This Week in Podcasts a weekly roundup of mini-reviews of all of the podcasts I’ve listened to in a week. If you see any podcasts that you feel are missing from my list, there’s a good chance I haven’t listened to the show yet! Feel free to give me recommendations–as well as any feedback or discussion!–in the comments below, in my asks on tumblr, or on twitter.
Surprisingly, nothing of note came out this Sunday! Instead, I spent my time getting caught up on The Adventure Zone, The Adventures of MechaBetty (review coming soon of that one), and The Strange Case of Starship Iris.
Hello from the Magic Tavern
“Season 2, Episode 3 – Satyr and Beholder (w/ Elliott Kalan and Stuart Wellington from The Flop House)”
This was the second Hello from the Magic Tavern that I didn’t finish since the show’s beginning. The first episode I skipped was a live show in which the comedy seemed entirely dependent on making fun of mental and learning disabilities. This episode wasn’t cruel–it was just boring, and the guests were everything that make improv annoying. Catching up on The Adventure Zone seemed like a much better use of time–which means the show is slowly starting to lose me. A shame, given we named our cat Usidore the Blue, Wizard of the 12th Realm of Ephysiyies, Master of Light and Shadow, Manipulator of Magical Delights, Devourer of Chaos, Champion of the Great Halls of Terr’akkas. The elves know him as Fi’ang Yalok. The dwarves know him as Zoenen Hoogstandjes. And he is known in the Northeast as Gaismunēnas Meistar.
“#39 Seeing Red and Blue”
This episode of Millennial features a discussion common in podcasts lately: opening up discussions with people on opposite ends of the political spectrum. This episode, though, had an interesting direction: it talked about how often, when these attempts to made, the only people who show up are liberal democrats. Once the discussion actually begins with the republicans, though, the episode quickly veers back into familiarity. The poor audio quality doesn’t help, but mostly, I was annoyed by how well-trodden this subject matter had already become. Months into the presidency, this topic has already been done by almost every nonfiction podcast I can think of, and this episode of Millennial, unfortunately, adds nothing new to the conversation.
“Changing Colors in Comics”
Code Switch talks about diversity in the comic book industry this week–a subject that is dear to my heart and, therefore, frustrates me endlessly. It’s difficult to discuss this episode without the lens of a comic fan, but I believe that comics have become popularized for this episode to be easily understood by those who don’t have much knowledge of the industry. The discussion talks about the problems with large companies like DC and Marvel, indie publishing markets, early black characters in comics, and the experience of publishing comics online. As always, a stellar episode of Code Switch.
Note to Self
“Cucked: Defining Manhood the Alt-Right Way”
This week’s Note to Self was absolutely phenomenal, even in the scope of a show that never fails to impress me. The episode discusses the origins and current usage of the word “cuck,” which initially made me worried about the episode; like host Manoush Zomorodi, the word makes my skin crawl. The episode, however, wound up being so interesting that it was worth the listen. The discussion touches on a festival from history, the racist origins of the word in the porn industry, the appropriation of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), the attacks of feminists online, the history of transitive language, online registers . . . This episode is one of the standouts of the week, and I’d highly recommend giving it a listen.
I would also recommend subscribing to the Note to Self newsletter, which is always informative and adds further reading for the issues discussed. I know “newsletter” is something most are and should be wary about, but this one genuinely does not disappoint or annoy.
Myths and Legends
Another solid episodes from Myths and Legends. While the story of Oedipus is probably one of the most well-known from the Greek canon, this episode shone in making the episode a bit more silly than the usual. Weiser’s deadpan takes a back seat to a more hammy performance with more comedy–a wise choice, given the episode would have felt tedious if it had taken the same tone as other Myths and Legends episodes. If you’re familiar with the myth, I’d recommend giving it a listen for the laughs; if you’re not familiar with the myth, you’re in for one of the more entertaining episodes regardless.
