#TryPod in March or Anytime

Download the free Stitcher App from the Apple or Google Play store to begin listening to podcasts.

Download the free Stitcher App from the Apple or Google Play store to begin listening to podcasts.

Anytime is a good time to begin listening to podcasts. The variety is astonishing. I have written about some of my favorites in 2016. Since then my list of favorites on the Stitcher listening app has more than doubled. (You can also listen to many of same podcasts from iTunes or direct from a website.) 

Here is a quick summary of some of the ones I listen to regularly:

Everyday I listen to Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau. These short (5-8 minutes) podcasts are intended to spotlight ways you can start and succeed with your own side hustle. Chris Guillebeau is author of blog The Art of Non-Conformity and host of the World Domination Summit. The kinds of side hustles he features ranges from direct shipping crickets to a 400 client house cleaning service. 

Once a week I listen to Radical Candor with Russ Laraway and Kim Scott with great advice to be a kick-ass manager. Both Side Hustle School and Radical Candor are part of the Onward Project by Gretchen Rubin. She has a podcast with her sister Elizabeth Craft called Happier with Gretchen Rubin (also recommended). 

Depending on the guest I listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour or Dinner Party Download. These are magazine formats with different interviews and features. Each episode is about an hour, but you can listen to parts of it and return to it (Stitcher remembers where you left off) if you don't have time to listen to it all at once. Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin and the Ezra Klein Show feature one long interview with a guest. Both are intelligent and thoughtful interviewers, but I only listen if I am interested in the guest.

I also enjoy Rob Bell's Robcast; however, his podcasts are not on stitcher so I listen to them from his website.

These are just a few of the great podcasts you can try. Make a goal this week to get started and listen to one podcast.  


Can't Stop Laughing at Dreamland

My friend and colleague Karen posted on Facebook her love for this comedy from Australian available on Netflix. I checked Dreamland out and cannot stop watching. I am now into the second season and already dreading reaching the end of the series. It is so spot on at sending up the experience working within a government agency. Dreamland, or Utopia, hits so close to home also because it is an Authority committed to building iconic, visionary infrastructure projects. There are two sane characters (Tony and Natalie) and they play the "straight men" to a cast of crazy but recognizable types that we all have worked with at one time or another. I have actually laughed out loud at nightmare Rhonda and maddening Jim. 

Wish I Could Write Like Etgar Keret

I just finished The Seven Good Years: A Memoir by Etgar Keret. It was a pleasure to read. I may reread one of the short essays each time I sit down to write. It is a wonderful reminder that clean, simple prose can be as compelling as convoluted sentences laden with adjectives. 

I discovered Keret as an author very recently from his interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. (August 5, 2016 podcast). Definitely worth a listen.

One of the most unexpected stories was about a Polish architect building him a house in-between two buildings--a scant 47 inches wide. It is one of life's funny mysteries that this architect was inspired by Keret's writing to create a house at the location where his mother smuggled food into the Jewish ghetto during Nazi occupation. And by naming it the Keret House ensured their family name would not be wiped from Polish history afterall.

The Little Prince a Visual Feast

Netflix has the exclusive rights to show the 2016 version of The Little Prince (Paramount Pictures). It is a visual feast and I cannot stop thinking about it. 

It the original story of The Little Prince wrapped in a beautiful friendship between a latchkey kid with a overanxious mom and the "crazy" old man next door. He is a true eccentric and just what the little girl needs.

The Summer Before the War is Terrific

Helen Simonson meets expectations with second novel.

Helen Simonson meets expectations with second novel.

 I reserved this book from the public library because I enjoyed Helen Simonson's first book, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, so much. I figured The Summer Before the War had a good chance of being good. It is terrific.

In the beginning of the year, when I discovered a book of WWI poetry in Australia, I read many of the poems that inspired Simonson's second novel. The story is moved forward by Hugh, a recently qualified surgeon, and his cousin Daniel, a poet. Enter into their life a new village schoolteacher Beatrice. Their friendship grows as the war begins with the Prussian invasion of Belgium. 

Simonson draws a portrait of village life and stock village personalities while developing a compelling love story and the development of her characters under the pressure of war. Her prose drew me in from the first chapter and I spent most of today finishing the novel. 

The conclusion is very satisfying. I especially like Daniel's last conversation with Hugh in France. The struggles facing Beatrice in a society that still constricts women is painful to read about, and I had mixed feelings as she wanted her independence and yet clearly a good marriage would save her much grief. There are some hard parts to read when Lord North, a Brigadier General, lets his cruelty run unchecked against his own men and a dog. 

