In which I make an unexpected recommendation

I think I need y’all to take a little bit of time and go listen to Joe Biden’s podcast.

Yeah, I know. I’m surprised too. But I just took an hour while my wife and son watched a movie to sit and listen to podcasts. I don’t drive anywhere any longer, because quarantine, so I’m way behind on everything, and I had added Biden’s podcast to my list several weeks ago and more or less forgotten it existed. Now, I only listened to the most recent episode, where he’s talking with historian Jon Meacham, and … well, I’m not gonna pretend it was the best forty minute interview I’ve ever heard before– Biden’s not a professional interviewer, and I think the podcast at least comes off as more of an unplanned conversation than something heavily prewritten– but it was damned interesting, honestly, and reminded me of a time when we had a president who could string two goddamn sentences together and express a thought in words of more than two syllables. In particular, I think those of you concerned about Biden’s so-called cognitive decline should give this a listen. Yes, I know, editing, but it would be literally impossible to stitch together a podcast like this from anything the shitgibbon’s ever said.

Previous guests include Rev. William Barber– Biden actually mentions an interest in systematic theology in the episode I listened to, which, what?— and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. I’m definitely going to give the Barber episode a listen, as I find him fascinating on his own, and I’ll probably try to blow through the three I haven’t listened to this weekend if I can carve out the time. There are two shorter episodes at about 20 minutes, and the two recent ones are 40, so they’re not hugely lengthy episodes.

I’m not going to claim that these are going to change your mind on the guy’s positions– I’m not necessarily more excited about voting for him than I was an hour ago, but I’m … calmer about it, if that makes any sense? Anyway, pick a podcasting app and give an episode a listen.

(Oh, and one interesting thing? Virtually no mention of his campaign other than acknowledging that the podcast itself is an attempt to replace some of the traditional campaign events that we can’t do right now. If anything, it’s a missed opportunity– he doesn’t mention donations or anything and doesn’t even refer you to his website. Really surprising.)


7:41 PM, Friday April 17, not yet six hours past the last time I posted: 699,105 confirmed infections and 36,727 American deaths. That is a terrifying increase for six fucking hours.

On new habits

article-2421505-1AA2E1E3000005DC-504_964x740First of all, I have no idea where this image came from.  I can reconstruct the original Google search but I sort of fell down a rabbit hole after that and I can’t be held responsible for pictures of dogs climbing on elephants.  I just can’t.

I completed my final act of outstanding customer service this morning, which required an hour-long drive up to Michigan to return the now-repaired piece of furniture I had picked up last week.  Everything went fine; the piece was fixed to my and their satisfaction, the drive was pleasant, everyone was happy,  and the hell-rain that filled up the entire afternoon didn’t start until after I got home.

I spent most of the drive up there listening to podcasts.  I’ve got a handful that I’m pretty fond of now, meaning that pretty much any time I have time to listen to them there are going to be a handful of new episodes on my phone.  A few notables:

  • Pod Save the People
  • Lore
  • Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities
  • Nightlight: The Black Horror Podcast
  • Feminist Frequency Radio
  • Females in Fantasy
  • Mass for Shut-Ins

And just today I noticed one called Subliminally Correct, which I haven’t actually listened to yet but it’s a couple of psychologists talking about subconscious messaging and propaganda in politics, which definitely sounds up my alley.

It hit me on the way home that starting in a couple of weeks I will have no time to listen to any of these, ever, unless I radically change how I interact with podcasts.  Because podcasts are for the car, and what with my drive to work having been cut down by about 90% I’m just not going to be spending any time in the car any longer.

It’s interesting, right?  You think of a new job as just a change of job, but in this case there are all these ancillary lifestyle changes that are coming with it– and, really, it’s not unfair to say that the lifestyle changes were a huge part of I wanted the new job in the first place.  My wife and I were sitting on the couch yesterday evening after she got home from work, each of us trying to get the other one to commit to some sort of plan for dinner, when she looked at me and said “This is what our lives are going to be forever, now.”  It hit me that in a real sort of way, after two years of me working every weekend and until 8 three nights a week, there’s going to be a real element of my wife and I having to relearn how to live together again.  And to be clear, I am not not not complaining about that, and I’m looking way forward to it, because it’s what I want.  But there’s no reason to pretend it’s not going to be a thing.  I haven’t cooked dinner in a while!  Maybe I’ll start cooking again!  I mean, we’ll have to, right, what with being home together for dinner for– gulp– seven nights a week.

Crazytown.

Tales by the Blue Light

My friend James Wylder and some of his people have started a podcast, so I’m handing the front page over to him for a minute.  Check it out!  

