Podcast Madness: South, Round 2.1

Recap: 40 podcasts, single-elimination brackets — 1 winner will emerge!

For the thesis, read the first post here, then come back for the results.

West, Game 1: Pod4Ham v. The West Wing Weekly

This was a close game.

Pod4Ham is a podcast taking a look at each track of the Hamilton soundtrack. A different panel discusses each track and gives their impressions and some background information. They talk about some of the influences and especially the book that inspired Lin Manuel Miranda to rap about Alexander Hamilton in the first place. Mostly it’s a reflection on what struck them in the songs.

The West Wing Weekly is, as the title suggests, a weekly tour through each episode of the tv series The West Wing. Confession: I already listen to this podcast. But I needed one more podcast to round out my bracket, and Lin Manuel Miranda was famously inspired by The West Wing, so it seemed a worthy opponent.

Like the show, this podcast is so. good. Go watch The West Wing  (it’s on Netflix) if you haven’t, and then listen to this behind-the-scenes + fan podcast. I’m going to have to give it a slight edge. That last basket went in right before the clock ran out. I wanted to try to work in a flentl joke for WWW listeners, but I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate that into the post. Sorry, guys.

Winner: The West Wing Weekly


West, Game 2: The Bright Sessions v. The Moth

When I listened to the first episode of The Bright Sessions, it was before deciding to do a bracket, and I just downloaded the episode without any research. So I didn’t know it was a science fiction audio drama, which was funny, though quickly apparent. Since I’d already listened to episode 1, I listened to episode 2, in which a therapist records her sessions with young people with unusual abilities.

It’s an interesting series that uses its sci fi premise to explore humanity, as good sci fi does. Bonus, I know the composer. 🙂 (Evan, if you’re reading this, I like it so far!)

Second, The Moth. It’s another storytelling podcast, though with a focus on true stories, not fictional ones. Both are valuable, just different. I listened to the episode titled “Andrew Forsthoefel: Deluded in the Desert.”

This story was about Andrew’s walk across America to listen to people and their stories (this is starting to feel a little meta). On the way, he discovered he had a limit to himself and his capacity and desire to listen to and care for others. He’s a good storyteller with a good point about knowing our limits and how everyone needs community.

I enjoyed both of these, because I love stories, but only one can advance.

Winner: The Bright Sessions

Next time: The South, Round 2.2.

Podcast Madness: West, Round 2.2

Recap: 40 podcasts, single-elimination brackets — 1 winner will emerge!

For the thesis, read the first post here, then come back for the results.

West, Game 3: My Brother, My Brother and Me v. The Road Back to You

First up, My Brother, My Brother and Me, a comedy podcast, as far as I can tell. They bill themselves as “an advicecast,” answering questions and trying to be funny about it. I don’t think stand-up comedy podcasts are quite my thing though. Some parts of it were funny, but I think I prefer short, situational humor arising from the moment instead of the rambling style of this podcast.

Quick note for listeners: very not-safe-for-work-or-children language.

I’m sensing a theme: podcasts with guys who ramble for an hour or two aren’t really my thing. I need structure, or I need shorter podcasts. Or it has to be really really great.

This gave a distinct advantage to The Road Back to You, the podcast about the Enneagram. Episode 2 was still interesting, but still mostly background information. I don’t know much more about the 9 types than I did last time, and I’m worried this is going to be an extended infomercial for the hosts’ book.

However, the hope that we’ll get to some description in future installments gives it a slight edge.

Winner: The Road Back to You


West, Game 4: Truth’s Table v. The Liturgists

First up, Truth’s Table. I listened to the episode on Black Motherhood, a lovely meditation on what it means to be a mother of both biological and spiritual children. They also spent some time in gratitude for their own mothers (both biological and spiritual). They also acknowledge that relationships with mothers and being a mother can be complicated and a place of hurt and unmet desire. I found it beautiful and comforting.

I think I didn’t have a clear idea of what The Liturgists podcast was about. It’s not abut worship and worship styles, but instead it’s about various cultural topics, approached from a Christian(ish) point of view.

So it’s a bit broader than I originally thought, and I listened to the episode on Fake News and Media Literacy, which was a helpful reminder of what to look for and how to sift through news and “news.” They even wrote a fun rap to help you remember their points (note: some language in the rap).

While I found it interesting, I’m going to have to give the game to the podcast that made me teary-eyed:

Winner: Truth’s Table

Next time: South, round 2! Lots of these are short, so I’ll probably breeze through them.



Podcast Madness: West, Round 2.1

Recap: 40 podcasts, single-elimination brackets — 1 winner will emerge!

For the thesis, read the first post here, then come back for the results.

West, Game 1: Sawbones v. the Hilarious World of Depression

First up is Sawbones: a Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine. I appreciate all the alliteration assigned to the appellation (sorry, couldn’t resist). A husband and wife podcasting duo talk about crazy things that happen (or happened) in medicine.

I decided to ease myself in with “the 80-Hour Workweek,” which discusses the hours interns and residents work. Which are crazy, if you didn’t know. But also it’s supposed to be helpful to completely immerse new doctors into the world of medicine and patient care.

The doctor and her (non-medical-professional) husband had an interesting perspective, and I’m impressed they have time to put out a podcast.

Second, I listened to the first episode of The Hilarious World of Depression, with Peter Sagal. I appreciate that people are becoming more willing to talk about depression and urge those struggling with it to get help. The podcast gives a few resources, and as Sagal mentioned, it’s to help people feel they aren’t alone.

That’s one of the difficult things about human suffering: you feel alone in it, and knowing others are going through the same thing can help, even if it can’t solve the difficulty.

The title made me think the podcast would be funnier, but I think it’s more about comedians who suffer from depression. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good podcast, just that my expectations needed adjusting.

