Monday, January 30, 2017

Star Wars In My Ears - A Look At The Sith List Podcast.

There is no doubt that popular culture and popular entertainment has exploded in recent times. The seemingly unending cornucopia of super hero franchises as well as high end television franchises now serve a fan base that was unthinkable in terms of numbers when I was growing up in the 80's. And it wasn't until the popularity of the Internet really kicked off in the early 2000's that fans and fan communities from all over the world could interact with each other. 

I've observed this pattern for pretty much my entire life, having been born into world at a time when Star Wars erupted onto the screen and into the public consciousness in a way that was unprecedented. And, I've derived immense joy - particularly recently - in having found a global community of pop culture fans who appreciate pop culture as much as I do.

The nexus of this interaction has been audio podcasts which have allowed friendships to spring up, discussions to take place and generally good times to be had.

So, this week, I'm continuing my exploration of the podcasts that have filled my ears and have given me a whole lot of satisfaction and joy. I want to share with you a show called The Sith List.

(image credit: Iraj Dowlatshahi.)

The Sith List is a weekly pop culture podcast that covers not only Star Wars - which, of course, is catnip for me - but it explores a broader spectrum of popular culture and engages wide ranging discussions on the likes of Marvel, DC, Lost, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead - just to name a few. 

Hosted by Iraj Dowlatshahi and Carlos Arguello, The Sith List's appeal lies in the team's keen knowledge of a wide variety of pop culture franchises and their passion for the storytelling, characterizations and lore contained therein. They also step out of the in-universe content to explore and discuss behind the scenes aspects of the various franchises, drawing on up-to-the-minute news items from reputable entertainment sources. Their commitment to factual reporting is really admirable in a sea of similarly constructed audio productions who don't strive for that level of accuracy.

The Sith List hosts Carlos Arguello & Iraj Dowlatshahi. (image credit: Iraj Dowlatshahi.)

What I also really like about the podcast is that, for the casual fan - who may not be familiar with a particular franchise - Iraj and Carlos present their show in such a way that you don't necessarily have to be a fan. They make their content accessible and actually invite the listener into a given franchise by giving enough background information that one is encouraged to go out and look further. 

Their discussions, their debates are lively, sometimes passionate but always entertaining. With a roster of guests drawn from within pop culture fandom, you can be guaranteed to be informed as well as entertained by the differing opinions put on show. 

There is also a healthy dose of nostalgia available in The Sith List - one that especially appeals to us 80's kids for whom much of our Saturday mornings are but a distant memory. 

The Sith List brings it all back with affectionate immediacy.

Subscribe to The Sith List on iTunes here

Subscribe to The Sith List's generic feed here.

Connect with The Sith List here

Tweet The Sith List here


Loved Up Things - A Look At The Barber Shop Girl by Georgina Penney.

Scottish based, Australian author Georgina Penney is an accomplished writer who I have spoken enthusiastically about previously, having covered her romance titles "Fly In Fly Out" and "Summer Harvest". So I'm excited to be returning to Georgina's orbit with the newly released "The Barbershop Girl" which serves as a sort of rounding out of a trilogy focusing on the Blaine sisters from those earlier novels. 

So here's the guff on The Barbershop Girl first and foremost.

You don't become a notorious British celebrity without rubbing a few people the wrong way, which is why writer and comedian Ben Martindale has decamped to Australia until the latest media frenzy dies down.

When he meets Amy Blaine, a perky blonde who dresses like a 1950s pin-up girl, he knows he's hit the satirical jackpot. He begins to fill his weekly London column with snarky observations about her life, clothes, and even their most intimate moments. It doesn't occur to him that Amy, who is letting her guard down for the first time in her adult life, might be upset - after all, it's hilarious, and his readers love her!

It isn't until Amy discovers the extent of his betrayal that Ben begins to realize just how badly he's cocked up the best thing that ever happened to him. But is it too late?

I read things...loved up things. (image credit: DFA.)

There is something addictive about Georgina Penney.

Actually - there's plenty that's addictive about Georgina Penney's story telling and it has certainly suckered me in since I entered her world through the doors of "Fly In Fly Out" which serves as the prequel to this title. I gobbled The Barbershop Girl up over a week, gleefully returning to the world of the Blaine sisters Jo and Amy. Where Jo took center stage in the previous novel, the one thousand watt Amy gets her chance in the spotlight here and it was just a delight to see the world through her eyes. I have to admit to having something of a major crush on Amy and I found myself feeling the occasional pangs of jealousy as she traverses the tight rope of romance with English journo/comedian and sometimes *complete* horses arse in Ben Martindale.

