Posted in episodes

Episode 16: You Can’t Go Home Again

The homework for the episode:
Pete: The Fifth Elephant, 1999 novel by Terry Pratchett (part of the Discworld series
Martha: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014 film directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and starring Chris Evans
Cory: Gone Home, 2013 PC game available on STEAM

Commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, Sam Vimes, finds himself in over his head when he travels to Uberwald on a diplomatic mission. Amongst his cohort are a dwarf, a werewolf, and a troll who used to call the cold nation home.

Steve Rogers misses the 1940s. Also he and other vets find solace in each other, until he finds out a missing piece of his past is still running around killing folk in the modern era. SHIELD is there also, but they’re terrible.

A girl comes home from a trip abroad to find her family missing. Over the course of discovering what happens, she learns a whole lot of new things about her sister, her family, and the secrets that they keep.

Home is a construct, but is it one we build, or is it built despite ourselves? We get a chance to play with a new media format, welcome a new guest, and figure out what home means to us in today’s episode.

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: NPR First Listen Live: The National, “Sleep Well Beast”
Martha: Crash Override by Zoe Quinn
Cory: In Defense of Food: PBS Documentary by Michael Pollan

Welcome, Cory!

Martha may be the only one who didn’t know NPR played music. She’s also here to stand on a soapbox for Zoe Quinn and women on the internet, and don’t you even start with that “every story has two sides” thing. (Wikipedia has a pretty good dissection of the whole GamerGate debacle, I recommend it as a starting point. Read it here.) Cory and Martha get excited about Michael Pollan, and overall we’re all having a pretty good time ingesting pop culture. Go us.

You Can’t Go Home Again (…or can you?)

  1. How do we define the act of “going home”?
  2. What is home for our various characters? How does this change through the course of the narrative?
  3. How do characters react to returning “home”?
  4. What causes the inability to return “home”––is it us who change, or home, or both?

“Home” is a nebulous concept that is, by its nature, constantly redefined. We attempt to make sense of what it means to our main characters, and in the process get to talk about format and world building a whole lot. Home is pretty deeply tied to identity for all of our main characters, so we end up looping a little bit back to our very first topic for the show as we explore the struggle to define oneself by an idea that is constantly shifting.

I’m gonna be honest with y’all – I really want you to listen to this episode, so I don’t have a lot of show notes to give you! Here is a link to a YouTube playthrough of Gone Home in case you were not able to play it yourself.

Also, the song Martha poorly articulates is the Dionne Warwick “A House is Not A Home.” It featured in the 1964 film of the same name, starring Shelley Winters and Robert Taylor. Martha knows it because Kurt sang it on Glee once.

On September 13, we’re talking about Ambition with special guest and fan of the show Lizzie Buehler. Your homework for next episode:

Pete: The soundtrack to a little 2016 musical Hamilton, you may have heard of it
Martha: Glee episodes 1.01 (Pilot) and 3.22 (Goodbye)
Lizzie: There Will Be Blood

Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook!

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in episodes

Episode 9: Strange Bedfellows

A note from your podcasters: you’ll notice our episode is slightly different this week! In order to bring you the best content possible, we’re streamlining our discussion and shifting focus from trying to generate a syllabus of materials in the episode, to generating a lesson plan of Big Ideas that you can address using the media we assign as homework. Follow-up blog posts will include more media on the theme as usual, but more from us about how they connect to the podcast. 

Feedback is, as always, more than welcome! Tweet us at @DYDYHpodcast or e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com to let us know your thoughts on our new direction.

The subtitle for this episode is basically “radical empathy,” which is the theme a lot of these stories boil down to and a very useful thing to be teaching!

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Good Omens, 1990 novel cowritten by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Martha: Anya’s Ghost, 2011 graphic novel by Vera Brosgol
Calee: The Man from U.N.C.L.E, 2015 film by Guy Ritchie

What exactly do we mean when we say “Strange Bedfellows”? If you didn’t get it from the homework context clues, we’re talking weird character matchups between people who have absolutely nothing in common – or DO they? We get down and dirty on the subject of odd couples, weird matchups, character growth and something Pete has dubbed “Radical Empathy.” Our homework takes us from ghosts to the apocalypse, from the Cold War to first generation Russian immigrants, and from the idyllic English countryside to 1960’s Rome in our search for commonality. What we find may shock you! (It won’t, but it does end up being quite interesting.)

Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty (album)
Martha: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, vol. 1: Who is Oracle? by Shawna and Julie Benson, and Roge Antonio and Claire Roe (DC Rebirth trade paperback)
Calee: Mystery Science Theater 3000: Cry Wilderness (Netflix incarnation)

Martha is digging hard on the DC Rebirth incarnation of the Birds of Prey, while Pete feels only lukewarm on the new musical offering from Fleet Foxes alum Father John. Calee has never seen MST3K before (author’s note: WHAT), but the new stuff sounds pretty great.

Strange Bedfellows: Big Ideas
– Radical Empathy: using media examples to teach empathy and understanding
– Determining the appeal of “strange bedfellow” relationships, through what they reveal about a character (and by extension the consumer by proxy)
– The idea of living in an “echo chamber” (slightly rehashed from our episode on News Media): how absorbing the viewpoints and opinions from others can expand your worldview
– The difference between understanding and empathy, and why it matters

We briefly mention a comic from the popular blog The Oatmeal, “You’re Not Going to Believe What I’m About to Tell You.” Read it here, it’ll be good for you.

