On Podcasts: The Playlist

I started On Podcasts as a way to explore the vast universe of available podcasts out there, to share my thoughts with you and to formulate a playlist for myself. I was preparing to listen to another new podcast this week, but then I was like, “No, I have enough at this point.” So I present my current go-to playlist of podcasts.

Pop Culture: The Read

Humor: Unhappy Hour

Politics: Pod Save America

Learning: Live From the Poundstone Institute

History: The Dollop

Entertainment: Welcome to Nightvale

For now we’ll be moving to new things on Wednesdays, but I hope you’ve found a podcast or two to enjoy as a result of this series. What podcasts are go-tos for you? Share in the comments.

On Podcasts: My Dad Wrote a Porno

MDWAP

http://www.mydadwroteaporno.com/

As many of you know I am in a book club group on Facebook founded by the great Samantha Irby (of Meaty and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life fame), but books aren’t all we talk about. On occasion the topic moves to other media, and with podcasts being in one of the largest media bubbles I have ever seen, often we discuss those that we enjoy the most.

A podcast that I kept seeing on lists but that I had never tried was today’s topic: My Dad Wrote a Porno. Everyone kept saying it was hilarious and so, finally, I got around to listening.

It is pretty funny. It’s a group of three British people (two guys and a woman) reading a chapter per episode of the host’s dad’s self-published erotica novel (soon to be a series if the information shared in the first episode becomes real) and making fun of the writing style, word choices, anatomy faux pas, and the limits on erotic interaction that only being a man in his 60s can elicit. His dad wrote a porno, and it’s so bad it’s good to make fun of and make a podcast about.

It is erotic, and I am not squeamish or puritanical enough to avoid it, but the truth is that there are other, funnier, less graphic things to listen to and so after listening to the first episode of this podcast I decided that I would get my laughs elsewhere. I don’t have a lot of time in my day and if I have the option, I would rather not listen to vaginas being described as popping open like tupperware and then laughing because “gosh isn’t that dumb, old guys really don’t understand female anatomy LOLOLOL.”

It wasn’t for me, but it was funny and it might be for you. Check out the first episode to see for yourself.

On Podcasts: Unhappy Hour with Matt Bellassai

unhappy hour

This fucking podcast is everything I wish that my podcast could be. I love Matt Bellassai so much. From his Buzzfeed web series “Whine About It” to his current series “To Be Honest” to this new podcast, there is nothing I enjoy more than listening to this lovely person complain about shit.

He makes fun of weirdo news stories, picks on well-known celebrities, and complains about the world while drinking with celebrity guests. His segment called “Deep Dive” goes into detail about a certain topic. The one they did about Texas was HILARIOUS but also terrible and you should go listen to it immediately.

Combining this podcast with The Read (with Kid Fury and Crissle) and Pod Save America will ensure that I get my fill of anger for the week in The After Times. I love podcasts that are mean but also funny and also like hanging out and gossiping with friends.

On Podcasts: Car Talk

Car Talk

http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510208/car-talk

Hosted by Tom and Ray Magliozzi from “our fair city” Cambridge, Massachusetts, Car Talk is a long-time favorite of NPR listeners. It’s one of the two programs I enjoy listening to on Saturday, the other being Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. The radio show was on from 1977 through 2012, when they retired, I think due to one of the brothers having a strong onset of Alzheimer’s. The show was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2014, and after Tom died in 2014 Ray hosted a one time special episode in his honor.

If you’d like to read more about the history of the show, I checked the Wikipedia and it looks pretty accurate. You should check it out, because the hosts are really interesting (they both have degrees from MIT!).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car_Talk

I listen to this podcast because the accents help me remember the golden days when I used to have a Downeast accent (a strange combo of Boston and New York) and brings back memories of living in the northeast. I like hearing about car solutions and even though we live in an age now where things like driving a standard or doing your own car maintenance is becoming either obsolete or impossible, it’s nice to hear how you might fix something or at the very least know that something is wrong.

There are jokes and puzzles and conversation – it’s a very New England podcast. It feels like you’re just sitting around the table having a beer and a convo about cars (cahs). To me it’s comfort food. I encourage you to check it out. Read about its history, read about the hosts, and then check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

 

On Podcasts: All the Books! (Book Riot)

All the Books

https://bookriot.com/listen/shows/allthebooks/

Book Riot is an expansive website that covers all things books. It’s what I wish I could be with my own podcast Based on the Book, just in a smaller way. They write tons of articles on old books, new books, favorite books, lists of books, ideas drawn from books, you name it! This particular podcast is dedicated solely to weekly new releases, recommending those that seem worthy to the hosts.

I think that eventually this will be a very valuable podcast for me to keep up with once I get to the point that I am reviewing mostly new releases or ARCs. I get what I can but I just can’t afford to keep up. But at some point I expect to be reading 1-2 new releases as they come out, and hearing what these ladies think about them will help me in my research and the information I provide for you, my loyal readers. I’m always especially interested when the big names (e.g. The New York Times Book Review) has a vastly different opinion than mine, so adding Book Riot to my explorations will be interesting too.

