19-10 Segment 2: A Fantasy Series that Aims at Teaching Children to Consider Some Big Questions

VP 19-010b wordpress


We grow up hearing nursery rhymes and fairy tales that deal with good and evil. All of us fondly remember the cartoons of our youth and the stories we grew up with. We talk to Soman Chainani about authoring a new entry into the catalog of mythology and his attempt to course-correct the lessons more modern stories have been teaching our children.

Guest:

  • Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil

Links for more information:

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

Culture Crash 19-10: Netflix’s Russian Doll

Culture Crash Logo

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

Streaming TV services like Netflix and Hulu have revolutionized the medium, in part, simply by expanding access. Hundreds more scripted shows are being made right now than ever have before, and this has meant more diverse writers and creators. But Netflix, in particular, is responsible for another revolutionary idea: dropping entire seasons of shows all at once. It’s become something of a signature for the company, which encourages binge-watching entire seasons of shows like Stranger Things and Ozark in a day or a weekend. With that, many creators have started to say it feels like they’re making a 10-hour movie instead of a TV show.

And that line of thinking has been a little controversial. The problem with that thinking is that, of course, it isn’t a 10-hour movie, it’s a TV show. Critic Alan Sepinwall frequently notes that the nature of TV is episodic. Even if you encourage binge-watching, some viewers will go one episode at a time and each episode needs to be entertaining in its own right.

Well, Netflix may have finally answered the bell and delivered a show that truly feels like an actual extended-length film. It’s called Russian Doll, and it comprises of eight episodes that are each roughly 23 minutes in length. This makes the entire season a little over three hours long, which makes it actually feasible for a lot of people to watch it all in one sitting. And that might be the ideal watching situation.

Russian Doll is similar to Groundhog Day or Happy Death Day, in that it focuses on someone stuck in the same moment. Star Natasha Leon plays Nadia, who keeps dying and being reborn into the same moment at her birthday party.

Russian Doll is a bit of an enigma. It’s sort of like NBC’s The Good Place in its mysterious structure and the central theme of what we can accomplish when we all help each other.

Toward the beginning of the season, I was a bit confused, unsure what exactly I was watching. But around episode 3 or 4, the story really kicks in and it sprints through the finish line. 

It is like a long movie, and it works well all at once. It also works well split in half or sure, episodically.

Russian Doll is now streaming on Netflix.

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

19-09 Segment 1: What Big Data Can Teach Us About Ourselves

VP 19-09a wordpress


These days, there is data on just about everything. Our social media presence, our careers, our web search history- it’s all crunched into data points. And author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz says all that data can shed plenty of light on the truth about who we really are underneath all of our social formalities.

Guest:

  • Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author, Everbody Lies: Big data, new data, and what the internet can tell us about who we really are

Links for more information:

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

19-09 Segment 2: Exploring What It Means for Women to be ‘Brave, Not Perfect’

VP 19-09b wordpress


Reshma Saujani is a lawyer, a former political candidate, an author and the founder of Girls Who Code. She says our society puts too much pressure on women to be perfect, which means girls are afraid to explore their true passions for fear of failure. She’s hoping to change that and to teach girls that it’s okay to try something that you might not succeed at.

Guest:

  • Reshma Saujani, author, Brave, Not Perfect

Links for more information:

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

Culture Crash 19-09: Audiobooks

Culture Crash Logo

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

How do you pass the time on your commutes? Do you tune into the radio? Put on a podcast? Or maybe you listen to an audiobook?

Audiobooks are undergoing a bit of a renaissance right now, and their newfound portability is a main reason why. For a long time, listening to an audiobook meant shelling out big bucks or sitting on a library wait list to obtain a huge, unruly set of tapes or disks. You’d put them in, one after the other, and listen to books on tape for long car rides or an arduous flight.

But now, audiobooks can be the most convenient way to read- or at least, consume- a book. Gone are those days of cassette after cassette, now audiobooks can be purchased from Amazon’s Audible service or, most likely, borrowed for free through your library subscription via a web app like OverDrive. Once you’ve gotten your audiobook, you can save it right to your phone and click play whenever it’s convenient.

Personally, I love driving to the sounds of a good book and experiencing an old favorite through new eyes or being able to easily tear through a good thriller.

One big question in the mind’s of many an audiobook listener is which works best for them: are they listeners who want to get the biggest bang for their buck on a mammoth of a book, or to zip through some shorter books on your commute. For example, you can really invest weeks worth of commutes on nearly 48 hours of listening to Stephen King’s The Stand or 21 hours of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Or, you could pick up some shorter like Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, which clocks in under 9 hours and can easily be finished in just one week’s commuting time.

Much like reading a real book, I find that different seasons and moods predispose me to different audiobooks. Do I want a funny, light memoir like Amy Poehler’s or a dark, scary horror novel? It always just depends.

Regardless of your inclination, it might be worth it to try listening to an audiobook when riding the train or driving in heavy traffic. It might just make your commutes feel more productive. And if you’re looking for a recommendation to get you started, Bryan Cranston’s narration of Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War classic The Things They Carried is one of my favorites.

Get help with finding audiobooks from OverDrive.com.

I’m Evan Rook. 

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

19-08 Segment 1: Pregnant and Incarcerated: Childbirth behind bars

VP 19-08a wordpress


After working for years as an OB/GYN for inmates at San Francisco Jail, author Carolyn Sufrin wanted to tell the story of the women she helped. She talks about what health care for pregnant women in jails and prisons looks like, and the changes she hopes to see in the system.

Guest:

  • Carolyn Sufrin, medical anthropologist, former OB/GYN at San Francisco Jail, and author of Jailcare: Finding the safety net for women behind bars

Links for more information:

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

19-08 Segment 2: Education for Students with Autism

VP 19-08b wordpress


The right to an education is guaranteed to all students, regardless of disability, by federal law. But experts and parents are now wondering if we are doing enough to help autistic students maximize their abilities to live their best possible lives. We discuss the current status of public schooling for students with autism and how the systems in place can be optimized to help students grow even more.

Guest:

  • Mark Claypool, CEO of ChanceLight Behavioral Health, Therapy & Education and co-author of How Autism is Reshaping Special Education 

Links for more information:

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