The Barbershop Girl is packed full of Penney's signature wit, attractive characterizations and vivid imagery - particularly Western Australia's cosmopolitan capital Perth and the gorgeous Margaret River wine region. Penney has a skillful sense of comic timing and she can quickly switch to moments of deep emotion, heartwarming sincerity and unbridled, crackling passion. All these combined make The Barbershop Girl such a satisfying romance and I was left, at the end, with my cup full but my heart aching to go back their and spend more time at Babyface/Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

I quite fancy an old school cut throat shave.

George writes things...loved up things. (image credit: G. Penney.)

Georgina Penney first discovered romance novels when she was eleven and has been a fan of the genre ever since. It took her another eighteen years to finally sit in front of a keyboard and get something down on the page but that's alright, she was busy doing other things until then.

Some of those things included living in a ridiculous number of towns and cities in Australia before relocating overseas to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam and presently, Bonny Scotland.

In between all these travels, Georgina managed to learn to paint, get herself a Communication and Cultural Studies degree, study Psychotherapy and learn all about Hypnotherapy. In the early days she even managed to get on the IT roller coaster during the early noughties boom, inexplicably ending the ride by becoming the registrar of a massage and naturopathy college. There was also a PhD in the mix there somewhere but moving to Saudi Arabia and rediscovering the bodice ripper fixed all that.

Today she lives with her wonderful husband, Tony in the Scottish wilds surrounded by hairy coos (yes "coos") and far too many procreating rabbits.


Purchase The Barbershop Girl here.

Connect with Georgina Penney here

Tweet with Georgina Penney here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

When Star Wars Rogues Unite - A Look At Rogue Won: A Star Wars Podcast.

In the ever expanding world of Star Wars podcasting, fans of the block buster franchise are spoiled for choice. A quick iTunes search will immediately yield dozens of shows examining the minutiae of Star Wars - from the films, to television, to collecting, to gaming. Literally any branch is catered for. 

As a long time listener of Star Wars podcasts, I've traversed all of these branches of fandom in audio form and have encountered many fine examples of Star Wars podcasting. My tastes have evolved over the years. Whereas once, I sought out podcasts with a specific bent - like collecting, nowadays I find myself drawn to more general conversations about Star Wars that speak to me as life long devotee of the franchise - podcasts that remind of the kind conversations I used to have with my childhood friends growing up in the 80's.

In the past two or three months, I have come to the podcast Rogue Won: A Star Wars Podcast For Winners. Adapting its name from the most recent film in the franchise, Rogue Won is hosted by New Jersey native Johnny Grasso, Alabaman Hawes Burkhardt and New Yorker Michael Pappas, Rogue Won is a weekly show that explores the most recent news pertaining to the franchise and engages in a lively banter about Star Wars that harkens back to those distant back and forths I had from childhood.

The genius of Rogue Won lies in the engaging personalities of the hosts - the razor sharp and lovable smart arse in Johnny Grasso, the gravelly acerbic and witty raconteur in Hawes Burkhardt and the bolshie tough guy with a heart of gold in Mike Pappas. They bring the show together from across considerable distances in North America to present an almost small town audio love affair with Star Wars that oozes charm and recreates the child like appeal that Star Wars draws from within all of us fans.

Rogue Won's on air team (L-R) Johnny Grasso, Hawes Burkhardt, Mike Pappas.

And yet, underlying this veneer is a smart and analytical exploration of franchise news, franchise politics and fandom - aided by the fine repository of up to the minute content from the team at Making Star Wars - that goes beyond the superficial. It is often fearless, unafraid to poke holes in the imperfect beast and it baulks at the kind of sycophantic devotion to Lucasfilm inherent in other podcast offerings. But it does so while maintaining a respect and reverence for the franchise and, as such, this sets Rogue Won apart. As a result - and in quite a short span of time - Rogue Won has cultivated a loyal army of listeners and fans which has undoubtedly contributed to its rapid rise on the iTunes charts.

For me, Rogue Won: A Star Wars Podcast For Winners rekindles that old school innocence of 80's Star Wars fandom and as such, it rises above many of the other podcast offerings out there in the wilds. 

Visit Rogue Won: A Star Wars Podcast For Winners here

Subscribe to Rogue Won at iTunes here.

Join the Rogue Won Army here.