Since the beginning of March, being a student at Sinclair and an employee, I have basically been on unended quarantine for a season and a half. In the beginning, it was very, very hard to work and focus on my daily tasks, as it appeared we were on the brink of some maddening quasi-apocalypse, and as time moved on, it became even harder, as the pandemic and how best to keep people safe became, here in the U.S., a politicized mess of “hoax” and “togetherness” all while being, essentially alone, save for a few constants.
Fortunately, I don’t live alone. I live with my girlfriend, an essential worker who works long 12-hour days and her daughter, who is here every other week. On the long weeks alone, I spend at least one day over at a friend’s house, my former roommate, who, like myself, has spent the better part of “quarantine” and “post-quarantine” home alone with his dog and fellow former room-dog.
In that span of time, I have had plenty of long periods alone to myself, which I’ve spent reading, writing, doing small bursts intermittent yoga to relax and keep myself quasi-active, and spent a great deal of time doing mundane chores like doing the dishes, a daily task that often takes up at least fifteen minutes to an hour of my day.
So, to keep me company during those bursts of domestic burdens, I have taken to listening to a great many podcasts and watching a plethora of YouTube channels.
Here is a list of some of the podcasts and YouTube channels that have kept me company during quarantine:
I would assume that anybody who’s ever listened to a podcast at this point has heard of Lore at least once, and probably some of you are fans of the podcast and the Amazon TV show based on the show.
For those unfamiliar, Lore is a podcast about, well, lore. Each episode tackles little chunks of urban legend, myths, lore and the history surrounding them, and the show’s host Aaron Manke narrates them as prose stories with historical asides that make the whole experience rather engrossing.
If you like spooky things and you like podcasts and you haven’t listened to Lore, I’d highly recommend it.
Much like Lore, Unexplained tackles little chunks of unexplained mysteries, from UFO cover-ups to ghost encounters and druidic cults, Unexplained covers a lot of the same ground as Lore.
The main difference being that the host, Richard MacLean Smith, a native of the UK, ties each of the unexplained stories to their bigger part in the world and psyche of humankind by way of theories of physics, psychology, philosophy or various other methods of science or quasi-science, creating in each story a sort of theme that makes his stories feel maybe a little more intimate.
Imagine that you’re playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons with a small company of brilliant comedians, and the entire game is spent sitting in a tavern, making fun of the dungeon master. That’s basically what Hello From the Magic Tavern feels like.
The comedy podcast is hosted by comedian Arnie (Arnold–it’s a running joke, you’ll get it eventually) Niekamp, who plays himself, a man who passed through some sort of magic portal behind a Chicago Burger King, and features Adal Rifai who plays Chunt, a talking badger (technically shapeshifter), and Matt Young who plays Usidore the Wizard.
Each week, the show is visited by an inhabitant of the world of Foon, a fantasy world filled with talking plants, transdimensional delivery men, dark lords, Larry Birdman, a commissioner for one of Foon’s sports leagues and a plethora of absurd characters, most of which will make you laugh loudly in a room by yourself.
There are a ton of true crime podcasts out there that people love, and for good reason, a lot of them are great. Small Town Murder takes the normal formula and injects it with two comedians who retell true crime murders set exclusively in small towns. The whole time, the two make jokes at the expense of the bumbling police force or just some of the related bizarreness that goes hand in hand with crime.
Typically, they do go out of their way to not mock victims or the victim’s families, as their slogan is: “We’re a*******, not scumbags.” Although the concept isn’t wholly original, as several other podcasts like Last Podcast on the Left has a similar MO, what really makes Small Town Murder great is that Jimmie Whisman and James Pietragallo, the podcasts’ hosts, have an undeniably addictive rapport with each other. This makes listening to them talk about small towns and the events of a crime feel like hanging out with two very funny friends who are really into murder and statistics.
Unobscured and Cabinet of Curiosities:
Both are part of the Lore “family” of podcasts and are each hosted by Lore host, Aaron Manke.
“Cabinet of Curiosities” are small, bit-size episodes featuring stories of weird oddities throughout history and the modern-day. If you like Lore, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy “Cabinet of Curiosities.”
Unobscured is a series-long deep dive into a particular subject featuring interviews from experts on said subject. The first season covered the Salem Witch Trials and the second season covered the Spiritualist Movement in the United States, jump-started by the Fox sisters of Upstate New York.
Will Ferell’s sense of humor isn’t for everybody, and I totally get that. Sometimes his boisterous, over-the-top schtick can be grating to some, but I have always appreciated it, especially when I need a laugh.
If you listen to only one episode of Ron Burgundy’s podcast, watch the “Theme Song” episode. If you spend the majority of the half-hour laughing at his attempts to write a theme song for his show you’ll almost definitely enjoy the show. If not, you probably won’t.
Hope you end up enjoying at least one of those and in listening to them you feel a smidge less anxious during these tough, very disconcerting times.
Next time I’ll go over the YouTube channels that have kept me company during the quarantine.