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  1. Rooster Teeth Productions: Drunk Tank

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Before I begin this review, let me draw your attention to one of the most important creative creations that human kind has ever created.

    HALO.

    Not just any Halo, but the Haloz. You've either played through one of its many iterations, been forced to watch as other people have played it or you are merely taking a break from playing it right now to rehydrate from screaming obscenities into your headset before you go back to playing it.

    Some people have taken their fervor for this game to amazing heights, going so far as to recreate Master Chief's armor. A few have permanently marred themselves to show their devotion. At least one couple even got married by Master Chief.


    Some people celebrate Halo as a part of their life. Some people build an empire on it. These some people be Rooster Teeth. Then these some people made a thing, which is also a podcast, which it called that Drunk Tank.
    These some sentences no work too good. Halp!


    Relevant Links:

    Twitter
    Main Site
    Store!
    Podcast!

    After establishing themselves as the gods of machinima (a word that Firefox is unfamiliar with) they spread their digitally rendered wings and now they're all over the place with live action shorts, a comic based on their day-to-day hijinks, and forums just to name a few of their endeavors. Good thing they made this podcast because, seriously, what a bunch of slackers.
    Burnie: "Have you ever in your life, Gus, ever had to figure out what the area under a parabola is?"
    Gus: "No."
    Burnie: "Has that come up once?"
    Gus: "No, never."
    Burnie: "So they're literally teaching us things that we don't need to know.
    Gus: "Nope, no need for that."
    Burnie: "Volume of a cylinder? Ever come up?"
    Gus: "Uh-once. Once. And not too long ago."
    Burnie: "What for, condoms?"


    The Drunk Tank podcast consists of the main pillars of the Rooster Teeth Productions crew talking. And talking. And then yelling at each other before they go back to just talking. Burnie Burns, Matt Hullum, Joel Heyman, Geoff Ramsey, Griffon Ramsey and Gustavo Sorola serve as the main hosts. Occasionally an intern is thrown into the mix to give Gus someone to yell at. Discussion ranges from video games, recounting stories from life, movies, alcohol and anything else that comes to mind.

    Drunk Tank broaches such topics as:
    • Poisonous spiders and the recognition of them
    • Those Lava Cake things you can get from Dominos
    • Removing holy cards that had been buried in your yard
    • Airlines and flying habits

    Content Rating: Explicit. Swear words just flyin' around all over the place.

    Average Episode Length: My highly scientific method of "squinting at iTunes" reveals that the average length is around an hour. There is a week long series of shorter episodes, so let's just exclude those shall we?

    Drinking Game: It is a podcast called Drunk Tank. I trust you can come up with something, people.

    Release Schedule: Weekly, with a new episode released each Wednesday! A delightful mid-week treat.

    Music: This is where it gets interesting. What began as a contest to select a permanent theme song has morphed into a weekly showcase of fan-made opening songs. Some of the songs are exquisite and hilarious (see episodes 11, 34, 35 and 81) and many many many many many many songs are so bad I have to turn the volume all the way down until they're over. I'm always loathe to express my dislike of fan-created content, but honestly! There is a massive distance between "It has been confirmed by outside sources that I am capable of singing" and "A microphone came with my computer." I'm also throwing out this caveat: there is amateur rapping. Consider yourself warned.

    Unintentionally Good Part: This podcast falls under the subcategory of "friends talking to each other" which means that there will be parts when no host can talk because they are paralyzed with laughter. It is safe to assume that you will suffer the same fate as well, so try to make sure you're sitting on the floor if you feel an impending rofl fit.

    Unintentionally Bad Part:
    Other than the listener submitted opening songs? This podcast is banter, banter, banter and occasionally the topic will fall onto something you have absolutely NO interest in whatsoever. And then it will remain there for forty minutes.
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  2. Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    "You're listening to Skeptoid. I'm Brian Dunning from Skeptoid.com"
    Do you crave information? Information that may very well blow your mind????

    Awesome. Let's take a moment to prepare ourselves, shall we?

    First, go into the kitchen and get some tinfoil. If you don't have any than just print out the following picture five or six times and tape it together:

    Tinfoil

    Still with me? Now, take the foil and form it into a hat. According to the eHow.com instructions (yes this is a real thing), "It is very important for the shiny side of the aluminum foil to be showing when the hat is complete to make sure it is effective against alien rays or mind control signals."

