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  1. Happy Halloween! That's the one with the fireworks and red, white, and blue Jello desserts, right?

    No, wait. Wrong holiday.

    It's the one with...candy, yes? Yes. There's chocolate? Chocolate bunnies!

    ...no bunnies? Huh. Okay, give me a hint.

    Pumpkins? Never heard of them. Let me search Wikipedia.

    OH, GOT IT. Halloween. Okay, yeah, I remember this one. This is the one where kids knock on the front door and then it's really awkward when I they can see me checking who they are in the window. I've never actually opened my front door for anybody other than the UPS guy, and these kids always seem to show up at dinner time. I don't know them, and I'm pretty sure the "No Solicitation" sticker is still on the front door, so I just let their inherent short attention spans take care of the matter.

    Anyways, who cares about Halloween when you can celebrate NaNoWriMo Eve! Tons of people all over the world giving over a whole month to crank out 50,000 words! Some of those words will turn into published stories! The rest of them will... well, they won't do much, but hey, still an accomplishment, right? I'd rather shuffle around a .doc file than scoop the remains of a rotten Jack-o-Lantern off my porch.

    There are plenty of people who pilot NaNoWriMo by the seat of their pants, but perhaps you want a little leg up on your word count. Might I suggest Inside Creative Writing.

    The kids wanted me to give them candy? Now you're just making stuff up.


    Relevant Links:
    Main Site!
    Subscribe via RSS feed!
    Subscibe via iTunes!
    Twitter!

    Host Brad Reed is a writer who writes and then talks to other writers who write and together they talk about writing. Inside Creative Writing has had topics like the Snowflake Method, "defamiliarization", when to use adverbs, and speaking with authors on how they captures moments that spark stories. Reed leads each episode well and engages the guests so that they willingly share their secrets to success and provide insight to the listening audience.

    Inside Creative Writing is less straight up instructive than Writing Excuses, but there is still plenty to enjoy. The tone is friendly and conversational and it gives writers a chance to find a new POV on their craft (see what I did there? EH?). 

    Content RatingClean and grammatically sound. These folks really know where to put a preposition at.

    Average Episode Length:  A sample of five episodes gives an average time of about 37 minutes. The episodes don't feel too short or too long, each topic gets a proper amount of time.

    Drinking Game: Oh...well, gosh! I just can't think of any way to tie the craft of writing, and writers themselves, to drinking. Do writers even drink? Surely they perform their art stone-sober, to reflect the gravity of creating the written word. No, no, I don't think I can come up with any classical authors to which you might mimic their drinking patterns and/or choices in alcohol. Gosh.

    Go get some tea, I suppose?

    Release Schedule:  Weekly!  Yay!

    Unintentionally Good Part:  All the picture of the host that I've seen have him wearing one of those newsboy caps, which I find to be a good fashion choice.

    Unintentionally Bad Part:  If you are a writer, you will feel guilty that you're listening to this instead of writing.

    Unrelated rating:  Five people pretending to write at Starbucks out of five.

    BONUS CONTENT:  Seriously, there is a thing called NaNoWriMo and it starts tomorrow. Join up and prove you can write a novel! It's a good bit of fun and at the very least you can be a snot like me and read Tumblrs that mock people on the forums.
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  2. Lou Reads the Internet for YOU!

    Friday, October 18, 2013

    Lou Fernandez is a man with ambition. His goal is to be a professional voice actor, which is a rad goal. As he attempts to make it to the big time he has decided to practice his reading so as to refine his skills. However, rather than reading...anything else, he has made great efforts to read from the depths of the Internet.

    And my friends, we all benefit from his efforts. Welcome to Lou Reads the Internet for YOU!

    I don't understand things and I don't think I want to.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site! Features lots of different ways to find the podcast.
    iTunes!
    Listen on Stitcher!
    Lou on Facebook!
    Twitter!

    Lou Reads the Internet for YOU! is a podcast of contradictions. On one hand you have Lou Fernandez, a dude of what I'm going to assume is a mild-mannered nature with a very nice voice. Deep without going into Barry White territory, soothing enough to sell me something without bothering me. I can imagine him narrating a yoga DVD or something like that.

