Archive for the ‘Geek Stuff’ Category

As usual it took more than a couple of days to get this up, but I didn’t want to post it until I reached a stopping point I felt good with.   This section briefly introduces an element of mystery in the overall story (big thanks to Matt H. for the idea). I’m working my way through  page 18 right now, and I probably won’t post the rest until I finish out the issue, on or around page 23.  I’ve made some progress on issue two which is going to cover some of the back story for DEREK and GRACE. Issue three will be big on excitement, and involve organized crime. I’ve got some ideas for the bigger events beyond that, but issues four and up are a bit nebulous at present. I hope people are enjoying it. Thanks for reading.

EXPRESS – #1 : Heavy



DEREK LOWE now wearing the grey jumpsuit and cap. Picks the photo up and studies it.

DEREK LOWE (To Himself)
Yeah, eleven will be fine. Vertical door bar is well polished no scuffs. Base plate has a one inch scratch toward the hinge end Lock at the base is a Wuxi. Time here is about 3:30 in the afternoon so it’ll be 5:30 in the morning there. I’ll wanna make sure I don’t hit any early risers. OK. Good to go.


High corner view of the WAREHOUSE; DEREK stands in front of the chalkboard(Left). Arrayed across the floor of the warehouse are 16 doors set into individual brick walls. Each door is different, and each door is numbered with spray paint stencil on plywood. GRACE has a hand truck and is walking toward the door marked 11. (more…)


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I know I haven’t updated the blog this week, but I have not been neglecting my writing.  Here’s a chunk from the beginning of some comic scripts I’ve been working on. The basic idea behind the story revolves around the questions “What if a person, in a world without super powers, woke up with a super power (say teleportation)? As far as he knows, he’s the only one. He’s not brave enough, or noble enough, to become a hero. He’s not ballsy enough, or evil enough, to be a villain.

So what does he do with his amazing ability? He carves out a business sized chunk of grey area all for himself.

EXPRESS – #1 : Heavy



Close-up on DEREK LOWE’s mouth against a sky background.

I’m sorry Mr. Han, there simply isn’t anything I can do for you. Your package is too large for my service to handle. Worldwide Express has a hard limit of 20 kilograms on all shipments.


Wide DEREK LOWE (panel right) rising from a leather office chair. MR. HAN (panel left)rising behind a desk. Distance between LOWE and HAN and big windows to indicate large high office.

I would like you to reconsider Mr. Lowe. It is vitally important that this item gets to Shanghai as quickly as possible. I will triple your regular fee.

DEREK LOWE(under breath)
Triple. (Sigh)


HAN and LOWE now standing straight still at a distance.

Mr. Han you drive a hard bargain. Very well, Worldwide will take your package to Shanghai. Do you have my manifest prepared?


Close-up MR. HAN handing over a manila envelope.

May I ask about the photograph we were asked to include?


Close-up DEREK LOWE’s mouth sly smile.

We have learned over the years that when you work as quickly as we do it pays to have a visual reference.

Did he ask about the photo? (more…)

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It’s important to remember that I don’t dislike these shows. I need to cut back, and these are the victims, but they are mostly worth a listen. A list in no particular order including reason for cutting.

SModcast, Plus One, Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, Hollywood Babylon, Et. Al.Sorry Kevin Smith, I’m burnt out. I was a big fan of SModcast, and when you started adding more and more (and more) shows I was excited, but six plus hours a week was just too much time spent listening to you talk, and I can’t imagine what it would be like adding your new daily shows to that list. At least I’ll always have Mallrats.

Savage LoveI just can’t handle shows where people call in anymore. I love listening to Dan Savage answer questions and tell stories, but I am sick to death of the rambling half-truths he has to respond to.

Operation BSU (& TMO) – (SquidLord – I have good news and bad news…)As with Savage Love the hosts are great, but The Talkshoe cast’s inconsistent audio quality, and hit or miss delivery from the random of individuals talking on the feed makes me nuts. I will keep checking out With Special Guest… from time to time if it’s a guest I’m interested in.