In the end, I’m going to have to go with the medical podcast, partially because I have brothers going into the medical field, so I want to learn more.

Winner: Sawbones


West, Game 2: The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps v. On Being

First up, The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, in which I listened to episode 271 on William of Ockham. Well, technically, it’s the first episode in a several-part series on Ockham. The podcast is about a half hour, so it keeps things short and manageable. This introduction gave some background about Ockham’s political career, which I didn’t know much about. Part one hasn’t even gotten to the famous razor bit that’s pretty much all people know about him, so there’s much more to learn.

Second, I listened to On Being, a show with a host and a guest discussing big questions. I listened to “The Power of Words to Save Us,” an interview with poet Marie Howe. The conversation was lovely and unhurried, about the poet’s life, inspiration, and obviously, reading some of her poetry.

Poetry is so hard to pin down — at least for me. I don’t know much about it, really. It comes at you sideways, and I’ve never learned how to analyze it well. But Howe’s poetry felt good.

I enjoyed both of these podcasts, though they were very different. But I have to pick a winner, so…

Winner: The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps

Next time, West, round 2.2.

Podcast Madness: Midwest, Round 2.2

Recap: 40 podcasts, single-elimination brackets — 1 winner will emerge!

For the thesis, read the first post here, then come back for the results.

Midwest, Game 3: Revisionist History v. More Perfect

First up, Revisionist History, a Malcolm Gladwell podcast examining historical events through a human-behavioral lens. He draws psychological connections between historical events. I listened to episode 1, “The Lady Vanishes,” which draws connections between women who apparently were breaking through in “a man’s world” but who actually might have just been the token female who made the establishment feel better about not including women after that.

Interesting, a little depressing, and I’m not sure exactly what to take from the podcast. Ah, human nature.

Next up was More Perfect, which made it through round 1. I listened to episode 2 “Object Anyway,” about racism in jury selection. Another depressing episode; the divides are so deep, the problems with broken people trying to enact justice in a broken system so broad…. I appreciated that they addressed both the intentions and the legal realities of lawyers hired to do a job who will look for the loopholes in any rulings.

Good, but a little depressing as well.

Winner: close game, but More Perfect


Midwest, Game 4:  The Tom Woods Show v. Stuff You Missed in History Class

I listened to episode 899 of The Tom Woods Show on the Armenian Genocide. Before the Holocaust, there was the genocide of the Armenian people by the Ottoman Turkish empire — but many governments don’t call it a genocide. It’s estimated that 1.5 million of the 2 million population of Armenians died by 1923, most between 1918 and 1923.

30 minutes is pretty short to cover a topic of this intensity, but it’s enough time to get the general outline of events and bring some awareness about this horrific event.

Next I listened to Stuff You Missed in History Class on the life of Walt Whitman. Because of a college English class, I actually didn’t miss the biography of Whitman, but this was a half hour dedicated to his life and endless re-writings of Leaves of Grass.

The show has two hosts who take turns narrating/ reading about the topic at hand, and it looks like their back catalog has many interesting episodes.

Winner: Stuff You Missed in History Class (another close game)

Next time: West, Round 2.1.


Podcast Madness: Midwest, Round 2.1

Recap: 40 podcasts, single-elimination brackets — 1 winner will emerge!

For the thesis, read the first post here, then come back for the results.

Midwest, Game 1: Top 4 v. Hello Internet

First up, Top 4. Basically, what I’m doing here but in podcast form! A husband and wife team test things (or take a list) and rank their top four. The show is a half hour, which is a perfect length for ranking a short list of things.

I listened to the episode on Girl Scout Cookies. While I may have come to a different ranking had I been testing out many kinds of cookies (thin mints forever!), it was an entertaining premise. It’s going to be hard to beat, but next up we have…

Hello Internet. Grey and Brady (an American and a Brit) discuss life and various topics. This time they talked about pets, sports (specifically, the Superbowl, in which the Brit explained things to the American), YouTube ads/ incentives, and tattoos.

This was basically Reconcilable Differences, but with different guys? Again, I didn’t listen to the first episode, I listed to episode LXXVIII, but 90 minutes seems like a while to listen to 2 guys ramble.

While interesting, I could use more structure (or at least more brevity) in my podcasts.

Winner: Top 4


Midwest, Game 2: Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History v. The History Chicks

First up, the History Chicks. I listened to episode 64: Beatrix Potter. This podcast is two women researching and giving a bio, interesting details, successes, and failures of historic female figures. I love the books of Beatrix Potter and her delicate watercolor illustrations, and found the story of her life interesting.

As with many historic figures, I’m extremely grateful to live in the 21st century. The sound quality of this podcast wasn’t the very best, but the podcast was only an hour long. I also appreciated that the hosts gave a long list of references for further reading/ study at the end.

Next, I scrolled through the episode list for Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. You guys, this one broke me. Yes, history is long, and yes, it’s good to have context and detail, but I’m on a listening schedule.

Most of the episodes were part of a longer arc, so I looked at the most recent offering, cheerily named “Destroyer of Worlds.” IT’S SIX HOURS LONG, YOU GUYS.

I couldn’t do it. Dan Carlin is too hardcore for me. I disqualified this podcast on the grounds that I’m never going to make it to round 3 if I spend six hours on one podcast. Even if I play it at one-and-a-half speed (which I could probably do; Dan’s a deliberate speaker), it would still take many hours to reach the end. Why didn’t he put out more episodes so he could break them up into 1 or 2 hour segments??

Send your complaints on my lack of attention span to me anytime, preferably via Twitter, 140 characters at a time.

Winner: The History Chicks

Next time: Midwest, Round 2.2.