Podcast Preview: Lev Raphael, Take 3

We hope you’ve got your favorite cake ready for this weekend’s podcast. Saturday is our official birthday, and so after you’ve taken the time to listen to the conclusion of Andrew and Erika’s conversation with Lev Raphael, you can revisit the very first episode , where Adam and Andrew lay out their vision for what the Ivory Tower Boiler Room is. (You’ll hear us reflect on that beginning and where we’ve gone since then next week.) 

Frob is sitting on a keyboard because he wants to tell us what he’s reading this week. But he can’t because he’s a cat. Also because he’s a jerk with no sense of personal boundaries.

Since you’re going to listen to the new release of part III of our Lev Raphael interview, don’t forget to check out Part I and Part II before you settle in for the final segment. Andrew and Erika really enjoyed the interview, and you can hear that as you listen. And we are glad to bring you such an in-depth conversation. We look forward to future visits to the boiler room by Lev, and will keep a chair waiting for him. 

If you missed Lev’s questionnaire on his first visit, you can check it out here. He’s provided a third set of recommendations for us this week:

“I highly recommend the Israeli thriller Hit and Run on Netflix. A tour guide with an obvious past finds his life completely overthrown when his American wife dies after a hit and run. Two things become very clear very quickly: it was a murder, and his wife had many secrets. The story gets more and more layered as it builds in intensity and moves to New York. This is very dark both thematically and literally: many scenes shot in daylight are quite gloomy, though it isn’t true noir.”

And how could we interview an author without asking them about books? Lev strongly recommended we read Erik Larson. He tells us, “Erik Larson is a justifiably renowned author of popular history, and I’ve been re-reading his books because his eye for detail is sometimes stunning. Dead Wake is the story of the sinking of the Lusitania before we entered WWI, and every page is rich with anecdotes, quotes, information about shipping, an analysis of submarine warfare, and the lives of the many types of people aboard the ships from the ultra wealthy to sailors who jumped another ship to join its crew. Even though you know where it’s headed, the story is still shocking.”


The Boiler Room residents have their own recommendations for you, of course.

Mary is still rewatching Downton Abbey. She is also watching The White Lotus Hotel on HBO with her boyfriend. There is something strange going on at that hotel…

She is still reading Slaughterhouse-Five and is hoping to finish it by the end of the week. So it goes.

 For the Time Being by Edie Brickell has been recirculating through Mary’s playlist, thanks again to her boyfriend. This song was introduced to her through the movie The Way Back (again, her boyfriend’s doing) starring Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolf, and Steve Carell.

Andrew wants to let all the Ivory Tower Boiler Room readers know that he’s sending creative energy from the Berkshires where he is currently writing this (may we all be inspired by the creative writing energy found within the mountains).

This week he was embracing his Edith Wharton obsession by taking a walk around the Mount (her estate in Lenox, MA) while listening to Eleanor Bron’s The House of Mirth audiobook (it’s so good!). Of course, he had to find some Erica Jong (after so much discussion about her oeuvre with Erika and Lev Raphael) while driving to the Berkshires so he chose a BBC dramatization of Fear of Flying (again, it’s such a great listen).

 Andrew only got a little television viewing in while on vacation, but he did catch up on his Real Housewives of New York and Beverly Hills (guilty pleasure viewing doesn’t go away when he’s on vacation). And, he’s excited to add Adam’s recommendation of Never Have I Ever (on Netflix) to his future viewing list. He’s of course still following The White Lotus (on HBO Max) every Sunday when a new episode comes out. He can only stick with one show at a time (oh but how many new shows he’s adding to his list). Should he start watching Sex/Life next? Weigh in, Ivory Tower community!

Some pool-time reading has happened, and Andrew’s favorite pool-reading is opening up the Book Page magazines and seeing what new releases to add to his “future reading” book list (check out Book Page here). He’s ready to get even farther in Boardwalk of Dreams (the Atlantic City history book that Bryant Simon wrote…guess what, he’ll be on our podcast soon)! And, he is continuing listening to Sarah Schulman’s Let the Record Show (the importance of her book is one that he can’t wait to share with the podcast community, and he’s so glad Erika is joining him for that interview). 

Erika has been spending a lot of time this weekend paying attention to weather reports; hurricane season in Florida means she’s tracking the path of Tropical Storm Fred right now, but that isn’t the only thing she’s watching, listening to or reading. She’s also been watching the docu-series Pride and has found that revisiting the 80s in particular has reminded her about where some of her passions come from. It’s also been valuable as she’s preparing for another visit to the co-anchor-chair, this time to interview Sarah Schulman with Andrew in a few weeks. She’s also been making her way through Sarah Schulman’s Let the Record Show. 

Erika has been listening to the soundtrack from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie again, too. The trailer for the film was released recently and it is right at the top of her list for the week it comes out. And looking ahead, she’s also scouting titles for a book club that we’re hoping to bring you soon. 

To help with a little bit of writer’s block this week, Erika went back to a favorite strategy…looking for quotes related to the topic. This week that meant listening to Talking Heads Once in a Lifetime, Dan Bern’s Cure For AIDS and Ani DiFranco’s Pick Yer Nose, along with readings from PIrke Avot. Erika still cannot write a sex scene and it is causing her consternation.

Adam and Erika also traded classical music recommendations again. Her suggestion was Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G Major, and she chose this particular recording not just because of the piece, but because of how much the soloist is clearly enjoying the performance. Adam shared Charles-Valantin Alkan’s Preludes. Erika is still a bigger fan of Baroque and Classical era music but has found herself actually voluntarily putting on some of the Romantic composers and grudgingly admits it’s not all melodramatic schmaltz. Most of it is, though.

Adam has continued to inch his way through Wandering Stars by Sholom Aleichem. But it’s been slow going. It’s one of the most delightful reads Adam has encountered in a while but it’s just hard to read when in certain moods, and sometimes those moods last. So most of the ‘reading’ has been spent re-listening to favorite audiobooks. But that’s about to change, because the Ivory Tower Boiler Room is going to be featuring some 16th-17th century English plays pretty soon, not to mention some delightful creative submissions from our community. So will he or nill he, books will soon be read!

Adam finally got around to watching the first few seasons of The Good Place. And… it’s quite excellent. ***SPOILERS*** Isn’t it odd that what starts as a sitcom transforms halfway through into a fantasy-adventure that’s actually about how modern economics makes it impossible to live a good life? Did Michael Schur just punk all of you into watching his take on the premise of The Lord of the Rings?

Meanwhile, Adam has been listening around in some of his usual haunts. The aforementioned works by Telemann and Alkan, of course, but exploring Alkan was part of a larger desire to listen to more Jewish composers: Mendelssohn (“His father converted, but he still counts, dammit”) Songs without Words, Alkan’s Concerto for Solo Piano (“Ok which is it? If it’s for solo piano, it’s not a concerto, right? Am I the crazy one?”) and Swiss-American compoer Ernst Bloch’s Baal Shem: Scenes from Chassidic Life for violin and orchestra. The third movement of Baal Shem is particularly interesting because it gives a window into how Swiss-Jewish folk-music might have sounded different from the more Slavic-influenced Jewish folk music Adam is used to. Adam also has a bit of special news in the piano-practicing department, which is that he has finally played through all of Chopin’s Ballade #1 in g minor. It doesn’t sound particularly good. That’s the next step.

What are you listening to these days? We’d love to hear from you!

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