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What I Listened to Last Week: Week ending August 21st, 2016.

A new blog series, highlighting 5 great podcast episodes that I listened to last week. Hat tip for the idea to Chad Brooks of The Productive Pastor.

I use Overcast links which will allow you to play the episode in any good browser and have iTunes subscription links below each highlighted episode.

Week ending August 21st, 2016.

Free Agents: Free Agents 2: Booked Up With Myself

Maybe my new favorite show. From Relay.fm and featuring two gentlemen who took their writing and podcasting independent a couple years ago. Very helpful since I am (as the show says in the opening) an independent worker in the digital age myself. Subscribe in iTunes here.

The Incomparable - Star Wars: The Incomparable 313: The Ziggurats of Yavin IV

The Incomparable is another product of Jason Snell's (featured in the Free Agents podcast mentioned above) but this episode doesn't feature him (or the Star Wars aficionado, John Siracusa, either. It does, however, feature a lively band of international rebels brought together to discuss ad nauseum the latest trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This movie literally can't get here fast enough for me. It IS my Christmas present! If you're like me, The Incomparable may be too much to listen to every week, but it's a great show to drop in and out of as the topics intrigue you. This one was right up my alley. Subscribe in iTunes here

Always Listening: Podcast Reviews: Always Listening to Being Honest with My Ex (Patreon Review Special)

Shameless self promotion here! This week we released our first Patreon-backed episode of Always Listening. It's a new experiment for us, if you join our Patreon campaign at the $27 level or above, you get to "name a review" including your own show. That's exactly what Peter C. Hayward did here with Being Honest with My Ex. I've already gotten great feedback on it, so I know our listeners are enjoying it, but I'd love to know what you think about this experiment too. Subscribe in iTunes here.

 Science Vs - New Season: Guns

This is Gimlet media's newest show, and while I'm a couple of weeks behind on it, it's well worth their name brand being attached. This is an imported show (even closer to its original form than Reply All and TLDR), and you can see why they wanted to grab it and it's host. This episode (and it's part two sister) in particular is amazing no matter what side of the guns debate you come down on. Subscribe in iTunes here.

Podcast Fiend: PF-17: Alternative Ways to Make Money Podcasting with Joel Sharpton

Jeff Perry is (as the title suggests) a Podcast Fiend. This week, he featured a certain lovable podcaster/audiobook narrator/blogger/father of four on his podcast, and I'd be remiss if I didn't let you fine folks know about it. Since it's so rare that I get to be on a podcast I don't actually edit myself, I really love to listen to the interviews I do and how the conversation actually flowed. This one was a lot of fun, and features inside baseball talk about my podcasting history as well as some chat about how I got into audiobooks. Subscribe in iTunes here.

What I Listened to Last Week: Week ending July 24th, 2016

A new blog series, highlighting 5 great podcast episodes that I listened to last week. Hat tip for the idea to Chad Brooks of The Productive Pastor.

I use Overcast links which will allow you to play the episode in any good browser and have iTunes subscription links below each highlighted episode.

Week ending July 24th, 2016

Being Honest With My Ex: 1: Introducing My Ex

A perfect example of the kind of thing that can only happen in the Podcasting world. Two Austrailan ex's cohost a weekly chat about the lives and love. Interesting, open often hilarious conversation between former fiancée's. Subscribe in iTunes here.

AlphaBeatical - And I Love Her

The only music podcast I listen to regularly, these buddies discuss each and every Beatles song alphabetically, of course! I'm working my way through the catalog and here's where I was last week.  Subscribe in iTunes here.

My Brother, My Brother And Me: 313: Bone Dry Feeners

The brothers spent a long time talking about a gritty reboot of Canadian children's TV program, Today's Special. Yes. This is the best episode of MBMBaM ever!!!! Subscribe in iTunes here.

You Must Remember This - The Blacklist part 16

A brilliant show that always surprises me with some piece of trivia about Old Hollywood. The Blacklist series has been especially wonderful and this one was no exception. Subscribe on iTunes here.

