Fun Size Episode 30 – That’s My Kind of Garbage!

We’re back to dive into an overstuffed grab bag of off-topic nonsense with Roz Townsend, and we grapple with the important questions that keep us up at night.

Is Colonel Sanders the closest thing we have to an American Time Lord? What are our favorite fictional restaurants? Are self-published fan zines a lost art? Are skunks a form of Pokémon? Did Freddie Mercury go super saiyan in the ’80s? Are modern video game mechanics inaccessible to people who didn’t grow up with them?

Plus, Casey becomes annoyed at a group of small children not being as entranced by My Neighbor Totoro as he is, and we all betray our socialist leanings.

PATREON EXCLUSIVE: Black Ops Episode 9 – You Are Not a Mistake

In what is an ultra-MEGA-sized two-and-a-half hour episode, exclusive to our Patreon supporters, we really run the gamut.

First, we talk about  popular culture we loved as kids, but are afraid to revisit, because we fear it won’t survive adult scrutiny. In Mike’s case that means a series of epic fantasy novels that he suspects both really hold up in some way, and really really really don’t in other.

We then talk about the evolving nature of stand-up comedy and the divergent attitudes of comics like Jerry Seinfeld, and Hannah Gadsby — and how many older comedians seem to desire to be “above” politics or social commentary. Is that even possible or desirable?

Do genre stories like science fiction and superheroes have a responsibility to touch on questions of social and cultural importance? Why do the calls for political neutrality usually seem to mask a right-wing agenda?

We get into bad movie theater experiences that stretches Mike’s aversion to confrontation to the breaking point, and dive into the thorny issues of intellectual property and online piracy.

And finally, things get a bit emotional when we talk about how profoundly powerful and deeply intimate the new documentary about Mister Rogers is.

To hear this episode — and many more! — just support us on Patreon with at least one measly dollar a month!

Join us!

Fun Size Episode 27 – Not My Luke Skywalker!

Who truly owns a piece of art, a character or a media franchise? The artist, or the audience? We sit down with Sean Duncan to seek the answer to that and many other questions.

We (finally) talk about Star Wars: the Last Jedi and the tug-of-war between fans who want the familiar comfort of wish fulfillment and fan service, and those who want to see the series take some serious risks, even if it alienates some of the fans.

We look at how the real world and the context of our own experiences color and supplement the way we receive and interpret art. Plus, is it time to retire the old ways of counting audience figures, when there are so many ways to watch, read, and play these days? Uh, yes.

PATREON EXCLUSIVE: Black Ops Episode 8 – This Is Not Funny, You’re Not Funny, and I Don’t like You

In our newest episode, exclusive to our Patreon supporters, we talk more with Patrick Johnson about video game violence and how it does — and mostly doesn’t — apply to real life.

We take a long hard look at the trainwreck that is the filmography of Adam Sandler, why his movies are so ugly and stupid, and struggle to say something nice about him. We explore the wide pendulum swing of the quality of Netflix’s original programming. And finally we dig into their poorly realized original film, Bright and wonder what could have been.

To hear this episode — and many more! — just support us on Patreon with at least one measly dollar a month!

Join us!

Fun Size Episode 14 – Who Doesn’t Want to See Dwayne Johnson Punch a Hippo?

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In a wide-ranging conversation, Mike and Casey talk about whether Jabba the Hutt’s little monkey-rat creature, Salacious Crumb, is a person or a pet, and dig into the sort of bullshit rumors and urban legends that we both fell for in the pre-internet world of our middle school years.

We get into the recently-released Doctor Strange, and the question of diversity in the Ancient One’s casting, and well as the dearth of strongly written villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And finally, Mike really really wants to cast Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson in the next big cinematic blockbuster based on a children’s board game.

Casey Returns to the Video Game Break Podcast!

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Casey makes his third appearance on Carlos Rodela‘s Video Game Break Podcast!

They dig into everything from the Twilight Zone, Bioshock, baffling game dialogue, Pokémon Go, and the new/old Doom. And then they tuck into the main course: Game Emulation!

Often demonized as piracy, video game emulators, Casey argues, make decades-old games available to new players that can’t normally buy them.

Check it out! Because every man has a fuck in his sleeve.

Fun Size Episode 10 – Jodorowsky’s Still Alive

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Mike and Casey sit down with Kinsey Burke, Patrick Johnson, and Sam Mulvey to bat around a contentious and complicated topic: adaptations, reboots and remakes.

How faithful should a work be to its source material when it’s adapted from one storytelling medium to another? What happens when it deviates over time? What about when a beloved past work is rebooted in ways we cannot stand? Is it really worth getting worked up about, now that the floodgates are open?

And can a bad adaptation transcend the source material and become a wonderful hypnotic disaster? Is it time to make peace with changes to Game of Thrones, and the Ghostbusters remake?

