Tag Archive for comedy

Podcast Playlist

Podcast Logo

Feed me.

It’s been about 9 months since I wrote about radio shows. And things have changed a little since then, so I figured I’d do a round-up and review of the podcasts I’m currently listening to. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

  • Atlanta Radio Theater Company – They do all sorts of stuff, from sci-fi to horror to comedy to … well, pretty much anything. If you pull up their feed, you can listen back to several years worth of recordings, which I have. The current format for the free podcast is monthly, so once you catch up it’s easy to stay current. And if you don’t mind paying for things, you can get a bunch of their full shows at audible. Overall it’s good, though sometimes I feel the live audience detracts from my enjoyment. But for free, I can’t complain.
  • Common Sense – Dan Carlin talks about politics and current events. It’s interesting to see the way he ties topics together, all without sounding like some sort of conspiracy loon. It helps, I suppose, that I tend to agree with his views. A little confirmation bias, but at least I’m aware of it.
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – Long, sometimes multipart, podcasts about historical topics. Some are better than others, but all of them are interesting in their own way. I wish my history teachers in school had spoken with this much passion for the subject.
  • Decoder Ring Theater – Back in my original post when I was looking for old-time radio style shows, this is what I was looking for. They have two main shows, The Red Panda Adventures and Black Jack Justice, which are a Shadow-style superhero and a pulp noir detective, respectively. They also do other items in their Showcase, and like ARTC they’ve got years of shows in their feed, and I’m still catching up – I’m in June of 2007 with over 100 episodes to go, and loving every one so far.
  • How Did This Get Made? – Listen as a few comedians talk about movies that are so bad that they are awesome, and occasionally movies that are awesome but in ways that defy the Hollywood system yet still got made. I highly recommend the episode on Punisher War Zone as an example of the latter, and they even got the director on as a guest.
  • Making It – Riki Lindhome (of Garfunkel and Oates) talks to people involved with acting and movies about how they got started, the breaks they’ve had, the troubles they’ve run into and more. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in acting as a profession.
  • Penn’s Sunday School – I just started this one, so I don’t have a real opinion on it yet, but since I pretty much love everything that Penn Jillette does I’m sure this won’t be the exception.
  • Radio Free Burrito – Wil Wheaton keeps to no particular schedule and just random puts out collections of stories and bits of music. It isn’t deep, but I enjoy it.
  • The Moth – Podcast version of their True Stories Told Live, it ranges from serious and thought-provoking to silly and thought-provoking. And they are short, so I can listen to one when I run quick errands in the car.
  • The Nerdist – Chris Hardwick, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira talk to people, usually about comedy but really about anything that comes to mind. Personally, I delete all the episodes without a guest because I just don’t find their “hostfull” episodes to be worth the hour.
  • This American Life – A podcast version of the radio show, they pick a topic, interview people and tell stories. It’s more like a news program than anything else I listen to, very highly produced rather than just talking. I think I mostly listen to this because “everybody” listens to it. Half the time I’m barely paying attention. Maybe I should drop it.
  • Thrilling Adventure Hour – Much like the Decoder Ring Theater, this is new stories in the style of old-time radio, though here they do much more comedy. In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard anything that wasn’t comedic. Beyond Belief and Tales from the Black Lagoon are my favorites.
  • We’re Alive – A serial drama set in the zombie apocalypse. This show is right up my ally, and I cannot begin to convey the amount of pure awesome that this show is. Everyone should listen to it. If you are just starting, there are two complete seasons with the third under way.

I’m always open to more, so if you have good ones to suggest, please do so. I might just add it to my trusty Zune.

Dead Heat

Dead Heat

You Can't Keep A Good Cop Dead

I knew Joe Piscopo from his time on Saturday Night Live. Sure, I was between the ages of six and ten during his tenure, but the weekend is for staying up late. I’d also seen Johnny Dangerously and Wise Guys. So, probably sometime in 1989, when I saw Dead Heat on the shelf of the local video store, it was Joe who made me say, “I need to see this!” These days I remember it as the first movie I recall Treat Williams being in.

I also remember it as being a funny action buddy cop zombie movie.

It’s the story of a couple of cops, Roger Mortis and Doug Bigelow, looking into a recent rash of crimes perpetrated by criminals thought to be dead. And when they track down the nutcase behind the reanimations, Roger gets himself killed… and reanimated. Now just as indestructible as the bad guys, and finding out his condition is irreversible and deteriorating, he’s got a time limit to finish the job before he dies for good.

