrong.

Backstage at the theatre things can get a little tense.  Photo by Michael Brosilow.
The gimmick is that the second show is seen from an entirely different perspective- backstage.  Typically, productions build a rotating set, and turn it around during the intermission. At Windy City, the entire audience picks up and moves to the back of the theatre for the second act, which is literally backstage.  This works really well, and you get a strong feeling of being where the action is.  The action moves back to the front of the theatre for the last act, which shows the play having come completely off the rail.

The production was great.  In a farce, the play and the stakes have to continue to wind up and ramp up.  If they don't, the play loses pressure, and instead of hilarious, it becomes silly.  (Or as Lloyd, the director says in the first act, this play is about doors and sardines, doors and sardines.) There's also lots of pants dropping.

What's a farce without somebody losing their pants?  Photo by Michael Brosilow


The director of the show Scott Weinstein manages to keep the pressure strong, the timing crisp, and the sardines a' plenty, and that brings lots of laughs.

 I thought all of the actors were great, but I wanted to make special mention of a few actors: Will Casey as the end stage actor Selsdon (think a poor man's Peter O'Tool from My Favorite Year) has a dim-witted charm that delights, and Rochelle Therrien as Brooke manages to "act" so poorly that it is hilarious without being bad, which is really threading the needle. 

Also notable were Amy Rubinstein as Belinda, the mother-hen actress who tries to solve everyone else's problems. Rubinstein is the founder and artistic director of Windy City, but she ably wears her acting hat here. Alexander Quinones as Tim did a fine job of being the put upon technical director/understudy (weirdly, in the video below, they have a different actor playing Tim.  Not sure if he dropped out or what, but Quinones does a fine job. 

Truthfully, there are no bad actors here-- everyone plays their part exceedingly well. And, considering that it was a British play done with British accents by an American cast-- there were no klunkers, accent wise.  Great job, dialect coach Kathy Logelin.

Here's a teaser video that is available also on the theatre's website:




My favorite act was the second act, backstage, where you see the shenanigans that go on.  In this production there's some very physical and delightful business that moves at a breakneck speed-- which is just the right speed for a farce such as this.  There's a bit where an actor has to jump up the stairs with his shoes tied, avoiding an actor coming down, and an errant whiskey bottle that seems to be all over the place.  They get everything right!

If you like to laugh, Noises Off would be a great date night choice for you!  There's also a bit of a fancy bar in the lobby, and drinks are allowed into the theatre-- drinks range from $6 on up (some of the cocktails are $12 or $14) so bring your credit card.   The theatre has thoughtfully supplied drink rails which are a big help.

SCHEDULE: 
 The show runs from January 9 – March 31, at the Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W Irving Park Rd.
Tickets range from $45-85 and can be purchased online at http://www.windycityplayhouse.com

Monday, January 14, 2019

One Book One Chicago

I wrote a guest blog post for  the Chicago Dads Group about the amazing plethora of presentations that the Chicago Public Library Foundation has scheduled this year in support of the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.


The project, called One Book, One Chicago, asks an essential question:  What if all of Chicago read the same book at the same time?  They have chosen the book, and the book and its themes are being discussed and thought about by over  84 different presentations between now and April, including book discussions, art making sessions, lectures, walking tours, game nights, and a whole lot more.






To find out more, and to find out about some of the presentations that I think are going to rock, read the article over at the Chicago Dad's Group blog.  (And if you are a dad, and don't know about the group, get with it!  It's a great group of guys who take their occupation of being a parent seriously, and it's part of a national movement of dad's bonding together that I am proud to be a part of.

https://citydadsgroup.com/chicago/2019/01/14/one-book-one-chicago-do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep/

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Review: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson Musical)

There is a new musical in town, kicking off its North American tour.  It's based on the best-selling book series by author Rick Riordan: Percy Jackson and The Olympians. (which sort of sounds like a rock band, and this is a rock musical) The musical has some very exciting bits, and has some moments that are well done, and is worth seeing (with a couple of caveats)  Read on to find out more.

I had read all five of the books a few years ago, and enjoyed them a lot.  There were two movie adaptations made, but they did not get good reviews, and I never got around to seeing them.  I entered the musical hopeful that they would pay fealty to the great story and character arcs that Riordan had developed. And they did!









