September’s Top 10 Podcast Episodes

Hello there! I’m Ross Llewallyn, and I listen to a hell of a lot of podcasts. I often share them with my friends on social media, but often I don’t get around to each one. Sometimes the moment of interest is more personal, sometimes it’s a bit off the wall, and sometimes it feels way too late to share.

That’s why I’m starting a new experiment! I’ll collect over the month various podcast episodes that were especially funny, insightful, entertaining, or weird. This way I’ll have a dedicated place to put my reactions to episodes, and people will only have to be bothered by my enthusiasm once a month!

I’m tired of missing and skipping starting this because it’s not the first of the month or whatever nonsense. It’s true that I started this post late into the month, but it’s so easy to make excuses to not try something new. I think it just takes a little push to get rolling into it, though. So let’s get started!

(This is an unordered list!)

Planet Money #569: How To Divide An Imaginary Pie

Planet Money is an NPR podcast that talks about economics in an accessible way. It covers both news and any relevant, interesting subjects.

This episode in particular covers in great detail the process of starting a business,  finding a partner, and splitting equity. The subject, Alex Blumberg, is a former host of Planet Money himself and is trying to create more podcasts like this one through his expertise, or possibly a new platform.

First of all, the episode is so funny and enlightening in its strong parallels between finding a business partner and finding a romantic one. So much of the language used is the same, and there’s a surprising amount of emotion.

What’s also special about it, though, is in hearing both sides of the dilemma on equity (how he and his business partner will split the ownership of the company). The perceptions the two men have of each of their roles and how they privately talk about it with their actual romantic partners is some very real audio towards the end of the episode.

Mike and Tom Eat Snacks #82: Hard Boiled Eggs

I. Love. MATES.(1)Mike And Tom Eat Snacks It’s a hilarious improvisational podcast hosted by Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh. They pick a snack, eat the snack, and rate the snack, usually preceded by a lot of banter.

This episode is especially notable because it’s the first one in over a year! They address this in the episode, accusing viewers(2)Listeners? Viewers? Not sure. of presuming them dead. Which I did. It’s a real delight that they’re back, because the humor in this podcast just can’t be beat.

We Have Concerns: Telepathy is Real! (kinda)

We Have Concerns is another improv podcast that also tries to educate by talking about science news, philosophy, or other topics of interest. It’s hosted by Anthony Carboni and Jeff Cannata, the former of whom I enjoyed on Rev3Games. This is a very new podcast, as well!

This episode I listened to in the car with my brother and sister while driving down to Panama City Beach for a family vacation. It was really entertaining because it really took to task the idea that the news item they were discussing resembled anything near telepathy. They also talked about a hypothetical future where we could send mental signals of openness to conversation and how weird and silly that would be.

The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show: The Man Behind The Horse Head Mask

Jeff Rubin is a former CollegeHumor guy who I recently started listening to in podcast form. He finds some really obscure subjects and the people behind them, and they are so often just the most delightful and insightful people! For another example, check out his episode where he talks with a guy who hosts a podcasts about pens. It’s so intriguing!

This episode, though, is about the man behind the company that makes the horse head mask that is ubiquitous in our culture these days. It hardly has an origin or theme except how strange it looks and its instant ridiculousness to wear. The guest chats about all manner of novelty items, from the rubber chicken to bendable figurines to finger nuns, offering the inside take on the rise and fall of the popularity of items and what it’s like to be in the business of trying to pick the next popular toy or gag.

Planet Money #564: The Signature

Okay, this one was at the tail end of August, but cut me some slack. I’m just starting this thing.

This Planet Money episode gets to the heart of an interesting question that most of us don’t think about in our day-to-day lives: why must we scribble our name in some “unique” way to finish a transaction? Why in the age of credit cards and digital money and imprecise touch screens must we draw something in a box to finish paying?

I love when people ask these questions! I love when someone pauses on something basic and asks Why that is. Turns out the signature might date all the way back to Jewish law! And it’s on the way out already in Europe. Really fascinating subject!

Serial: Preview

Serial is a new podcast started by several people involved with This American Life. It’s to be a series of nonfiction, serialized(3)Duh stories unraveling over months. The first one is about a murder. Up right now is just a short preview of what the tone will be like, but I’m excited for it. I’m also excited for the thoughtful, in-depth investigation and storytelling mastery of this group to expand to an entirely new podcast.

This American Life #536: The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra

This American Life is one of the top radio programs and podcasts… period, at least in the US. They often deal with human interest stories on a theme, but occasionally delve into more recent events or news. They also occasionally work with other groups, like Planet Money or Pro Publica.

This episode featured secret recordings of the inner workings of the Federal Reserve, an institution whose job is to regulate the financial industry and economy. They have power over large banking institutions but are pointed to as a source of failure during the 2008 financial crisis where a lack of regulation and oversight allowed the events to unfold. In the wake of the crisis, new policies and culture were to be adopted within the Fed that these recordings show aren’t quite in place or are actively ignored.

Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show: Weird Al’s Manager Jay Levey

This one might be a bit of a cheat, since it was recorded almost precisely two years ago, but the curiously fantastic interviews Jeff Rubin conducts encouraged me to go to his website last week. On it, conveniently, are several “popular episodes”, including R.L. Stine, the Power Rangers’ Bulk and Skull, and the real winner, Weird Al’s Manager.

