What makes a good podcast? I’ve been pondering this question for the past few weeks ever since I asked readers of The Morning to recommend their favorites.
For me, a good podcast is one that makes any trip too short, which makes flying in the middle seat bearable. A good podcast brightens up the chore of folding laundry or cooking dinner and turns waiting in line at the post office into something fun.
I’ll listen to any type of podcast as long as it’s entertaining – an interview, a historical recap, a crime saga, two buddies chatting. I have a friend who won’t listen to any podcast that doesn’t teach him something, and another who hates the “normal people who think they’re funny talk like a breeze” style.
Readers submitted hundreds of suggestions, many of which I had not heard of. Like “Return from the broken, a podcast about addiction and recovery from Colorado Public Radio, who accompanied Wynn Jones of Mancos, Colorado on a tour of the country. As well as “That’s what they sayabout language, which Chicago’s Steven Hunter called “perhaps the most boring podcast ever”.
Here are a few more to check out:
“Looking for Esther“. A Scottish woman is looking for her biological mother. “As a storyteller, she radiates hope, honesty and vulnerability, which touched me very much,” wrote Cesar Gonzalez of San Juan, PR.
“Base!” The story of mainstream cable television, hosted by Doug Herzog, former network executive, and Jan Cheney, television critic for New York magazine, is recommended by Amy Black of San Francisco. It features interviews with Cindy Crawford, Jemele Hill, Tim Gunn and more.
“Everything is alive“. Interviews with inanimate objects. “The perspectives and stories you get from these objects (voice actors impersonating a bar of soap, a lamppost, a subway seat, etc.) are fun, suggestive, and rewarding,” wrote Dana Nelson in Eugene, Oregon. “Perfect for spring cleaning – episodes are about 20 minutes long and it’s uplifting.”
“I have never been there“. “A combination of true crime story, cultural history of a 1970s and 80s West Virginia commune, and a gripping mother-daughter story,” wrote Pamela Gray of Santa Barbara, California.
“This is a clue“. The two sisters chat about Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, and other sleuths from favorite childhood mysteries. “It just makes me smile,” wrote Jeanette Guinn of Columbia, South Carolina. “In the midst of Covid, remembering simpler times was a balm.”
“Chameleon: Hollywood Scam Queen“. Finding a scammer from the film industry. “I couldn’t stop listening,” wrote Naga Nataka of Pahoa, Hawaii. “The tempo, the way people are woven in, is the main mystery that drives the story. A couple of times I thought: “Wait, is this all some pseudo-documentary metanarrative?” It was so weird.”
“fly up the wall“. David Spade and Dana Carvey interview former actors, hosts, writers and other cast members of Saturday Night Live. “Fun and great fun to hear stories about working on SNL,” wrote Los Angeles-based Karen Gibson. “So many great parodies and jokes intertwined – I laugh a little while listening.”
“My unsung hero“. Michael Vujovic of Washington, Illinois, said it makes him feel good about himself and the world around him. “I always end up smiling or crying or both, but in all the best ways.” If that doesn’t tempt you, check out the show’s official description: “Each episode reveals what the news ignores: daily acts of kindness and courage that changed someone’s life.” Sales.
I noticed a theme running through these recommendations: podcasts that offer respite, that make people smile or feel relieved. I would love to hear about music that does just that for you. What song makes you feel better lately? Tell me about this. Enter your name and location, and we can publish your work in the next issue of Morning.
WEEK IN CULTURE
🍿 Rapid Passenger Express (Friday): I always like Brad Pitt in goofy mode as he appears in this colorful film about a group of assassins (including Brian Tyree Henry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Joey King) aboard a Japanese high speed train. This film is directed by stuntman-turned-director David Leitch, whose work on John Wick and Explosive Blonde showcases his mastery of rough and dirty hand-to-hand combat. Also, Bad Bunny appears. Benito!
📺 Reservation Dogs (Wednesday): This wonderful FX comedy, which premieres its second season this month, follows four First Nations teenagers on an Oklahoma reservation. Co-created by Sterlin Harjo and the near-ubiquitous Taika Waititi (Thor: Love and Thunder, What We Do in the Shadows, Our Flag Means Death), it was on our Top TV Critic’s Best Movies of 2021 list. He knows what he’s talking about.
🎧 “Renaissance” (on sale now): Last week I mentioned Beyoncé’s new album. And I do it again! It will be one of the main talking points this weekend, next week, this month. And given that it’s full of “generally upbeat songs” that reference “disco, funk, house, techno, bounce and more,” as our pop reporters write, he could be the host for the rest of the summer.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Is there ever a bad time to bake a batch of the classic Jacques Torres pie? chocolate chip cookies? Even in the heat of summer, these are the perfect chewy biscuits with bittersweet bits of chocolate forming melting puddles in the brown sugar dough and a pinch of crunchy sea salt on top. Mr. Torres likes to make the dough a day ahead so the flavors blend. But I baked them right after mixing and they’re almost as good – still the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made. I like to keep the dough balls in the freezer, perfect for popping them in the oven (or toaster) whenever a craving strikes. If you don’t have both baking flour and bread flour on hand, you can just use all-purpose flour; they will eventually become slightly less chewy, but just as deeply chocolatey.
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Hunting: She wanted to spend her golden years in California. What house did she choose? Play our game.
self care form: Women find opportunities in real estate investing.
Full day at the beach: A New Yorker was attracted by the unusual architecture of the house on Fire Island.
England v Germany Euro 2022 Women’s Final: The English tradition of international football misery includes a women’s team that has reached the semi-finals of their last three major tournaments – two World Cups and the most recent European Cup – but never won. However, in this year’s semi-final, England not only won, but also enjoyed it. (Exhibition: this goal is a heel from Alessia Russo.) Germany, England’s opponent in the final, has won the tournament eight times. Sunday noon, ESPN.