Although you don't need to know very much about the story to see the musical, it does help.  The story features a teenager who is not sure what's going on because weird things always happen to him, His dad is MIA, and kind of mysterious, and he suddenly gets thrust into a large situation when he realizes that the Greek gods are real, and that he is the half-son of one of them, and that he's been accused of stealing Zeus's lightning bolt.  He goes to a camp on Long Island Sound, discovers he has powers, and meets other kids in the same situation (half-bloods) ,and he and his friends go on a series of adventures as they drive across the country to find Hades (who naturally lives in Los Angeles), manage to defeat the odds and survive against all kinds of adversity.

Here's a television spot they created for the show.




The Minotaur on stage.  Photo by Jeremy Daniel

The story is followed pretty faithfully in the musical, which was produced in part by TheatreWorks USA, which has a long and storied reputation for adapting kids stories into high quality touring productions.  This one is no different.  The cast of six do pretty amazing work as they tell the story, creating monsters, (A Minotaur, a Furie, and Medusa all feature prominently), and of course the Gods.   The puppetry and stagecraft are very well realized, and the characterizations are right on.  (SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT: I nearly fell out of my seat when Hades appears, the actor doing a pitch-perfect imitation of actor Paul Lynde.  Perfect Voice Casting!)

I really liked the energy of the production-- the actors all do physical characterizations, and except for Percy, play multiple characters.  They all have good voices and use them well.  They are young and energetic, and the pace of the show is brisk.  There is a fair amount of humor in the show, and I think that it tells the story very well.  (My son hadn't read the books, and could tell what was going on all through)

The play ends with the clear possibility of a PART TWO-- just like the book.  I am wondering if they are considering giving the second book the same treatment?

Percy and his friends try to escape the Gods. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

I did mention I had two caveats above:    I wasn't clear exactly why they made this as a musical I think an adventure show with music would have served the story and the production better, with one or two songs perhaps.  The music was all serviceable, but a little pro forma (following the structure  of the musical). I couldn't identify a single song afterward-- they were all songs that moved the plot forward, but not one was a song that felt like an emotional breakthrough that wasn't connected to the plot, and it's hard to imagine any of the songs outside of the musical itself.

Here's a video of one of the songs (and the process of making it), I like it a little better now that I've heard it three times, but during the show I didn't really groove onto it.  Your mileage may definitely vary on this-- maybe it will resonate with you and your kid.




There's lots of exciting fight scenes in the show.   Photo by Jeremy Daniel
The other thing about this show is the quality of the set design/costumes.  While they got the job done, and were in someways inventive, they felt a little low rent.  They seemed out of place in the lush environs of the Oriental Theatre.  I don't think I'd have felt this way if the show had come to a more modern theatre like the Harris Theatre.  But as part of the Broadway series, it was harder to overlook.

Still, the Percy Jackson musical is an exciting and well-told story, mostly inventively staged and with some great comic bits.  Well worth seeing if you are a fan of Percy or a fan of young adult musicals.

Some toilet paper some blue lighting, and some handheld blowers make the stage erupt in an inventive manner.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel


The show plays in Chicago through Sunday, January 13, and then moves on for a full North American tour, with stops in Charlotte, Philadelphia, Worcester, Toronto, New York, Sacramento, Detroit, Cheyenne, Ft. Lauderdale, and tons of other places.  For the full schedule visit http://www.lightningthiefmusical.com/#tickets

In Chicago, individual tickets are currently on sale and range in price from $25-$80 with a select number of premium seats available.  For more information, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Review: Fiddler On The Roof

We saw the touring production of Fiddler on the Roof at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (now through January 6, 2019) and it is really great.

When seeing a classic show like this, the quality of the story and the songs are already a known item.  It's the execution of it that makes all the difference, and in this case, the music is strong, the actors are great, and the choreography is outstanding.  The video below says it's fresh and exciting, and this is truth in advertising.  It's well worth seeing.




The opening of the show was particularly exciting for me.

Yehezkel Lazarov as Tevye
photo by Joan Marcus
Israeli actor Yehezkel Lazarov plays Tevye, and he appears on the stage wearing what appears to be a hoodie.  He starts by reading a few lines from a book, and as he reads I'm wondering what's going on.  This isn't part of the play.  He's reading what appears to be  the first few lines of the book on which Fiddler is based Tevye the Dairyman by Sholom Aleichem  (well worth reading if you haven't).

