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  1. News from Lake Woebegon

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    I remember back in my college days, when I was an Resident Assistant (an unfortunate time for everyone involved), there was a group discussion about how words can hurt.  A speaker during group training brought up how the root of the word sarcasm was sarco, which meant something like "to rend flesh."  My response was to hold back a snort of disbelief at the smug morality of the speaker.

    Stop being sarcastic?  Yeah, that'll work.

    But you know what?  Maybe it's good to depart from caustic humor for a while.  There are times when you want to see people being cut down in a humorous, sporting way and there are times when you want to seek out a different sense of humor.  A sense of humor where you can get away from the harshness of life, and feel actual delight for some word play or clever set up.  Perhaps there's a place that welcomes this style of humor, where the wind blows through the orchards and the jokes are at no one's expense.

    Won't you join me for the News from Lake Woebegon?

    Whatta segue!      

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site!
    Download from iTunes Here!
    Prairie Home Companion Site!

    Content Rating:  As Clean as a mason jar ready for canning season, which had better be really, really clean so as to prevent any food-borne illnesses.

    Average Episode Length:  Ten episodes gives me an average time of 13 minutes.

    A selection from the ever-popular A Prairie Home Companion, the News from Lake Woebegon features slice-of-life tales from the fictional town of Lake Woebegon, MI where,

    All the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.

    A listening experience this fine requires atmosphere.  Follow these simple steps to achieve the best possible setting to listen to the News from Lake Woebegon:

    1. Procure an L.L. Bean winter catalog.  Close your eyes, open the catalog to a random page, and point to a spot on the page.  Open your eyes and order whatever your finger has landed on (free monogram optional).  If you have managed to select some sort of fishing vest, then you're on the right track!  Wait for it to ship to your home, then don the garment.  Make conversation with your pets about the weather.  
    2. You're going to want a high level of Americana, so feel free to go to Hobby Lobby and grab a bunch of crap made in China that features the American flag.  Bake a few blueberry pies (home made crust! no cheats!) and allow them to cool on your windowsill.  Arrange the Americana accoutrements* around your chair, and gently mash the pies on either side of your head for full immersion.
    3. Procure some lutefisk.  Vomit.  Profusely
    4. Do your best impersonation of a Minnesota accent, which is frikken adorable:

    Okay, I think we're in the proper head space for this.  
    Like so many things that grown-ups try to interest you in, this was a huge disappointment.

    Release Schedule:  Weekly, with the release on Monday (barring holiday weekends, according to their site).

    Music:  Nah.

    This is a podcast of storytelling.  Where host Garrison Keillor begins in his topics are far from where he ends, and the rambling path he travels is what has drawn listeners since...

    -wait, seriously?  A Prairie Home Companion has been around since the 70s?  Well done!

    I'm not exactly sure what to say about this podcast.  It revolves around the lives of imaginary people in an imaginary town.  There are hot dishes, ice fishing, high school graduations, funerals, and lives that start and end within the confines of this make-believe world.  Most of it is humorous, some of it is poignant, and all of it is pretty darn charming. 

    Garrison Keillor is able to give you the world of Lake Woebegon in a brown paper-wrapped parcel, with a handwritten note wishing you a good day.  It feels like, hell, maybe like if Cracker Barrel restaurants weren't carefully calculated amalgams of tin advertising signs, and something real?  In some way he has managed to capture the spirit of the small town life everyone thinks of, but no one has actually lived.  

    Unintentionally Good Part: I like how the audience cheers at the beginning of the segment.  It is fun to hear their excitement at the arrival of what they've been waiting for.

    Unintentionally Bad Part:  I cannot bear to listen to more than 2 episodes in a 48 hour period.  As News from Lake Woebegon is a small part of a larger show, it is packed to the brim with its own charm.  This can quickly become saccharine and grating if it is listened to for long periods of time, so sprinkle in into your week and enjoy it as it should be. 

    Unrelated rating:  One ham-salad sandwich out of a dozen deviled eggs

    *I spelled that right on the first try.  HA!  Go me.

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