podcasts i'm listening to

i have a lot of time to listen to podcasts while i work, so here are a few i've been enjoying:
cashing in with tj miller.  this is the funniest thing i've ever heard!  its two comedians, cash levy and tj miller, just talking about nothing at all.  both of them are master improvisers, so its hilarious to just listen to them riff off of each other as they talk about nothing at all.  by far my favorite podcast!
nerdist.  i've always enjoyed chris hardwick and this is his podcast where he interviews people from every walk of life, as one would expect from the title of the podcast, it often vears into stuff that is super nerdy- comic books, movies, sci-fi, and all that awesome stuff.  his two co-hosts, matt mira and jonah ray, are always a blast to listen to!
wtf with marc maron.  this is one that is considered to be one of the grandfathers of podcasting.  marc maron, a stand up comedian, interviews famous musicians, actors, authors, etc. in his garage and asks them about anything at all.  its often an interesting perspective on the life and careers of each guest.
doug loves movies.  the comedian doug benson plays this awesome movie trivia game with different guests each week. sometimes it focuses on movies, other times it gets off course and just involves a bunch of comedians riffing off of each other to great effect!
how did this get made?  another movie podcast, this one is lead by paul shearer, its dedicated to watching some of the worst movies ever made and just tearing them apart!
you made it weird with pete holmes.  pete interviews a bunch of different guests and digs deep into each one of them, usually leading to some very interesting discussions of what they think and believe.  he has three topics that he always discusses with each guest: comedy, love, and god.  all three of which lead to thoughtful insights into life.
feab: four eyes and beard.  this podcast is just random discussions with matt mira, one of the cohosts of the nerdist podcast, and scott moser, one of kevin smith's friends who produces movies.  i really like matt mira and love he discussions he has with scott, his often unwilling sidekick in this podcast!
futurecast with smoove1011.  this one is a music podcast of songs mixed by my friend aaron.  i dont always love his style of music, but its cool to listen to what he's digging at the moment and to hear him apply his craft of mixing.
pointless with kevin pereira.  i always loved watching kevin on attack of the show, but since that has been cancelled, this is the only way to get my dose of his ridiculousness!
lee and dan's midnight movie club.  two hilarious film critics, one from england, the other from australia, watch and discuss different movies from the 80's and 90's that they loved.  their banter is hilarious, but its worth listening to just for the awesome accents!
the /filmcast.  another movie review podcast.  this one is my go-to for any time i see a newly released movie and want to hear what the critics think about it.
norm macdonald live.  i totally love norm macdonald, something about his delivery of jokes just makes laugh so hard!  this podcast is just norm doing his thing!  he interviews guests, he does different comedy bits, and he cracks jokes about current events.  its kind of like his stint on saturday night live as the host of weekend update- but even better!
freakonomics radio.  i read the book and loved the different perspective it brought to mundane things like finance and economics.
stuff you missed in history class and stuff you should know.  i've always loved history, so this is a podcast where they talk about different random events from history and really dig in to what they are about and their context.
collider podcast.  another movie critic podcast, but from a bit of a different perspective than the /filmcast.  sometimes i like to hear different opinions!
defiance afterbuzz tv after show.  i've really been loving the new show on the syfy channel, so i listen to this one after each episode and its been really fun.  the hosts just talk about each episode after it airs and discuss it.  its kind of like just listening to a bunch of friends talk about the show you just watched- fun!
this american life.  why not, right?
harmontown.  this is the podcast of the dan harmon, the creator of the tv show community, which i love!  its a recording of the weekly show he puts on where he just kind of rants about anything and everything thats on his mind.