Also, Mike fights — against all odds —  to protect a young friend from a 43 year-old movie spoiler.

Episode 27 – Open World Video Games

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“I was an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee.”

Mike and Casey completely abandon their quests to consolidate their pixelated criminal empires and save the kingdom from dragons, so that they can play darts and brew potions with video game journalist and YouTuber Kinsey Burke, and returning panelist Patrick Johnson.

Our non-essential side quest? To dig into the massive phenomenon of Open World Video Games. From Fallout 3, to Skyrim, to Grand Theft Auto V,  there is an video games where the storyline is optional and immersive player-initiated exploration are their biggest sell points.

What is the appeal of a game that lets you make your own agenda in a fictional city, or epic fantasy realm or post-apocalyptic future? What are the limits of a game that aspires to let you be and do anything you want?

And why are these games so damned buggy?

Music: 
“Welcome to Los Santos” from Grand Theft Auto V by Oh No

Previously titled: “The World Doesn’t Look Bright for Us Completionists”

Casey Returns to the Video Game Break Podcast!

Vault Boy

Casey makes a second appearance on our friend Carlos Rodela‘s Video Game Break Podcast! This time, to discuss Bethesda’s newest installment in their signature post-apocalyptic open world RPG series, Fallout 4!

They swap their stories of their Fallout 4 experiences, the self-directed open world game experience, and sheer massive scale of the game’s Commonwealth Wasteland setting. So, grab a Nuka-Cola and start blowing the legs off of some feral ghouls!

Check it out!

Episode 22.5 – A Loud, Brown Blur

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On the tail of our BioShock panel, Mike and Casey continue our conversation with Patrick Johnson and Carlos Rodela, to delve deeper into the strengths and weaknesses of this game series in particular and gaming in general.

How big and dense can — or should — a video game’s world be? How much should the player be directing the story, as opposed to the game’s designer? How often should video game franchises release sequels, especially when new installments have only small incremental changes?

Plus, random musings on Star Wars and M. Night Shyamalan.

Episode 22 – Bioshock

bigdaddy“A man chooses… a slave obeys…”

Mike and Casey pile into a bathysphere and flee the surface world, and the clawing hands of Big Government and the Parasites to reserve their tables at the Kashmir Restaurant with first panelists Patrick Johnson, and Carlos Rodela of the Video Game Break Podcast. Our topic, the revolutionary 2007 video game, BioShock and its sequels.

We explore the immersive game world of Rapture, the failed undersea utopia inspired by the free-market Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand. We look at whether video games can transcend the reputation of being a fun distraction, and whether they can truly be works of art in their own right. And finally, we contemplate the limitations and possibilities of player choice in games, and whether complex storytelling is at odds with the agency to make character decisions.

Music: 
“The Ocean On His Shoulders/Welcome To Rapture” from BioShock by Garry Schyman

Previously titled: “Being a Selfish Asshole Is the Best Thing You Can Be”

Fun Size Episode 3 – It Plays Brown Things!

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In our second Fun Size episode this month, Mike and Casey are joined by in the studio by Ask an Atheist‘s Sam Mulvey.

We dig into the selection of current generation video game consoles, as Mike makes a decision on his future purchase. Are the Xbox One and Playstation 4 really that different? Why not Nintendo?

And why do gamers need to make a hard choice between colorful all-ages insanity like Mario Kart, and gritty adult games like Bioshock and Fallout? Why can’t we have everything?

And then talk turns to the subject of Bill Cosby, and shit gets real.

Deep breaths, everyone.

Episode 15 – Fighting Games

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HA-DOOOU-KEN!

Mike and Casey hit the arcade and stack their quarters, because this month we’re in head-to-head combat with Ask an Atheist‘s Sam Mulvey and Nathan Martin of the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo. This month we’re talking about the gaming equivalent of the O.K. Corral: Fighting Games!

We look at the genre’s roots with classics like Karate Champ, and the genre’s 1990s explosion with titles like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, King of Fighters, Clay Fighter, and countless clones. We explore the genre’s connections to side-scrolling beat ’em ups, and the competitive — and often intimidating — culture that’s sprouted up around these games.

Music: 
“Ken’s Theme” from Street Fighter II by Yoko Shimomura

Previously titled: “Finish Him!”

Radio vs. the Mailbag: Rip Off!

flash

One of the harshest — and most common  — epithets in fandom is to label a work of media as a rip-off.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a rip-off of Babylon 5!” “The Hunger Games is a rip-off of Battle Royale!” “Captain Marvel is a rip-off of Superman!” “The Island is a rip-off of Parts: the Clonus Horror!”

(Okay, that last one is definitely true.)

But not all derivative works are intrinsically inferior. Some actually transcend the quality of their media muses as pieces of art that stand the test of time.

So, dear listener, this month, we’re asking you:
“What derivative works of art are superior to the works that inspired them?”

Our hosts had this to say:
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