“First Comes Marriage”
This episode is a rerun from the 2014 episode, “Fuck Love.” I didn’t listen to The Heart until recently, though, and I’m very glad I got to experience this bittersweet story. The episode was a look into arranged marriages and the philosophy that, as indicated in the title, first comes marriage, then comes love. In the story, the host, Ryan Kailath, discusses his parents’ marriage, which started frustrating but became incredibly loving. The story is simple, but it’s a nice break in some more intense content from The Heart–and given the preview of the “No” season coming up, it’ll be a nice calm before a storm.
Usually, 99% Invisible has the ability to make everything, no matter how mundane, exciting. This was not the case for “254-Containers.” Try as I might, I could not get myself interested in the history of shipping containers. If I did finish this episode, I certainly don’t remember doing so.
Beautiful Stories from Anonymous Strangers
“55. Trail Blazer”
One of the most interesting things about Beautiful Anonymous is that you can only hear the caller through the lens of the host, Chris Gethard. In this week’s episode, the caller is more or less an archetypal trailblazing hippie–a man who lived recklessly in the 70s and then took to the woods when he got older. Gethard sees the caller as someone who “walked right out of a novel,” almost idolizing him. Without Gethard’s lens (and even sometimes with it), I likely would have seen this caller as an awful, sefish person. Gethard’s lens was as humanizing as it was frustrating. This is one of the more difficult episodes of Beautiful Anonymous I’ve heard, which I actually respect. It’s good to have variety, especially in a show that tries to amass as many stories as possible.
The Bright Sessions
“Mini Episode 9 – sunday, after my session”
This mini episode was very mini, clocking in at just about four minutes. This episode had some interesting moments between Sam, Chloe, and Damien, and it likely foreshadowed some of the stranger effects happening to Damien. I don’t think I necessarily gained anything from this episode that couldn’t have been contained in a larger episode, though, and the discussions on intention versus action were a little on the nose for me.
The Magnus Archives
“MAG 59 Recluse”
The Magnus Archives has, unfortunately, joined the long, long list of horror podcasts I have given up on. There was nothing markedly bad about this episode. In fact, it wasn’t markedly anything. After so many weeks of monotony, I just don’t have the time to waste on shows that consistently fail to interest me.
“New York 2140”
This episode features an interview with the author of New York 2140, Kim Stanley Robinson. The novel imagines New York as a Venice-like city that has been submerged in water due to climate change. The concept is interesting, but unfortunately, Eric Molinsky does not quite have the interview skills to make unfamiliar works interesting to me. I listen to each episode of Imaginary Worlds that comes out, but the interview episodes are usually my least favorite. This one is not an exception. If I read this noel, I might come back to this episode, but I don’t feel like it was a useful listen for those who haven’t read it yet.
“Snap #808 – Boxed In”
This episode of Snap Judgment features a story about a man mailing himself, literally, for the purpose of getting proper cheddar cheese; the story of a drag queen who made a dress with his grandmother to wear for her funeral; and the story of a sex worker and her fears. This episode has a little bit of a curation issue: the theme of “boxed in” is too literal in the first story and not literal enough in the later two. The stories are all solid, though, and the editing this week was really lovely.
What a slow week for podcasts! Nothing of note updated this Thursday.
“28 – What a Cool New Podcast About Shipping Can Teach You About Coffee”
Pocasts. You need to understand something: I do not care about shipping containers. Maybe I am some strange minority. Maybe shipping containers are the new hottest trend. That is fine. I hope your shipping container show becomes beloved. Please stop talking to me about shipping containers.
First, let me say that the “Gaydiolab” intro was phenomenal and everything my heart could have hoped for. This episode of Radiolab focuses on an Air Force pilot who brought up a “conflict of conscience” with the lack of checks and balances for orders to launch missiles. This episode was, uncomfortably, released a day before a U.S. missile strike on Syria. This was an upsetting episode for me, but I think that’s what made it an important listen.
No updates today, either! Next week will likely be much more robust.