BOOKS. stargate sg-1: city of the gods (book 4)

the fourth book in a long series of stargate sg-1 novels, city of gods takes the stargate team to a new planet, this one seems to have a culture fashioned after the ancient mayans and azteks of central america.  the story joins our crew as they try and get the exploration team off the planet before an impending ecological disaster strikes.  they get themselves mixed up with a bunch of young kids, who seem to be without families, but  know their way around pretty well.  after traveling with them for a while, they are brought to the native people of that planet, and they seem to be trying to appease their gods by offering human sacrifices to stave off their destruction.  the story plays out, as one might expect, with the white man being seen as the messengers of the gods and o'neill is more than happy to play up that angle if it means getting off the planet quicker!
the highlight of this particular story is the wealth of knowledge shared about the working of the planet's geology and ecosystems.  it is very obvious that the writer, sonny whitelaw, has an intimate understanding of nature and its interconnectedness.  whitelaw does a good job with nailing the characters and their traits, but the book really comes alive when he talks about the environment itself.  with vivid descriptions of caves, archaeology  and volcano stuff, its very clear that this guy knows his stuff and feels passionately about it- his interest in it is infectious through his writing.  also, he has a very interesting perspective on the mayan and aztek culture and its connection with life's value, both human life and the life in nature.  definitely worth checking out!

TV. the phantom

after recently rewatching the phantom movie from a few years back, this miniseries on syfy caught my eye.  it takes the story of the phantom and brings it into today.  the phantom is based on a comic book.  the original story follows a family of adventurers who have taken up the mantle of the phantom, the ghost that walks, going back all the way to the time of pirates and explorers. each generation of the family takes over where the father left off, and the film version of the phantom follows the man who is behind the mask during the 1930's.  this version of the phantom takes place in the 90's and follows the story of the latest generation.  he was taken away from the phantom's island as a baby, so he has no idea about his important lineage.  when confronted with this new found reality he must decide if he is going to take up the mantle, or walk away.
the miniseries is is pretty hoaky, but quite a bit of fun.  when the main character steps into the role of phantom, he decides to update it a bit, make it more relevant than those who came before.  the movie does a good job of establishing the phantom's heritage and history while opening up the opportunities for what is to come.  this miniseries was designed to be a pilot for an ongoing phantom tv show, but it must not have done as well as they had hoped because the show was abandoned before it could go any further.  i for one would have enjoyed seeing where this was headed and spending time watching the phantom do his adventuring thing!

TV. clarissa explains it all

nickelodeon started showing its old 90's shows late at night, and having watched them a couple times back then, i wanted to check them out again and relive a little bit of my youth.  i tried 'all that' which really sucked, and 'clarissa explains it all'.  i remember this one kinda being for girls, but that didnt stop me from watching it from time to time back in the day!  rewatching it now i was surprised at how fun it is!  the show follows clarissa as she deals with her family and pesky brother with the help of her best friend sam.  the fun part of the show is that clarissa talks straight to the camera and shares whats on her mind.  melissa joan hart is a lot of fun as clarissa, but my favorite character is her little know-it-all brother ferguson.  the stories are very simple and rarely leave the confines of their house, which leads to the four family members very well fleshed out and the show actually has some pretty good character writing.  over the course of the summer i'm pretty sure we watched all 65 episodes that were created!  its a simple show for teens, but its still quite fun for those of us who left those teen years decades ago.

DVD. sliders

the wife and i had a bunch of time recently to hang out at the house and watch a bunch of tv.  three weeks off for the birth of my son will do that...  well, there wasnt much good stuff actually on tv, so instead i dug deep into my dvd collection.  on a whim i asked diana if she would be willing to watch an episode or two of sliders.  its a sci fi tv show from the 90's that i remember loving when it was on.  she remembered it too, her mom used to watch it (her mom really loves sci fi. cool, huh?).  well, we started right from the beginning: season 1.  the story is set up as our main character, mallory quinn (played by jerry o'connell) who is a boy genius and has built a device that can open up gateways to alternate dimensions.  he, a girl that he works with, his professor, and a random guy driving by at the time of the accident, are all swept away through the gateway.  from there they visit many different dimensions, all the time trying to get back to their own.  the fun thing is that each dimension is different than ours in some way.  sometimes its something simple like red streetlights mean go while green lights mean stop, but other times its much more interesting like one dimension where the patriots never defeated the english and america is still ruled by the queen.  the different dimensions in each episode can be hit or miss, but for the most part they are a ton of fun!  the show itself actually holds up pretty well, and diana and i found ourselves watching a ton of episodes.  we quickly finished seasons 1, 2, and 3.  by the time we got around to season four it was time for me to go back to work, so we will certainly have to come back and finish them up one of these days!  over all, season one and two were by far the best, season three started to introduce another dimension sliding race of alien bad guys, which was pretty lame, but thankfully they didnt show up too often to ruin the fun.

