Jake’s Top 5 Podcasts

I’ve loved podcasts since I started discovering video game sites on the internet in the mid 2000’s. They’ve been a constant presence in my life and have got me through many boring commutes to college, uni and now work. I’ve learned some amazing things about life, video games and a multitude of other subjects. After listening to some of these guys for years now I feel like I know them personally, the way they have let thousands of fans be a part of their lives is amazing.

 

Thankfully these days it’s easier than ever to get a hold of podcasts, most phones come with pre-installed software to download them and I’ve also included links to the podcasts in the headers:

 

5.How To Be a Person

how to be a person

Regular Hosts: Mike Drucker, Jess Dweck

 

This podcast follows the socially awkward team of Mike and Jess as they receive life lessons from their comedy pals. Each episode starts off with a full background of the current guest and ends with the topic that they have brought to teach the hosts.

 

This is a consistently great podcast, most of the guests have some comedy background so you’re always going to get some hilarious anecdotes. The part that is so endearing to me is the way the hosts and guests talk so candidly about their lives not matter how embarrassing the situation was. Topics they’ve covered so far include how to draw, make friends, be a parent, stop smoking, write a movie, survive heartbreak and be a scientist. Whether you’re interested in the subject or not you’ll always learn something useful or funny.

 

4.How2Wrestling

 

how2wrestling

 

Regular Hosts: Jo Graham, Kefin Mahon

 

A show designed to teach the uninitiated how to watch, understand and maybe even enjoy the ‘sport’ of professional wrestling. If you’re curious about wrestling but have no idea where to start, this is the place. Kefin is the resident wrestling expert while Jo is a new fan who’s ready to learn all about headlocks, sleeper holds and heel turns.

 

That’s not to say that there’s nothing to enjoy if you’re already into wrestling, most episodes function as a history of a specific wrestler so there are always some fun/weird/scary facts to learn about people like Hulk Hogan, John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin. They have also done some more general episodes that deal with things like wrestling slang/terminology or the reason WWE has so many different shows on every week. They also cover wrestlers new and old so you can start to build a wide knowledge base of wrestling legends and current up-and-comers.

 

This is also one of the few British podcasts I listen to, it’s fun to hear about all this wrestling madness from a perspective that’s closer to home. The hosts Jo and Kefin are absolutely charming together and they’re really good about featuring user comments on the show, I got one of my tweets read on ep 5 How2Shield which was awesome to hear.

 

3.Talking Simpsons

 

talking simpsons

 

Regular Hosts: Bob Mackey, Chris Antista, Henry Gilbert

 

There’s a special thing that happens when you get a bunch of Simpsons fans in the same room together, we can communicate purely in Simpsons quotes. When the Laser Time podcast guys realised they couldn’t stop doing this on their other podcasts they decided to make a separate show to get it out of their system and so Talking Simpsons was born.

 

This is the first podcast from the Laser Time Network on my list, I’ve been following these guys since they all used to write for the website GamesRadar around 2008. So when they all eventually left I gladly followed them to their own independent site where they have started a multitude of podcasts under the Laser Time banner.

 

Talking Simpsons is a chronological exploration of The Simpsons starting from episode 1, it gives an overview of the episode plot line complete with sound clips of the best parts. They also have a lot of behind the scenes info about the making of the show and explain some of the more obscure jokes. One of my favourite parts is hearing the host’s personal experiences watching these episodes as kids and there is lots of 90s talk to hit all those nostalgia buttons.

 

At the time of writing the first season of Talking Simpsons is only available to contributors to the Laser Time Patreon but since they’ve started the season 2 the new episodes are free for everyone.

 

2.The Giant Bombcast

 

giant bombcast

 

Regular Hosts: Brad Shoemaker, Jeff Gerstmann, Drew Scanlon, Dan Ryckert

 

Giant Bomb is my all time favourite website and as long as they keep doing what they’re doing it always will be. The Giant Bombcast is one of the longest running weekly podcasts ever, the episodes usually run around 2-3 hours long and at the time of writing there have been about 932 episodes. That alone doesn’t make it great though. The Bombcast has been one of the great constants in my podcast life and they’ve been consistently funny for over 8 years now.

