I didn’t think there was room in my life for two Dungeons and Dragons podcasts.
And yet. Here we are.
The Adventure Zone is from the goof-addled brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy of My Brother, My Brother and Me along with their father, Clint. Dungeon Master (and babiest brother) Griffin McElroy guides the trio of adventurers through the Forgotten Realms and, minor spoilers, slightly beyond. What started as a pretty standard adventure with lost maps, goblin-infested caves, and promises of treasure has already broadened its scope and taken our heroes to unexpected places.
I don’t think I’ve ever grown attached to a podcast faster than I have with Seattle public radio satire Local Look.
“A Pod of Pods” are collections of podcasts from a category that doesn’t really work for full reviews but still shouldn’t be missed!
Disclaimer: I am not Buddhist – Zen or any other variety. I practice Zazen regularly, but I haven’t taken any vows; I am not part of a sangha; and I have never been on sesshin. These podcasts have been my entry point into Zen and I think they’re all pretty accessible for anyone.
I wasn’t sure whether or not I should do this post because these aren’t really podcasts so much as they are recorded talks. Generally I don’t like to cover podcasts that aren’t very, um, podcasty but that’s a pretty vague term and not a particularly strong conviction. More importantly, a lot of “What podcasts should I listen to?” threads I have read request Zen/Buddhist podcasts as a point of interest so why not oblige as best I can?
I could say more but that would be counterproductive to the spirit of Zen so here we go!
The Worst Idea of All Time wrapped up Friday with a live-taping of their show following a screening of Grown Ups 2 at Cinefamily in Los Angeles. I’m not sure what I expected from the last show: a sense of relief; a feeling that I witnessed two people accomplish something; or some kind of return on my investment. Episode 52 was as good as any episode of the show but whatever I was expecting, I didn’t get it.
And that’s nobody’s fault but my own. I have expended a lot mental energy on a podcast about two New Zealand friends who watched the movie Grown Ups 2 once a week for a year. I haven’t lost sleep over it or twisted myself into fits trying to unlock its manifold secrets but I have wondered, more than once, more than a dozen times: why do I keep listening to this?
There was a moment in With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus’ episode “Healthy You With Kate Berlant“ where the host (who is actually the weekly guest) and the guest (Lapkus, who is actually the host) play improvisational chicken. The two characters allude to a horrible incident in their past that has turned them against each other but neither says exactly what happened that day in the Grand Canyon. The audience isn’t given details but we know shit got real. I held my breath and bit my tongue while I listened. When the revelation finally dropped I laughed loud enough for my cube-neighbor to check in to make sure I wasn’t choking.
Characters in Lapkus’ imaginary-podcast world take a little time to develop compared to the immediacy of a stage show or the Gatling-fast pace of Comedy Bang! Bang! but they don’t suffer for it. The gradual pace is a good way for the audience to acclimate to the new surroundings before the jokes start flying. Guest hosts are pleasantly eccentric, defined mostly by their niche interests and questionable morality. Some hosts work better than others, but there haven’t been any that have left me cold.
My higher education revolved around language. From a double major as an undergrad up through to my masters, I’m well-versed on the topic though not an expert by even the most generous definition. As a consequence of my educational background I have a few friends who are surprised when I don’t pounce on grammatical errors, ensure words are used “properly,” and don’t cringe when I hear new slang pop up in regular conversation. They are sometimes annoyed when I do not stand guardian over language as if she were a helpless waif in need of my protection.
Despite (or, because of) my familiarity with language I actually tend to think of her as a shiftless raconteur who will regale the willing with ribald stories and scandalous revelations, more than capable of looking after herself thankyouverymuch. I’m not certain Helen Zaltzman would agree, exactly, but her show The Allusionist is, in her own words, “a dive under the bonnet of language to tinker with the engine,” so there must be a certain level of corroboration.
Alex Aldea is the founder of The Paragon Collective podcast network. He’s also the primary editor, producer, and ad manager for all of the network’s shows. I’m very grateful he was able to
Ryan’s Podcast Reviews: How did you get started with recording? Did you have an audio engineering background?
Alex Aldea : I used to manage comedians before getting into podcasts. I also played in bands since high school. I never played music professionally but it was my greatest passion growing up. That’s where I learned about basic audio engineering.