19-07 Segment 1: Facing Our Own Mortality: How to plan for a more peaceful death for yourself and loved ones

VP 19-07a wordpress


Facing the prospect of death isn’t pleasant, but it is the reality of being human. We talk to two experts about how people can get their affairs in order both personally and medically to ensure their wishes are respected and their loved ones can properly grieve if the unthinkable happens.

Guests:

  • Katy Butler, journalist and author, The Art of Dying Well: A practical guide to a good end of life
  • Dr. Sunita Puri, Medical Director of Palliative Medicine, University of Southern California, author, That Good Night: Life and medicine in the eleventh hour

Links for more information:

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!

19-07 Segment 2: Considering the Precarious Future of AI

VP 19-07b wordpress


Between Alexa, Google and Siri, artificial intelligence is here. But looking forward, AI will only get more and more intelligent. Author and researcher James Rollins discusses why AI has long scared scientists and storytellers, and what the future of our technology could look like if we aren’t careful.

Guest:

  • James Rollins, researcher and author, Crucible 

Links for more information:

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!

Culture Crash 19-07: The Academy’s Unforced Errors

Culture Crash Logo

Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

As you may have heard, this year’s Oscars have been a disaster since the word “go.” Over the past few months, the Academy has announced a Best Popular Film award, that Kevin Hart would be host, and that only two of the nominees for Best Song would be performing. All three of those ideas stirred up controversy and all three have been reversed. Best Popular Film has been shelved for discussion another year, this year’s awards show will not have a host, and all the Best Song nominees will perform.

So, problems fixed, right? Well, not so fast, because the Academy is committing another unforced error. Higher-ups at the Oscars have begun insisting certain awards will be announced during commercial breaks and occur off-air to trim the show’s runtime, and I guess to skip on giving hard-working craftspeople their shining moment?

Awards are, of course, arbitrary. Ranking art is a personal endeavor, so calling someone the Best Actress or Best Director of a certain year is relatively insignificant. What many of us who love awards shows like the Oscars are attached to is the celebration of an art form we cherish. I disagree with the winners more often than not, but I like seeing the craft celebrated; I like having a list of things worth checking out, and I like getting a glimpse behind the scenes at the editors, screenwriters, and costume artists who make the movies we all go see. To steal these moments from those artists is to ignore the greater purpose of the show in the first place.

It’s not supposed to be about stargazing, celebrity obsession. I mean, okay, of course, it is. But it isn’t just that, or at least it shouldn’t be. It should also be a celebration of filmmaking. To eliminate so-called “lesser” awards so Lady Gaga or Christian Bale can have more time to shine is a shame. The Oscars air once a year. I wish the Academy would let that show serve to honor as many people as possible and not just the famous ones in the fancy tuxes.

I’m Evan Rook. 

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!

19-06 Segment 1: The History of Pirates

VP 19-06a wordpress


From Pirates of the Caribbean and Captain Hook to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, pirates have a real foothold in our culture. But their history is anything but a fairy tale. Historian Eric Jay Dolin joins the show to discuss some of the most notorious real-life pirates to ever live.

Guest:

  • Eric Jay Dolin, historian and author, Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates

Links for more information:

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!

19-06 Segment 2: The Written Word: A history of storytelling

VP 19-06b wordpress


Throughout history, stories have been told but sometimes preserving them for future generations has proven difficult. We examine the ways stories have been passed down, and the role the written word has played in shaping our civilizations.

Guest:

  • Martin Puchner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Harvard University, and author, The Written Word: The power of stories to shape people, history, and civilization

Links for more information:

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!

Culture Crash 19-06: Missing Gems in the Deluge of ‘Peak TV’

Culture Crash Logo

Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

Vulture reported that 495 scripted television shows were broadcast and streamed for the first time in 2018. That’s up from the 216 series that aired less than a decade ago, back in 2010.

With such a boom in the sheer volume of the medium, thanks largely to the growth of streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video… it can be easy to lose track of everything you’ve been meaning to watch.

Case in point for me is the Showtime limited series, Escape at Dannemora. The show began airing just a few months back in November, but in TV time, that’s eons ago. Anyway, I meant to watch the show when it was coming out but forgot all about it until the show began hitting the awards circuit. Patricia Arquette specifically has won both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Award for her turn in the series, and that was what finally reminded me to give the show a try.

Boy, am I glad I did. Escape at Dannemora is based on a real 2015 prison break in upstate New York and stars Paul Dano and Benicio del Toro as two prison inmates, and Patricia Arquette as a prison employee who becomes tangled up in their web. All seven episodes of the series were directed by Ben Stiller, but make no mistake: this show is a dramatic thriller, not a whimsical comedy. It’s really good and now streaming on Showtime’s various web apps.

But Escape at Dannemora isn’t the only shows I missed in the waterfall of TV content.

High on my to-watch list are AMC’s The Little Drummer Girl, based on the John le Carre novel of the same name and Netflix’s Bodyguard, which is a hugely successful political thriller that originally aired on BBC One. Of course, at some point I may need some comedic relief, in which case I’ll turn to, maybe Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or Netflix’s American Vandal, two shows I’ve started but have not finished.

The reservoir of TV content is very, very deep. Sometimes, that can be daunting. And sometimes, that can mean stumbling back on something that dominated the zeitgeist for a few fleeting moments several months ago, and having a blast discovering those things for yourself.

I’m Evan Rook. 

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!

19-05 Segment 1: The Unexpected Utility of a Well-Held Grudge

vp 19-05a wordpress


Grudges are something most of us think of as a negative feeling. They’re petty or vindictive or unforgiving. But we talk to author Sophie Hannah, who says grudges can be a really positive thing in our lives if we just know how to hold them properly. She can explain.

Guest:

  • Sophie Hannah, author, How to Hold a Grudge: From resentment to contentment- the power of grudges to transform your life 

Links for more information:

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!