But Why Tho?

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This podcast matters. But Why Tho? Is a pop culture podcast that is a bit different from all the rest. The episodes aren’t just about why some aspect of pop culture is good, bad, both, or neither; each episode goes further and explains why this bit of pop culture is important to pop culture as a whole and what it’s done to further its genre, make something more mainstream, etc. With certain areas of pop culture/fandom still seen as niche, this kind of analysis is important because it brings pop culture to those who may not be inclined to see what the chain reaction has been in society due to the creation of what is being discussed in each episode. This series covers all different kinds of things: video games, movies, television shows, older things, newer things, etc. I also really appreciate that this podcast doesn’t shy away from discussions about race, gender, class issues, and other topics that are usually seen as academic or uninteresting to most listeners but the hosts do this in a really accessible way that is easy to listen to and easy to comprehend and understand.

Other great things about the podcast have to do with the hosts and their dynamic. I love the way they converse with each other, all the jokes that get thrown in, how when a host doesn’t know something or isn’t a fan of something they aren’t afraid to say so, and also how each host gets to take a turn being the lead on a subject — especially if it’s something that’s totally their jam. This show also does some really fun crossovers and I’ll get into more about that in this next section where I tell you all about what episodes you absolutely need to hear, but I’m totally a sucker for a great crossover and/or a great guest host.

Episodes I recommend: Star Trek (a great look at one of the shows that made fandom and conventions come more into the mainstream), Hayao Miyazaki (if only just for the fun argument of whether all the Ghibli movies take place in the same universe or not), Horror (I really appreciated the guest host!), Mortal Kombat (one of my favourite game franchises and the hosts did the series so much justice with regards to its pop culture importance), Quentin Tarantino (if I recall correctly, the episode was done before all the things that have come to light recently from Uma Thurman’s experience; the episode was great, but I would love for the show to revisit this with all the new information further regarding Tarantino’s problematicness), Bill Nye the Science Guy (Matt is a really great host and I’m glad he was on this episode! If I were to get someone started on this show out of order, it would definitely be with this one. Pretty much everyone knows who Bill Nye is, but we might take for granted why he’s important to pop culture and society; this episode does a great job of breaking that down), eSports (bringing video games even more mainstream and paying people’s college tuitions; how could this show not discuss MLG and all the games that have been played professionally?), True Crime (I am huge into true crime and have been for pretty much my entire life; it’s how I’ve made most of my friends, it’s the genre that most people go searching for podcasts for, the notion of commodifying death/true crime as a form of capitalism, the cathartic use of true crime by those with mental health issues, etc.), Selena y los podcasters with It’s About Damn Crime (I love both of the sets of hosts for this episode and Selena is life so of course this episode is gold.), Religion & Myth in Assassin’s Creed (so one of my passions and something I wish I could study more is pop culture portrayals of religions. This episode wasn’t the standard kind of analysis that Assassin’s Creed usually receives and that was super important to me.).

But Why Tho? is an absolutely fantastic podcast and has easily become one of my favourites. I wish I could be friends with the hosts in real life and pick their brains. Each episode captured my attention in so many ways that I could continue to gush about, but I’ll just end this review here and tell you to subscribe and listen to this podcast right away.

Conspiring To Argue (Why What You Are Doing Matters)

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I have spent entirely too much time mulling over how to go about this post. I’ve spent several weeks (months, at this point) thinking about how, why, what to say. Am I too close to the show itself to give an unbiased review? Yes. Am I too invested in the hosts’ personal lives? Yes. Am I too tired to write a cohesive post at the moment? You betcha. Can I get my head out of my own ass long enough to give you a well-written, deeply thought out review of this particular podcast? Nope, but I’m going to do what I do best: post an uncomfortably long personal tale of how two strangers effectively changed (saved?) my life while sprinkling in some details about how awesome the pod is.

I can remember the exact date and time that I began listening to Conspiring To Argue (July 16, 2017 at 10:36p.m. in case anybody is curious). I remember feeling, as soon as I hit play, that these two random dudes from one of the more relevant places in Iowa would become incredibly prominent in my life. Now, seeing that it’s been seven months of pure devotion on my part (amazing considering how short my attention span is), it’s as good a time as any to try to delve into why this podcast is so important to me.

