Podcast Madness: East, Round 3

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

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

East, Game 1: The Tim Ferriss Show v. Crimetown

Thanks for hanging with me thus far, everyone!

In this round, we have first the Tim Ferriss Show. This is an interview show where Tim asks questions of people who are experts in their field or who have accomplished something that interests him.

This podcast (episode 230) was an interview with Debbie Millman. Apparently this was the second interview, and the format was a little different — Tim gave an intro and then she recorded answers to listener questions (and a few Tim Ferriss questions), so it was mostly just her talking. She’s an artist, designer, and teacher, and had interesting things to say about coming “late” to her career path. I enjoyed listening to her talk about that a bit, and especially enjoyed her answer to Tim’s question about what she does immediately after waking up.

Next up, Crimetown. Episode 2 continues to dig into the life of the former mayor of Providence, RI, this time examining the context into which he started his political career. The episode focused on the recruitment (in a maximum security prison) of two of the crime family’s enforcers. The whole thing seems like a movie — the head of the crime family, Raymond Patriarca, basically had a nice apartment in prison with his own tv, telephone, glass glasses and fine scotch…. Apparently the prison was a great recruitment center, and when your reach is long enough, the prison guards let you do what you want.

While both the Tim Ferriss interview and the Crimetown story were interesting, I think I’m more drawn in by the Crimetown story. Sorry, Tim, you had a good run.

Winner: Crimetown

East, Game 2: Criminal v. the TED Radio Hour

In Criminal this week, another story that shows fact is stranger than fiction. This story (episode 66: Bully) is about a man who single-handedly bullied an entire small town into letting him do what he wanted and avoid consequences for about 20 years.

The story shows how isolating fear can be, and how it can break down the justice system if someone is able to intimidate everyone into submission. It’s hard to believe something like that could go on for so long — police, judges, and juries lived in fear of retribution , and it took a long time for anyone to do anything about the town menace.

Next, I listened to the TED Radio Hour episode on the 7 Deadly Sins. Right off the bat, the first presenter says lust isn’t a sin and can be good. Maybe he’s unfamiliar with how much trouble lust has caused throughout history? He claims our ancestors were probably polygamous, and they were more ok with open relationships, but I think there’s a reason lust is on the list of deadly sins.

I agree with the presenter that equating sex with a deadly sin is a problem, but lust unchecked can pull relationships and families apart.

The other 6 talks were ok — just very short treatments on each topic and how they can be destructive, or else interesting stories of people trying to overcome various of the sins.

I thought this was a little meh for a TED talk. I think tackling 7 sins was a little much for one 52-minute episode.

Winner: Criminal

In case you’re interested, here’s a look at the standings:

Next time, the Midwest, Round 3!

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Podcast Madness: South, 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: Ungeniused v. Random Trek

In Ungeniused, Stephen and Myke discuss the deep archives of Wikipedia. In this episode, “Selfie-related Deaths,” they relate tales of ways selfies can go terribly, horribly wrong. Seriously, these deaths could have been avoided (mostly) with the application of common sense and attention to one’s surroundings. Also, just like they tell you in driver’s ed classes, you’re always going to lose when you go up against a train.

Up next, Random Trek, in which host Scott and a guest watch a randomly selected episode of Star Trek and discuss it. This is kind of a different/ fun way to podcast about Star Trek. I listened to episode 127: “Ship in a Bottle,” which is a fun holodeck episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It further cements the idea that the holodeck is dangerous and should be dismantled ASAP, but it’s a fun 45 minutes of watching the crew work their way out of the situation.

The hosts also have some wise words for Captain Picard regarding password security.

Winner: Random Trek

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West, Game 4: What Should I Read Next? v. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

I listened to episode 68, “Plot Summaries are the WORST” of the What Should I Read Next? podcast. This podcast format has the host interview a guest about their reading habits, hears 3 books they love (and why) and 1 book they didn’t, and suggests a couple books they may enjoy based on their reading taste. It’s literary matchmaking!

This is a great idea, though in this case the guest’s literary tastes are very unlike my own (she enjoyed Stephen King and tear-jerker memoirs; I’ve never read Stephen King as I’m a little afraid I’d never be able to sleep again, though I hear he’s an excellent writer).

For Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, I listened to episode 2: Loneliness: The Vanishing Glass. Hearing about reading chapter 2 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher/ Sorcerer’s Stone looking for the theme of loneliness was interesting — it’s pervasive in this chapter and a great theme to tease out.

The hosts also discuss Dudley’s complaint that he “only” got 36 birthday presents, and they judged him less harshly for this than I.

I like this podcast, but I feel a little uncomfortable about mapping spiritual practices onto novels. That said, I appreciate their perspective and thoughtfulness and obvious love of the source material. It’s a fresh take on a beloved and oft-discussed series.

This was a close one, but I think I want to broaden my reading horizons….

Winner: What Should I Read Next?

Next time: East, Round 3!

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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.