From spooky ‘Lore’ to old Hollywood history
We’ve got five more interesting podcasts you’ll want to check out. As always, parents listening in mixed company will want to watch for an “Explicit” warning – marked with a red “E” – when downloading individual episodes.
Listed in iTunes’ official “Best of 2015” awards, “Lore” (lorepodcast.com) is about scary stories. More specifically, the series focuses on the incidents and historical episodes that have inspired our most enduring ghost stories and urban legends. Hosted by author Aaron Mahnke, who also writes his own supernatural thriller fiction, “Lore” features well-researched 20-minute explorations of various spooky topics – ghosts, vampires, haunted houses, what-have-you.
The fun is that Mahnke cites specifics. For instance, in the episode on asylums, he roots around into the history of the old Danvers Lunatic Asylum in Massachusetts – the inspiration for generations of haunted madhouse tales. “Lore” explores that element of truthiness that always seems to enhance good scary stories.
‘Here’s the Thing’
Alec Baldwin is a tremendously underrated actor, especially in comedies, and it turns out he’s a pretty great podcast host as well. His public radio show “Here’s the Thing” (wnyc.org), syndicated out of WNYC in New York, features insightful interviews with performers, politicians, athletes and artists.
It’s kind of like eavesdropping on an Upper West Side salon – Baldwin is clearly chums with most of his guests, and the conversations have a loose, pally vibe. It’s also true that Baldwin likes to hear himself talk, so the episodes feel more like conversations than back-and-forth Q&A interviews. If you want to sample some episodes, my recommended short-list highlight reel: David Letterman, Chris Rock, George Will, Elaine Stritch and John McEnroe.
‘Alice Isn’t Dead’
This new serialized story from the makers of “Welcome to Night Vale” just launched March 8, so it’s a good opportunity to get in on the ground floor. “Alice” (aliceisntdead.libsyn.com) tells the tale of a long-distance trucker whose estranged wife – that’s Alice – is missing and presumed dead. Presumed is the operative term, because the mystery is a long way from unraveling and, well, there’s that title to consider.
“Alice” is a digital age throwback to the installment-based storytelling of the pulp fiction magazine era, or even the 19th century serialized novels of Charles Dickens. Ten episodes are planned in the first season, and the creators hope to launch an entire new podcast network around the show. Fans of “Night Vale” will find the new series’ vibe is similar, but less jokey, with terrific first-person narration from actress Jasika Nicole.
‘You Must Remember This’
One of the genuinely great aspects of the mushrooming podcast phenomenon is the massive selection available. Whatever topic you’re into, there is almost certainly a podcast devoted to it – several, probably.
Movie history buffs will want to queue up “You Must Remember This” (youmustrememberthispodcast.com), a cultural exploration of “the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” Written and narrated by film historian Karina Longworth, the series is creatively assembled and packed with fascinating details. Over the course two or three or 15 episodes, you can learn about Charlie Chaplin’s career, famous old Hollywood feuds, or the fate of actress and Hitchcock muse Kim Novak. The 12-part arc on “Charlie Manson’s Hollywood” is not to be missed.
‘Myths and Legends’
Like the “Lore” podast, “Myths and Legends” (mythpodcast.com) excavates the history of the stories we tell ourselves over and over. But host Jason Weiser has a longer time frame in mind. His series drills deep into world of mythology, conjuring up those original legends that have powered storytelling through the ages.
Weiser’s inquiries span the globe, from Athurian legend to Korean folklore to Russian fairy tales. In addition to the multiple-episode arcs, the series occasionally takes a lateral pass at history by tracing one concept – doppelgangers in folklore, say – across multiple traditions. Each episode also features a mythological Creature of the Week, and Weiser delights in digging up really weird ones.