    Your finished product should look something like this:

    Skeptoid Hat

    Wild-eyed state a plus! Now take your mp3 listening device, climb into your lead-lined bunker, crack open an herbal supplement that "Big Pharma" doesn't want you to know about and start listening to Skeptoid.



    Relevant Links:
    Main Site
    Subscribe Here
    Wikipedia Link
    Donate Here
    - Donations for Skeptoid are nifty. There are micro payments starting at as little as $3.99 (US) a year to help fun the podcast, or your can donate as much or as little as you want. Not only do you support a podcast you enjoy and help to keep it ad-free, but you get a free DVD including the movie Here Be Dragons: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. The DVD is even autographed!

    The Skeptoid podcast modus operandi is this: apply critical thinking to information presented to the public to decide whether or not a claim can be considered valid. This isn't just someone picking apart obvious crackpot theories or setting up pseudoscience straw men to shred so that he can reference the scientific method and prance off to his forums to be praised. Dunning does his best to separate the truth from the lies from the half-lies from the "yeah, no way" in each topic he discusses.

    Content Rating: Clean. Depending on what particular conspiracy theory, poorly researched medical claims or misunderstood scientific process you hold to there is a possibility that any given episode could send you into a frothing rage. So...that makes the rating either Clean or Rage Inducing.

    Dunning himself is not afraid of critique; he occasionally posts a podcast with a title along the lines of "Things I'm Wrong About", where he posts corrections for any erroneous facts he may have made in previous episodes.

    The language used in Skeptoid makes the scientific (and depending on the subject, "scientific") ideas proposed avaliable to young adults and laymen alike without being insulting. This is not a podcast that exists just to belittle and berate those who practice things such as Aura Photography or The Secret. Brian Dunning simply lays a topic out and examines it with a critical eye, guiding the listener's mind to each flaw and erroneous fact like an Antiques Road Show host revealing to a Midwestern retiree that their beloved heirloom is, in fact, made out of particle board.

    Average Episode Length: Twelve minutes-ish.

    Release Schedule: Weekly, with a new episode released every Tuesday.

    Music: There is music occasionally, in the form of background noise. Music also has a high level of occurrence when the host is being a bit of a smart ass highlighting or referencing a particularly far-fetched quote or belief.


    "Belief that a report is customized for us tends to improve our perception of the report's accuracy. I notice this right away when I read Isabel Myers description for my own personality type, ISTJ, the Duty Fulfiller: "Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible." Basically it's a nice way to say "Dry, boring, and punctual," which hits my nail pretty squarely on the head.

    Drinking Game: Go to the sites supporting the theories that Skeptoid debunks. Read the forums there and drink. Heavily.


    Unintentionally Good Part: I was thoroughly delighted to find that the host sings a little song for his 200th episode. Surely, some confused as-of-yet-undiscovered alien civilization culture somewhere must consider it a masterpiece.


    Unintentionally Bad Part: After writing this review the word skeptic has lost all meaning to me. Now it looks like I'm spelling it wrong.


    Gold Star!: Each episode of the podcast is not only listed on the site, but has a full transcript! Most excellent for people who like skepticism, but may not be able to access podcasts due to technical or hearing difficulties.

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  3. Stuff You Should Know

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Alternate Titles:
    Two Guys Read Wikipedia
    Factoids: the Gathering
    LMGTFY

    This podcast is...wait for it...two guys, explaining how a process, social activity, natural event or other subject...works. This should not surprise any of us as the podcast is an offshoot of How Stuff Works, a site where you can learn about...

    wait for it...

    how nearly anything works. Uncanny, right? It's like they did this on purpose!

    Ever wanted to know how deja vu works? Curious if there are dead bodies on Mt. Everest? Pondering the ethical dilemma of exorcisms? Want the low-down on habeus corpus? If you want any information of dubious relevancy related to you via two guys yakking, than SYSK comes highly recommended.

    For an example, let's take a look at the erudite discussion surrounding saunas.
    Josh: Kind of that Roman, Dionysian, orgiastic vibe in going on in the saunas was one of the reasons they were eradicated by Europe because in the early 16th century Europe got a little...tense.
    Chuck: Yeah, the Protestant Reformation just ruined everything.
    Josh: They were kind of like, "You can't do that! You put a hat with a buckle on right now!"
    Chuck: "Yeah, you can't do that either! Or that! Or that! Or that! Get out of that sauna!"
    Josh: "Start crying! Right now!"
    Sauna Epsiode, 27 Minute Mark.

