Easy Listening (Part 2): Debs G’s Podcast Favourites

ABC, I hear you about listening to podcasts during recuperation from the dreaded lergy.

I often suffer from migraines which means that I need sit in a completely dark room, and podcasts are extremely comforting to me. I also enjoy listening to them when I’m doing housework – they just make time fly!

Here are four podcasts that help me to relax:
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1. A Prairie Home Companion by American Public Media

I have talked about this radio show in passing before, and it is one of the favourites in the Owls Well household. The Prairie Home Companion is a radio variety show featuring American folk music alongside comedy sketches (complete with sound effects) and musical interludes from fictional sponsors. This show never fails to put a smile on my face and I often find myself tuning into it when I need a pick-me-up.

Producer and show runner Garrison Keillor, he of the golden radio voice, has now retired and his mantle has fallen upon musician and songwriter, Chris Thile. Chris Thile may not have the same deep and smooth timbre as his predecessor, but the man does sing like a nightingale and he’s also very, very funny, so he is forgiven.

(For those of you who, like myself, miss Garrison Keillor, he is to be found and heard on The Writer’s Almanac where he reads a poem every day and tells stories about significant events in literary history.)

2. Welcome to Night Vale by Night Vale Presents 1424727845212

Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, this podcast features the mellifluous bass tones of Cecil Baldwin. The fictional desert town of Night Vale is a strange place where all the conspiracy theories are real and the Night Vale radio show host, Cecil, reports on the local weather including the large cloud that glows in many colours (ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY GLOW CLOUD), various cultural events, and announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police.

On evenings when The Barn Owl is on call, I often play an episode from Welcome to Night Vale and fall asleep. I find that afterwards I get the most interesting and psychedelic dreams.

11312636_10101329805815525_5002516714209367793_o.jpg3. Astronomy Cast by Fraser Cain and Pamela Gay

This is an educational podcast that discusses various topics in the field of astronomy through the form of a light-hearted conversation between co-hosts Frasier Cain (editor of the space and astronomy news site Universe Today) and Dr Pamela Gay (Professor of Astronomy at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville).

I love listening and learning, and letting Dr Pamela Gay’s soothing warm alto tones wash over my ears as I’m pottering about the house.

17971953_448676435476708_6086957621977028490_o4. Story Not Story by Chyna & Craig

This is a super cute podcast that is great for unwinding at the end of the day! Story Not Story features a married couple, Chyna and Craig, relaxing together and telling each other bedtime stories. I enjoy hearing Craig and Chyna banter with each other – they are sweet and funny and just adorable.

The fun part for me is trying to guess where each story is going to go and I am usually very pleasantly surprised. You’ll definitely be a butter person for hearing them!

(And you can also see more of Craig and Chyna over at the Youtube channel, Wheezy Waiter.)

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Blunderbus Theatre Company presents How to Catch A Star – A review

Let's catch a star together!

Let’s catch a star together!

We were invited to the opening performance of ‘How to Catch A Star‘ yesterday, performed by the Blunderbus Theatre Company from the UK – and it was bundle of fun from start to finish!

The fun started as we were all getting seated in the theatre before the start of the show. The cast members were already mingling with the kids in the audience, charming each one and learning their names in order to give them a special starry moment by calling out to them during the performance.

Imagine J’s delight when Boy pointed towards him during the show and called him a ‘Lucky Star’! J’s big beaming smile was priceless!

Both J and Little E were absolutely captivated by the adventures of Boy (played by Ben Sbuttoni) and the Invisible Starkeepers, Ariel and Aurora, (played by Emma Hilts and Katie Burchett), as they traipsed across the sea, land, and even outer space on a quest to find a starry friend.

Ben, Emma (who plays the ukulele during the show) and Katie (with her clarinet) had us all giggling with delight with their fun antics and expressive vocal sound effects, adding life to the storytelling which was accomplished using vibrantly coloured Oliver Jeffers-inspired props and puppets. You can really tell from their physicality and energy that the cast members have a real enthusiasm for bringing the magic of theatre to children! (Read my interview with lead actor Ben Sbuttoni here).

The interactive segments during the show are really great for wiggly little preschoolers – but watch out for some light showers during the early and mid-sections of the play. Little E was squealing with laughter during these moments, whilst J took cover underneath his own seat! (The auntie sitting in front of us even got out a handkerchief, knotted at each corner to make a makeshift umbrella-hat, old school style!)

With Boy aka Mr Ben Sbuttoni

With Boy aka Mr Ben Sbuttoni

After the show, the cast members met us all outside for a very quick meet-and-greet…and all the children received stickers and balloons to bring home. What a wonderful end to a really magical afternoon!

‘How to Catch a Star’ will be showing from 24-27 April 2014 at the SOTA (School of The Arts) Drama Theatre and tickets are available at SisticThere are still plenty of tickets left, but I hear that they are selling out pretty fast – so grab yours quick before they are all gone!

Little Captains at Play!

A few weeks ago, Pamela from The Tan Family Chronicles invited me to attend a storytelling and craft session at the Jurong West Public Library, organised by Little Captains At Play.

Little Captains At Play is a national play movement which aims to create a more balanced childhood for preschoolers through spontaneous, unstructured play. The project is managed by a group of final year students from Nanyang Technological University, and they hope to inspire parents to allow children to be captains of their own playtime, which is an important part of a child’s learning and development.

I wholeheartedly agree that open-ended playtime is an important part of learning and development in a child, and encourages problem solving and creative thinking, which in turn leads to a more adventurous and confident child.

This is why I always prefer toys like Legos, building blocks and wooden toys – basically any toy that does not play by itself – to electric doodads that have a limited function.

Tear and Tell

Tear and Tell

At the Jurong West Public Library, Pam started off the session with an interactive storytelling segment called ‘Tear & Tell’. Basically, the storyteller works together with the children to name and identify random shapes torn out of a sheet of paper, and then invents a story linking the shapes together. What an innovative way to discover a new story together!

Afterwards, each child present was given a square of cardboard and a seemingly endless supply of craft materials to create anything their minds could conceive.

Little Captains are very busy

Little Captains are very busy

J and Little E threw themselves into cutting, gluing and decorating these little tiles, which will eventually become part of a huge PLAY! Mosaic showcasing all the efforts of hundreds of children in a huge 3D display.

Completed tiles are ready to go

Completed tiles are ready to go

The kids really enjoyed themselves, especially with the crafts and they are excited to find out where their tiles have gone, so I will probably pop down to the Back To Play! event which is this weekend, just to show them the PLAY! Mosiac.

The Back To Play! event is a huge play festival with tons of fun hands-on activities for all the family. There’s going to be a huge fabric maze, craft stations, musical performances and talks for parents as well. Best of all, admission is free!

Where: Tampines Central Community Complex MultiPurpose Hall

When: 23rd February (Sunday) from 12-5pm

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For more information on Little Captains at Play, check out their website and Facebook page!