I was never a huge fan of podcasts.
When I first heard of them, I was like "who the fuck has the time to sit for a full hour or two and just listen?" Convinced this media was extremely niche and not worth looking into, I cast them aside.
I'm here now to tell you I was definitely wrong. Here's a few I've discovered over the last 12 months or so that have been 100% worth my time.
A) THE SMODCAST NETWORK
Just go to smodcast.com and take a look at the establishment that director/writer/actor/everythinger Kevin Smith, his producer Scott Mosier and their friends have created over the past 4-5 years or so. There's now dozens of podcasts that merge in with what is now called "S.I.R." or Smodcast Internet Radio, a station that broadcasts different shows DAILY. Most of the content is 100% free, I implore you to check some of them out. 100% FREE on iTunes. Here's my recommendations:
Hollywood Babble-On - This show, recorded live in front of a paying audience, features Kevin Smith and a guy named Ralph Garman (who you've probably heard before without knowing). Garman is known for his radio gigs in CA, but is mostly known for his bit parts on a little show called Family Guy. He's an absolute genius at the art of impersonation, can do more celebrity voices than anyone I've ever heard of, and is really hilarious. Between the two of them, this is the best podcast/show I've ever heard. Smith and Garman answer viewer mail, talk about Hollywood rumors, new stories about celebs, nerd news (they're both comic book and sci-fi nuts), how big Liam Neeson's cock supposedly is, and more. Their back-and-forth commentary is very fluid and extremely entertaining. Feels like they've been doing it for years.
SModcast - This was (obviously) the first show on the network and is quite simply just a sit-down discussion between Kevin Smith and his producer/best friend, Scott Mosier. While Smith won't shut up and who's joke content is made up of mostly dick and fart jokes, Mosier is laid back, travelled, low key and quite hilarious in his own right. The conversations between these two are great, no matter what they talk about. Sometimes there's a clear "point A to point B" with their show, sometimes Smith is literally just picking up a newspaper talking about what he finds inside, but it's always worth your time.
B) DOUG LOVES MOVIES
douglovesmovies.com is the URL. Hosted by comedian Doug Benson in front of a live audience, this show features a rotating cast of guests and revolves around playing games and discussion about, what else? movies! Now, I'm not a huge fan of Doug Benson the stand-up comic, although he admittedly is a pretty funny guy outside of his actual 'material'. He's mostly known for The Marijuana-logues, the documentary Super High Me, and anything else weed-related. The BEST draw about this podcast/show is the rotating guest cast, and the layout of the show itself. Normally Doug brings on 3-5 guests other than himself and they play games based on film trivia, and discuss films in general. The guests are usually stand-up comic friends, sometimes little-known directors or actors. Let me tell you this right now; the caliber of stand-up comics he has on this show is fucking exceptional. And if you're anything like me who appreciates great stand-up comics, their material, their personalities, and their ability to be funny off-the-cuff and improvise... you're going to love this show. Don't believe me? What if I tell you about the episode where Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Benson, and others are on the same fucking stage together ripping on each other? What about the episode where Zach Galifianakis, Nick Swardson, Benson and others are on the same stage? Todd Glass? Aziz Ansari? Eugene Mirman? Sarah Silverman? Matt Braunger? If you don't know any of these people you should check them out regardless, BUT these guys on the same stage all interacting and discussing their favorite flicks is a dream come true for me. Totally worth diving into. Download the ones with the guests that interest you the most first, then branch out. FREE on iTunes.
C) UHHH YEAH DUDE
Another free podcast put out by two friends, Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette. Described as "a weekly round-up of America through the eyes of two American Americans." free on iTunes. It's not necessarily political, it's just ridiculous. It's a sit-down discussion and back-and-forth between two dudes. How did I come across this 'cast? It was a recommendation from a friend of mine, and I'm sure he came across it the same way. Since this show isn't made by or backed by anyone with any form of pull in the industry, so you have to respect how far it has come by word-of-mouth alone. Let me just say though, the banter between these two guys is fucking hilarious. I love the conversations they have and it reminds me (in aesthetic, not content) of the ridiculous conversations my friends have together. absolutely worth checking out... because it's free, asshole.
If you're like me and are saying "I definitely don't have time to devote an hour or more to each of these weekly", consider this. How long does it take you to drive to work every day, 15-30 mins? How long does it take you to fall asleep every night after you turn the lights off? This is ample time to check them out.