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Pop Culture Depictions of Mental Health. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for May 24:
Pete: Spellbound, 1945 film by Alfred Hitchcock (watch it in its entirety on YouTube here)
Martha: Legion, episodes 1 and 2 (2017 show on F/X)
Calee: Hyperbole and a Half, Adventures in Depression parts 1 and 2 by Allie Brosh (located here and here)

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in extra credit

Sidekicks Follow-Up: Logan, the Tragedy of Carrie Kelly, and Other Ephemera We Forgot

(Post by Martha S.)

So if you listened to our fifth episode on heroes and sidekicks, you may have noticed that we all got a little riled up right at the end – en masse, right when we were out of time, we all remembered that we had not touched on the film Logan or Wolverine’s long string of cute girl sidekicks that he’s had throughout the history of the X-Men comics. I wanted to that a bit here, and also address some of our additional materials that didn’t make it into the episode, and also ruminate on the tragedy of Carrie Kelly (particularly in contrast to Wolverine’s many female sidekicks). Here we go!

Logan is a wonderful movie, and a lot of the reason for that is the relationship between Logan and Laura, the tiny homicidal X-23 character. (X-23, if you’re not familiar, is a female clone of Wolverine that shows up first in the TV show X-Men: Evolution and then later on in a handful of X titles.) Laura is a feral, powerful, tragic little girl who is more comfortable decapitating bad guys than obeying rules. She needs the gruff, militaristic hand of Logan in order to pull back from the edge, and it turns out he needs someone to protect and defend. I’m not sure that Laura quite makes the leap from “escort quest” to sidekick, although others may disagree – but the fact remains that Wolverine has a history of mentoring younger women who then grow up and get their own solo books or at least get to be the principal at mutant academy.

Over the course of his history, Wolverine has mentored Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, Armor, and X-23 (and Rogue in the original Bryan Singer films), and even has one fantastic comic issue with Kamala Khan. His take-no-bullshit attitude seems to do well with angsty teenagers, who bounce off of his tough exterior and come out stronger on the other end (while he gradually softens). It is a relationship I consistently enjoy reading about, especially when you contrast it with…

Carrie Kelly.

Oh, Carrie. The one bright spot in the (unpopular opinion) dreary and drudging The Dark Knight Returns, no Robin has been treated as unfairly by creators as Carrie (although Jason Todd may disagree). In TDKR, she’s fun, spunky, bright and humorous, even when she is totally and age inappropriately saving Bruce’s butt. I love HER and hate the way she’s handled in the book – she’s thirteen, has no connection to Bruce other than an idolizing fascination, and basically gets stolen from her apathetic family to help run his brigand of Batboys in The Dark Knight Strikes Again. She also gets a horrible costume change and dramatically declares her love for Batman when she appears to be dying, a love Mark Millar contends is paternal in nature (I think the text strongly disagrees with this assertion).

There is also the case of Batgirl, who can arguably be counted amongst Batman’s various sidekicks, and who while having a very successful solo comic career has also been forced into the “actually I’m in love with you” sex vehicle character (this jumped the shark in the horrible animated rendition of The Killing Joke released last year).

So why the difference? Batman and Wolverine are both serious, world-weary men with a penchant for attracting young people. Why do Wolverine’s female protegees get to go on to bigger, better and more independent (and less lovesick) endeavors? I don’t really have an answer for you, except that historically Marvel treats their female characters better than DC. Please feel free to discuss below.

Other supplementary materials we wanted to make note of:

Captain America: The First Avenger. Notable for its bait-and-switch narrative: Steve begins the sidekick to suave, handsome, tall Bucky Barnes, before being embiggened and taking on the leadership role after he’s Captain America-ified. I love this flip of the trope because Bucky could get all gross and emasculated, and he totally doesn’t. His bromance with Steve is there to the end of the line, and he’s not only happy to follow Steve, but proud to do so.

Grayson, vol. 1: Agents of Spyral by Tom King and Tim Seeley. The short-lived spy drama that Dick Grayson occupied for a while in between Nightwing books. Shows the versatility of his character, and also lots of great action and good use of Helena Bertinelli.

The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. If you’re not familiar with the sprawling mythos of the Warhammer: 40K universe, let me sum up quickly: for a while there were hulking supersoldiers who defended a galactic empire from hideous, beyond-our-comprehension forces and gross aliens. The most important of these turned traitor, gutted the empire, and now everyone lives in a really shitty universe where there’s an equal possibility of being eaten by aliens or disemboweled by a demon. The First Heretic tells the EXTREMELY compelling origin story of the guy who’s fault it was, and is a really cool example of someone who thinks he’s in charge very much not being so. His adviser, a perfect Bastard Understudy, feeds him BS until he’s compelled to unravel the very fabric of the empire of man. I highly recommend you check out the Horus Heresy series of novels.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. A YA novel about all the OTHER characters in a YA story, and what they’re doing while the heroes are off saving the world. I mentioned it as my pop culture credentials back in one of our early episodes.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. The beautiful thing about the titular Wee Free Men in the Tiffany Aching novels of the Discworld series is that not only are they totally dedicated to helping Tiffany as their patron witch, but they do so in a DELIGHTFULLY cheery and bloodthirsty manner.

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein. Everyone needs a Sam to their Frodo, amiright?