I Just .. Look Away

Just finished watching The IT Crowd S02E04, which was brilliant AND had lots of Richmond in, which is like having a really good hamburger with REALLY excellent relish on it.

I was talking to a friend the other day about some of the podcasts I listen to (like the always great “SModcast”, from Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, as well as James Lileks “The Diner” and “Downloadable Content” from Gabe and Tycho at Penny Arcade. When I mentioned the latter, they asked if I listened to the “Power Hour” from PVP creators Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub. As it happens, I don’t. Had to explain why not, which made me actually think about the reasons – I LOVE both of their comic creations, and am a daily reader, so why do I eschew their audio works?

The causes are legion. I shall outline the top ones, and compare them to SModcast, which is bar none my favourite podcast.

1) Content:

Kevin Smith is a movie maker. But he talks, in his podcast, about making movies far less than you would imagine. Rarely, in fact. Instead, he sticks to topics like knob jokes, accusing his friends of being gay, sex, accusing himself of being gay, more sex, gay jokes, animal sex, and fat jokes. Stuff that he KNOWS works in any format. And it’s funny as hell, and it’s popular. Kris and Scott stick to pretty geeky stuff, which is FINE, but a bit tedious especially when coupled with the next two problems:

2) Form

Scott and Kris apparently like to keep it rizeal and simply run a live tape of whatever they did for the period of the ‘cast. Which is ok, fine, hardcore. But they’re not professional radio or audio guys, so their show flows about as well as a student radio station run by a n00b DJ. A wise man named Strongbad once referred to student radio as having an official motto of “Um … [Dead Air] .. Um” and never a truer word was spoken. The Power Hour has many an awkward gap and a legion o’pauses that’re each several beats long. And these problems are enhanced by the fact that Scott and Kris like to talk to fans – which, frankly, is DEATH. Because the geeks calling in are even LESS used to performance than the hosts. I remember turning off the very first Power Hour podcast because of some phone call where some dude talked about meeting some other dude in an endless monotone for what was probably only five minutes but surely seemed like an hour. And in order to achieve this mediocrity, we come to the next problem.

3) Techincal

In order to get the phone calls and auto-archival stuff and all that, the Power Hour guys use something called Talk Shoe. Which is a service which lets you do an interactive podcast will callers and things. Except the resulting audio, when downloaded, is some highly compressed bitstream – possibly using Skype or some other low-bandwidth carrier as an audio channel for the callers AND the hosts. As a result, the final podcast sounds pretty much exactly like a goose farting in the fog. A goose that, of late, has been feeling quite off-colour. Comparing it to the technical excellence of SModcast is, literally, embarassing for the PH guys. It’s AM vs FM.

This is why I no longer subscribe to the Power Hour, though as I said I’m still a regular reader and book purchaser of PVP, Starslip Crisis, etc.

If anyone has a cool podcast they would like to recommend, I would appreciate it! Now that I have a commute to work again for the next few months, I am craving decent content!


  1. I like listening to G’day World. I don’t listen to all of the shows, but the ones where he interviews AI and transhumanist types are very cool.

    There are excellent readings of horror short stories at Pseudopod, which you might like (quality varies but if you want an example of it at its best, try Stockholm Syndrome).

    Most of the other podcasts I listen to are about boardgames or RPGs, and are probably of less interest to you.

  2. Listening to SModcast

    Like right now… 🙂

    • Re: Listening to SModcast

      Do you still have my DV cam, btw? I wanted to shoot some green-screen test footage for some virtual set software I am playing with.