    Then you have the stuff he reads to you. Is horrifibad a strong enough imaginary word to describe to you the content of this podcast?  I have reviewed other podcasts that focus around the "Atrocity Tourism" shtick of finding gross things and reading them but yeesh. Here there be dragons.

    If you are familiar with the podcast The F Plus then I can tell you with sincerity that it is more tame than Lou Reads the Internet for YOU! Seriously, this is a view into the unvarnished interior of some messed up people.

    So do I like this podcast? Is the smooth voice enough to pave over the horror-show content? Well, yes. For one, you feel WAY BETTER about yourself as a human being after listening to the weird stuff people get up to in their day-to-day lives. I'd recommend this podcast as an occasional listen, because you really do need to maintain at least a shred of faith in humanity somewhere in your head.

    To be clear, Lou doesn't truck with any of the stuff he reads and there is no sympathy for the psychopathic minds that decide one day to open a forum thread and chat about what drugs they put where on their body that week. He's just a man with a good voice and a Something Awful account.

    Content Rating: Explicit! The titles of the episodes will let you know exactly what you're in for.

    Average Episode Length: Ooh, it's all over the place. Earlier episodes are quite short, just a few minutes each. Current episodes run around a half-hour long.

    Drinking Game:  Practice your own melodious reading-aloud skills with the Fox on Socks drinking game.

    Release Schedule:  Looks like there is a release about twice a month.

    Music: A little zippy piece of music that I assume comes with a copy of Garage Band. I love it! It's got a beat you can dance to and remains charming after several listens.

    Unintentionally Good Part:  I'm assuming my expression of dawning horror as I listen to the various stories and admissions people put on the Internet. Holy crap, y'all. I think I strained my eyebrows after I lifted them so many times in disbelief. There was one episode where I had this open-mouthed scowl going on because I couldn't deal with what I was hearing.  WHO DOES THIS STUFF?

    Unintentionally Bad Part:  The only thing that trips me up is that there's no change in tone when Lou goes from reading an excerpt to his own thoughts or comments. Makes me do a double take from time to time.

    Unrelated rating: Two stairs from your house out of three.
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  3. Beta Sandwich Science Podcast

    Friday, September 27, 2013

    First off, allow me to play you the jam of my people:


    Spoiler: Bill Nye is not featured as a guest or host on this podcast. There is, however, plenty of science and it is discussed by guys so I guess that's close enough. Right? Right.

    This is Beta Sandwich Science Podcast.

    Welcome to the Beta Sandwich Podcast, your source for news and trends in the Molecular Biosciences.  Join us as we wax poetic about all things sciencey (yes, that's a word).  We go in depth about diseases, viruses, medicine, pharmacology, biochemistry and pretty much anything else that moves, crawls, flies or has otherwise transformed this giant rock into a living ecosystem.  If you are a crazy scientist, or you just like crazy science, you've come to the right place :)


    Relevant Links:
    Main Site!
    Episode Archive!
    Twitter!
    Download via iTunes!
    Facebook!

    Hosts Scott Barnett,Christian Copley-Salem, Dr. Del Jackson, and Karolina Balkenbush are all smarter than you when it comes to science. You might be able to win a debate over who the best Golden Girl is, but they have you beat on pretty much anything that's worth publication in some manner of scientific journal. It's cool though! They are smart in a non-threatening way, a way that reaches out to you and your tiny, tiny dinosaur mind with kindness and compassion. They know about lots of cool thing, mainly to do with molecular bioscience and they want to share that knowledge with you.

    I make no promises if you'll be able to comprehend any of what they say; God knows I had my head tilted to the side like a pug being asked about walkies for half of the podcasts. But what little I did understand was quite interesting! There are all sorts of comings and goings about molecules and what they may or may not do! This is important because I am told that all of us, myself included, are in fact made of molecules.

    Which is gross, but in a fascinating way.

    Content Rating: Clean as the inside of a autoclave.

    Average Episode Length: Around an hour.

    Drinking Game: Any time the hosts say a word you don't understand, drink. Any time the hosts say a word that you smugly recognize, drink twice. Any time a university is mentioned by name, drink.