    Hosts Josh Clark and Charles W. Bryant take on each topic with the same indefatigable enthusiasm shown here. This is impressive as there are topics such as scabies and what can be done with dead bodies.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site
    Download Episodes through iTunes!
    Blog Entries!
    SYSK Twitter Feed
    Wikipedia Entry
    Podcast.com Site

    Episode Length: A sample size of 20 episodes gives me an average length of 35 minutes. This is interesting because if you look at the entire library of episodes, the time increase is huge. Early episodes are far, far shorter at about 5 minutes each, where the most recent episode at the time of this review weighs in at a heft 44 minutes and 48 seconds. This type of variation could prove beneficial for listeners! Need a long episode? Need a quick, in-between errands episode? SYSK has got you covered.

    Release Schedule: Bi-weekly. The perfect schedule for a voracious listener. Also the perfect schedule for a less-frequent listener, because it's not like the episodes expire or anything.

    Music: That one song that everyone who uses GarageBand uses in their podcasts. That, and sound effects from either Wheel of Fortune or The Price is Right.

    Content Rating: Clean. The hosts might sneak in a few potty-humor jokes every now and then, but typically OK for all audiences. You can easily tell if the content is for you based on episode titles.

    Unintentionally Good Part: The "peanut-gallery" style discussion about each topic. The hosts are more than willing to lend their own personal opinions and stories about whatever topic they're talking about and do so frequently.

    Unintentionally Bad Part: The scholarly research about each topic is...dubious, at best. This is not a podcast you want to cite on your research paper. I haven't been able to unearth their research methods for each topic but I'm assuming it revolves around the use of an Internet search engine and...that's pretty much it. But I might be wrong! They might employ several interns who jobs involve cross-referencing articles! I doubt it though.

    Drinking Game: Drink each time the hosts address each other by name.

    Unrelated Rating: Five out of five correct answers on a pop quiz. A+ and a smiley face.
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  4. ...oh crap.

    Greetings, gentle reader! Turns out July was a hell of a month, but who cares? Not you!

    Content coming...SOON(ish).
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  5. Writing Excuses

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    "This is Writing Excuses! Fifteen minutes long because you're in a hurry and we're not that smart!"

    Out here in the vast wilderness of the Internets an intrepid browser could probably discover an infinite amount of professional advice on any given topic. Naturally, much of the advice is sarcastically quotation-marked "professional" at best, and you can only filter out so many of the crazies by analyzing whether or not it looks like they used Geocities-izer to make their site before you stumble across someone that has the pretense of actual knowledge.

    So, gentle listener, how does one divine true and authentic information from the Intertrons in a safe and timely manner, without running the risk of clicking on a site that once seen, cannot be unseen?

    First you read my reviews. And then you go listen to Writing Excuses.

    Hosted by bonafide authors Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells along with verifiable web-comic creator Howard Tayler, this podcasts is a veritable font of useful information for writers. A quick-fix of advice and opinion from the viewpoints of established authors who are willing to share their experience in podcast form. I believe the audience intended for this podcast is new or unpublished authors, but I think a writer of any level could gain some usefulness information out of Writing Excuses.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site
    ...honestly, the main site is all you need. Each host has links to their own blogs, you can find the iTunes and RSS feeds right on the front page.

    And why not, here's the Wordle you get for the Writing Excuses website:

    Wordle: http://www.writingexcuses.com/
    Can't say they're not consistent when it comes to mentioning their sponsor.

    Episode Length: Fifteen minutes on average. Occasionally longer, depending on how verbose the hosts are feeling about a particular topic.

    Release Schedule: A new episode is released every Sunday.

    Each episode focuses on one particular topic that relates to writing in some way. Example topics from previous episodes are:

    The Anti-Mary Sue episode
    Trimming
    How to Write Without Twists
    Plot-vs. Character-driven Fiction

    Look at those topics! They're positively brimming with...topicability.

    Each host in turn will share their ideas and experiences, and do their best to show how their information can be utilized by the listener. Their approach is friendly and welcoming; this is the kind of podcast that, could it be worn, would be your favorite hoodie from college. Brandon, Dan and Howard work together to host the majority of the episodes, but there are frequent guest hosts who are in turn harnessed to give a fresh view.

    The hosts will touch on both the creative and business ends of writing, which will be much appreciated by aspiring authors. It is not enough to know how to write a story, or even how to edit it and make it presentable to editors, but how, where, when to submit, how to approach editors and publishing houses, what to expect after you actually write something! It is refreshing to see a creative task explained and examined with reason.

    Content Rating: Clean. They may occasionally drop a very tame swear word. Or mention monkey poo.

    Unintentionally Good Part: Writing Excuses Episode 632. Trust me.

    Unintentionally Bad Part: This podcast is niche-niche-nichy. Even for aspiring authors, the advice generally pertains to only the science fiction/fantasy genres, so this podcast will attract only a very specific audience.

    Drinking Game: Have a brass monkey every time they use a monkey as a plot device in their writing prompt.

    Writing Prompt: A secret organization has implanted a device into your head that records your every thought for a live-steaming podcast. Go!
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  6. Radiolab

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Stories! Sarcasm! SCIENCE!

    This podcast comes highly recommended to people who have:


    If you don't fall into the above categories but enjoy interesting stories that focus on scientific research and discoveries, than you'll probably like it too.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site
    Donations
    Wikipedia Page
    FAQ Page

    Episode Length: Full episodes average about an hours, while the "Shorts" are about fifteen to twenty minutes.

    I'm going to separate this review into two parts.

    First: The Content

    Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich lead a narrative focused on a single theme. One or several stories might be used to illustrate various viewpoints. If Radiolab were an section in your newspaper it would be that "wacky world" section filled with stories about goldfishes that save their owners from house fires. Here's a list of five randomly chosen topics from my episode list:

    1 Famous Tumors
    2 Stochasticity
    3 Musical Language
    4 Yellow Fluff and Other Curious Encounters
    5 Sperm

    See? Thoroughly variated through subject matter, and it features a decent back catalog of episodes for listeners of any taste to browse. The wikipedia page uses the phrase "thought experiment" describe this podcast, and I feel that's accurate. The subject is pulled and kneaded like clay, bending here for an interview, there for a research article, until the listener can shape it into something recognizable, or continue beyond the podcast with their own work. Fact finders and myth hunters would probably like this series a lot. The episodes provide good explanations for those who just want to listen and great jumping-off points for those who love to search out more information.

    Content Rating: Clean. You will, as with so many things, have to decide if the subject matter is within your comfort limits. But y'know, no potty mouthings, so it should be safe for kids or students.

    Second: The Production

    The blips, squeals, murmurs and honks that permeate every episode provide nothing more than distraction from the main story being told. I understand that these sound effects are intended as emphasis, but they are so overdone that I have been forced to turn off episodes and leave them unfinished. Without fail each episode will have a streak of droning, nonsensical noise that have me digging my nails into my desk within seconds. In the episode Deception (rebroadcast on 6/1/2010) there is over a minute long stretch of disjointed electric guitar in the middle of the episode!

    I'm not kidding. Go listen here from minute 46:11 to 47:14.

    What purpose does that serve? I would prefer silence compared to the aural claustrophobia their producers are determined to make me experience. This podcast hits my interests, I want to listen, but because of these sound effects I feel the constant urge to abandon Radiolab for anything else.

    Drinking Game: Take a drink every time one host speaks the other host's name.

    Release Schedule: A new podcast is released every two weeks, according to the main site.

    Unintentionally Good Part: Oh I am fond of inter-host bickering, and this podcast supplies it in delightful bushels.

    Unintentionally Bad Part: Please see above review about the bleeps and boops.

    I know I just took all the time to write thing here thing, but please, please disregard what I dislike about the Radiolab podcast and check it out for yourself. This is a really brilliant work, and even if I have issues with it, you need to experience it for yourself before you can really decide whether you like it or not. If I find the background effects annoying then that is my personal opinion, and not a flaw of the podcast. You might like 'em! You might like 'em up and down! And there's no risk trying it out! No payments, you can delete if you don't like it, you can keep it if you don't! SO GET TO IT!

    Unrelated Rating: Three and One Half Nye per cubic meter of Science Guy.
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  7. Wizards of the Coast finally granted us the mercy of a single spot on their site
    that holds all of the Penny Arcade Podcasts.

    Even better: there is a shiny new series of podcasts in which Jerry Holkins (aka Tycho Brahe) DMs a jaunt through the new Dark Sun setting. Jerry describes the setting thusly:

    "I guess it's pre-apocalyptic, it's as though the apocalypse happened in the future, but you're in the past after time had looped. I would say that's the right description."
    Did you get any of that? I did. I think. Anyways, the newest series is as hysterical as the last, so hop to it and get to downloading!
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  8. Car Talk Podcast

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Alternate title: Your wacky uncles on the Internet (and they just figured out how to forward chain e-mails).

    "Car Talk," a podcast of epic proportions. This show was picked up by NPR in 1987, which makes it long-standing enough to be older than at least half of you reading this review. A long standing NPR staple, "Car Talk" comes from a simpler, more genteel time, when families used to gather 'round the radio to hear tell of other people's broken alternators as Father smoked his pipe and Mother knitted socks.

    Or something.

    This show is old, yo, and it didn't get that way without maintaining a thoroughly hooked audience. Host to over 2000 call-ins a week, it's time you joined the learned regarding the podcast that is "Car Talk."


    Hosted by brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, aka "Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers," the show revolves around listeners calling in with car problems. The brothers' collective automobile knowledge is impressive vast and vastly impressive as they deduce each caller's problem to the best of their abilities. Some callers are more educated about their vehicles and are able to explain which part is having trouble or what the symptoms are, many callers are forced to use noises varying on "VRRRUMMPPTPTPTPTPTHHHHBBBB" to describe why their car isn't functioning. Tom and Ray tease, cajole, comfort and inform their callers, give them their best diagnosis about what the problem is and send them on their merry way to the repair shop. In between calls the brothers annoy each other and host segments such as:

    Stump the Chump - where previous callers come back to tell whether or not the brothers got the problem right.

    The Puzzler - a logic puzzle where listeners can send in the answer for the chance to win a prize.

    Whatever They Find Amusing - seriously, they read goofy e-mails aloud, or tell bad jokes.

    Relevant Links
    Main Site
    Wikipedia Page
    Shameless Commerce
    Donate your car to charity, why not?

    Episode Length:
    Fifty-three to fifty-four minutes.

    The back-and-forth between the hosts is charming, their answers are informative, and the production value is awesome. Even if you're not a motor head "Car Talk" deserves at least a chance to tickle your ear buds before you write it off. Who knows, you might even figure out why your car makes that squeaky noise! Many of the calls are interesting and puzzle solvers might enjoy the deductive nature of the show. It is very interesting to listen to the hosts mull over a problem, batting hypothesis back and forth until they can somewhat agree on an answer.

    Content Rating: Clean (squeaky). No fear for the children or tender hearts unless you're especially vulnerable to bad jokes.

    Drinking Game: If you're fond of alcohol poisoning, drink every time one of the brothers laughs. If you enjoy the company of your liver, perhaps you could fashion a game that revolves around certain caller tropes including the following rules:
    +Drink every time a problem involves a belt
    +Each time a caller's name is spelled out (two drinks if they spell it incorrectly)
    +When you actually recognize a car part they're talking about

    Release Schedule:
    Weekly, every Saturday.

    Music:
    Ye. Gods. "Car Talk," like so many other NPR podcasts, plays musical interludes in between segments. The songs all revolve around cars, with lyrics about broken down heaps and much beloved racing cars and HOLY HELL ARE THEY BAD. I cannot bear the songs played during "Car Talk" and immediately fast-forward past them. Now the intro, which is just a little bluegrass breakdown, I actually like. But the rest of the music? Caustic. Evaluate it for yourself and tell me if I'm right or wrong.

    Unintentionally Good Part:
    The end credits.

    Unintentionally Bad Part:
    This is a podcast about car problems. Every week, this is a podcast about car problems. Truth be told, I'm currently not listening to "Car Talk" due to burnout from listening to car problems every week. The subject material can become repetitive, and there is only so much the brothers' personalities can do to distract from that.

    Unrelated Rating:
    Twenty-three seconds of wheezing laughter.
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  9. The Moth Podcast

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    What are you doing right now?

    UNIMPORTANT.

    What you should be doing is subscribing and listening to The Moth Podcast. Oh...you're eating? What do you got there...is that a calzone? You just got it out of the oven, huh? And it's all warm and the cheese is all melty and good.

    No...no, you're right, they're really not that good when they're cold.

    OK. YOU CAN WAIT A LITTLE BIT THEN.

    While you're eating and attempting to keep crumbs from falling into your keyboard, let me tell you about The Moth Podcast. The premise is simple: a person tells a true story to an audience without any notes at all. That's really all there is to it. The trick to this formula is how malleable it is, how infinitely varied the stories can be because absolutely anyone can tell one. Firefighters, children, comedians, politicians, vandals, drag queens, addicts, nuns, Vulcans, absolutely anyone can stand on stage and offer up a story from their life. Those who receive a lot of attention may return to tell another story, but the sheer difference between every story is staggering.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site
    Subscribe to the podcast here!
    Awesome Community Outreach Program
    Donation Page
    Wikipedia Stub


    I can't really pin down any specific subject matter to describe this podcast. The stories told are recorded from live performances held in cities way cooler than the one I live in. The reactions of the audience help to fuel the intensity of the story, hearing dozens of voices gasp and laugh along with you helps to immerse you in whatever story is being told. The Moth Podcast really needs to be experienced if you want to gather an informed opinion about it.

    Fortunately, there's a page with sample stories on the official site! Just go here and listen to "Drowning on Sullivan Street" by Ed Gavagan. The story is an exquisite example of what The Moth has to offer, and there are a bunch of other stories on that page to listen to. You don't even have to download them, just press play!

    Content Rating: Clean and Explicit, clearly marked per episode. I'm also putting a big ol' caveat up for possibly explicit subject matter, regardless of the iTunes rating. Many of the stories told are graphic and include subjects such as death, abuse, criminal activity and some things that will break your heart to hear them. If you want to listen to this with kids I highly suggest previewing the episode beforehand so you can decide if it's the right story for your young audience. If you're the sensitive type, you may not want to listen at work (I'll admit to tearing up to several stories).

    Average Episode Length:
    Anywhere from five to twenty minutes.

    Drinking Game: This podcast is a little too tricky for a drinking contest. The subject matter varies so widely from episode to episode that it's hard to establish any regular rules. Let me know if you think of a few, ok?

    Release Schedule: A new episode is released fresh each week.

    Music: A little bit of music for the intro and conclusion, which change periodically. Usually just some instrumental piece.

    Unintentionally Good Part:
    As stated before, the variety of subject matter is what I like the best. There are funny stories, sad stories, interesting stories and stories that make you go "huh" in a thoughtful manner.

    Unintentionally Bad Part: There is no way that you will like every episode. If there is a story told by a person you could imagine as your childhood hero, than you will hear a story that could have been told by that guy at Starbucks who always talks too loudly about what color his aura is while he tries to read your laptop screen. I personally hold a scorching distaste for one particular story teller, but I won't say who because that will tint your own opinion. The beauty of The Moth Podcast is that instead of being forced to sit through a disagreeable performance, you can easily skip to a different episode! Aren't podcasts great?

    Wait, What?:
    I think this podcast would be really nifty to use in a class room, where, I dunno, kids could write short stories based off of what the episodes theme was, or a teacher could use it to teach kids how to really listen to someone and retain facts rather than waiting for their turn to talk. That will sadly have to remain a theory until someone I know attempts it, because kids freak me right the hell out.

    GO LISTEN ALREADY, I'M NOT FOOLING AROUND
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  10. Memories of the Futurecast

    Monday, February 22, 2010


    Before I start this write-up properly, allow me to totally ruin what little nerd cred I might have built up in my lifetime by stating a fact: I don't know anything about Star Trek. Go ahead, take away my Dork Club membership (it gets you a 15% discount on acne medication and awkward haircuts!).

    Okay, maybe I'm not totally ignorant. Here is the sum of my Star Trek knowledge:
    1. Pon Farr.
    2. I can do the Vulcan-hand-thing with both hands.
    3. Red shirts always die.
    Frankly, that's about it. But what I do know is that I enjoy humorous podcasts that make me laugh so hard I can't breathe, which seamlessly brings us around to Memories of the Futurecast.

    This podcast is produced, hosted, roasted, toasted and carved at your table for that fresh from the field flavor by the magnanimous Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame and beyond. This man, if I may be hyperbolic, has a golden touch when it comes to all things geeky. Kind of like King Midas, if King Midas ever played Dungeons & Dragons...which would make Wheaton more of a King Dorkas, I guess. Between his spots on The Big Bang Theory and his interludes as the keynote speaker at PAX, he gets excited and makes stuff.

    One such production is his book, Memories of the Future: Volume One, in which recollections of his stint as Wesley Crusher on the show Star Trek: The Next Generation are fondly and not-so-fondly remembered. The majority of the podcast is comprised of excerpts from Memories of the Future: Volume One. This podcast, on a very basic level, serves as advertising for the book, but do not let that discourage you in any way from downloading. Trust me.

    The tone of the podcast is humorous and nostalgic. Listeners will get the full benefit of Wheaton's acting credentials as he invokes funny voices and sound effects to amplify his already excellent story teller's voice. Eager to wander from his book excerpts into rambling side notes that range from actually informative to air-quotes "informative," you feel like you're sitting at your favorite local coffee shop, sharing a booth with Wheaton as he tells you tales from his past.

    Relevant Links:
    Here's the Podcast Feed which is the best way to get Memories of the Futurecast.
    BREAK IT DOWN NOW
    All right, here's where things get a little complicated. No, don't freak out! You can do this! As it happens, Memories of the Futurecast is available via iTunes, but only episodes 2-14, and they are all out of order which can be frustrating to some listeners. That's why I linked to the feed rather than iTunes. However, for some reason, the feed linked to above is missing episode one which can be found here. So that's all you have to do! One extra step gets you an extra nine minutes of pure entertainment.

    Get you a copy of Memories of the Future: Volume One here.
    Wil's Site, where he writes awesome articles, check it out for sure.
    Follow Wil Weaton on Twitter!
    Wikipedia Entry on Wil Wheaton
    POUR STUFF IN THIS AWESOME MUG

    "Back down in engineering, fashion icon, interstellar fashion icon Wesley Crusher, saves the day. Oh, you wanted to hear more? Well as it turns out there is more to this scene, but all I ever heard from the damn Trekkies when this episode first aired is that Wesley Crusher saved the day so that's all you're going to hear from me now, suckers! Bam, nailed it, holdin' a grudge, suck it, kiss my ass!

    Content Rating: EXPLICIT, YO. You'd already know this by checking Wil's episode notes, but these podcasts work for their explicit rating. The curse word are wielded expertly and are never overwhelming, so you should be fine.

    Average Episode Length: Averaging all the shows together gives me a time of approx. 27 minutes. Shortest episode is nine minutes, longest episode runs a hefty forty-six minutes.
    "The scene cuts to the bridge and Trekkies reach for their own painkillers and anti-nausea medication when newly-minted acting ensign Wesley Crusher and his brand new gay pride space suit storms onto the bridge.

    Drinking Game: Drinking game included! Please see episode 11 at about the 16 minute mark. Actually, just listen to episode 11 all the way through, it's a hoot.

    Release Schedule: This series is complete, at least until Wheaton finishes writing Memories of the Future: Volume Two, in which case he will hopefully make more Futurecasts to provide more entertainment and make me more happy which will be more gooder, yay.

    "Back on the planet Troi tries to get Riker to take her with him to examine the very empty, very secluded, very good-for-pounding-out-a-quickie tunnels beneath Far Point station.
    Music: When Wil isn't playing with the sound effects provided by his recording software, the music is an eclectic compilation of opening and closing songs.

    Unintentionally Good Part: Wheaton periodically rewards himself for making a good joke by ringing a bell at his desk. Often, he is forced to chastise himself for overuse of the bell.

    Unintentionally Bad Part: The fact that the book revolves around the plot and behind the scenes activities for Star Trek: The Next Generation will become a bit of a hindrance to those not familiar with the show. Listeners who do not know the plot lines of the episodes Wheaton covers may feel lost at points. Admittedly, I have never seen an episode, but I still found the podcast highly enjoyable. For those totally ignorant of Star Trek, please visit this TV Tropes page to cover your bases.

    If there is one thing I can convey about Memories of the Futurecast in my attempt to get you to listen to it is this: Wil Wheaton is so damn genuine and talented I'd be jealous if I wasn't busy laughing so hard at his jokes. His voice is reminiscent of Dave Barry and if you are as devoted a fan of Barry as I am then know I do not invoke his name lightly. Earnest, honest, snarky and charming, just...friggin go download this podcast, ok? Don't make me get all mushy on you.

    Unrelated rating: Thirteen out of fifteen malfunctioning holodecks.

    Hey, Look Over Here: Turns out Wheaton has another podcast, Radio Free Burrito, which I have yet to explore. He is also a featured adventurer in the Official Dungeons and Dragons Podcast. Go! Explore! Get back to me in the comments and let me know if there's good or just awesome!
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  11. The Podge Cast

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    A'ight all y'all, check the following list:

    • Games
    • Anime
    • Books
    • Joss Whedon
    • Batman
    • Movies
    • Beard Growth
    If you have an interest or opinion on any of those topics, then The Podge Cast (TPC) is the podcast for you. Boasting an archive already 76 episodes deep, TPC is a one-stop shop for all your geek-related needs. Built on a strong basis of role playing game discussion and advice, the fellows at The Podge Cast refuse to let their original intent bind them to one subject, and move through subculture strata like a neutrino through plasma.

