Podcasts featuring friends + weird buildings and the 4 day work week
May I recommend
Listening to podcasts featuring friends talking about things?
I love a podcast. This is not a particularly avant-garde thought, but I feel a little defensive, because I’ve loved podcasts since 2007 when my friend Amy told me about a weird little NPR program called “This American Life.” We lived in Belgium at the time, and I would march myself into the centre of town to go to the shoe store, or greet our latest visitors arriving by train, all while listening to the soothing tones of Ira Glass as he investigated “loneliness” or “unexpected gifts.” Connecting so intimately to people with North American accent telling me happy and sad stories while I stumbled over uneven cobblestones and got sneered at by grumpy Belgians was incredibly comforting.
Intrigued? Listen to one of my favourite TAL segments, when Starlee Kine investigates Break Up Songs. Oh also, this whole episode, devoted to famous people who are secretly Canadian (catnip to my fellow Canucks - Americans paying attention to us? Yes please!)
Today I’m not recommending generic podcasts, though. Instead I am recommending a very specific type of pod that I have come to seek out during the pandemic: two or three friends talking about a subject, but also doing a lot of laughing and teasing. The sign that you are tuning in to the podcast for the hosts’ friendship, rather than the content, is when you get ever so slightly annoyed by the introduction of a guest who throws off the wonderful friendship dynamics.
Throughout these long strange 18 months, I have become increasingly reliant on the safe spaces that discussions amongst friends generate. Here are some of my favourites.
Rex Factor - this is my original “friends talking about a subject” podcast, and might be my favourite podcast of all time. One day I will do a recommendation just about the Rex Factor. For now, just know that it’s two British guys rating each English monarch from Alfred the Great to Elizabeth II. (They’ve also done a series on Scottish monarchs, and are in the midst of doing the queen and prince consorts). Yes, the stories they tell about each monarch are interesting and funny, but what I love is the dynamic between the two guys. One is a more serious, researcher type, the other is a flakey goofball. The best part is that they both really get a kick out of each other. So heartwarming.
Forever35 - This is two women in Los Angeles ostensibly talking about self-care, with an emphasis on skincare. In actual fact, they are diving into their own insecurities, triumphs and passions whilst living life in the 2020s. Enjoyable friendship banter is enlivened by the occasional moment when I think one of them is getting irritated by the other one. So relatable.
Smartless - This one features Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes and the conceit is that every week one of them brings on a celebrity friend that the other two don’t know about, and then they interview them. While sometimes I detect a hint of misogyny from these dudes and they can be a bit smug, their deep love for each other and some first class teasing keeps me coming back.
How Did This Get Made - Jason Mantzoukas, Paul Scheer and June Diane Raphael are all actors, but not big names. If you Google them, you’ll definitely recognize their faces. Paul and June are married in real life. The three of them (often with a guest - not as good) watch bad movies and then get together for an hour long discussion of, well, How Did This Get Made. I started listening because they were quite funny about the terrible movies they watched, but over this past year, I’ve become a fan because underneath some intense teasing and lots of swearing, you can feel the deep affection that these three dopes feel for each other, and I love that.
The Deep Dive - this is a new one and features June Diane Raphael from How Did This Get Made and one of her good friends, and fellow b-list actor, Jessica St.Clair. This ladies are loopy, out of touch West Coast nutbars who talk a lot about Tarot readings and energetic spirits, but they are also very funny and more importantly, they super love each and the friend-teasing is first class.
The High Low - This is a cheat because in December 2020 they stopped making new episodes, but there is a deep archives, which I’ve been working my way through. This one features Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton, two British writers in their mid-thirties who discuss both the high and low culture of the week. They’re plugged in, funny and insightful, but again, I mostly love it because they love each other and your can hear the warmth in their voices.
Now that you know what I like, do you have any podcast reckys for me? Leave them in the comments below!
The National Carpet Museum might be my favourite
The National Carpet Museum, Baku Azerbaijan
I’m a big believer that work expands to fill the hours. I am in a “busy” job at the moment, but it’s mostly so busy because my days are filled with as many as 10-12 meetings on different subjects. Often these meetings are not necessary. If I had the time to meet less and do more, I could, well, do more.
Miraculously—or predictably, if you ask proponents of the four-day workweek—the company seemed to be getting the same amount of work done in less time. It had scaled back on meetings and social events, and employees increased the pace of their day. Nicole Miller, who works in human resources at Buffer, also cited “the principle of work expanding to the time you give it”: When we have 40 hours of work a week, we find ways to work for 40 hours. Buffer might never go back to a five-day week.
I worked 4 days a week for a few years, and I completely agree with the assessment below. I scheduled all of my and my daughter’s appointments on the day off, as well as all my running around, which meant that I had more time for my actual job when I was in the office.
Barnes found that even though weekly working hours were cut by 20 percent, employees’ time spent on nonwork websites fell by 35 percent. It also helped that employees had more time outside of work to manage the rest of their lives, so nonwork responsibilities were less likely to intrude on the workday. “Because people have no time for home duties—trying to track down that plumber or sorting things out with the kids—all of that was eating into the day,” he told me. “So if I gave people more time outside of work to do those tasks, that would stop those things interfering in the business hours.”
Someone should write a novel about this
I find the repercussions and challenges of big lottery wins so fascinating. The big win is counter-intuitively often detrimental to people’s happiness. We are so messed up as humans.
Coming from a small town myself, I could imagine the dynamics of this.
Some people say they’ve noticed a new car or two at one house or another. Some people point to someone who’s spruced up the front of the house. Some people profess not to care, but they seem to be outnumbered by people who say they know for sure who won.
The whole thread is so interesting:
This old dog
Love these girls
Australian dad joke
Fully endorse this
This is why I like TikTok - watch the next two in a row
Also endorse this
The payoff on this one is intense
AMY TECTOR - THE HONEYBEE EMERALDS (MARCH 2022)
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Amy Tector, The Honeybee Emeralds (March 2022)