Do You Need New Voices in Your Head?

I’m a late comer to the podcast party. I’ve enjoyed audiobooks since the Bush years when listening to the news while driving to work was a daily exercise in rage at environmental destruction and human rights violations. Thank goodness for audiobooks now!

However I did not invest in a podcast until my team decided to use season one of Serial for a class unit. We used the case of Adnan Syed to discuss research, bias, and who done it! HBO promptly released a documentary allegedly revealing more evidence. This happens every time we try something new. Taught The Help for one year, movie released.

The book to podcast to HBO special and tour was already well established with the first podcast to really draw me in: My Dad Wrote a Porno. Yes, that pretty much lays out the premise. Basically the narrator’s senior citizen father whose nom de plume is Rocky Flintstone wrote and self-published “erotic literature”(say that in your best British accent as all involved are British which makes it even better) called Belinda Blinks. You can absolutely buy it on Amazon, but you’re much better off with the podcast.

Every episode, Jamie, the put-upon son, reads a chapter from his dad’s books (Rocky cranked out 5 very quickly) while pausing for commentary and analysis of Rocky’s sentence structure, plot lines, and sexual prowess from companions James and Alice. It becomes clear from chapter one that Rocky’s grasp of grammar and knowledge of anatomy are highly suspect.

It’s all incredibly inappropriate and hilarious. My cupcake lady’s husband (everyone should have a cupcake lady) recommended the podcast so I would go back to him for discussion. I determined that part of the reason I enjoyed this podcast so much was that everyone on it seemed deliriously happy to be a part of it, constantly joking and giggling. Who knew the cervix was so funny? Unfortunately, I listened to all 5 seasons and the group was on tour with no season 6 in sight. Because cupcake lady’s husband was an avid listener of many podcasts, I walked away one day with cupcakes and a post-it note of recommendations just in time for the world to come to a screeching halt.

This is a lot of text! To break it up, here’s some sourdough bread I made during the stay-at-home most likely while listening to a podcast. Podcasts are great for cooking and also good for putting away folded laundry, and changing sheets on the bed.

During the Stay-At-Home order podcasts became a part of my daily routine more than usual. I started with one of his new recommendations Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet. A brother and sister duo Alex and Christine dramatically read one star reviews of products and places. Each show has a focusing theme like “Dunkin Donuts in Concord, New Hampshire.” Each episode ends with a challenge from one sibling to the other along the lines of things like find a 5 star review of a BBQ restaurant from a vegan. The trend in my listening is still people who seem happy to be broadcasting, and ridiculous but humorous scenarios.

Beach too Sandy led me to the And That’s Why We Drink podcast because Christine kept mentioning her murder podcast and friends Em and Allyson during Beach Too Sandy. During each episode of And That’s Why We Drink, Em who was once a paranormal investigator covers a ghost story or story of a haunted location, followed by Christine telling a true crime story. In between gruesome acts and possessions there’s a lot of interaction with Gio the dog, consuming of wine, and general commentary on their lives. They’re my current favorite possibly because the supernatural and true crime or mysteries are where my reading tastes trend. I’ve tried to like My Favorite Murder another true crime podcast which my seniors recommended one year and which Christine mentions frequently. However I’ve only made it through the first couple of episodes because the narrators sounded like the senior girls who recommended the podcast. At the time, my senior class seemed to be populated by the main cast of Mean Girls and several John Hughes standards. I often described them by saying if anyone needed to cast a teen movie, I had their stereotypes.

Also on the post-it note was How Did This Get Made?. This one sort of analyzes bad movies, sort of makes fun of them in the process, and sort of gives some behind the scenes info. I’ve found that I like it more when it’s discussing a movie that I’m familiar with, but the narrators are prone to getting really loud and screamy really quickly.

You’ve made it this far! Enjoy Sookie’s belly floof! One more to go.

Finally, my absolute enjoyable go-to is The Office Ladies podcast. I was not a fan of The Office when it was out, but have grown to appreciate it much more via Netflix and re-runs. I often find Michael Scott’s behavior to be reprehensible and cringe worthy, but that may be because I feel like I’ve worked for the evil version of him. Additionally, my students think that they have been the first ones to discover the wonders of shows like The Office and Friends via Netflix so best to know what’s going on.

Pam and Angela or Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey host the show. It’s the only podcast on the list that I feel “current” with as they only started broadcasting in October of 2019. Frenemies on TV, friends in real life. Each episode gives a run-down of the plot, commentary from the two actresses about their experiences, the occasional special guest from the cast and crew, and tons of behind the scenes “how’d they do that?” information. For example, I had no idea how many of the cast members were actually also staff writers. Toby (Paul Lieberstein), for example, is strategically kicked out of meetings or forbade to attend events in episodes because he needed to be in the writer’s room. Again, both women seem happy to be talking to each other and reliving their experiences.

You’ve read a lot of paragraphs! Here’s your reward.

In an Office related twist, Some Good News with John Krasinski came out of the quarantine. I might have gotten a little verklempt when I watched an episode that a colleague shared, but I was REALLY on edge with e-learning at the time. Enjoy!

Gruntled

This is Sookie’s “Resting gruntled face,”

I realize that it looks like she slept on her whiskers and half of her face wrong, but she is very gruntled. She is spending more time chilling out beside me in the evenings, allowing me to pet her without panicking, and, horror of horrors, sometimes actively sitting on or leaning against my legs. Even though the last “sitting on” ended with biting -her not me- and dramatic flip off the couch, it’s progress.

I jokingly called this her gruntled face which put me a little closer to the word origin than I thought. Merriam-Webster informed me that a writer humorously turned “disgruntled” into its happy opposite “gruntled” in the 1920s and it caught on. The Oxford dictionary says 1930s, but so far I can’t determine who the writer was. It’s goofy, gruntled stories like this that helps remind me that language can be fun.

Even Michael Scott of The Office gets it in a speaker phone conversation with Jan: “It was a crime of passion, Jan. Not a disgruntled employee. Everyone here is extremely gruntled.”

Totally gruntled.