Around the Podosphere

I usually lay pretty low on my opinion on other podcasts, particularly when that opinion is negative. I don’t want to get into pissing matches with other people. However, I’m coming out of that shell more. Since I keep beating the drum about how individual tastes are exactly that, I feel more comfortable expressing my own fallible and individual opinions. You might disagree with me on some or all of this, and that’s OK. Feel free to differ. Considering that I don’t like American Idol, CSI or a number of other highly popular things, there is nothing that says my opinions on matter of taste are common.

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Again with my love/hate relationship with RU Sirius. After skipping the previous episode mostly unlistened after a few minutes, this episode of the RU Sirius show was fantastic. It’s an interview with Scott J. Thompson. He’s a historian talking about the Nazis and their various drugs they used, all the while running a “war on drugs.” This podcast is wildly hit or miss, but I found this episode a hit.

I’m still a few weeks behind on my listening of the Rock and Roll Geek Show but thank god I finally got to the end of the Rockstar: Supernova crap. I know Mike covers his beat, but I find both the Rockstar and American Idol wrapups skip-button-tastic considering I have no interest in ever watching the TV shows. When he took a break from Rockstar to do his very thorough record review of the New York Dolls album, I thought it was fantastic (and he sold me the album.) That’s when the form is really working well and doing something you can’t do anywhere else – spend 40 minutes talking about a single album and playing lots of the album to back up your opinions. If you listen to a 2 minute review on Fresh Air, they’ll play 15 seconds of an album. Mike must have had at least 20 minutes of music, including a few full songs, to back up what he was saying about the album. Dear god, I hope there is never another season of Rockstar. I like his show so much better with interviews and rock talk than with this stupid reality show nonsense.

One of my favorite shows lately is the Subdudes podcast. It’s just what you’d want in an official band show, lots of demos and live recordings and unreleased songs. The only thing it could use more of would be actual interviews and appearances from the band members, but host Richard Russell does a fine job of MCing the whole affair. He played a version of “Dixie Chicken” with Tommy Malone playing with Little Feat earlier in the spring that had to be heard to be believed. That one song would make a year of subscription worth it, but everything is good. I just plain dig this show.

I checked out the Boing Boing Boing podcast out of curiousity. Now, bear in mind I dropped reading the blog a year and a half ago because I was tired of it and finding it redundant and boring. I’m of two minds about the podcast. I really enjoyed the Get Illuminated sub-podcast interview with Douglas Rushkoff, but really hated the first three episodes of the general roundtable. They cite TWiT as their spiritual forbearer for the show, which I recently dropped for becoming too boring and kind of half-assed and no longer worth an hour+ of my time a week. I have the same problems with this show — too much time spent on silly snarky asides and not that much substance. Two years into the podcast era, my tastes have shifted such that I’ve developed a strong reaction against banter. We are soaking in it, seldom is it funny and never is it useful to me. That’s why I gravitate towards single person shows or interview format shows, because I’m sick to death of the banter in most multi-host shows. When I find multi-person shows that are banter free (or banter light) I breathe a sigh of relief.

On top of the banter, I find BBB to be of a generally high level of pomposity (not evenly distributed as some panelists aren’t at all, and some are unbearably so — names unnamed but you can figure it out). Since I don’t grant Boing Boing (TM) the blog any status as tastemaker or cool-spotter for me personally, hearing them work from the assumption that they are bringers of wonderfulness in that regard leaves me pretty cold. Worst of all, on the roundtable episodes they have a huge disparity in sound levels of the people. I’m forgiving of a lot of crappy sound, but when making the quietest person audible requires making the loudest person painfully loud, you lose me. This is the production technique I lovingly refer to as the “Steve Gillmor style”, named after its pioneer and least apologetic practictioner. Boing Boing Boing needs to run their show through the Levelator in the worst way. I might subscribe via NetNewswire and only download the Get Illuminated episodes, but three episodes of the main show was two too many. Any other show with less of a pedigree probably woudn’t have gotten so much patience and would have been dropped with the first one after wasting my time and hurting my ears.

I found this talk from Sam Harris delivered at PopTech fascinating and terrific. It is a meditation on religion and rationalism. In a time when I am drowning in new media and have 3G of MP3s unlistened on my hard drive, I plan on relistening to this show over and over just to make sure I got all the points and can internalize what he was saying. I’ve had conversations recently about being a moral atheist. My assertion is that since I don’t believe in a benificent god who is showering us with love and joy, any beauty or love you find and create in this fundamentally cold and lonely world is a triumph of your will over the void and should be celebrated. This show on IT Conversations was one of the most inspirational things I’ve heard in a long time. It was like an atheist tent revival and it restored my faith in the lack of god.

I don’t listen to every episode of the Bat Segundo show but when he is interviewing someone I care about, I’ll listen to that one. Recently, Jeff Vandermeer was a guest on the show and was very interesting and intelligent. I first met Jeff 12 years ago when he was in the studio at WREK while I was interviewing his significant other, Ann Kennedy who was the editor of The Silver Web magazine at the time. I used to see Jeff and Ann around at Dragon*Con and would hang out with them. It’s been many years, though. In the time since I’ve last seen him, Jeff has become quite the hard charger in the world of fiction. I did like in the interview how he completely disavowed the term “the new weird” and said that he doesn’t consider it applicable to himself or useful as a literary descriptor.

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