Try out a new podcast or two, courtesy of Morning readers.
What makes a good podcast? I’ve been mulling this question over the past few weeks since I asked readers of The Morning to recommend their favorites.
For me, a good podcast is one that makes any drive too short, that renders a middle-seat flight bearable. A good podcast dims the drudgery of folding laundry or preparing dinner, and turns waiting in line at the post office into something fun.
I’ll listen to any type of podcast as long as it’s diverting — an interview, a historical recapitulation, a true-crime saga, two pals gabbing. I have a friend who won’t listen to any podcasts that don’t teach her something, another who can’t stand the “normal people who find themselves hilarious, shooting the breeze” style.
Readers sent in hundreds of suggestions, many that I hadn’t heard of. Like “Back from Broken,” a podcast about addiction and recovery from Colorado Public Radio, which kept Wynn Jones of Mancos, Colo., company on a cross-country road trip. And “That’s What They Say,” about language, which Steven Hunter of Chicago billed as “possibly the nerdiest podcast out there.”
Here are a bunch more to check out:
“Looking for Esther.” A Scottish woman searches for her birth mother. “As narrator, she radiates hope, honesty and vulnerability in a way that really touched me,” César González from San Juan, P.R., wrote.
“Basic!” The history of basic cable — hosted by Doug Herzog, a former network executive, and Jen Chaney, a TV critic at New York magazine — comes recommended by Amy Black from San Francisco. It features interviews with Cindy Crawford, Jemele Hill, Tim Gunn and others.
“Everything Is Alive.” Interviews with inanimate objects. “The perspectives and stories you get from these objects (voice actors portraying a bar of soap, a lamp post, a subway seat, etc.) are hilarious, thought-provoking and wholesome,” Dana Nelson in Eugene, Ore., wrote. “Perfect for a spring-cleaning weekend — episodes are about 20 minutes long, and so uplifting.”
“I Was Never There.” “A combination true-crime story, cultural history of a West Virginia commune in the 1970s and ’80s and a compelling mother-daughter story,” Pamela Gray in Santa Barbara, Calif., wrote.
“It’s a Clue.” Two sisters chat about Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown and other sleuths from their favorite childhood mysteries. “It just makes me smile,” Jeanette Guinn in Columbia, S.C., wrote. “In the midst of Covid, remembering a simpler time was a balm.”
“Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen.” The search for a movie-industry scammer. “I couldn’t stop listening,” Naga Nataka from Pahoa, Hawaii, wrote. “The pacing, the way people are woven in, the central mystery that drives the narrative. A couple of times, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, is this all some kind of mockumentary metanarrative gotcha?’ It was that weird.”
“Fly on the Wall.” David Spade and Dana Carvey interview former cast members, hosts, writers and others from “Saturday Night Live.” “It’s hilarious and also really fun to hear the stories of working on SNL,” Karen Gibson in Los Angeles wrote. “So many great impersonations and jokes woven in — I am laughing out loud quite a bit while listening.”
“My Unsung Hero.” Michael Vujovich from Washington, Ill., said it makes him feel good about himself and the world around him. “I always end up smiling, crying or both, but in all the best ways.” If that doesn’t tempt you, check out the show’s official description: “Each episode reveals what the news ignores: everyday acts of kindness and courage that transformed someone’s life.” Sold.
I noticed a theme running through these recommendations: podcasts that offer a break, that make people smile or feel relief. I’d love to hear about the music that does just that for you. What song just makes you feel better lately? Tell me about it. Include your name and location, and we may feature your submission in an upcoming installment of The Morning.
Read a profile of Sam Sanders, who has a new podcast at Vulture.
Meet the hosts of the left-leaning podcast “5-4” about the Supreme Court.
Check out The Times’s podcast slate.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
Beyoncé’s new album, “Renaissance,” embodies decades of dance music. Here’s a guide.
Will Smith apologized to Chris Rock for slapping him at the Oscars.
The “Wagatha Christie” trial, which began as a quarrel between the spouses of two British soccer stars, ended with a judge dismissing the case.
“Jeopardy!” will stick with Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik as its hosts.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” closed on Broadway. Its writer, Aaron Sorkin, and director, Bartlett Sher, blamed the original lead producer, Scott Rudin.
