Podcast Recommendations- Murder Book

Will Pierre Romain, romain free?

If you’re into true crime pods, then you have to listen to Murder Book Podcast, where bestselling crime fiction author Michael Connelly tries his hand at hosting a true crime pod!

The first season of ‘Murder Book: The Tell-tale Bullet’ is a 14 part deep dive into a case of a 1987 LA carjacking gone wrong, resulting in the death of a 21 year old, and the lingering unresolved justice for over 30 years! The tale and the nature of the crime isn’t unique, i.e. black-on-black killing with gang undertones, but the delays and the lead-time to justice is unique though.

The podcast provides us, the listener, access to interviews and commentary with the police and prosecutors involved in the case; real-life audio recordings from the court; wiretap recordings of the accused; and answers to some listener questions to help you further understand the case – all riveting stuff!

The series might be deemed as being long and somewhat drawn-out, however the 10 hour ordeal is still worthwhile to sit through, when at the end of the day you’re guaranteed closure when the jury hands in its verdict to a case which has been open for more than 30 years.

The highlight of the experience for me was actually hearing Michael Connelly’s voice for the first time. After listening to his Harry Bosch and Micky Haller books across a span of almost 20 years, I was surprised to actually hear the man speak (talk about a gravelly voice?). But after a while Michael’s hoarse tones became a welcome sound in my ears, as he translated the legal and police jargon, and summarised and interpreted the court and wiretap recordings, to ensure that you’re able to follow the case and the sometimes unexpected turns it takes.

Meanwhile, the negatives against the podcast experience were the poor audio quality of courtroom recordings (which Michael apologises profusely for), and the unpolished and sometimes hard to follow courtroom arguments….. Not to mention how uneventful much of the courtroom activity actually is? I guess from listening to Michael’s books and when watching fictional courtroom dramas on TV, you’re spoon-fed perfectly delivered and crafted arguments from the lawyers and perfectly clear responses from witnesses. However in reality, what I found was that courtroom proceedings was actually quite boring, that it required quite a bit of concentration to follow and absorb lawyer’s arguments and witness testimonies, and it wasn’t until halfway through the court case did I understand that if an objection was ‘sustained’ by the judge, was the question allowed to be answered or not by the person on the stand. Therefore we greatly welcomed Michael’s interruptions into the court proceedings, to explain what we were listening to, and why the lawyers were presenting elements when they were.

But for one who isn’t really into true crime pods, I enjoyed it; and this was the first podcast series my wife listened to from start to finish, and she really enjoyed it as well! So yeah, check out Murder book if you haven’t already – it’s an intriguing listen.

Podcast Recommendations- Audible Original Podcasts

Now your Audible membership gives you more!

In the past I used to laugh when I had a think about the ‘Member benefits’ for Audible subscribers – as they used to say that you have access to the entire audiobook library at a discounted “members’ only” price and you had one free credit to spend each month on books. But in reality, who was actually purchasing a second book per month for the ‘discounted members’ rate’? Aren’t we all just waiting until the new month swings around before we use our next credit on our next audiobook? So in reality Audible membership really meant that you were basically paying $16.95 for a book a month. But not anymore!…

…as your Audible membership now gives you more!!

When thumbing through the Audible app I was surprised to see a heading “Free for Members. Audible Original Podcasts”. Not believing my eyes, I slowly scrolled through the list of titles and I was in disbelief that these podcasts (each a couple hours long) were actually FREE? FREE? But there’s nothing FREE in this world!? And I didn’t know anything about this new introduction as my wife’s email is attached to the account and she receives all the Audible email updates. Yay for her! So the first time I decided to give it a go, I made sure I selected a podcast which was upwards of 2 hours, my thought process was: “if I get charged a credit for this, at least I spent it on a longer podcast.” And hurray! It was for FREE afterall! And in the past weeks I’ve listened to the following titles:

A Grown Up Guide to Dinosaurs

Narrator: Ben Garrod; Length: 2 hrs, 50 mins; Episodes: 6.

