Podcast Queue Update

As of March 23 2011, here is where my podcast queue stands. I’m still working off the long baby listening layoff. I’m at a cool 10 week, 70 day backlog. Right now I’m listening to Good Clean Fun from January 12th. My trusty script that tells me the playtime of my queue just blipped under 16 days worth of listening time. That’s 16 days of 24 hour listening, my friends. That’s a lot of citizen media, friends.

I do get impatient lately in a way I never did when the queue was short. Multiple shows were skipped because some minor things bothered me. On this Web 2.0 session where Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle were interviewing Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the very first question was something like “What about this Google Phone that is coming out?” to which Schmidt replied “Google doesn’t make hardware.” My immediate reaction was “Oh boy, all I need is to listen to Google’s CEO be a weirdly precious and disingenuous douchebag. I’d rather spend this hour listening to anything else.”

I’ve been skipping a lot of SModcast episodes, and I’ve been teetering on the brink of unsubscription for months. For one thing, I hate and automatically skip all live shows. As soon as I hear the applause, I hit the button. Even when they aren’t live, the 6 to 14 minutes of sponsorship messages and promos is completely unreal. As I find the show less and less compelling over time just based solely on the content of it, they are really doing weirdly audience hostile things. I think I might just unsubscribe now and leave the 7 or so already downloaded episodes in my queue. If something changes my mind, I’ll resubscribe. If not, so long guys and good luck. If that happens, I might be the one and only listener of Tell ‘Em Steve Dave that unsubscribes from SModcast in disgust. To be honest, I’ve been digging on TESD waaaaay more than SModcast pretty much since the show started, which the exception of the live episodes. Pretty much every live episode of every podcast sucks.

I have almost worked off the backlog of eBook Ninjas and Dork Forest episodes and I’m really enjoying both shows. After a month of listening to one episode of each every time I sync my player, I’m down to 4 or 5 of each. Once the backlogs are done, my velocity should pick up a little. I’m such a dork for this stuff. I wish I could qualify for being a guest on Dork Forest, I’d talk all about podcasting dorkiness.

What a Long Podcast Queue Means To Me

Obsessive podcast dork post warning – if you are uninterested in the deep miscellany of how one listener handles his podcasts, this post may not be for you.

Some time ago Garrick van Buren asked me about what a long podcast queue means to me. I had posted about the fact that my listening queue was over a month long. Out of curiousity around that time I wrote a ruby script to figure out how long my queue is in listening hours. When it was a month deep, I had around 9 days worth of audio files in my repository. Since the birth of the baby, my listening time dropped way down and the queue got longer and longer. At this point, it is right at a cool 10 weeks long. That means that in early March 2011, I’m listening to the shows from the week before Xmas 2010. Added together, this queue has a runtime that just blipped over 15 days long.

On top of the continuing subscriptions, I have been adding shows this whole time. I don’t get too upset about the long queue and have never found that to be a reason to not subscribe to new shows. Recently I added eBook Ninjas (heard about on The Kindle Chronicles) and Jackie Kashian’s The Dork Forest (heard about on Marc Maron’s WTF). In both cases, the shows had between 15 and 20 episodes that came down the feed on first subscription. For these shows I want to actually listen to the back shows, so I’m now in a situation where the first 25 shows in my list are those two podcasts. Each time I sync, I listen to one episode of each and then skip past the rest. It will probably take me at least a month to clear the queue of just those episodes at the front.

I’ve done this many times with shows I begin and want to listen to a number of older shows. When I first subscribed to WTF a year ago, it was on episode #33 and I did listen from the very beginning. For that show, because he puts it out twice a week like a machine, in the time it took to listen to the first 33 episodes, another 18 had been published. It can be a Sysiphean task to catch up on frequently updated feeds.

But to the real question that Garrick asked, what does it mean to me when the queue gets long? For me particularly, it doesn’t mean that much. I’ve been very far behind like now, and I’ve been so completely caught up that each night I was downloading fewer shows than a typical day’s listening. When the queue is long, the main thing that happens is that my patience and tolerance drops to near zero. When I’ve got 300 files waiting to be listened to, my willingness to listen to shows not cutting for me is drastically reduced. If I try out a new show based on a recommendation and the first five minutes are in-jokes and really boring banter, I hit skip and never come back to that show.

This leads to another more general point – I have come to believe that the first 3 minutes of podcasts are the most crucial bit of the whole thing. If your theme song is five minutes long, you’ve already lost me. If the beginning of your show is a long description of why it’s been so long since the last episode (which I and practically every other podcaster is guilty of doing at least once), I don’t want to listen to that. I especially don’t want to listen if the lateness being discussed in the episode is months or years old at the time I’m listening, which now is highly common. This has come back around to myself. When I record Evil Genius Chronicles episodes, I’m trying very hard to get things rolling fast and coming back to things like sponsorships or long explanations. The other end of this is things like SModcast, where the episodes I’m listening to begin with 12 minutes of promos for SModcastle plus the Adam and Eve and Fleshlight sponsor messages. I’m this close to dropping SModcast because of this. For sure, I begin the show with my finger on the fast forward button. I only wish the Sansa Clip had an audible fast forward so I could hear when the theme song begins.