This Week in TechI like Leo Laporte, I really do, but I am so sick of John C. Dvorak showing up and “get of my lawn”-ing every episode that I am done. Just done.

Doug Loves MoviesI like it, but sometimes the show seems too focused on The Leonard Maltin Game (Where celebrity players try to guess the title of a movie based on the year it was released and the names of the actors in it: from last billed to staring role. )

This Week with Larry MillerI’m sorry Larry, sometimes I don’t understand what you mean, and I LIKE using body wash rather than soap. Still, I will always treasure your advice on special occasions (To paraphrase: If the people you’re with are the most important part of getting together; why do it in a loud bar or crowded restaurant?)

The Smartest Man in the World (with Greg Proops) – I am digging what Greg is laying down, but if it’s comedy why do I feel like I’ve been reading Sylvia Plath after every episode?

The Pod F. TompcastI may reconsider this one. Paul F. Tompkins is very funny, and the bits he puts are always great.

Radio Free Burrito, For Good ReasonIf you don’t show up to work for six months this is what happens.

Monster TalkTo be honest I’ve never given this show the chance it deserves. I’m just not a big fan of monster stories. I’ll check out the Ninja episode and think on it.

Engadget, This is My Next, Buzz Out Loud, Weekend Confirmed, Daily GizWizI only have so much time in my week to listen to technology and gaming news. Somehow I was listening to way more of these than I realistically had time for.

How Did This Get MadeA really funny show where comics make fun of bad movies. I love the concept, but I feel like they’re off their game at the moment. After making a plan to ridicule Fast Five, which they had to admit turned out to be pretty good, they over-corrected and went with Mac & Me for their next film. A movie so bad that I can’t even listen to a podcast making fun of it.

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In Part One of my Top 20 list I made a special mention of a show that I have special affection for that will not be making the cut for other reasons. When going over my list for Part Two I came across another show that is better enjoyed in a different environment, but deserves a special mention.

Special Mention: Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!Peter Sagal hosts NPR’s weekly quiz program where the news of the week is dissected by comedians, writers, reporters, and veteran news man Carl Cassel. This program has been a favorite of mine since long before podcasts existed, and I remember scheduling my trips home freshman year so that I could be in the car while it was on. I’m leaving it off of the list because my wife is also a fan of the show, and I enjoy listening with her. Rather than listen to every episode twice I’ll listen when she does and make room for a show on the bubble to pull itself back onto the list.