This is just such a fun movie that manages to blend horror and comedy well, while leaning more toward comedy, and action. And much to my delight, as of this morning it became available on Netflix Instant. I can’t wait to see it again.

Not Quite Radio Days

Old RadioThe other day I was thinking about when my family used to go on vacation.  The topic came up because someone else was planning their vacation and booking flights, and I asked if they ever considered driving.  They immediately shot down that idea, not wanting to be “trapped” in the car for long stretches with their kids, or taking multiple days to get somewhere.  I’m sure that my rose-colored glasses are firmly in place, but I look back fondly on our vacations when I was a kid.  Of course I remember some of the fights too, but there were so many good things that came out of them.

Early vacations with both parents and three kids in a regular car were a bit tight, but in those days our vacations were shorter.  We lived in Florida and drove to other places in Florida, like Disney or the beach, or north to Georgia to visit family.  When we moved to Pennsylvania though, and trips to Georgia and Florida and other destinations got longer, the family bought a mini-van.  It had two bench seats in the back, my older brother taking the front one, while my younger brother and I took the rear.  In order for us both to be able to stretch out back there, we’d put a sleeping bag on the floor.  It turned out to be the best place to nap because down on the floor you avoided most of the light that came through the windows.

The key, however, to long term survival in the car for our family was the purchase of three Walkmans.  It is hard today to imagine the impact that portable tape decks that ran for many hours on a couple of AA batteries had on the world, but it was huge.  Suddenly we kids weren’t fighting with the parents for where to tune the radio.  And while music tapes had their place, for me, for vacations, there was something better.  I have no idea how I got it, but I imagine it come from my older brother, through some friend of his, but I wound up with a tap of Dr. Demento’s radio show.  It wasn’t a real tape, it was copied – maybe from a real tape or maybe from the radio.  But it had songs like Fish Heads and Another One Rides the Bus and more, as well as other comedy bits and longer stories.  This, along with a couple of Bill Cosby tapes would end up being the things I listened to most… until we wandered into the Cracker Barrel one day.

If you’ve never been to a Cracker Barrel, it’s a restaurant with a gift shop attached to it.  The shop is full of candy, folky art and decorations, and a random assortment of toys.  We’d been there many times, and I’d often perused the tape rack, which tended to contain the works of John Denver and a variety of country singers which after I discovered MTV I just wasn’t into anymore.  But one day I was spinning the rack and found a tape that had two “radio dramas”.  I asked my mom what they were and she explained it to me.  I don’t remember who bought them, but we ended up with three tapes.  War of the WorldsThe Shadow and The Green Hornet.  I played those things so many times, I’m surprised they tapes didn’t break.  I’m pretty sure if I look around, here or at my dad’s house, I could find those three tapes.

Many years later, after the Walkman had been replaced by the Discman, I found a radio show style recording of Stephen King’s The Mist.  I love movies and I love TV, but there is just something special about putting on headphones, sitting back, closing your eyes and letting the audio wash over you while imagery explodes in your mind.  It’s like reading a book but without the reading.  In fact, I’m pretty certain stumbling onto those tapes decades ago actually affected how I read, because I let the words sink in and I build the scenes visually within my mind.  The downside is that I read slow.  The upside is that I remember what I read very vividly.

We're AliveAnyway… despite loving those things and them being an integral park of my growing up, I admit I don’t keep track of what’s going on in the world of radio shows.  I mean, yes, I’ve been lusting after the Dark Adventure Radio Theater set for quite some time now, and I run across things now and then, but I haven’t actively sought things out.  But recently I’ve discovered (years later than most) podcasts.  While I tend to hate most talk radio, I’ve been enjoying a few podcasts, mostly entertainment or comedy related like The Nerdist.  It’s actually through that site that I’ve found We’re Alive, which is just awesome and one of those “Why did I not know this existed?” sort of things.  (Mental note: make sure the Apocalypse Rising track knows about this for Dragon*Con.)