 

At it’s core the show is simply a weekly round up of all things in video games but it’s the personalities that will keep you coming back. All the hosts have amazing chemistry together, members have come and gone as people have joined and left the site but Jeff, Brad and Drew have always kept the show running smoothly. They are all really passionate about video games but aren’t afraid to admit how dumb they can be sometimes.

 

This isn’t just a show for video game fans though. The first segment of the show is usually just the hosts talking about what they got up to at the weekend. They also take listener emails at the end of the show which can hit upon any topic imaginable. You can get an email about pooping habits followed by one about the mysteries of space! Whatever the question/topic the Bombcast crew is more than happy to oblige.

 

1.Thirty Twenty Ten

 

302010

 

Regular Hosts: Brett Elston, Diana Goodman, Chris Antista, Henry Gilbert

 

This is one of the most unique podcasts I’ve ever heard. Thirty Twenty Ten is an exploration of what was happening in pop culture this week 30 years ago, 20 years ago and 10 years ago. So currently they’re taking a look at 1986, 1996 and 2006. They cover any important things they can find for that week like movies, music, TV shows, video games, comics and world events. What other podcast can you hear discussions about the Challenger explosion, the release of Underworld: Evolution and the developers of Grand Theft Auto being taken to court for an unused sex minigame all in one episode?

 

All the hosts have their own area of expertise but also offer their own personal anecdotes about what they were doing in the various time periods. This is probably the easiest podcast to recommend out of my list because it literally has something for everyone. It’s also pretty new having only started this year so there are only 14 episodes to catch up on at the time of writing and I’ve got to mention that it has an amazing theme tune done by Dotflist. It’s not too late to climb aboard the pop culture time machine!

My Favourite Book Series

I generally shy away from book series due to the fact that I have major commitment issues. I really want to read more series but instead of being excited about what they might entail, I only manage to see a pile of books that once I start, I’ll feel obliged to read regardless of how much I like them.

That said, on a rare occasion I’ll see a series that I want to read or I’ll pick up a book, not realising that it belongs to a collection and I’ll love it so much that I’ll read the rest.

Today I thought I’d share with you a few that I’ve loved and sometimes even read more than once. Yes they’re fairly obvious choices but I can’t help being generic so here is my top five in no particular order.

Side note: When I say series I mean two or more books.

The Harry Potter series J. K. Rowling

As I say, this list is in no particular order but I still wanted to start with my favourite series of all time. I know a lot of people out there will be banging their heads against they’re keyboard after seeing the most obviously predictable series but I couldn’t make this list without mentioning it. In 1997 J. K. Rowling published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or the Sorcerer’s Stone if you’re American) and at nine year old it changed my life. I can honestly say that I doubt I’d love reading as much as I do today if it weren’t for this series. After reading the first book, I was hooked and I was first in line on release day for each book that followed.download (3)

Unless you’ve been living in a world without any source of media for the last twenty years, you will be aware that this series follows a young boy, Harry, as he goes from a mistreat child to a famous wizard who is constantly being threatened by one of the most dangerous wizards of all time.

Why do I love these books? Because they were perfect for me. I was part of the Harry Potter generation, the generation that grew up as Harry did and as his stories became more complex so did my own life. Although I never received my Hogwarts letter, I still related to so many issues within the books, they may follow a fictional world but they also tell a true story of how hard life can seem but how much easier it can feel if you have good friends along the way.

There won’t be many people (if any) who read this and haven’t read the Potter books previously but if you’re one of the few then please pick them up. I promise* you’ll be sat at your letterbox waiting for an owl to bring you some important news.

*You might not.

The Lunar Chronicles – Marissa Meyer

A series where the main character is a kick ass woman? Yes please! I was a little bit late to the party with this one. By the time I picked up Cinder, Scarlett and Cress were already released but the idea of books based on well-known tales (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White) was enough for me to buy all three at once. Cinder stole my heart, I honestly love the character and even after the series has ended, she’s my favourite. There’s so much that I love about this series but the fact that it shows off a lot of strong women made it perfect for me.

download (4)The series starts with Cinder who is living with her step mother and step sisters in a world where letumosis, a deadly plague, is spreading rapidly. Cinder, an overworked and underappreciated cyborg, realises that she is immune to the disease and with that revelation she discovers a whole lot more about who she is and who she was before she came to live with her step family.

