Friday, June 08, 2012

Todays "Who's searching for me now?" question

Todays "Who's searching for me now?" question:

Someone found this blog today by Googling "midpeninsula high school ben varkentine." That is the high school I attended, so it seems likely this was one or another of my classmates...which surprises me because I thought most of 'em had already found me on Facebook.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Back asked for it!

And by you, I actually mean none of you, my vast reading audience.  But I've wanted to add a couple posts to those podcast reviews I started last year, so...

Rosen intends that the "entrance" into her conversations should be talk about relationships, as attaining success in show business is for Riki Lindhome's.  This is a fine idea in theory, but the interviews tend to wander pretty far a field in practice.  This isn’t always or even often necessarily a bad thing.  Just makes it a little harder for the show to raise its flag above the crowd.

This, of course, is Rosen.

Rosen's conversations with her guests are often thought-provoking, but the show as a whole suffers from a certain lack of definition.  There are a lot of conversational, thought-provoking podcasts out there, so what makes this one exceptional?

(Of course, whatever my qualms, they haven't stopped this podcast from reportedly clearing one million downloads)

Oh no sorry, this is Rosen (and the other is just a probably too-inside

Rosen is also a banana of some number on the Adam Carolla show.  I don't know quite which because I don't listen to that show--Carolla’s just never seemed that funny to me.

I first heard of her through her appearances on other podcasts, and mentions like when Pete Holmes plugged his own episode of her show on his own...about which more at a later

 Recommended episodes: Pete Holmes; Janet Varney.

The theme of comedian Jackie Kashian's podcast is subjects that her
guests are "dorks" about.  For instance Jim Gaffigan, in the recommended episode below, is a dork about the business of comedy.

In an earlier episode "TV's" Frank Conniff and author Ben Schwartz are dorks about old time comedy, a subject I was surprised to hear Kashian apparently knows so little about, but perhaps I shouldn't have been.

(But c'mon, "Who's Larry Gelbart?" "Who's Larry Gelbart?" I weep for the youth of today.)

In the first round of these pick podcast posts, I said that Elizabeth Laime's show was a relief to listen to in part because she didn't demand at least as much attention as her guests.  

(It still is, but "psychic" Andy needs to have his damn hands kept off the soundboard, with a handsaw if necessary).

Kashian's Dork Forest fits in the same easygoing cubbyhole, but this sometimes, frankly, can cause her to get “rolled."  Clare Kramer's recent episode, for example, was almost wholly devoted to hyping her new "nerdsploitation" website and convention appearances.

I don't object to Kramer or anyone hyping their "wares," I just expect a little more from a medium with such built-in possibilities for intimacy as podcasting. Going on a podcast just to plug is so mainstream, it's so...Jay Leno.

Fortunately, other episodes are much more freewheeling. And there's a heck of a lot of good stuff on them. 

PS:  Oh, but one word of warning.  The Dork Forest opening is the most insidious earworm of any podcast theme I've ever heard.

In shorthand: You know the scene at the end of The Breakfast Club where Claire "treats" Alison to a makeover?  Say Alison went home and started a podcast.   There you'd have Janet Varney's JV Club (BTW, it took me far too long to get that wordplay).

This is Janet Varney in high school.  Photo lifted unceremoniously (that means without permission) from the Facebook page for the podcast.
This is a contemporary (more-or-less) photo of Ms. Varney.

That makes it a show hosted by a girl who'd once defined herself (inwardly or outwardly) 
as something of a horror show, but who now appears to have had all her "mental illness" washed away, leaving only a fresh-faced hotness with that "new car" smell.


I probably heard of Varney before I heard "from" her; specifically in connection with Nerdist podcaster Chris Hardwick, with whom she was romantically partnered for a time. But I think it was on Paul Gilmartin's show that I first heard her talk, and considering what a barriers-down, let's-explore-our-inner-feelings show Paul's is, that, combined with (later) her own show, was a real introduction.

(Which is probably why I felt okay making the above mortifying comparison about someone I've never met or spoken to in person.)

All of Varney's guests so far have been women and seem likely to remain so in the foreseeable future.  The talk is often of their self-images as females, both as High/Jr.High school students and as good-looking women in film and/or on television.  Near as I can tell, there's not much difference, except that the tolerance for sexual harassment's probably higher in Hollywood.

(BTW, or speaking of which, it's purely coincidental that all of the podcasts I've written about for this post are female-driven.  It's a nice coincidence, but a coincidence nonetheless.)

Recommended episodes: Jen KirkmanAngela Kinsey, and Maggie Lawson.  

Kirkman has maybe my favorite observation thus far, with her "boys like girls" moment.  Also, yes, the "Ben" very briefly name-checked in a list at the beginning of the Malin Akerman episode is me.