    Release Schedule: Looks like it has a weekly release.

    The hosts are friendly and easy to listen to despite their discussion matter which can sometimes get a little complicated. Scientific discoveries are explained to the listener in as-close-to-layman terms as one can expect from a crew of scientists and what they talk about really is cool to hear. There are all sorts of fascinating studies and experiments and findings going on in their respective fields and the Beta Sandwich Science Podcast is a wonderful way to hear about what's going on.

    And in case you were wondering, a "beta sandwich" is a thing:

    ...

    Okay, I just tried to find an explanation of what a beta sandwich is and I seriously couldn't find anything that I understood. Just trust me, it's a real term. The podcast explains it during an episode so you should go listen instead of me trying to stare down a picture of DNA on Wikipedia that I'll never comprehend.


    Unintentionally Good Part: The section where they discuss how to handle grad school. It's funny and informative.

    Unintentionally Bad Part: This podcast does not work for a "background" podcast where you can do chores or something as you listen. If you lose the thread of whatever they're discussing you often miss an important explanation and then can't follow the rest of the story. Not a bad thing, just one of my preferences.

    Unrelated rating: Sixteen broken microscope slides out of seventeen.
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  4. Welcome to Night Vale

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    It's your local NPR station broadcasting from the Bermuda Triangle.
    It's the improv comedy group in a town only found in a Stephen King novel.
     
    It's the sound of someone grating sentient nutmeg over your mug of hot cocoa.
    Welcome to Night Vale.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site!
    Twitter!
    Shop!
    Tune in here!
    Or tune in here!

    Now that I think about it, I have also never bothered to actually check whether this mic is attached to any recording or broadcasting device and it is possible that I am alone, in an empty universe, speaking to no one, unaware that the world is held aloft merely by my delusions and my smooth, sonorous voice. More on this story as it develops, I say, possibly only to myself.
    Host Cecil Baldwin is here to educate, illuminate, and heavily irradiate the listening audience to the comings and goings of Night Vale. School announcements, community improvements, warnings about the forbidden dog park, and updates on Carlos the Scientists' glorious, perfect hair are all within his purview. As a reporter Cecil seems content to simply observe and hold interviews with beings that either refuse to speak or are unable to communicate within the limits of humanity's comprehension, although he will occasionally be pulled into the strange tides that shape and swell around the desert town of Night Vale. It is my dear hope that Night Vale operates on Loony Tunes logic, wherein reoccurring characters may incur damage, but never truly die. I have a feeling though that even if Cecil were to die it would be something of a variable state and surely there would be some recording instruments within his incorporeal reach.

    Topics vary from the mundane to the "mundane" to the absurd to the outright dangerous coverage of breaking news. Topics include the local sports teams (go Night Vale Scorpions!), what the City Council has been doing and why you must never think about it, to local gossip, and somewhere in between all of that you'll find a town (which probably shouldn't exist) filled with people (that wouldn't live anywhere else) and a dog park (which is forbidden).

    What was I saying? My nose just started bleeding and all I really want to do is throw Night Vale quotes at you. 

    Content Rating: Bizarre. And clean, if that matters at all.

    Can you believe this guy said he used Indian magics? What an asshole.

    Average Episode Length: You will be forced to endure each episode for about 25 minutes.

    Wednesday has been cancelled due to a scheduling error.

    Drinking GameBOW DOWN TO THE GLOW CLOUD.

    Dear listeners, here is a list of things: emotions you don't understand upon viewing a sunset, lost pets found, lost pets unfound, a secret lost pet city on the moon, trees that see, restaurants that hear, a void that thinks, a face half-seen just before falling asleep, trembling hands reaching for desperately needed items, sandwiches...

    Release Schedule:  Twice monthly.

    We sent our intern, Chad, to try buying a tennis racket and have not hear back from him for several weeks.

    Music:  The weather report for each episode is a song by an independent artist. The songs fit the mood of Night Vale and each particular episode. You are free to fast-forward through the weather report, unless you are not.

    Also, I'm battling Lyme disease.

    Unintentionally Good Part:  The interns and their fates.

