Monday, September 10, 2012

Things I Like: A Semi-Regular Series - Podcasts

I'm not really a big music person - I go through periods where I like listening to it, and then I'll go months without ever hearing any. And I detest radio to the point where it can send me into a frothing rage if someone at work is playing one on their desk (seriously people - it's 2012. HEADPHONES). However, I do quite often need to blank out noise around me at work (OTHER PEOPLE'S STUPID RADIOS), so I quite often listen to podcasts. Today I'm just going to list some of my favourites - mostly relating to TV, film, and pop/geek culture, so if you're interested in any of these topics, check them out and see what you think.

I'll start with my favourites - Bald Move. These guys have a bunch of TV show specific podcasts that come and go according to the programs' seasons. They have just wound up Breaking Bad and will be starting up The Walking Dead in a few weeks when that's back on television (yay!). They also do Mad Men, Justified, and Game of Thrones. The set up is that they recap the week's episode, discussing along the way any interesting points or interpretations that crop up, and then spend time on listener feedback. They're chatty and organically funny, and they're enthusiastic about their subjects, but not afraid to criticise something they don't consider up to par. They also have an older podcast called Blue Yonder (still available on their website and iTunes, though they don't update them anymore) that's more of a generic geek/pop culture show, and it's worth listening to if you enjoy their rapport in their more recent outings. They have quite interesting backgrounds (hardcore, intelligent geeks who come across as endearingly naive about some things due to having been raised in a strict religious environment).

Personal Arrogants is a podcast by two young guys in Seattle, the subject of which is 'bridging the gap between nerd culture and pop culture' or words to that effect. It's a pretty random cast, with a lot of discussion about gaming and beer (one works for a brewery and they both have an interest in boutique brews). Since I neither play video games nor really drink beer, it's surprising how much I like this cast. They talk about a lot of other things as well though, and like Bald Move, they have a great rapport and a funny outlook.

The Golden Briefcase is a film podcast, but rather than review a specific film, these two guys have a discussion topic each week inspired by a new release for that week. For example, if there's a big superhero movie coming out, they might have a discussion about comic book heroes and how successful their translations to the big screen have been. I like this one more than other film podcasts because I rarely see new releases until they hit DVD or a good download shows up on The Pirate Bay, so listening to them talk for 40 minutes about a film I haven't seen can be a bit dull at times.

How Did This Get Made celebrates terrible movies, with a podcast popping up about every two weeks dissecting a particular 'bad movie we love'. They've done casts on such gems as Godzilla, Cool as Ice (with special guest Vanilla Ice himself, who was wonderfully good-humoured), Burlesque, and Batman and Robin. Hosted by actor Paul Scheer (you might know him as Donny the head page in 30 Rock), his wife June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukis, they're invariably hilarious.

The Black Guy Who Tips makes me uncomfortable sometimes, I'm not gonna lie. My white leftie guilt goes into overdrive when they start throwing the 'n' word around. This is an incredibly meandering cast - they quite often spend 20 minutes or so just banging on about their sponsors, their Twitter handles, their website, etc. It's a husband and wife team, and though Rod the husband is funny, Karen the wife is really just there for him to bounce off. She has an annoying tendency to come up behind him and 'explain' his jokes. Having said all that, it's often screamingly funny. They just talk about random topics and read out weird newspaper stories, and then Rod comments on them and discusses them with whoever else he has there with him. And they do that for 2-3 hours several times a week. It's a good one for work because I can put it on and just tune in and out of it.

The Joe Rogan Experience is a podcast I've only started listening to recently. I only really know Joe Rogan from Fear Factor, and vaguely remember him from NewsRadio, so my opinion of him is 'overgrown frat boy'. I would never in a million years have bothered listening to a podcast of his, but I heard a couple of people talking about it and it piqued my interest. And I have to say - it's probably now one of my favourites. He's another one who just rambles - not least because he's generally pretty stoned - and he and his comedian friends sit around and tell weird, rambling, hilarious stories about whatever pops into their heads. The most interesting one for me so far was when he had Dave Foley on and they dished on all the NewsRadio gossip and Dave's disastrous first marriage. And the one with Bobcat Goldthwait was so funny I had to stop listening at work because I kept bursting into laughter and looking like an idiot. 

And finally, one that's more of a hate listen. Firewall & Iceberg is a general TV podcast, where the two hosts - Alan Sepinwall and Daniel Fienberg - discuss the most recent episodes of several of the week's shows, review upcoming new programs, and report any interesting or important TV news. I'm not entirely sure why I listen to this one, because I rarely agree with Sepinwall's opinions about anything (I often feel like I've watched a different episode to him), and Fienberg's halting, disjointed speech patterns and irritating habit of asking himself questions and then answering them ("Do I think she's the best character? No. Do I think she's a good character? Yes - I do - but - ") drives me mental. I think I just keep going with it because it's an easy one to listen to at work - I don't really need to pay attention to what's being said and I can tune in and out.


  1. I appreciated the comments you had about each podcast. I also appreciate you suggesting our podcast "The Black Guy Who Tips" as one to listen to. Although I must admit I'm a bit surprised to find you enjoy the show at all. The review seems sort of back handed and dismissive of half of the show. (Co-host Karen)

    She's not just there to "bounce off of" IMO. Do you think it's just because you secretly are in love with Rod and wish you were there in Karen's place trading witty banter with him? There is no great shame in this.

    Anyways thank you for listening to the show and I hope that one day Karen will grow on you as she is truly witty, engaging and hilarious in her own right. You should check out some of her guest spots on other podcast so you can see what's she's like when I'm not blabbering on for 20 minutes about my Twitter handle or sponsors.

    At any rate, thank you for promoting the show. It may not have been the most flattering review but you certainly kept it real my nigga.


    PS. If Karen ever slips up you've got a seat open for you to co-host the podcast. Just say the word. Just holla at a nigga.

    PPS. Nigga nigga nigga nigga... loosen up.

    1. Hi Rod, thanks for your response - I appreciate that you took the time to read what I wrote about your podcast.

      In hindsight, I was too harsh with Karen - I've listened to quite a few more episodes since writing this and she has made me laugh a fair bit, so I apologise to you both. It wasn't my intention to sound mean, and I hope you don't think I was damning you with faint praise, because I genuinely enjoy your cast. As for why - well, it's bloody funny. That's all I need to reel me in.

      As a white, left-winge, middle-class Australian who grew up knowing precisely one black person (who had been adopted by a white family), I'm afraid I can't ever see the day that I will loosen up around the 'n' word though. I doubt I could ever even bring myself to say it out loud. It's my hang up, and I own it. ;-)