I highly recommend reading this book for a satisfying weekend.

Relish Grantchester with Podcast

I am celebrating the return of Grantchester. Season 2 is excellent so far. Five episodes in and the story arc of Geordie and Sidney's friendship. Plus Sidney's turbulent love life continues to provide subplots. Then there are the delightful fellow residents at the vicarage: Mrs. MacGuire, Leonard and Dickens.

If you want to enjoy this terrific mystery series on Masterpiece even more, then listen to the new Masterpiece podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. There are interviews with the cast and with the Grantchester creator James Runcie. 

There are more books by Runcie than the two I found last year when Grantchester first came out. I plan to look for them when I am in London in a few weeks.

The last episode of Season 2 is this Sunday night on PBS, or available for purchase on Google Play and iTunes. Check it out.

Adelaide's Downton Abbey: Ayer's House

I have been moving my home and office since I got back from New Zealand, so I am behind on blogging about my trip. I cannot help but notice that all US social media is leaving a little space (after election coverage) to talk about the last episode of Downton Abbey airing on PBS this Sunday evening. The season traditionally ends with a Christmas episode that plays on Christmas Day in England.--obviously delayed in the USA. I bought Season 6 on Google Play so I have already seen the conclusion and I will not spoil it.

It did make me think about Adelaide's equivalent of Downton Abbey: Ayer's House.

Growing up in California I can relate to places like Adelaide, South Australia. The sprung up, new fortune, scratch-a-community-out-of-the-bush feeling is one I know well. Whether it is a gold rush or agricultural land rush, the place history is not very old and the challenges of creating a "showplace" home to create status in a brand new community is familiar. When I walked up the circular drive to Ayer's House in Adelaide it felt like a mansion in Grass Valley of another mining tycoon.

This particular tycoon, Henry Ayers, exaggerated his work experience. He was an office clerk but he claimed other skills so he could get a subsidy to emigrate to Adelaide with his wife Anna. He did well with the Burra Burra mines and ultimately served as the Premiere of South Australia five times between 1863 and 1873. He built a huge house in downtown Adelaide near the Botanic Garden. Even now it is gracious.

I went to see it because I saw a flyer on the bookshop window advertising the exhibit of costumes from Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. I have watched all of the episodes on Netflix and the costumes depicting a wealthy feminist detective and her entourage solving mysteries. Sometimes with television I am disappointed with the reality of a set or costume because the camera can fool you. These costumes are the real deal--recreated couture to emulate the roaring 20's. 

I was ready to join the enthusiast crowd of women who sew or craft to go through the exhibit, but first I stopped and spoke with the docent at the front door. It was he who told me about Henry Ayers and why the house is worth a look even when there is not a fashion display in every room.  

To make it more interesting, the museum staff also created a bit of a whodunit to solve while you walked through the rooms. I did not need anymore entertainment as I was completely enraptured with the clothes themselves. Beautifully made from exquisite fabrics, I enjoyed talking to other women who sew about where they source fabric and how hard it is to find. We all laughed because even though we were from USA and Australia, both of our mothers used to look at a garment in the department store and say the equivalent of "You could make it yourself for less." Now it is quite the opposite. No one can say they are sewing to be thrifty. 

This gives full permission to sew as a creative expression. Many of these garments are impractical and designed and executed as a celebration of beauty.

The show, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, is based on Australian author Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher book series. I have looked for them in the US and have not found them. The gift shop had a new copy of the first in the series Cocaine Blues. I bought it for my Mom. Then when I found a secondhand bookshop at the Central Market I was able to pick up quite a few more in the series. My Mom read them first and now I am reading them. They are not as complex as say Robert Galbraith's Cormoran Strike series, but neither do you have to worry about gore or upsetting physical violence.  I hope Ms. Greenwood makes her books available electronically in the USA so more people can enjoy them. 

If you are interested in fashion that pushes the envelope and is inspiring and beautiful, the check out WOW! The World of Wearable Art dates for 2016 are September 11-October 9 in Wellington, New Zealand. Tickets are available here.

This blog is reposted from AmericanJulie.com. 

Agog at Mozart in the Jungle

I am bowled over by this Amazon Prime series. I am binge watching it. I loved Episode 6, The Rehearsal. And then Episode 7 is even better. 

