Listening to..


I know I'm old; I've passed the half century mark and I'm not the hip mom (although I desperately want to be which is probably why I am not).  I have always been behind the times.  My Beatles obsession didn't begin until the late 1970s.  I was reluctant to get a cell phone (like the internet you used to only get a set amount of time before they started charging you big bucks).  I have a love/hate relationship with my "smart" phone.  I know what podcasts are but didn't get into them for the longest time.  I'd listen, earbuds in (how I want to say headphones) and I'd either fall asleep or get caught up in something else and not really listen.   To be fair to the podcaster, you need to listen actively; not just use it as background noise.  (At least that's my opinion.)  

All this changed last year, when I got wanted to listen to something different while out on my morning walks.  I'd been listening to music/radio for nearly 10 years at that point and was ready for something a little different.  (Remember I walk just about every day during the warmer months; generally April - October and most of the walks are an hour or so long.)  I had previously listened to and enjoyed Mobituaries.  Unfortunately there weren't very many episodes. (We need more Mo Rocca!  Are you listening?)

Then TCM (which I watch regularly) was "advertising" their 2nd season of the podcast, "The Plot Thickens"   I found it on Iheartradio.  Season 2's focus was on the film Bonfire of the Vanities, a movie that I was never able to get through (oops) and book that I had never read (double oops) However I thought it was worth a listen and it was. The problem was that had to wait a week in between episodes which wasn't optimal for binge listening as I wanted to.  I went back and listened to season one, the focus of which was on director Peter Bogdanovich, who I knew a little bit about (I read his book The Killing of the Unicorn when I was in college) and has seen several of his films (What's Up Doc? is a personal favorite and somewhere in the back of my mind, I recall my parents taking me to see Long Last Love [reluctantly I'm sure; did the babysitter back out?] and enjoying it [I was under 7 at the time].)  I enjoyed season one (more so than 2), but there were only seven episodes (with three bonus episodes) which I blew through quickly.  (Season 3, which is probably my favorite season and aired in the fall/winter of last year was 10 episodes with 4 shorter bonus episodes.)

I started looking (while out walking which is NOT the best thing to do) for a series that would interest me and had a lot of episodes.  Somehow I happened on You Must Remember This  which at the time had over 100 episodes.  (Yes, I was very late to the party.)  As the show's website states: You Must Remember This is the podcast dedicated to exploring the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood's first century."  While I am no expert on all things Hollywood, I do have always had an interest and would like to think that I have (slightly) more knowledge than the average person.  With episodes being around an hour, this would be perfect for walking.  (Although I tend to walk more than an hour during the summer...which is how I also started listening to Let's Talk to Lucy, which I also found on my Sirius XM app.  Before I started listening, I had no idea that Lucille Ball had a radio show where each show was approximately 15 minutes long.) 

So last summer, I started at the end...sort of.  I began with the latest season  GOSSIP GIRLS: HEDDA HOPPER & LOUELLA PARSONS.  (If you don't know who these ladies were, then you should listen.  If you have any interested in Hollywood history, this podcast is definitely for you.)  My problem with the season had nothing to do with the podcast, but that I had issues loading and listening when I walked.  (Still not sure if this was a phone issue or a Sirius XM issue.)  I missed several episodes, which frustrated me, but I WAS hooked on the series.  I ended up bouncing around during the "Make Me Over" season, which had stand-alone episodes.  (My personal favorites were episode three on Marie Dressler, episode six on Cass Elliot and episode seven on Margaux and Mariel Hemingway.)  Then I figured out a way (sort of) to go back to the beginning (episode 2; episode 1 is lost) where the first five episodes are also stand alone.

When walking season ended, so did my podcast listening.  Until I had to start driving down to the NJ shore frequently to take care of my parents.  (If you've followed this blog, you know the whole story so I won't get back into it here.)  An episode could take me three quarters of the way there, which was perfect because I couldn't seem to get to the next episode in my car.  Finally, one day when I was stuck in traffic heading home and I knew what episode number I was on, I hit the microphone on the car's touch screen and said:  "Play episode 46 of You Must Remember This."  To my surprise the episode started.  What I didn't realize was that the car was using Google Podcast to play the show instead of Sirius XM.  (Yes, I'm slow.)  Google Podcast finishes one episode and goes right into the next (at least it does the way my phone is set up) so no matter how long I was stuck I could keep listening.  And if I used Google Podcast during my walks, I could go as long as I wanted. (And there have been times when I walk for over 2 hours.)

Which brings me to this morning when I wrapped up what I think is the most fascinating (and therefore best) season of the show, "Polly Platt:  The Invisible Woman". Polly Platt WAS truly invisible to me.  I knew who she was (even before I listened to Season 1 of "The Plot Thickens," which may give you a clue if YOU don't know), but until I visited the You Must Remember This website, I had no idea what she looked like.  I ran through these ten episodes faster than any others because I was just so captivated.  I kept walking and listening.  I hadn't realized that she had been part of what I consider the worst film I've ever seen (and did not finish despite being a captive audience on a plane), I'll Do Anything.  I didn't know she mentored one of my favorite writer/directors, Cameron Crowe.  Her life encapsulated so much, how could I not have been enraptured by the season.

Even though I knew that she had died in 2011, I was devastated as learned about her last days.  I wanted a happy ending; I knew I was going to get it.  (Although if somehow her unpublished memoire, which she stopped writing in 1995, could be published, I'd sign up for a copy.  Can someone make that happen?)

I walked over 7 miles today (not to brag).  I finished where I started (sort of), listening to " GOSSIP GIRLS: HEDDA HOPPER & LOUELLA PARSONS"  Now that I have a better/more reliable way to listen, I'll spend the next several days walking and listening.  If I get to the end of the most recent season, "Erotic 80s"  (which I KNOW I am going to love) before my walking season ends, what will I do then?  I'm not sure.  Maybe I'll go back and start all over again because it's that good.  I know that another engrossing season is just around the corner and I can't wait.


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