In this episode, Rob and Don are joined by James Wegg of No Dice Games to talk about collectible card games (CCGs). The three of them discuss Collectible vs. Living Card Games, the current state and future of CCGs, and the pros and cons of running a gaming store. All this, and (Butt) Crack Gate, are waiting for you in this 13th episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs.
In this episode, Rob interviews Don about his Mego toymaking hobby. They discuss the history of the Mego company, the current state of Mego fandom, and the future of toys in a 3-D Printing world. All this, and the Mego Mangler are waiting for you in this 10th episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms has captivated me ever since I tore through my copies of the Moss Roberts translation (so long, they split it into two volumes). Part history, part mythology and part fiction, Luo Guanzhong’s epic has been a staple of Chinese culture since the 14th century, and is one of the four must-read books of Chinese literature. This epic story covers the breakup and subsequent reunion of China during the Three Kingdoms period from 169 AD to 280 AD, and is a story of heroism, tragedy and political maneuvering that would make George R. R. Martin weep.
However, even though Moss Roberts translation is excellent, the story can be a little dense for non-Chinese and intimidating to get into, even though comics and video games based on it have been quite popular in English. This has been a problem for some English speakers who want to read the book, but aren’t sure they want to invest the time or will be able to keep up with the Chinese cultural aspects. This is a true shame, since it really is one of the great literary works of the last 2000 years.
Now, Podcaster John Zhu has set out to change that. His Romance of the Three Kingdoms Podcast is designed to make the story fun and accessible, and is a bit like being told an epic story by your favorite High School history teacher. He not only reads the story, but annotates it and does his best to provide context for the reader as he works his way through all 120 chapters of the book. Part audiobook, part history lesson, the ROT3K Podcast is your chance to sit back and experience this amazing story for yourself- so what are you waiting for!
P.S. There is also a Youtube Channel version here, for those who like their audio from YouTube for whatever reason.
Rob and Don explore the effects that Star Wars has had on their lives, and the culture around them, as they’ve grown up. Comics, cards, toys and the origins of Don’s Beilert Valance action figure are all explored in this episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs.
It’s been a while since I posted to my blog, some of which is because of the usual Fall craziness of being a teacher, but now I have another excuse! I’ve been working on a brand new podcast called The Department of Nerdly Affairs with one of my oldest and best friends, Don Chisholm. The podcast is a bi-weekly talk podcast (new episodes every second Friday) where Don and I discuss different aspects of “nerd” arts and culture from a Gen-X’er point of view.
What does that mean? Well, we’re not a “this week in geek” podcast where we discuss the latest news or anything like that, preferring instead to take an in-depth focus on a mix of arts, culture and history with a nerdly bent. Expect a lot of talk about writing, comics, role playing games, books, film, anime, TV, video games, tokusatsu, miniatures, audio drama, action figures, and pretty much anything else that can fit under the category of “nerdly”. While the first few episodes are just Don and I, we hope to bring in some knowledgeable guests to help us chat about some of the topics as well.
If this sounds like the type of show you’d be interested in, come check us out at obeythedna.com! The first three episodes, on Writing Sci-Fi, Audience Expectations, and Nerdly Speculators are up as a starter pack for people to check out! We’ve got an episode about Satanism and D&D coming up, as well as a Star Wars themed episode in honor of the new movie. (We’re not a current events show, but this is Star Wars, after all!) You can also find our show on iTunes and many of the other podcasting directories.
Don’t worry, I’ll still be posting here from time to time, this is my home base. But if you’re looking for an extra helping of Rob’s take on things, then head on over to the podcast page and join in on the fun!
I recently paid a visit to the Sonic Society’s Sonic Speaks podcast to talk with the incomparable Jack Ward about the history of my podcast- Kung Fu Action Theatre. In the interview, we talk about how I got into podcasting, my experience running KFAT, and my eventual decision to stop doing audio drama. Along the way, we discuss writing and the transition of going between being an audio dramatist and a prose fiction writer, and the challenges that come with learning to tell stories in audio before you’ve mastered prose.