GAMES. drop 7

now that i've got one o them fancy iphones, i have been checking out a bunch of free games.  many of them are fun, but most of them wear out their welcome after a day or two of playing.  one game that has kept me playing over and over again is a game called drop 7.  i love the puzzle games, and this is a really clever twist on the whole dropping pieces style that began with tetris.  the concept is a little tricky to get the first time through, but once you've got the hang of it, it is super addictive!  see, there are these grey circles at the bottom and numbers fall from the top.  in order to make a number disappear, you have to put it in a spot that corresponds to its number.  for example: if you have a 1, then you must put it in a line by itself, a line of one.  if you have a 4, when its in a line of four circles, it will disappear.  the clever bit is that the lines can be up and down or side to side. if you make a number disappear next to a grey circle it cracks, do it a second time and it becomes a number.  like i said, its sounds more complex than it actually is.  i've been playing this one a ton and really love it, give it a try some time and you will be hooked too!

BOOKS. eureka: brain box blues

a few years ago, when the tv show eureka first premiered, i thought id give it a try. i really loved it! the show is about a sheriff who works in the town of eureka, a scientific sort of utopia where the government has holed away thousands of scientists in this small town, and they have come up with amazing technological advances. the characters are a ton of fun, especially sheriff carter, the main character. he's really the only sane one in this town full of crazy scientists! having watched the show for the past four seasons, i decided to give the books a try.
'brain box blues' is about a strange invention that can supposedly see the last memories of someone who died. the story starts with a top secret case and they need to see what the last memories were of an important government official who was recently killed. its up to the scientists at global dynamics to get the information out of the box and make some sort of sense of it. of course, the purpose for getting these memories is kept under wraps until it becomes more and more obvious that there are some hidden motives behind the information being harvested.
the story itself is pretty good, it plays like a big episode of the show. it was fun to read all the different characters, who the author does a great job of recreating. the different actions and events are true to the show and its attitudes. a quick and fun read!

COMEDY. colin quinn: long story short

the latest stand up special from colin quinn takes a very different approach to the old 'stand there and tell jokes' formula that most comedians use. instead of just stories and jokes following no particular pattern, quinn tackles one subject matter for the whole duration of his show. granted, the topic is pretty big: the history of the world! this structure is really well done as quinn, with the assistance of photos and animation on the screen behind him, goes through all of recorded history and takes a critical look at whats gone wrong and whats gone right, all the while adding his own hilarious two cents! he starts with cave men, jumps to the greek and roman empires, then in to christendom, finally traveling around the world visiting each continent and giving his perspective on their respective histories. quinn does a fantastic job of playing the history teacher- in fact, if it wernt for all the bad language, this thing could almost be shown in schools! my only real experience with quinn was his role as saturday night live's weekend update anchor, and i was very pleasantly surprised at how funny and clever he really is! and he's pretty good at accents from around the world too! all in all this is a pretty impressive stand-up show, i enjoyed it so much that i plan to watch it again soon!

TV. camelot

i'm not particularly drawn to the legend of king arthur, but my wife loves that kind of stuff, so we decided to watch the new camelot show on starz. i have almost no knowledge of the legend itself other than the most basic of information: arthur was a king, he had a round table with knights, a cool sword, a strange magician merlin, and some creepy chick who lives in a lake. other than that, i dont really know anything about it, so watching this show will be learning a completely new mythology. in the first episode we see the king killed by his daughter morgan who then tries to take the throne, but merlin reveals that the king has a son who has been in hiding for the past twenty years. merlin then makes work of getting the hidden son, arthur, to accept his true fate of becoming the king of england. the story wasnt all that interesting to me, but as the episode reached its climax and arthur begins to take the role of king and fight against those who oppose him it started getting good. i can honestly say that i dont know where the story will go from here, but it should be fun to find out!