Beyond Bourbon Street - The History of the Streetcar

Mark Balogna is a friend (and full disclosure a client, I did the intros for this show), but he's also a great Podcaster. This is my regular dip into the amazing city I've loved my whole life but only lived in for a few short years. This episode in particular is a highlight as he shares the history of the streetcar! Subscribe in iTunes here.

2016 Movie Reviews: The Matrix

15. The Matrix

Watched 7/3/16

I came to this so late in the cycle of the film's life. I rented it on VHS and can best sum up my first reaction to it with the following anecdote:

I'm watching it with my sister in my college apartment and get a call from a friend.

 

Friend: Whatcha doing?

Me: watching a movie. The Matrix.

Friend: Oh, nice! How is it? I've heard good things about it.

Me: It's great so far!

Friend: What's it about?

Me: I've got no clue.

Friend: Oh, you just started it?

Me: Nah, we're like an hour in. I just have no clue what the hell the deal is.

 

Years later, two less than solid sequels later, millions of imitators later, it still holds up. Other than the supreme focus on hardwired phone lines, the effects, pace and action all hold up with modern blockbuster action movies.

Some choices are still supremely good, like the green hue on all the scenes in the Matrix. A few fall a little flat, but the major players are all great, the plotline is smarter than most major movies and the mythos of the world is only explained enough to be interesting and intriguing. Some of those things are the very reasons the sequels fail.

It's the silly cyberpunk kung fu movie that launched a thousand action scenes. But it's also required watching for action or Sci-fi fans.

Buy it in HD with Special Features in iTunes now.

Smash/Cut, or Joel Becomes a Media Mogul

It's good to be in the right place at the right time. I'm a guy who often finds himself at one, but not the other.

Through a friend though I discovered a brilliant new podcast named Smash/Cut, a radio drama podcast originating from Baton Rouge. And I scooped them right the heck up. They've got a promo for an upcoming drama in their feed right now as well as a brief teaser episode. Check them out, subscribe and get ready for something amazing from some wonderfully talented young artists living and working in Bayou Country.

Find them in iTunes here, check out Smashcutthepodcast.com or just click play below.

http://percolate.blogtalkradio.com/offsiteplayer?hostId=969957&episodeId=8313409

Always Watching and Hopefully Writing More

It's a little on the nose, but the title is a nod to my primary podcast, Always Listening:Podcast Reviews from Josh and Joel.

So, in 2015, I watched and reviewed 50 movies. As long as I end up above that, I'll be happy with 2016. One a week is my target this year. Meanwhile, I'm hoping for more writing and more personal projects. I've already gotten a couple of great ideas coming for What Makes Me Weird? (including a trip to Memphis with Kelly later this month) but I also have two different writing projects and a third podcast I'd like to get off the ground.

All of this, in addition to my voice work and the new Podcast Editing and Production service I'm offering.

It's going to be a very busy 2016, and I hope to have you involved in it. If you're a listener or reader, let me know with an email. If I can be of service this year, send me some specifics, and let's get to work. If you just stumbled here and are wondering why, check out the about, then let me know how you got here!

To wrap this post up and jumpstart my 2016, here's my top 5 films I watched in 2015:

1. Birdman

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

3. Her

4. The Godfather

5. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Here's to a great new year!

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Jurassic World

49. Jurassic World

Watched 12/25/15

I didn't think I wanted or needed another Jurassic Park movie. I was happy when they cast Chris Pratt, but other than that, I didn't have this one on my radar at all. Then it came out and made all of the money at once, and had decent reviews to boot and I couldn't help but wonder if there was something there.

Having finally gotten to see this remake/reboot/sequel, I'm very glad that they went back to that particular well, and look forward to my next toothy prehistoric adventure with these folks.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: The Godfather

48. The Godfather

Watched 12/23/15

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Kelly's never seen any of the Godfather films and so I've been angling to work through them with her for a long time. As sacrilege as this may be to some film fans, I suggested we watch them almost like a Netflix series, watching chapters from each film seperately, working through the entire series over the course of several weeks or maybe even a month or two.