And the scriptwriters for this pod were correct! As kids, we were fascinated by dinosaurs, but as we grew up, we kind of got over them, like how we grew out of cartoons and grew out of our toys. But there is something fascinating about digging deeper into a topic which you loved as a kid, like dinosaurs, but now seeing them in a whole new light as a fully knowing, fully aware adult. This podcast debunks some lies we’ve been fed over the years – like how the Velociraptor is probably more like a 2 foot chicken, than an 8 foot pack hunter (like it was depicted in Jurassic Park); having it explained in unequivocal terms what ultimately caused the extinction of the dinosaurs – by pinpointing the exact time and place in which it occurred, through core samples; and how birds, yes birds which we see in our backyards all the time, are more likely to be descendants of dinosaurs than say a lizard – fossils have shown that perhaps dinosaurs were feathered creatures much like birds.

If you want to learn these interesting revelations for yourself, click HERE to start listening!  

Artificial Intelligence

Narrator: Geoff White; Length: 2 hrs, 10 mins; Episodes: 6.

If you’re lazy like me and love using your Smart assistants like Siri and Google Assistant, then you’ll probably find this podcast very interesting as well! Geoff White, a Technology journalist for the BBC, takes you through the history of AI, what it means for us in terms of robots taking over our jobs, and he explores the limitations or the limitless bounds of artificial learning and creativity. Well, look on the bright side, at least we still have another 10 years of being the dominant race! Before our creation surpasses us as the most intelligent being………?

If you want to check out Artificial Intelligence – Friend or Foe? For yourself! Click HERE!

The Dark Web

Narrator: Geoff White; Length: 4 hrs, 10 mins; Episodes: 10

And if you’re like me and you’ve heard all sorts of tech pods referring to the Dark Web, but you don’t really know what it really is – then take this dark path to enlightenment! Or is it a path into the murky shadows of the underworld? After the 4 hour duration of the pod, you’ll be more aware, but sometimes being more aware isn’t a good thing, as you’ll learn that the world around us is a pretty dark place after all; where people indulge in whatever they feel like, when they feel safe being behind their invisibility cloak on the web. Learn exactly what is the dark web, how to access it’s dark portals, learn what is and what isn’t going on in this shadowy enclave of the Internet, and learn a little about yourself as well – now that you know how to access the super-human ability of invisibility – how would you use your superpowers of anonymity?

To follow this spiralling staircase into the depths of the dark web, click HERE! If you dare. Moohhaha!

End comment, if you’re thinking…… I already have access to enough free podcasts, and I already have too much stuff to listen to! Therefore I don’t need Audible podcasts….. But Audible Original Podcasts are truly next level stuff! The level of research, production, and post-production is on par with a TV documentary series – leaving in its dust the regular run-of-the-mill podcasts with their meager budgets. So if you want to be entertained/educated at a level usually reserved for TV documentaries, while having the freedom to listen to them while on the train or driving to work? Try out the Audible Original Podcasts! And the great thing is that they’re one-off discrete series, so you can binge and then move on, not ever feeling overwhelmed by over-subscribing to too many podcasts!  And aside from documentary style pods, Audible Original Podcasts have live recordings of stand-up comedy, and dramatized fictional stories! So heaps and heaps of stuff to feast on!

Podcast Recommendations- NFL Season 100 Has Started!

Woohoo! The 2019 NFL season has kicked-off, after a hiatus of over 7 months! The boyz of Winter are back! And for the Australian fans out there, here are the best ways to maximise the 5 months of the NFL season!

Podcast- Around the NFL/Move the Sticks

For NFL news, pre-game analysis, post-game highlights and mirth, check out the boyz of the ‘Around the NFL’ podcast! Give it a couple of weeks and the tones of Dan, Chris, Mark and Greg will be a welcomed morning starter! To check out the Heros, click HERE!

