Perhaps you’re reading this as you’re preparing to travel for the holidays, or indeed, perhaps you’re actually sitting at a gate right now waiting for a flight that has been delayed for God knows how long and wondering to yourself, What should I listen to? (Aside from, of course, the new Adele drop.)
Well, friend, here I am, packing a very quick issue giving you four possible binge-listening options plus a reader picks. Hope this helps.
Someone turned me onto this recently, and now I’m in deep. Valley Heat is a serialized comedy that follows the rambling misadventures of a freelance insurance adjuster named Doug Duguay, played by the comedian Christian Duguay, who attempts to document, via podcast (natch), suspicious activities around his neighborhood in Burbank’s Rancho Equestrian District. Things start out with a very, very minor drug deal involving his pool guy and quickly drift off to other parts of the greater Burbank ether from there. This thing has strong Mike Judge vibes, thick with a kind of humor that creeps up on you. Thirteen episodes are out now, following a wildly sporadic publishing schedule.
I have a full review on this that’s out this week, but I wanna make sure this show gets in front of all of you. The latest project released under the Radiotopia Presents banner, S***hole Country is a fascinating anonymous audio memoir that follows a Ghanaian American as she navigates a huge life decision while visiting her parents in Accra a few years ago. On top of being insightful, funny, and gorgeously composed, S***hole Country wrestles with larger ideas about the hierarchy we use to describe and perceive different nations. The limited-run eight-part series is currently nearing its conclusion.
The Battersea Poltergeist
Let’s say you’re looking for something creepier with a side of Britishisms. The Battersea Poltergeist played out its eight episodes (plus a bonus) early in the year, and I’ve only just caught up with it. The podcast mostly takes the form of a cold-case documentary, presented by Danny Robins, that trains its attention on the haunting of a South London home, the paranormal activities of which date back to 1956. But the production also includes bits of dramatic re-creations, featuring performances from Daphne Keen and Toby Jones, which I don’t usually go for but pretty much worked for me here. It’s nothing transcendental, but boy is it a good time.
Here’s an admission: I don’t really listen to narrative podcasts on plane flights. I’m morbidly afraid of flying, which means what I truly crave as I sweat out my existential terror is some combination of chill vibes, chatty buds, and a good hang. On those notes, Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber’s Who? Weekly is one of my solid go-tos. Listen, being caught up with the wide universe of B-to-D-list celebrities is tough work. One needs to study for this kinda thing.
Reader Pick: The Waves
Slate’s long-running chatcast about gender and feminism.
Available on all platforms. Listen here.
“First off, I think the show is funny, but I also like how they tackle topics that many of us have discussed at home or with a few close girlfriends, though never publicly — especially the contradictions inherent in being a feminist. Like, is it okay if I watch reality TV shows like The Bachelor if I’m a feminist? Is it okay to love true crime when women are always the victims? The podcast doesn’t feel like it’s ever preaching at its listeners. The speakers admit they like those shows themselves. Also, Cheyna [Roth, who produces The Waves] writes true crime herself. They take a critical look at themselves too.” — Elizabeth A.
And that’s a wrap for 1.5x Speed! Hope you enjoyed it. We’re back next week, but in the meantime: Send podcast recommendations, feedback, or just say hello at email@example.com.
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