Episode 6. The Rehearsal is delightful.

Episode 6. The Rehearsal is delightful.

I could not figure out who was playing the cellist--Saffron Burrows! Have not seen her in anything worthy of her in ages. Love her. 

And best of all Gael Garcia Bernal who gives a phenomenal performance as Maestro Rodrigo. And Lola Kirke who plays Haley is a wonderful revelation.

All I can say is: WATCH IT!

On Being Just Right for Quiet Time

I am enjoying the quiet time that is possible between Christmas and New Years. You can fill it up if you want to with movies and shopping and dining. If that is something you find a hard time making time for in your life then enjoy. I crave quiet and big unscheduled blocks of time. 

So many people take time off from work between Christmas and New Years that I am able to enjoy my work at my own pace. And listen to podcasts. 

My friend Gigi Johnson shared her enjoyment of On Being and now I love it too. There are so many good topics discussed that you will be sure to find something that floats your boat. I also love it because I am reading Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. It convicted me about my tendency to use hyperbole in my enthusiasm. It also has awakened my heart to good language. Krista Tippett is respectful of language and careful in choosing guests and topics. Check it out online or on Stitcher. 

Amused by Comedians in Cars

I read about President Obama's appearance on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Hosted by Jerry Seinfeld, it is just what it says: 2 or more comedians going in a car to a restaurant to have coffee and talk. The President's show will not air until December 30, so in the meantime I am watching older episodes on my computer. 

Dreyfuss and Seinfeld.jpeg

I love learning about comedy, especially stand-up. I also enjoy seeing a more thoughtful and personal side of some of my favorite comedians. The cars are different for every guest and it is intriguing how Seinfeld matches the car to the guest's personality. 

Two of my favorite episodes are with Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and with Sarah Jessica Parker. Check it out.

Postscript: I tagged it Television but actually you can only see it on the internet for free. There is "product placement" for the sponsor Acura. 

Wayward Inspiring in Multiple Ways

I bought Wayward, a slim collection of travel blogs by Tom Gates, inspires in a couple of ways. First, the obvious, it makes me want to travel even more. Although a few of the essays from Asia or Pacific Islands remind me why I like to spend a little more on hotels when I travel. 

I like his snarky, less-is-more style. The narrative is raw at times, and so is travel. He has had numerous careers and his travel writing career started with the Matador Network. Matador has a lot of great articles and resources on their website. 

I am passing this book on to my son's friend Liz who is embarking on a year of travel (coincidentally starting on my birthday). 

I also find the style of publication interesting from an independent publisher point of view. I found this book in Powell's travel section. It can also be downloaded in Kindle. 


Encountering Nadia Bolz-Weber

My friend Jen invited me to visit Pasadena and hear Reverend Nadia Bolz-Weber speak at her Episcopal church. I had not heard of Nadia and I had too much travel already on my books. 

Then I heard her interviewed on National Public Radio and I was intrigued enough to buy her book, Accidental Saints. I started reading it an essay a day so I could take it in and think it over before reading the next essay. I finished the book by reading several essays a day. 

Her writing (and presumably preaching style) is raw and real. She is vulnerable in a way that most Christian writers are not willing to be. It is a saccharin and overly nice genre. 

I related to several of the essays. Especially her commentary on the Rapture hoax, "A Thief in the Night." I grew up in the height of the excitement over the Rapture. I remember in Junior High reading the pop theology books and fiction that played on Cold War fears. If I am generous I can attribute the authors' motives to a desire for my salvation, misguided as they were. Their nonsense, all based on an interpretation on one verse, had so many unintended negative impacts on me and others. 

This theme resurfaced in the essay "Dirty Feet," where Nadia Bolz-Weber tackles worthiness and grace. We do not earn God's love. Jesus washed the disciple's feet (i.e. loved them) even in their imperfection. Thinking of it another way--the disciples did not prewash their feet to be worthy of Jesus love. I have a tendency to stay stuck in a shame story of "I am unworthy" that I can trace back to the teaching I internalized in my teens. 

One of the hardest essays to read, "The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents of Sandy Hook Elementary," delivers a much needed punch to the distorted Advent season that most Christians celebrate. Bring Herod back to Christmas. Or replace Harrods with Herod. 

I do not know what to think of a celebrity pastor. It ought to be an oxymoron. At the same time, I would be sorry not to be able to read her essays just because I do not live close enough to Denver to attend her church. 