And if 3 shows a week from the ‘ATL Crew isn’t enough, fill your other mornings with Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks who host the pod ‘Move the Sticks’- for insider news, interviews, recap, and college football insights, click HERE!

Tune-in Radio- NFL on Tune-in

And if you want something on in the background when you’re plodding around the home with your chores, check out NFL on Tune-in, Tune-in being a worldwide radio streaming app. The programming is a little bit unpredictable, but there’s always something interesting to listen to – be that replays of full-games from the 2019 season, NFL news, and NFL Films programs. NFL on Tune-in has it all! And if you’re willing to pay for the premium version of Tune-in, you can even listen to all the games live! But if you’re a cheapo like me, you can listen to the pre-game show, then the live stream cut-outs (to be filled by pre-recorded content) and then you can tune back in live for the post-game highlights/analysis. To download the Tune-in Radio app, click HERE!

TV- NFL on 7Mate

And for those who are lucky enough to be near a TV on Mondays in between 3.30am and 3.30pm, you can enjoy 12 hours of live NFL football each week! Just click over to 7Mate (channel 73) and watch 3 back-to-back games free to air! The first two games are a bit hit-or-miss, but the third game is the nationally televised Sunday night game, so be prepared for some hard hitting! Check out your local TV guide for times in your region.

Footy tipping- NFL

And if you like to add some additional spice to your NFL fandom and like to test your own NFL know-how and gut-feel, consider taking part in a FREE NFL footy tipping comp! The ESPN Footy Tips website enables you to pick the winner of every match in the 2019 season, tracks your score against the thousands who are participating in the comp, and the tipping platform has now moved to percentage odds (rather than betting odds), so you can now see what are the percentage splits of support for team A or team B before you make your informed choice. Only if you want to keep the season more interesting, if you’re like me and don’t follow a particular team, check out Footy tips, just click HERE!  

Ok, with all these resources, I hope you enjoy NFL season 100!

Netflix/Podcast Recommendations- Last Chance U/Hard Knocks Podcast

Wow! Here’s a first – a cross medium recommendation! But the underlying point of similarity is the fact that they’re both football reality shows!

Netflix- Last Chance U season 1

East Mississippi is a long, long way from Sydney NSW, and this is why we love reality TV, as you get a real glimpse into real lives, oftentimes quite different from our own reality. For us, Last Chance U wasn’t so much the football aspect which made the show interesting for us. But it’s the individuals, it’s the stories, and seeing a side of people which you’d otherwise never see. Be that the good, bad and the ugly of being a coach of young men; the gentleness behind a 250-pound defensive lineman; the genuine connection faculty staff develop with their students; and how this game of football really is the last chance for these young men! And although it wasn’t all about the football, it was still nice to see my wife show interest and attempting to understand the confusing game of American football (if you’ve never followed it before) e.g. asking why it was bad to run up the scoreboard with seconds to go in the second quarter? Haaha.

We’re currently taking a break before we return to Scuba for season 2 (as it was a bit of an emotionally draining series) but we’ll be back to see how the Lions go in season 2016!

If you’re interested to check out Last Chance U, click HERE!

HBO- Hard Knocks Podcast

And if watching Hard Knocks isn’t enough for you, there is even a companion app! Or in my case, I don’t have cable TV and Hard Knocks the podcast is all that I have to keep up with the goings on of Hard Knocks season 14 – starring the Oakland Raiders! Grrrrrr.

For us Aussies who aren’t all that familiar with Hard Knocks, HK is an annual NFL Films production, where camera crews follow a given team for 5 weeks during their pre-season as the team prepares for a new start to a new season. The stories usually centre on the Rookies (college kids who were just drafted to the professional world of football); unsigned or undrafted players who are attempting to make it onto the final 53 man roster (pre-season starts off with almost 100 players); and we discover who are the quirky characters on the team. For the Oakland Raiders the quirkiest characters have been their coach Jon Gruden, their superstar Wide Receiver acquisition Antonio Brown, and Rookie Johnathan Abram “Is it Salmon or Sal-mon?”

