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Serial is over (for now)—but there’s no reason to kick your addiction to downloadable stories.
Anyone who’s ever heard a public radio pledge drive knows that a “driveway moment” is when the show you’re listening to is so good, you’ll sit parked in your car until it’s over. Now, with great podcasts flooding the digital airwaves, downloadable stories have spread “driveway moments” all over the world — to gyms, subways, kitchens, and, well, more driveways.
Serial, the weekly podcast that explored the murder of a young Baltimore woman, was the most recent show to capture everyone’s ears. The last episode of Serial’s first season dropped Thursday, but there are a lot of other great podcasts worth a listen.
Here are seven podcasts to tide Serial fans over until the show returns for a second season:
Can’t get enough of Serial? Neither could the folks at Slate Magazine, who created a complimentary podcast to discuss and dissect the details of each week’s episode. Designed to be listened to following the corresponding episode of Serial, this show is also weekly, and features hosts David Haglund and Katy Waldman nit-picking over the case’s finer points, as well as how Serial’s producer Sarah Koenig has crafted the narrative. (Warning: Spoilers, obviously).
Part Twilight Zone part A Prairie Home Companion, this fictional, bi-weekly podcast takes the form of radio broadcasts to the Southwestern desert town of Night Vale, where eerie (and often humorous) occurrences pop up all the time. Performed by a central narrator (or news reporter) named Cecil, the show has periodic guest voices, winding, recurring storylines, and — even better, for new listeners — almost 60 episodes under its belt (and counting) to binge on before you get throttled by its first and 15th of the month broadcast schedule.
Digging deep into the areas where the law doesn’t dare tread, this podcast talks to everyone from cooks to coroners in its pursuit of the story. From tales of the mysterious — like the Venus flytrap kidnapping ring — to cold-blooded drive-by shootings, these episodes, which last around 20 minutes each, will keep you on the edge of your seat, while locking you in with masterful, expert-level audio production. It’s true crime at its finest.
This highly entertaining, live recorded podcast evokes the golden age of radio through a variety of segments, including fictional ads, one-off sketches and periodic updates from recurring stories, like the tales of diva detective Desdemona Hughes, the campy adventures of Captain Laserbeam, and the story of a time-traveling Amelia Earhart who faked her death.
Packed with cameos by voices you’d no doubt recognize, like Joe Mantegna, Neil Patrick Harris, and Alison Brie, it’s a great way to see (well, listen to) your favorite actors in a whole new light. But get it while you can — sadly, after 10 years of monthly shows, the Thrilling Adventure Hour will be ending in April 2015.
Unpredictable, dark, and absolutely enthralling, this podcast sets out to explore the unknown and does so with a great staff of radio producers from literally all over the world (one even lives in Antarctica). In its most popular episode, the show follows a woman who, in the wake of losing her daughter, seeks alternative treatment for her extreme grief by taking highly powerful hallucinogens that can only be found in the Amazon rainforest. Other episodes are also strange trips, from explorations of white supremacist churches to covering the ways that crows mourn their dead, they take listeners down unexpected avenues, to places where they’d never venture otherwise.
Arguably the radio show that launched the entire genre of podcasts, this public radio show launched Serial as a spin-off, but had considerable success on its own for more than 15 years. In that time, it’s put out more than 500 episodes and given the world fantastic stories by Ira Glass (the show’s host), David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Mike Birbiglia, Jon Ronson, and others. Its top-notch audio production has been aped by many podcasts since, but none have ever matched its popularity. In fact, while weekly episodes of This American Life are available for download, past episodes can be accessed through the show’s official app, something few other podcasts can boast.
A bit off topic from the true crime and great story podcasts listed above, this weekly comedy download takes an up-close, highly-critical, and wickedly funny look at terrible flicks that Hollywood pumps out, and rips them to hilarious shreds. Hosted by Paul Scheer and packed full of guests like Adam Scott, Dan Harmon, and Amy Schumer, the host and guests dissect films like Pamela Anderson’s Barb Wire, Miley Cyrus’s LOL, and even Sylvester Stallone’s classic, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. And since there’s no stopping the movie industry from making bombs like these, you can’t expect this podcast, soon to be in its fifth year, to quit any time soon.
Movie makes light of previous North Korean leader
If you can’t make fun of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, might as well have some fun at the expense of his late father Kim Jong Il. That’s the approach being taken by a Texas movie theater, which will screen Team America: World Police after Sony cancelled the Christmas Day release of The Interview amid threats of attacks, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
A representative of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s Dallas/Fort Worth location said the theater is “trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation.” Sony cancelled the release of The Interview after hackers, potentially linked to North Korea, threatened 9/11-style attacks on theaters that showed the movie, which depicts a fictional assassination plot against Kim Jong Un. North Korea has denied being behind the hack against Sony.
