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Summer 2015

Hey, folks! Sorry it’s been so long since my last update. I’ve been fairly busy over the last couple of months, working on Mental Floss, spending time on a beach, drawing, and writing, writing, writing. I’ve also spent an inordinate amount of time doing dishes, which is really the only blemish on an otherwise pretty decent summer.

First off, let’s get the Mental Floss stuff out of the way. The Strange States series continues. I had a surprise hit with South Dakota’s Wall Drug entry. I also updated an old article, 10 Very Rare (And Very Expensive) Video Games, which turned into a virtual rewrite thanks to a bunch of movement in the video game collecting hobby over the last few years. I also had a new, rather extensive article on the History of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, published on July 4th (fitting). Finally, I scored a minor viral hit with “7 Overlooked 80s Toys Worth More Than You Think”.

As for that beach time I mentioned, my family (and most of my extended family) traveled to Tybee Island, Georgia to spend about a week in a condo right near the ocean. It was an amazing experience to see my kids playing in the surf for the first time and to explore Savannah and the island itself. We had a great time despite the 13-hour, one-way drive with a seven and a not-quite-two-year-old in the car (thank god for tablets!).

It was our first family vacation and, oh man, did we need it. I’ve never really been one to take two weeks off from work, ever. A day or two here and there was always my preferred method of relaxation, but I have to say, it made a huge difference to just spend time away from work, from our normal routine, and from the world we usually know. It’s amazing what a little shift in perspective will do for your psyche. I know that ever since we got back, I’ve been more relaxed, I’ve been more patient with my kids, and I’ve felt like, yes, there is time to get everything done, instead of scrambling and racing around with my head down. Now I’m really jealous of all those Germans getting six weeks vacation every year. No wonder we have such a stressed out society.

I have been spending quite a bit of time writing fiction this summer, too. My main project at the moment is a Goosebumps-esque novel for kids. It’s based on a story my daughter and I came up with, which makes it all the more fun. So far I’m about 80 single-spaced pages in and I’m having a blast. I’ve also completed a couple of short stories and have a couple more that are in progress whenever I need to take a break from the novel. Everything is in the first draft phase at the moment, but I’m hoping to take a little time soon to edit and send them off to a few small publishers. However, self-publishing with Kindle is always a viable option today, too.

It’s funny how completely different my outlook is on writing fiction this time out. 10 years ago when I thought I was going to be the next Stephen King, I was sending manuscripts out to the biggest publishers in the business, not wanting to “waste my time” with the small press. Now, thanks to working in the nonfiction field for so long, I understand that having an extensive portfolio of published work is so much more important in the long run. I’m also not so egotistical to think I’ll be writing novels for a living like I thought I once might. It’s ok if I do my day job and then write fiction on nights and weekends. That’s what most writers do, even accomplished ones. I don’t know if it’s just maturity or experience, but I understand now what my writing goals should be, and it makes the writing that much more fun and exciting. Still, I hope I can get a few more things published, because that would be pretty sweet.

Unfortunately, all this time sitting on beaches, writing about video games and action figures and zombies (and all those dishes I have to wash), have prevented me from working on my podcasts this year. I have a new episode of When You Hear This Sound written and ready to record, but, ugh, it takes so long to do, and I don’t really have a good studio setup, and the air conditioning that’s been on all summer because it’s so bloody hot will screw up the recording, and excuse after excuse after excuse. I’m hoping that I’ll soon be able to get back to it, because I really do enjoy it, but with so much else going on this summer, it just hasn’t been a priority (especially when compared to sitting on beaches and getting paid to write about video games and action figures). But here’s hoping I’ll be able to make time for it again this fall and winter. I have some great ideas ready to go, it’s just a matter of finding the time and a few assistants to help me make them a reality. If only I hadn’t used up all my vacation time and I could take a little “staycation” to get some things done.

As we head into fall, I hope the next time I give you an update I’ll have finished the first draft of the novel, maybe cranked out a few more Mental Floss articles, and perhaps gotten around to a podcast episode or two (once the air conditioning is turned off for the season in November because Missouri weather sucks). I also have a few more things going on that I didn’t mention here, but they’re still up in the air at the moment, so I’ll wait to report on them when things have solidified a little bit. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks for supporting me throughout my many creative endeavors.

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.

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).


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!

June Update


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.


April/May Update

Jeesh.  I have to do a better job of keeping this place updated.  Anyway, here we go…


My Strange State series continues with Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

The editor also asked me to update a classic story of mine, The Complete History of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was republished and proved popular once again.

Other Writing Stuff

I’ve also been doing some writing for an advertising agency from my Champaign-Urbana days.  I can’t reveal the client or anything, but I’ve gone through three rounds of brainstorming on taglines for a government agency, and I’m still not sure if they liked any of my suggestions.

I’ve also written a piece that will be featured in an upcoming issue of a publication put out by the University of Illinois.  It’s my first of what will hopefully be many more to come.

I’m catching up on my stack of books to review for Top Hat Sasquatch, so I’ll have some more links coming soon.

I’m also hoping to have a new When You Hear This Sound podcast episode coming out soon.  Everything is written; it’s just a matter of finding time to record and edit.

Personal Stuff

Other than that, I’ve been spending a lot of free time working on my super secret, still unfinished audio project.  I’m making major strides with it, though, so here’s hoping I can have it finished soon and reveal it to the world.  I’d like to make that announcement by the end of June, but time will tell.