Hard Knocks the Podcast is hosted by NFL Network’s Peter Schrager; the pod is a tight professionally produced show (less than 30 mins), discussing the highlights from the latest HBO episode, further insights to the key stories through interviews with people close to the action in Oakland, and if you just can’t get enough of the HBO show, then you have an extra 30 mins of content to enjoy! Great as a re-cap, even better as a summary of the show if you haven’t had the chance to see it- due to lacking access to HBO content.

If you’d like to enjoy the Hard Knocks series in a different way? Check out the Hard Knocks Podcast, just click HERE! Enjoy!

Podcast Recommendations- Cardboard Chronicles/BreakerCulture Podcast

The pod-a-sphere is a strange place, as you’ll literally find a podcast catered right to your personal taste (all of your legal and moral tastes that is). Ever since I’ve gotten into podcasts I’ve been occasionally plugging the following search terms into the podcast app’s search engine (with little success):

“Trading cards”

“American football cards”

“Hobbies, collectibles”

And to my surprise, 6 days ago my search terms actually resulted in a relevant hit!

Cardboard Chronicles- Joshua Johnson

Josh is a young-ish guy who has a passion for Basketball trading cards, and what better to do than to start your very own podcast to talk about your passion! And if you’re able to make a few bucks along the way by publishing an e-book, teaching others in how to turn card collecting into a bonafide investment portfolio? Even better! Only in America! Right?

Being the first trading card podcast I lucked on, I think his program is still my favourite (although there are better ones out there), he sounds like an honest, down to earth guy, who has found a way to make money from his hobby, and sounds like he just wants to share his experiences and wisdom with other like-minded dudes. Me, I’m super envious as that is the dream isn’t it? Having a passion, and being able to make money (and perhaps a living) from it? Living your best life!

Josh produces a weekly pod, approx. an hour in length, where he interviews fellow hobbyists, sharing stories of how they got into card collecting, show-and-tell what notable cards they have, and just general chit chat around topics of interest (usually more interesting to them, than it is for us the listener). The interviews are unstructured, which feel more like eaves-dropping in on a crossed Skype line, but if you do have a genuine interest in collecting trading cards, you’ll find yourself hanging around and listening in, regardless where the conversations might go.

If you’re one of the rare card collectors out there, and interested to check Cardboard Chronicles out? Click HERE!

BreakerCulture Podcast- BreakerCulture Weekly

And like always, once you’ve lucked on a good thing you follow it down the rabbit hole of ‘You might also like’ and I found a few other trading card pods- the most interesting of which was ‘BreakerCulture Podcast’. To be honest with you, I’ve only listened to two episodes thus far, but from what I’ve heard I think I’ll be tapping in on a regular basis to hear his latest content. Where Josh from Cardboard chronicles comes off as an introvert and sounds like a guy who isn’t the life of the party, however Ty Wilson, the host of BreakerCulture, is clearly an extrovert, and is a dude who everyone probably looks to in any group social setting. So as mentioned, although I’ve only had the chance to hear less than 120 minutes of his channel, I found him to be extremely engaging and I can’t wait to hear more!

Ty’s show is similar to the Chronicles, i.e. each episode he interviews a fellow Hobbyist to learn of their collecting past, what they’re currently up to, and discuss all the goings on in the hobby world (like allegations of trimming and fake cards doing the rounds), and what stands the Breakers out from the other trading card podcasters, is the fact that Ty is involved in the Breaker sub-culture of the trading card scene. No, they’re not Californian Surfers who also collect cards, but Breakers is a term given to a scheme where a group of collectors all contribute towards the purchase and unboxing of an expensive box of trading cards (selling shares in the box in advance) and depending on your election of a team (in the case of NFL, electing one of 32 teams), the box is opened by the Breaker whilst streaming live on Youtube (when everyone who has a stake in the box watches on nervously).  And if (and it is if, as there isn’t any guarantee that each box contains a card of your team’s) a card depicting a player from the team which you’ve elected is pulled out? Regardless of how valuable or how worthless that card may be? That card is all yours! Sent to you curtesy of the USPS!