This is the demo version. It's so much better than what was actually released on the album.
just got turned onto these guys, and although i believe i'm only two or three months late on the new joints, i feel like i've missed out on a movement. very righteous sound coming from these guys. they bring a sunny disposition to the fore, sounding a bit inspired by the later nanna (specifically hey mercedes) and vocally have the strength and range of something like as tall as lions. what is truly, truly incredible is that these guys are giving you the opportunity to grab their catalog gratis via their bandcamp. very excited about what these guys are doing. even more excited, actually, that i just found out about their charlie brown christmas track, christmas time is here, on the first day of snow landing on the ground and not dissipating. shades up, listening to that tune, not shoveling snow? choice.
just wanted to throw a reminder/heads up that drive will be dropping on dvd and blu-ray on january 31st. this was far and away the best new film that i saw in 2011. at the very least, red box it, go on demand, stream it from the psn or xbox marketplace.
i'm not quite sure when a bunch of demos went up on the xbox live network, but i know that at least a couple days ago, the one i had gone there for, kingdoms of amalur: reckoning, went up and i got around to checking it out today. i don't know much about the game itself, other than people started talking big things about it once last year started coming to a close as the next game they were excited about. and i had no idea what to expect, no clue what to think about it. i saw the artwork included a dude in massive armor that looked primed for nightmares, so i figured, alright, swords. cool.
playing the demo this morning was a really big eye opener. the game takes place in that whole medieval fantasy realm within a gnome keep where they have been attempting to raise people from the dead. you are apparently a special successful case, and it just so happens that you raised just as the place was getting invaded by the antagonist evil army. ya know. but yes, they take the genre and streamline it. whatcha wanna use, swords, daggers, bow, magic, whatever, do your thing. one button press for the range weapon, hold a trigger and press one of your four skill buttons to use a spell. bang. there is no long comparison between different weapons, it seems, sacrificing an initial level of depth for the ability to get right down to fighting and conquering things. melee attacks, yes, simple as explained. press one button repeatedly and things will die.
i like it, i'm kind of excited. it is a welcome abandon from a game like elder scrolls v: skyrim, a game which i have been hesitant to review. reckoning makes you seem unique, feel unique, and all-in-all keeps you tied to the story pretty much from the jump. i think it will be a light beginning to the gaming year, something engaging and refreshing. pretty stoked. it drops february seventh.
i also was able to fit in playing the demo for asura's wrath, which already seemed completely insane from the trailers and gameplay i'd already seen. but playing it was an entirely new level of WTF. it reminds me a bit of the scale of dragon ball z (or what little i've seen of it) with complete outer zooms of planet earth, and combat on the moon and so forth. also, powers that seem to grow in intensity from 0 to 9000 just out of necessity. it also gave me something of a darker akira vibe which was pretty great as well. seems like it will be a fun game, formatted in the episodic style of anime (even with simulated commercial bumpers, to a degree) and it will undoubtedly be a game which will create fights of epic proportions. most of the gameplay seems to unfold with random button slapping to get to a target, which will then open its way to button-time events to perform some of the scripted, over the top planet shattering maneuvers. i actually laughed a couple times playing this demo simply because of how outrageous what i was doing was becoming.
and lastly... the resident evil 6 trailer. not generally a fan of this series overall, but this trailer got me PUMPED.
brian martinez' second novel
today, one of our own bloggers and one of my very best friends Brian Martinez is giving away his novel, kissing you is like trying to punch a ghost via the amazon kindle for FREE. follow the link here to obtain it, or obviously search via the device.
this is brian's second novel, this one in particular written during the nanowrimo of 2010. something that he's admitted was meant more for almost the exercise of the writing, plus the exorcism of an idea that just needed the breath forced into it. what results is part maniac mansion, part wristcutters, part adult swim alt science fiction that seems to grow around you and with you as you read it, each branching tendril making just as much sense as it needs to at the time. very easy to pick up and put down, and never in over its head.
jump in, it's free. and if you enjoy his material in this piece, you will definitely dig the rest of his stuff, from the serial the mountain and the city and my favorite of his, probably one of the best books i've read in the post-apocalyptic genre, a chemical fire.
more: bloodstream city.
