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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wil Wheaton and Chris Hardwick are my best friends

Wil Wheaton and Chris Hardwick are my best friends.
Let me be very honest and clear here, I have never met either of the two gentlemen. I have never seen in person, spoken on the phone, or engaged on social media with either of them. However, I am an avid fan of their work. Their online presence exposes so much of their personality (seemingly) that I cannot help but feel as if I know them. I have often joked that while I am a man of faith I worship at two altars, the Altar of Christ at First Presbyterian Church in Downey, CA, and the Altar of Science in Neil Degrasse Tyson’s “StarTalk Radio” podcast. I await the arrival of Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman’s “Hollywood Babble-On” with the same anticipation that my Die-Hard Pro-RedSox family members look forward to a game against the Yankees (ok that might be hyperbole but not by much). I listen to Jay Mohr’s “Mohr Stories” regardless of who he has on as a guest because I know that, at the very least, he himself will be entertaining. My point is, that I am a verified podcast junkie.
I was first introduced to the world of podcasts in late 2012 by the host of my favorite podcast, Andrew from “ThereforeIGeek”, as a way of gaining information about the creative process behind writing, drawing, and publishing comic books. He pointed me towards the podcast helpfully titled “Make Comics”. I’ve known Andrew and Dude for years and this was before either of us had gotten behind the mic and put anything more than pictures of ourselves online. I was, at the time, a professional sailor and instantly fell in love with the ability to download as many episodes as I could while in port, and then binge listen with my earbuds inside my hearing protection as I walked around the engine room. I went around the world and across the equator with the voices of people I’d never met playing directly into my head. By the end of my six-month voyage, I was good and hooked.
I had never before understood the “cult of personality” effect. I laughed at the people who bought People Magazine. I openly teased my female co-workers who gossiped about the fashion choices of Kim Kardashian, Cameron Diaz, or the latest “celebutante”. No longer my friends, I had truly gone down the rabbit hole. “Wil Wheaton has his own beer? I need to find that and try it!” “Bill Nye has his own line of bow ties? I’ve always thought I’d look good in a bow tie.” And my obsession wasn’t limited to podcaster’s either. “Ewan McGreggor’s Uncle played Wedge Antillies in the Original Trilogy? Wow that’s amazing, I think I’ll go watch his motorcycle documentary on Netflix!” “Jason Momoa is the new Aquaman? That fits because he studied Marine Biology in College! (according to Wikipedia)”
In mid 2013 I stopped sailing and settled in to the Tacoma Washigton area working at the local Best Buy where a new group of friends got me involved with tabletop role-playing games for the first time. Why didn’t the afore-mentioned Andrew get me involved earlier? Well he probably tried but when my head wasn’t swimming in single malt, it was usually stuck too far up my, well, you know the metaphor, to pay attention to him. So when I did finally realize that tabletop games were fun? There was Wil Wheaton. “Old Faithful” with another digital program to enthrall and entertain me. From there on, “Geek & Sundry”, “seesmod”, and “Nerdist” became staples of my visual entertainment as well as my auditory.
In early 2016 I started my own podcast and blog. Check it out if you like but beware, I don’t update often and this might be the only article post on the whole site. I’ve enjoyed the process of recording and publishing the site, but, if I’m honest, I prefer listening. I like finding out that Dr. Tyson is from the Bronx (where I went to school). I take an almost perverse pleasure in listening to Lizzie Post debate etiquette with her cousin, Daniel Post Senning. I absolutely eat up hearing Marc Maron, Jay Mohr, Jason Mewes, and Chris Hardwick talk about their struggles with addiction (a few cousins on my father’s side of the family are in recovery so I’ve always been interested in people’s stories). I love hearing Andrew talk about his love of comics and movies with Tracy and Dude. Sometimes the best part of my day is putting my headphones on and hearing the voice of an old friend. Regardless of whether I know them, or not.
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Star Wars for Non-Geeks

Ladies and gentlemen, if your partner wants you to watch Star Wars for the first time with them, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. It's not just a movie, attention and respect must be paid
2. The original movie came out in 1977, those effects were top of the line at the time
3. Han shot first. There is no one who can properly articulate why this is important but it is.
4. there are complex layers beneath the surface. If you just watch for entertainment you'll find a fun kid's movie that looks like a space western. If you look deeper you'll find a deep wormhole of morality tales, mythology, and storytelling tropes.
5. the fact that the main villain's name is Dutch for "Dark Father" is simple coincidence and is NOT a foreshadowing of the biggest cinematic reveal in history and if you guess it before we show it too you we'll have been deprived the pleasure of seeing your delighted face. Keep it to yourself!
6. Han shot first.
7. Chewbacca is speaking an actual language that the others commonly understand.
8. The existence of a majorly overlooked design flaw in the death star is necessary for the progress of the story, suspend your disbelief and deal with it.
9. Han shot first.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Dear YouTube DIY Instructors

Dear YouTube DIY Instructors,
Many of you do absolutely fine work which has helped me diagnose and repair several vehicles (looking at you Scotty Kilmer) and have taught me several new skills (much love to Walter Sorrells). However, I have found that many of you all fall disappointingly short in a few areas. Here are a few things which will make me choose to subscribe to your channel over one of your friendly rivals.
Sound. A whole lot of these videos have a lot of loud background noises which are totally understandable and acceptable, things like engines revving, air tools whirring, and hammers banging on workbenches are completely expected. They do not, though, need to be so loud that they drown out the information being presented. Videos shot outside are particularly bad because of the wind. Unfortunately, the only really good way to deal with this is a separate mic with a wind screen which can be pricey and difficult to handle so your best bet is shooting your video indoors if at all possible. As for reducing background noises after the fact, this is surprisingly easy to do. Both Windows Live Movie Maker and iMovie come free of charge along with the respective computers they work with (Windows and Mac respectively) and can quickly and easily extract the audio then it’s off to Audacity (free again) to reduce the background noise to a dull roar, back to your video editor to reattach the edited audio, and Bob’s your Uncle.
Shots of the piece being worked on. The best and easiest way to do this is to take stills of the piece during various stages of removal repair and replacement. Show us the piece and the damage alongside the clean replacement. These stills can be spliced into the video with the above-mentioned video editors.
Show us the whole damn thing step by step already! I know you’re busy, I know that getting the right shot is difficult but I’m sick and god-damned tired of seeing a guy point to a part on my engine, saying “go ahead and take X out” and then cutting to a shot of the part laying on a bench saying “well that was pretty tough but we got it out and there it is.”
This next one is tough and most of you do it very well so this is for the lower level guys. Try your best to present yourself with an air of confidence. The phrase “I don’t know if this will work on your car but it seems to do the trick on mine” is the fastest way to get me to switch to another video. I understand that my car may not be the same as yours but when you sound like you’re throwing out the same tips & tricks as my co-workers, it makes me reach for my wallet and drive to a professional shop.
Ok folks, here it is and please pardon my language. Buy a fucking tripod! They are not expensive at all. I’ve shied away from telling you to buy software and equipment so go to best buy already and plunk down $20-30 on a cheap one and get filming. You’re a busy mechanic with only two hands and you need them both to do all of the things I stated before. So, open up the wallet already and show me some steady camera work.
So, there you have it. My rules for YouTube repair videos. If you liked it let me know in the comments, if not please be civil. Or not, fuck it. Do whatever the hell you want.