The 2004 movie Team America, in which all the characters are marionette puppets, depicts Kim Jong Il as a terrorist mastermind taken down by American counterterrorism fighters.
The heroes, villains and phenomena that rose, briefly, to the top
The Internet is constantly improving efficiency. In the past, tween girls had to discover their burgeoning sexuality by having a crush on some nonthreatening, mop-headed, baby-faced singer or actor even though they didn’t care about singing or acting. Now they have Alex Lee, a nonthreatening, mop-headed, baby-faced checkout kid in Texas that some girl took a photo of and posted on Twitter. A day later, he had 300,000 followers, a spot on CNN and a bunch of old people confused.
The name Hello Kitty may sound absurd, but it definitely implies cat. At least it did until the Internet uncovered the Japanese icon’s official bio, which says her real identity is Kitty White, a “little girl” who lives in London, loves apple pie and has her own pet cat, Charmmy Kitty. That revelation caused a virtual pussy riot, forcing maker Sanrio to issue a statement clarifying that Hello Kitty is anthropomorphized–like Mickey Mouse, or a girl dressed up like a cat. Which makes sense in Japan.
For decades, viewers of the Olympics have looked into Costas’ eyes and seen warmth, excitement and the spirit of the Games. But in Sochi, they saw the pus-crusted, cerise-rotted soul of Mephistopheles. To Costas’ credit, he tried to hide his pinkeye infection with glasses. But that didn’t stop his gaze from forcing us to confront the demise of our corporeal shells. He was replaced by Matt Lauer, whose hairline did the same thing.
At some point, young ladies mature from fantasizing about nonthreatening checkout boys to parolees who were arrested for gun possession. The mug shot of Jeremy Meeks, whose piercing blue eyes, high cheekbones and teardrop tattoo–which means he’s gosh-awfully sorry–made women swoon and guys in the friend zone even more pissed off.
After winning MTV’s Video of the Year, Miley Cyrus brilliantly decided not to make a speech about the artistry of licking mallets and gyrating naked on a wrecking ball. Instead, she sent to the stage her superhandsome date: Helt, a homeless teen who asked people to donate to a Hollywood shelter. Then Oregon police saw him, realized he was violating probation and gave him six months in prison. During which, ironically, he will spend his entire time telling fellow inmates what Miley Cyrus looks like.
L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s part-Latino, part-black model mistress secretly audiotaped his racist rants, forcing him to sell the Clippers to Steve Ballmer and forcing her to wear visors so big, it made one wonder if Sterling had a Jennifer Beals fetish.
After winning the Kentucky Derby by a lot and then winning another race that wasn’t in Kentucky by a lot, California Chrome was expected to win yet another race that wasn’t in Kentucky, something no horse had done since Twitter was invented. He lost.
At 4 a.m. on Oct. 28, Adult Swim aired a surrealistic nightmare. The 11-minute short Too Many Cooks–which immediately went viral–is an elongated, cheesy 1980s sitcom opener that morphs into a slasher flick whose breakout star is a puppet that looks like an Alf knockoff that someone bought at a Tijuana flea market and then left in a Tijuana dryer too long. Smarf celebrates, Smarf kills, Smarf dies. And Smarf definitely entered a lot of stoners’ algebra-class doodles.
When Academy Awards host Ellen DeGeneres took the most tweeted group selfie in the long history of tweeted group selfies, she arranged a tableau of Meryl Streep, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o–and Nyong’o’s 20-year-old brother Peter, who hopped in at the last minute to photo-bomb everyone. He blocked most of Angelina’s face, which only proves that he is wider than a pencil.
Prior to the World Cup, Uruguay, which fielded one of the top teams, hoped its star player would do two things: score goals and not bite people. Alas, Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, with his smooth shoulder skin the color of just-laid brown eggs, proved too irresistible for the Mike Tyson of soccer.
Feeling that Angry Birds was way too complicated, Vietnamese video-game developer Nguyen Ha Dong created an alternative version, in which players tap to fly up as they avoid pipes. But once the game hit 50 million downloads and started earning more than $50,000 a day, Dong–who possibly read Infinite Jest or just saw The Ring–decided he did not want people developing a screen addiction and removed it from major app stores. This fixed everything in the world.
During 26-year-old Sister Cristina Scuccia’s audition for Italy’s version of The Voice, the judges were shocked to see a millennial with a habit other than constantly Instagramming herself. Scuccia quickly converted her skeptics, though, and went on to win the whole season, belting out hits like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Her first single was a cover of “Like a Virgin.” This new Pope really does allow anything.