I couldn’t put these books down. As the series progressed I loved them more and more. The characters are all so strong and relatable and I had serious book crushes on all the male love interests. I adore the fact that although there is romance within the books, it’s not the main story, instead they focus on the protagonists and how they develop themselves based on the situations they’re forced into and the friendships they forge.

The Hunger Games trilogy – Suzanne Collins

So far all my choices have been super predictable, I’m aware, but I love The Hunger Games and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Again I didn’t read in the beginning, by the time I picked up the first book, the other two had been released already but at the time I wasn’t aware of the buzz around them and there hadn’t been any films released yet.download (5)

Again, I’m sure you’ll all be aware of the premise of The Hunger Games. In this dystopian series, every year the government host the hunger games, a game that is broadcast across the world (made up of twelve districts- but secretly there’s an active thirteenth) and forces two children from each district to partake, one male, one female. The children fight to the death and whoever is the last person standing is the victor and wins a lifetime of fame and fortune. After her younger sister gets picked to be part of the games, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her position and we follow her through the games and through the rebellion that follows after her victory.

I’ll be honest (please don’t hate me for saying this) I didn’t like the last book. I found it was a lot of running around the Capitol and hiding from the law but it doesn’t stop me thinking as a whole, it’s an amazing series. I love Katniss in book one. I love that she’s strong minded and she loves her sister so much that she’s willing to put her life at risk for her. As I was reading book two and three, I found myself starting to dislike her more and more. I found her too whiney and miserable. It wasn’t until I re-read the books that I started to appreciate this about her. I realised that yes she was miserable all the time after winning the games but then who wouldn’t be? After being forced to kill a bunch of kids they then stuck her back in another game where she had to instead kill a bunch of adults in order to survive, after she was finally away from the games forever she was forced to be the face of a rebellion that she never agreed to start.  I think I really like the fact that the books portray how real people would act under these circumstances.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before –Jenny Han

There are only two books to this but I’m still putting it in here. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was my favourite YA romance that I’ve read and I’ve read a lot!

15749186In this duology, Lara-Jean has written five letters, all to boys who she has loved at some point in her life. These letters are put into a hat box and she never plans to send them but one day she finds they’ve been posted and her secrets are revealed.

The books are predictable and typically YA but I loved them. I loved Lara-Jean’s love interests, in most YA I just can’t deal with the love triangles but for once I loved it. I understood how this love triangle happened and I understood why Lara-Jean had such a hard time deciding what she wanted. She felt every bit the sixteen year old girl wanting the best of both worlds and I never once felt annoyed with her for not immediately making up her mind. Oh, I also bloody loved Kitty.

The Shopaholic series – Sophie Kinsella

Now this is a weird one because although it’s one of my favourite series, I feel a little like it’s being dragged out and that Sophie needs to just finish it.The_Secret_Dreamworld_of_a_Shopaholic

This series follows Becky, a twenty-something journalist who has a big spending problem. She’s obsessed with buying things and she really can’t afford everything she is buying. Becky meets Luke Brandon, a successful businessman who she forms an unlikely attraction to but whom she has to hide her spending issues from.

There are so far I believe there are eight books in this series and with every book I’ve come to love Luke a little bit more. If you ask me who my ideal book boyfriend is, I will always answer Luke Brandon. He’s just perfect. He’s hard working, motivated and loving. He also constantly puts up with Becky’s shit and sometimes I really don’t understand why. Up until Mini Shopaholic (book six) I really loved Becky, I felt she grew as a character and she deserved the outcome of every book but with the latest instalments I’ve started to hate her. All the hard work Kinsella did to make Becky a lovable character seems to have evaporated and Becky has become ungrateful and annoying. I’ve just finished reading the newest book, Shopaholic to the Rescue and I admit Becky redeems herself a lot and I enjoyed this book a lot more than the previous two books so I’m hoping it all just stops there while I love Becky again.

