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Marching Into Spring

I wish I could say that this update has been so long in coming because I’ve been super busy with writing projects, producing podcast episodes, and otherwise making up for what little I did in 2014. And while I have done some of that, I can’t say it’s been all work, no play.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s been going on:

The Strange States series marches on at Mental Floss, with New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico (which was kind of a hit for some odd reason), New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oklahoma being published since October when I last updated.

I also released a new episode of When You Hear This Sound, covering the 1988 record of the film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Right now I’m working on a really big Mental Floss article in the same vein as my Complete History of TMNT and Way More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Animaniacs, so look for that to hit the web in April sometime.

In a perfect example of synergy (and laziness) I’ll also be releasing a new episode of When You Hear This Sound that ties into this new Mental Floss article (though not officially or anything). I figure I might as well kill two birds with one stone with the massive amount of research I’m doing for the article. It should be fun, though.

I have also just turned in the first of what is going to be a series of posts at Nerd 4 A Living called “Blogger Boot Camp”, meant to help underemployed English majors like myself score a (not always very) lucrative job as a freelance writer. N4AL is a website run by my friends Wendy and Adron Buske, whose goal is to help people of nerdy persuasions follow their passions and make a living. It’s a cool site, they have a lot of great podcast guests, and I highly recommend you check it out.

A minor update on my next read-along record book: It will not be James Cameron’s Aliens. It was going to be, until I started working on the script. I was on page 12 of 24 pages when I realized there was simply too much story to tell in such a small space. Cameron wrote a script that is very tight, very lean, with few scenes that can be cut and have the story still make sense. So I had to abandon it halfway through and simply haven’t found a good replacement yet. I’m going to keep my notes from watching the movie four or five times, though, and maybe I’ll do a longer form audio production later. If I can stretch it to 45 minutes like the Roger Rabbit album above, it could definitely work. It would just mean a lot more time and effort on my end, and I’m not quite sure I’m ready for that just yet. Someday, though…maybe.

I think that about covers it for now. I hope you’ve had a good winter, though I think I speak for us all when I say spring can spring anytime now. Here’s hoping that the sunshine and warm air will give us all a chance to live a little.

2014: Year in Review

2014.
Also known as: The Year That Time Forgot
At least in my life.

Near the end of 2013, my wife and I welcomed a new baby into our little family, which pretty much occupied the rest of the remaining year. Naturally, the full-time job of caring for an infant carried over into 2014, which meant that most of this year was spent changing diapers, entertaining him, and trying to still make time for his neglected older sister. So now, as the year has wrapped, I really don’t feel like I did all that much worth noting.

I read a lot of Reddit posts. Took a lot of Instagram photos. I wrote some unspectacular posts for Mental Floss. I put out a handful of podcast episodes. I basically just tried to get through every day, all of which have mostly melted together to form one long haze of existence.

The one thing I did worth mentioning was write, produce, direct, and mix The Thing Read-Along Record Book. Which, don’t get me wrong, I’m damn proud of, but it’s not exactly enough to hang your hat on for an entire year. And even though it’s only been four months since it was released, it feels so long ago that I barely remember that it was, in fact, this year.

I’m disappointed with 2014. I wanted to do more. I tried, but it just didn’t happen. I reached out to some local ad agencies to see about freelance work – and never heard back from any of them. I worked on some long-gestating personal projects – but I didn’t make any real progress, let alone finish any of them. I had plans for my new podcast, The Space Monkey X Audio Workshop – but wound up doing very little with it. I pitched some ideas for a local ad agency – and they decided to go in another direction. I wanted to work on a new record book – but got crippled by fear of the sophomore slump.

Naturally, good things happened, too. Every day my wife and I laughed at our kids. Every day we laughed with each other. Every day we found something to be happy about, even if it was something as mundane as a silly cat video on YouTube. I don’t want to discount these things, because they’re what make life worth living. But when you measure so much of who you are by the things you do, by the things you create, by the mark you leave on this world, a year when you have very little to point to and say, “I did that”, feels like a year wasted.