It was a fun chat, and I hope we can do it again sometime. It made me think a lot about the differences between writing for audio and prose that I hadn’t considered, and I think I too learn from the exploration. If you’re planning to do Audio Drama, or make the jump from Audio Drama to fiction writing, it would definitely be a good one to listen to.
Since it’s the second day of the new year, I thought I’d start with something about self improvement for 2015. A few months ago, while I was looking around for some podcasts about social networking, I came across what is probably one of the most amazing podcasts I have ever listened to- The Art of Charm.
Originally starting out as the Pickup Podcast in 2006, which as you might suspect was about giving guys tips about how to talk to women, the show eventually morphed into something very different. Host Jordan Harbinger started to bring on experts in various social fields from networking, to body language, to even esoteric things like sleep modification. The show turned from being about just meeting people, to being about becoming the best person you could be as a way to find the right partner, job or friends for you.
As a result, the show’s episode count is now in the 300’s, and it’s one of the top lifestyle podcasts on iTunes, with every episode having more and more amazing guests to talk about different ways we can improve our lives. I, myself, have probably listened to nearly 40 episodes of the show in the last two months, because it’s also incredibly addictive. You literally never know what gems you’re going to find in each episode that you can apply to your life, and if one episode doesn’t work for you, the next one might be mind blowing. This is the kind of stuff shows like Dr. Oz and TED Talks purport to tell you about, but never have enough time or focus to really do because that doesn’t make sexy TV. This is practical, tested and proven advice based on experience and research in many different areas.
Since there’s a lot of episodes, I’m going to recommend a few to give a look to. Now, they have already put together a toolbox of episodes that they recommend people start out with, and those episodes are good, but you should know the early episodes don’t really reflect the show as it is today. The majority of the early toolbox episodes were done back in 2006 when it was the rough form of the Pickup Podcast, and are just a few guys hanging out chatting about techniques for meeting women in social environments. They’re worth listening to (especially if you’re a single guy), and the ones on Banter are especially useful, but they’re very different from what the show will become.
One other minor note- they sell this show as a men’s lifestyle show, and it is, but especially once they get into the interviews the show is really about being the best human you can be without a specific gender focus. Most of this advice can apply to anyone of any gender, since we all need to become better in some ways.
Anyways, so here’s a few episodes I’ve enjoyed recently (their own best of list can be found here):
Susan Roane- How to Work a Room
Shawn Stevenson- Hack your Sleep
Hal Elrod- Miracle Morning
Steve Sisler- How to Read People
Yu-Kai Chou- Gamify your Life
And I’m finding new great ones all the time! It really is a treasure-box of human knowledge, and I’ve already started to apply things I’ve learned from it to my life with some success. Give it a try, you never know what you learn and how it might change your life in 2015.
There are a few writers out there for whom the act of structuring and planning a novel is as much joy and fun as the writing of the story itself- K.M. Weiland is one of those writers. She has turned her love of structure and the writer’s craft into not only a blog, but also a video series on YouTube, a podcast and several books, all of them deeply focused on how to make writers produce better work by discussing the many components of a story in great detail. It’s actually quite impressive how she turned her former Wordplay podcast into an actual writer self-help industry unto itself called Helping Writers Become Authors.
I’ve been listening to her Podcast, and I have been quite impressed by the level of thought she puts into each episode (and there are 247 episodes to date!), which have even made me rethink some of my own perspectives on writing. Ms. Weiland has a real passion for the writer’s craft, and seems to be working hard to not only find the best ways to write, but share them with the world. The only criticism I have is that sometimes the podcasts can get a little too abstract, or have a few too many examples for my taste (which can slow the show down), but those are both the result of her depth of study in whatever she’s researching and sharing with her audience.
In any case, if you’re looking for a very focused and practical writing podcast or blog, this might be one worth checking out. She has a lot of useful resources on the blog as well, and even a tutorial for getting the most out of yWriter, the free writing software and structure templates for use with Scrivener.
