Hey Pod People,
I’m on the prowl for your favorite short podcasts. Have a favorite episode that’s somewhere between the span of one to 12.5 minutes? I’d love to hear about it. I’ve been pummeling you with long and lengthy episodes over the past few months, and boy, do I know it. I’m looking for the episodes you’ve listened to while sprinting on a quick errand or while strolling down the block. It can be dark and deep. It can be light and lovely. Genre does not matter. Bonus points if it’s produced outside the United States, does not mention Trump, or features an octogenarian host.
Please email thoughts, rambles, and wisdom to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Twitter.
Items of Note:
BBC’s Woman’s Hour is launching a podcast on parenting. If you have questions, stories, or issues on your mind, get in touch with them on Twitter or here.
Adulting Nine to Five wants to hear all about your roomies—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Email them your stories or recorded messages to adultingninetofive at gmail dot com.
Girl Friday wants to know if you’ve displeased a man lately. Seriously. They do. Email the hosts at girlfriday at cafe dot com with your deets.
If you’re into mysteries, games, and the deep web, chances are that you’ll want to binge on Rabbits. The podcast is like an audio lovechild of The Usual Suspects (1995) and Fracture (2007). Full of zigzags, detours, and questions that loom and linger, the plot is anything but linear. “Game On” is the first episode, and it’s all about Carly Parker’s quest to find her long, lost friend, Yumiko, who has almost fully disappeared. This is a show for people who like traces of traces, ghosts of ghosts, and prolonged Pinter pauses. It might not be what you’re seeking in an audio drama, but it’s totally what you need. Rabbits has it all: phone interviews, references to a mysterious game whose rules remain utterly unknown, a mysterious death, and, might I add, incredible music.
Line of note: “An ARG or Alternate Reality Game is defined by Wikipedia as an interactive networked narrative that uses the real world as a platform and uses transmedia storytelling to deliver a story that may be altered by players’ ideas or actions.”
Matthew Cole, an investigative journalist with The Intercept, has been covering the U.S. national security beat since 2005; he writes about stories within stories within stories within stories. In this podcast episode, he reflects on the challenges of covering classified and clandestine units. When is it time to publish a sensitive story about war crimes that’s been in the works for many months? What happens when absolutely no one is willing to go on record? How does working for network news tax your soul? Cole answers these questions and contemplates what—if anything—is sacred in the age of Trump.
Line of note: “I don’t want whistleblowers. I want sources.”
The Zaza Episode: The Home Away from Homs
What does a U.S. passport mean? What weight does it carry? Irish comedian and New York transplant Maeve Higgins brings comedy to a dark subject, the trials and tribulations of Syrian refugees. Mona Chalibi, a British journalist, understands data and gives an incredibly quantitative breakdown of the Syrian refugee population in the United States. The episode features an interview with Mohamed Zaza, who reflects on being displaced; on leaving Homs, Syria; on managing a luggage store in Manhattan; and making sense of American politics in the time of Trump.
Line of note: “My name is Mohamed Zaza. Everybody called me Zaza, since we have a lot of Mohameds in my country. In my company, we have like 350 Mohameds, so if you’re called Mohamed, everybody will answer.”
Love Advice from Jessica’s Mom
There’s a solid chance, if you’re reading this column, that you’ve heard of Jessica Williams, formerly of The Daily Show, but my guess is you don’t know her mom. In this gloriously funny episode of 2 Dope Queens, Jessica’s mom doles out advice left and right on defining black womanhood, deciphering love languages, and finding inner strength in times of turbulence. It’s rare to find a podcast that so elegantly fuses cross-generational voices about a topic so complicated as love. It can be hard to find wise elders willing and able to speak directly to millennials and their ongoing quagmires. But. This. Podcast. Is. Good. Stuff. The general thesis is clear: moms, or at least Jessica Williams’ mom, gets it. She’s all about getting listeners to find themselves, their center, the things that make them tick and tock. If you are a lady and feeling like your parents just don’t get you, this might be a calming and meditative episode for you.
Line of note: “Right. Right. I’d say come out of your head too. Be present. Just, when you can feel yourself starting to think those thoughts, come back to center.”
Lamb Investigation Special
I cannot describe how good this episode of the Beef and Lamb Network is. I do not have the energy in me, because I spent the entire thirty minutes laughing. Thirty whole minutes. Nonstop. It is not an exaggeration to say that no other podcast has pushed me to this neurocognitive state. I don’t even eat lamb, and I have listened to over 500 podcasts this year. You don’t have to be a meat eater to love this series. You don’t have to be a vegetarian. And, perhaps you’re reluctant to try comedy podcasts out. Maybe you binge on podcasts about politics, criminal justice, economics. Maybe you’re reluctant to give this genre a chance. Let me just say: this episode is inarticulately mellifluous. On the surface, it is many things. It is first and foremost a story of lamb. But if you stick around for a few minutes, you’ll understand that it is many other things. If it doesn’t do something special to your limbic system, we need to talk.
Line of note: “We’re all thinking about the polar ice caps, when actually, we should be looking at something else that’s white and moving slowly and that’s sheep and the meat that they produce.”
The ins and outs of the DEATH TAX
This episode breathes life into the deep and dark world of the death tax. What is a loophole? What in the world is the gift tax? Taxes are controversial, to be sure, and many of us have spent a huge portion of the last year thinking about a certain person’s tax releases. But, taxes are bigger than Trump. So, if you want to educate yourself about tax lingo, this is a good starting point. It’s good, because it’s thorough, coherent, and reflective. It’s not going to make you die from laughter, but you’ll walk away with more legal and economic terminology and an appreciation for the cultural and social norms that have shaped America’s death tax.
Line of note: “Money very easily translates into political power. Now it translates into political speech.”
Raised on a strict diet of NPR and C-SPAN, Muira McCammon is a war crimes researcher by day and a podcast reviewer for Paste Magazine by night. She can be found on Twitter @muira_mccammon or walking about the woods of western Massachusetts. Her writing has previously appeared in Slate, Waypoint by VICE, Atlas Obscura, the Massachusetts Review, and other publications.