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.
Not much to discuss this Sunday! Instead, I spent it re-listening to The Strange Case of Starship Iris–review to come this Wednesday!
Beautiful Stories from Anonymous Strangers
Well, this was a delightful and very NSFW romp through the world of swingers. Be very wary if you, like me, listen to your podcasts while working. The callers were endearingly straightforward and informative, and Gethard, of course, both immature and respectful. A straightforward episode, but fun nonetheless.
Hello from the Magic Tavern
“Season 2, Ep 5 – Jayme and Sayme”
Any episode that features the Baron is going to be a good listen, but adding in the Baron’s children, Jayme and Sayme, made this one of the stranger and funnier episodes in recent memory. Hearing the two obvious adults playing children repeatedly whisper “Dad-ee, dad-ee” is one of those comedic moments that makes the hilarity of Hello from the Magic Tavern hard to explain. The twin children are close to the twins commonly found in Jon H. Benjamin shows–Walter and Perry from Home Movies come to mind. The absolute discomfort and absurdism of this episode had me fighting not to laugh at my desk while I listened at work. This episode definitely verged into being too gross more than once, but always grounded itself quickly as a recovery after.
“#40 One Way Ticket”
Millennial, unfortunately, has a very bad knack for being about two weeks late on doing current events stories. This week’s episode focused on the travel ban and the process to get an immigrant back into the country. This exact story has been reported on by several other podcasts, and just like in the last episode, this Millennial adds nothing new to the conversation. The framing device of the episode was the glut of upsetting news on Facebook, but that idea was hardly touched on and felt very clumsy.
“Mailbag! Listener Questions and Comments That Got Us Thinking”
This week’s Code Switch gets back to a few of the past episodes. There’s discussion of churches’ safety when becoming sanctuaries, a follow-up on the story of native hunting rights, a dissection of “Iranian” vs. “Persian,” the concept of “south-Asian whiteness,” etc. As always, this follow-up episode is so much more than a recap or a quick Q&A; it adds so much more depth to the previous episodes.
“BONUS EPISODE #1”
This episode of Rabbits was positioned like a Q&A from ostensible listeners who all have some interest or tie to the story. The idea here is to deepen the immersion of the storytelling, and the effect was carried out very well in execution. The listener finally gets an answer to “How many steps to the lighthouse?” which leads me to believe the plot will progress forward onto the next step of the game. My main issues with this episode were the inclusion of Nic Silver from The Black Tapes and TANIS (though I’m almost definitely alone in that frustration) and how listless the episode was. For a short bonus episode, I need the content to be justifiably short and separate from a full episode. This episode was less of one moment away from the show proper and more a collection of things they seemingly didn’t know how to fit into a full episode. Still, this was a solid mini-episode, and I’m curious to see how (and if) everything will tie together.
Note to Self
“Revealing Selfies. Not Like That.”
This episode of Note to Self shows just how much personal data can be pulled from a single picture. The most common thread was location, which could be taken from the images’ metadata–even when the picture is just of teeth. This episode had me feeling more helpless than most Note to Self episodes, but i suppose it’s, at least, good to know how deeply our personal data is woven into literally everything we do.
“The Real Tom Banks”
This episode of The Heart is an intimate look into the difficulties of online dating as a gay man with a disability. The episode is moving, but never leans on being inspirational in a way that’s exploitative of LGBT+ people or people with disabilities. The production in this episode was especially good, with the focus’s voice shifting between his own, his assisted speech device, and a voice actor. At some points, the computerized voice takes the place of the interviewer, adding a layer of depth to the production that I haven’t heard since early episodes of Radiolab.
“256- Sounds Normal”
This episode of 99% Invisible focused on the often apocryphal, incorrect depictions of animals in documentaries–including the animal sounds that have been added in post. I wish I’d had this episode when discussing the Too Many Mics problem. In the episode, a foley artist for nature documentaries is interviewed, meaning yes, the sounds you hear in nature documentaries aren’t just added in post, they’re usually not made by those animals at all. This episode started slow, but the moment the foley artist was introduced, it became absolutely captivating. If you have an interest in sound production, nature documentaries, or even just strange pieces of trivia, this episode is a must-listen.
“Healing Through Horror”
This episode hit so close to home it’s actually difficult for me to write about. As someone who loves the horror genre specifically as a means of dealing with trauma, this episode spoke to me on a very intimate level. I think for those who don’t also live through this very specific experience, this episode effectively paints horror in a new light. Even if you’re not someone who actively seeks out the horror genre, I absolutely recommend this episode.
Unfortunately, nothing much worth discussing last Thursday. Very excited for this Thursday, though, which will bring us a new episode of The Adventure Zone!
“29 – This Simple Advice Completely Changed the Way I Eat”
This week’s Bite featured Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the elements of Good Cooking. Like Nosrat says in the interview, these are concepts obvious to those who do cook, but explaining each component hasn’t really been done yet. There was an interesting analysis on what makes up the “acid” category that I think many could stand to hear (as well as the segment on salt, because so many cooks under-salt their food), but the episode ultimately falls flat when it becomes a taste test–something not exactly logical for the audio format.
“Aimee Mann – Patient Zero”
Well, I certainly would not have paired up Aimee Mann and Jonathan Coulton, but damn if it isn’t a winning combination. As a fan of both, I enjoyed this episode immensely. However, if you’re not already a fan, i can’t imagine this episode being one of the more exciting listens. Mann’s standard monotone does very little to liven the episode, which pains me to say.
“#4: The Elephant in the Room”
This episode of Nancy walks down the well-trodden path of “Democrats ask republicans why they’re republicans,” but unlike other shows that add nothing new to the discussion, Nancy adds the factor of talking to gay republicans. The episode is extremely frustrating to listen to, but in a way that I think is productive. It does explain why someone who is gay would also be a republican and how those people–almost entirely cis white men–plan to further their rights while staying in line with their political beliefs. I was surprised by the end of the episode, which shows some genuine growth from the republicans who were interviewed, but all in all, I think this episode helped solidify many of my own political beliefs by sheer contrast.