The interview was great because it was a tour through Weird Al’s career from the eyes of someone close to, but other than him. It was an exploration into his early start, first hits, film, and enduring legacy in comedy music. I’d also rarely heard from managers before, much less one occasionally involved in the writing process with the artist like Levey was! If you’re a Weird Al fan, this is a must.

If I Were You #100: Family Fiction

If I Were You is a fun comedy podcast where duo Jake and Amir answer submitted questions from fans about their problems. I often enjoy the show, though I’ve written before about when I feel they get things wrong.

This episode is special because it’s their one-hundredth, and they invite on two of their most popular guests to appear at the same time. Ben Schwartz from Parks & Rec fame and Thomas Middleditch from Silicon Valley are simply delightful in their previous individual episodes and then this one, full of charm and wit and often testing the hosts and the format of the show! I feel this can be an appropriate entry point for new listeners, which they actually talk about on the show. It’s got all the major players, wacky questions, and seemingly endless humor.

Welcome to Night Vale #54: A Carnival Comes to Town

Every episode of Night Vale is fantastic, and even more so depending on how closely you listen. The fictional town’s local radio station reports on the supernatural or conspiratorial events with brilliant writing and voice acting, imaginative imagery, engaging narrative, and insightful themes.

This was another PCB vacation driving episode that we all really enjoyed. It really seemed to keep my brother and sister engaged by doling out in perfect measure the events of Night Vale with occasional punctuated surreal humor. If you already love Night Vale, you’ve heard it. If you haven’t given it a try, this one is somewhat of a digestible stand-alone! It’s totally worth checking out.

Okay! I hope this list is interesting to folks who don’t audiobinge much. It’s a quite subjective list, obviously, expressing my interests, though it didn’t even hit a fourth of the number of different podcasts I listen to. Let me know if you listen to any, and tell me your favorites!

Notes

1. Mike And Tom Eat Snacks
2. Listeners? Viewers? Not sure.
3. Duh
MammalG01

The Mammal Gallery Kickstarter Event

Back around March of this year, I came across a Kickstarter for an art and event space in downtown Atlanta that moved me. It was an effort to fund needed repairs for the place, but the owners brought in larger themes about revitalizing a small part of downtown.

The Mammal Gallery (TMG) is on Broad Street, a spot I walked through while roaming around downtown and the Capitol last November. It’s a rough spot with few open storefronts or businesses in the evening, which I view as a marker of the effects of wealthier people leaving the area for Buckhead or outside the perimeter over several decades. The folks behind TMG say they wish to be an establishment that can bring business and culture back to the area.

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MarioExpert01

Interview with a Super Mario 64 Expert

Super Mario 64 is a 1996 Nintendo 64 classic that introduced to a wide audience the possibilities of the 3-dimensional platformer. It preceded and laid groundwork for Super Mario Sunshine and the Galaxy games. It was also one of the most important games of my childhood: I played it for hours, beat it multiple times, marveled at its depth and complexity, and messed with it with a Gameshark.

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that about a month ago I took time to read Kotaku and AV Club articles on a recent development about the game. Frankly, though, it should attract attention that this game has any news at all, even without my rampant nostalgia factor. When was the last time anything exciting came out of Wave Race 64? C’mon!

The news? Scott Buchanan, or “pannenkoek2012” on YouTube, was accomplishing major feats within Super Mario 64 that had gone unresolved for years. Notably he had obtained the “impossible coin” through tool-assisted gameplay and significant experimentation. More recently he discovered a “mystery Goomba” and tested different methods to stomp it.

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Why Team Fortress 2 is Fun to Watch and Play

I watched two videos recently that blended nicely together on the topic of competitive or professional video game play. The first was a Rev3Games Casual Friday where the primary trio of hosts chatted about the president of ESPN saying esports weren’t “real sports” and whether that actually mattered. The second was the Top 10 TF2 Plays of July(1)It takes a month to compile/edit the content., showcasing the best moments in Team Fortress 2 competitive play.

TF2 was my primary game while I was involved with Couch Athletics from 2008-2012. I played in and ran multiple weekly events for years and logged over 3,000 hours in the game. I haven’t played TF2 much since then, but I still regularly follow eXtelevision, a YouTube channel dedicated to casting and highlighting great competitive TF2. This video in particular had several great clips from many of the nine classes in the game that inspired me to collect examples for each one and talk about what makes Team Fortress 2 a game of great depth and excitement for both player and viewer. Consider it a primer for an important game and its diverse gameplay, as well as a defense of its value as an esport, even if you won’t ever play it!

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Notes

1. It takes a month to compile/edit the content.

Re: Atheist Debates – Pascal’s Wager and Argument from Design

Matt Dillahunty started a Patreon campaign a few months ago and received significant support for it before even starting to put up videos. He’s a notable figure at conferences, in debates, and especially on The Atheist Experience, a weekly public access show out of Austin that is majorly responsible for my own deconversion. So I naturally supported his Patreon campaign when I saw it.

I finally took time today to watch the half-hour videos he created on Pascal’s Wager and the argument from design. I’m happy to support his efforts even without watching all the content immediately because I personally have heard plenty on these arguments already. What’s important to me is supporting clear, comprehensive, and articulate treatments of many religious arguments into the world. I find great value in videos like these becoming watershed moments or markers of the best place to have an idea addressed. I want really good discussions in an accessible form for everyone to be able to link to, learn, and straighten out ideas.

With that in mind, I have some thoughts about the videos I watched and some constructive criticism that I believe would help ensure that Dillahunty’s videos continue to be made and exist as educational milestones in religious argumentation.

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