I was not in a great place at the time. I was ten days shy of turning 21, which for most people is a great time. But, for me, I was just as miserable as I’d always been. I was listening to an episode of Hillbilly Horror Stories at the time, and they gave a shout out to this podcast. And I was like, “Okay, I’ve never actually listened to any podcast that anybody else has recommended…might as well try it out.” And so, I did. As fate would have it, they’d just posted an episode that day about a crazy ass house in Gary, Indiana. And I shit you not, I was in love. Here sat two guys arguing about whether things really are as simple as they appear, whether things really happen the way officials claim they did. Here sat two guys who reminded me of the me I used to be. The one who had an interest in digging deeper, in questioning the validity of things. The me who, at one point, could hold a similar conversation with a friend and find the humor in the drama, the light in the dark. It was not as simple as “Oh, these guys are fun and I like this podcast.” It was never just that simple. Like I said, this was a particularly dark time for me; I was battling disaster after disaster both internally and externally. I had effectively shut out all of the things that would require me to feel. Prior to this point, podcasts existed in my life in the same way music did – anything to fill the silence, give me some background noise, I would accept it. At this point in time, when Nic was still Nic and I didn’t know how poor JJ’s spelling could actually be, I was sleeping as little as possible and surviving on energy drinks & stale crackers. I was barely surviving. (It’s amazing how much can change in seven months, by the way).

God bless, am I just writing in circles here? I think I am. It’s fine. We all have a right to become overly emotional and nonsensical every now and then.

So, yes. I was immediately addicted to this podcast. Part of it is, like I said, how much it reminded me of me. But another part of it is just how unique it actually is. There are pods out there that will cover similar topics and have a similar premise, but CTA just has a different vibe. When you sit down and listen to it, you just know that Nic and JJ are having fun. You know that, regardless of the topic, they just genuinely enjoy each others’ company and genuinely enjoy arguing for the sake of arguing – both pretty important for a solid friendship, I’d say. You can listen to podcasts that are similar and maybe you’ll get that same vibe every now and then. But for Nic and JJ, it’s consistent. Every time you listen to a new episode, you can feel this sense of camaraderie that is really hard to gather from other similar shows.

Another thing that really had my attention was how interactive these guys were with their followers on Twitter. As most of you are well aware of now, I spend a vast majority of my time on Twitter (by vast majority, I mean 23/7 – the extra hour is for snacking). Facebook, IG, Snapchat, I’ll check those every now and then. But I am alwayyyys on Twitter. A lot of the podcasts I listened to at the time (and let’s be real, even now) are more likely to interact via Facebook. I simply do not like Facebook. So it was surprising to see these guys actually stay consistent and interact with followers on the social media platform I love most. It made things far more convenient for me, that’s for sure.

Once again, going back to how this time was a dark one for me – I knew that the things I happened to be feeling at the time were eating me alive. I knew that I couldn’t carry it all in my head. I’d became so invested in listening because it was a safe place for me. It wasn’t just background noise, not this time. Listening genuinely felt like being in the eye of a hurricane. You knew you weren’t out of the woods yet, but you had a few minutes to breathe and prepare yourself for the tail-end of the storm. When I was coming home from work, back into a place where I’d just be stuck in my own head with my own thoughts, it became a safe place to retreat to for a while – to get some rest before having to stand back up and face everything again.

I don’t really just open up to people and trust people, but that’s more or less exactly what I did when I really started talking to Nic and JJ. It was so easy to feel like I could tell them anything, because it really felt like I’d known them my whole life. (My mom jokingly refers to them now as the brothers I wish I had any time I talk about them. She’s not wrong). The more I listened, the more I opened up, the closer I felt. Nic and I have almost too much in common, and JJ is incredibly smart, even if he can’t spell. Sometimes talking to Nic is like talking to myself. Sometimes talking to JJ is so similar to conversations I had with my dad I have to pause for a moment. But I have never ever felt an ounce of shame or guilt from sharing with them the truth of how I feel or what I’m going through. That is unheard of in my life and I am truly grateful.