As he finishes reading, the song Tradition starts up, and he pulls down his hoodie and it turns into a prayer shawl.  And we are onto the musical!  But the stage is completely blank, and the characters (the mommas, the poppas, the sons, the daughters, etc.) all appear from behind these door panels that are quickly carried on and off via choreography. The dancing is all very physical and kind of quirky, and there's almost no set, and I am entranced!  It's a completely non-traditional way to do this song, which is ironic because the song is Tradition.  The empty stage and the panels appearing remind of Peter Brook, and the dancing is like Merce Cunningham, and I am super excited.  I wonder if the whole production is going to be like this.  And how daring that would be!

The song ends, there's rousing applause, and then the sets fly in, and to my slight disappointment they are pretty traditional-- a house and a tree.  And they look like a house and a tree.  I am not disappointed for long, as the production values are high, and the production itself is great.  The dancing throughout is exceptional, and all of the cast members do a fantastic job of making the play memorable.


A traditional bottle dance as part of the Wedding.  Photo by Joan Marcus.
Photo via Instagram
The show is full of classic comedy moments and great songs.  I particularly loved all of Tevye's asides to God, or asides to the audience. SPOILER ALERT (but really, you don't know the story?  It's been since 1964!)   In the first act, Tevye convinces his wife that he dreamed a bad omen, and his daughter can't marry the butcher.  The dream is fantastic, with weird stilt people dancing around, and with lights, sound and dance they create a very realistic nightmare. His wife is convinced.  Later, his second daughter wants to marry a poor student, and Tevye finally agrees, saying that he will convince his wife Goldie somehow.  He then turns to the audience and says, "Another dream?"  It got a huge response.


In this rendition of If I Were A Rich Man,  you can see how well they get the feeling of a daydream which really got the daydream feeling "What would I do if I won the lottery!"  (video via Instagram)
There's also a lot of sadness in the show.  The Jewish community is eventually forced out of the little town of Anatevka, and the family gets ready to move to America.  I realized that this might have very well been my ancestor's story.  My great great grandparents came to America in the 1870's fleeing the Russian pogroms.  It touched me in a way that I hadn't realized, despite the fact that I have seen different productions of the show three or four times.

 The music and acting are great, the dancing is phenomenal,  and the story is a classic.  You should definitely not miss this production!

Here's another montage of the show through the FiddlerBroadway Instagram. (Which by the way, has a lot of great behind the scenes content.)
 PST

The show runs at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph) through January 6, 2019.



PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

Tuesdays at 7:30PM (no performance on Dec. 25)
Wednesdays at 2:00PM & 7:30PM (no matinee performance on Dec. 19)
Thursdays at 7:30PM
Fridays at 7:30PM
Saturdays at 2:00PM & 8:00PM
Sundays at 2:00PM and 7:30PM (no evening performance on Jan. 6)

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets are currently on-sale to the public and range in price from $25-$98.  Discounts for the show ($39-$79) are available on Goldstar. (affiliate link)

For more information, visit http://www.BroadwayInChicago.com or http://fiddlermusical.com

Monday, December 17, 2018

Some Podcast Recommendations For Your Consideration


I've been listening to more podcasts over the last few months, and I wanted to recommend a few to friends who are hoping to listen to some interesting things.  As always, your mileage may vary, and if you don't like these choices, feel free to stop listening and listen to something else.


What I like about podcasts is that they can very quickly (and without much attention) bring me into a world that I know nothing about, and it's easy enough to shut it out or ignore it if I need to.

I haven't included any dad/parenting podcasts, as I want to compile a few more into their own post.


NON-PARENTING PODCASTS FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION


Buy the Risk Book on Amazon
 
Risk Show is one of my must listens every week now.  Hosted by Kevin Allison, this podcast has been around for 10 years, but I am brand new to it.  It's both a live show and a podcast, where people tell true stories they never thought they'd dare to share.  As Kevin warns in the opening, the podcast can be very uncensored, and has its fair share of crazy sex stories (especially when it combines with the Bawdy Storytelling podcast, another live storytelling show turned podcast that I listen to with regularity.)   Both of these are NSFW, so don't listen to this with kids around.  The focus isn't only on sex though, and I've heard some amazing and poignant and hilarious stories about love, childhood, and just about everything else.

