Five (more) podcasts I recommend

People seemed to appreciate my last post rounding up a few great podcasts I recommend, so what better way to mark the end of a long week than to do another one?

Beef and Dairy Network

In this bizarre, pitch-perfect comedy podcast, British comic Benjamin Partridge brings you “the number one podcast for those involved or just interested in the production of beef animals and dairy herds.” It’s a straight-faced parody of the kind of niche public interest broadcasting the BBC has done over the years, in which a cheery host brings you the news from the perspective of some insanely narrow part of society. In this case that part of society is people who raise and slaughter cattle, so you get episodes with discussions like a frustrated scientist from the European Space Agency being asked if any hoofprints have ever been found on Mars, interspersed with ads for ridiculous farm products.

Good place to dive in? Episode 3, “Gareth Belge,” in which “Beef and Dairy Network” goes Hollywood to interview a “bovine actor wrangler.”

Rational Security

Every week, Shane Harris of The Daily Beast talks over the latest developments in defense, intelligence and national security with Benjamin Wittes, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and Susan Hennessey of the Brookings Institution. These are establishment voices with establishment biases, but they’re smart and well-informed on the stories behind the stories, so if you’re looking for sharp observations on national security this is one of the few places to turn.

Good place to dive in? Try Episode #82, where the entire panel’s heads explode at the idea of pardoning Edward Snowden.

Blank Check with Griffin & David

Griffin Newman and David Sims started this one out as “The Phantom Podcast,” the only podcast dedicated to obsessively dissecting the many, many flaws in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. That resulted in some great comedy, so when they’d finished with that mission they evolved the podcast into “Blank Check,” in which they obsessively dissect the careers of directors whose early success gave them a Hollywood “blank check” — funding and support to make basically any movie they wanted to from there on out, which usually results in them taking on wildly ambitious projects that fail dismally. So far they’ve tackled George Lucas, M. Night Shyamalan, the Wachowskis, Cameron Crowe, and James Cameron.

Good place to dive in? Go back to the beginning, the very first episode of “The Phantom Podcast,” which is hilarious.

War Stories

In this new-ish podcast, Adin Dobkin and “Angry Staff Officer” look into military history, picking up one key historical development and tracing its story from its origins through its obsolescence. They’re in the middle of the first such arc now, covering tanks and armored warfare. The stories are well-told, and they have a good eye for historical details that even a nerd like me is unfamiliar with.

Good place to dive in? It’s a new podcast, so why not start at the beginning? Episode 1.1, “High Wood (Prologue),” takes you into the moment that led to the end of the horse cavalry and the beginning of armorĀ  — the charge of the Deccan Horse in World War I’s Battle of the Somme, when elite Indian cavalrymen charged machine-gun nests on horseback.

The Flop House

Yes, it’s another “let’s make fun of terrible movies” podcast, but this is one of the funnier ones. Elliott Kalan, Dan McCoy, and Stuart Wellington are witty and engaging, and they mix up high-profile flops with obscure indies you would never have discovered on your own.

Good place to dive in? Episode #187, “Fateful Findings”, which takes on one of my favorite weird indies of recent years: director-from-another-planet Neil Breen’s Fateful Findings, which you really need to see if you haven’t already.