First Impressions, nonfiction

Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet: reviewing the reviews.

Any time you click away from the page for a product or business on the internet without looking at the reviews you are doing yourself a disservice. While the rest of the world ticks along at its normal breakneck pace a beautiful, unappreciated artform matures with every passing second: the pissed-off reviewer. Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet is a new podcast purpose-built to read you some of the choicest examples.

Continue reading “Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet: reviewing the reviews.”

An Arm and a Leg: Bonding Through Frustration

Paying for healthcare in the United States is terrifying, and Dan Weissmann wants to help, at least a little bit, with a podcast about how scary/sucky it can be.  An Arm and a Leg could’ve easily been a bog-standard bit of journalism with Weissmann interviewing a bunch of talking heads, arranging things so fun facts pop up at appropriate intervals to keep listeners hooked. Job done. 

Continue reading “An Arm and a Leg: Bonding Through Frustration”

Song Salad: A buffet of quality podcasting

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Pound for pound, Song Salad delivers more smiles-per-episode than any other non-fiction podcast I am current subscribed to. The hosts have great chemistry, the concept is solid, the content is varied, the humor is genuine.

Song Salad is a weekly musically-charged podcast in which hosts Shannon and Scott produce a short song about a random Wikipedia topic using a randomly selected genre of music.  Both driving forces of the episode are chosen by spinning a fictional salad spinner which is represented by an improvised sound effect suggested by fans of the show (to give an idea of the wackiness of said sound effects, one episode’s salad spinner noise is “a cat performing dubstep”).  Continue reading “Song Salad: A buffet of quality podcasting”

Mainstream, nonfiction

The Habitat : a failure to launch

I like the NASA space program. A lot. When the Curiosity rover was landing I planned my day around being able to watch the livestream from JPL. I kept a papercraft model of the Orion capsule dedicated to the unmanned test flight on my desk for years. I really enjoy anything even tangentially related to the space program.

Gimlet’s newest non-fiction series The Habitat trades on that that childlike wonder for anything involving space in hopes you’ll excuse the fact the series is, in actuality, a low-stakes reality show about six people slowly becoming tired of each other. The only legit space travel content takes palce in the first three episodes whenever host Lynn Levy (late of Radiolab and Studio360) interjects relevant/fun facts about space exploration history.

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‘The Sauce’, be it satire or genuine, disappoints.


The Sauce is an aggressively bland three-episode podcast produced by Studio@Gizmodo and Onion Labs, all under the watchful eye of fast-food megalith McDonald’s. Styled after Serial (and pulled off with the deftness of someone whose only exposure to investigative podcasts is Serial), the three-episode series is one of the most stunted, awkward attempts at telling a story I’ve encountered in my five-ish years of listening to podcasts. It’s difficult to tell if it was supposed to be a satire of investigative podcasts, a genuine attempt, or just a really weird advertisement.

Strike that last one, it is absolutely an advertisement packaged as a podcast. To discuss The Sauce one must understand the story The Sauce is trying to tell. Fortunately, the story can be told in four paragraphs and two quotes:

Continue reading “‘The Sauce’, be it satire or genuine, disappoints.”