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The strongest takes, best storytelling and most intriguing guests across the podcast universe.
#3 ·March 2, 2018 · By Michael Yessis

10 Pod Takes

1) “It's liberating to speak the truth.”

The Daily, Feb. 26 (21:45)

  • Mona Charen speaks her truth on The New York Times pod after being booed at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Her perceived sin: highlighting Republican hypocrisy.

  • Specifically, the longtime conservative calls out Republicans’ behavior regarding sexual harassment and #MeToo.

2) “I don't think that you can have any sort of bad relationship with anybody if you're just blunt.”

WTF with Marc Maron: Jennifer Lawrence, Feb. 26 (29:34)

  • That’s Lawrence, whose POV comes through clear while speaking about relationships, family and the mere three minutes she could stand watching “Phantom Thread.”

  • Twitter’s reply to her movie criticism: “Mother!


3) “Sometimes you have to lean into the things that are weird.”

The A24 Podcast: All the Way Home with Barry Jenkins & Greta Gerwig, Feb. 27 (8:03)

  • Says “Lady Bird” director Gerwig, in a movie-nerdy conversation with fellow A24 filmmaker, “Moonlight” director Jenkins.

  • “Lady Bird” is up for five Oscars at Sunday’s Academy Awards. Could the ceremony be more weird than last year’s? Lean in, Kimmel!


4) “The real achievement in [‘Lady Bird’] is the directing, and the higher achievement in ‘Get Out’ is the writing.”

The Rewatchables: Get Out’ With Bill Simmons, Wesley Morris, Sean Fennessey, and K. Austin Collins, Feb. 27 (15:55)

  • That’s Morris, giving his predictive nod for Best Original Screenplay.

  • His take comes amid a 92-minute deep-dive into 2017’s most talked about movie.


5) “Life is the best writer.”

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin: The Fast Times and Long Career of Cameron Crowe, Feb. 27 (38:04)

  • Director/writer Crowe riffs on his then-neighbor who inspired Lloyd Dobler in “Say Anything.”

  • The real-life kickboxer and “warrior for optimism” formed a better framework than anything Crowe’s imagination conjured.


6) “There’s nothing more familial inside of Trump world than saying out loud or putting in an email ‘no one will ever find out about this.’”

Pod Save America: “The Committee to Defraud America”, March 1 (7:45)

  • It’s “almost hereditary,” says Jon Lovett regarding Hope Hicks, the soon-to-depart White House communications director often described as being like a daughter to Trump.

  • Lovett’s take stems from reports Hicks once said that Donald Trump, Jr.’s “I love it” emails will never get out. Spoiler: They did.


7) “Emotions are as important in science as they are in any other part of our lives.”

Ted Talks Daily: Ilona Stengel: The role of human emotions in science and research, Feb. 26 (1:45)

  • Stengel invokes Spock from “Star Trek,” arguing science should strive for feelings to co-exist with and inform facts and logic.  


8) “In certain places -- and Hawaii is one of them -- if you’re in a hurry you’re gonna get in trouble.”

The New Yorker Radio Hour: Presents “The Brodies”, Feb. 27 (18:47)

  • Chang-rae Lee delivers his take from Honolulu’s Don Quijote store, which he says contains “the entire world” in its aisles.

  • It’s a lovely, cultures-colliding vignette, and a nice reminder to slow down and look around when you can.  


9) “It's aggravating and the best thing in the world at the same time.”

RU Talkin’ R.E.M. RE: ME?: Murmur, Feb. 28 (1:20:15)

  • Adam Scott’s take on how R.E.M. holds back the chorus of “Shaking Through” when you might expect it applies to this whole pod series.

  • The actor and R.E.M. superfan Scott and Scott Aukerman are analyzing — and digressing — their way through R.E.M.’s catalog, as they did in the equally exhausting and brilliant U Talkin’ U2 to Me?


10) “You talk shit about Gwyneth, we’ll shank you.”

House of Carbs: Thug Kitchen’s Vulgar Vegans (Ep. 34), Feb 28 (8:40)

  • That's Matt Holloway, speaking also for his Thug Kitchen partner, Michelle Holloway. A plug in Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter provided their break.

  • Guess the duo’s mix of vegan recipes and Decorative Gourd Season vocabulary resonated with Gwyneth.