I know this doesn’t seem like a glowing review but up until Mini Shopaholic, I really love the series and I genuinely found it hilarious and heart-warming.  I love the characters and I love Sophie’s writing so I would recommend the series to anyone. Just pretend it finishes with Shopaholic and Baby.

John Hughes: The Best of the Worst

John Hughes is a bastion of teen movies, he practically invented the modern teen movie.

If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, the chances are John Hughes helped you to get in touch with your acne covered, slightly greasy, hormonal feelings!

john hughes breakfast club.jpg

Hughes gave us some great movie moments. There’s the emotionally charged scene in The Breakfast Club (you know, the one where we found out Emilio Estevez is a person as well as a jock, and The nerd can’t make an elephant lamp). Ferris Bueller somehow getting away with destroying his friend’s Dad’s car. Let’s not forget Kevin McCallister beating a couple of inept burglars with a house of tricks. So sometimes it can be easy to forget just how many duffers he squeezed out the nib of a pen.

john hughes home alone

Ladies and Gentlemen I am here with you today to give you five reasons that John Hughes, should have stuck to capers involving children being abandoned and teenagers coming to terms with growing up.

So, let’s start at the end:

5. Drillbit Taylor (2008, 1hr 50mins, 12A)

john hughes drillbit

The classic tale of little kids getting even with their bullied.

So, take three nerds, some bullies and an older father type figure who helps them to overcome their demons. It’s like the Karate Kid but with a pathetic loser instead of Mr Miyagi. And there’s three of them.

Most of the jokes involve rather terrible slapstick and Owen Wilson (as the eponymous Drillbit Taylor, our Mr Miyagi) pretending to be cool when he clearly isn’t. At least Mr Miyagi was legit.

Hughes used a pseudonym, Edmond Dantes and you can tell why. Maybe he didn’t want people to remember him with this film, the very last before his death in 2009

4. Maid in Manhattan (2002, 1hr 45mins, PG)

john hughes maid in manhatten

Where to begin with this festering, cesspool of a movie? This was a pretty big hit back in the day, grossing $155 million worldwide. It became the go to date movie of late ‘02 and early ‘03, and middle age ladies love watching it on a Saturday afternoon with a bowl of Chunky Monkey.

So, why is this movie so terrible? People clearly like it. Well we’ll start with the acting, Jennifer Lopez as Marisa Ventura is so wooden she could be picked up to stir your favourite cake batter with. Ralph Fiennes as the bajillionaire that rescues Marisa from her terrible life was also pretty bad, but in his defense he does his best with what he’s got. Which isn’t much.

The script is Awful, you can tell that it was heavily influenced by Pretty Woman, as it’s essentially the same story. Only told less well and even more patronising to women. Hey girls! If you want to get away from your life of drudgery and awfulness, just meet a rich, white dude. He’ll be amazed at how novel poor people are and buy you nice thing

3. Curly Sue (1991, 1hr 41mins, PG)

john hughes curly sue

Upon it’s release Curly Sue was a a bit of a flop, and gained a lot of criticism from critics and fans alike.

The story centres around a homeless man with a heart of gold, Bill Dancer (Jim Belushi). Along with his plucky sidekick, Curly sue (Alisan Porter), a young child about the age of 8. They pulls scams, not to get money, because that would be wrong, but to get food to eat, that’s survival, so it’s OK.

Apart from some loose back story revealing Bill knew Curly’s (Or Sue’s?) mother and agreed to look after her once her mother died it’s not really clear why he didn’t just dump this irritating little weasel as soon as he could.

She’s just. So. Annoying! She has a whiney voice and shows a level of cutesy precociousness not witnessed since Shirley Temple sang about her Goodship Lollypop.

Then, one day they try and scam a fancy lawyer. They end up getting invited to stay the night in her house, and in what I am sure will be a shock twist to you all. She ends up falling in love with Bill, the homeless guy that tried to scam her for free food. How adorable.

