The best thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them while you’re doing other things: Washing dishes, going for a run, coloring, and especially, driving. But there are so many podcasts these days that it’s simply impossible to keep up. New ones are debuting all the time, and it’s hard to know whether they deserve a spot in your feed.
Every week, we highlight new and returning podcasts we couldn’t put down. Whether you’re looking for the latest and greatest or you’re just dipping your toe into the vast ocean of podcasts, we’ll find you something worth listening to. This week, we’ve got podcasts about wine, wrongful conviction and its consequences, a notorious Disney movie, and short stories.
Perhaps one of the greatest descriptions of wine comes from an episode of the early ‘00s British TV show Black Books, in which two of the characters exalt over the farmyard of colors, saying the vintage is like looking into the eye of a duck. The takeaway: old wine is good wine, and expensive wine is good wine.
Conventional but not necessarily correct wisdom, no doubt. If that’s all the knowledge you’ve got, then Tanisha Townsend is here to help expel some of the mythos and mystery around vino. She writes about wine at Girl Meets Glass, and Wine School Dropout distills her expertise into quaffable episodes. In fact, each one ends with a Cliff’s Notes recap. Her main message is that you don’t have to be intimidated to walk into a wine shop; you just need a bit of lingo and the right questions to start a useful conversation with your friendly, local sommelier.
In 2005, a burger place with a metal-inspired menu opened in Chicago. At Kuma’s Corner, you can get Mastodon, Metallica, and Iron Maiden burgers, each for around $14. It proved widely popular, and now there are locations throughout the city.
A couple of blocks from the original Kuma’s location, a 19-year-old, Eric Morro, was shot and killed in 1993. The hip burger place is a sign of a changing neighborhood, one which saw a lot of gang activity in the ‘90s. Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez was just 13 and was a member of one, the Simon City Royals. A witness to Morro’s shooting said Jimenez pulled the trigger, then recanted over a decade later. The city of Chicago gave Jimenez $25 million for the wrongful conviction, but he was later arrested for shooting a man twice in the legs. Reporter Frank Main covered the case and is now trying to answer what happened to the man who grew up in prison and was given a fortune but not much guidance.
Karina Longworth started You Must Remember This back in 2014, Along the way, she’s covered early Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, and Humphrey Bogart. Many seasons are deep dives into particular topics, like the blacklist or Joan Crawford.
For the latest season, Longworth has deeply researched Disney’s Song of the South. The company hasn’t released the controversial film in theaters since 1986, but it still uses its most famous song, Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, in a variety of ways. You’ve probably heard it, even if you’ve never seen the movie. The six-episode season will cover not only the song but Hattie McDaniel’s role and the ways criticism of the movie started the year it was first created, 1946.
Daniel T. Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, argues that it’s not “cheating” to listen to an audiobook for your book club, and in some cases hearing a text can increase comprehension. It can also just be a soothing experience. Short stories especially lend themselves to the format, especially if they evoke memories of being read aloud to as a child.
Mike Sakasegawa has a great reading voice, and he lends it to a variety of stories from marginalized communities, including women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ authors. The first is “Whale Fall” by Alvin Park, and the second is “How to be Chinese” by Celeste Ng. After reading a story, Sakasegawa offers a few words of analysis about it, which is thoughtful and illuminating. Subscribers to the show’s Patreon will also get bonus episodes, where Sakasegawa interviews the authors.
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