The Podcast Report

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Today is supposedly International Podcast Day. Well, let’s celebrate this phony-baloney holiday by taking a look at some of the podcasts that I’ve been listening to lately. I feel like this list will change as time goes by so I wanted to document it here for future reference. These are in no particular order so here goes.

The Fifth Column – This is probably the most recent show that I have started listening to. In it Kmele Foster, Michael Moynihan and Matt Welch review the week’s news from a mostly libertarian perspective. I’ve tried a few libertarian podcasts in the past and most, like the Tom Woods Show, were just simply lame. The Fifth Column manages to be extremely informative, entertaining, and, dare I say, hip.

Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast – The strength of each episode depends on the guest and their willingness to talk dirt on old-time Hollywood actors or to play along with Gilbert’s over-the-top niche impressions. The show can sometimes descend into the hosts just saying “I remember that movie” and not much else but overall it’s entertaining week after week.

The Red Eye Podcast – There have been three incarnations of this podcast. All three have been loosely based around the cast of Fox News’ Red Eye chatting about the goings-on around the show. The first version was Greg Gutfeld, Bill Shulz and Andy Levy and it was usually specific to that night’s show and the topics they were going to cover. Then after a hiatus, it reemerged with Bill Shulz, Tommy O’Connor and Lauren Sivan. I loved that version (I think at this point they called the show, Not Live). Not Live was much more focused on pop culture and celebrity happenings and it was awesome. That show vanished, then all of the sudden, it returned this year with Andy Levy, Tom Shillue, Ben Kissel and Tim Dimond (the current Red Eye writing team). They avoid politics  and it’s much more like a short, funny, free form conversation about random topics. This might be my favorite podcast these days.

No Agenda – I started listening to this after I heard John C. Dvorak was banned from TWIT (a podcast I gave up on years ago when it became evident that it would only be about phones and apps). The show consists of Dvorak and Adam Curry (of Headbangers’ Ball fame… oh, and he invented podcasting) “deconstructing” the news. They play clips from various news outlets and then talk about how the stories are either slanted, planted or just plain stupid. There can be some great insight here, but I feel the two are just a little too cynical for my tastes. In the words of Sigmund Freud, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” In their universe, every story is a front for some external power when, in reality, the sloppy reportage is more a result of the fact that everyone is horrible at their job (and lazy). I tune out when they start drifting into Alex Jones territory, but still, they have a 70-80% success rate… if that’s even a thing.

The Bryan Callen Show – Hosted by comedian Bryan Callen along with Hunter Maats, this is almost more of a self-help podcast. There is lots of talk of the neuroscience, behavior, personal improvement and a dash of politics. Maats does most of the brainy commentary (and punctuates every proclamation with an annoying, “Right?”) while Callen provides humor and an everyman’s perspective.

EconTalk – Russ Robert’s long-running economics podcast is a treasure trove of insight and knowledge. Every once and a while the conversation is over my head but I have learned quite a bit about markets, statistics, and intellectual bias from the always skeptical Roberts and his guests.

The Open Apple Podcast – A monthly podcast about the Apple ][ computer that’s both heavy on nostalgia and current projects that push the limits of that ancient computing platform.

Lastly, here are a couple podcasts that I will still occasionally listen to but are gradually fading out of rotation for whatever reasons: Penn’s Sunday School, still don’t mind it but I guess some of the recent weight-loss talk has not been entertaining for me. Race Wars, Kurt and Sherrod are great, but it can be a bit much when there are half a dozen people in the room all talking at once. Getting On With James Urbaniak, entertaining short stories read by the voice of Dr. Venture… the episodes have stopped so this one may be over.

Romantic Fish Eating

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The Italian thriller Death Walks on High Heels is not terribly noteworthy even within the tiny cinematic sub-genre of giallo. There is, however, one scene in the movie that does jump out like a breaching marlin. It is the only film that I know of that sexualizes the eating of a grilled fish dinner.

Nothing foreshadows an evening of passionate romance like a cart of dead fish.

The flames of love have erupted beneath a pile of gnarly meat and scales.

That’s right, no silverware required. The best way to appreciate good food is by touch.

Next step, start ramming globs of flaky white meat into your mouth.

Be sure to chew carefully. You wouldn’t want to cut the evening short with a bone caught in your trachea. Well, a fish bone that is.

Here’s the Lucio Fulci close-up gore moment.

By the end, her fingertips are just covered in half-chewed fish matter.

And that calls for a little clean up.

Now, bear in mind this scene goes on for like two minutes. The images of Nicole chomping are interspersed with clips of her lover, Dr. Matthews smoking, taking sips of what I suspect is J&B Scotch and then staring at her with creepy middle-aged man-eyes. I’m sorry, but there is nothing sexy about this and, for the record, I still hate seafood.

2010 Best of the Year

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Well it’s the first day of the New Year. This day means different things to different people. For my wife it means washing off the post-New-Year’s-Eve-bash Sharpie moustache that she woke up with this morning. For me it means it’s time to assess what I thought was the best of the media I consumed this past year.


Like last year, there really wasn’t anything that truly amazed me this year. My best rated films were Moon and The Maltese Falcon. I watched more T.V. than I have in recent years, so I suppose I could add LostV or The Walking Dead as honorable mentions.


