Not in the mood for a rant about our broken society? I feel ya. Skip right on down until you see the pictures.
I remember, back in undergrad and before becoming a teacher, I was a bit of a book snob. Getting an English degree, at least in my experience, focused on reading the classics, the foundational texts that inspired all that came after. None of what I was assigned to read in undergrad was considered “contemporary” literature, so to me, this implied that the classics are worth-while and contemporaries are not; classics are meaningful and contemps are drivel; classics are about important things and contemps are about nonsense. It was only once I got into grad school and was forced to read contemporary works that I found several contemporaries that wholeheartedly debunked this absurd theory.
The point of this reflection is not to fall down the rabbit hole of classics vs. contemps, but rather to ask another question: why is it that forming a passion for one thing also usually means forming an enemy with another, validated or not? It doesn’t have to be one or the other, or else! I was talking to a bookish teacher friend recently who was recounting an argument he had with friends about the pros and cons of e-readers vs. hard copies. We discussed it at length, both being hard copy advocates, and ultimately realized that our preference was largely based purely on that, preference. Nostalgia. Stubbornness. Not logic. That’s okay with me, since being a teacher SHOULD necessitate going with the flow and using the changing of the times to your advantage. We decided that each option, hard copy and e-reader, has its own benefits and drawbacks, so each has its own time and place for being the rational, logical preference.
However, I’ve heard the same arguments being had about books vs. podcasts, as though the two are mutually exclusive. I’ve asked numerous peers about podcasts and regularly get the following responses: 1) That’s really not my thing; 2) I’m way too busy and don’t have time for that; and most commonly, 3) I’d honestly just rather read a book. As snobby stubbornness was once my own language (and sometimes still is, i.e. classic rock is the best music, tea is better than coffee, cake is not that good, etc.), I understand these arguments, but also offer logical responses: it’s essentially the same thing as radio or t.v., except in your phone, and with a lot more options; podcasts are perfect for a busy lifestyle; books are ideal when you have time to sit down and focus, and podcasts are ideal when you can’t. I think it’s silly to make an enemy of podcasts just because you already know you like books. Again, the two are not mutually exclusive. Let’s not be so stubborn! Rant over. For now.
NOW, who’s ready for my top 5??
My Favorite Murder
- Lifespan: This one has been around 3 years.
- Hosts: It’s hosted by comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.
- Frequency: They post a “minisode” every Monday, in which they read listener stories. Those are usually short, half-hour episodes. Every Thursday, they post a regular episode, usually over an hour long, in which they each tell the other a true crime story.
- Topics: You figured it out, right? Murder.
- Their conversations sound just like me talking with a friend about the craziest stories we’ve ever heard.
- It makes me laugh.
- They talk frankly about their backgrounds, and experiences with mental health and substance abuse issues. They’re real people.
- They are very thankful for their listeners and are not just distant, unappreciative celebrities.
- Some people want their true crime undiluted, or at least not diluted by humor.
- I know lots of people who find the ladies and their conversations irritating. Sometimes, they get things wrong or just say dumb stuff. Um okay, so do you! Again, they’re real people. I don’t think anyone can just start listening now, without going back to the beginning, without being irritated by their sidebar discussions. Once you “get to know them,” they’re not irritating.
- Vulgarity. Who cares, though? Not me.
- Lindsay’s Blurb: When I first got into this podcast, I went all the way back to episode one. It took a few episodes of thinking the ladies were irritating to turn that irritation to endearment. They’re still dumb sometimes, but after listening for 3 years, they feel like friends. When I want pure true crime, I listen to another podcast (later on the list), but somehow, addressing these horrible stories with interjected humor makes death, and all its many methods, less scary. We all worry about it; why not talk about it?
- Lifespan: This one has only been around for 6 months.
- Hosts: It’s hosted by comedians Scott Aukerman, Lauren Lapkus, and Paul F. Tompkins.
- Frequency: They post episodes, usually over an hour long, every Thursday.
- Topics: Literally anything they want. There is no false pretense about it being educational with a hint of humor. It’s just them talking.
- They genuinely enjoy each other, so it’s fun to listen in on their conversations. Sadly, that’s kinda it. It’s just an hour of purely enjoyable and funny voyeurism.
- Technically, it’s pointless. Again, who cares?
- Since there are three of them, there’s a chance you won’t like at least one of the hosts. I personally don’t like Scott, but the overall conversation is worth tolerating him.
- It can be raunchy/vulgar. Again, if you care. I decidedly do not.
- Lindsay’s Blurb: I used to listen to a podcast called Professor Blastoff that featured three comedian friends talking and it was genuinely one of my favorite entertainment sources. It’s been over for a while and I’ve never found anything that gave me that same feeling of friends talking both about things that matter and things that don’t. Threedom is the closest replacement I’ve found to fill that void. It’s a silly depiction of friendship.
