The "Poker Stories" podcast features some of the game's best players and most well-known personalities telling their favorite stories "from on and off the felt." The newest episode features Poker Hall of Fame legend Mike Sexton, known as one of the game's great ambassadors. Sexton has also gotten much exposure over recent years for offering color commentary for the past 15 seasons of "World Poker Tour." While poker is the main subject, Sexton also talks about Vietnam, his career as a salesman, his love of little league coaching, and the benefits of shag dancing. – CARD PLAYER
NPR's "All Things Considered" sits with Toby Morrell and Mike McHargue, hosts of the "Bad Christian" and "The Liturgists" podcasts, respectively. The shows are representative of a very modern take on Christianity, featuring as they do four-letter words and sex talk, as well as forward-thinking discussions of evolution and LGBTQ issues. Studies have shown that millennials have been leaving mainstream Catholic and Protestant churches "in droves," but many say they still retain a sense of spirituality. McHargue says, "As I explored this middle space between faith and skepticism, I found that there were a lot of people stuck in that gear too. People for whom the church was too dogmatic, but atheism was too dismissive of their need for mystery and, frankly, things spiritual." – NPR
Writer Sarah Rhea Werner talks to "Lore" host Aaron Mahnke about how his podcast "accidentally" became a hit series. Mahnke, working as a freelance graphic designer, came up with the podcast as a means to spread the word about his self-published supernatural thrillers. "And self-publishing's hard," Mahnke says, "because there's a lot of people out there. Anybody can create an EPUB file and put it up on the Kindle store. So I was trying to build an audience and I thought, 'You know, I've got all of this historical research left over, maybe I can write these little essays about each of these cool things I found.'" Less than two years later, Amazon is turning "Lore" into a TV series. – FORBES
The New Yorker's William Robin raves about Q2 Music's "Meet The Composer" podcast as it launches its third season. Robin notes how he loves the shows aural experimentation, as during last season's inventive illustration of the vocal musical process called "hocketing" by composer/vocalist Meredith Monk and her musical collaborator Theo Bleckmann. The show has been producing "similarly enlightening fusions of technical explication and musical demonstration" since its debut in 2014. Robin calls the series "an ideal mixing of medium and message," and adds that during each episode "music and commentary flow together seamlessly." – NEW YORKER
The new episode of the ever-reliable MashReads podcast features a talk with writer Adam Silvera about his sober new YA novel, "History Is All You Left Me." The book follows 17-year-old Griffin, who is grieving the drowning death of Theo, the love of his life, as well as dealing with the mixed emotions when Theo's current boyfriend arrives for the funeral. Silvera talks about the challenge of presenting emotional realism in a young adult novel: "I didn't want to force quippy remarks just to make the reader feel more comfortable. It's death. You should feel uncomfortable." – MASHABLE
The latest episode of USA Today's "Mothership" podcast considers box office smash "Logan" and its place in the history of "X-Men" films and superhero movies in general. Also at issue is whether "Logan" and last year's "Deadpool" - both rated "R" - are kicking off a new boom in more explicit comic book movies, and if that extra profanity and gore make much of a different to the end result. Also featured on the episode is a "Nerd Alert" segment breaking down the new Nintendo Switch. – USAT
We're highlighting another addictive, offbeat podcast today that, like the best ones, truly makes the most of the medium and could hardly be imagined in any other format. "Getting On with James Urbaniak" is a fiction podcast that features host Urbaniak reading a different in-character monologue each episode from a different member of a rotating stable of apparently quite gifted writers. Urbaniak is a terrific performer, and Vulture calls the stories "taut, daring experiments in structure," and says that at its best moments the show "comes damn close to being art."
Many such moments are featured in the latest episode, "The Big Comeback," where we hear a very modern, very average man try to convince us that he's Frank Sinatra's son, despite an utter lack of evidence. He notes that he has one blue eye (like Sinatra) and one brown eye, but that he is "not David Bowie's son." The bit doesn't initially seem like it can support a full twenty minutes, but it deepens substantially as it passes the five minute mark, becoming a rather touching (if consistently funny) portrait of the painful desire of every human to amount to something, especially when compared to such a legendary life as Sinatra's, especially in age where there is less and less room to distinguish one's self.
The monologue morphs into a personal hit parade of Sinatra's major achievements, from early pushes for diversity to his invention of the concept album at Capitol Records in the 50s. (One line, about the moon, is a truly lovely description of Sinatra's 1955 masterpiece, "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning," marking writer Joseph Scrimshaw as a keen observer of the Sinatra's work.)
When the narrator returns to attempting to prove his wild parentage claim, he recounts being asked for DNA evidence. The character says of course he has access to Sinatra's DNA, and that we all do, because "It's spread across our entire cultural landscape, you a**hole!” Within that defense is the frustration of a man who knows that even Sinatra's popularity is slowly beginning to fade: "If a life that well documented can be forgotten so quickly, what hope do the rest of us have? Who will remember we existed at all?” Touching, heady, very funny stuff.
Title: "Getting On with James Urbaniak"
Episodes Available: 25
Episode Length: 20 minutes
Where to Download: iTunes
Host: James Urbaniak