Most of this film doesn’t make sense, the characters are two dimensional and (as previously stated) really annoying. This film did so badly, Hughes actually dropped out of the business of show for a little bit. Not for long though as the next year he saved himself with Home Alone II

2. She’s Having a Baby (1988, 1hr 46mins, 15)

 john hughes shes baby

Hughes didn’t want to be typecast, over his 30 year career he tried his hand at many genres, from pure kids’ movies (Home Alone), to teen movies,(Pretty in Pink) and Comedy movies (The Vacation series). Some genres he could tap into and others he just couldn’t get the hang of. Adult drama, unfortunately falls into the latter category.

It’s about a newly married couple learning how to be married. An interesting concept, getting married is a pretty big change in people’s lives, you have to learn to adjust and compromise and make big decisions together. Like weather or not to have a baby.  

Like other films on this  list, the catalogue of errors is present, the bad acting, terrible direction. Awful dialogue and a script that doesn’t always make sense. You have zero sympathy for the characters as Kevin Bacon’s character, Jake Briggs drops out of his Master’s degree, seemingly because he got scared of not being good enough. Meanwhile Kirsty Briggs (Ally Sheedy) just randomly stops taking birth control without telling her husband. I’m all for women being in charge of their own bodies, but having a baby affects both of you… At least tell the guy! By the end, when they eventually have the baby they have learnt so little and seem like such terrible people you really wish they hadn’t just procreated.

 

And the winner of worst John Hughes movie is

1. Mr. Mom (1983, 1hr 31mins, PG)

john hughes mr mom

A man has to look after a child. Hilarity ensues. This should be enough to tell you all that you need to know about this movie. That and the poster, just look at it! You know you’re in for a hilarious time when you see a man wearing rubber gloves and carrying a baby.

I know that this film is over 30 years old now, and some allowances must be given for historical context. Even with that in mind, this is really just. Anger inducing.

So, Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) loses his job. So wife, Caroline (a housewife of many years) has to go out to work. After a few japes involving terrible slapstick and pooey nappy jokes Jack starts to get the hang of this child care and cleaning malarky. However, after a while he starts to find this life a little constricting (he’s learning what it’s like to be a woman in the 80s… How very progressive!). Then his neighbours start coming onto him. Let’s face it all housewives are horny and just want to sleep with whoever is going, married or not.

I’m sure at the time it was thought of as being progressive, it was only 4 years later we got Three Men and a Baby (a much better film following a similar theme) but it’s just misguided. Caroline works for an ad executives, and they want to hire her based on her housewife know how, they might as well have patted her on the head and said ‘now now pretty lady, we need someone who knows about these… Women’s things’. Eurgh. 

Top 5 Video Game Vegetarians

Being a vegetarian gamer does make it hard to fully relate to some of the characters that I’m supposed to identify with. When the cast of Streets of Rage are gleefully beating up thugs and scarfing down street turkey I can’t help but feel a little left out.

This list was a bit harder to fill out than I thought it would be. Believe me, meticulous Wikia research was conducted to bring you this list. Factoring in both in game actions and character history.

For example Mario is only ever seen eating mushrooms, beans and herbs in the games. But if you leave him alone to fall asleep in Mario 64 he sleep talks about spaghetti and ravioli. I can’t guarantee these are of the veggie variety so he’s off my list!

Now that’s all out of the way we can begin with the Top 5 Video Game Vegetarians!

5. Link – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Yes, Link. The Hero of Time himself is a vegetarian in this specific game. The only food we see him partake in is Lon Lon Milk (from the cows at the Lon Lon Ranch obviously). The reason it’s only this specific games is that in most future titles the red and blue potions you can drink to refill health and magic respectively are made from Monster Jelly! In Ocarina of Time the red potion recipe is kept secret and other potions you can make use mushrooms as the main ingredient.

This incarnation of Link was raised by the Kokiri, a tribe of simple forest imps presided over by a giant sentient tree. So I like to think that Link’s vegetarianism is his own lifestyle choice.