We are seven months down the road now, and I will stick to open honesty here: a lot of things have gone wrong in my personal life these past seven months. I’ve withheld a lot of secrets, lied about how I’ve been, pretended that I’ve just been dealing with everyday life when, in reality, I’ve been dealing with everyday life on top of some heavier, darker tasks and decisions that have really been draining. The past two months especially have been literal hell. I have said things I’ve regret, done things that I can’t undo, hidden things that just couldn’t stay in the dark forever. I thought I had to bust through some of these obstacles kicking and screaming. I thought I had to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders alone. Through all of this, Nic and JJ were there. Whether through listening to old episodes, silly hockey arguments, or the heavy stuff that I only ever seem to spill out when the sun goes down, they were here.

The main point of this post, other than to spill my guts & gratitude, is to remind each of you that what you do really matters. I go on these rants a lot on the promo Twitter account discussing why podcasts are so important – why you, as a host, are so important. It’s not just me kissing ass or whatever. It’s because for somebody out there, you are the eye of the storm, the light in the dark, the family they’ve searched their whole lives for. You are the best friend that somebody needs, the escape somebody reaches for, the peace in the warzone. As an adult, you know as well as I do that life is not kind. What you do matters to people like me. The next time you get discouraged when you see the stats, just remember that numbers are meaningless in comparison to changing someone’s life for the better.

Nic & JJ – I know I say it a lot, but thank you both for everything. Thank you both for helping me find my way back to me. Thank you both for sticking with me through all the dramatic bullshit. I know sometimes it seems like my life is more of a dramatic TV show than anything. Thank you both for helping me work through it. Thank you both for never doubting me, for always believing in me. Thank you for reminding me that love and friendship is something I deserve, too. Thank you for reminding me that there are things worth staying for. I could go on forever, but if you can imagine it, I’m thanking you for it. I love you both so dearly, and I will forever be grateful for your friendship.

For the rest of you – readers who are listeners and readers who are hosts – please do not ever forget that you matter. That what you do matters. Please do not ever forget that you are wanted and needed, that your kindness and friendliness is what can make all the difference in someone’s day or even life.

(Now that I am back from vacation, I have a new laptop, and my world is starting to level out a little, I’ll be far more active again. Soon, this post will be followed up with an actual real review of the show. But because I’ve seen so much unrest in the pod community lately, I felt now was a good time to share this. Thank you all for your interaction and support with us – we greatly appreciate it!)

 

Fun Dip and Cherry Coke

A drawing of a human face with greenish blue hair and wearing heart shaped sunglasses is centered on a pink background and accompanied with the text "Fun Dip & Cherry Coke".Remember all those movies and television shows you loved as a kid? Wouldn’t it be fun to watch them now that you’re an adult and see how they hold up? Then join host Kira and her friends on a pop culture nostalgia adventure that is the podcast Fun Dip & Cherry Coke.

The episodes all follow pretty much the same format: Kira and one of her friends introduce what they’ll be watching and talking about that episode, the friend explains the gist of the piece of pop culture (subjects range from music to movies to television), the episode takes a quick break so the two can partake of the pop culture nostalgia, and then the two come back from their viewing/listening to discuss the work in further detail and talk about whether it holds up to the first time they viewed it during childhood/adolescence.

My favourite episodes are: “Millennium – Backstreet Boys”; “Clarissa Explains It All” (quick side note: I have never talked back to/interacted with an episode of a podcast as much as I have this one; I was laughing, responding to the hosts, etc., the entire time. Nineties Nickelodeon is my jam and Clarissa Explains It All is one of my favourite shows of all time, so as soon as I saw this episode I *knew* I would at the very least love this one episode if I didn’t end up loving the show); “Earth Girls Are Easy”; “The Last Unicorn”; “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”; “Hocus Pocus”; and the newest episode, “Fantasia”.

As someone who loves pop culture but has some significant gaps in their pop culture knowledge, I love that the host does too and also totally admits to it! And with a title that’s a throwback to one of my nostalgia songs and a theme song that reminds me of nineties children’s television shows, I think this is a show that pop culture buffs and newbies alike should be getting in on. I’ve been meaning to fill some of the gaps in my pop culture knowledge and this show has definitely inspired me to make a list of what I want to watch and then tackle that list! I’m definitely looking forward to more episodes from Kira and her fantastic, informative friend group!

True Crime Island

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Grab a craft beer, grab the least rickety deck chair — this is a review of True Crime Island.