Towards the second half of the year I started reading a bit more than usual and found several books truly grabbed me in ways that no movie or show did this year. If I had to pick a favorite from this year it would be George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, especially if considered along side the three other books in the series that I also read and loved. At a near-tie for the number one spot is Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, which started my on my current fantasy lit kick. Finally, rounding out the top was Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem. Honorable mentions would go to Mistborn books 1 & 2Devil Born Without Horns and Racing the Beam.

Video Games

House of the Dead: Overkill Box Art

I played a ton of games this year. My highest rated game was House of the Dead: Overkill for the Wii. It was stupid, crude, violent and hilarious… loved it. My runners-up would be Mass Effect and Legend of Zelda: Twilight PrincessMass Effect further proves that the best science fiction is in video games these days, and Zelda is Zelda… ’nuff said. I am still mid-game in GTA IV and Metroid Prime Trilogy but I suspect those two titles would have made this year’s list too had I completed them in time. I also played a few casual games I liked such as Puzzle Quest and Plants vs. Zombies.

Steam just finished their massive annual game sale and I stocked up so there should be no shortage of gaming for me in the next year and beyond.

Images from Lucio Fulci’s Conquest

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Lucio Fulci's Conquest - Laser Arrow
The faceless LASER-bowman who threatens Ocron in her writhing sleep.
Lucio Fulci's Conquest
That symbol on my head means I have no friends, only enemies… and the friends you will meet in the next reel.
Lucio Fulci's Conquest Arg!
Random innocent killed so our heroes can steal his food.
Lucio Fulci's Conquest
The movie appears to have been filmed in smoke-o-vision.
Lucio Fulci's Conquest Zombie
Okay, I have to admit these cobwebbed zombie ghouls are pretty cool.

Read my micro-review of the film.

2009 Best of the Year

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It’s the end of another year and I think it would be a good time for me to recap my personal best of lists for 2009. In case you haven’t noticed, much of this site is devoted to keeping track of all the media I digest. I review and rate just about every moviegame or book I finish. I also keep track of the music I listen to, but I don’t really buy much music anymore, so that section doesn’t really give a good overview of the new music I have heard lately. So, anyhow, here it is. The Pages of Fun Best of 2009!

Best Book

  • Flying Colours by C. S. Forester – I’d ran out of Aubry/Maturin Napoleonic era novels so I guess Hornblower had to suffice for this year. This series has its highs and lows, and never quite matches O’Brian, but this book in particular was very good.
  • Honorable Mention: Twisty Little Passages – An Approach to Interactive Fiction by Nick Montfort – This one is probably a bit too nerdy for the average reader, but I really enjoyed this academic analysis of text adventures.

Best Movies

I guess it was a pretty lame film year for me. I have a pretty big back list of films yet-to-see, so hopefully 2010 will fare better.

Best Video Games

  • Braid was my highest ranked game this year.  A wonderfully inventive platform game.
  • I also have a couple of honorable mentions in this category as well: Fallout 3 and Mirror’s Edge were both incredible games.

All of these games were bought using Valve’s Steam download service, and all were very cheap! PC rules!

My Media Consumption Journal

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Music List 2007

  • My God is Alive! Sorry About Yours. by The Knights of the New Crusade
  • The Austerity Program…?
  • A Challenge to the Cowards of Christendom by The Knights of the New Crusade
  • On a Tight Budget by Budget Girls
  • The Giallos Flame by The Giallos Flame
    • Rating: 7/10
  • L’Uccello Dalle Piume di Cristallo by Ennio Morricone
    • Rating: 10/10

Game List 2007

  • The Last Battle
    • Rating 3/10
    • Impossible platform brawler for the Sega Genesis.
  • The Orange Box
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
    • Rating: 7/10
    • The jumping puzzles are more fun than the combat.
  • Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
    • Rating: 9/10
    • Wonderfully done video game. Simple mechanics and a good story.
  • Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
    • Rating: 8/10
    • Nothing new here. Just a great mario game.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein
    • Rating: 5/10
    • Took me forever to finish because it’s pretty boring. Tries to tell a story and fails.


Game List 2006

  • Half-Life 2
    • Rating: 9/10
    • Very good, but starts to drag in the 3rd act
  • Heretic II
    • Rating: 6/10
    • Bad voice acting, decent gameplay, but suffers from early FPS monotony.
  • Day of Defeat: Source
    • Rating 10/10
    • Great multiplayer FPS

Music List 2006

  • Hello Young Lovers by Sparks
    • Rating: 10/10
    • A masterpiece of epic, symphonic goofiness and left-of-center pop structuring. Sparks best since Kimono my House.
  • Fear Box Set by Ennio Morricone
    • Rating: 10/10


Game List 2005

  • Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
    • Rating: 10/10
    • Excellent plot, really fun game play, and excellent voice acting. Who cares if it was a bit short. This is a perfect video game is ever there was one.
  • Neverwinter Nights
    • Rating: 6/10
    • Great graphics and enjoyable story, but the gameplay is monotonous and lacks and sort of serious skill or strategy element.
  • Serious Sam the Second Encounter
    • Rating: 6/10
  • Farcry
    • Rating: 8/10