How Did This Get Made?
- Lifespan: Seriously, like 10 years? My app wants me to pay for early episodes (not gonna happen), but the farthest I can go back is to 2010.
- Hosts: It’s hosted by comedians Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas.
- Frequency: They post an hour-and-a-half-ish episode focusing on a different movie every other Friday. On the Friday’s in between, they post a prequel episode, but those aren’t very good.
- Topics: Movies, usually bad ones.
- It taps into your inner movie critic, making fun of all the ridiculous aspects of bad movies.
- It’s super funny. I laugh out loud, repeatedly, every time.
- They have guest comedians regularly, but even without celebrity guests, they are are great trio of friends.
- Vulgarity; I seem to have a “type”…
- There’s a lot of overlapping talking and Jason can be a bit of an attention hog, so if you don’t like Jason, you won’t like this pod. Luckily, I think he’s hilarious.
- Lindsay’s Blurb: You don’t need to have seen the movie of the week in order to enjoy this podcast. In fact, I can’t think of a single movie that they’ve reviewed that I’ve seen. The goal is to listen to funny people talk about funny things. Mission accomplished!
- Lifespan: 4 years.
- Hosts: It’s written, researched, edited, produced, performed and seemingly everything else by Aaron Mahnke.
- Frequency: He posts a half-hour episode every other Monday.
- Topics: Folklore tales.
- Mahnke does really thorough research. None of the episodes are simply one tall-tale. He brings in so many related stories that it’s impossible not to be impressed.
- The stories are often nice and spooky. Not scary; let me be clear about that. Just spooky, like the stories your family always told you about the local hook-handed hitchhiker.
- SHOUT OUT to Episode 2: The Bloody Pit. I said “Say what??” so many times that this ep single-handedly got me hooked.
- Mahnke. He is gifted at research, producing, writing, etc. However, his voice grates at me. He includes incredibly pregnant pauses (my hubs made the joke that his pauses are at 44 weeks. Lol!) for dramatic effect. He phrases things as though he’s rocking my world with these details and… he’s just not.
- If you hear one, you’ve heard them all. In fact, I took a hiatus because Mahnke’s voice temporarily irritated me more than the stories entertained me, and upon returning, it was like I’d never left. It’s nice that you can listen out of order, but they all sort of mesh together after listening to a few. EXCEPT FOR EP 2!!!!!
- Lindsay’s Blurb: Seriously, episode 2 rocked my world and from there, I love that I can turn to “Lore” for good, old-fashioned spooky entertainment. It has also been turned into an animated series on Amazon Prime, which is charming. If you enjoy small-town stories, from near and far, across centuries of oral traditions, you’ll enjoy the heck out of this podcast.
Casefile True Crime
- Lifespan: These have been going for like 3 years.
- Hosts: The host is an anonymous Australian. He sounds hot.
- Frequency: The posting is pretty sporadic, but he usually posts hour-long eps on Saturdays. Sometimes every week, sometimes with weeks in between. I guess that amps up the mystery.
- Topics: Duh. True Crime.
- The show stays completely serious, none of that MFM friendship nonsense. No personal commentary or anecdotes. If you like your true crime undiluted, this is the pod for you.
- It seems very well-researched and contains no biases. There aren’t opinions. It’s just a play by play of events, with some well-researched background and contextual information.
- The Australian accent makes everything better.
- SHOUT OUT to Case 12: Katherine Knight. This is, bar none, the absolute CRAZIEST story I have ever heard in my entire, true-fiction-obsessed life. It is NOT for the faint of heart, but I just re-downloaded it because I remember screaming “WHAT???” at least a billion times.
- It’s heavy. It’s just pure horror from start to finish. There are no humorous sidebars to remind you that life isn’t so bad. It’s dark.
- I think that’s it. Otherwise, it’s dark, dark perfection.
- Lindsay’s Blurb: These stories are well-researched and very impressively narrated. It can get quite dark, so be forewarned, but it is also purely informational, without humor or biases.
Honorable Mentions: “Professor Blastoff” (gone but not forgotten; genuine, effortless humor. I talk about it more here); “Ear Hustle” (featuring, hosted, and produced by inmates at San Quentin prison; “Someone Knows Something” (a filmmaker and writer researches cold cases); “Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad” (coming soon! These are the guys who helped finish Michelle McNamara’s book about the Golden State Killer. I’m not sure if they’ll discuss other cases, psychology, or what, but I’m ready for April 1st); and that GORGE one-time podcast about which the fans just cannot stop gabbing, “Drinkin’ and Thinkin'” (a friend and I had to make this for grad school and we got really into it. We planned to keep going, but she moved away. Maybe one day we’ll resurrect it, adoring fans).
Any other podcasters out there? What are your favorites? Does anyone else love any of my favorites?