So now I’m looking for more.  Know any good radio show podcasts?  I don’t want people just sitting around and talking (but if you say it’s completely awesome I’m sure I’ll try it out).  I want radio dramas, mysteries, horror, adventure, whatever.  Point me in their direction…

Movie Round-Up: March 5th, 2010

Brooklyn’s Finest:

Saw the trailer, looks interesting, has lots of actors I like… but I’ll probably wait and see this on DVD mostly because while it looks very good, it’s not a big action movie or horror or comedy, the three types of films that I think really benefit from being seen on the big screen and/or with an audience.  But, if you want to go to the theater and see a new movie this weekend, I can think of worse ways to spend your hard earned dollars.  Speaking of…

Alice in Wonderland:

I suppose it may be that I am just weary.  Weary of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp working together.  And the Helena Bonham Carter triumvirate too.  I got to see a screening of this and I’m glad I did because it saved me the $20 it would have cost for the wife and I to go see it.  I was bored.  The story is extremely predictable, and the settings are predictably vibrant and odd.  You know what this movie is going to be before you go in and it makes no effort to surprise you.  Alice goes back to Wonderland, she meets all the people you expect her to meet, she fights, she wins, she goes home.  This was the biggest let down to me.  There are a number of good reimaginings of the Alice tale that would make good films (for example: Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars) but instead Burton just rehashed the same old stuff with his penchant for weird by making people have large heads, over-sized eyes or lengthened limbs.  Oh, and like 95% of the people in this movie are pale.  And I don’t mean pale as in “light skin with a pink hue” but instead “pasty powdered makeup white”.  I suppose paleness appeals to some, but it doesn’t to me.  And, this movie is also in 3D.  Now, I’ve seen a bunch of 3D movies over the last few years as digital 3D has become all the rage, and Alice in Wonderland is probably the least effective use of 3D ever.  It doesn’t add much depth to the image at all, and in fact it feels more gimmicky because the only two or three times I noticed the 3D was when they stabbed things at the screen.  Unlike, say, Avatar, where they never did any “Hey look! 3D!” screen stabbing that I recall and instead the world just felt deep, because it was.  I didn’t hate the movie though.  It is probably great for families or die hard fans of Burton’s brand of oddness, but I’m glad I was able to see it for free and I don’t think I’ll ever see it again.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Yesterday, Zombieland was released on Blu-Ray and DVD.  It was probably one of my favorite movies of 2009.  I mean, I paid to see it twice in the theater.  If you didn’t see it and you can handle a little zombie gore with a dash of comedy, then I highly recommend it.  If you haven’t seen it, or if you don’t plan to, then you missed out on one of the best opening sequences since the Dawn of the Dead remake used Johnny Cash’s “When the Man Comes Around”.

To help you out, here it is.  Be sure to switch it to 720p to give it a little more clarity, and turn off annotations to keep the viewing pure.  It’s not as good as seeing it on the big screen, but it’s still pretty damn good.  Enjoy…

Movie Round-Up: September 18th, 2009

Love Happens:

So I’m looking at the list of this week’s releases and I say to myself, “What is Love Happens?”  I hadn’t heard of it. No commercials, no previews. And it’s not like it is some low budget thing starring no names. Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart are in there.  Anyway, it looks like a nice romantic comedy drama thing. I’ll probably see it, but maybe not at the theater.

Jennifer’s Body:

I love horror films, and I dig Diablo Cody’s writing style, so I want to see this. But it does have Megan Fox in it, who I think is one of the worst actors in the biz today who gets parts purely on her looks, and I’m on the fence.  Sorry Diablo, I’ll probably be waiting for DVD on this one.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs:

This movie looks like a lot of fun for the whole family.  But not being a Pixar film means I won’t be rushing to see it.  DVD.

The Informant!:

I got to see this film at a free screening.  It is… interesting.  More a character study than an actual story, it stars Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre, an executive at ADM in the early 90’s who blows the whistle on lysine price fixing.  But its not about the price fixing as much as it is how Mark goes about the whistle blowing.  It turns out that he’s bipolar and an embezzler and a fairly compulsive lier.  The unfolding of his actions and deeds and the performance by Damon is the reason to see this film.  It is, as I said, interesting, but not a particularly good film.  You won’t be on the edge of your seat, you won’t be howling with laughter, but you’ll be raising an eyebrow and snickering as you watch the whole situation spiral out of control.  I’m not sure I’d want to pay full price for this, but its definitely worth a DVD rental, or even a matinee if you are into this sort of film.

Fool

I’m a big fan of Christopher Moore.  He is probably one of the few authors of whom I can say that I have read all of his books.  More impressive is that I have enjoyed them all.  Fool is no different.

