Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Screenshot: Cat In The Hat (YouTube)
PodmassPodmassIn Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.

Breakdances With Wolves
The Womxn’s Takeover - Native Diets And Food


Breakdances With Wolves is a powerful Native American–centered activism pod showcasing issues related to modern native identity that radiates an ethos of resolve and empowerment. After dissecting Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test the week before, this episode leaves men off the mics and welcomes an all-women forum to discuss native food traditions. Not that there’s a standard cookbook everyone works from. For one panelist, her favorite dish is shrimp and grits. For another, beans. Still another names bison borscht, concocted by her Russian grandmother, and preserved as an important cultural artifact even though she can’t make it the same way two generations later. An overarching theme emerges in the form of locally sourced foods, and that such food is available mostly only to people who can drop $40 per salad at Whole Foods. From there, the group segues into a frank discussion about the high rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease among native people; the prevalence of food deserts in urban, rural, and reservation settings; and a dismissal of fry bread as an inauthentic carnival food borne out of necessity during a time of ethnic cleansing by white colonizers. [Zach Brooke]



On Pontifacts, two funny ladies acquaint themselves with popes of the past in a delightful mix of history and casual blasphemy. Not much is revealed about the hosts’ backgrounds, so they can’t officially be called experts or anything of that nature, but the pair is absolutely relatable in their attempts to rate the legacies of these holy men, or grasp the finer points of pissy doctrinal disputes. Pope Fabian is about as good a point of entry as any for the show. His reign comes during the Church’s early days, when most Christians were cast in a role you’ve never seen them play before: scrappy underdogs who worshiped in secret. Fabian himself is straight out of the Monty Python workshop. A layman in from the provinces, he finds himself pope when he shows up at the conclave in Rome and a dove lands on him, settling the succession question for everyone. Fittingly, most of his papacy would be marked by peace for his followers as Rome turned its attention away from Christian persecution in favor of a Game Of Thrones–style war between dueling co-emperors Gordian I, II, and III, and Balbinus and Pupienus. [Zach Brooke]



Celery sucks. It’s a functional filler vegetable, but it’s certainly nobody’s favorite. An unholy amount of peanut butter is required to make even the freshest celery stick a proper snack. These are all fairly uncontroversial statements in 2018. But if you were to turn back the clock a hundred years or so you’d find yourself surrounded by hoards of voracious celery munchers. In the inaugural episode of Proof, a new podcast from America’s Test Kitchen, host Bridget Lancaster sets out to discover what the hell happened to these once trendy stalks and finds a rich history of passionate celery love. There was a time when Victorian elites were so fond of celery that they had special crystal vases designed so they could always have the vegetable on hand during dinner. Today the idea of putting a bouquet of raw celery out for your dinner guests is absurd, but there was also a time when kale and heirloom tomatoes were considered bizarre additions to an evening meal. Maybe celery has been out of the game long enough. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for a comeback. [Dan Neilan]

The Bustle Huddle
Rebecca Traister On The Power Of Women’s Anger


The Bustle Huddle podcast provides inside access to the editors, writers, and community of women-centric website Bustle. In this episode, which came out prior to the midterm elections, Rebecca Traister (author of Good And Mad: The Revolutionary Power Of Women’s Anger) has an in-depth conversation with senior books editor Cristina Arreola. While Traister admits to feeling the pressure of being considered an expert on female rage and the expectation to tell people that everything will be okay, she considers herself fortunate to be able to provide perspective and make sense of what people are feeling. Through her work, she recognizes the political consequences of women vocalizing their outrage over injustice and the disenfranchisement of femme populations. Traister also says that women’s feelings and subsequent actions are not “hysterical” or “over-sensitive,” but rather an impactful and vital participation in democracy. [Jose Nateras]