this movie looks like it will be just like any other wes anderson movie, which is a good thing for me, and a poor, pathetic and pretentious thing for others. that's fine. [young] boy likes [young] girl, [young] girl likes [young] boy, they engage, adults interfere. that seems to be the backbone and premise to the piece, though with bill murray, frances mcdormand, jason schwartzman, bruce willis and ed norton, i trust this will be a hilarious, matter-of-fact comedy that will show just how far we should keep our senses and better judgment from love and its young splendor. or something like that.
the way the young boy addresses the young girl with confidence and command tells me that he will more than likely take the role on earnestly and appropriately. i'm actually very much looking forward to the soundtrack as well, as many of anderson's scores and soundtracks have been superb.
trailer here. the film drops may 25.
i have owned a nintendo 3DS since the day it was released. i can't say that it was one of my smarter purchases. at the time, i was commuting daily from brooklyn out to the island, figured games would drop on it and i would spend some time gaming here and there, get hooked on a hand held game pick it up when i was hanging with friends and so on. didn't happen. the story somewhat remained the same as every other hand held experience i've had in the past. when it comes down to gaming, i often will do it at home, and why would i do it on a tiny screen if i can throw down on something exponentially more powerful, larger and engaging?
well, the system has come a decent way since it was released at the $250 price point. it's since dropped eighty bucks, and finally has a couple of mario games that you can play which are far more casual than the more attention-requiring legend of zelda: ocarina of time remake. also, a new resident evil is coming out in a few weeks and about a month after that, the 3d remake of metal gear solid 3 is dropping as well. and the list continues to build.
but if there is one thing i can do to try to tip you in the way of grabbing one of these bad boys, it is this. i have just spent most of my night playing mario kart 7 which does nothing to reinvent the series or to push it forward in any way via innovation or experimentation. this is mario kart exactly the way you left it, and exactly the way you loved it. i don't have a lot to say on the subject, really. but i have quickly fallen in love with the game. the online features are fairly seamless, allowing you to join or create communities to jump into to get some quick grand prix's firing. the local multiplayer is exactly what you'd hope it to be.
stoked to be back in the fever. back in the summer between the 5th and 6th grades, i was playing the super nintendo version of this game near-constantly, regardless of whether or not i would be lapping all of the opponents or not. this game series has been a staple for me, and i'm glad to say that this one holds up perfectly. choice.
I don't have much to update in terms of music other than I'm currently enjoying some Dream Theater. I just finished updating my tech-blog, but I figured to check out Wrank and see if there was any new posts. I'm currently on the 21st floor of the hotel I'm staying at in San Francisco. I needed to share the view.
It's difficult to classify things as the best, meaning only one selection. There are so many factors to consider - genres, length, quality, production value, etc. Instead of just pointing out the best in some weird classification, I'll just narrow down some of my "picks" of 2011
(in order of release)
Emmure - Speaker of the Dead (9/10)
I can listen to this album from start to finish. Every song is brutal in its own sense, mixing in elements of metalcore, snippets of "the dubstep sound" and things straight out of a Fear Factory album. There are driving hooks that get me so pumped while blasting this album. My speakers are always tested to their limit when I have this album on. What a difference between this release and the past couple of outings by Emmure. I called this the album of the year in one of my earlier posts, and I'd say it's definitely up there.
DevilDriver - Beast (5/10)
I have a soft spot for these guys - mainly 'cause Dez is from Coal Chamber (yeah, go nu-metal!), and there are some pretty good metal elements to their songs, however I noticed not a single change from this album to the ones released almost a decade ago. While that's not necessarily a good nor a bad thing, I felt it was too close, even between songs. When you can skip ahead on any given track and it sounds just like the same song (unintentionally) it leaves a lot to be desired. The album as a whole is worth checking out if you've never listened to DevilDriver before but don't expect anything amazing.
City & Colour - Little Hell (8.5/10)
What can I say about Dallas Green that I haven't already? The man is a true talent. His soft-spoken voice, steady riffs, and combination of folk, emotion, and pure songwriting makes for a perfect blend of music to listen to when you need to take a step back and reflect on life. I've listened to each of his three full albums countless times and this one has a much more bandesque feeling with a bit more percussion that the previous two albums, and I feel it all fits really well. "Northern Wind" is probably what I'd classify as my favorite song off the album. If anything, pour some whiskey in a glass, put on some headphones, and just turn off the lights while you give it a go.
