Monday, October 23, 2006


A few entries ago I talked about the brilliant and hilarious NPR show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me...", in which I mentioned that I like to listen to the podcast version of the show during my daily workout. Well, there's only one Wait Wait podcast per week and lots more days in which I like to do my workout, so I've been searching for other good podcasts. Here's my problem. One can go on a site like Podcast Alley and search for podcasts by genre, but that doesn't really work for me because really I'm looking for one that's interesting, not necessarily about a specific topic. My other requirement is that it be free. I'm interested in the Splendid Table podcast but in order to download it you have to pay for it. Dude. I'm a product of the internet revolution. Everything online is supposed to be free.

And so I finally found another worthy podcast, Filmspotting. Like Wait Wait, Filmspotting is based in Chicago, but I don't believe it's nationally syndicated. If you live in the greater chicago-land area you can hear it on Chicago Public Radio, or you can do what I do, and download their free weekly podcast. The show is great. The format features two film-nerd buddies who often dissagree about which films are instant classics and which are trash (For example, one absolutely adored The Illusionist, the other hated it). The typical show starts with a featured review of a recently released movie, ventures into some listener feedback, detours into a segment they call Massacre Theater in which they act out a scene from a movie and listeners are invited to figure which scene for prizes, and frequently finishes with their top five list. Each week's top five has a different theme. A recent favorite of mine had the following premise:

The Situation

Every film made between 1980 and 1989 is going to be wiped from the Earth. Your mission: save one.

The Request

Give us a call and leave a voice mail. The one film you'd save from the 80s and why.

The hosts, Adam Kempenaar and Sam Van Hallgren typically reveal their runners-up (numbers 6 through 10) before alternating between them as they reveal their top five. In this case, the five movies from the 80's they would save from destruction. Which five movies from the 80's would you save from destruction?

The discussion is often interesting and the analysis is often real and heartfelt. They tend not to clinically analyze the films but truthfully acknowledge how the film hit them at an emotional level. And it's always fascinating to listen to two intelligent people disagree on a film and hear why one of thinks it's a masterpiece and the other a piece of trash.

I will admit that the podcasts can tend to be long-winded, frequently going over an hour. But this is why I like them for my workouts, as it inspires me to keep going just a bit longer on the elliptical trainer.

Here's my list (off the top of my head, I might have forgotten some classics):

1. The Princess Bride
2. The Empire Strikes Back
3. Back to the Future
4. Ghostbusters
5. The Right Stuff

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