Go Deep

Two Years in the Life of a Book

Launch, Jan. 23-Feb. 27

John August wrote a middle-grade fantasy book, “Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire.” He also recorded conversations with agents, his editor, the book designer, librarians, the dude at the printer — everyone involved in the publishing process. That took two years. The result: a seven-episode series that’s catnip for book lovers.

  • August’s foresight is echoed winningly in his obsession with details. Font nerdery abounds.

  • August builds a compelling narrative. He’s a screenwriter who crafts a layered story out of his wealth of material, but also adapts on the fly. Several episodes come out soon after his book’s pub date.   

  • The engine: Whether or not the book will be a success, and what defines success. Also: The shadow of Harry Potter, which “looms over everything.”

Spoilers: It’s too early to know if the book will be a financial success. On the artistic front, August’s satisfied: “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to replicate the experience of writing ‘Arlo Finch.’”

Go deeper: Hear August talk “Arlo Finch” and more on The Moment, ID10T and Writers Who Don’t Write. Or, listen to the book.

Guest Appearances By...


Aciman, André Bookworm

  • The novelist discusses the “agony of desire”

Albanese, Rory The Joe Rogan Experience

  • Former Daily Show writer/producer goes 3+ hours with the host

Batuman, Elif Otherppl with Brad Listi

  • “The Idiot” author talks about her debut

Bauer, Jeni Britton How I Build This with Guy Raz

  • Jeni = Jeni of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which are amazing

Bertrand, Natasha Pod Save America

  • The national security writer talks Mueller’s investigation

Branson, Richard Freakonomics Radio

Chang, David Eater Upsell

  • The chef talks about his Netflix show

Chua, Amy The Ezra Klein Show

Clyburn, Mignon If Then

  • An FCC Commissioner talks net neutrality

Farenthold, David Trump, Inc.

  • WaPo Pulitzer winner answers questions about Trump

Farrow, Ronan Trumpcast

Fennessey, Sean Longform Podcast

  • The Ringer EIC gets his Longform close-up

Hamilton, Matt The Pat McAfee Show

  • Mustachioed curler for the gold-medal winning U.S. team

Hayes, Chris The Josh Marshall Podcast

Ifill, Sherrilyn Pod Save the People

Janney, Allison Anna Faris is Unqualified

  • She’s the fave for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “I, Tonya”

Kaminsky, Frank Pardon My Take

Kimmel, Jimmy Edge of Fame

Kravitz, Zoe Sooo Many White Guys

Lawrence, Francis Channel 33

  • A chat with the filmmaker

Lewis, Michael The Adam Buxton Podcast

Lin, Jeremy The Lowe Post

  • Yes, they talk Linsanity

McHale, Joel Sports? With Katie Nolan

Morris, Wesley Channel 33, The Bill Simmons Podcast

  • New York Times culture critic makes the rounds with his former Grantland crew

Oswalt, Patton How Did This Get Made?

  • The movie in question: Ladybugs

Pinker, Steven The Gist

Ray, Rachael No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis

Roth, Eli ID10T

Watts, Shannon Stay Tuned with Preet

  • Moms Demand Action founder talks gun violence

Wentz, Pete Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard

Yankovic, Weird Al Comedy Bang! Bang!

  • Al gets vain

Pick From a Podcaster

This week's guest: Jenna Schnuer, whose Life (After Cancer) is "an honest (perhaps too honest) and irreverent podcast for people who think the 'new normal’ after a cancer diagnosis can go [bleep] itself.”

  • Adds Jenna: “Though I originally launched the podcast for those of us living with NED, aka ‘No Evidence of Disease,’ I’ve expanded it to make sure those living with cancer know the discussion is for them too.”

Jenna’s pick: Neighbors: Matt Got Shot: Part 3 or The Fabric We’re All In

Neighbors, a podcast from Nashville Public Radio, is “a show about what connects us.”

  • Jenna says: “I’ll never be able to forget the sound Matt Lovell lets out after he got shot — you first hear it in part one of this series — but, in the final piece, he gets a bit of balm for the awful experience he went through when he talks to the artist whose security camera captured the shooting.”

  • “Neighbors does a beautiful job of one of my favorite uses for podcasting: bringing listeners together with other everyday people to forge connections that, hopefully, build a better world.”

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