Death in the Afternoon

A weekly Society, Culture and Education podcast
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 In this audio preview of her new book Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, Caitlin is sharing whether swallowing popcorn before you die will indeed make your cremation epic (spoiler: no) and whether your sweet cat or dog will indeed eat your eyeballs (spoiler: yes). The book will be out in print and audiobook on September 10th in the US, September 19th in the UK. Thanks deathlings!
Today we're talking corpses as entertainment. Not the idea of a corpse (sorry, horror fans) but real live – or should we say real dead– bodies. From 18th century Rome, to 19th century Paris, to 20th century Hollywood, when can corpses be important educational tools, and when are they only tasteless shock value? Who gets to decide? Enjoy, and thank you for your support of season two of DITA. 
Before zombies became the brain-eating pop culture phenomenon of the Walking (or Living) Dead, they represented something more complicated. From the procession of the Chinese dead, to hungry ghosts, to the enslaved people of Haiti, zombies say a great deal about a the country or culture where they appear. Perhaps our modern obsession with zombie films and video games also says a great deal about us? Louise and Sarah explain. 
Wills, advanced directives, emergency savings accounts – what's not to love?  Ok, we get it, facing your mortality through piles of bureaucracy is about the least inspiring task on your to-do list. But paradoxically, these are the exact tasks that once you tackle them head on, put you on a one way train to chill town. In today's episode, Caitlin, with help from her friend Chanel Reynolds, takes us on a journey to clean up her own end of life messes.
The American Civil War left roughly 700,000 men dead and an entire nation devastated. With millions of pounds of rotting human flesh on the battlefields, burying the dead was a daunting, sometimes insurmountable task for the survivors. Bad when it was burying your fallen brethren, worse when it was burying the bodies of your enemy, unimaginable when it was burying the men who fought to keep you enslaved.      
We know who gets fancy monuments: politicians, military heroes, and so many men on horses. In cemeteries the playing field may be leveling, with faces and names showing up that have never been represented in public sculpture before. But in other areas, monuments are business as usual, the dead forgotten, the Lizard People left unhonored. (That's right... the Lizard People.)
Two Manhattan tragedies, two miles and ninety years apart, that changed government policy forever.  But the victims couldn't afford to step back and take this long historical view. They were caught in a horrific struggle between two paths, both leading to unimaginable death.   Warning: Discussion of suicide.
Cremation and burial are all well and good, but why aren't our dead bodies electroplated or cemented?  In our first episode of Death in the Afternoon– Season Two, we're talking about the ridiculous funerary innovations that succeeded (see: the death-defying green parks of Hollywood) and the ridiculous funerary innovations that... didn't (see: coffin torpedoes.) Welcome back, deathlings.
You asked for it, deathlings. A bonus episode on the mortuary and embalming scenes in Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House. Are they accurate? A hot mess? Is my job really filled with ghosts? All that and more in today's mini-episode with Caitlin. 
Ring ring. Hello? Who’s there? IT’S YOUR MORTALITY CALLING.   In life, phones make everything easier– just “reach out and touch someone.” But in death, reaching out can be a little more complicated. This week we talk about accessing a dead man’s cell phone, texting from beyond the grave, and the grim origins of a certain red handset.
A wisp of white. A voice in the dark. A lamp mysteriously turns on by itself. Few things capture our imagination like a good ghost story. But is there more to a spooky tale than thrills and chills? Perhaps we are less afraid of WHAT or WHO haunts us, than we are of what we’ve done to deserve that haunting. Join us for a very SPIRITED Death in the Afternoon. 
Embalming. It sounds like the stuff of horror movies: pump a dead body full of chemicals to make it look alive – ALIVE! Whose idea was this? Is there really such a thing as "extreme embalming"? And what about when embalming (allegedly) goes horribly, horribly wrong? We discuss these and other questions on this week’s episode of Death in the Afternoon.   
Ah, to die, to decompose, to become one with the earth. Most of us accept this as our fate. But what happens when that whole “decomposition thing” doesn’t go as planned? This week we discuss incorrupt corpses that inspire devotion, grant miracles, and just might help you to become a karate champion. 
Being in a cult... doesn’t always end well. This week, we confront the questions: Why not drink the Kool-Aid? How many puppies does it take to resurrect a teen queen? And, what shouldn’t you bring into a doomsday cave? (Spoiler: corpses)
Generally speaking, we like our limbs in context. “The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone.” But what about when we encounter limbs that aren’t connected to anybody? Just out there, free and unattached? This week we talk about rogue and extra limbs that have been found by the sea, in the smoker, and in the grave as we answer the question: is that a…foot? 
Mistakes happen. Cremations happen. But few things capture our morbid imagination like cremation mistakes happening. Whether it’s the horror of cremating your coworker, a misplaced corpse on the way to America’s first modern cremation, or plumes of “human remains particulate” interrupting your Best Buy shopping experience, nothing fans the flames of our phobias like a cremation blunder. This week we talk about things that can go right, wrong, and sideways when you’re in the business of cremating corpses.
In our first episode, we take you on a magical (ok, not always so magical) journey of living with the dead. From an adorable 91 year old lady with a dark secret, to a rhinestone studded cult with resurrection ambitions, to a Japanese mummy collecting government assistance. Buckle up, and welcome to Death in the Afternoon!
Welcome to your mortality, humans! It's a new podcast called Death in the Afternoon from the team that brings you Ask a Mortician. First episode is out on October 15th.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Caitlin Doughty
Podcast Status
Oct 2nd, 2018
Latest Episode
Sep 5th, 2019
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
26 minutes

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