True Crime Island is a true crime podcast about various crimes taking place in and/or involving Australia and Australian people. Pretty much all of the episodes focus on violent crimes (armed robbery, assault, murder, rape, etc.) and I appreciate that because it’s very relevant to my interests within the true crime genre. I also appreciate that the host (Cambo, who I’ll talk about in a second) offers warnings when the descriptions of the crimes he provides during the episode are going to be especially graphic.

Cambo is the sole host of the show and does a great job of reporting on an event (while adding in his opinions, which I love, because when he gets on a rant he gets on it), keeping the listener interested, and he’s also really fantastic about teaching those of us who may be either semi-illiterate or completely illiterate when it comes to Australian slang, law, geography, etc.

I highly recommend the three part series “The Last to Hang”; it details the life and crimes of the last man and last woman to be executed in Australia before the abolition of capitol punishment throughout the country. The other episode I recommend is episode 27, in which Cambo details all about the Munich Olympic massacre; it’s not an Australia-centric episode, but I like it because it’s a great episode and shows how Cambo’s way of hosting and reporting on events easily transitions to other stories and isn’t geographically stuck in Australia.

Another thing I like about this show is episode length; the average episode length is between 35-40 minutes which makes the show fantastic for my commute to work. Finally, the theme tune is a fantastic, jazzy tune that reminds me both of islands and video games and makes me feel like True Crime Island is a legit physical place. If it were, I would totally grab a pint, grab a deck chair, and talk true crime with Cambo for hours on end. Make sure you get True Crime Island in your ears as soon as possible and learn you some cool stuff about Australia.

Let’s all get “Hile on Life!

Hey Ren here with another review.

“Hile on Life” is a podcast that focuses on promoting other podcasts. It’s hosted by Noelle, who seems to have a desire to know and learn about and from other podcasters. As someone who loves to learn new things and meet interesting people this podcast is right up my alley!

I listened to two episodes for the purpose of this review. I listened to the one where she interviewed Brent from the Podcast Home Video Hustle. My enjoyment of this podcast was the topics they discussed one of which was under appreciated jobs. I’ve had a few of them and found myself nodding along with a lot of the things that Brent said. (Mental Note: I still need to check out his podcast).

I loved that Noelle asked background questions and the two seemed to have a friendship beyond this interview. The host and her guest both seemed to legitimately enjoy their time together and that my friends is a big deal when listening to a Podcast for me. I want to enjoy the time so it helps if they are too!

Brent is an inspiring guest to have, in my opinion. I adore hearing stories about people who decide to make their own way in life and buck the system or what their parents may want. Brent talks about choosing his own path and his contentment in that decision. The way he spoke made it clear that he doesn’t need approval from the outside world because he is doing what makes him happy. I love that!

The second episode I listened to was Brittany from It’s About Damn Crime being interviewed by our hostess. What hooked me again was Noelle having a genuine curiosity about the guest and her willingness to share her own personal history. Also, as a Mom, her kid being there had me giggling and saying “been there”.

Brittany talked a lot about her personal life (including her love story and I am a sucker for love stories!) and Noelle shared hers and it was like an “awwww” bonding moment for us all, I think. I have to say my favorite part was discussing strong female role models! Girl Power! I, also love me some Elle Woods. I wanted the discussion about Disney Princesses to continue forever. Plus, she has a true crime podcast with her friend that sounds interesting and I am going to check out.

“Hile on Life” is a gem of a Podcast. Listening to this show reminds of talk shows back before “You are the Father” (confession: I do watch those shows so no judgment here!). “Hile on Life” gives you a glimpse of other people who are willing to share their story with you. I can’t tell you how awesome that is in the times we are currently living in. You get to know a guest, but you also get to know Noelle which to me is important. I mean, we are going to be spending time together I want to know you! Now, go listen to her latest episode posted Sunday: Rachel.

Killafornia Dreaming: True Crime Tales from the Golden State

 

xmrl5gTO_400x400Killafornia Dreaming is a podcast all about true crime tales from California state! Hosted by the lovely Roseanne, each episode is an adventure for the listener. I was so excited to find out about this podcast because I’m originally from Northern California and have been so homesick the past few years; having this podcast has helped to lessen that feeling and also give me the feeling of “how the heck did I not know about this case?!”. I also really appreciate that Roseanne doesn’t focus on California’s many serial killers, but instead focuses on a wide variety of crimes: domestic violence, murder, animal maulings, armed robbery, etc. California has a rich crime history and I’m glad this show doesn’t confine itself to one type of crime.