    Let's have a look at traffic. Oh! Wow! Well, that looks pretty good. Yup, yes...okay, not too bad there either I see. Oh, that gentleman needs to slow it down! It's not a race my friend, not a literal one anyways. That has been traffic.

    Unintentionally Bad Part: Telly the barber.

    Capricorn: those were not contact lenses you put in this morning. Best not think about this again.

    Unrelated rating: The sound of a mail box being run over, followed by the memory of watching your mother fold towels and set them on top of the dryer.


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  5. The Alton Browncast

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    If you're anything like me, then the next best thing to actually eating food is watching someone else deal with food and food-related objects. Food Network is one of the last channels I watch on an actual TV over actual cable television, and my favorite show has always been Good Eats. The show has a devoted Tivo folder, I loved his Feasting on Asphalt and Feasting on Waves and all that good stuff he's been on.

    AND NOW HE'S AVAILABLE IN PODCAST FORM!

    Wonders of wonders, miracles of miracles~

    Sorry, I just really like Alton Brown. He taught me a lot about cooking, not that I actually apply any of it to my boxed lasagna, but I still felt good learning about it.

    Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350F, then turn that thing off because you're going to listen to The Alton Browncast.   

    TV Host and Foodist Alton Brown reviews recent food news, chats with celebrities about their culinary passions, takes calls from listeners, and basically does whatever he flippin’ wants for 45 minutes.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Podcast Site, via Nerdist! This site also serves as an archive.
    RSS Feed!
    Get the podcast via iTunes!
    Alton's Twitter!   He replies to tweets by writing out a response on a Post-It and taking a picture of it! Hee!

    The Alton Browncast provides host Alton Brown (GO FIGURE, RIGHT?) a lovely little venue to talk about what really interests him in the food world. He will discuss recent food-related news, interview fellow creative chefs and food crafters, and answer cooking questions from his listening audience. It's a nicely balanced little podcast, shifting easily between topics as Alton delves into his knowledge and passion for all things food. If you like his personality on any of the plethora of shows he's been on you will find more of the same in this podcast.

    I gotta tell you right now, buttermilk and Cap'n Crunch cereal? Those things don't go together.

    Content Rating: Clean, and I really can't imagine this podcast ever being explicit.

    Average Episode Length: Set your timer for just a smidgin over an hour. You'll want the toothpick to be clean, with only a few moist crumbs sticking to it when you test for doneness.


    Release Schedule:  Once a week, with the release date most likely to be a Friday.


    Unintentionally Good Part:  Listening to Bobby Flay's story about making "queso" at his wife's behest. Cute story.

    Unintentionally Bad Part: Bad part, bad part, is there a bad part? Sorry, I'm an Alton Brown fan, so he gets a clean pass.  #@#$%!$ SLURPING DURING AN ICE CREAM TASTING SERIOUSLY THAT IS THE WORST NOISE IN MY EARS.   Aaaaaaargh okay, okay, I found a bad part! I give!

    Auwgh! Hate that noise.

    Unrelated rating: Two of those little yeast puppets from Good Eats out of three.


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  6. The Crate & Crowbar Podcast

    Friday, August 9, 2013

    Games, game, video games. Who likes to talk about video games?

    EVERYONE AND THEIR CAT.

    Which is not a bad thing! I've reviewed and listened to (and still listen to) loads of podcasts that do nothing more than discuss video games, and you know what? Each one is a unique little beam of sunshine. Differing viewpoints, gotta love 'em.

    I like to listen to a set of friends sitting around and recalling the arcades they haunted in their youth, I like it when people flip their lids over the next generation of consoles, I like hearing the funny bugs and the stories of how people have accidentally written-over hundreds of hours of game play.

    So let us go once more into the breach, together, to discover and admire The Crate & Crowbar podcast.

    That's a great question that you just didn't ask but I'm thinking in my head.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site!
    RSS Feed!
    Get the podcast via iTunes!
    Twitter!