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Do you like stories? Miss having them read to you? I might be able to help.

Tales by the Blue Light is my new Podcast, a mix between “the Twilight Zone” and an old fasioned variety show, every episode brings you a brand new Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy short story, as well as skits, and some other fun stuff.

We’ve been performing and recording the show live for a year and a half at the Blue Box Cafe in Elgin Illinois (and at a special performance at Indy Pop Con) but we haven’t put the show out as a podcast yet…till now! Our first episode is up to listen to everywhere, with fresh ones coming out every Tuesday till we catch up to the live performances.

I can’t wait for you guys to hear some of the great stories we’ve featured. “McMansion Hell”, “The Legend of Miz”, and “Prescription” for instance were all audience hits I can’t wait to bring to even more people. Plus, you’ll get to see our other featured segments, like our Radio Play, Interview, and everyone’s favorite sketch: “Monster Hunter Monthly” where Magpie Jones gives advice on surviving encounters with things that go bump in the night.

And it’s all free (though we do have a Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/jameswylder if you feel like supporting us) so go take a listen! These episodes are only going to get better as you go through our year and a half of learning how to make this show, so hop on now, and tell your pals!

-James Wylder

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tales-by-the-blue-light/id1403816049?mt=2

Stitcher:
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/robert-southgate/tales-by-the-blue-light

My next post won’t be about Twitter

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…but still.  Five and a half million people.  That’s ridiculous.  It has slowed down considerably; I suspect that it’ll eventually top six million but it will probably take quite a while to do it.

In the meantime, I’m going to sleep soon, because the last several days have been exhausting and work has been ridiculous lately.  Before I go, some random facts:

  • Cardi B’s new album ain’t bad;
  • I am now up to two podcasts that I listen to regularly– Lore and Pod Save the People– and two that are very new and on “you need to improve but for now I like you” status– Our Opinions Are Correct, which is Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz’ podcast about science fiction, and Mass for Shut-Ins, which is the guy from Gin and Tacos doing his thing except not quite as insufferable as usual.  Both are on like their third or four episodes and are clearly still ironing out formatting stuff and technical issues, so they’re a bit choppy right now– but check them out.
  • I’m reading Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation, which is post-Civil-War zombie fun.  Check it out.
  • I kinda want to make my own podcast because they seem fun but hell if I know what I’d ever talk about.

That is all, g’night.

In which pods are cast

1424727845212.pngGot home from an 11-hour shift at work and my five-year-old promptly punched me in the balls, if you’re wondering how my day went.

Based on the recommendations of a couple of you in the last thread where I talked about audiobooks, I’ve listened to the first six episodes of the first season of Welcome to Night Vale.  I’ve also downloaded several other things and haven’t gotten around to them yet, so there will be more on this later.

This will be one of those reviews that is entirely negative and then ends with “…but I’m still listening,” by the way, so brace yourself.

So.  Yeah.  Welcome to Night Vale is a roughly 25-minute, twice-monthly podcast that just released their 96th episode today, so they’ve been around a while.  I’ve listened to their first six, so it’s entirely possible that in the intervening nearly four years they’ve gotten better at the things I’m complaining about.  The premise is actually pretty cool: the idea is that it’s a news broadcast on community radio in a town that is constantly beset with weird, supernatural/alien/Lovecraftian happenings.  There’s a musical interlude each episode (introduced, oddly, with “and now, the weather”) by what seems to be entirely indie artists that I’ve never heard of and is generally pretty uniformly satisfying.  Look up “Jerusalem” by Dan Bern on the iTunes store if you’re curious.

Here’s the problem: at least early on, Welcome to Night Vale feels like it was written by a talented high school student.  It is– and I hope this makes sense to some of you, and I’m going to try and write it as clearly as I can– not good, but it is close to good in a very specific way that means that it might actually be more tolerable if it were simply bad.  In other words, there’s potential all over this thing, only right now it’s too damn clever for its own good.  The authors think that long sentences and repetition of long phrases are really really funny, for example, only they’re not– in fact, they’re really predictable.  I was able to anticipate a whole lot of lines in the first few episodes word-for-word despite never having heard them before, for example.  Overwrought descriptions are also a common, massively overused trope.

Sounds bad, right?  But I listened to the first five episodes over the last couple of days, and then on the way home instead of listening to something else I downloaded number six.  I may jump ahead a couple of years tomorrow– there’s not an overarching narrative that I’ve noticed yet, so I doubt I’m missing anything really– and see if they’ve learned from experience at all.  After that, we’ll move on to something else.  We’ll see how it goes.