The main thing that drives whether my queue builds up or gets cleared is how many meetings I have in my day job. Most of my team is in other physical locations so at times much of my day is spent with headphones on. When we changed to a new mode of working that had more phone meetings, my queue size and length began creeping up. I’m not that agitated by it. I’m not disturbed when it climbs. It is a slight bummer as I’m listening to ever older shows with things like offers and contests that are long over before I ever heard them, but overall I don’t care. The one show I make exceptions to my strict chronological listening is Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. I artificially goose the timestamps to make them the oldest shows in my list, so they are always at the head because these are the most timely shows I listen to.

Beyond that, Mr. van Buren, a long queue doesn’t mean that much to me. It lowers my tolerance, increases my impatience and makes my skip finger itchy. It doesn’t make me loathe so subscribe to new shows. In fact, the last few months I’ve added more new shows than in years. If it takes me years to catch up or it never happens, I can live with that. The queue works for me, I don’t work for it. As long as my ears stay full of interesting listening, I don’t care how much unlistened there exists. I don’t have to be a completist on this, just amused at all the times I want to be.

Night of the Livid Walt

I listen to the Tell ‘Em Steve Dave podcast and lately I’ve been enjoying it more than it’s big brother podcast SModcast. Like all podcasts in my list I’m about five weeks behind. On the episode I’m listening to now they make a reference to a fan created animation. LIke most of these, it is an anecdote from the audio show extracted and then animated. I really enjoyed this one. I liked how it looked and I found the original story hilarious. The full story was at least 15 minutes long, this cartoon is only about 90 seconds of the payoff at the end.

I have actually been skipping SModcast when they do live episodes. I listened to the one with Clerks/Clerks 2 actor Jeff Anderson because I wanted to hear what he had to say. Other than that, when I hear that the show is live, I just hit skip. I have 10 days worth of podcast running time, I’m not digging the live ones (or most live ones ever from any show) so why bother? This is also the same reason I stopped listening to the Authors On Tour podcast. I found that when popular authors play to their crowd, it just bugged me to listen. Same thing with SModcast, the playing to the crowd is the opposite of what I liked all along. I’ve decided that at future Dragon*Cons and Balticons I’m not doing any more live podcasts. It’s just not my thing. They are fun to do but really not fun to listen to outside of the room.

Around the Podosphere 5/26/2010

Here are some podcasts and particular episodes that I’ve particularly liked lately. Torn straight from my playlist!

I’ve been iffy on the Long Now Podcast and on the edge of dropping it. It’s got the same problem I have with TED talks – basically good-willed wealthy technocrats throwing the rabble a bone by letting them experience the sessions. Long Now is the far better of the two, TED always makes me feel like I’m being condescended to. The most recent episode really interested me though. It was Nils Gilman talking about “deviant globalization”, basically pointing out that while all business globalizes the business of criminals does so most of all. The whole thing worth it was for the part where he talked about “moral arbitrage.” I also liked the part when he said that Russian organized crime rose so quickly in the 1990s because only criminals had entrepenurial organizational skills during the Soviet era. Interesting stuff.

I’ve started listening to the Tell Em Steve Dave podcast. This is a Kevin Smith spinoff podcast, as players in the View Askew-niverse are forming some sort of a network of shows. To be honest, I’m not sure that I don’t like this show better than SModcast. I’m not a Smith fundamentalist. I like some of his movies but not all, and sometimes I even skip SModcast episodes. In particular, most of the live show recordings I find completely unlistenable. Playing to the crowd changes the dynamic and I find much to the worse. However, the first episode recorded from their tour I kind of liked.

My friends Michael Butler and Jasper Borgman keep it rolling with Good Clean Fun. I listen to all of them, but like any chemistry driven show some episodes hit better and some hit worse. I’m about 3 weeks behind so I just got to the May 4th show but I thought it was hilarious and I really dug it.

This morning I was listening to Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac (the only thing I bump to the top of my queue so that I hear it when it is timely.) Today’s episode including a birthday shoutout to Caitlin R. Kiernan. This isn’t the very first time I’ve heard someone I know personally on that show but it’s always a nice surprise. Happy birthday, Caitlin!

A few months back I subscribed to Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast. I think there were 30 or so episodes when I subscribed and it took me months to listen through the whole backlog. Now I’m relatively current (as current as anything – 3 weeks behind) and I heard his amazing episode with Robin Williams. I’ll admit that as much as I loved Williams 30 years ago, his relentless shtickifying has burned me out. Nowadays ff I see he’s in a movie I’m otherwise interested in, I rethink that interest. Imagine my surprise at the quality of this conversation between Maron and Williams about comedy, life, fucking up and recovering from it. It’s the kind of episode that by itself validates all the work that goes into the series. I’ve had those, and I think Maron has had multiple ones. Very highly recommended listening.