    First off, to make sure this is your bag, The Crate & Crowbar is a PC gaming podcast. Let it be known that they will not be touching on subjects that involve your precious console-related hijinks. Your hosts include Tom Francis (@pentadact), Graham Smith (@gonnas), Marsh Davies (@marshdavies), Tom Senior (@PCGLudo), Chris Thursten (@cthursten) and the cool part, the part that made me nod at my monitor in appreciation, is that they all have experience within the PC gaming realm. That's neat, right? That's what drew me to the podcast in the first place, and I was not disappointed with what I had downloaded.

    Content Rating: Explicit because of swear words.

    Average Episode Length: Each episode is dang near TWO HOURS. That's a tremendous podcast length!

    Drinking Game: Pick a drink that catches your eye from Drunken Moogle, and then Google a stupid drinking game that relates to the game your drink is themed on.

    The Crate & Crowbar podcast is your weekly, ramble into the wide world of PC gaming. And I don't mean ramble in the way of an unfocused monologue, but more like walking out of your front door and heading out in whatever direction pleases you that day. After about two hours, you'll return to your front porch, open the door, and feel satisfied with how you spent your time.

    If Valve continues to be right about this and they keep working at this there will be some future where everything is free, but everyone is also rich, and no one understands why!

    The focus of the hosts' discussion is both wide-and-industry-savvy as well as the narrow-what-I-played-last-night zoom. For instance, in one episode they go from discussing Steam and Valve, to the overall play style of DOTA 2, to one hosts experience and recollection of how and why he plays. It's fun to listen to and the hosts are engaging and charming.

    Release Schedule: Weekly release on Friday.

    Music: None that I've noticed.

    Unintentionally Good Part: I'm a sucker for foreign accents.

    Unintentionally Bad Part: With the pace of a longer podcast such as this, you might find that when a topic you're uninterested in crops up it will last a lot longer than you'd please.

    Unrelated rating: Five out of five levels of Dagon.
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  7. The Food Craftsmen

    Friday, August 2, 2013

    All right, readers, I'm going to say a phrase, and it is going to let you know whether or not this podcast is for you. It's going to challenge some world-views, shake up some dialogues, that sort of thing, so be ready.

    Are you appropriately clenched? Okay, here it is:

    "Handcrafted food meta-discussion"

    Were you struck blind? Wait, stupid question. But did that turn your lip up in a sneer or strike your fancy? I'm sure some of you have already moved on to watching cat videos, so I'll address those that remain. If you want to know more, then you'll want to check out The Food Craftsmen podcast.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site!
    Get the podcast here!
    Twitter!

    Remember: food is life, and life is great.

    Discussions about the fat content of heritage pig breeds!

    Learning the difference between Latin American and European styles of gourmet chocolates!

    Did you know there is a big, annual competition in Ohio for sustainable food producers? I didn't have the slightest idea until I started listening to The Food Craftsman podcast.

    At first, I was disappointed. I like to cook, and I was expecting a podcast that might offer me some cooking tips on how to improve my prosciutto-wrapped Hot Pockets. Instead I found a show featuring interviews with food producers that produce good foods in new and ethical ways. So I kept listening, and discovered that it is pretty cool to hear not only how people cook, but why they do it the way they do, and how they go about building and maintaining a successful business.

    Host Ryan K. Parker guides the interviews expertly, and his earnest interest in each topic shows through in the discussion. Anything from store design to favorite recipes is up for discussion, and the conversations are natural and flowing.

    Content Rating: Clean, although it would be really funny to hear an explicit version of this. #$!@$ SMALL BATCH CHEESE!

    Ooh, wait! There is a single explicit episode! Dreams are coming true!

    Average Episode Length: Approximately 25 minutes.

    Drinking Game: Find yourself a locally brewed beer or two, then share it with friends. Make pretentious statements about the hops after each sip while listening to this podcast.

    Release Schedule: Weekly, with no apparent set day of release.

    Music: A very nice, smooth song for opening/ending. I like it a lot.

    Unintentionally Good Part: The Food Craftsmen podcast is a great venue to hear about foods you didn't know about! With this whole Internet thing, you can find their site and order delicious foods to expaaaaaaaand your pallet.

    What kind of wine pairs well with Lean Pockets?

    Unintentionally Bad Part: It makes me really hungry to listen to this podcast.

    Unrelated rating: Three Instagram photos of food out of three.
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