April 17, 2017
Name-Dropping: an origin story
At this point, the name Falling Uphill is a little misleading. If I were going to rename this podcast*, something I think about fairly often, it would have to be Blindsided or something along those lines because that seems to be what happens to the narrators of most of the episodes**. Usually, something hits them from out of nowhere and they have to contend with it using whatever they have at their disposal, which often is not much.
“Falling Uphill” gives the impression that all or most of the stories told on the show start out negative and end up positive. In many cases that’s true, but it’s an oversimplification and a little too meme-ish/Hallmark Channel-y for me. If I were to rename the show, I would probably call it “Blindsided.” That’s also the name of the most recent episode, featuring Amy Oestreicher. And of all the episodes I’ve posted and those I’m still putting together, her story and John Denehy’s (“The Third Degree”) probably bring that word to mind the most.
If you’ve made it this far, you may be wondering where the name Falling Uphill came from and why I would choose it if I just implied that I’m not entirely sold on it myself. The story is pretty simple, so I’ll do my best to map it out for you here as circuitously, ploddingly and with as many unnecessary tangents as I can. If reading the whole thing turns out to be the greatest test of your patience in recent memory then I’ve achieved my true aim. Here it is:
1. My friend Tom stumbles into a job he is marginally-qualified for, in spectacular fashion. For something like a year, I tell him it’s too good a story not to tell on one of the already large number of storytelling podcasts or public radio shows on the air.
2. I attend Radio Bootcamp at Union Docs and learn how to use Hindenburg among other things. I have no real goal in mind, but I’m also still living at my dad’s in Middle America on the Atlantic, selling vitamins over the phone in a call center. So you could say I need a distraction. I already love radio, stories, writing, books, movies, and other everything else that probably won’t exist in another two or three decades, so it’s a good investment of time and money.
3. Since he can’t be bothered telling his job story in public, which would totally draw attention to his movies (see link above), I ask Tom if I can record it just as an exercise because I know that if I don’t try out what I’ve just been taught at Radio Bootcamp I won’t retain any of it. I’m not surprised when Tom says yes because he loves to hear himself talk.
4. While I’m recording what will become the first episode (“The Chairman”), it occurs to me that his experience is more universal than it might have appeared at first. People have been improvising, living by the seats of their pants, winging it, or whatever you want to call it, through the most awkward, unforeseen, uncomfortable situations imaginable since the beginning of time. And anyway, a theme is really just a jumping-off point for whatever comes next.
5. Around this time I’m talking to Tom’s brother-in-law, Pete, at a holiday party, about Tom’s job interview and subsequent job offer, and I mention how my dad’s response upon hearing the story was that ‘he steps, in shit.” Pete says shakes his head, grins and says, “he falls uphill.”
Back when I was a delusional, hack-a-docious, 20-something newspaper reporter with a chip on my shoulder, my editor, Bill, reacted to an overlong, unfocused draft full of extraneous information that I had just handed into him that morning. “You’re showing me the kitchen,” Bill said. “I just wanna see the food. Know what I mean?” I knew exactly what he meant. I guess there’s some truth about old habits dying hard.
*say, to something with slightly better initials than F.U.
**to the best of their recollections
April 7, 2017
Where’s the Love (or Hate)?? (Review Falling Uphill on iTunes already!)
All lovers, haters, and lukewarm…ers of Falling Uphill: make a beeline right now for the iTunes Store and leave a review for one or more episodes of this podcast. Whether you gush about how funny and interesting the guests and their stories are, or you blame Falling Uphill for global warming and all-around hackery your words will be appreciated and will help support the show.
April 7, 2017
The first short episode of Falling Uphill is here!
March 27, 2017
March 25, 2017
Falling Uphill is now available on Libsyn and should be back in the iTunes story very soon.
Also – new RSS feed: http://fallinguphill.libsyn.com/rss (subscribe)
March 12, 2017
This is likely to be the nerdiest post I’ll ever write here, but it’s also likely to be one of the most heartfelt, which is what makes it so nerdy. Which is what makes nerds awesome. Among other things.