  1. Scott Sigler PodioBooks Full Disclosure: I know Scott Sigler. Putting his work in the Top 20 was a no-brainer though because Scott has been consistently producing the best free audio fiction for half a decade (even after becoming a NY Times bestselling author). His riveting brand of science heavy sci-fi suspense lends itself perfectly to the audio format, and in addition to being a great writer Scott is an excellent voice-over artist as well; bringing real personality to his characters.
  2. Skeptics Guide to the UniverseThe SGU is a weekly round-table covering the latest news in science and skepticism. I mentioned in my Skepticality review that a lot of other skeptical shows cover the same ground, but the SGU is the top of the heap. They do in-depth analysis of the latest scientific discoveries (both real and media hype) interviews with scientists, skeptics, artists, and even any supernaturalists who are willing to come on the show. A little bit serious; a little bit goofy; the show consistently delivers high quality information with a lighthearted attitude. Bonus: Every week the show’s host Dr. Steve Novella challenges his panel to separate two real science stories from one that is bull in Science or Fiction.
  3. The Judge John Hodgman PodcastIf you only recognize John Hodgman as “PC” from Macintosh ads then you are really missing out. America’s greatest authority on pretty much everything has turned his hand toward justice (of the People’s Court variety). Surely the most erudite, even handed, and civil magistrate in all of modern media Judge Hodgman hands down important verdicts such as: Taking strangers unclaimed leftovers from the Chinese restaurant you had dinner at is gross, asking your taxi diver to take you through a drive through is ok so long as you are willing to accept rejection gracefully and tip well, and potluck dinners are not a crime.
  4. The Geologic PodcastWith comedy, music, opinion, and advice; George Hrab delivers the best one man show on the internet. Each week Geo cobbles together personal anecdotes, wacky characters (usually played by himself), interesting science,  and stories of overt religious stupidity into an audio blog of epic proportions.
  5. This is Only a TestThe weekly technology podcast I have chosen over all other weekly technology podcasts. I didn’t choose it because Sam works for the parent site (tested.com). I didn’t choose it because I love the GiantBombcast (also produced by Whiskey Media). I choose This is Only a Test because Will, Norm, Gary, sometimes Ana, and occasionally other people provide a show that is both informative and quirky, and the “Fake Outtakes” segment is good enough to be a podcast all by itself.
  6. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore HistoryDan Carlin dives into the history of the world and gives an up-close view of the theories, societies, and events that changed it. Once every two months is kind of a long wait for a podcast, but Hardcore History is totally worth it. Good information and excellent story telling make for the only history class I’ve ever signed up for on my own.
  7. This American LifeThis one speaks for itself. NPR’s reality showcase has been a staple of my audio diet for over a decade. It’s iTunes Number 1 podcast of all time (It’s even in the top 10 for Australia.). If you haven’t heard of it every week host Ira Glass brings together an hour’s worth of stories (usually real; occasionally narrated fiction) covering a different related aspect of our world. The stories are a mix of information: with regular contributions from Planet Money and RadioLab: see 1-10), comedy: by great minds like David Sedaris and Mike Birbiglia, and humanity: both the good and the bad.
  8. Behind the Screened DoorFormer video game guys Alex Navarro and Matt Rorie bring their thoughts on movies and TV to the internet. Another brother of the GiantBombcast, BtSD makes it’s own name from the occasionally contentious interactions between Alex and Matt. Both hosts have deep knowledge of film and TV, but they are always willing to say when they just don’t know.
  9. Nerdist PodcastOnce a week Host Chris Hardwick (Web Soup), and sidekicks Jonah Ray (Web Soup) and Matt Mira (Apple Store Genius) post informal interviews with comics, actors, and musicians covering the gamut of geek culture and the creation of comedy. In a second show every week Chris, Jonah, and Matt get together to talk comedy and geekiness all on their own.
  10. Open – I looked at all the other podcasts on my list, and they all possessed some fatal flaw. So I’m leaving this spot open for something new to blow me away.
    In the next post I’ll discuss everything I’m ditching and why. This one took longer than intended as I hummed and hawed about spot 20 so I am going to try and get the next part out tonight.

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In cutting down the number of podcasts I was listening to some choices were easy. Particularly which shows I was going to keep no matter what. These are my Top 10 Audio Podcasts (It’s a top 20, but this one has run nearly 1200 words so I’m splitting it into two parts):

Super Special Mention – NSFW on TWiT – First thing to get out of the way: Don’t let the name fool you this show is entirely safe for work. There are no graphic images, bad language, or violence (sorry to disappoint). NSFW is my very favorite internet production. Every week Justin R. Young (iTricks.com,weirdthings.com) and Brian Brushwood (Scam School ) bring on a guest(s) to participate in random games, internet challenges, and radio morning show weirdness.  It’s like a Japanese talk-show for America. Brian and Justin have a great comic rapport, and with audience interaction (through IRC ’cause TWiT is Old School) NSFW isn’t just a radio show, it’s a hobby. I’m leaving it out of this list because 1. It’s better in video, and 2. I watch it live (Tuesday nights 9pm EST nsfwshow.com).

