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We tell stories

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about words, and about the way we tell stories. Today, I wanted to share some of the things that have been making me think.

I started listening to Radiolab as a way to pass the time while I walk the dog, because he needs a lot of walking, and now I listen because I’m crazy for it. It’s part science, part philosophy, and part sound editing wizardry, but mostly, it’s good storytelling. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, its hosts, spin the kind of stories that lure you away to somewhere else, and when you drop back into yourself, you realize that you’ve been staring into space, grinning like a dope, through the entire show.

I’m particularly fond of Animal Minds, Words, Oops, the love story of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan that begins at approximately 14:45 of This Is Your Brain on Love, and Musical Language. If you’re short on time, start with this last, and listen to only the first five minutes. I was so tickled by it, and tickled really is the word to use, that I laughed out loud on the sidewalk in front of a stranger’s house, me and the dog and some crows.

There’s also a video that goes with Words, and after you listen, you should watch it. They go together so well.

The video made me think of my friend Brian’s blog. Brian is a great observer of everyday life, and he records those observations in photographs, which he then stitches together in a way that, whether he means to or not, quietly tells a story. If you don’t already know his work, you might start here. It’s a story I could spend a lot of time in.

Have a great day.


Blogger Audrey said...

Molly, you're a girl after my own heart.

8:01 PM, September 18, 2010  
Blogger (wife.) said...

I absolutely adore that Carl Sagan/Ann Druyan piece. I happened to be driving very close to their house in Ithaca when I first heard it, which made it even more incredible. Thanks for sharing the others!

8:16 PM, September 18, 2010  
Anonymous carrie turner said...

I have become a HUGE Radiolab fan as well and have listened to the podcast on numerous long trips. I, too, adore the Animal Minds episode. So good.

8:22 PM, September 18, 2010  
Blogger Wilde in the Kitchen said...

Thanks for sharing. I also love that moment you realize you've been staring at nothing, lost in your own thoughts :)

8:43 PM, September 18, 2010  
Blogger Payal Shah said...

Molly, I love you! I just put your French Yogurt cake with lemon in the oven. I was reading to my friend the end notes of your recipe and how much care you put into making sure your readers gets the same experience out of it as you did. It's very heartwarming and refreshing to have you around. Life just wouldn't be the same w/t you and Orangette :)

8:54 PM, September 18, 2010  
Blogger Danica said...

This is so great! I have been listening to SpilledMilk and just started trying some other podcasts out as well- I'm so excited for your recommendation! Thanks!

8:56 PM, September 18, 2010  
Blogger jenniferashley said...

molly- just picked up your book today- i was so excited that i began to read the introduction out loud to my boyfriend in the car, on the way home from the bookstore. as i read it, i was so touched that i began to immediately tear up . it was something about the way you talked about you father, the way he said your family ate at home better than most people do in restaurants (my father said the same thing growing up)- and then it was the way you talked about how we bring all of our memories into the kitchen with us, that we are never alone. either way, i just wanted to let you know how excited i am to curl up on the couch tonight and read your words.....right after i finish my roasted tomato and italian sausage dish that is bubbling away in the oven as i speak. thank you for always being honest. and thank you, thank you, thank you- for being an inspiration to a fellow writer, cook and food lover.


9:17 PM, September 18, 2010  
Anonymous Julie said...

Thanks for opening this new window for me! I love being made to grin like a dope.

9:32 PM, September 18, 2010  
Blogger SweetSavoryPlanet said...

Love this site. I have never heard of it before but I have now. Loved words because it expresses those moments we tend to just move past.

9:54 PM, September 18, 2010  
Blogger ~Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing another of your stories.

10:00 PM, September 18, 2010  
Blogger donna baker said...

I am familiar with Robert Krulwich but I have never heard of Radiolab. Thanks for the info.

10:06 PM, September 18, 2010  
Blogger Christina said...

The last minute of Oops made every hair on my arms stand up when I first heard it. I haven't stopped talking about it since then. Glad you're getting the word out too.

10:36 PM, September 18, 2010  
Blogger potatobook said...