This first film is so majestic in the way it plays even after decades, even after a thousand viewings. The textures of the locations and the language is intoxicating.

But it's all about Pacino. Even in a film where a master (Brando) is at his heights, the transformation that Michael makes and the rationality of his actions (or at least, our ability as the viewer to rationalize with him) make this film one of the greatest ever made.  

5 stars

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Star Wars Episode VII -The Force Awakens

47. Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

Watched 12/17/15

As unlikely as it is, I'd just like to state here, publicly that if JJ Abrams is ever in Ruston, I'd like to buy his lunch. I loved "Lost" with all it's flaws and the missed landing, but he was really only responsible for the broadest of strokes there. I enjoyed the Star Trek reboot, though his sequel was rushed and clumsily retread one of my favorite stories of all time.

So, I was hopeful, but nervous about him taking the reigns and lighting the way for the next generation of Star Wars stories. I shouldn't have been. While it's not the greatest film of my lifetime, or even of this year, it is very likely going to be one of my favorite films to revisit. There is so much joy and magic (both new and old) in the 2 hours plus we get to glimpse that favorite galaxy far, far, away.

Thank God (and George and JJ and Mickey and Bob Iger), that this wonderful ride can go on forever from here on out. I won't spoil anything here because if you haven't seen it, you must. But the magic is back and we've only got more exciting adventures to look forward to from here on out.

5 stars

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Star Wars Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

46. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Watched 11/28/15

I'm so glad in my rewatch of this series I went 4,5,2,3,6. It's a great way to see all of them (except the rancid Phantom Menace) without ending on Revenge of the Sith, and while maintaining the best overall narrative flow.

Even though I'm not a hardcore anti-special edition guy, even I bristle at Hayden Christiansen's inclusion at the end as a Force ghost. It just makes no sense. Luke wouldn't recognize him anyway.

Other than that, I don't mind the extended celebration sequence, or the joyous Ewoks. It's all a little much, but in the same way that the Lord of the Rings series had earned its many finales at the end of Return of the King, so has this series earned an extended galactic dance number (even if it doesn't make much sense politically speaking. No way news travels THAT fast.

I'm so glad this is no longer the "last" Star Wars movie. In the future, this will be just another ending. One of many, and hopefully most of the ones ahead are as good or better than this one.

4.5 stars

Buy it in HD on iTunes including special features!

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Revenge of the Sith

45. Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith

Watched 11/24/15

When Obi-Wan has defeated Anakin and is crying, yelling "You were my brother!" etc. everytime I see that scene, I realize that's pretty much how I felt about the prequel trilogy. There was so much promise (and that has even been proven more true by some of the quality storytelling in the Clone Wars Cartoon series and some prequel-era novels. But George didn't get almost any of that promise in the print.

This trilogy is sloppy and ham-fisted and boring for large stretches. And the finale entry is one of the worst offenders.

The only real upside? The Palpatine and Anakin scene at the opera where Palpatine tells the story of Darth Plaugeis and the Palpatine/Windu battle. Other than that, it's a lot nonsense.

2.5 stars

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Magic Mike XXL

44. Magic Mike XXL

Watched 11/24/15

Magic Mike is perhaps the most unlikely "franchise" in the history of Hollywood. A weird little art-picture produced by a semi/sometimes retired director, Steven Soderbergh that includes lengthy male strip scenes, but also real pathos and a strange serious side-swipe in the middle of the action is generally the kind of thing that might find an audience and a long-term reputation as a great movie, but not generally a sequel.

This is largely more of the same, a little odd-deep character work, a little bare chests and ripped abs, and a lot of 90's music to score everything with.

While I was enamored with the first one in many ways, this one didn't get me. Or maybe I didn't get it. Either way.