The Movies That Made Me
Ron Perlman


Ron Perlman dropped by The Movies That Made Me this week to chat with hosts Joe Dante and Josh Olson about some of the formative films of his life. Sort of. Perlman is not the kind of guest who’s easily wrangled, and that makes for a very fun listen as Hellboy himself talks shit, comments on the rise of the one-hour drama (Taxi Driver would probably be an eight-part limited series in today’s landscape), and reminisces about the glory days of cinema, i.e., not watching movies on a phone. Fans of Dante will be happy to hear the two discuss the work they did on the overlooked 1997 HBO film The Second Civil War, a movie Dante ranks as one of his favorites, and one that’s somewhat prophetic. Perlman holds a certain affection for classic cinema, remarking that 1946’s The Best Years Of Our Lives helped lay the groundwork for bleak antihero tales to come (Five Easy Pieces, The Graduate), films that Perlman doesn’t believe will be made again anytime soon… except maybe by his studio, to which he encourages everyone to send scripts. He promises to read them. [Mike Vanderbilt]

Up And Vanished
Gone Fishin’


The first season of Up And Vanished was as intriguing as it was scattered, a result of it being host Payne Lindsey’s first go at both true crime and podcasting. The second season, which centers around the disappearance of a woman in a New Age Colorado community, is more focused and more textured than its predecessor. Credit much of that to Lindsey’s choice of setting: Crestone is a tiny, insulated village, the kind that tends to attract a host of strange, wandering characters. One of these is Catfish, an infamous local whose name has surfaced time and time again as Lindsey speaks to locals about the disappearance. In “Gone Fishin,’” Lindsey spends the better part of an hour on the phone with Catfish, who, across a series of rambling, peripatetic monologues, asserts his innocence while confronting Lindsey about how Up And Vanished fans are flooding his social media accounts. The true-crime boom has hit podcasting more than any other medium, and the influx of series fronted by amateur investigators raises plenty of ethical questions, especially with a show as popular as Lindsey’s. Whatever your thoughts on that front, the impact of such popularity on Lindsey’s reporting remains as fascinating here as it did in season one. There are two edges to this sword. [Randall Colburn]

We Hate Movies
The Cat In The Hat


In hindsight, the crow that Jim Carrey had to eat for his live-action Grinch was nothing compared to the crimes against children’s movies that would come three years later—namely, Bo Welch’s grating, raunchy, source-material-be-damned 2003 adaptation of The Cat In The Hat starring Mike Myers. Hosts Andrew Jupin, Stephen Sajdak, Eric Szyszka, and Chris Cabin ease out of the month-long Halloween Spooktacular with this admittedly spooky (particularly uncanny Thing One and Thing Two when they stick out their human tongues) all-ages movie in which both Myers and Alec Baldwin tip their hands to the grim directions their screen personas were taking. The gang notes how Dr. Seuss’ whimsical poetry is reduced to cheap acronym gags, which are almost as inappropriate as Myers’ hat-as-erection jokes. A convincing case is made for why Myers’ Cat is analogous to the Hellraiser, and everyone agrees the image of Baldwin covered in “purple unicorn cum” is unshakable. [Dan Jakes]

Word Bomb
‘Renoviction’: Portmanteau As Protest


Words are powerful tools. If you’re going to use them, you should at least understand how they work and maybe even where they come from. Word Bomb is a new podcast from Canadian educational broadcaster TVO that hopes to teach listeners just that, and they’re not dealing with just any words. They’re digging into the history, etymology, and cultural impact of some truly explosive words like “trigger,” “doxx,” and—brace yourself—“moist.” In this episode, hosts Pippa Johnstone and Karina Palmitesta unpack the non-dictionary-approved portmanteau “renoviction,” which, as you may have guessed, describes the act of being evicted by a landlord under the pretense of some sort of renovation. They track the evolution of this relatively new word from a classroom in British Columbia to newspaper headlines across the nation. There’s even a little sidebar about the first use of the loanword “portmanteau” in Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass. But Word Bomb is about more than just geeking out over grammar and vocabulary. It’s about the real-world effect that words can have on our daily lives. Needless to say, you’ll be walking away from this podcast with a few more tools in your toolkit. [Dan Neilan]

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