4 Visions of Sherlock Holmes


I enjoy almost all things Sherlock Holmes. The creme de la creme is the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock. Alas the next new episode is not scheduled until mid-2016. In the meantime I have been sampling other Sherlock interpretations.

There is the CBS television series Elementary. I like the actors and it is well written. It is not as brilliantly plotted as the PBS version. After 3 seasons I am tiring of it.

Another approach is to introduce new characters. Another PBS production, Arthur and George, focuses on Sir Arthur Canon Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, as a detective. I watched it on-line and found it very dark. Literally dark, as in hard to see. And unnecessarily convoluted. It did not satisfy.

Another recent discovery is the Mary Russell mystery novel series by Laurie R. King. She has created a character who meets a retired Sherlock Holmes as a 15 year old and becomes his apprentice. Mary has a similarly brilliant mind. There are a great many books in the series and I have only read 3 so far. My mom has read all of them and cannot wait until Ms. King writes another one.  

Profile in Courage: Malala

Sarah Harriet and I watched the movie He Named Me Malala at lunchtime and I have been emotionally fragile ever since. I boo-hooed through the movie, especially when Malala met with Nigerian parents of kidnapped schoolgirls and whenever they showed girls around the world eager to learn in school. 

He Named Me Malala is a powerful film because it so beautifully shows the special bond between Malala and her father Ziauddin. It raises the question of whether Malala would have spoken out if not for her father. Malala answers that question for me: she would not be who she is without her special parents and she made her own choices to speak out. She is also being who God created her to be. 

I appreciated the opportunity to see film clips of Malala publicly advocating for girls' education before the Taliban attack. She elected to be a spokesperson even before she became world famous. 

Malala embodies courage and her story is hugely inspiring. The film also gives a non-stereotyped view into Muslim life in Pakistan. Davis Guggenheim made great directorial choices including illustrating some of the foundational stories in pastel animation. They matched the narrative tone. 

Overall, his greatest gift is in gaining Malala's family's confidence, thereby giving us a more intimate profile in courage. 

Malala's dedication to the 63 million girls who are out of school is remarkable. It is also a cause we should all support. So much good comes from girls' education. Worried about over population? There is a strong correlation between girls' education and falling birth rates. Worried about poverty? There is a strong correlation between girls' education and family well being.  

You can support international girls' education through The Malala Fund.  Or through a number of other organizations working toward the same cause: Camfed, CARE, and World Vision.

P.S. There was a powerful trailer for the movie Suffragette shown before the feature. It looked like it is going to be great and I am not sure I will be able to watch: INTENSE!

This post originally appeared on www.leaderscompass.org.

Elizabeth Gilbert Cubed

Elizabeth Gilbert found her voice whilst living out the year that became her memoir Eat, Pray, Love. I read the book just before it became a phenomenon and enjoyed it. I recommended it to others.

My enthusiasm flagged as people made a bigger fuss over the memoir and its author. It turned me off Committed, another memoir. The book jacket shouted "over sharing". 

Then I listened to Rob Bell's podcast interview with Elizabeth Gilbert and I was intrigued enough to read her novel Signature of All Things. I enjoyed it and had to admit she is a committed creative artist. And better than her memoir. 

She talked about her upcoming book Big Magic with Rob Bell. The name was a turn off. Mind you, I love Harry Potter. I am not a fan of California Woo Woo and it struck me as silly. Again I had to reevaluate because of a podcast.

This time Elizabeth Gilbert interviewed Brene Brown on the podcast Magic Lessons. Ultimately I listened to all 12 episodes of Magic Lessons on Stitcher and read Big Magic.

This book will be interesting to people pursuing a creative life. FIrst, it was refreshing to discover that Elizabeth Gilbert does not think writing is all about inspiration. She advocates for lots of perspiration and recommends not pressuring your creative life with the expectation that it support you financially. If it does, celebrate. 

She also repeatedly advocates not taking your art too seriously. "There's probably never going to be any such thing in your life or mine as "an arts emergency." That being the case, why not make art?"

I also appreciated her stories of how she sometimes choose to leave flaws in her novels because it is important to finish. 

The final idea that I want to try is the idea she shared on her podcast of the "15 minute affair." The idea is that if you are crazy in love you will find even 15 minutes to make-out with your lover. So be as in love with your art, even if it means just 15 minutes of writing or painting. 