It is Shakespeare’s King Lear told from the perspective of the king’s fool, twists the story a bit and tells it as a comedy.  A dark black tragic comedy, but a comedy nonetheless.  It is not Moore’s best work, Lamb still holds that distinction in my opinion, with The Stupidest Angel coming next, but Fool is a good read and worth the time.  And don’t worry if you don’t know the tale of King Lear, it won’t spoil the book for you.

Movie Round-Up: June 12th, 2009

Imagine That:

Eddie Murphy once made his career on raunchy adult themed comedy and movies.  He has long since left that behind in favor of more family friendly fair.  That said, I have actually enjoyed a few of them.  While Norbit, the Doolittle sequels and the Nutty Professor movies left me flat, I actually enjoyed Meet Dave.  This movie looks cute, so it’ll definitely get a rental viewing, but as cute as it looks I don’t think it’s enough to earn $10 from my wallet on opening weekend.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3:

I kept meaning to Netflix the original so I could see it before this remake opened, but I never did.  The trailer looks pretty decent, and I like most of the actors.  I want to see it, but John Travolta as a bad guy is fairly hit or miss.  Hit, Broken Arrow.  Miss, The Punisher.  So, for me, I probably won’t run out and see it, but will wait for the rental.  However, it does look like a good action film, so you might want to check it out.

Away We Go:

Technically, this movie opened last week, but only on 4 screens.  This week marks the first expansion into places where average people might actually have a chance to see it.  I saw it at a screening and … I think it is a damn shame that I’ve seen some outlets compare this film to Juno.  It sets the absolute wrong expectations since Away We Go is nothing like Juno.  What Away We Go is about is a couple (I don’t want to say ‘young’ because they are 34) who are about to have a baby and had moved to be close to his parents.  But his parents have decided to move to Antwerp, so now they are looking for other family and friends to live near.  Conveniently, both of them have jobs that are not location based, so off they go in search of a new place to raise their forthcoming child.  Along the way they encounter four completely different families and learn about the things they want and the things they don’t want.  Its sweet, its funny, and its also sad in places.  Most of all, though, its worth watching.

Bottle Shock

10 out of 13 nots.
for a little comedy, a little drama, and a little wine

Based around the infamous blind wine tasting in 1976 that has come to be known as the Judgement of Paris, this movie follows a British man, Steven Spurrier (played by Alan Rickman), living in Paris as he heads to California to find wines for his tasting.  His intent is to draw notice to himself, his wine shop and his Academie du Vin by having a showdown between French and California wines to celebrate the American Bi-Centennial and France’s involvement in the origin of the American Nation.  He expects the French to win.

But the movie isn’t just about the one man and his wine tasting… it is also about the people of the California vineyards.  Specifically the family of the one vineyards in particular and some of the people around them.

There is nothing really surprising here.  If you know anything about the 1976 wine tasting, you know what happens, but all of the actors here (the aforementioned Alan Rickman, Chris Pine, Bill Pullman, Rachael Taylor and Freddy Rodriguez) put in great performances and make the film an enjoyable journey to the inevitable end.

It is not for everyone, to be sure, but I liked it.  It may be hard to find at the theater though, as it is only opening in limited release.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

9 out of 13 nots.
for being good, but not being the Hellboy that I wanted to see

I am sure that there will be many reviews for Hellboy II that are positively glowing.  They will remark that Guillermo del Toro has crafted a work of art.  Others will mention how funny it is.  And none of them are wrong.  Hellboy II is funny, and it is a work of art.  However, it is also a very weak story masked in humor and style.

I like del Toro’s style.  I thought Pan’s Labyrinth was great.  I even liked Blade II.  And I loved the first Hellboy movie.  If I were to base my review of this film entirely on the visual style, I’d be giving it an 11 or a 12.  Its beautiful, even stunning in places.  And the movie is funny.  There are some parts of the movie that are absolutely hilarious, and if this review were based entirely on the funny bits and it was a comedy, I’d probably be giving it at least a 10.  However, the comedy of the film becomes a distraction if you happen to notice how weak the underlying tale being told is, and style is never something I have preferred over substance.

If you enjoyed Hellboy for the occult bits, you might want to skip Hellboy II because the occult is almost absent here.  If you enjoyed Hellboy for the dark and ominous tone, you might want to skip Hellboy II because this movie is bright and sunny by comparison.

In the end, though, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is still a good movie.  Better than a lot of films that make it to the screen, and continues the trend of good comic book movies making it to the screen this year that looks like is going to continue right through Christmas and beyond.  Its a good movie that just wasn’t as good as I had hoped, and not as good as its predecessor.