Throughout the year, the people who appear on the Allusionist tell me a lot of interesting stuff. Not all of which is relevant to the episode they initially appeared in, so I stash it away in preparation for this moment: the annual bonus episode! Get ready for gory 19th century London slang, the rise and fall of superhero capes, the post-WW1 trend for nudism, and more.Read More
Charles Dickens wrote about the plight of the impoverished and destitute members of British society. So how come his name is a synonym for rosy-cheeked, full-stomached, fattened-goose, hearty merry "God bless us every one" Christmas?
Avery Trufelman and Katie Mingle of 99% Invisible report from the streets of Victorian London at the annual Dickens Christmas Fair in Daly City, California, while historian Greg Jenner explains the origins of the festive traditions for which Dickens gets the credit, without even wanting the credit - in fact, his motivation for writing A Christmas Carol was far from a cash-in on Christmas.Read More
You're holding a letter. What's inside? A weather report from 5,000 miles away? Some devastating family history? A single word? A heartfelt dispatch from your past self that's about to change the course of your life?Read More
From Me To You’s Alison Hitchcock and Brian Greenley didn’t know each other well. But when Brian was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Alison offered to write him letters. 100 letters later, their lives were changed.
One of the newest members of Radiotopia is Ear Hustle, a podcast made inside San Quentin by and about the men incarcerated there, in collaboration with Nigel Poor. In prison, a letter is a precious thing.Read More
"It's sort of frozen body language; that's what handwriting analysis is about."
Since it caught on a couple of hundred years ago, graphology - analysing handwriting to deduce characteristics of the writer - has struggled to be taken seriously as a practice. But undoubtedly, there are things about ourselves that we can't help but reveal in our handwriting.Read More
On your marks...
It's the Etymolympics, where the gymnastics should be gymnaked and the hurdles are a bloodbath.Read More
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La la la, dum di di dum, a wop bop a loo bop a wop bom bom - why are songs riddled with non-words masquerading as words?
Hrishikesh Hirway from Radiotopisibling Song Exploder and songwriter Tony Hazzard explain.
WOAH WOAH WAH-OH, DO BE DOO DOO, HERE'S SOME READING MATTER:
- How to write the perfect pop song. (TL;DR: just get Carly Rae Jepsen to do it.)
- Indie singers become pop songwriters. Are we supposed to feel sorry for them? Because I do not.
- This is an old but good long profile of songwriter Ester 'Wrote Nicki Minaj's Superbass and Rihanna's What's My Name, also stars in Pitch Perfect' Dean, whose writing process seems intriguingly vocable-led.
- Here's a little history of the BBC's The Old Grey Whistle Test, and here's a documentary about it, which contains all the fashion inspiration you need for the next six months.
- Here's the transcript of this episode, though not including the relevant lyrics of 'Agadoo', because there are limits.
- Listener Timothy requested a downloadable MP3 of the special version of the theme tune in this episode. Who am I to deprive you?
Still haven't donated to Radiotopia yet? Here's that link again for you. Slack have offered a further $25,000 provided we get 5,000 donors by Monday 26th October, so don't dawdle.
GAVIN'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
You wanna be a cool guy like Gavin and have the next randomly selected word from the dictionary dedicated to you? Then you'd better become a Radiotopia supporter at Radiotopia.fm. Don't make me tell you again.
Email your donation receipts to firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to be the randomly selected Radiotopia donor.
- Hrishikesh Hirway makes the excellent podcast Song Exploder, which you'll find at songexploder.net. Here's that Tune-Yards episode I mentioned. He tweets as @songexploder and @hrishihirway.
- Tony Hazzard's extensive career and discography can be found at tonyhazzard.com. His new album The Hallicombe Sessions will arrive in the next few weeks. He tweets as @tonyhazzard.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. Communicate with me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman.
- Thanks to Martin Austwick for providing the Allusionist theme, and the special vocable version thereof. The other music from the show was, in chronological order:
Ella Fitzgerald - ‘One Note Samba’
The Spice Girls - ‘Spice Up Your Life’
Theme from The Old Grey Whistle Test - ‘Stone Fox Chase’
Little Richard - 'Tutti Frutti'
The Crystals - ‘Da Do Ron Ron’
Black Lace - ‘Agadoo’
JLS - 'She Make Me Wanna'
Betty Wright - ‘Shoorah Shoorah’
Brokeback - ‘In the Reeds’
Come back in a week's time for the next Radiotopial special edition of the Allusionist. I promise not to sing.
The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, which is supported by Mailchimp, the Knight Foundation, and listeners like you.
Beloved Allusionati, gather round a sec; there's something I need to talk to you about.
Radiotopia from PRX is the best thing I have ever been a part of*. Not only did they enable me to make this show, which is the greatest job I have ever had**, I get to do it in association with this bunch of top-notch shows.
And now we all need your help. Because...
It's fundraising time!
This time last year, Radiotopia's fundraiser turned out to be the biggest journalism campaign in Kickstarter history, thanks to which The Allusionist was born, and several other shows were also added to the collective - Radiotopia has nearly doubled in size this year, from seven to thirteen shows. If you listen to any of them, please consider helping to keep them going! We all want Radiotopia to keep going, for as long as possible and as well as possible. When you become a recurring donor to Radiotopia, you're directly funding independent creators to make the audio you love, and we'll work our arses off to make that audio the absolute best we can.
And if you chip in enough money, we'll be able to make the aforementioned audio even better. We're all operating on slender resources. Eg the Allusionist is made by a team of one*** - who is, unfortunately, me, not a super-whizzy audiobot with eight limbs and fifteen brains. I'd love to have the means to build that audiobot. Or at least to be able to afford to hire people to work with occasionally.
So if you are able****, please visit on.prx.org/radiotopia-forever to become a Radiotopia donor for as little as $1 a month (£0.65, Brits). What else are you going to spend that on - a single KitKat a month, or thirteen shows producing hours and hours of aural delights per month, plus bonus content, show T-shirts, tote bags, mugs, and EXCLUSIVE 99% INVISIBLE CHALLENGE COINS?
That KitKat is seriously going to have to raise its game.
Oh, and also, if we can get 5,000 donors by 26th October, Slack have promised to kick in an extra $25,000. So don't wait around. Go! Go!!
* Yes, I AM ending a sentence with a preposition. Those 18th-century Latin-loving grammarians can shove it.
** I once had a job where I was sent on holiday, so the bar is high.
*** And the worst thing is, there's nobody I can fire in a fit of pique.
**** Don't worry if you're not - I fully understand; I have been there. Before I started this show, I'd been earning fuck-all as a podcaster for eight years. No exaggeration, I was too poor to leave my flat for most of those eight years, let alone fund podcasts (something which I now love doing). But you can still be a huge help without spending any money: tell like-minded individuals to listen to this show, and the other Radiotopes.