I would like to use this opportunity to announce the first podcast offering from Foster Disbelief, “Spoiling the Serial Serial’s Serial,” in which I will recap and examine podcasts from Slate and The A.V. Club that deal with the This American Life’s offshoot podcast, Serial.  If you are feeling enterprising, feel free to create a podcast that recaps my podcast recapping other peoples podcasts that recap the podcast Serial.

Okay, I am joking.  I’m not really creating a podcast featuring the podcasts that feature the podcast sensation, Serial.  I was downloading the latest episode of The Serial Serial, The A.V. Club’s podcast on Serial and the sheer lunacy of that action finally struck me.  I am a podcast junkie, and I have no problem admitting that fact.  In addition to the usual array of podcasts dealing with atheism, skepticism, science, and politics, I also listen to podcasts on sexuality (Savage Lovecast and Sex out loud) and an admittedly insane amount of podcasts dealing with A Song of Ice and Fire. (Perhaps I will review the ones that deal with the television show in advance of the upcoming fifth season of Game of Thrones.)  When my niece told me about Serial then, it was a total no-brainer that I would be hooked instantly.  (The real question is how the hell I missed out on Serial for so long. And in case anyone is wondering where I find the time, my job allows me to listen to podcasts during work.)  Like anything I enjoy, I had to take it to the next level, so I found podcasts about Serial.  The one produced by Slate has earned a rousing “meh” from me, and I just noticed the one from The A.V. Club and won’t get to listen to that until later today, but part of me is wondering if perhaps the reason I can’t get into Slate’s entry is that they are one step too far, in a very meta kind of way.

I understand the desire to analyze and talk about subjects we find fascinating.  As I mentioned in regards to ASOIAF, I listen to many podcasts dealing with the world and characters created by George R. R. Martin, and it does not stop at podcasts.  While I am not a fan-fiction writing or reading type of guy, I do read many sites that delve into the politics, the history, the religion, and the people and places of Westeros.  Yet while I listen and read many people’s work about the series, I don’t read or listen to anything that critiques said analysis.  That seems like a bridge too far.  Which places podcasts about Serial in a very new and strange place.

Our society loves to talk about cultural touchstones.  The internet gives us so many countless ways to do this that no longer involve the traditional water cooler, and we use it with forums, Tumblers, podcasts, blogs, tweets and whatever other methods we come up with.  Be it Mad Men, Game of Thrones, True Detective, The Walking Dead, or Breaking Bad to name but a few, when media becomes a cultural phenomenon, people want to not only talk about it themselves, but they want to listen or read other people talking about it.  Hence Talking Dead, and the countless number of podcasts dealing with each of the shows on my list.  With Serial becoming yet another cultural phenomenon, it was only natural for blogs and podcasts about it to spring up; I’d have been shocked if there were no podcasts about Serial.

But Serial is itself a podcast.  Its format is different than most that came before it, and its story is fascinating, but it is still a podcast, not a television show, book, or movie.  It is also a real story featuring real flesh and blood human beings as characters.  This severely limits the podcasts analyzing it.  While podcasters dealing with Game of Thrones have free reign to critique each character in the series, from multiple angles, including how they changed moving from page to screen, the “characters” in Serial are not only real people, but real people without the gulf of time separating them from the present day that frees us when talking about historical figures.  Serial has ethical concerns that most cultural phenomenons never have to deal with, and in turn, podcasts dealing with Serial share those concerns.  I can quite flippantly declare that Ramsey Bolton (formerly Snow) is a sadistic misogynistic murderer.  However, anything I would want to say about Jay would have to be weighed carefully and worded so as to protect myself from claims of defamation.

Because of this, most of the critiques I hear during Slate’s spoiler podcast about Serial deals with either the way Sarah Koenig decided to present the information to us, and in what order, or the inherent biases, conscious or not,  Sarah Koenig brings to the cast and how they affect the story.  Or as I put it earlier, “meh.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I will be listening to The Serial Serial by The A.V. Club later today.  Perhaps I will love it, perhaps it will illicit another “meh.”  But perhaps this is honestly a bit too meta.  Perhaps podcasts recapping a podcast that is telling a true, recent story is just a bit over the line.

Or perhaps someone will take my podcast idea and run with it, and this time next month we will be working several layers deep, with a podcast about a podcast dealing with a podcast based on a podcast recapping a podcast detailing a podcast featuring a podcast that gathers and examines the podcasts that talk about the podcast Serial.

If so, at least give me credit.

Haters Gotta Hate…

And now you can once again listen to one of the best.

If you are a reader of The Onion’s brilliant little sister, The A.V. Club, their snarky, intelligent look into the world of popular culture, then you may be aware of the Tolerability Index, a regular feature contributed by Amelie Gillette.  If you have yet to see one of her indexes, here is a glimpse of what “we’re barely putting up with” for the week of June 25th, 2014.  I’ll wait.

Since my opinion of Dr. Jenny McCarthy, Ph.D from the University of Google, specializing in logical fallacies, fear-mongering, and child endangerment, hardly needs to be restated, I am sure my appreciation of this index comes as a surprise to no one.  But the Tolerability Index is so much more than cheap shots against easy targets.  Rather it is cheap(but deserved) shots against easy(but always deserving) targets.  Her pop culture voice is intelligent, witty, snarky, and familiar.  Rare is the index I find myself in total disagreement over.  That all being said, it is a short, weekly feature.  If you forget about it, you can catch up in moments rather than hours.  It serves as a decent introduction to Amelie, but I always find myself wanting more once I finish a group of indexes.  I guess it is better to always leave them wanting more.