So it is with heavy heart that I say goodbye, 2014. Not because I wish you could stick around forever, but because you seem to have sucked for everybody – and I worry your influence is only going to carry over into the new year. This year we saw damaging breaches of online privacy. We saw video gamers who justified their misogyny by waving a false flag of journalistic integrity. We saw racial conflict bubble to the surface, with no real relief in sight. We heard almost daily how our civil rights are being violated by our own government, but we only raised a ruckus after a Seth Rogen comedy was pulled from movie theaters. We bought guns in record numbers because we’re terrified of our neighbors. We’re excited about lower gas prices right now without worrying about what’s going to happen once the Saudis have driven out the competition. We were essentially told there is nothing we can do anymore to prevent the devastating effects of climate change, and yet some of us still don’t believe it’s ever going to happen. We read documents detailing torture that has been done in our names, and some of us feel it was all justified. 2014 was toxic. What is there to miss?

All that being said, I am hopeful for 2015. I have a short list of things I want to accomplish. They’re realistic goals too, I think. But there’s only one way to find out, and that’s to boldly step into the new year with my head held high. I may not be able to change the world, but I can at least make my little corner as bright as possible. And the only way to do that is to keep moving forward.

Just keep swimming.
Just keep swimming.
Just keep swimming.

Good luck to you in 2015.
Good luck to us all.

Long Overdue Update

It’s been a pretty crazy couple of months for me.

The Thing Read-Along Record Book actually kind of went a little viral! It was featured on a handful of websites, including some big ones like io9, The Dissolve, and The Onion A.V. Club (which was a Bucket List moment for me).

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The YouTube video also received almost unanimously positive comments from fans, and there were tons of tweets sent from all over the world. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I’m incredibly lucky and thankful that it received such a warm embrace by the internet.

Other than that, I’ve been working on a few other projects, including more episodes of The Space Monkey X Audio Workshop. Episode 2 was some dramatic readings of old Chuck Palahniuk-inspired short stories I wrote a while back. Episode 3 is the debut of a defunct-podcast I was a part of called The Drunken Podcast, created by my friend Steve some time ago. The show was never released, despite us having a few good episodes recorded, but I thought it would be a shame for it to just sit on his hard drive going unheard. I’m working on Episode 4 right now, which will be my first interview. I’m excited and a little nervous about it…

I also released another episode of When You Hear This Sound, this time a “Christmas in July” episode featuring a Star Wars Christmas record. A Halloween episode is coming up soon, but it’s just going to be The Thing Read-Along Record Book since it never actually played for that audience yet.

Finally, the Strange States series continues on Mental Floss, with Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, and Nevada.

See? Pretty crazy!

The Thing Read-Along Record Book

Yes, it’s here, folks!  My super-secret audio project has finally been released.  As you can see by the title of this post, it is an original read-along record book of John Carpenter’s The Thing.

Long story short, I love those old record books that were popular in the 1970s and 80s, but they were always made primarily for kid’s movies, TV shows, and comic books.  But that means a lot of great films that came out during that time period never got the full record book treatment.

So, along with some of my geeky friends, I decided to correct this oversight, and am now working on read-along record books for the films that never got them in the first place.  My first choice was John Carpenter’s classic 1982 cult hit, The Thing.

This is also an opportunity to announce my new podcast, The Space Monkey X Audio Workshop, hosted over at spacemonkeyx.net.  You can read more about The Thing record book and the new podcast over there.

Here’s a direct link to The Thing podcast episode.  Don’t forget to download the PDF record book, too!

Or if you’d prefer to the get the audio and the record book in once place, just hit Play on the YouTube video below.

June Update

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Hey!  Only one month between posts!  That’s gotta be a new record…

It was a fairly eventful month too, so strap yourself in.

Mental Floss posted a mix of new and old items of mine.  The Strange States series continues with Michigan and Minnesota.  There were two excerpts from my very first story back in 2008 – one as The Actual Size of Greenland, and the perennial favorite The Map With Only 38 States.  And another hit from the past, Eaten by a Grue: A Brief History of Zork, was republished as well.

Over at Top Hat Sasquatch, I posted a review of a bridge novel that spans between Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Rise of the Planet of the Apes called Firestorm.  I also wrote a review for the novelization of Alien.  Most importantly, though, I was finally able to update When You Hear This Sound with episode 12, The Last Starfighter.

In other news, I have completed the first cut of my super-secret audio program.  I’m going to be working on phase 2 and 3 of the project this week, then returning to the audio to fine tune and clean things up a little.  Then I’ll have a final sit down with one of my good friends and we’re going to go through everything with a fine-toothed comb to get it just right.  So hopefully in August I’ll be able to announce it to the world.