2.5 stars

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2

43. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Watched 11/23/15

When the Harry Potter film series split up the last book (to "allow the story to breathe") I was ecstatic. I adored the books and wanted to spend every moment I could with those characters and in that world. When I saw the film, I enjoyed it, but I saw the seams in a few places where it perhaps would've been best served by not stretching things out.

I also got a little sad, because I saw that this was very likely to be a trend in Hollywood and here is the latest example. The Hunger Games series is in many ways the pinnacle of Young Adult Literature translation to screen. The second and third films especially did a great job of adding to the story as presented in the books by bringing visual info to bear and playing even more heavily into the themes of propaganda and media bias. But it mostly falls apart here in the finale.

Katniss' story has never had a satisfying conclusion to my mind and I can't fault the film for following the book, but where as the other films in the series had heightened the artistry (to my mind) this one merely transposes, and sometimes clumsily.

3.5 stars

What Joel Talked about Last Week 9/28/15

With What Makes Me Weird? we learned about music ministers and mayonnaise and banana sandwiches with Bethany Raybourn.

On Always Listening, we reviewed Thrilling Adventure Hour from Nerdist.com and the Workjuice Players. It's a hilariously good time. Check out our review here:

And on Monday, to celebrate my 34th birthday, I spent some time with Rick Godley taking over the Peach 99.3 FM playing some of my favorite songs and discussing them. It was a great time, enjoy that show here:

Me and the Geek: MaGLIVE Winds and Wonder with Lawrence Gibbs

Lawrence Gibbs joins us for the final LIVE event in the Summer Series at Louisiana Tech University's Arthur W. Stone Memorial Theatre, and the final episode of Me and the Geek, as the logo implies we're rebranding next week. Joel explains it all in the episode and we have a great discussion about music and more with Lawrence Gibbs.

Pod on Pod AT Podcast Movement

Wow. What a weekend. I've already made it clear how awesome my time was at Podcast Movement 2015, but on Saturday afternoon, Josh and I had the opportunity to record right on the floor of the conference using Shawn Smith's TheMobilePro.net setup. Shawn is amazing, and thanks to him our show sounds great too, even though we took zero gear and did the show in the middle of a busy (and noisy) conference hallway. Oh, and we recorded this all to my iPhone.

2 Years Ago on My Blog: The VUTT, or Why I'm Not Afraid of the Dark

Read the full post here: The VUTT, or Why I'm Not Afraid of the Dark

But this is my favorite part, and the one that's just as relevant today as then.

The vast UNKNOWN terrible thing (or the VUTT as I like to call it) is what replaces the boogeyman and monsters in the closet for grownups. The VUTT is what you read about happening to other people’s children in the paper, the million different syndromes, conditions, diagnoses and labels that you fear your unborn child might have that will somehow make his/her way in life just a little harder, when you already know it’s plenty hard enough. The VUTT is the bus accident you heard about in the next town over or the school shooting you saw on the news. It’s cancer, it’s diabetes, it’s depression, it’s Down’s Syndrome it’s Parkinson’s disease, it’s congenital heart failure and male pattern baldness.

It is the terrible secret of our genes and the cruel twist of fate and there is nothing that can be done about it.

— http://joelsharpton.com/therogueslife/2013/07/30/the-vutt-or-why-im-not-afraid-of-the-dark

We're not having anymore kids, so don't get excited. But the VUTT, that Vast Unknown Terrible Thing, can hit you while you're in the middle of birthing a creative project too.

What if people don't like it? What if it never makes any money? What if it's too big for you? What if someone else would do it better? What if they already have?

Screw all that. There is no boogeyman in my closet. The project (as all projects) might sink or swim, but it'll do so on it's own merits and only when I've brought it out into the world will it have the chance to do so.

So, I'm on my way to Fort Worth to work on making more stuff, and to make the stuff I make better. I'm killing my VUTT every day with hard work and positive thinking.

What are you doing today?