Each Summer, as part of my change in routine, I go through the list of podcasts that I listen to and swap out a few old ones for something new. I might go back to the old ones in September, but to keep things fresh I like to try out new shows during the Summer when my news and politics podcasts tend to fall prey to the Summer doldrums.
One recent podcast I’ve begun listening to is the Flashpulp Podcast, written by fellow Ontarian JRD Skinner and produced by his partners in crime. For those who don’t know, The Pulps were magazines and books named for the cheap pulp paper they were printed on and filled with genre stories like detective stories, horror stories, romance, westerns, and whatever else people wanted to read. These were simple stories that focussed more on action and lurid details than any attempt at art or style, and they were churned out by an army of writers who were paid by the story and wrote fast and forumulaic. Characters like Doc Savage, Conan the Barbarian and John Carter of Mars were all pulp heroes from this period. The other half of the name, Flash, comes from Flash Fiction, which as a general rule are short stories under 1000 words in length.
So the Flashpulp Podcast is twice-weekly stories of (very) short fiction in a pulp-style genre and written by JRD Skinner, who has so far written and produced 337 of these little tales covering pretty much every genre you can name- detective, zombie horror, sci-fi, urban fantasy, he does them all. Each story stands on its own, but is part of a larger set of stories about a huge cast of characters in different places in time and space who may or may not be connected to each other in some way.
Having listened to some, I have to say I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard so far. He keeps the stories short and punchy because of their length, and not a word is wasted as he tries to pack everything into his limited time. Of course, I do have a few quibbles with his definition of a story (I’d describe some of them as scenes rather than stories) but since he’s limited for time I can forgive him. Also, his music is almost all period 1930’s and 1940’s music, but the stories are set in many time periods, which I find disconcerting since it can be a bit jarring to have what feels like a 40’s gumshoe story where the lead suddenly mentions his mobile phone!
That said, Flashpulp has developed quite a following, and now I understand why. If you’re looking for a few (hundred) fun, quick listens for your Summer commutes, then check it out! You might find yourself carried away into a world of two-fisted adventure you never expected to find!
After having seen the amazing film Edge of Tomorrow on the weekend (go see it, now!) I noticed the Nerdist podcast had an interview up with Tom Cruise and so I decided to give it a listen. I’d heard Tom was an incredibly nice and gracious guy in person, and this podcast totally confirmed that. It’s a great and very personal chat between him and The Nerdist crew, which mostly focusses on his experiences in the movie industry and his thoughts about film-making in general. Given that he’s been in the business 34 years, he has quite a bit to say, so it’s worth a listen for that alone.
But, what this Podcast really made me realize about Tom is that he really isn’t that smart. In fact, I would say in terms of intelligence, Tom is a completely average guy, and if anything might even be a little dense. He’s a guy with a pretty face, a bit of charisma, and average brains who lucked out and got into the industry with his raw talent, and you know what? He knows it.
But, Tom has three things going for him that made him the star he is today- 1) he’s got an incredible memory, 2) because he doesn’t understand easily he’s extremely curious, and 3) he’s an astoundingly hard worker. He asks questions constantly, he remembers everything people tell him, and he puts that knowledge to work for him- and this is how he’s become the man he is today. He’s the perfect example of what one can achieve with hard work and a good attitude, and I have to say I admire that quite a bit. I may not be a fan of his religious choices, but this interview really made me respect him as a person and as an artist.
He also said something that stuck with me, a bit of advice Paul Newman gave him while filming The Colour of Money– “Just ignore all the white noise and do what you do”. Don’t worry about what other people think or say, just be true to yourself as an artist and be the best you can be. The world (and internet) is filled with people advocating causes and screaming about a million things, but we as artists need to just focus on making art which is true to us and our experiences. If we try to do what everyone around us wants, we’ll just go crazy or get nothing done.
Sage advice for an artist of any age or time.