Monday, January 18, 2010

Geologic Podcast Review

As you might have gleaned, Nigel is away for the week. He's in Disney World. At Disney World? Well, he and his better half are in Florida in a city that has a theme park called Disney World and they are, most likely, patronizing the park.

Nigel could have let this blog go dark for a week. But he asked me to guest blog in his absence. For his absence? During his absence. BTW, I'm Karl Mamer. Host of The Conspiracy Skeptic podcast, one of the podcasts Nigel reviews right here.

The thing I've realized about Nigel is he is the kind of guy you wish you had as a real life neighbor. He's the kind of guy who will chat with you at the end of your driveway, but for never too long. He's probably the first on his block to get up in the morning and will, without a second thought, plow your driveway after a heavy snowfall. He's the kind of guy who will lend you a rake and you can even break it and he'll never ask for it back. He's an all around swell guy and I'm happy he asked me to fill in.

What I've decided to do this week is do some general reviews of podcasts Nigel doesn't cover. Hopefully I'll get one up every day but work/life… you know how it is. Nigel would understand.

Today, we're going to look at the Geologic Podcast

The Geologic Podcast by George Hrab (pronounced "hrab") is a hard podcast to pigeon hole. It's a kind of skeptical, musical, audio blog. George is probably a pretty familiar voice to those who take in a wide range of skeptical podcasts. He's been a guest on the Sketpics' Guide podcast, he sings the intro ("Far") to the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast, and he's a regular at The Amazing Meeting (TAM) and DragonCon. Hrab is a dapper dresser and probably has single handedly improved the fashion sense of the skeptical world. Skeptics, typically a slovenly lot (I'm wearing out of fashion khaki cargo pants, an old navy hoodie, and black slippers from Walmart), are increasingly paying a bit more attention to their public dress since Hrab came onto the scene.

When Hrab is not doing his podcast, he plays with a band called the Philadelphia Funk Authority and cranks out self-published albums for his own record imprint called Geologic Records. George is, literally and figuratively, a one man band. He plays drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards. His hour long Geologic podcast is a pastiche of monologues, songs, and multi-person skits with all parts generally played by Hrab himself.

The Geologic podcast is one of those podcast you might have to make an initial effort to like. When you're used to your typical skeptical panel type show discussing science and skeptical topics, the Geologic Pocast might initially seem kind of lacking a point and even mildly self-indulgent. It also has probably the longest opening theme song out there. I almost gave up on this podcast after listening to the theme song because it went on so long. I thought the theme song was actually the podcast. I thought it was just some kind of hour long soundscape. I'm so glad I kept my finger on the fastforward button for one more burst.

You never know what you're going to get with Hrab but the Geologic Podcast usually features a slate of reoccurring segments and characters (as noted, usually always voiced by Hrab). For example "Mortimer" is one of my favorite segments and characters. Mortimer is an old lonely and cranky retired man who calls Hrab on the phone to berate him. Naturally Hrab plays both parts but the voicing and editing is so tight you're easily seduced into believing there really is a guy named Mortimer. You even begin to feel a certain sympathy for the crotchety old man. He's a guy who probably misspent his youth, saved nothing for his retirement, scared off all his real friends, and just lives a lonely old life in a basement apartment. His only joy in life is trying to find new ways to insult and cajole Hrab. Hrab knows Mortimer gets great satisfaction out of pushing his buttons and Hrab never gives Mortimer the satisfaction of knowing the insults are getting under his skin.

It's pretty clear Mortimer is a kind of alter ego thing Hrab hauls out when he needs to work out some personal matter. And that's what's kind of cool about Hrab's show. There are very few parts of Hrab's life that don't somehow find their way onto his show. Hrab might spend half his show talking about trying to buy drum sticks from a music store staffed by incompetents or an amazingly tacky wedding his band the Philadelphia Funk Authority played at.

These kinds of things have nothing to do with skepticism but they are extremely entertaining. There's just something appealing about the way Hrab's oratory ranges from excitement to ire to stoic resolve in the course of a story about something amazingly mundane. What's appealing about Hrab is he's an everyman who is starting to parlay his vast talents into some real breaks. If you're a starving artist type, you can relate to his struggle. If you're older and comfortable, you probably recognize a period in your life similar to the one Hrab lives now. Hrab is almost convinced, for example, his car's "check engine light" is wired to his bank account. The moment he's a little ahead in funds, the light clicks on. Been there.

Another great feature is Religious Moron of the Week. Hrab reads and comments on the disturbing and sometimes deadly ways theists practice their "faith". From a list of items listeners have sent in, Hrab selects his top Religious Moron of the Week.

The Geologic Podcast is not all sunshine. There are a few segments I tend to fastforward through. "Not the Bible", his horoscope bit, and (it pains me greatly to say this) "Geo's Mom Reads Jay-Z Lyrics" I tend to just fastforward through. Actually, the last item I just fastforward through a bit. Geo has his real life mother on to read lyrics from rapper Jay-z (not to be confused with Ramtha channeler JZ Knight). I fastforward through the lyric bit and listen to the post-reading bit where Hrab catches up with his mom. Like other minutiae of Hrab's life, that's always pretty compelling.

Name: Geologic Podcast
Release: Weekly, usually on a Thursday
URL: (also available on iTunes)

-- Kar

1 comment:

  1. People borrow and break my rakes all the time. Sad, but true.

    Thanks Karl, and good post.


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