Dear Molly,
This is the first time I write a comment in your blog, although I've been following you for quite some time now.
I live a very different life in a very distant country and most of the time I have no idea what you're talking about ;-)))
But I just love the way you write. And don't just mean the food posts. You are such a good story teller, your words sound like... butter to me (rediculous, isnt't it? But so true).
Please, keep it up ... for me!

12:39 AM, September 19, 2010  
OpenID sohdalex said...

Wow, Thanks for sharing! This is giving me a lot of interesting things to look into this week ;)

2:54 AM, September 19, 2010  
Anonymous A Plum By Any Other Name said...

I am digging your transition into the non-food world. (Though I do LOVE to still see you post about recipes.)

Your posts always seem so fluid, whatever seems to be going on in your life comes alive on the page ... and seems to make readers want to participate in the fun!

5:44 AM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger Shelly said...

Thank you so much for pointing out Radiolab. I think I may load as many as will fit on my Nano for an upcoming vacation.

5:51 AM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger Brandi said...

I think it's our stories that make us who we are. That's something I loved about theater, and something I miss about it. It's the same story telling that has drawn so many people to you.
I hadn't heard of RadioLab before, but I just went and listened to the Carl and Ann love story and it so moved me.

6:33 AM, September 19, 2010  
Anonymous Katie said...

Radiolab is certainly one of my favourite podcasts. I don't have a dog to walk, but there are always lots of dishes that need to be done at home, and Radiolab helps me through the drudgery. You should definitely check out the back episodes, if you haven't already. The one on Memory and Forgetting is particularly interesting. And if you ever run out of Radiolab to listen to (I nearly have), I also highly recommend Chicago Public Radio's This American Life--it's completely different in subject matter but very similar in style.

6:59 AM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger Claudia said...

Radiolab has provided driveway moments. The family inside wonders why I am sitting in the garage for fifteen minutes.

7:32 AM, September 19, 2010  
Anonymous Jessie said...

Hi Molly, thanks for sharing another nice story with us. I visit Brian's blog religiously because I like the way he observes people very much.

Hope you had a great weekend!

7:34 AM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger Missus Wookie said...

Thanks for the recommendation - I'm starting to listen right now :)

7:36 AM, September 19, 2010  
Anonymous Gabriel Hummel said...

Random thoughts of the day are the Tao of my juxtaposed life.

Keep up the great work

7:43 AM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger Victoria said...

Well, Molly. I am going to check all these things out, but one thing I know for sure is that you are one crack storyteller.

But I admit I really like listening to stories as much as I like reading them.

Do you remember the scene in Out of Africa when Meryl Streep (I guess it really isn't Meryl Streep - it's Isak Dinesen) starts to tell the story to Finch Hatton and Cole at the dining room table? It's my favorite movie scene of all time.

10:23 AM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger Amanda Hawkins said...

Thank you! I love listening to short stories. It is an obsession I've been pondering to start. And your Spilled Milk is fabulous by the way. Completely addictive.

10:46 AM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger Mallory said...

I was already planning on going for a long walk today, and meaning to give Radiolab a listen, so thanks for the recommendations? It's so good to know which episodes people love.

Another podcast I'd recommend for it's fantastic storytelling is The Tobolowsky Files. Heartfelt, moving, and often funny.

10:52 AM, September 19, 2010  
Anonymous The Rowdy Chowgirl said...

I love Radiolab too--I listen to it while I run, and the miles fly by.

I also listen to Spilled Milk on the treadmill at the gym sometimes, and I find myself giggling aloud, then looking at the people on either side of me to see if they noticed...

10:59 AM, September 19, 2010  
Anonymous laura said...

radiolab is my one of my favorite podcasts and i love listening to it while i work. the best!

10:59 AM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger Catharine said...

Molly: Love-love-love your blog and I just bought your book 'A Homemade Life' and got right work and made the Bouchons au Thon and the Ginger Cake with Carmelized Pears for Friday night dinner. Divine! Next time I'll make an aoili to dip the reheated Bouchons; they reheat well the next day and may taste even better, like so many things!

12:58 PM, September 19, 2010  
Anonymous Sarah (Running To Slow Things Down) said...

I wanted to personally let you know that I read your book and loved every minute of it. I savored each delicious chapter, it was such an excellent read.