Other than fantastic content, I really appreciate the presentation. Roseanne has a lovely, relaxing, calm voice and speaks with such compassion and respect for the victims. Things are presented factually with Roseanne’s opinion occasionally tossed in. Roseanne also takes time to explain things/situations that may not be common knowledge and to speak on important issues related to each case. (Examples include: mental health, domestic violence, breed-specific legislation, etc.) Nearly every episode has a detailed, appropriate, and compassionately worded content warning which is really helpful for all listeners.

In early episodes, the audio can be somewhat rough and episodes were sometimes hard to hear on my mobile phone (the primary way I listen to podcasts), but the audio gets better as the episodes progress and Roseanne’s voice becomes easier to hear.

A few episodes I recommend include: “The Tale of Apres Moi le Deluge” (all about the murder of Gianni Versache; perfect for those who are following the current season of American Crime Story.); “The Tale of the Victim Blame Game” (all about Bonnie Lee Bakley and Robert Blake.); “The Tale of the Presa Canario” (all about a dog mauling incident; I had not previously heard of this case or this dog breed, so I was really fascinated to learn about all of it.); “The Tale of Dana Plato” (an episode all about the actress best known for her role on the television show Diff’rent Strokes; a perfect episode for pop-culture and television fans.); and the newest episode, “The Tale of Sexting, Shaming, Bullying, and Audrie” (all about the 2012 death by suicide of high school student Audrie Pott.) Though I’ve only singled out these few episodes, no matter what episode you pick — there is an episode that speaks to you and for you to fall in love with.

 

Film Roast

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From the catchy theme tune and upbeat hosts (Hannah and Julia), I knew I would really like this show. Admittedly, I had to skip around to avoid spoilers for movies I haven’t seen yet (lookin’ at you, The Last Jedi episode). Film Roast is a fun show that will make you think you’re talking with your friends about pretty much anything and everything pop culture has to offer.

I started with an episode set called, “I Know a Lot of Deadpools” (Parts 1 & 2), and contrary to the episode title it’s all about coming of age films which is something of a guilty pleasure of mine, so I can recommend these episodes and many of the films mentioned in them (Mean Girls, Princess Bride, Sandlot…just to name a few). They get on tangents a lot, which I totally appreciated because I am a queen of tangents. I also really appreciate a good episode with good guest hosts and hearing Steven from Is This Adulting? was such a treat because I also enjoy that podcast and appreciate a great crossover!

In addition to full episodes, Film Roast also has episode categories called “Mini Movie Moments” and “Coffee Corner”. These episodes are shorter (around 30 minutes in length) and more informal. My first experience with a “Coffee Corner” episode was one all about Taylor Swift, who used to be a guilty pleasure of mine — I can’t lie. I can’t agree with the hosts about being in love with Taylor Swift’s single “Look What You Made Me Do”, but I can really appreciate hearing their process of how they came to love the song and like how Swift is taking her career from this point.

My two favourite “Coffee Corner” episodes are the ones titled “Assault in Hollywood” and “Ed Kemper is the Worst (Mindhunter)”. “Assault in Hollywood” is all about all of the light being shed on people in power using that power to assault others in Hollywood/the film industry. I really appreciated this episode because it was well-spoken and positive, while affirming to the victims/survivors who are speaking out and also those who choose to remain silent. “Ed Kemper is the Worst (Mindhunter)” was a fun episode for me because I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to a non-true crime podcast about both Ed Kemper and Mindhunter, so I really appreciated getting more of a pop culture read on the show instead of just staying in the true crime world. Also, in the spirit of “Coffee Corner” I have to tell you what caffeine I’ve consumed today: one cup of black coffee with a bit of salt rather than sugar.

For “Mini Movie Moments” I have to recommend the episode titled, “The Exorcist (1973)” because it’s all Hannah and Julia talking about their experience watching The Exorcist for the first time; I absolutely love hearing about people seeing a film for the first time and The Exorcist is one of my favourite films, so it’s like this episode was absolutely made for me.

Overall, this podcast is well put together and a ton of fun to listen to; it was like sitting down with friends and just shooting the breeze about pop culture and life. I definitely recommend you give this podcast a go and add it to your subscriptions.