Podcast the Holidays Away: Can’t Miss Stories for Your Ears

Podcast the Holidays Away: Can’t Miss Stories for Your Ears

November 19, 2018

With the holiday season upon us, opportunities to sit down with a book are fewer than ever. But tasks that need elbow grease and opposable thumbs, and not much by way of brain power, are up and on the rise. From scrubbing the house before guests arrive, to peeling potatoes and wrapping presents, you can make even the most mundane task fly by if you are engaged in a story.

So consider downloading one of the many serialized podcasts out there. And I don’t just mean capital “S” Serial, which though a great pod is by no means the only one out there. There are a mess of gripping series: some scripted, others told through reporting and interviews, and some improvised. The stories include mysteries, horror, and comedy so funny that you are going to make people back away slowly as you double over in a Target aisle. Load up on saved episodes – because you need something to take your mind off the nine hours ahead of you in a car with perpetually hungry children who are about to get jacked up on sugar at grandma’s house.

Here’s a list of great pods across the spectrum of content types to get you started:

This is a true story that is wilder than anything you could imagine. Dr. Death has it all: a relatable premise of people with back pain needing medical care, a complicated and compelling main character, and probing investigative journalism. Hosted and reported by superlative story-teller Laura Beil, this series unpacks how and why one neurosurgeon managed to hurt so many people. Ultimately, it is a story with both great tragedy and great triumph, with important human, legal, and socio-medical implications. You will be hooked from episode one.

A star-studded cast transmits this scripted story, which takes dystopian tales that explore our fears of artificial intelligence takeovers and flips them on their heads. More light hearted than Black Mirror (because, seriously, a robin crashing into my window and dying is more light hearted than Black Mirror), Sandra looks at human flaws and emotions through the lens of Alexa and Siri-like technology of today. Set in present day, the main character, Helen, voiced by Arrested Development’s Alia Showkat, takes a job at a booming A.I. company but soon realizes that people – and all of the baggage that comes with them – are still the driving force for life’s stories. It has suspense, dry wit, and stellar production value.
Another story at the conversion of fantasy and reality, Homecoming takes us into a world of experimental psychology, government conspiracy, and the trauma borne by many of our service men and women. With voices by recognizable actors like Catherine Keener, David Schwimmer, and David Cross, Homecoming feels like a movie in your ears. And for you literate types, the second season has a companion ebook put out from an alternative character perspective. The story was so good, in fact, that Amazon developed it into a new limited run television series starring Julia Roberts.

Does it make sense for something to be smart but stupid? Because that’s what this is, in the most complimentary way possible. Improvisor extraordinaires Matt Besser and Mary Holland bring us on a 10 episode journey of one man who has taken a job as a test driver of a new robot car, only to find out that the personality of his saucy, estranged, nearly ex – oh and also dearly departed – wife has been put into the car’s artificial intelligence system. Talk about the ghost and the machine! (Holler at me, Philosophy 101 lovers!) It’s a dark premise, but it’s anything but dark. It is absurd, clever, off color, and quite frankly maybe even a little honest in a world where anyone from our past is put on a pedestal. But that’s a real highbrow take, and the show isn’t trying to get preachy. It’s trying to make you laugh. And it will.

Ok, now back to dark. Fans of twisted tales, unexpected plot twists, and maybe some blood and guts should take a listen. Starting with a young woman’s release from prison after an unduly long sentence for a nonviolent drug offense, you just want her to be able to find a life for herself. But it becomes clear that the universe and her own demons aren’t settled on the kind of life anyone could have predicted.

To end, here’s one that, if you are a fan of podcasts, you’ve probably heard of. But if you haven’t, and if you can find humor in a grown man reading the off-the-wall erotica written by his own father, then I beg you: listen to this podcast. The son in question reads his dad’s work, chapter by chapter, with a couple of close friends as the peanut gallery – slash – emotional support. By way of caveat: you will not get turned on. The author, who goes by the nom de plume “Rocky Flintstone,” has the unparalleled skill of writing unabashedly, sometimes horrifyingly, explicit sex scenes that are utterly unsexy. But they are shatteringly hilarious. And usually anatomically incorrect. Oh, he also gives business tips through the underlying plot of the lead lady being an executive in a pots and pans manufacturing and distribution company. I did not say cookware. I said “pots and pans.” Because that’s what Mr. Flintstone has taught us. It’s really hard to describe this hot-mess genius, but if you want to laugh till you cry and also say “I don’t think that’s how that works” in your own head a lot, please, please listen to MDWAP.

And if you need some help saving up time to listen to all of this, reach out to Denver Date Nite. We can make your day, night, or even vacation a breeze by planning it all for you, tailored just to your style.

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