3 Podcasts that Have Me Hooked

I only started listening to podcasts this Spring. My friend Carole introduced me to Satellite Sisters on the Stitcher platform. Stitcher is an app that assists me to find and listen to podcasts that match my interests. 

Satellite Sisters can also be found at www.satellitesisters.com.

Satellite Sisters can also be found at www.satellitesisters.com.

My first addiction is the Satellite Sisters. The 5 Dolan sisters are funny, witty and sharp observers of our culture. I do not miss an episode on Sunday or Tuesday.

My second addiction is really new. I just discovered Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert. There was a link to her interview with Brene Brown on Facebook. I am now listening the first 12 episodes to catch up. Yes, binge podcasting.

My third podcast is not quite an obsession. Several of the episodes have had a profound impact on me. I learned about The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes at the World Domination Summit. I still think about his interview with Laird Hamilton and several other episodes.

If you have not yet tried out a podcast, you can dip your toe in the water with a shorter podcast--say 6 minutes. Eventually you will be ready to listen to Mark Maron's WTF for 1 hour 26 minutes when he interviews one of your heroes like Patrick Stewart or President Obama.

Brene Brown Trilogy Finishes Strong

Brene Brown's Rising Strong is a much needed addition to her two previous books on the impact of shame and living wholeheartedly. Because if you choose to live wholeheartedly you will inevitably end up face down in the dirt wondering what happened. And this book tells you how to get out from under the shame rock, recover, and rise strong.

I also really appreciate the brief recap of The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly at the end of this book. You may need a refresher if you are already a fan. And the author gives a very considerate assist to those who may be coming to her work for the first time through this book. 

Buy it in hard copy so you can pass it on. 

For more on my personal leadership lessons learned while reading Rising Strong. check out leaderscompass.org.

Faux Reality Shows Obvious Television Evolution

I watched an episode of the new series, Documentary Now. It is a wry look at various styles of documentaries. Helen Mirren briefly introduces each episode to add a touch of class to the proceedings. In the episode I watched on ifc.com Jack Black also starred as the leader of the Dronez rogue news reporters stupidly risking their lives for the news. Fred Armisen and Bill Hader play several different characters and it is all made funnier by the fact that they change their costumes and make-up, but they always talk in their same distinctive voices. 

In the same genre, I binge-watched season one of Family Tree with Chris O'Dowd on Amazon Prime. It is a faux reality show focused on a young irish lad who just lost his job and his girlfriend (not an obvious choice for a reality show). He inherits a trunk full of family-related junk from his great aunt and each episode follows him as he discovers more crazy relatives. The director is Christopher Guest who has made some very funny feature films that are also faux documentaries. My personal favorite is Best in Show.  Guest has a talented group of actors that he casts frequently. They are brilliant. And Guest is not afraid to take a situation and take it to an incredibly absurd place. I love this show. 

I do not watch reality television, but you cannot live in our society without absorbing something of the genre. I really enjoy this kind of satire even without much knowledge of reality tv. These shows are very quirky and I am just glad that cable television is making it possible for these shows to be made. 

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats Release Album Today

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats are releasing their self-titled album today. I discovered their music when I watched them perform on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show. Between Nathaniel's soulful voice and fancy footwork, and the horn section, they have a fresh sound. 

Watch the official video for their first single S.O.B.

State Fair Nostalgia Celebrates Summer

Netflix recommended the 1945 version of State Fair and I clicked through. My Iowa cousin John had shared on Facebook that is was not a good day for going to the Iowa State Fair due to weather. I had heard lots of positive stories about the "best State Fair in the USA" from Iowans while on RAGBRAI. 

The actual words to the opening song is more Iowa humble, "My state fair is the best state fair in the state." How much competition is there in Iowa--do they have more than one state fair?? 

The movie is super charming. Margy is adorable and escapes a life of boredom with her unofficial fiance for a rogue of a Des Moines Register reporter. Apparently his new job as a columnist for a new Chicago paper is a metaphor for a player ready to grow up and settle down. Pretty funny. The son, Wayne, looks very old for a recent college graduate, but then his love interest at the Fair looks kind of old for him.

The parents subplots are charming--involving mincemeat and a senior boar. 

I have been to the California State Fair many, many times and I do not remember as much love in the air as in this portrayal of the Iowa State Fair. Even Blue Boy (the Hampshire Boar) has a romance!

It is fun and a great way to celebrate the last days of summer.