Art in a time of war: While it won’t stop suffering, culture still has power. A visit to Ukraine by the critic Jason Farago reaffirmed that.
Disability representation onscreen is increasing but still falls short, according to a study.
TBS canceled Samantha Bee’s late-night show, “Full Frontal,” Variety reported.
After almost 9,000 episodes, the Australian soap opera “Neighbours” is ending.
A community of “X-Men” fans, notably young queer people of color, is growing through podcasts and on social media.
Slate asks: Why are Netflix’s most expensive movies getting worse?
THE LATEST NEWS
Creeks and rivers in eastern Kentucky were still swelling in widespread flooding yesterday as rain continued to fall. At least 25 people have died.
Russia and Ukraine accused each other of blowing up a prison that held Ukrainian fighters.
Europe is rushing to replace Russian natural gas as a major energy source before winter sets in.
The Democrats’ climate deal has the potential to transform the automotive and energy industries.
Fox News has begun to routinely ignore Donald Trump.
🍿 “Bullet Train” (Friday): I always enjoy Brad Pitt in goofball mode, as he appears to be in this colorful movie about a group of assassins (including Brian Tyree Henry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Joey King) aboard a Japanese high-speed train. This one is directed by the stuntman-turned-director David Leitch, whose work on “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde” shows off his facility with down and dirty hand-to-hand action. Also, Bad Bunny shows up. Benito!
📺 “Reservation Dogs” (Wednesday): This wonderful FX comedy, whose second season premieres this month, follows four Indigenous teenagers on an Oklahoma reservation. Cocreated by Sterlin Harjo and the near-ubiquitous Taika Waititi (“Thor: Love and Thunder,” “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Our Flag Means Death”), it was on our chief TV critic’s best of 2021 list. He knows of which he speaks.
🎧 “Renaissance” (out now): Last week, I mentioned the new Beyoncé album. And I’m doing it again! It will be one of the biggest topics of conversation this weekend, next week, this month. And given that it’s full of “generally upbeat songs” that reference “disco, funk, house, techno, bounce and more,” as our pop music reporters write, it might own the rest of the summer.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Is there ever a bad time to bake a batch of Jacques Torres’s classic chocolate chip cookies? Even in the height of summer, they’re the ideal chewy cookie, with bittersweet chocolate chunks making melt-y puddles in the brown sugar dough and a sprinkling of crunchy sea salt on top. Mr. Torres likes to make the dough a day ahead so the flavors can meld. But I’ve baked them immediately after mixing, and they are nearly as good — still the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made. I like to keep balls of the dough in my freezer, perfect for popping in the oven (or toaster oven) whenever a craving hits. If you don’t have both cake flour and bread flour on hand, you can just use all-purpose; they’ll end up slightly less chewy but just as deeply chocolate-y.
A selection of New York Times recipes is available to all readers. Please consider a Cooking subscription for full access.
What you get for $425,000: A farmhouse in Riegelwood, N.C.; an 1812 rowhouse in Philadelphia; or a bungalow in Manchester, Vt.
The hunt: She wanted to spend her golden years in California. Which home did she choose? Play our game.
What’s new in Prague: The city is coming out of the pandemic with a youthful vibrancy.
Bring a knife: How to cook in a vacation rental.
Navigating young adulthood: How to deal with a quarter-life crisis.
‘Medical gaslighting’: Advocate for yourself when you’re feeling ignored at the doctor’s office.
Make room: Airport lounges are for everybody now.
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
England vs. Germany, Euro 2022 women’s final: England’s tradition of international soccer misery includes the women’s team, which has made the semifinals of its past three major tournaments — two World Cups and the last Euro Cup — but has never won. In this year’s semifinal, though, not only did England win but also had fun doing so. (Exhibit A: this back-heel goal by Alessia Russo.) Germany, England’s opponent in the final, has won the tournament eight times. Sunday at noon, ESPN.
NOW TIME TO PLAY
The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was pageboy. Here is today’s puzzle.
Take the news quiz to see how well you followed this week’s headlines.
Before You Go …
Can’t get enough of Wordle? Here are more than a hundred similar games.
Visit the Museum of Endangered Sounds.
Here’s a Tiny Desk Concert from Big Thief.
Thanks for spending part of your weekend with The Times. — Melissa
Matthew Cullen, Claire Moses, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Ashley Wu contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected].