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  1. 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.
    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

    "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!

  2. 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!

    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:
    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.

    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!