    Either that or they've just been talking for so long they've forgotten how to shut up. Both options work to provide enough hours of entertainment to satisfy you even through the most stultifying of car trips or data entry jobs.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site
    RSS Feed
    Spooky Outhouse Forums Which hosts not only The Podge Cast's forums but a slew of other pod casts' forums that you should investigate and see if you'd like to listen to them!
    Store
    FAQ

    Behold a sample of their discussions on the dialogue of popular culture.

    "Paul: Saying something is fail, you're ruining the language and the culture and yourself.

    Matt: I dunno, one of my favorite lol captions of all time is "your shipment of fail has arrived." Can you not have an actual world term to describe the shipment of an abstract concept?

    Paul: You can but its stupid because when people say something's epic it's always like: "Oh dude, Dave did a keg stand and puked all over it was epic." Or, "I just tripped up the stairs, it was fail."

    Matt: It's like spices, you put in a little bit of pepper, little paprika it makes everything lovely and delicious. But if it's all pepper all the time you'd be like, "Man, this soup is FAIL!"

    David: And that's because it's not soup, it's a pile of pepper!

    The Podge Cast is hosted by a regular-ish (occasionally rotated or replaced) crew of card-carrying nerds. There's:

    Luke, an optometrist who runs tabletop games when he's not defending the eyesight of the masses.

    David who-oh hell, one of the running jokes with TPC is the fact that Luke is the "fan favorite" so I'll just go with it. The core hosts, as well as the rotating cast of visiting hosts will be sure to please with their insights and comedic timing. The friendly banter between hosts is one of the best parts of the whole show.

    Content Rating: Clean-ish. For regular episodes the major curse words are edited out and explicit shows are clearly labeled as such. However, topics can include topics of a less-than-G-rated nature, so be aware of your surroundings if you choose to listen with speakers.

    Average Episode Length:
    Vaguely fifty minutes long. Time is dependent on the nature and hosts' interests in the episode's topic.

    As well as providing weekly content, did I mention that they run several contests a year? Most of their prize support is pretty awesome and the contests are usually easy to enter.

    "David: What I was thinking is if they remove my appendix I'm going to ask for it and give it away as a contest prize.
    Drinking Game: A quick forum search brings up nothing, but here's a start-
    Take a drink:
    • for every mention of a ghost hunter show.
    • when David repeats the joke he just heard while laughing at said joke.
    • each time Luke sings.
    Quick Play Rules: Listen to the early episodes, and take a shot every time the RPG system Burning Wheel is mentioned. You will have alcohol poisoning within the half-hour.

    Release Schedule: Weekly, avaliable for download on Sunday.

    Music: Just the opening and ending song. However, the ending song is sung by Luke, adding a certain level of class to this podcast.

    Unintentionally Good Part:
    A series within the podcast titled "Campaign Recap: Kingdom, the Next Generation." These eleven episodes are comprised of a retelling of the Burning Wheel campaign Luke runs for a group of friends. The recordings are basically plot summaries of each game session, and end up sounding like a high-fantasy fairy tale. If you enjoy RPGs, then this is an interesting look into the Burning Wheel system. If you don't like RPGs, then you can just sit and listen to the story of the House of Van Lieber. Come for the in-depth story telling, stay to discover the true beauty of decapitating your enemies.

    Unintentionally Bad Part:
    WARNING: NERD RAGE AHEAD
    I almost hate to do this, but here goes: don't, flat out just don't listen to episodes 49 and 50. They are un-episodes. Long story short, Luke and David stage a building level of antagonism between each other which culminates in Luke storming out of their studio after a particularly sharp insult from David. The episode ends with no explanation given. I found the entire thing extremely awkward to listen to and was left uncomfortable for the whole day by the episode, having listened to two close friends argue like that.

    You see what's coming, right? The whole thing was fake. Fake! They even had another podcast (The Bear Swarm!, who doesn't get a link because they were accomplices in this) brought it up as if it were a real event. Obviously I totally fell for it and am holding a grudge, but hey, I writes the podcast reviews, I says what I wants.

    Adding insult to the injury of episode 49, episode 50 is an obnoxious parody staged by the hosts of some other podcast (they don't even get a name mention) which I got through about...oh, twenty seconds before I had to take my headphones off.
    END NERD RAGE

    My vitriolic rant aside, this podcast is pretty damn excellent, and I'm sure the hosts would love it if you check it out. So go get an earful!
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