So adding this sub-culture’s ways onto this already niche sub-culture, it really makes things that much more intriguing to listen to! Not to mention that Ty seems to be able to bring-in higher calibre guests, compared to Josh.

So if I’ve piqued your interest? Check out BreakerCulture podcast! Just click HERE!

So you might be wondering, who in their right mind would collect cards? Silly bits of coloured cardboard paper? Well, I think you have to be a guy who grew up in the 60s to the 90s to be able to answer this question from a point of experience. For me, I was in year 5 when I first started collecting sports cards. My first 2.5 by 3 collectable being NSWRL, Rugby League cards from the 92 season. I don’t know what the trigger was, but it seemed like the whole card collecting phase took-off at our school at this time. Every boy (regardless if they had prior interest in rugby or not) were all of a sudden into collecting and trading, so like a sheep I too followed. And for months and months all the boys had in their back-pockets their stack of glossy trading cards held together by a rubber band, ready to be shown to and swapped with all the other guys in our grade.

Then I changed schools at the end of year 5, and in my new school everyone were collecting NBA basketball cards. In my humble opinion at least, I believe this to be the peak of card collecting fandom in Australia- where teenage boys just flocked to and hung-out at ‘Card Shaq’ in the MidCity centre mall, for hours each Saturday and Sunday kids would stand around admiring all the cards on display in the glass cabinets, enclosed inside hard plastic protective covers with a sticky label announcing how much the card was worth in US dollars. And like a sheep, I too hung out at Card Shaq and switched  from collecting Rugby cards to collecting Basketball cards- but like an Asian  cheapo (which I can be), American Football cards were a dollar cheaper per pack than Basketball cards (as they’re way less popular) so I also collected NFL cards. And when the 95 season swung around I purely evolved into only collecting NFL cards (which explains why I’m still an NFL fan to this day).

So throughout the 90s (93-99) I was an avid collector of football cards, no-longer just buying single packets, but instead I’d go in for an entire box of cards (24 packets each) easily droppin’ a couple of hundred of my parent’s hard earned cash each time on this cardboard obsession of mine. My obsession was so well known, that one year for my birthday, my uncle (who lives in America) sent me a box of cards for my 13th birthday. And when my dad went overseas to meet up with his brother in Hong Kong (the same aforementioned uncle) my dad would come home with a couple of boxes which my uncle had carried half way around the world so he could hand deliver it to my dad, so he could bring it home for me (at this time the Sydney trading card industry was on its last legs). I would be so addicted to the thrill, the hope of pulling out a rare special card (called Inserts), that I’d lock myself away in my room as soon as I got home with my box and just methodologically tear open packet after packet, thumbing through the brand spanking new cards, seeing if I had scored a sort-after rookie card or a rare Insert! Just thinking about it now quickens my heart rate. Haaha. And when I was 15 years old and had a chance to live in Hong Kong for 6 months- I went nuts! There was one precinct in Hong Kong (The Alliance Centre in Prince Edward) where all of the trading card shops used to cluster in this one shopping mall. I’d go to this mall once a week, doing a circuit of each shop one after the other, checking out if they had received any new stock (this happened to be in Feb-July in the NFL off-season). And when I’d learned that they had some new stuff, I’d plead with my parents (international phone call) to allow me to tap into the funds which I had travelled with, so I could take a couple of hundred bucks out of what was meant to sustain me, but to instead buy the latest box from Upper Deck, Fleer, Collector’s Edge, or Topps. I probably purchased at least 10 boxes in that period of time, but man did I score some nice cards (which are probably worthless now).

