I run hot and cold on podcasts. I go through phases where I subscribe to a dozen of them for my commutes and repetitive work tasks, and other times where I don’t listen at all, opting instead for music or good ol’ NPR. I’m not sure if it’s burnout from both news (increasingly depressing/infuriating) and my playlists (repetitive, but I lack time to take on new artists), but right now I’m very into podcasts. There are four that I’m listening to pretty regularly at the moment, and I highly recommend them to anyone with an interest. I’ll cover two of them today, and the other two on Thursday.
This show is easily the most laid back and apparently unscripted podcast of the four I’m spotlighting this week. Mac Jackson and Nick Naro basically seem to kick back and chat about whatever music, movies, and comics they find cool or topical that week. As is often the case with nifty-but-obscure pop culture goodies, I discovered these guys via the Prefab Underground. The description of this week’s episode aside, they cover WAY more than that.
To get a flavor without hitting play for an hour and a half, here’s a recap of the topics covered in their latest ep. Justifiably first (as the Awesome tour of Awesome was the biggest thing to hit the fandom since at least 1997 if not 1968) came Mac’s review of the Monkees’ New Brunswick concert. While Mac opted more for an overall description of the vibe of the night than my
ad nauseum thorough song-by-song analysis, I love how he captured the fan culture you find at a show or in the cooler parts of the Monkee community. More so than the music or show, that culture of friendly free-spirited geekiness is what keeps me revisiting the fandom every decade or so (as well as its role as a personal growth yardstick according to this cool article in Scientific American). While some can be, erm, a tad high strung at times of High Drama (read: 2012), in the main Monkee fen are the sweetest and least pretentious folks you’d ever hope to meet online (with the possible exception of Bronies, but I’ll get there in Part Two on Thursday). Then things sort of trailed off into a discussion/rant re: concertgoers at more “typical” concerts who only want to hear the “radio hits” at shows, and how frustrating that phenomenon can be to musicians. Because music is one interest among many rather than my all-consuming passion, I tend to go for a relatively small number of musicians, but then devour their entire catalogs (I’m hoping to do a long-procrastinated deep dive into Frank Zappa next year which I may chronicle here), so I definitely grok this frustration.
After a bit of conversation regarding Nick’s music and Mac’s band, the pair moved on to some name checks of new followers and fans, some of whom you may have heard of. 😉 Now, there are things they are obsessed with that I find kind of Meh–the recent James Bond fixation comes to mind, so this is definitely a surf-and-skim podcast unless your tastes exactly dovetail with theirs. (We DO need to have a chat about your recent expressions of disdain re: The Big Bang Theory by the way–IMHO you’re approaching the show all wrong ;-)). I approved of the Hobbit Squeeing, although (as of this writing) I haven’t watched it yet and am still a little dubious about how you turn the relatively skimpy source material into a Peter Jackson Trilogy.* A discussion of current comic books of interest ensued. I oft wished I could become a comic book fan, but I wasn’t initiated into the mysteries as a child, and I’m not at a place in my life where I can find time to pick up a new art form, aside from classics like Watchmen and a few amazing non superhero-ish series (like Fables) that Kevin has essentially thrust at me and made me read. (There’s probably a post in Fables, come to think of it…) Between Kevin and following Mark Evanier and Linkara, I feel I know the basics though. Aside from a little fast forwarding through the comic book stuff I tend to listen to the show from start-to-end, and I’ve already added a few bands to my must investigate/revisit list. (Personal Pop Culture Rule 27b: Always pay attention to a Male Nezhead’s taste in music).
This podcast is still relatively young, but seems to improve each week. The early sound issues seem to have resolved themselves, and while parts of the show can feel a bit “rambly”, the pair’s charm and chemistry draws you in and makes you part of what feels like a cool conversation between two geek friends over at the local coffee bar. If you like supporting new fandom commentary (and if you hang out here while I continue to find my voice and work out the kinks, you probably do), hop over to youtube and catch an episode or two. (PS–I have no patience for fan negativity either–guess that’s why I’m into the stuff I’m into 🙂 )
Similar in content but almost the opposite in format is the Nerdist podcast, where Uber Nerd Chris Hardwicke rules over a Channel Awesome-esque empire of podcasts, fideos, and similar content. Unlike the Never Gets Old format of “two everynerds hanging out with a microphone”, the flagship Nerdist podcast goes in for corporate sponsorships and long, professionally edited interviews of guests. BIG NAME Guests. Here’s my recap of two recent episodes.
Yeah, THAT Mel Brooks. This was actually the first ep I listened to, and I loved how Chris mostly shut up and let the genius talk. Being a Gene Wilder fan pretty much since I was in utero many of the anecdotes weren’t completely new to me, but I learned much I’d never heard before, particularly about Mel’s start in show business working with Sid Caesar, who I ALSO need to learn more about now. I was even inspired to go back and Netflix queue a few Mel Brooks things that hadn’t done much for me on first viewing, like History of the World, Part 1.
After recovering from Mel, I went trolling through the recent archives. And then my jaw dropped.
I realize Alton’s been the new Emeril for a while now, but Kevin and I were “briners” since WAY before it was cool. So as I scrolled through the Nerdist archives after polishing off the delightful conversation with Mel Brooks, I had to cue up Alton’s episode. It was bloody AWESOME–he talked about life, the universe, and everything, including some of the edgier/cooler aspects of AB that get glossed over in the Rise and Shine! kinds of profiles. The James Bond conversation alone crystallized something I already suspected after the Never Gets Old discussions–The fandom’s just more of a Y Chromosome thing**. I loved the whole interview, and had to remind myself again that I have neither time nor money (nor my Mom’s permission 😉 ) to go get a pilot’s license. Someday man, someday…
Again, I really suggest you check out these two general fandom podcasts. In both cases if you’re not interested in what they’re saying, either wait a few minutes or pull up another episode. Like Fandom Lenses (I hope!) these podcasts offer something for everyone. Thursday’s podcasts will be a little different–each in its very unique fashion focuses closely on a beloved TV show, one old, one new, and neither yet really mentioned much if at all in my posts. The similarities between the two podcasts pretty much stop there. See you next time, and please follow me on twitter and/or tumblr, and share widely with your friends! 🙂 I’ve been contemplating some ideas for giveaways, but first I need regular readers to give stuff away to!
Yes, I’m aware that’s bribery. Let me know if it works. 😉
* That said, LOTR. as we all know, was awesomesauce. I keep saying we need to host a watch party of the directors cut with friends. Breakfast, disc one. Second breakfast, second disc, and on and on until Sam returns home to his lovely daughters or we all explode from a Lembas overdose.
**Hmm, is it easier to be a Male Monkee Fan or a Female Bond fan? Discuss in the comments.