The English translation of the liberal French economist’s 685-page proof of the Kuznets curve (when r > g, there’s trouble, dude) became No. 1 on the New York Times’ nonfiction best-seller list and caused rich liberals to be even more boring at dinner parties.
Armed with the looks of the kid a family sitcom desperately hires in its fifth season after all the original child actors have lost their cuteness through puberty, 5-year-old Noah Ritter used a local TV-news interview at a county fair to abuse both the word apparently and America’s heart. Predictably, Ellen DeGeneres made him a part-time reporter.
After her report on a medical-marijuana club in Anchorage, the local TV reporter revealed that she was actually the owner, ending her report with “F-ck it, I quit.” There is a fair chance that Noah Ritter will eventually end his Ellen gig the same way.
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The comedian has found a devoted audience by sending up sexism--including her own
Amy Schumer hangs out with a lot of guys. Not regular guys. Guy guys. She joined the Anti-Social Comedy Tour, performing onstage with Dave Attell (former host of Showtime’s Dave’s Old Porn), Jim Norton (arrested in 2000 for driving around Manhattan with topless teens in a glass-walled bus) and Artie Lange (barred for life from ESPN for racist and sexually explicit tweets). …
The pop star took to social media to blast hackers
Madonna did not respond well to the news that eleven songs from her upcoming album had been leaked. The album, which was still without an official title or release date, was leaked earlier this week, prompting the pop star to vent on social media.
“This is artistic rape!! These are early leaked demos, half of which won’t even make it on my album,” Madonna wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post on Wednesday. “The other half have changed and evolved.” She continued: “This is a form of terrorism. Wtf!!!! Why do people want to destroy artistic process??? Why steal? Why not give me the opportunity to finish and give you my very best?”
She also posted a less angry message to Instagram, thanking fans for their “loyalty”:
The 25-year-old pop star says she made the right decision
Taylor Swift may have caused waves when she pulled her catalogue of music — including this year’s album 1989 — from the streaming service Spotify, but there was one group who applauded the decision: other musicians.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Swift explains that she was surprised by the media-storm over her decision, though she ultimately realized she’d made the right choice. “I didn’t think that it would be shocking to anyone,” Swift told THR. “With as many ways as artists are personalizing their musical distribution, it didn’t occur to me that this would be anything that anyone would talk about. But I could never have expected so many text messages, emails and phone calls from other artists, writers and producers saying thank you.”
She doesn’t elaborate if one of those artists was Kendrick Lamar — whom Swift wishes she “was best friends with” — though their mutual admiration for one another is well-documented.
You won’t be able to watch Netflix without an Internet connection. Ever.
“It’s never going to happen,” said Cliff Edwards, the video-streaming site’s director of corporate communications and technology, speaking to TechRadar about the possibility of offline viewing.
A few other streaming services do offer the ability to download shows and then view them without Internet access, but Edwards said Netflix is of the view that downloadable content is “a short-term fix for a bigger problem” of wi-fi access and quality.
The Netflix top brass fully expects both those things to improve significantly in the near future, and Edwards opined that the concept of offline viewing may be a thing of the past as early as five years from now.
After Sony pulled The Interview amid threads
In an interview with ABC News that aired Wednesday, President Barack Obama addressed the recent cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. He recognized the severity of the situation, but suggested people still go to the movies.
“Well, the cyber attack is very serious,” Obama said. “We’re investigating it. We’re taking it seriously. You know, we’ll be vigilant. If we see something that we think is serious and credible, then we’ll alert the public. But for now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies.” Moviegoers, however, won’t be able to see the film believed to be at the center of it all: The Interview.
Unknown hackers recently broke into Sony’s computer system and released sensitive information: emails, Social Security numbers, salary figures, projects in development, etc. It was thought to be a move against Sony’s Kim Jong-un-assassination comedy, The Interview. On Tuesday, that thought was confirmed. The hackers threatened a 9/11-style attack against those going to see the film, prompting Sony tocancel its release. Shortly after, it was revealed that the North Korean government was “centrally involved” in the attack.
The film has already won lots of awards, but perhaps none so fine as the leader the free world's approval
Like everyone else, the President of the United States of America likes to relax with a movie sometimes. And he has a favorite for 2014: Boyhood.
“Boyhood was a great movie,” he told People, in a joint interview with Michelle Obama. “That, I think, was my favorite movie this year.”
The movie has been nominated for five Golden Globes, including best picture, and has so far routed this season’s film awards circuit, picking up all kinds of accolades.
The president also talks to People about his current favorite book, the videos his daughters show him online, and “the most astonishing Vine” he saw this year. It involves, naturally, Michelle — plus, a turnip.