Thanks for your wonderful blog and book! :)

1:24 PM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger deborah said...

I love, love, love Radiolab. And you're spot on - tickled is the only way to describe it.

A many a bus stop has been missed because I've forgotten exactly what it is I'm doing while listening.

3:33 PM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger Jess said...

Yeah, Radiolab! Yeah, Brian! Amen to it all, Molly.

3:48 PM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger Beth said...

I love Radiolab. Their shows got me through soooo many long days at work, and have actually inspired me to keep going with my graduate studies (I'm an anthropology student, but only going for my MA). I've heard all their shows and can't wait for the next one to come out.

11:15 PM, September 19, 2010  
Anonymous molly said...

I dare say this may get me through a garage clean-up, later this week. Merci!

3:40 AM, September 20, 2010  
Blogger charlotte said...

you and brian tell the best stories, molly :)

4:38 AM, September 20, 2010  
Anonymous naomi said...

I love the RadioLab podcast. It's always compelling and hard not to be engrossed.

I haven't heard the Carl Sagan piece, but I'm going to find it now.

7:23 AM, September 20, 2010  
Blogger Nancy said...

Ooh I love Radioloab too! Sleep and Placebo are my favorites so far. NPR's Speaking of Faith (now renamed Being) with Krista Tippett is also excellent. My preferred listening for nyc mass transit mayhem.

8:49 AM, September 20, 2010  
Anonymous ann said...

yes please radiolab! i too listen to podcasts on walks. another recommendation might be the Moth podcast, which is a collection of personal stories told by all sorts of people. it was great company on many many long walks in the cold of boston last winter.

9:15 AM, September 20, 2010  
Blogger teryll said...

i stumbled onto radiolab a couple months ago too and adore it. quarky, inventive and fascinating!

11:08 AM, September 20, 2010  
Blogger mosey said...

Although we haven't cancelled cable yet, we're contemplating it. More nights than not lately, we sit with our dinner on the couch and listen to Radiolab.

11:41 AM, September 20, 2010  
Blogger Beth said...

a friend of mine is always recommending radiolab but i haven't had a chance to listen yet. thanks for suggesting an easy place to jump in. a good podcast makes dish-washing so much nicer.

and i'm wondering: where is that last photo of yours taken?

12:25 PM, September 20, 2010  
Blogger Joy said...

One of my friends was just talking about radiolab. I have yet to listen. I have to listen to it now.

12:29 PM, September 20, 2010  
Blogger The Yard Sale Girl said...

You are right Radio Lab's the best. Your pictures oddly enough remind me of the show....I suppose that was the intention ;-) I like to listen to it driving around to yard sales on Saturday afternoons after This American Life. What would we ever do without NPR. :-)

2:14 PM, September 20, 2010  
Blogger Peeling Orange said...

Life is great enough to give us reasons to grin as dopes.

4:31 AM, September 21, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So excited to try Radiolab- I've heard about it but I've been trying to work my way through the This American Life podcasts first. I'll definitely give your suggestions a try!

10:25 AM, September 21, 2010  
Blogger Julia said...

i know exactly what you mean about radiolab. it's like magic. i just listened to the oops episode last weekend and had many jawdropping moments.

also, the laughing out loud in public while listening to headphones? that's what spilled milk did to me. like, laughing so hard i was crying. on the ny subway. it was pretty much awesome (and it was the junk food episode).

2:15 PM, September 21, 2010  
Blogger kristina - no penny for them said...

i am really curious now and will definitely check out those links. thank you!

3:10 PM, September 21, 2010  
Blogger shawna said...

I am not comparing you to another writer but you write as beautiful as "Tom Robbins" you can make food, people, and inanimate objects seem like things you can feel, touch, and taste

7:55 PM, September 21, 2010  
Anonymous Sparky said...

I think what you do is great - though I wonder if you ever feel weird about getting so much adoration? I'm one of those people who thinks the internet has done strange things to social interaction - more extreme positives and extreme negatives than in real life.

9:20 PM, September 21, 2010  
Anonymous Kimberley said...

Love love love Radiolab. It's one of my favorites. I save them for road trips and long travel, and I love how they make me think too. I also love that you wrote about this here. Radiolab is so inspiring.