You may be asking yourself at the moment, “Sure, the Tolerability Index is fun and all. definitely worth a weekly click, but damn, in the time it took me to read this post I could have caught up on half a year of indexes.  What gives?”

Well you see, faithful reader, Amelie once had another feature at the A.V. Club; a podcast by the name of “The Hater.” (Or The Hatecast, depending on which sensory organ you use to discover the title.)  The show is more amusing than one has any right to hope, although it is far from perfect.  Perhaps the biggest knock against The Hater is that it is dead.  Not “dead” like Sandor Clegane, Catelyn Stark, or Lord Beric Dondarrion, to borrow from a different reality, but dead like the parrot.  Pushing up the daisies.  The Hatecast is an ex-podcast.  For a cast that deals with pop culture, that could be a blow that shatters any interest you may have held.  Every single episode is dated, and there will not be new casts next week, month, or year.  Perhaps it is due to this fact, or some other reason that escapes my reasoning at the moment, that the podcast is exceedingly difficult to find.  Each original post still appears at The A.V. Club.  I could provide you links to the shows original RSS feed, or the link to the iTunes subscription, but they would do nothing but frustrate.  Everything is there but the actual files.

And if you enjoy the Tolerability Index, that is a shame.  While certainly dated, Amelie provides a window into the culture of the late aughts.  For those of us who lived through those days as adults, or older teens, the cast will bring back a torrent of memories with no risk of a virus coming along for the ride.  They are neither overly long or maddeningly short, clocking in around the 15 minute range.  Each episode features Amelie and a guest vocally publishing a version of the Tolerability Index, except without either the structure of a chart, or the forced brevity of one.  They can go much deeper into each subject than the index allows, although do not read me as saying it becomes high minded social critique.  Each episode is hilarious, and some of the lines are vicious, cutting deep into the never innocent target.  The format is vital in this regard.  Some of the things that are said would not only cross the line, but first order a troupe of dwarves to perform a line removing farce detailing every glorious step taken in the journey across the line, if read.  Much like text messages often give offense due to the lack of vocal tone and inflection.  Coming from Amelie’s mouth, however, all malice falls away from each word as her voice gives it sound.  I can picture her sharing a drink with one of her targets, laughing over the attack.  She doesn’t mock Bruce Willis for explaining, unasked, the proper way to kill a wolf during an unrelated interview because he is a bad person, or an evil person, or even just a jerk; she mocks everyone in the story due to the sheer absurdity of the entire situation.  Bruce for thinking anyone actually cared his opinion on proper wolf slaying, the interviewer for thinking his audience so worships this actor that they would want to read his wolf killing tactics, and the magazine for making the same assumption, and failing to realize that very few people on Earth actually know less about wolf killing than a multimillionaire Hollywood star.  To be honest, the advice sounds like a perfectly good way to get killed by a wolf.  I wonder if the magazine faced any wrongful death or dismemberment lawsuits?  “Your Honor, I did everything Mr. Willis told me to do, yet the wolf still bit my arm off.”

Recently I was in need of a podcast for my listening pleasure.  I didn’t want anything serious, I have many casts that fall into that category.  No, I wanted mindless fun, and I thought relistening to the Hatecast would be just what I needed.  This morning, after searching for longer than I care to admit, I finally found a downloadable archive of The Hatecast.  In case anyone else has fond memories of this ancient podcast and wants to hear the snark again, or if you are a fan of the Tolerability Index and just want more Amelie, I figured I would pass my find on to you, along with 1000 words or so.  (My writing is out of practice, which is a big reason for slow updates.  If I had a thousand Euro’s for every article I trashed halfway finished throughout this month, I’m fairly certain I could emigrate to a Scandinavian locale. ), where I found the downloadable archive of The Hatecast.  I will never again need them, as they are now on my ipod, my hardrive, and on an external backup drive and a flash stick.  Thankfully, they are small files.


A Quick Question

Greetings all.

Working third shift now gives me the opportunity to listen to podcasts at work for about 16 hours a week.   Since I also listen to podcasts while commuting and while walking my dog, I find that I am starting to run out of listening materials.

Currently, I listen to The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, Reasonable Doubts, RH Reality Check, Skeptoid, WPRR’s Reality Check, Liberal Oasis, The Professional Left, Skeptically Speaking, Monster Talk, Astronomy Cast, Point of Inquiry, Quackcast (the real Quackcast with Mark Crislip), Cognitive Dissonance, and Sky and Telescopes monthly sky tour.

I know about Skepticality, I just don’t really like it for some reason. (I will admit that I haven’t listened to it in years, so if it changed, let me know…)  I’ve also listened to most of the atheist podcasts I could find, and well.  They aren’t on the list of what I listen to, so…  I do listen to Robert Price’s The Bible Geek from time to time as well.

Any favorites that I am missing?  Progressive podcasts better than Liberal Oasis and Professional Left? (Which are the weak links on my list, I just haven’t found anything better.)

I’d really like to find some more science/skepticism podcasts like the Quackcast and Monster Talk, but I’m willing to give any suggestions a listen.