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Discover New Music

  • Aretha Sings the Blues

    • 6 out of 10
    • Aretha Franklin
    • While she didn't always have the best taste in song selection, Aretha Franklin is a must-study for anyone with interest in the human voice. She has the kind of powerful, recklessly passionate deliv

  • Modern Lovers

    • 10 out of 10
    • Modern Lovers
    • This timeless masterpiece is little known, but it has inspired almost as many bands as The Modern Lovers' own inspiration -- and only slightly better known -- The Velvet Underground & Nico.

  • Suspended Animation

    • 8 out of 10
    • Fantomas
    • Mike Patton may well be one of the hardest working men in showbiz these days, and his latest with Fantômas underscores just about how far out he is willing to travel.

      Suspended Animation

  • The Last 5 Years (2002 Off-Broadway Cast)

    • 10 out of 10
    • Jason Robert Brown
    • The soundtrack to this moving off-broadway musical is heart moving. The lyrics follow a couple in a relationship for five years, one point of view going forward in time, and the other tracing time fr
  • Guero

    • 10 out of 10
    • Beck
    • Beck is the modern master of the groove, and Guero is merely the latest example of this. From the opening power chords of "E-Pro," to the Pac-Man cuteness of "Girl," to the dirge-like lullab

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Chinese Culture, Dog’s Life, Fast Draw and More

We are all about the political process these days. Presidential candidates are out in force wooing you for your vote by promising this and that while disparaging their opponents by drawing attention to every little dull spot and imperfection in an otherwise simonized media persona, all while everyone looks on with varied interest.

Still, you have to wonder how folks in other countries around the world sees us and our process for electing our new political leader. Does a New Guinea goat herder care about the candidate’s stance on U.S. and global economics? Do Siberian coal miners wonder what the candidate’s positions are on global warming? Does a guy selling newspapers on a corner in Beijing know what our presidential candidates even look like?

Well, I don’t know about the goat herder or the coal miner, but I have it on good authority that the Beijing newspaper vendor can pick Hillary Clinton out of a line-up, most of the time. Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain may not fair so well, however.

And how do I know this?

Because I watched an episode of Sexy Beijing, a podcast hosted by the nerdishly cute Su Fei and shot in and around Beijing, China.

There are other crazy, funny, and oddly warming Sexy Beijing episodes, but I like this one a lot because it’s interesting to hear what the average Chinese person knows about U.S. politics. Not that they don’t have enough to worry about with their own political process.

Horn rimmed Su Fei negotiates traffic in Sexy Beijing

Other episodes offer peeks into everyday Chinese culture, and listening to Su Fei interact with her Chinese friend is a blast.

I’m not sure why the podcast is titled Sexy Beijing, since the only thing I’ve seen in the podcasts that’s sexy is Su Fei. You may think otherwise, but we’ll both agree that the shows are fun. Have a look.

There’s nothing sexy about this next podcast, unless you are pervertedly attracted to talking animated dogs. (Eh, to each his own.) Unleashed is a animated podcast that follows a group of animal actors as they figure out how to play the animal version of the Hollywood Shuffle.

Going to the dogs in Unleashed

I’m not a fan of this type of animation, where nothing moves but the mouth, and an occasional eye-blink, but I am a fan of the dialog, which is absolutely hilarious.

Unleashed has been around for a while and new episodes appear every Monday. This is definitely one you’ll want to subscribe to.

OK, do you get up on Sunday morning to watch Sunday Morning on CBS? If you’re like most folks you’re still buried under bed sheets and blankets when that show comes on. That’s a shame actually because Sunday Morning covers a wide variety of topics that you just don’t find anywhere else on TV.

One of the regular features on Sunday Morning is The Fast Draw, where hosts Mitch Butler and Josh Landis cover topics that some find interesting and all will find entertaining. What’s unique about The Fast Draw is that while Josh explains the news story, Mitch, using his prodigious graphic arts talents, illustrates the concepts. Mitch’s drawings are speeded up and animated to keep pace with Josh’s witty reports and the result is a fun time.

The history of man and dog, illustrated in The Fast Draw

A good episode to watch is Man’s Best Friend where the pair trace the history of our relationship with dogs. Also check out Daylight Savings. In fact, check them all out. They’re free and easy to find at the iTunes Store. Heck, I’ll even give you the link again.

That’s just about it for this week. Before I go I’d like to direct your attention to the Sundance Channel’s cool show, Big Ideas For A Small Planet. What’s cool about this show is that they talk about all sorts of eco-friendly subjects ranging from futuristic fuel efficient cars to off the power grid homes to environmentally friendly farming and so much more.

You may have noticed that as gas prices creep (or soar) upward we become increasingly more aware of our environment. It’s a sad statement, but it seems very true; our environmental consciousness is directly related to the weight of our wallets.

I know that I’ve been meaning to buy those reusable shopping bags to carry my groceries in, but I guess it just wasn’t important enough for me to remember until recently when I realized that by refusing to use plastic bags I am helping to reduce wasted energy, wasted landfill space, and wasted oil from which most plastics are made. And this has become more important to me because I am reminded weekly about how much I affect the environment and how much the environment affects me when I fill up my car at the local gas station.

Anyway, there’s a free episode of Big Ideas available for download at the iTunes Store and I suggest you check it out. This one’s about power: How we generate it and how we use it. It may be a real eye-opener.

OK, that’s going to do it for this week. Stop back next week for insights into more free stuff at the iTunes Store.

More free stuff at the iTunes Store:

Vern Seward is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He’s been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

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