  1. The GiantBombcast – Every week Ryan, Jeff, Vinny, and Brad break down the video game news of the week with a heavy dose of randomness. If you are a fan of video games this is THE must listen show. Combining news, reviews, and a boatload of personality the Bombcast has become more of a weekly get together with friends than just something to listen to.
  2. Skeptoid – Another weekly show. In this one Brian Dunning and his team researche the historical mysteries, conspiracy theories, and sensational news that are all around us, and break down one topic a week with the best factual information available. Sometimes funny, always fascinating, Skeptoid isn’t just a show: with detailed transcripts and extensive bibliography, at the website, Skeptoid is a major resource for critical thinking.
  3. Onion Radio News – The ORN comes out daily Monday through Friday and does something with the podcast medium that is simply astonishing. Clocking in around one minute long they are by far the shortest podcast I listen to, but they catch the number three spot by creating perfect audio nuggets of the Onion’s decades of experience mining comedy gold. If my playlist is a hotel room the Onion Radio News is a mint on the pillow.
  4. Radiolab – At this point I am fairly certain that anyone reading this blog probably knows me (If you don’t: Welcome! I hope you’re enjoying reading this. If you want to follow me on Twitter that would be awesome. I’m @AgentOfAwful), and since you know me you’ve probably hear me ramble on about the awesome things I’ve learned from Radiolab. It’s an NPR production from WNYC where Jad Ablumrad and Robert Krulwich look at the bigger questions of science with a bent toward the fascinating and the human. Don’t listen in the car though because a good portion of the episodes have at least one story that will make you cry. Also, if you haven’t done it yet, bookmark the Krulwich Wonders… NPR blog. If you have even a little interest in science it will quite regularly make your day.
  5. Weird Things – Andrew Mayne (one of the country’s great magical minds) explores topics of the supernatural with the help of Brian Brushwood and Justin R. Young (see Special Mention above). Every two weeks the team works their way through another What if scenario: zombies, unicorns, the space elevator, one way trips to Mars, there is no concept too strange or nerdy that the Weird Things show won’t tear it open and rip the comedy out. I encourage every human being on the planet to listen to this one.  Also, every week the guys make time for their recommendations on movies, TV, and books.
  6. Planet Money – Another NPR show. This bi-weekly show covers modern economics from the most complex international finance to the simplest questions like, “How is a T-shirt made?”. The beauty of Planet Money is their ability to put the complex issues in understandable terms, and expose the underlying complexity in the simple questions. If you want to understand economics; if you want to understand how our modern world works. This is the show to listen to.
  7. Skepticality Full Disclosure: I have a bias here. Skepticality is hosted by Derek Colanduno and Swoopy (aka Robynn McCarthy), and Swoopy is a friend of mine. That, however, is not why Skepticality makes the top ten. The simple fact is that Skepticality has the best interviews of any critical thinking podcast. There is a tendency among skeptical shows to cover the same topics. While this overlap is good as a resource to insure people have the latest news it can become overwhelming to get a dozen slightly different perspectives on the same story. Skepticality breaks out by covering subjects that are perhaps only tangentially related to the skeptical news of the day, and focusing in-depth on a single topic.
  8. Tech News Today Tech News Today is, as the name suggests, a daily (M-F) tech podcast. Tom Merritt (formerly of CNET), Sara Lane (formerly of TechTV), Iyaz Akhtar (This Old Nerd), and Jason Howell (formerly of CNET) cover the important (and not so important) stories of the tech world. TNT has a great balance of news and commentary, and each of the panel brings a different perspective.
  9. Decoder Ring Theater – If you have any affection for classic radio serials then you’ll love DRT. Twice a month the Decoder Ring Theater cast brings out a new adventure story in the old time radio style. The mainstays of DRT The Red Panda Adventures and Black Jack Justice have both been running for years, and they have funny, suspenseful, action-packed, and complex stories to match. You’ll want to take some time and listen to these from the beginning. The troupe also produces a DRT: Showcase every summer with one shots and shorter serials that might make a good start if you don’t want to dive right in.
  10. The Thrilling Adventure Hour – This is my favorite new podcast this year. Another old time radio style program, the TAH produces several different shows all recorded live at Largo in L.A. Written by the team of Ben Acker and Ben Blacker the program walks a careful line: satirizing and embracing classic radio, and the era that created it. Each weekly episode brings a different segment to the fore. My personal favorite is Beyond Belief; wherein Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds) and Paul F. Tompkins (“America’s finest stand-up comedian”) play Frank and Sadie Doyle a married pair of supernatural detectives. The characters are an over the top parody of Nick and Nora Charles from the Thin Man series of films (which are wonderful), and it would be easy for them to go out of control. Brewster and Tompkins, however, bring a joy and charisma to the parts that makes them the most endearing caricatures you’re likely to hear.
That does it for the Top 10 keep your eyes peeled for 11 through 20 sometime tomorrow.