August Burns Red - Leveler (8/10)
It's difficult to find a more perfect metalcore band with hooks and breakdowns that have you wishing for larger woofers in your speakers and cleaner tweeters at the same time. These guys not only know how to write perfect metalcore songs but how to blow you away at a live show. So far each of their albums have been so close to perfect for the genre, one would be hard pressed to find better packages of sound. This album takes some departures from their flawless formula and in certain instances it shines whereas in others it leaves me wanting more. I can't think of more than one or two songs that have that memorable "Oh shit, here we go!" moment of a breakdown as I've found in their earlier albums. Still, there are elements to some songs which have such a different flair to them that you have to re-evaluate what you're listening to because it's still August Burns Red. A solid effort. Definitely not my favorite, but still better than a majority of garbage out there. Interestingly on the Deluxe Edition, their song "Pangea" as performed by Bells seals the deal for me and bumps the album from a 7 to an 8 based on this one song alone. It hits me at 4:13 into it. What an ambient stream of feeling.
Korn - The Path of Totality (9/10)
Yes, read the number again to make sure that's not upside. The past 16 years of my life have had their ups and downs, their own set of rollercoaster events and what not, and as I've grown, so has Korn. Unfortunately, it's typically been only in the age department as their music has been something not even worth mentioning to friends due to an automatic write-off. Meet the Parents was on the other night and it was interesting to see the guy at the movie rental store have a Korn shirt on and a Korn poster in Pam's brother's room. Old and somewhat obscure references, but nevertheless, Korn did define an era of music years ago. I had pretty much written them off for their last "effort" as it was truly atrocious sans for a hook or two. Sadly, with Hed's departure from the band, most of their hooks left as well. Everyone experienced that hollow and empty sound from their recordings. They tried filling in the gaps with other electronic components and over compensation on Jonathan's voice for the better part of this decade but all for naught. What is undeniably the song of the year for me, "Get Up" featuring Skrillex, paved the way and piqued my interest in this "nu-metal meets dubstep" album. Again, I thought other than this one song, the rest of the album must be utter crap. Most would probably think so. I have to admit though - I've listened to it from start to finish many more time than I'd ever think of admitting earlier and it's grown on me in a manner that their first three outings did. It's different. It's Korn, but it's refreshing. They set out to do something fairly unique (I suppose) and not try to go back to their roots, etc. I think they've accomplished it. Keep an open mind and realize you're listening to guys complain about shit while being rich and in their 40s with dubstep flavors mixed in. After re-reading my last sentence, it's really easy to not even bother with this, haha, but give it a shot. I'm impressed but let's hope they leave this as is and retire.
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Soundtrack (8/10)
After Nine Inch Nails, Mr. Reznor and co. decided to work on a group outing with his wife, How to Destroy Angels, by releasing an EP- one that I enjoyed thoroughly, and of course scoring the soundtrack for The Social Network. What an amazing landscape of Reznoresque sound that was. The same formula was applied to this soundtrack and while I haven't been able to really immerse myself into it as I did with The Social Network, the rendition of "Immigrant Song" is simply outstanding. The rest of the score has its highs and lows with the dark yet melodic piano and ambiance one would expect from the Reznor/Ross collaboration. I'd be able to elaborate further if I listened to it more. I'm trying to finish up the book before I see the movie. Perhaps I should listen to the soundtrack while reading it. Maybe that'll speed things along.
Chevelle - Hats off to the Bull (Unknown)
I didn't realize this was released until after I started up this post. I listened to the first couple of songs on Spotify and they had their never-fail formula in place. Once I actually listen to it, I'll give my opinion but from what I read of others reviews on Amazon, it seems like they have a solid outing yet again.
Instead of reviewing them, I'm just going to give a score to them in order of my favorite to least favorite of memorable ones that were released this year. I have been meaning to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and of course The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Seriously though, go see Sherlock Holmes. It's quite excellent- from the cinematography to the acting, it's all brilliant.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - 10/10
Fast Five - 9/10
X-Men: First Class - 9/10
Rise of the Planet of the Apes - 8.5/10
Horrible Bosses - 8.5/10
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - 8/10
Limitless - 8/10
Cowboys & Aliens - 7.5/10
Unknown - 7.5/10
Battle of Los Angeles - 7.5/10
Source Code - 7.5/10The Green Lantern - 7/10
Apollo 18 - 6.5/10
The Hangover Part II - 6/10
The Green Hornet - 6/10
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - 6/10
Bridesmaids - 3/10
I only really played 1 new game this year that has any credibility from me in regards to a review. Simple enough:
NHL '12. 10/10. 'Nuff said.
Happy New Year!