 They produce two episodes a week, a new show, and a classic Risk Singles, pulled from their archive of the last 10 years. They also have a book (available on Amazon) that collect some of their best stories and stories by celebrity guests).

 I am trying to figure out what story from my past I would be willing to share for the RISK show and would still be risky enough to be included.  For me that intersection is surprisingly small. But I want to be the kind of person/artist that is willing to take that kind of risk.  So I'm thinking about it!

By the way, the rest of these podcasts are Safe For Work, mostly.  (assuming you are allowed to listen to podcasts at work.)


An Arm and a Leg Podcast 
Health care has been a nightmare of mine for a long time-- each year it goes up unpredictably, and I have a number of weird spreadsheets that try to figure it out.  In the last four years I've been with three different healthcare companies and two of them have gone bankrupt.  And in three of the four years, my analysis showed that it made more sense for my wife and I to be on separate plans.  (for the first time in a long time, we are going to be on the same plan this year).

Enter our friend Dan Weissman, who is a radio journalist who has worked for Marketplace and WBEZ, among many others.  He's created a new podcast to talk about the realities of the costs of healthcare, and it's fun, funny, sobering and terrifying all at once.  Some of the stories he tells are amazing (Renaissance faire workers who have banded together to help solve the problems of being an itinerant performer without regular health care, or the amazingly high costs of ordering medical supplies through insurance instead of buying them on the open marketplace.)  It's definitely worth a listen if you are affected by health care high prices, and that means anyone with a pulse.  (FULL DISCLOSURE:  I helped Dan think about some of the crowdfunding issues with his new venture. I have no financial interest in the podcast, other than if it goes well I won't have to buy the coffee when we go for coffee.)



Cool Tools 
I was an avid reader of CoEvolution Quarterly/Whole Earth Review, I contributed a couple of reviews to the Whole Earth Catalog, and am still involved with the online service that was spawned from that movement The WELL, so it should be of little surprise to anyone that I would be a fan of Kevin Kelly's, who was also involved in all of those things (and far more than I) Kevin also was one of the founding editors of Wired Magazine.

The ethos of Whole Earth Review was "Access to Tools" and Kevin and Mark Frauenfelder (he of BoingBoing and the Maker movement) host a weekly roundup of tool recommendations from well known makers and artists and other interesting people.  The podcast is pretty formulaic, but I am almost always interested in one or more of the tools that people present.  Sometimes the tools aren't tools at all, but books, or apps, or ideas.  Each podcast is 30 minutes long, and I listen to it at 1.5 times the normal speed, which works out about right for getting all of the information and banter.



Wow In the World
 is a great podcast designed for kids.

It stars Mindy Thomas, host of the venerable Sirius XM kids station Kids Place Live, and Guy Raz, an NPR radio everyman who hosts a number of podcasts, including the really great How I Built This (another good one to listen to) and the TED  Radio Hour, a compilation of great TED Talks.  Guy used to have a regular spot on Mindy's show on Kids Place Live, and they've extended it into a podcast that talks about science and cool stuff.
  What I love about this show is that Guy Raz, who typically fulfills the role of a journalist or question asker, ends up acting,   playing an uber-nerdish sendup of himself, and Mindy does her shtick as the kind of crazy lady next door.

They are a great team together, and they've got good comedy chemistry.  And at the end, kids call in to tell Guy and Mindy what their "Wow In The World is" When I listen to this with my son, we end up learning a couple of things as well as being very entertained.


Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
This is one of the first podcasts I ever listened to, and I still listen to it, but not as religiously (pun intended) as I should.


In this podcast, two former Harvard Divinity School graduates read a chapter of Harry Potter and think about it as though it were the bible.  Basically, they are coming up with sermons and sermon thoughts based on Harry Potter- what in this chapter is a life-lesson?  They use various textual analysis tools from the world of religious thinking, as well as a number of other ideas to create great Harry Potter-esque sermons It's a great idea, and they execute it really well.


 I saw them record one of these live in Chicago, and it was fascinating to see and meet them for the first time.  The two hosts Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile have a magical chemistry together, and do a great job of letting us into their private lives in an interesting way.  They are currently on book 5, and if you are interested in Harry Potter (and even if you aren't) it's well worth a listen. (and you can start at the beginning.)  There are also book clubs dedicated to the podcast.



If you've got some podcasts I should be listening to, please let me know in the comments!