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What's the Barbenheimer of podcasts?
Parrots on social media, Sun-Man, a good thief, betrayal and leviathans, a happy life, Barbie facts, Cillian Murphy.
With the release of Oppenheimer and Barbie, Barbenheimer is officially upon us! Watching the movies back to back is like dinner and dessert. It’s getting that mix of salty and sweet. And it’s happening in my podcast queue all the time. People have compared previous box office opening weekends where a dramatic movie was up against a rom-com and now I want to see those same comparisons for podcast releases. Was there a time when a true crime show and a pop culture show launched at the same time? File that under something to research…eventually. Although I didn’t plan well enough for this week’s stack of shows to be much of a Barbenheimer experience for you, I definitely find myself looking for something sweet after listening to a show that’s more intense.
This week’s podstack
If you like learning about the most random and fascinating facts around, you’ll have a blast with this show. I tend to pop in to episodes when I want to learn something new and this recent episode caught my attention. Hosts Rachel and Chelsey, along with guest Heather Radke, each bring a different fact they learned this week to the show and they swap stories to entertain us and each other. You’ll learn about the complexities of the ways parrots are impacted by communicating with each other and it’s not in the way you might think. A study of parrots who had video calls with other parrots showed the powerful ways it changed, and arguably improved, their lives. If you’ve ever wondered how accurate the labeling of chicken meat is, as it pertains to the living conditions of the chickens, prepare for some hard truths. Beyond that, it’s turns out the popularity of chickens as livestock and a favourite food was kind of an accident. And I’m not gonna lie, it was the backstory of butts in this episode that caught my attention. Except, it’s not just about butts. It turns out that attempts to determine the standard measurements for a female body is incredibly difficult to do because there are way too many variables that constantly change. And the attempts to determine that standard measurement have roots in eugenics. This show is good at taking findings from scientific research or sources and making it easy to follow and absorb.
I heard a promo for this episode on an episode of Into It and I immediately added it to my queue. Good promos work! It tells the story of a mom who took on the challenge of inventing a new superhero action figure after her son told her he could never be a superhero because isn’t white. At the time, she couldn’t find any toys to get him that would provide the representation he needed to see, so she figured out how to make one. You learn about what she went through to get the toy created, the psychology of what happens when kids don’t see themselves represented in the toys they play with, and how representation in toys has changed since this story happened in the 80s. The result is a beautiful mix of the woman’s retelling of the experience and host Phoebe Judge’s supporting segments that give you history and context you need for a well rounded episode. (transcript)
Heists, epic escapes, and a real life Robin Hood? Honestly, Kaleidoscope does not miss! As soon as I hit play on their new show, I knew I was going to enjoy it. It follows the story of man in Greece who came to be known as a real life Robin Hood, because he would steal for the good. But he’s also been completely off the grid since his second escape from prison by helicopter in 2009. Host Miles Gray guides us along the history and is joined by reporters in Greece to learn the true story and maybe figure out where Vassilis Paleokostas is now. Like all Kaleidoscope shows, you’re in for exceptional script and narrative structure, sound design and music that keep you hooked, and a unique story you won’t want to stop listening to. It’s just a non-violent operation on a mission to redistribute some wealth! And by episode two you hear from his mentor about how it all started.
If the prospect of an audio drama that feels like a mix of Pirates of the Caribbean meets Game of Thrones, with maybe a touch of Our Flag Means Death, doesn’t grab your attention, then the sound design of Levian definitely will. Lord Valentin Tellari has been betrayed by his sister and forced into exile. In order to reclaim what is rightfully his, he will have to face a sea of storms and leviathans. The show defines itself as a love letter to the sea, to fantasy as a genre, and to every gay thing under the sun, and the combination of all three are felt so strongly in this first episode. The performances and immersive story are too compelling to resist. I desperately want to hear the rest of it and in order to help support its production, the team is crowdfunding now. Go listen, go support, and get ready for an epic tale! (transcript)
Important, Not Important is on a mission to share science for people who give a sh*t and in a world where it’s easy to feel helpless (or hopeless) about the future, they are a source of light. And they cover all kinds of impactful science, from climate change to happiness. This episode features an interview with Marc Schulz, who worked on one of the longest running studies of happiness. The study looked intensively at how people lead a good life that is happy and fulfilling. As he was working on the study, he and his coworkers decided they didn’t want the information to only exist in academic papers, so they brought some of the big takeaways to the general public through a TED Talk and then a book. He talked about the 724 families who were studied carefully over the span of 85 years and the science is told by using their life stories to explain and illustrate what was observed. One of the main themes they noticed was that it’s our relationships that keep us happier and healthier in our lifetime. Support systems and our connections with others are critical. Along with host Quinn Emmett, Marc elaborates on how to apply what they learned in the study to our current experiences with technology, lifestyle changes, and loneliness. (transcript)
If you’re loving The Barbie Tapes or you just saw Barbie in theatres and want to learn more, this is packed full of so many fascinating insights. I’ve learned a lot from listening to The Barbie Tapes, but this added to the knowledge even more! Chelsey is joined by BJ Colangelo, who wrote The Only Guide To Barbie Lore You Will Ever Need, and they end up going so deep into Barbie’s history. Some of my favourite highlights were about the battle between Barbie and second wave feminism, the truth about the Ken and Allan dolls, the real reason for Barbie’s controversial proportions, and the ways Barbie has been ahead of the times by owning a home and going to space before actual women were even able to. I haven’t even seen the movie yet and I still have serious Barbie fever.
For the Oppenheimer viewers, Cillian Murphy’s interview with Marc Maron makes a strong case for what a great platform Marc has built with his show. Every time I’ve seen Cillian doing any press for the movie, I get the vibe that he’s less than thrilled to be there, but that is certainly not the case with WTF. As a fan of the show, this might be Cillian’s most open and authentic interview you’ll get! Marc is really great at guiding guests through the history of their lives and careers to seamlessly bring us to the present and discuss whatever his guest is promoting. It doesn’t feel like a cookie cutter press appearance at all. Before or after you see Oppenheimer, this gives you a sense of what it meant for Cillian to pursue a creative career, something he had always admired, what it’s like working with Christopher Nolan, and where the best spots are to visit in Ireland.
More sweet treats
Thank you for reading! If you listened to something this week that made your heart sing, your imagination wander, or your brain ponder, I’d love to hear about it!
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