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Seven podcasts discovered during the pandemic

During the pandemic, I managed to make up for the loss of a fair amount of social interaction by listening to an ever-lengthening list of podcasts, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

So, if you’re looking to add to your own list, here are seven podcasts that have stuck with me even now that the world has begun its halting return to normalcy. All podcasts listed are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Acast.

“Sawbones”

Hosted by Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband, comedy podcaster Justin McElroy, “Sawbones” is a “marital tour of misguided medicine,” from Pliny and Aristotle to ozone treatments and anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories. Recent episode titles include “Virology,” “Balto,” and “Naloxone,” among other fascinating topics.

“Harry Potter and the Sacred Text”

Today, millennials and Gen Z’ers all over the world return to the Harry Potter series during difficult stages of life in much the same way as other generations might have read various religious texts for comfort. Using a system of monastic scriptural reading titled “Lectio Divina,” co-hosts Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile, among others, analyze the series chapter by chapter focusing on a specific theme each week through which to view each little lesson along the way.

“We practice the belief that the text is not ‘just entertainment,’ but if taken seriously, can give us generous rewards,” their website explains. “Trusting the text doesn’t mean we understand the text to be perfect – either in construction or moral teaching – but that it is worthy of our attention and contemplation.”

“Judge John Hodgman”

From spousal spats to neighborhood wars, actor, author and “humorist” John Hodgman just about always has the answer. Co-hosted by “bailiff” Jesse Thorn, “Judge John Hodgman” is a weekly comedy podcast featuring a series of real-life, listener-submitted debates in a fictional courtroom.

In each episode, the two arguing parties jump on a video call with Hodgman and Thorn (among other guest bailiffs) to lay out their sides of the story. And while the cases may be petty and trivial, nothing heals quite like comedy.

“Home Cooking”

Hosted by “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” star chef and food writer Samin Nosrat and indie-podcast producer Hrishikesh Hirway, “Home Cooking” is an advice show for budding pandemic chefs. Funny, punny and generally comforting, the show is perfect for those days when you’re stuck at home with a few baskets of laundry to fold.

“Dead Eyes”

“Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” actor and comic Connor Ratliff continues his quest to solve a (stupid) mystery that has haunted him for more than 20 years: “Why Tom Hanks fired him from a small role in the 2001 HBO miniseries ‘Band of Brothers.’”

“In Our Time”

Hosted by Melvyn Bragg, this BBC4 radio show turned podcast brings together groups of experts to discuss fascinating topics from history, science, mathematics and literature. Recent episode titles include “The Rapture,” “Automata” and “Shakespeare’s Sonnets.”

“Dungeons and Daddies”

I wouldn’t say I generally look forward to watching “the big game” or any sport, for that matter, but what I do love is a good “Dungeons and Dragons” podcast. And that is exactly what this is. “Dungeons and Daddies” (not a BDSM podcast) follows a group of modern-day dads after stumbling through a portal to the forgotten realms on the way to their sons’ soccer game.

Suddenly separated, the four dads embark on a quest to rescue the boys from a kabal of faceless, purple-robbed overlords. The show stars video game writer Anthony Burch as the dungeon master, writer and director Matt Arnold as coach and barbarian dad Darryl Wilson, TV and film writer Will Campos as granola druid dad Henry Oak, writer and actor Beth May as an emotionally detached stepfather and rogue Ron Stampler and Rocket Jump co-founder Freddie Wong as rock-and-roll stoner dad Glenn Close.

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