Podcasts pass the time

For walking to/from home or doing projects around the house, Melody and I fill our iPods with podcasts and listen. I've mentioned Coverville, Grammar Girl, and Escape Pod before, but there are several others which always make it onto my playlist. Today the standouts were an episode of Coverville and this week's Only a Game.

As for the Coverville episode, once in a while Brian Ibbott likes to mix up the formula a bit and produce a different kind of show. One which comes to mind is a Groundhog Day episode from a few years ago where the show mimicked the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day by starting each set just like Bill Murray's day starts in the movie. Of course, the first couple sets have different covers of the same songs. Another of the special episodes was an April Fool's episode which, well, was billed as an Originalville (where he plays the original versions of songs better known as covers).

The episode I heard today was a play on the movie Slumdog Millionaire. It was organized as if Brian were a contestant on a game show and all the questions could be answered by the lyrics of songs which were covered. He did a great job of putting the show together while still giving all the track information he normally does. He even worked in his sponsor's ad within the framework of the show.

The other great episode I heard today was the current episode of Only a Game. It's a sports show which airs on NPR and they're very adept at finding good human interest stories. Also, every week the host Bill Littlefield has a sort of roundtable discussion with Charlie Pierce who writes for the Boston Globe and Esquire (and who also is one of the panelists on Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me) which is a great segment because the two are not afraid to speak their minds and they have a great time doing it.

This week each of the three main stories were interesting listens. The first was about a street meet in Boston with Usain Bolt, who won gold medals in the 2008 Olympics for the 100M, 200M, and 4x100M relay track events. What made the piece fun was listening to the fans where there to meet him. People were able to race against a fake Bolt, and many others practiced his signature pose.

The last of the main pieces was an interview with Bernie Williams, who used to play center field with the New York Yankees. He has a new CD out with guitar music he played. Bill Littlefield mentioned that most people would assume it's a novelty recording, but it actually isn't. They talked about playing guitar in the clubhouse and on the plane.

The piece which I found most interesting was an interview with John Christgau about his new book, Kokomo Joe, The Story of the First Japanese American Jockey in the United States. You start to get the idea from the book's title, but what was special about Yoshio Kobuki (he got the nickname Kokomo Joe because others couldn't pronounce his name) was that he was a really good jockey. One day he was in five races and won all of them. Unfortunately, he was just starting to make a name for himself when he was sent to the WWII internment camps.

Like any other podcast, Only a Game has hits and misses, but for some reason this week's episode was especially good. Even though I don't follow basketball any more nor do I keep up with the Kentucky Derby, there were still interesting things in those pieces, too. It sure made mowing the lawn go more quickly!