10:36 PM, September 21, 2010  
Blogger caroline said...

I've heard about Radiolab, here and there, and with your endorsement I'm going to finally check it out. I don't listen to podcasts while walking the dogs-- I feel I have enough to juggle with two leashes-- but they do keep me sane during my epic commute. Like some of the others, I'm a big fan of This American Life, which sounds similar.

I've also been meaning to comment that I love this new evolution of your blog-- possibly even more than the original Orangette, but only because I'm already familiar with your "voice" at this point.

9:51 AM, September 22, 2010  
Blogger Krysta said...

Hi Molly, I've never written a comment before, but I read your blog every time you post. I loved your book and you have inspired me to write my very own cooking blog. Of course, I only have 14 followers and one of them is myself! Ha Ha. I love it though. I have a creative outlet I really enjoy while keeping track of the food I make through the year with stories attached. Thanks for inspiring me!
Ps. My sister lives in Seattle and we will definitely be dropping by the restaurant when I visit. Hopefully soon.

3:51 PM, September 22, 2010  
OpenID jeanneeatsworld said...

Did you hear the one about the terminal velocity of a cat? So awesome.

6:31 PM, September 22, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm new to this web site and just wanted to say I really like this and appreciate all your great pictures and your insite on life and what you are experiencing. Wonderful web site, thank you.

7:44 PM, September 22, 2010  
Blogger Rose said...

Hi Molly! Such a cute dog! I just wanted to let you know that I love your book. I'm half-way through and the part about your father and thinking his duffel bag... had me in tears and missing my own father something awful. He's been sick for a while and your words soothed me. Thank you for that.


8:20 AM, September 23, 2010  
Blogger Diane said...

Thanks for sharing! I opened all of your links in new windows and am very excited to listen away! :)

I want to let you know that I am giving you an award tomorrow (Sat) on my blog. So come visit tomorrow and take a look. :)

from blank pages...

12:15 PM, September 24, 2010  
Anonymous laurie said...

Hi Molly,
Thanks for the Radiolab tip. On my npr station in Dallas, I have driveway moments with The Story
During the US Open, one piece was about the guys who string the players' rackets. Who knew?

9:58 PM, September 25, 2010  
Blogger Lavender Wool said...

We are huge fans of radio lab and just finished ed your wonderful book. Thank you for sharing your recipes and your growing up with all of us.

We are recommending your book to our book club - and have posted your book under "Good Reading" on our blog (www.lavenderwool.com)- we hope it generates a few more sales for you. All the best and thank you for your book!

8:31 PM, September 26, 2010  
Blogger femminismo said...

Just read your piece in Bon Appetit and hope it's not your last. Four months of Thanksgiving dinner! Wow! Congrats and glad to find your blog.

8:49 PM, September 26, 2010  
Anonymous Paul Johnson said...

Thanks, now you have me addicted to radiolab also!! - lol

Inspires me while I help my wife cook for her blog www.myfoodobsession.com

3:34 AM, September 28, 2010  
Anonymous Gretchen said...

I'm sure you have...but just for the heck of it...ever been here?


yes...I am evil, and it is fun. :)

7:40 AM, September 28, 2010  
Blogger Pinkluna said...

Radiolab! I love Radiolab! Listen to "Staying Alive" just in case you need perform CPR, you'll never forget the beat to use.

7:16 PM, September 28, 2010  
Blogger The Mouse said...

I absolutely adore radiolab and it is on constant rotation on my ipod along with The Splendid Table and This American Life. It has gotten me through so many early morning rush hour subway rides and always helps ease me through the transition from sleep to waking life, along with my cup of coffee.

7:37 PM, October 06, 2010  
Blogger Jason | These Roving Eyes said...

Do you know this poem?? Loves it.


5:24 PM, November 16, 2010  
OpenID T. Crockett said...

This post made me happy in that way you get when you find someone who says better than you can, what you've been thinking.

Of course then I had to try to say it myself. Your post sparked a post on my walking blog about what I listen to (Radiolab and Spilled Milk are both on the list). www.everonward.typepad.com

8:56 PM, December 02, 2010  

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