Around the Podosphere for 2/4/2010

Today was a particularly good day in my podcast queue. Here is the highlights of things I particularly enjoyed:

Within the last month I’ve recently started listening to The Kindle Chronicles podcast. Those podcasters who worry about soundproofing their rooms, try listening to Len Edgerly when his big ass grandfather clock starts chiming midnight. You might not need it as much as you think! Episode #79 featured a particularly good interview with Seth Harwood. I am one of the people who picked up his book A Long Way from Disney last December when he had his post-Xmas special. I liked this interview and think that Seth is a good example of a hybrid new-school/old-school writer. I recommend this series and this episode.

I’ve listened to every episode of the SModcast from the beginning (with the exception of the live show episodes that I had to skip.) My single favorite one ever is episode #103 with his mother Grace, where they get stoned together and tell tales of New Jersey. There’s a point towards the end where Kevin starts cracking his mother up until she gets hysterical. It’s very funny and also kind of sweet. It just made me a little happier to listen to it. Also, I agree with his commentor that says that his mom and Walt Flanagan sound the same. I thought exactly the same thing.

I’ve also listened to every single episode of the Rock and Roll Geek Show. I’m a lifer on that one with my buddy Michael Butler. In episode #387 he has an interview with Tappy Wright, who was the road manager for The Animals, Jimi Hendix and many more that he writes about in Rock Roadie. It’s a fascinating interview and includes Wright’s claim about how Hendrix was murdered. I recommend this for a listen along with every other of the nearly 400 shows.

For five years, I’ve been claiming one of the best upsides of podcasting is the feasibility of doing a show for a niche audience. One example of that in my subscription list is the Flash-back podcast. The episode I listened to today covers Blackest Night: Flash #2. This program covers the various Flash related comic books in excruciating detail. I’m talking panel by panel, friends. Every show is like a master’s thesis in the Flash family. This is not the sort of thing that is for everybody, but for certain obsessed fans of this character (such as myself) it is really and truly awesome.

Around the Podosphere

Here’s a few things that have struck me as interesting from my recent listening.

I’m a fan of Harry Shearer’s Le Show and the July 20th episode featured a lot of talk with John M. Barry, a writer and expert on New Orleanian issues. I liked how Mr. Barry debunked the whole ridiculous “why rebuild a city under sea level?” meme quite well. If you are at all interested in New Orleans, the failure of the federal levees and related topics, I recommend this for a listen.

I continue to be interested in minicomics. I’ll be honest, most of my inspiration and excitement that I get from DIY media lately has come from the minicomics community. I really want to find a place where I can send them some dough and they’ll send me a grab bag of mixed stuff. I’m interested in the medium but the search costs are high. I do love when I can get a nice compact burst of information on the topic, which I did get from this Dollar Bin recording of the minicomics panel from HeroesCon. This panel had a lot of Alec Longstreth in it. This does make me realize that I need to go to Lulu.com and buy the collection of his minicomics.

I like listening to SModcast and I don’t begrudge the boys making some money, particularly when they are paying a dude to edit and lay in their music bed. Considering the music bed is really the third guy on the show, it’s a significant part of the program. However, their Think Geek sponsorship on the show I listened to today was painful. It was goofy and all and in the kind of style I like to do mine, but damn it felt like it went on forever. I checked the MP3 player and it was a little under 3 minutes but it felt like 10. I’d suggest after about a minute, y’all stop. Past that, you subtract value and make me pissed off at Think Geek. I’m just saying.

EGC Clambake for April 5, 2007 – “Picking up the Flag for Fallen Friends”

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for April 5, 2007.

It’s the hurry up offense. I wasn’t that happy with yesterday’s show so I turn around and do what I hope is a better one. I play a song by The Thermals; I talk about memorializing dead friends by trying to emulate their best attributes; I talk about ambition and money and the minimum you can retire on, and my idea for the most ridiculous way to make money blogging; I talk about winning the lottery and how winning a small prize might make you happier than a big one; I play a clip from the SModcast; I talk about playing poker; I play a song by Camper Van Beethoven, ask all my listeners to call up an old friend that they haven’t talked to in a while; and with that I vanish in a cloud of mist.

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To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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EGC Clambake for March 27, 2007 – “Hippies and Punks – Blowback”

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for March 27, 2007.

I play (another) song from Conconquidore Truidore; I discuss Scarborough Dude’s (over)reaction to the previous episode and Ted Riecken’s response; I play a song by Oxford Collapse, reference my enjoyment of the SModcast and then I too collapse.

You can subscribe to this feed via RSS.

To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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