BOOKS. stargate sg-1: the cost of honor (book 5)

this stargate novel is a continuation of 'a matter of honor'. the story left off with our gang getting the technology they needed to try and save an sg team that they had left behind years ago. the team had been left behind in a world that was collapsing into a black hole. the black hole had effected the planet so much that time itself had slowed. it had been four years since sg-1 left that planet, but to the team that was there it had only felt like an hour. now that sg-1 has the technology (though some uncharacteristically shady means) to go back and rescue them, they try to get the go-ahead from hammond. he is facing a tough time from some officials due to their plan with the planet sg-1 had gotten the technology from, so he is not officially allowed to let them go on the mission to save the lost sg team. but they go anyway and save most of the lost team. but the machine they had gotten broke and they too were effected by the time stream of the black hole and when they get back many months have passed at they must face the repercussions of their disobeying commands. hammond is gone because he let them go save the lost team, and how the sg-1 team is in big trouble because of how they got the technology that broke. it was a great story with tons of action and good characterizations. we really get to see how much it effected jack and hammond that they broke protocol and did things they werent supposed to do. a very good finale to the first book. well done.

GAMES. dice wars

dear dice wars, please give me my life back. one of my buddies showed this to me a few months ago. he sent me a link to a flash game that he had been enjoying. i gave it a try and became instantly hooked! the game is basically the board game 'risk', which is a personal favorite of mine! growing up i always loved playing risk with my big brother, he would always beat me, but i loved playing anyway! dice wars is just like risk except you wont find little plastic figures in the vacuum for the next three weeks! i'm going to share the link, but i'm warning you: only click on it if you have a few hundred hours to kill! it will suck away all your free time, like it has with me. click at your own risk (get it? risk? ha!) here.

BOOKS. stargate sg-1: a matter of honor (book 3)

the third book in the long series of novels based on the stargate sg-1 tv show, 'a matter of honor' is the first book in a two part story. the story is actually based on the events of one of the episodes of the tv show. in that show, the sg-10 team gets stuck on a world that is being sucked into a black hole. the interesting thing about that is the black hole has slowed down the time on that planet so even though this story takes place five years after the team was lost, only an hour or so has passed for the sg-10 team. jack's dedication to the military philosophy of 'no man left behind' is what drives this story. the sg-1 team finds itself on a planet where our government is trying to barter a trade with the local inhabitants in order to get some of their more advanced technology for ourselves. the sg-1 team and general hammond dont feel that we need this technology and are trying to end the trade. while on the planet, they realize that it houses one of baal's fortresses that has another technology that they might be able to use to save the lost sg-10 team. our four intrepid heroes do everything they can to get this baal technology, including going against direct orders from general hammond.
this story is really well written by sally malcolm. the characters are perfectly captured and think and act in a way that fits what we have known about them for so many years on the show. one of the big plot points is how jack o'neill deals with being in baal's fortress again. last time he was there he was tortured and killed, resurrected, and killed again, ad nausium. the author has a fantastic grasp on what is going on in o'neills head during their trip to retrieve the technology from this place with so many bad memories for him. it was a great read, and i am eager to read the next one to finish the story! these stargate sg-1 novels just keep getting better and better!