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As I mentioned on Thursday’s Post I have spent a disproportionate amount of time listening to podcasts.

Podcasts, for those who haven’t discovered them, are audio and video programs released for free on the internet. The easiest way to get them is to hit the Podcast link in the iTunes store. If you don’t have iTunes most podcasts are available for download directly from their creators just do a Google search for “[Topic You Are Interested In] Podcast”. 

Since starting my ADD program I’ve been listening less, and that means that my PodCatcher is getting backed up.

A PodCatcher is a program designed to take RSS Feeds with podcast information, and download the podcast episodes automatically. An RSS Feed is a messaging system that allows you to track when a website is updated. For Example: if you look at the top of this page in the right corner it says “Feeds:” next to it there is an orange icon called “Posts” and another called “Comments” if you click on the orange “Posts” icon your web browser should give you some options to subscribe to my Feed. Which means every time I update my blog the program you select (I recommended Google Reader) will track it for you. Then you can read my blog along with any others you enjoy in one convenient location. 

I do most of my listening on my smart phone, and the PodCatcher I use is DoggCatcher for Android. Google makes a PodCatcher for Android called Listen which is free and connects to Google Reader so you can listen to your podcasts on your phone or in your web browser. I chose to pay for DoggCatcher ($6.99) because it’s more configurable than Listen, and has a great database for finding podcasts built in.

In addition to cleaning out DoggCatcher’s history I’m going have to remove about half the shows from my list to prevent future backlog so the next two posts will be about what I’m keeping and what I’m getting rid of.  Watch this space (or your RSS reader) for Pod-Cut: Paring Down the Podcast Feed Pt. 2 – The Keepers

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I’m really enjoying The Book of Mormon cast recording. I don’t remember the last time I listened to an album in it’s entirety; possibly Matisyahu Live at Stubb’s (I acknowledge the possible irony in this.) It’s a really solid group of songs, and just like Avenue Q they are catchy as hell. Which is a problem when a Broadway track contains lyrics more appropriate to a Two Live Crew album. If you have a problem with bad language (and I mean REALLY bad language) don’t pick this one up. Also, if you’re a big fan of Christianity, well, I’d be interested to know how you feel about it. Trey Parker calls it “an atheist’s love letter to religion” and I think that covers it well. On one hand, it can be VERY sacrilegious; on the other hand, it’s a story of faith changing people for the better. Fans of Avenue Q will find a familiarity in tone that is comfortable rather than repetitive, and the cast has an enthusiasm for the material that comes through in every song.

Quick Plot Run-Down: The Book of Mormon tells the story of two Mormon missionaries: Elder Price and Elder Cunningham(Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad) are sent to Uganda on their mission. Price is brash and devout while Cunningham is sloppy, insecure, and lies when he’s nervous. When presented with tragedy in the Ugandan village where they are meant to serve they struggle to make the best of it with the support of the Cheif’s daughter Nabulungi who wants the boys to help her village get to “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” (say it real fast).

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story so if I haven’t scared you off check out the Whole Album at NPR.

PS- Even if you don’t think you might care for the rest give the song You And Me (But Mostly Me) a listen. It’s entirely inoffensive, and is probably my favorite song from the whole show.

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