And my fondest memory was when one of the stores was closing down, and as a fire sale the young dude who owned the store, he allowed all the kids to go through his personal collection- boxes and boxes of Inserts in their individual protective sleeves, each gem priced at $3 per piece. I honestly went back 3 consecutive days- pretty much cleaned him out of all of his worthwhile NFL cards! I can still picture that shop clearly in my mind although it was over 20 years ago.

But like all good things, things eventually had to come to an end. I came back home to Australia, where there wasn’t a trading card industry anymore – and the Internet and online shopping wasn’t like it is today, so I stopped buying cards. Not because I had lost the fire or passion for it, but due to the lacking supply of good cards coming our way down-under.

But from all accounts, from what I’ve heard thus far in the podcasts, this tale of fading away from the hobby scene? This was a similar outcome across the world. Perhaps it was our generation, the little 12-13 year olds who got in during the early 90s craze, but now these same kids were 16-17 years old, and were too cool to be still collecting cardboard cut-outs like geeks. So from my understanding, most of the dudes of my elk, and the same with the dudes on the podcasts, they all said that they had stopped collecting in the late 90s, and had recently just gotten back into the hobby due to a resurgence in the collectable. And perhaps this is the reason why in the past (let’s say in the past 2 years) I’d never stumbled on a trading card podcast, but presently there are a handful of good podcasts, each emerging in the past 12 to 15 months.

So hearing all these guys talk about their collections, about ‘Nationals’, a 5 day trading card fest, and guys owning pieces which are numbered 1/1 – I have to admit it has re-awakened an itch within me which I thought was long dead! But nah! I can’t fall into that trap all over again! I’m a responsible adult with adult responsibilities and real bills to pay! Besides, if we’re talking about wasteful and unsustainable practices? Collecting cardboard and all that single use packaging?! My wife would kill me if I’d come home with a couple packets of foil, containing squares of cardboard. Haaha. So I’ll just have to live vicariously through Josh and Ty. *Smile*. But for you boyz, here are my favourites from my 20 year old collection.

Podcast Recommendation- Conviction

There’s a lot of ‘True crime’ pods out there, and so are there True crime buffs, but is ‘Conviction’ by Gimlet Media worth your while?

I’m a real sucker for in-pod advertising! Really! Where as most people do anything to avoid TV adverts, and as soon as YouTube starts to waste your time with ads, most people (and so do I) hit ‘Skip ad’ as soon as you can. However there’s something about in-pod advertising which gets me every time, sometimes I even rewind pods to re-listen to ads. Call me weird? Maybe? So no surprise, ‘Conviction’ got on my radar from in-pod adverts, then I was forced to listen to a 15 min teaser ep from another Gimlet Media pod I was subscribed to. And after 15 mins, it left me hanging and it had me hooked! I can listen to that! Oh! I can listen to that!

Conviction is the first season of a new investigative reporting series by Gimlet, hosted by Saki Knafo- a New York Times reporter, who spent over a year investigating and recording this story.

The back-drop of Conviction is present day Bronx New York, and it’s a tale of police injustice; young innocent minority males being picked off-the-streets and placed behind bars; and one bull-dogged protagonist PI (Private Investigator) named Manuel Gomez- who dedicates his life to right the wrongs of his city, and stands-up for the downtrodden.

The seven 30 minute episodes in Season One are a mixture of interviews, Saki Knafo’s dulcet narrative tones, court room recordings, and live action  recordings as the tape recorders roll while Manny runs down witnesses and chases down leads, all in an attempt to free his client! And just when you think you know who is good and who is bad? We find out along the way with Saki Knafo, that everything isn’t as black and white as it seems, but everything is shades of grey! Is Manuel Gomez on the side of the good? Or has our host Saki Knafo been sucked in to a yearlong ‘wild goose chase’ following a dishonest PI, with a personal agenda out for revenge on the NYPD? Well……You’ll just have to listen to find out!

To start binge listening to ‘Conviction’, just click HERE!