Welcome to the Podcast Zeitgeist list: presented in apparently random order, at inconsistent intervals, its purpose obscure, its usefulness in doubt, its taste questionable, its methods and motives suspect. [See all lists.]

  • This Week in Tech 177: There's a Little Shatner in All of Us and 178: Call of Doody. I'm catching up here with two episodes. A special guest on the first of these was Star Trek's Geordi LaForge (Levar Burton). Burton held his own as a geek on a panel with Leo Laporte, John C. Dvorak, Ryan Block, and Lisa Bettany. A lot of talk about TVs. (Block: "Plasma TVs are on the way out.") Reviews of the "disappointing" MacWorld Expo and the Consumer Electronics Show. Whether the Palm Pre phone can save Palm (Dvorak: "They're done.") They end with the prospects for another Star Trek movie and a discussion of Geordi's visor. The latest episode, recorded Sunday night, devotes 20 minutes to the news that Steve Jobs is taking a temporary leave from Apple for health reasons, with a focus on news coverage, from Ron Goldman of CNBC to this profanity-laden Gizmodo post. Dvorak predicts that Apple will go into decline in two years. This is followed bya discussion of the Downadup/Conficker worm that infected 9 million Windows computers in four days (download the security updates, people). Laporte is wiggy on this episode ("Conficker? I hardly knew her!"), perhaps because he and panelist Tom Merritt attended a concert the night before by the geek troubadour Jonathan Coulton and the improv duo Paul & Storm. (The "doody" in the podcast title refers to panelist Patrick Norton, who has to change his son's diaper during the show and never returns.) The liquidation of Circuit City. A discussion of digital TV up-converters (Dvorak recommends a model.) Laporte recommends an audiobook: "Predictably Irrational." United Kingdom porn filters are blocking Wikipedia and the Wayback Machine. Are Are Google layoffs and the killing of <a href="">features like Jaiku and Dodgeball a sign of a market bottom? The episode ends with a clip of Coulton's "Mandelbrot Set." Running times: Both 1 hour 20 minutes, give or take a minute. Released: Jan. 11 and 18.
  • MacBreak Weekly 123: The Great London Fire The title is a metaphor from panelist Andy Ihnato. Laporte is also joined by Alex Lindsay. The three agree that MacWorld Expo turnout was low, and the show lacked drama. Could Apple's decision to pull out of the convention anger fans and hurt the company? Can MacWorld survive? David Pogue will give next year's keynote. Ihnatko on what organizer IDG should do: "They should treat this like the Great London Fire.It's not the result that one would have wanted, but when you wipe the slate clean, you get to rebuild this city in the world that exists today... If you were to build a really big conference today, you wouldn't do it like a 1985 trade show." Focus on public areas and community. In another blow, CES is looking to have an Apple-centric area. The big announcement at MacWorld, it turns out, was the end of DRM at the iTunes store, but Leo points out a big drawback to the 30-cent upgrade offer: You have to upgrade ALL your songs, even the lame ones you don't like anymore. Discussion of the iPhone and the Palm Pre. There's agreement that no company will dominate the cellphone market. Politicians switching to Mac: the latest, Mike Huckabee. Hacking PC Netbooks to run Mac OS (in violation of the Mac user agreement, it should be noted). BoingBoing has a chart. Apple seems to be (cracking down, apparently irked by a how-to video on Wired Gadget Lab. Leo mentions that the MacWorld Expo swag bag for presenters included $1,800 worth of gifts. They end with some a robust list of weekly picks. Laporte suggests this external battery solution for iPhone. I'm happy with the APC universal, which doesn't have be attached directly to the phone (it charges iPods and other devices too). Lindsay picks the rubber-covered Rugged LaCie portable hard drive, which I also use, for music. It's versatile, carries a lot of data and takes a pounding. The panel also reviews some portable document scanners. And there is a zen moment from Lindsay, talking about how multiple users burn out Firewire ports: "Computers tend to like to have monogamous relationships. You have a lot of people using them, they tend to fall apart." Running TIme: 1 hour, 10 minutes. Released: Jan. 13
  • "This Week in Media 122: Planned Viewerhood" This week, an interesting discussion about how digital video recorders, video on the Web and similar technology are changing how we watch. Watching a series all at once. Watching sports after the game is over, with fake suspense. No more competing for specific time slots. The viewer chooses. This is all good, but I offer three numbers to consider, the totals in my iTunes podcast subscriptions window: 463 items, 15.8 days, 19.32 gigabytes. That's not counting the regular shows stacked up on the TiVo, and the movies in my Netflix queue. Giving me control over content might mean I never get around to actually consuming it. Another topic: Should online video have closed-captioning for the hearing impaired? Speculation that Apple pulling out of MacWorld was the result of a Steve Jobs tantrum. More MacWorld/CES stuff. I feel like I'm hearing the same conversations over and over on these tech podcasts. May have to cut back. Running time: 58:47 minutes. Released: Jan. 13.

  • The Dinner Party Download, Episode 14 I'm glad these guys are back. The concept: Win your next dinner party. The Icebreaker is another animals-in-a-bar joke. Small talk: President-elect Obama's old car is on eBay, a Chrysler. Burger King PR stunt: Drop 10 Facebook friends, get a free burger. A Sundance-nominated history lesson with booze. Dr. James Bedford is super-cool. He was the first person to be frozen after death. The cocktail is "Death on the Rocks": Champagne, absinthe and ice cubs of fresh blood orange juice. The interview is Lamont Mozier, the Motown songwriter; don't ask him which was his favorite song. The food segment is about Kogi Korean barbecue tacos. It is sold off a truck that broadcasts its location on its blog and on Twitter. Outro song is A.C. Newman's "There Are Maybe 10 or 12..." A big sound, but interesting. Running time: 15:49 minutes. Released: Jan. 16.
  • Christian Comedy Podcast: January Week One With more than 160,00 subscribers, the host Mike Williams says, this is the most-listened-to Christian comedy podcast on iTunes. He starts with a squeaky-voiced imitation of that annoying YouTube kid FredThen we hear a few jokes from the "Stephen Wright of Christian comedy," Pastor Tim Jones, with his "weird mental mind." For example: "Remember, if you're standing next to Dracula in a group photo and you try to give him bunny ears, when the film develops it will just look like you're giving the peace sign... I asked her if she was a model and she smiled, thinking it was because of her beauty. But it was actually because she smelled like plastic and glue." I kind of like that one. There's a comedy song about a fiancee with a bad attitude from the new CD by the duo Bean and Bailey: "Who peed in your cheerios? Only heaven knows... Who got your panties in such a wad?" Ahem. You can fast-forward through the hunting bow ads in the middle. Robert G. Lee, a comedy writer for the kid show "Veggie Tales." tells jokes about rasising kids. For example: "If the Apostle Paul had had teenagers, Christianity would have been nipped in the bud! 'We're going to Corinth again? ...Everywhere you go, you're beaten, you're robbed, you're stoned. Do you have any idea embarrassing that is? Why don't you just write these people?' 'That's not a bad idea, young lady.'" Running time: 17:59 minutes. Released: Jan. 4.
  • Geek Loves Nerd: Teaching Gratefulness James is the geek. Jenn is the nerd. They're married. Their podcast took a holiday hiatus, but now it's back. He also does the Nobody's Listening Podcast, billed as "a clean comedy podcast." He has grown a beard. She thinks it is attractive but the beard sticks in her face when they kiss. They did nine minutes on the beard. Then I started skipping ahead. There was a lengthy discussion about their 11-month-old, their second. I had to bail, and never did hear how to teach a child gratefulness, an important topic. These seem like very nice people. I am not interested in listening to them on a regular basis. This is, no doubt, my own character flaw. Running time: 53:35 minutes. Released: Jan. 9.
  • Uhh Yeah Dude, Episode 149 This is not a clean comedy podcast. This is the pee in the Cheerios. It grows increasingly impossible to summarize what Jonathan Larroquette and Seth Romatelli are up to here. There are the usual offbeat topics -- lame celebrities at liveautographs.com (Hulk Hogan, Danica Patrick), that Amish heater infomercial, the drunk woman who called 911 on herself, some tots in trouble, an F.B.I. warning about cybergeddon, and a promising ABC hidden-camera show that outs racists, a belated appreciation for George Carlin and disgust with Adam Sandler. But the highlights are the personal rants and anecdotes: Seth about his experiences waiting in a line for a $14 juice, and several items from Jonathan: women who go out with jerks, a true story of martial arts justice from his school days, and a weird encounter in a guitar store. The promised "Uhh Yeah Dude" Web site is not yet online. Length: 1 hour, 11 minutes. Released: Jan. 13, 2009.
  • Smodcast: Smod Bless Us Everyone (70), Way of the Master (71), Hello Dere! (72). So, now that their movie has tanked, the director Kevin Smith and producer Scott Mosier are suddenly back with several episodes of this explicit humor podcast. In the first one they riff on Christmas and how people have trouble remembering their movies. "Making moves only seen in Belize." In "Way of the Master," they discuss the sexual possibilities and risks of staying abroad in youth hostels. The title refers to Kirk Cameron's Christian evangelical Web site, "The Way of the Master," which has a test of how good a person you are. Kevin and Scott take the test, and the discussion gets mighty dark. They also brainstorm a science fiction, the "slaptrack," in which everyone has the godlike power -- once -- to banish another person from this reality. And it's pretty weird. For the most recent, third episode, Mosier is traveling in Vietnam, so Smith is joined by another pal, and they spend a lot of time ragging on a third friend who isn't there and talking about breasts. As always, I enjoy the background soundtrack that is added post-production. I skipped two earlier episodes that were basically the DVD discussion tracks for the film, which I haven't seen yet. Running times: 52 minutes to 1 hour, 5 minutes; released Dec. 24, Jan. 9 and Jan. 16.
  • The Futile Podcast: "It Worked in Cuffs," "It Became Cobra," "It was an Academy Award winning training montage" I'm catching up on this action-movie discussion podcast. First up, "The Spirit." I've been a longtime collector of Will Eisner and his art, and I've been a Spirit fan since I was a kid reading the Warren reprints in the 70s. I've been looking ahead to this movie with dread and anticipation. Now I may just wait for the video. It doesn't sound like the film did a good job capturing Eisner's gloomy comedic world, or perhaps that world just doesn't translate to the screen. The podcasters compare it to the Tim Burton "Batman," "House of Games," and "Rocky and Bullwinkle." A bad trip. "This movie was just strange." Tonal inconsistency and acting problems. There's consensus that the movie failed to pull off breaking of the fourth wall, which they say "worked in 'Kuffs." (I'm pretty sure Eisner invented that technique in comics back in the 40s, but it was a technique he used sparingly.) The futile podcasters digress into a long discussion of sex roles, which was entertaining. The next, short episode is billed as a review of "Beverly Hills Cop," but is mostly a discussion of comedians with a quick recap of Eddie Murphy's career. The third of these podcasts is about Scorsese's "Color of Money," which I probably can't bear to watch again because of Tom Cruise, though this discussion reminded me it wasn't bad. And it made me want to watch "The Hustler" again. Running times: 31 minutes, 11 minutes and 33 minutes. Released: Jan. 4, 8 and 11.
  • The 40-Year-Old Boy: Episode 43. I dropped into this podcast cold, and perhaps earlier episodes wehre better. The Chicago comedian Mike Schmidt (now in L.A.) talks about ... stuff .. while his producer laughs in the background. (She's like a laugh track. I started to suspect she was a recording.) His Web site explains: "While friends his age are taking care of their kids, it’s all Mike can do just to take care of himself. Come listen to the stream-of-consciousness ramblings of a modern day Peter Pan: awkward, angry…basically, the kind of guy who would punch you in the face for referring to him as a 'modern day Peter Pan.'" In this episode, Schmidt says he used to weigh "500 pounds" and he got stomach surgery to fix it. He describes some medical particulars in excruciating detail then he tells how he got around the limitations of his surgically altered stomach and gained the weight back. The outro song, "Don't Give Up," by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, lays it on thick and underscores how sad this story is. Great song, though. Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes. Released: Jan. 14.