Putting Link on this list does come with one caveat though… he tends to roam the land hacking down any non human he comes across. Bugs, Lizard men, wolves, bats, living skeletons, no one is safe! But hey, at least he never ate a burger made from this guy.

That’s something right?

4. Jack – BioShock


Warning – story spoilers for Bioshock to follow

In Bioshock Jack spends the whole time trapped in the failed underwater utopia called Rapture. So naturally the food options would be a bit limited 20,000 leagues under the sea in a city inhabited by mutants and failed experiments.

Bioshock’s food offerings include creme-filled Cake, pep bar and potato chips. All washed down with myriad forms of alcoholic beverages.

Not the best overall diet but vegetarian nonetheless. Granted Jack’s strange diet of protein bars, creme cakes and whiskey is more a product of his current circumstances but not a lot is known about Jack outside of this game. You do find out late game that he was grown in a test tube and is only about 4 years old so for all we know he could have lived on a rudimentary paste containing all essential vitamins and minerals before we see him.

3. Jade – Beyond Good and Evil

Jade lives on the futuristic Orwellian planet of Hyllis. A world inhabited by anthropomorphic animals such as bird humanoids, cow humanoids and shark humanoids who all live and work together. So you can imagine that the prospect of eating animals might be a bit taboo in this world.

Jade’s official occupation is a photo-journalist which allows her fund the orphanage she helps run with her Pig-man Uncle Pey’J. Early on in the games she also get’s recruited by The IRIS Network, an underground rebel organisation that gets information out to the public that the government tries to cover up. She’s a progressive liberal hero and an inspiration to freedom fighters everywhere.

The only foods we see Jade eat in the world are Starkos which looks a bit like a stale slice of sponge cake. And K-Bups which look like an alien berry growth thing? Both are described as “Synthetic food of the Hillyan people”. So I would assume that most of the population are vegetarian/vegan. After all, eating meat might get a bit awkward when you’re neighbours are a sentient pig and cow.

2. The Villager – Animal Crossing

Here’s another girl that lives and works with animal people. Towns in Animal Crossing typically only have 1 human living there. You’re tasked with looking after the town because your animal neighbours don’t seem to care enough to do it themselves. But regardless of their shortcomings Villager is a friend to all of her animal peers.

The Villager really is a little farming hero, she does all her own forestry and gardening work. Cleans up any weeds and rubbish left on the ground and generally make the town a better place for everyone. Embodying the simple life, she barely has a carbon footprint and there’s no way in the game to harm any of the creatures except for the cockroaches that occasionally invade your home.

The only food you can actively eat in the game are fruits, coconuts and turnips. So as far as we see she lives on a strict vegan diet. I would say they’re one the most animal friendly human characters in gaming.


1. Bulbasaur – Pokémon


Good old number #001. Out of the now #622 pokemon there are currently Bulbasaur will always be my favourite because he was the first pokemon I ever picked back in 1999 on my 11th birthday. Bulbasaur is a Grass/Poison type and is basically a little dinosaur with a closed flower bud on his back. He’s a solid choice for any young trainer boasting impressive special attack and defence stats.

The world of pokemon does seem pretty animal friendly at a glance. Everyone talks about how much they love their pokemon which are the animals of their world. But there are some references to humans eating pokemon specifically they mention that the wild duck pokemon Farfetch’d was nearly hunted to extinction! There’s also the Donphan(or elephant) in the room of all of the government sanctioned animal fighting that goes on. They tell you that the pokemon like battling and leveling up but do they really know that?

Anyway…

All the items you can feed your pokemon are made from berries and the potions that restore your health are sprays according to the in game art. So it’s likely that all pokemon owned by trainers are vegetarian by circumstance. Bulbasaur goes a step further and can produce his own nourishing seeds from the bud on it’s back. So in addition being a vegan he’s self sustaining too.

He can also take in sunlight through his flower bud and fire it back out in the devastating Solar Beam, one of the strongest grass type attacks.
A true eco warrior, Bulbasaur is more than worthy of being the number 1 vegetarian in gaming.
Disagree? Know something or someone I’ve glaringly omitted? Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments.