This is my second annual “Best Of” series of year-end posts. Some, I assume, will be brief. Some longer. All, varying degrees of serious. I’ll try my best not to use the words or phrases “unprecedented,” “new normal,” or “unpresidented”, but I can’t make any promises.
I’m usually at least a year behind on pop-culture phenomena, as will be evident on at least a couple of the installations on this list. I’ve been slow to warmup to podcasts in general, which is strange because I’ve always loved the medium of radio. Armchair Expert has been on the long list of “Oh, Craig, you’ve GOT to…you’d LOVE IT” items my friends have curated for me over the years. But it took a pandemic and extended evening walks for me to discover it.
When I first looked at the long list of available episodes, I was turned off a little because I thought it was a bit too top heavy with celebrities. Also, there’s over 200 episodes and I felt overwhelmed. When I don’t get in on the ground floor of something, it’s hard to convince me to join it already in progress. But I bit the bullet when I saw that Nadia Bolz-Weber was a guest, and have been hooked ever since.
The title of the podcast doesn’t place parentheses around the word “Armchair,” as I have here. That was intentional because in addition to the enjoyability of the show, I believe it gives us something we have desperately needed this year, which is experts. One of the great tragedies of our times is that people who have devoted their lives to studying or perfecting a craft, skill, or form of knowledge, have been devalued, placed several notches below people who know how to market themselves. Dax Shepard has a fair share of people who know how to market themselves, for sure. But in the past few weeks I’ve listened to an astronaut, a former director of the CIA, one of the reporters who broke the Watergate scandal, and Keith Urban, to name a few. They are usually promoting a product of some kind. But to hear stories of the diligence of work and messiness of life is exhilarating and necessary.
And thought provoking. On one of my favorite recent episodes, Jewel talks about how she thinks outhouses are representative of a more advanced form of society, and now I’m considering building one in my back yard, which may become the new pop culture phenomenon that all of you catch up to in a few years.
RECENT EPISODES I LOVED, AND THINK YOU MAY AS WELL: