Weekly Recap — 4/9/21
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.
The Distraction: A Defector Podcast — “That’s as Simplistic as I Can Possibly Make It (with Thang Pham)”
As per usual on The Distraction, hosts Drew Magary and David Roth talk topics that run the gamut from baseball to politics to football to COVID. The episode opens to the discussion of mask wearing while eating out. The duo realize that masks start to emulate bibs and that you can even eat beef out of them after dinner. “It’s like bonus food after flossing,” Magary says.
Major League Baseball became the main topic of the show after the MLB decided to relocate the July 13 All-Star Game because of a “new Georgia voting law that Democrats and civil rights groups predicted would disproportionately suppress turnout among people of color.” (via NYTimes) The game was moved to Denver, much to the dismay of many Georgians. Magary asks Roth if the move was made more based on money than morals as corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines are criticizing the new voting law. According to the hosts, change only happens when money moves out of politics. Roth spends some quality time roasting Mitch McConnell for being blatantly hypocritical (but what else is new).
The conversation then moves to COVID and the rules put in place to ease restrictions on teams as long as 85% of them have been vaccinated. Magary and Roth say there should be a mandate to get the players vaccinated and that it “feels like a little metaphorical reflection of where we are with society.” He says there’s still the 15% of society who refuse to get vaccinated are essentially holding the rest of the country hostage.
Listen to the full episode to hear what made Magary feel like the “oldest, lamest, daddest motherfucker on the planet,” who special guest, Thang Pham, thinks is dead or cancelled, and how Roth almost created a superspreader event because he and his wife wanted to eat crab.
Periodic Talks — “Mathematically Exquisite Coral Reefs”
On this week’s episode of the newly minted Periodic Talks (previously If/Then) hosts Gillian Jacobs and Diona Reasonover record from unique locations. Reasonver records from a Prius (her wife is using their office for a meeting) and Jacobs is using a closet as a sound booth.
This week, the hosts welcome science artist Margaret Wertheim. Jacobs says she’s been obsessed with her work for over 10 years. Wertheim and her twin sister collaborated on a project that combines geometry and art to make a crochet replica of a coral reef which is absolutely worth checking out!
But why exactly do Wertheim and her sister crochet corals? “The project is designed to be a crafted art response to the travesty of climate change because we grew up in Brisbane, Australia which is the state where the Great Barrier Reef is. Like all Australians we’re very aware that the Barrier Reef is dying out.” She says that the art installations are a response to the news that it’s dying.
So why did she choose crocheting a reef rather than drawing one or painting one? She says the reason is because with the technique of crochet she can “form the kind of hyperbolic surfaces that are absolute equivalents of the surfaces that the real living reef creatures are making.” The surfaces they make are a “kind of geometry.”
Wertheim explains that there’s the geometry that we all learn: the geometry on a flat piece of paper. But on a curly piece of paper there’s a different kind of geometry applied which is called “hyperbolic geometry.” The project aims to introduce people to the different kinds of geometry through making their own projects.
What’s so fascinating is that, in addition to its statement on climate change, the project has become communal, involving folks from around the world, aiming to show that art can be made by large groups of people, not just one individual. “Lots of people working together can create something really special and powerful, something that’s much bigger and beyond what individual can do on their own,” Wetheim says.
The interview is a great one because it’s an example of how adults can be reintroduced to intimidating concepts that weren’t thrilling in school, but can be exciting later in life. “That’s why I’m so happy why we’re doing this podcast together,” Jacobs says. It gives her an opportunity to explore these interests she has, but removes the intimidation.
Listen to the full episode to hear how the sisters are getting people around the world to make their own crochet reefs, their new project involving plastic, and how to get adults to stop fearing learning more about science.
LeVar Burton Reads — “‘Getaway’ by Nicole Kornher-Stace”
You probably know LeVar Burton from his iconic work on Roots, Reading Rainbow, or Star Trek. More recently you might even recognize him from the internet as a serious contender to replace Alec Trebek as the next host of Jeopardy! But his most important credit, in our humble opinion, is “The Best Voice in Podcasting.”
On this week’s episode of LeVar Burton Reads, we hear the short story Getaway, which first appeared in issue #33 of Uncanny Magazine, an online science fiction and fantasy magazine featuring passionate and imaginative fiction, poetry, prose, and non-fiction.
Getaway, is about an all-female gang on a heist to steal a mysterious object, but the heist goes very wrong. In LeVar’s own words, “this is a story of persistence, about searching and striving for connection when it seems completely impossible.” And by the sounds of it, seems like a perfect choice for these strange times we continue to live through, where the global pandemic has kept many of us isolated and yearning for companionship.
Before we get into the story, LeVar makes sure to clarify, “it’s going to be bloody… And have more swearing than usual. A lot more, swearing than usual.” After all, he reminds us from moments before, “this is a heist gone wrong.”
Part Looper, part Reservoir Dogs, Getaway does a fantastic job at creating a mysterious and exciting mood by playing around with non-linear story telling, often jumping ahead without notice and letting the listener fill in the blanks. All the while, author Nicole Kornher-Stace weaves in moments of levity and dark humor. And don’t forget there’s plenty of swearing to go around. LeVar was definitely not kidding when he said there’s more profanity than usual.
So sit back, take a deep breath, and check out the full episode for an audio adventure for the ages.
— Ian Goldstein