Earlier this month the #trypod campaign began. I benefited from it recently when a friend and listener recommended Falling Uphill on social media as part of #trypod. Not wanting to going into an explanation of what it is here is probably why I didn’t like being a journalist for the most part. I figured I would return the favor by recommending some of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis.
I am podcast-obsessed. When I’m on the subway, when I’m buying groceries, when I’m at the gym, when I’m driving–I’m always listening to one. Sometimes I have to take a break from it. Also, for the record, I don’t like the word podcast at all. To anyone old enough to get the reference, it makes me think of those Grow-a-Frog Kits you would order in the mail when you were 10 or 11 when I hear someone say it, or maybe some kind of skin infection.
The shows I listen to tend to fall into a few categories: storytelling, true crime, comedy (mainly comedians BS’g in front of a microphone about nothing in particular), interviews, with the occasional short fiction podcast.
As a friend said to me when I was first starting to formulate the idea for Falling Uphill, it’s basically radio. It’s true. Podcasts are radio, except that in many or even most cases they’re so much better than what you would find on commercial radio stations. Sure, they range from amazing to good to okay to bad to just terrible. With such a low barrier to entry it’s what you would expect. It’s also what makes them so great. If you think of cities as an analogy, you know that once everything becomes standardized and homogenous and clean and ultra modern it’s going to be much more convenient and safe too. What it’s generally not going to be though, is interesting.
So here are some recommendations:
First, as an Android user, I recommend the Podcast Addict app. It’s easy to use, it has good search capabilities when you’re looking for suggestions or just trying to find specific podcasts you already know about so you can subscribe to them. The interface is good too. See how I used ‘interface’ there? I bet you think I know about technology and electronical things and whatnot. It’s also free so if you download it and like it give the guy who designed it, who I think is from Spain, a nice review on the Google Play store.
The first time I can remember listening to podcasts or public radio shows that exist in podcast format as well, is when I was an English teacher in Japan about 12 years ago. Although I’m going to recommend a lot of lesser-known shows, the reason that the biggest ones are so popular is because very often they’re just that good. Although I find it’s hit or miss, This American Life is the original in the narrative reporting genre, and I heard one of my favorite episodes—“That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Jewish,” in which an indie musician meets a Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn and transforms him into a secret rockstar–while listening to it in my firetrap of a Tokyo apartment. At one point, Tina Fey bought the film rights to the episode and Sacha Baron Cohen signed on for the lead role, but it never got off the ground. Usually I only listen to an episode once, and I don’t know how well it’s held up.
I currently subscribe to 150 podcasts. They run the gamut from shows still in production with updates multiple times a week, to podcasts that no longer exist or haven’t come out with any new episodes in a very long time. I don’t listen to all of them but I listen to several of them regularly.
Here are a bunch that I try never to miss:
Everything Is Stories
Up and Vanished
March 8, 2017
March 6, 2017
Psychological trauma may be to blame for a (literally) exploding stomach.
A photographer embarks on a poorly-planned volunteer mission of one to post-Fukushima Japan.
“Augustus” returns with a tale of pre-9/11 terror courtesy of US Immigration.
A gambler falls in love with a casino waitress who isn’t about to let him indulge his worst instincts.The struggle continues.
Against his better judgment, an English teacher accepts a job in a place where he has zero credibility.
A young married couple takes a New England road trip to get away from the big city. A multiple body count and a hotel from the dark side figure prominently.
A Halloween mask, an allergic reaction, and a major misdiagnosis
A filmmaker puts together a short production on the fly, in a country where he doesn’t know the language.
An actor shows up to perform, but the director is nowhere in sight. She has no choice but to take the reins.
March 2, 2017
Falling Uphill: The Short-Short Version
Have a great story for Falling Uphill but don’t think it’s long enough for a full episode?
Soon Falling Uphill will start featuring 5-minute (or less) Stories too.
Send your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org