TV. spatacus: blood and sand

we currently have the starz channels on tv, and they have recently been replaying the entire season of 'spartacus: blood and sand'. i thought i would give it a shot, so we recorded the whole 13 episode season. knowing that the super graphic violence probably wouldnt be diana's thing, i began watching them by myself. after about two episodes, diana became curious about it and wanted to give it a try. we watched the third episode together and she got hooked! sure, the violence is really graphic and outrageously over the top, but she said it was cartoony enough that she was ok with it. oh, one other disclaimer: there is an absurd amount of nudity in it as well... anyway, the story follows a man who goes in to battle and makes an alliance with the roman army to help defeat his nation's enemies. when rome decides to go after another army instead, he and his people back out of the alliance. well, the roman general doesnt like that too much and the man is caught and turned into a slave, as is his wife. they are separated, and the man is thrown into the arena to die by the gladiators hands. he doesnt die, and instead defeats the four gladiators, becoming a new hero to the audience in the arena. he is sold to a gladiator trainer and must prove himself worthy of the gladiator brotherhood. as the story unfolds during the 13 episode season, we see spartacus earn his new name, make friends and enemies in the training grounds, and his master's attempt to enter the political arena. all the stories are incredibly well written and the acting is quite good all around. though this show obviously started as a '300' clone, its depth and scale quickly outgrows those shackles and it becomes an amazing spectacle all its own!

TV. party down

i had heard good things about this little show on starz but had never seen it before. well, over new years they had a marathon of all the episodes, season 1 and season 2, so i thought id give it a shot. turns out that its really funny! diana and i zipped through all 20 episodes in one sitting! the show follows a group of caterers who serve food at different events, and shows their lives unfolding and interacting. the set up is a lot of fun, each episode is about the caterers at a different event, it may be a birthday party, or a picnic, or even backstage at a rock concert. the fun is how these six characters interact and hassle each other and those that are at the parties. the show is done is the same way as something like 'curb your enthusiasm' where there is a lot of improve going on- and its always hilarious! all the characters are wannabe actors who are just working as caterers until they land their big break (like thats going to happen...), except the main character, henry. he had his big break in a beer ad, even had his own catchphrase, but his career stalled out from there and he retreated back to the catering job giving up acting for good. while there he falls for a coworker and has to deal with the boss who takes his job way too seriously. the interplay of the different actors is hilarious. my favorite of the bunch was the wannabe writer who is always working on his hard sci-fi masterpiece and gets pissed at anyone who doesnt understand his ways. unfortunately the show was cancelled after its second season, so there wont be any more episodes coming, but what they did for those two seasons was fantastic to watch!


since i was about 10 years old i have loved comic books. in junior high and high school i was an avid collector. during the comic book boom of the 90's there were a bunch of magazines devoted to comic books that i read. the best of the best, though, was wizard magazine. you could pick up an issue and read it for hours learning all about the comic book industry, read interviews with creators and artists, find out about little known independent comics, as well as check out the price guide in the back. i spent so much time reading this magazine through out the years, loving every minute of it! as i went off to college i lost touch with the comic book world but would still periodically pick up the latest issue of wizard and find out what had been going on in the industry. this past summer my buddies and i, as is our annual tradition, went to the comic book convention in chicago. well, on the website for the convention was an offer to buy a ticket for the con in advance and receive a free 1 year subscription to wizard magazine. i took advantage, remembering how much i enjoyed the magazine all those years ago. well, after receiving the magazine for the past few months i have been heartbroken by just how far it has sank since the heyday of my youth. the magazine really shouldnt even be called 'wizard' anymore, it doesnt resemble its old self at all! no longer is it a magazine for comic books, now its about movies, tv and toys. oh, and sometimes theres a little article about comic books. it obviously has been hit hard by the decline of the magazine market. what once was a hulking 300-350 page issue has now been degraded into a 75 page pamphlet. where once there were long interviews and in depth looks at comic books, there are how pages and pages of huge images with barely a couple paragraphs per page. what once took me weeks to read, i now flip through in about 4 minutes. thats not due to lack of interest, that simply had to do with lack of content! all this once mighty publishing great has become is a pale imitation of entertainment weekly. but with less articles... they must really be struggling too because the amount of advertisements has exploded! in this last issue its gotten so bad that they have even put a paid advertisement on the cover! seriously?!? and the tron article featured on the front is only three pages long. back in the day it would not have been unusual for a cover article to be 10-15 pages. lame. even though i got this subscription for free, but i still feel like i want my money back.