These podcasts remind me of how small I am, but they also motivate me to be better and to find something that is uniquely Angry Angel Books. What I’m doing is already being done in this giant podcasting bubble, often better than I could possibly do due to equipment and time constraints, so I have to find a way to stand out. I’m only on episode 9, so I’m still evolving, but listening to all these other podcasts is definitely opening my eyes and giving me ideas.

If new releases are your thing and you have to have the fresh, new content, check out All the Books! and they’ll keep you in the know.

On Podcasts: The West Wing Weekly

West Wing Weekly

http://thewestwingweekly.com/

I absolutely love The West Wing. That’s not very impressive, I guess, since anyone that has seen it probably loved it too. 7 seasons of how the government operates with multiple plot lines, walk & talks, and ripped from the headlines type issues that the West Wing staff would need to deal with. The first four seasons were powerful, the last 3 were pretty okay with several moments of BAD, but all in all it deserves its place on the list of best television series.

Now let’s talk about the podcast.

It’s buddies Josh Molina (Will Bailey from the show) and Hrishikesh Hirway (Hrishi for short) talking about the episodes and what happens in them while adding extra commentary that, if you are a fan of the show, you probably already know. Listening to the first few episodes definitely made me want to go back and watch the series for a 6th time, but it did not make me want to continue listening to the podcast.

I have watched this entire series at least 5 times that I can remember. I have absolutely no interest in listening to these gentlemen explaining the episodes to me. What purpose does that serve? All the episodes are on Netflix, so just go watch the show. I have no interest in “behind the scenes” type commentary because, like I said, if you are a fan you’ve probably heard all they have to say, plus this series has been off the air since…2006? 2007? I’m not exactly on the edge of my seat to hear about the feud between Rob Lowe and Martin Sheen in season 3 episode 7 because Lowe didn’t get the cookies he wanted (I made that up, Martin Sheen is a saint).

Also, Molina didn’t join the series until…season 4 maybe? Let me look…yes, season 4. HOW ARE YOU GONNA COMMENT ON SEASONS 1-3 FOR ME, JOSHUA? You were on Sorkin’s other coke-fueled show, Sports Night, and they wouldn’t let you be Sam Seaborn because they wanted a sexier, non-nerdy gentleman. And don’t even get me started on Scandal. *walks away*

So while I was initially excited about this podcast, it’s just not as interesting as simply going back and re-enjoying the series for yourself. I’ll give them this though, with all those episodes and only publishing once a week, it’s fertile content ground. There are so many podcasts that rely on existing content for their survival (mine relies on books, so I can’t get too judgy on this score), and the husband said there is a podcast that does this same thing but with Simpson’s episodes. HOLY BALLS. That’s content for years if they can keep it up.

Seems gimmicky though. Podcasts that just describe something that’s already been done are always going to seem inferior in my mind to podcasts like Welcome to Nightvale that, while based on existing literature, offer a unique listening experience. I am probably not explaining this distinction very well, but I have no interest in listening to someone describe something to me that I can go and listen to/experience for myself.

On this one, it’s a soft pass. If you listen, let us know what you think.

On Podcasts: Pod Save America

Pod Save America

https://getcrookedmedia.com/here-have-a-podcast-78ee56b5a323

I absolutely love this series, because it is forcing me to listen to and try so many podcasts! And there are so many. Many of you know that I have my own podcast, Based on the Book (available on iTunes and Google Play Music and I link to them over in the sidebar on this site ——>) and since I am only on episode 8 this week I am painfully aware that (a) I am a small fish in a VERY big ocean and (b) EVERYONE HAS A PODCAST so being able to separate the good from the bad can save you a lot of time.

Pod Save America is hosted by four gentlemen and states that it is for people who are not yet ready to give up or go insane, so I’m hoping I’m still allowed to listen to it? *fingers crossed* In The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight style, they talk about the week’s news  and interview people with important views and information to share related to the happenings.

Something that is very important to me in a podcast is the sense that I am sitting in a room having a conversation with friends. I love The Read, not because of the pop culture stuff they touch on, but because I feel like I’m talking to friends about things they are interested in and I’m also learning about the world around me as I go. Pod Save America is a listening experience that simulates sitting around with friends screaming THIS IS FUCKING NUTS and it feels so good to hear them say it.

This is an informed and entertaining ~45 minute gathering that allows you to remember that you are not alone and that this is not normal. Sometimes watching MSNBC or CNN gives the sense that we are trying to analyze the After-Times with Before-Times logic and they aren’t willing to let go of that. Having a podcast like this or a show like The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight to supplement that approach can truly help you strip away the bullshit and stay sane in a world that is on fire.

If you are interested in politics, America, and staying aware in a society that seems to be tearing itself apart, add Pod Save America to your playlist. Right now. Go. Why are you still here?

