New Thing #142: The Memory Palace

Memory_PalaceThis is a unique time for me: I'm all caught up on my podcasts.

This includes the newest addition to my podcast subscriptions.

It's called The Memory Palace.

It's hosted by a guy named Nate DiMeo, who according to the show's website, co-authored a book about Parks and Recreation.

He's been doing this show for a bunch of years, I guess, and recently he was picked up by the Maximum Fun network of podcasts.

And that's how I found out about it.

You remember the Maximum Fun network...I mentioned it when I told you about Bullseye back in January.

The Memory Palace is a history podcast, but it's history told in story form.

Which is a huge strength...but also a weakness of this podcast.

It's a strength because it's cool to hear some of these stories which I've never heard before. The best episodes are ones that remind me of Paul Harvey stories - there's a little twist and you expect to hear, "And now you know....the rest of the story." Man, I loved those.

But it's a weakness because some of the stories I've heard a version of on some other storytelling-type podcast. And when I've already heard the story and you can see what's coming, well, that's not The Memory Palace's fault, but it definitely takes away from that particular episode.

Here's the type of episode I loved: A story about the first elephant to touch American soil. I never would have thought about that, but obviously there had to be a first of every non-native species. That was a cool one. There was a good one about the Otis family - as in the Otis elevator family. (Otis didn't invent elevators...he invented the braking system!) And another story about Roger Babson, which doesn't seem like it would be interesting, but it was.

And, oh man - Episode 44 (distance) - that one's amazing. Start there if you're interested. I won't even give you a summary, because it's almost a near-perfect example of the form.

If you're interested in PT Barnum, he pops up every so often...and is probably rivaled by only the Civil War in the 'most mentions' category.

The podcasts come out about once a month these days, and they're pretty short. I caught up on the whole catalog that's available in about a week. (I don't think the first 10 episodes were available, so I still need to listen to those - I need to see if they're available on the website.)

But perhaps the best thing about this podcast? It's good for kids. I've already played a couple in my classroom - the elephant one, one about Henry 'Box' Brown, and I plan on playing one about 'Crazy Bet', a woman who helped spy for the Union Army in the Civil War. I'm always on the lookout for podcasts that I can bring into the classroom, but most have something that makes it tough for me to have fifth graders listen to. Most of these episodes are OK.

And now that I'm caught up on this - and the rest of my podcasts - it's time to try a new one. I'm thinking of exploring education - some podcast about education and teaching, not necessarily an educational podcast.

I'd be happy to take your suggestions.