Archive for the 'Media' Category

Podcast Commute
Thursday, February 15th, 2007

When my walking-only commute began in London about a year ago, I rediscovered the joy of using my iPod. More specifically, I finally got on board with the podcast phenomenon. After a period of oversubscription to many podcasts, I’ve winnowed through the mess, and come up with the ones I’ve followed for a while and look forward to every week.

The Sound Of Young America

The first podcast I recommend to people if they ask, and often even if they don’t. Other people have told me this show is like NPR, but I’ve never been able to make it through more than a few minutes of anything on NPR without becoming bored to tears. Instead, TSOYA’s Jesse Thorn has the gravitas of an old-time radio interviewer, but the youthful energy of an idealistic recent college grad. Produced from his living room, this show has that honest indie feel while simultaneously maintaining highly professional quality. There’s a very good companion blog as well.

Never Not Funny

This is the most consistently funny podcast out there for my tastes. Never Not Funny is the first thing I listen to on Monday’s commute (new episodes come over the wire on Friday evening).

Air Out My Shorts

Sophomoric humor with a contagious manic drunken energy. The two hosts — “Preston Buttons & The Word Whore” — read listener-submitted short stories while progressively getting drunker and drunker. There have been some disappointingly frequent stumbles lately with scheduling, and the show suffers greatly when they’re not co-located and instead record over the phone (using skype, judging by the sound quality?). The “let’s call a friend” sketches are hit or miss, but I did find myself missing them when they stopped for a while.

AST Radio

The production quality and focus of this conversational podcast have skyrocketed since its stumbling debut a year or two back. AST Radio is the only source I’ve encountered where you get to delve deep into the motivations and opinions of a slew of (usually west coast) comedians. Unfortunately, new episodes are few and far between.

The Sound Of Young America: The College Years

With the format of a morning show (regardless of actual time of day of original broadcast), TSOYA: The College Years is an exceptionally entertaining broadcast done by intelligent college students. It’s intriguing to see the origins of the current incarnation, with sketches and banter which often entertain me more than the new episodes.

Jordan, Jesse, Go!

Pretty much the same as TSOYA: The College Years, although down to two hosts from the original trio, and recorded now instead of years ago. This also has comedy-celebrity guests like Judge John Hodgman.

PopSci Podcasts

Eight to nine minutes of Jonathan Coulton interviewing people involved with stories in Popular Science. A framing device claiming that he’s doing all the interviews in an empty office on the moon provides an excuse for the low quality of the audio (it’s recorded via Skype)

Escape Pod

When commutes and local travel cause me to burn through all of the new episodes of the above, it’s time to hit the well of Escape Pod, the best short-story podcast I’ve found. Focusing on science fiction short stories, this usually runs in the 20-30 minute range. They actually pay their authors as well, which is excellent.

iTunes Signature Maker
Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Jason Freeman’s iTunes Signature Maker reads a user’s iTunes library and listening history, pulls out the n most frequently played tracks, mashes clips of them into a short piece of audio, and publishes it (to your desktop or a shared gallery) as a .wav file. I suspect it’s not horribly complicated software, but the result is, if nothing else, a neat diversion, and is definitely my favorite Findory meme of the day.

Part of the idea behind the iTunes Signature is that a compressed burst of your musical tastes will provide listeners a little insight into your personality. In practice, I found mine a bit jarring, yet somehow strangely soothing in its familiarity.

An interesting application of this software could be integrating it with something like‘s superior knowledge base to generate signatures for a group of people, or for friends within a social network. The problem with using, of course, would be gaining access to clips of songs, although seems to manage to do this with its player in a way that’s never been clear to me.

Williamsburger iTunes Signature (24 January 2006)

I’d enjoy hearing others’ signatures, so please, do post in the comments if you find this of interest.

Yakitate!! Japan
Monday, September 12th, 2005
Yakitate!! Japan
Yakitate!! Japan is a semi-educational series following the challenges of a young boy, Azuma Kazuma, as he tries to create a national bread for Japan, “Japan” (a pun on “pan” meaning bread). With “solar hands” allowing accurate control of yeast fermentation, his baked concoctions cause over-the-top anime reactions from anyone who takes a bite. He comes from a small town to the big city to compete first for a job, and then in baking competitions.

I haven’t yet figured out if this program intends to convince children to become bakers, or if it’s simply an example of the Japanese fetishization of competitions combined with their impressive love of food. There’s also an attention to accuracy admirable for an anime; they apparently employ the owner of a Kyoto bakery to concoct the show’s creations in reality. Truth checking, or brilliant marketing ploy? Either way, watching an episode kicks my pastry cravings into high gear.

As far as I’ve been able to tell, the only way to watch this show is to go out and find a fan-subtitled version on one of the BitTorrent forums; maybe someday it’ll show up on a legitimate American DVD, but it’s a little too dedicated to its niche to find mainstream appeal here, and is far too manic for the Food Network to ever import it. Thankfully, the fan subtitlers tend to put in extra notes explaining the frequent puns, a subtlety I’ve never seen captured by a commercial subtitler.

Official Site
Wikipedia Entry (contains spoilers)

Kitty Corner, Episode 2
Monday, August 29th, 2005

Kitty Corner

This Tuesday will mark the airing of the second episode of Kitty Corner, a monthly BCAT program featuring local cats. Kitty Corner is a half-hour-long cuteness overdose.

Sprout opened the first episode as a tiny kitten, so I’ll certainly be tuned in this week to see what other cute cats frolic to Casio beats on Brooklyn’s own cable access network.

You can watch Kitty Corner on the television or via BCAT’s live internet feed.

Tuesday, August 30th
11:30 AM and 7:30 PM
Channel 34 (Time Warner Cable) & Channel 67 (Cablevision)

Family Guy Movie
Sunday, July 17th, 2005

Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story

Today, it came to my attention there’s both a Futurama direct-to-DVD movie in the works (no release date yet), as well as a Family Guy direct-to-DVD movie, Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin – The Untold Story, coming out in late September. Given the high quality of both shows, and their current constant presence on late-night Cartoon Network, early-evening TBS, and (in the Family Guy’s case, Sunday night Fox), I’m assuming they’ll get a whole lot of promotion and do pretty well for themselves.

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