On Podcasts: Live From the Poundstone Institute

poundstone institute

http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510322/live-from-the-poundstone-institute

“Every week, we’ll keep looking for knowledge, because we know we left it somewhere.” – Paula Poundstone

I am not a regular NPR listener, mostly because if I’m going to listen to something while I’m in the car it’s going to be the Lemonade album over and over until the CD refuses to play anymore don’t @ me. But when I’m riding in the car with the husband he listens to NPR ALL THE TIME so if I had to pick, I would pick All Things Considered and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.

One fateful Saturday a lovely lady named Paula Poundstone was on the panel and I fell in love. She’s absolutely hilarious and fills my need for women in entertainment that are not here for your bullshit. Dry, witty, and quick, it’s always a good show if she’s on.

So when I heard that she had a new podcast out I jumped on it because I am tired of catching up to podcasts that started like 390842075483 years ago and this is my chance to listen from the beginning in real time! It attempts to gather knowledge on all topics far, wide, and wacky. Episode 1 was a delight – they talked to someone who studied perceptions of appearance, a scientist who takes swabs of surfers for science, and gave an unusual personality test to a celebrity. It’s all done live, giving it a WWDTM feel, but with more focus on Paula, AS IT SHOULD BE.

I already know this podcast will be on my regular listening schedule. It’s smart, dry, and funny and I love it. Go check it out! (Paula if you’re reading this, you’re amazing and I love you!)

On Podcasts: What Should I Read Next?

What Should I Read Next

I like to think of this podcast as The Book Psychic or The Book Doctor. Anne Bogel has a guest on the show, and she has them tell her three favorite books, one that they hated, and what they are currently reading or have read lately, and she uses that information to decide what they should read next. The interview format works well for Bogel’s podcast, however her interviews feel very scripted as opposed to conversational.

What I like about this podcast is that Bogle seems to bring attention to the idea that reading can be done in a thoughtful way. Instead of just grabbing books that look good, readers can do a personal version of Amazon’s “because you bought this, you might like this” approach. There are so many books out there and you will never read them all, so you might as well surround yourself with books that you enjoy. I appreciate that the seems to always suggest books that are comfortable and those that might challenge the reader, all while managing to stay in their enjoyment circle.

I guess the only thing I didn’t like was Bogle’s “podcast voice.” It reminded me of how SNL, Parks and Recreation, and other shows have made fun of NPR – they put on a voice to seem quiet and impressive. Occasionally it sounds disingenuous when she said “oh, interesting, I love it” and I’m like, “ugh interesting.”  I’m not convinced.  To be fair though, to say that to your guest every single week…everything isn’t interesting, but we have to be polite, you know? And to be fair, I’ve only listened to three episodes. As a new podcaster myself, I am also hopeful that people won’t judge me too harshly in these early times as I am still figuring things out. So my one critique may go away with time as she gets more comfortable in her podcasting skin.

The reason I keep listening to this podcast is because she lists 10-15 books every single episode and the show notes are basically a gold mine of ideas for what to read next. Most are books I’ve heard of but some I haven’t and so I’m kind of making a TBR list based on this podcast because I would have never thought to pick them out, especially the non-fiction suggestions.

So occasionally eye-roll inducing vocals aside, this is a very valuable podcast if you are an avid reader. Check it out and have a notebook handy to write down all the books you’ll want to read next!

 

 

On Podcasts: Levar Burton Reads

Levar Buton Reads

Levar Burton is intersectionality personified. His name speaks to children and adults alike. Science fiction nerds and serious historical nonfiction consumers. He has been Kunta Kinte and Martin Luther King and has danced foolishly through libraries.  His voice can be found on numerous animated programs. He is a legend. When you say Levar Burton, only the hipsterest of hipsters would say “Oh him? Never heard of him.” And then we would forget about that jerk and go back to loving Levar Burton.

I have not yet been able to get into audiobooks. I cannot do it. My mind wanders to other things and then I’m two chapters in and I have no idea what just happened. When I read I need to actually be reading the book, either in physical or e-book format. That’s just where I am at right now.

But then I listened to episode 1 of Levar Burton Reads. He starts with a sort of meditation invitation: to get comfortable, to open our minds, to take some deep breaths, and to get ready to listen. Truth be told I was typing up the review for Cruel Beautiful World while watching the weather on Bay News 9 while listening, so I wasn’t necessarily in the right space for this. Here’s what I discovered about myself though: maybe audiobooks and podcasts like this one are my opportunity for meditation.

Maybe just putting something like this podcast on for 30 minutes and just deep breathing and listening could be a way for me to relax. Maybe, just maybe, I can enjoy audiobooks or books being read to me if I pair it with meditation. Candles, comfy chair, closed door, headphones – it all came to me in a rush as he was reading, and you probably could have seen the light bulb come on over my head like Wile E. Coyote. I’ve been wanting to get into meditation. I’ve been wanting to find a way to get into audiobooks.

Levar Burton, you sneaky, epiphany-inducing butterfly.

So duh, go enjoy his new podcast.