Monday, April 28, 2008

do you hear what i hear?

While on iTunes today, looking up the name of a certain Yazoo song ("In My Room"), I came across this enlightening image:

Over the past five years, I've had a love-hate relationship with iTunes. Maybe I should call it hate-love. I started hating in the early days when iTunes would attempt to take over my PC and I didn't know how to use it. I started loving when I was forced to. I became a Mac person and soon realized that even my mp3 player allegiances would need to be switched. My old iRiver player did not (and still doesn't) work with my current Apple technology. I immediately drove to the Apple Store and bought an iPod. I splurged and bought the biggest (at the time) model at 80 GB (a bigger hard drive than my PC).

Entrenched in iTechnology I went back to iTunes, and indulged in it, trying to fill 80 gigabytes. Browsing iTunes is very fun, but can be very very expensive. I quickly learned that these things called "podcasts" not only filled space on iPods very quickly, but they were free too! And sometimes, sometimes they were enjoyable to listen to.

Now I listen to A LOT of podcasts, mostly while driving. I tend to commute a lot anyway. Looking through my playlists, I have 42 different podcasts in possession. That's not 42 podcasts total, it's 42 different shows, each with their own count. Some of them I've only listened to a couple of times and some of them are actually video podcasts. Of the 42, I subscribe to 30. That means I get about 30 new podcasts to listen to every week.

Anyway, as a guy who listens to a lot of stuff, I figured I'd course over some of my essentials (btw, click on the images to be taken directly to that particular show in iTunes).

1. Extralife Radio
This baby really started it all. Back when I had an "oldschool" radio show, my co-host Abel got the host of this geek-centered podcast onto our show. So I downloaded this particular podcast way back before I got back into iTunes. Scott Johnson really got me excited about the whole podcasting thing. He even allowed me to do a segment on old video games on one of his sister podcasts called The Final Score. Anyway, his Extralife podcast deals with all things geek: video games, movies, tv, comic books, etc. Scott's a webcomic artist and two other webcomic guys join him on the show (one actually drew that picture of Maria and me for Valentine's Day). These guys are geeks, but very un-serious.

2. Movies You Should See
This is a very popular movies podcast in the UK. It lacks the traditional "British Reserve," though. Pretty much the average show is five people in a room going on about one single movie of their choice. Drunkenness and swearing are allowed and encouraged. Despite the light atmosphere, they usually get pretty involved in whatever movie's depth between jokes. Examples of some movies they've done include Top Gun, Pan's Labyrinth, L.A. Confidential, The Burbs, Last of the Mohicans, Some Like It Hot, Sunshine, Galaxy Quest, Se7en, Office Space, American History X, Wayne's World, Big Trouble In Little China, Full Metal Jacket, and Brief Encounter just to name a few. It's pretty much all over the map. Personally, since they go into such detail about the movies they do I usually only listen to the show if they're discussing a movie I've already seen. That's just me, though. Whenever I have listened to them talk about all the awesomeness of a movie I haven't seen, I've still had a dang good time. From the success of this podcast, the same group of people started a "nouns you should verb" system of podcasting. They're fun network of podcasts also includes Albums You Should Hear, Games You Should Play and Books You Should Read (which is perhaps the most original of them all, since it's run by listeners sending in their own voiced book reviews).

3. Filmspotting
Here's another film podcast, which I believe I've mentioned before. This one is far more "produced" as a show than Movies You Should See, but it has plenty of spontaneity as well. It's two intelligent guys (Adam and Matty (I actually met both of them at Sundance and they're really cool)) talking like Ebert and Roeper about film. Not only do they cover current releases, but they also do great stuff like focusing on a particular filmmaker or genre and have an ongoing marathon of that particular body of work over several shows' time. Also included is a contest where they "massacre" dialogue in a particular movie and listeners get to email in with their guesses of which movie the lines are from. Extremely informative with their information and extremely engrossing with their opinions. Very essential.
4. Make It So
From Simply Syndicated, the people who brought us Movies You Should See, comes this absurd Star Trek podcast. These guys are obviously very into Star Trek, but some die-hards accuse them of not being fans since they tend to hate on Trek so much. Even if you're not a Star Trek fan yourself, it is fun to hear from a sort of skewed perspective on the show. They don't have a ridiculous, encyclopedic knowledge of Trek, but they give us such discussions as the benefits of dating a shape-changing alien, awarding "The Cast of Voyager" as "The Worst Character in Star Trek," and how the crew would obviously use the giant screen on the bridge to play video games between long voyages. This podcast, is obviously a big influence on J.R. Watches Star Trek for the First Time.

5. The Uncanny X-Cast
Here's the other big influence on J.R. Watches Star Trek. Here are two guys who grew up together. Both read X-Men as kids. One stopped reading entirely, and one still read after growing up. Now they come together and discuss X-Men with one of them an expert and one of them picking it up again for the first time. It's a pretty interesting dynamic and it works well for me because growing up I was a huge fan, but have been an on-again off-again fan in the years since. These guys go on about current issues, but the main attraction for me is that they also have started the comic book from the very beginning of the chronology and are slowly progressing through the entire X-Men universe. The biggest drawback to this one is that they don't make the separate shows for the new stuff and old stuff. A single podcast can be well over two hours long.

6. Grammar Girl
Okay. Pretty much all my other essentials are way geeky, but here's one that's way nerdy. Each week Grammar Girl tackles a specific grammar lesson and gives us interesting and funny methods for remembering it. It's quick. Usually about five minutes. After geeking out so much, this podcast of very useful information is very welcome. Plus, it helps me be snobby about having a better command of the English language than most commoners have.

Anyway, those are some of my essentials. I've got a bunch more that may be more interesting to others including The Official LOST Podcast, The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons, The Classic Tales Podcast, Indiefeed: Alternative / Modern Music, etc. What am I missing? Are there others that need my attention? I'd really love to know if there are and why I should be listening.

Anyway, go ahead and subscribe to the following. They're totally free.

The Jon Madsen Movie Commentary Podcast

J.R. Watches Star Trek For the First Time


Anonymous Leah said...

So my favorite podcast is NPR: Live Concerts From All Songs Considered. Entire concerts recorded, occassionally followed by interviews with the band. Pretty fun really.

April 29, 2008 4:59 PM  
Blogger joN. said...

i'll check that one out!

good to know what it takes to reveal the "lurker"!

April 30, 2008 1:06 PM  
Anonymous abel said...

Keep an eye on Scott's site. He'll be posting the registration for the 2008 NerdTacular any day now.

April 30, 2008 3:49 PM  

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