Pod People 07.02.18

CANADALAND E237: CANADALAND is many things – its a media criticism show, it defines Canadian politics in context of the news, it celebrates and tears down equally. But it’s also a show that is willing to break from to investigate something, no matter how flippant. In the style of shows like Reply All and Wiretap, Jesse Brown goes in-depth to find “Weed Toque Girl”, a young women photographed smoking something while wearing a beanie embedded with the word “WEED” that has become a stock image for just about any news article even remotely related to cannabis. Through several interviews we hear about the history of how this photo came to be, including how it has been recreated many times and how the photo licensing behind it has seen the photo used so many times. We also hear from Jag Davies of the Drug Policy Alliance on his efforts to have the media use respectable, responsible stock images of people using cannabis (including “older male and female couple smoking marijuana in bed” and “diverse group of adults smoking marijuana and playing on their mobile phones”), all set to Alf Clausen’s “Land of Chocolate” score from The Simpsons. Finally, an interview with Weed Toque Girl herself who talks about the infamy that comes with being in the photo and reacts to some of the headlines that have been listed alongside her face. This is a subject that I both knew nothing about nor felt I was curious in, but through clever construction CANADALAND has managed to both conduct media criticism and tell a fascinating tale.

R U Talkin’ R.E.M. RE: ME? E43: Is Todd Glass a real person? Is he a character? Or is he just a guy who really like having fun and do bits? To George Carlin, I don’t know the answer and R U Talkin’ R.E.M. RE: Me gets no closer to answering it. Todd Glass is back for Staind Glass II, a return to the well Scott and Scott visited on their U2 show. There is a some brief Staind talk towards the end (with a story that is too stupid to ever make up), but this episode is really about returning to the insane well that is Todd Glass and his options on well, everything. Todd’s presence changes the dynamic of the show too. Whereas Adam is usually Scott’s punching bag, both delight in playfully mocking Todd over his lack of knowledge – be it Sqiggy Stardust covering Jon Bon Jovi’s hit song Heroes to Todd paying a couple $100 in order to have a live drummer play at their wedding. I couldn’t imagine starting R U Talkin’ R.E.M. RE: Me with this episode, but for those folks who have been listening since day one are in for a treat.

The Imposter E65: Some say that standup comedy is one of the hardest professions in the world, but host of The Imposter Aliya Pabani can now ride high knowing that she could do it. In a rather mish-mash live episode Aliya recaps her path – from fighting with her standup teacher at Second City over punching down to trying to take stories from her real life and mining them for jokes. Toronto comics Nick Nemeroff and Brandon Ash-Mohammed come along for the ride, performing short sets, talking about their process, and then judging previously recorded sets from Aliya, determining them to be way too long and good when the jokes happened. When Aliya finally does perform her set to the audience, it’s clear what progress she has made – jokes are tight, punchlines clean. Sadly, it’s revealed at the end that this is the final episode of The Imposter, with network CANADALAND dropping the show. The team behind it can hang their heads high – The Imposter now has a wonderful archive of artists telling the stories of their art and why it’s important.

The Control Group E01-E02: Do you enjoy spooky music? If so, you’re going to love The Control Group, Stuff Network’s new mystery drama. If you don’t, well, there’s an ad break coming up soon. The Control Group tells the story of a mental hospital somewhere in 1960s America, it’s head doctor and its newest patient. On-point sound design really sets the environment – the buzzing of overhead florescent lights in the hospital, the flicker of a projection film being watched. That comes at a cost, and that cost is its story and performances. Forward momentum drips like molasses, with characters hinting at conversations but never revealing anything. Hospital director Dr. Hayes (John Schmedes) could be a mad scientist or a man whose actions are forced by his superiors, but a somewhat stiff performance never makes this clear. On the other hand, the cries and whines from Karen (Hannah Fierman) are probably better set for a tween serial than something purporting to be a proper drama. All I could take away from The Control Group was a lot of atmosphere and that spooky music, and that isn’t enough to want to continue listening.

In Brief: I mainly spent the week catching up on music podcasts. Things I enjoyed: La Luz and Dessa on KEXP’s Live Performance Podcast, The Messthetics killer set on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, Odette on triple j Like A Version, and an incredible episode of Song Exploder with Ludwig Göransson breaking down the Black Panther soundtrack.

Pod News: Anna Farris is Unqualified is making the jump from podcast to radio. Are we finally going to see the Netflix for Podcasts appear? (and is it Stitcher?) How to make a podcast. But really, should you make a podcast? Thirteen awesome podcasts for a summer road trip. Seven awesome podcasts for little kids.

The Final Question: Reading that article about the Netflix for podcasts got me thinking – is there anything you love that isn’t a podcast yet? In a world where almost every niche is covered by people gabbing into microphones, what hasn’t been yet? Personally, I could see listening to a trashy and short daily soap. How do you do?