As I wrote last year, despite popular opinion, I am actually a big fan of end-of-the-year lists, roundups, and rankings. I like to hear people talk about things they love, I like getting recommendations from smart people, and I like forcing things I enjoy onto the people around me, so this is basically my favorite time of year.
Here's the first half of my Best of 2016 compilation, specifically focused on all forms of media. Read More
This is a review for the novel Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, set in the same universe as the podcast of that shares its name. This book is not yet published, although you can preorder it for when it does come out on October 20—I was lucky enough to be able to get a free ARC, or advance reader copy, when I was at Book Expo America* for work in May. I realize that this puts me in a privileged position, so I'm going to try to avoid any spoilers or proprietary information. Read More
Podcasts are definitely one of my favorite forms of media. The podcast is an incredibly diverse, democratic, and creative format. The average podcast that I listen to is between 25 and 45 minutes long, with some outliers at the very short end being just a few minutes in some installments, and some of the more rambling ones stretching to over an hour each. I listen to several a day, mostly thanks to the fact that I walk to and from work, about 40 minutes each way. The bulk of the shows I subscribe to could be loosely called "educational" but a better word might be "exegetical" (as long as we're taking a pretty wide view of what is a "text"—and as a former academic, I certainly do). These podcasts are usually run by highly intelligent and vocally charismatic obsessives who have a passion for sharing the things they are obsessed with. Some are produced as more traditional radio essays, some as panel discussions, some as sort of dramatic monologues. (Podcasts are also the reason that this blog is built as a Squarespace site, since they are one of the most frequent sponsors on nearly EVERY SINGLE PODCAST I listen to, so when I started to think about making a blog, that was pretty much the only way I could conceive of doing it.) Read More
I wanted to write up some quick notes about something that I've been thinking about a lot this past week. The topic came up in conversation with my friend Margaret in conjunction with an episode she recently recorded for my favorite podcast, NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour. (We had our conversation before the episode went live; I then listened to the episode and later we continued the conversation on Twitter.) On the episode in question (which is great, as all of that show is great), one of the topics discussed was credulity, mostly in terms of what elements of pop culture strain credulity for a person when they show up. As Margaret defined the term in this context, credulity is invoked when "some amount of knowledge you have about the subject at hand interferes with how you're capable of consuming the show or song or sporting event or anything...any time your real-world information is interfering with your ability to consume this artificial, constructed simulation." Read More