In Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Do you ever think about the math you used to be able to do?” One of the recurring observations made by the material scientists, astronauts, inventors, chemists, and conservationists featured on Diona Reasonover and Gillian Jacobs’ new series is how STEM subjects—despite the efforts of a lot of great teachers—are largely taught out of students as they grow older. In this enlightening, curiosity-piquing podcast, hosts Jacobs and Reasonover rebuke that trend by highlighting the work and opinions of STEM professionals who universally extol the virtues of incorporating scientific processes and critical thinking in all aspects of life, whether listeners wear a lab coat at work or not. At first glance, that premise might sound like an intentional clash of left-brain and right-brain types, where the actor hosts supplant charisma for bashful professional nerds; in reality, the deeply passionate, informed experts interviewed on Periodic Talks are more than happy and skilled at translating and conveying the work they invest their lives in to general audiences. This week, inspired by a recent conversation with game designer Mitu Khandaker, the hosts take a “brain break” and geek out with a game of Reasonover’s beloved (unofficial) D&D, joined by Felicia Day, Erika Ishii, and Jasmine Bhullar, who provide all the creative fun you’d expect from professional storytellers. [Dan Jakes]
The Blindboy Podcast
Since the release of “Nothing Compares 2 U” in 1990, Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor’s career has been plagued by controversy and a parasitic media picking at the scabs of her private life. O’Connor’s fellow countryman and rapper Blindboy Boatclub (The Rubberbandits) is a longtime admirer who has absolutely no interest in any of that tabloid crap. Boatclub’s The Blindboy Podcast is an eclectic mix of stories, music, and musings that has always celebrated artists and their creativity. In this episode, he sits down with O’Connor to unpack her music writing process, which ultimately amounts to a lot of waiting around. She says that a song will build itself in her head bit by bit over the course of months, and she will not put pen to paper until her subconscious has finished writing it. Blindboy is also fascinated by O’Connor’s spirituality. She still finds great beauty in the teachings of Christ but, unsurprisingly, considers organized religion to be a demonic barrier between man and God. It’s an engrossing conversation that flits between the worldly and the divine while painting a portrait of an artist who never gave a shit about fame. [Anthony D Herrera]
In Chicago, the world of dance is experiencing a rebirth as Black and brown dancers craft conversations by reviewing their own work, taking us behind the scenes of this labor of love and magic. The Process is a new podcast hosted by Chicago dancer and choreographer Alyssa Gregory, who is joined each episode by a different co-host and choreographer for a cute kiki on the how of making and the why of the creative process. The first volume of episodes just dropped, and the premiere promises an intimate and luminary peek into aesthetic development. This first episode features burlesque superstar Jenn Freeman, known as Po’Chop, who shares the genesis of their practice, what it’s like to create during a pandemic, and why dance is so great on film. The peek into Freeman’s brain is lush af as she talks about the process of making the five-piece dance film Litany, reimagining the choreography for film, and how the work of Audre Lorde became a lighthouse for the project. [Morgan McNaught]
This Ends At Prom
Josie And The Pussycats (2001) MAY-usical Month!
Kicking things off with a banger of an opening theme song (“Title” by The Sonder Bombs), each episode of This Ends At Prom focuses on an iconic teen girl movie through a cisgender, feminist, and transgender lens. Rounding out the month of May, this episode focuses on the 2001 sleeper hit Josie And The Pussycats. Writers and partners BJ and Harmony Colangelo bring a refreshing perspective to an often overlooked subgenre, and this time around, the duo is joined by guest Michael Varrati. [Note: Harmony Colangelo has previously contributed to The A.V. Club.] It helps that the group contextualizes Josie within the pop culture landscape of 2001, but it many ways, it was a film ahead of its time; BJ aptly compares Josie And The Pussycats to 2009’s Jennifer’s Body. Both movies are whip-smart satires that place their focus on female friendship, and both were notorious financial flops and critical failures, only to be embraced by a primarily femme, queer fanbase that turned them both into enduring cult classics. We are in their debt. [Jose Nateras]