Stitcher has a plethora of podcasts worth listening to. Each week, we’re giving you new episode recommendations from some of our top shows to help keep you up to speed and ease the pain of the pod discovery process.
Unspooled — “2021 Oscar Special”
Were the best movies this year the ones that reminded us the least of the pandemic? That’s one of the discussions on this week’s Unspooled. Amy Nicholson and Paul Scheer aim to guide you in which films were actually worth seeing as we get closer to the Oscars.
“I normally love Oscar films, but this year I haven’t felt the desire to go there, to emotionally invest myself.” Scheer says he’d rather watch Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar instead of The Trial of the Chicago 7. Scheer didn’t want to go to a deeper place inside of himself because he’s been living in that place for a year. Nicholson, being the head film critic for LA Weekly, has seen everything. “Legally, I’ll get sued if I don’t,” she jokes.
The two note the surprising disappearance of Spike Lee’s acclaimed film, Da 5 Bloods. But Nicholson adds that it was a bit frenetic. “The tone of that movie is like riding a surfboard in an avalanche.” They both realize that she’s referring to a snowboard. “It seems dangerous and I’ve never done it and that’s what the tone of this movie is. It’s all over the place. But Delroy Lindo and his range just hold it together.” They both agree Lindo should have been nominated for an Oscar for his performance.
The two ultimately also agree that even though it’s the strangest Oscar year of our lives, Hollywood is changing at a rapid pace because of the pandemic and it’s for the best. “And I think good stuff is going to come out of it,” Nicholson says.
Listen to the episode to hear what movie trailer prompted Scheer to say he’s in a “raw place” and doesn’t “need to see that shit,” some of the hosts’ favorites 2020 movies that didn’t get nominations, and the list of Academy Award whiffs (the movies built to win academy awards that just “whiffed”).
LeVar Burton Reads — “St. Valentine, St. Abigail, St. Brigid” by C.L. Polk
Just in time for the exciting news of LeVar Burton’s Jeopardy! guest hosting gig, the host premiered the season finale of LeVar Burton Reads.
This week Burton takes us into C.L. Polk’s short story, “St. Valentine, St. Abigail, St. Brigid.” He calls his latest choice a “magical story” and not just because the protagonist, a young girl named Theresa Anne, can do magic. “I think it’s kind of magical in allowing us to ride along in the human journey of self-determination and love,” he says.
The story centers on Theresa Anne and her wealthy mother, who also has the gift of magic. Theresa Anne doesn’t feel her mother ever loved her. “No one has ever loved me, not for my whole life,” she says.
But Theresa Anne soon finds herself falling for one of the smartest girls at school, Lucille. But she is not allowed to see Lucille because, according to Theresa Anne’s mother, Lucille’s father is a “factory man” and not good enough for her.
Throughout the episode soft piano plays, giving the episode a feeling of melancholy, matching the tone of Theresa Anne’s internal monologue. And the prose, as usual, is expertly highlighted by Burton’s expert narrating. Some lines in particular standout, like when Burton describes the old man client who meets with Theresa Anne’s mother. “He still has his hair, close shorn to his scalp, like fine white lamb’s wool.”
Eventually Lucille and Theresa Anne begin to bond and the story hits a climax when the latter realizes a schoolmate has been hurting Lucille and decides she will take revenge.
The story is about more than just magic, as Burton says. LeVar says he loves the piece because it echoes the message that “it’s our personal stories, how we define ourselves that sometimes get in the way of us seeing clearly to the truth.” Lucille and her mother both loved her. Theresa Anne internally told herself she was not loved, but it wasn’t true.
Improv4humans — “420 Special: Can Pally? Conpalli!”
It’s a special episode this week on Improv4Humans, the 420 special. On the latest show, host Matt Besser welcomes special guests Horatio Sanz, Anthony Atamanuik, and Jon Gabrus.
The guests all brought their own 420 treats, which included gummies and cookies, leading to a discussion about the exact right measurements to take of each, and of course leading to the first improv scene of the show.
The first scene is set in a parking lot outside a concert where a guy (Besser) says he can get a special edible from his dealer that’s 10,000mg in one tootsie roll. His dealer (Sanz) shows up and soon it’s revealed that a friend, Rocco (Atamanuik), ate the whole tootsie roll. One of the best lines comes from Sanz who says the only way to eat one of his edibles is to freeze “the fuck out of it and shatter it with a hammer.” This eventually leads to a grandmother falling into a weed coma and soon becoming “more powerful than ever.”
The second scene might just be the best of the episode as the crew takes us to 1944 where a bunch of guys need to provide sound for a scene in which a “skeleton stabs a horse in the pecker.” Gabrus lets everyone know that “Peter Piper productions is producing the pecker picture.” Jimmy Stewart (Besser) shows up to make an anachronistic reference, admitting he likes Culture Club and needs to clarify the differences between Boy George and George Michael.
Listen to the episode to hear crack-addicted aliens steal a Pamela Anderson NFT, the meaning of “Conpalli!” and the Grandma who ate two Nissan Xterras and shit out a Ford Focus.
— Ian Goldstein