Category Archives: #PassionateGeeks

Passionate Geeks: The Animals in our Lives.

Last week I realized I’d become a bit more of a cat-lady than I had thought.  Midnight Monster took off and was gone for 6 days – 6 days where I was a pretty major mess, and went to extremes such as waking up at 3 am to wander the area near my house to see if I could find him, and going out after work, out in the cold rain searching for him.

I love that cat, he’s become an important part of my life and things felt very different without him.  So I wanted to take this week to dedicate to the animals in our lives!

I asked my friends on Facebook to share their favorite pictures of the animals in their lives. Here are just a few!

I’d love to see what animals are dear to you!

Cuffy says “I am the commander of this ship!” in his best Gene Hackman voice

The grand-kitties of Corina of Wasted Days and Wasted Nights 

Crazy Mini Monsters!

Beardy Love

Tank of the Part-Time Monster family

His Royal Highness, Tank

 

Wilbur (Willie aka Chubby McChubs)
From the Write On Sisters family “Miss Marbles, I love how she holds her own foot.”
One of Allison Maruska‘s writing buddies
Jonsey of one Portland.
And a different Jonsey of another Portland!
Molly, the Miracle Cat – one of the much-missed cats that’s been in Corina’s life.

“Sometimes OakLeah is a model” (he has his own hashtag!)
Hodge
Pip, who is still very much missed by Hodge and the family.
Carolina
Zoe, miniature poodle.
Ziggy, poodle/schnauzer mix
Before & After Chewy’s adoption.
Chewy snuggled in bes
Leo! (Who now has to share Stephanie’s Instagram feed with baby Marcella).
Rosie!

Torenne
“Busted”
“She’s looking pretty intense here but this is Madeleine, aka Maddie.”
This is Nari (on the left) and Dante (on the right) brother & sister 🙂

Mr. Noche and his favorite scratcher
Shadow
Bandit
Flower
Onyx
Lupa
Nerd In The Brains Frank
More, the loyal companion of Hannah, of Hannah Reads Books
Jubilee and her papa Blitzen
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Merlin has his own tag over at Comparative Geeks
And so does Shadow

 

And, Finally, for now… Midnight Monster Cat, the day after he came home.

 

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Passionate Geeks: Fairy Tales and Once Upon a Time

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Today’s Passionate Geek is Sarah E. Boucher, a lover of fairy stories, romance, anything BBC and Marvel, and really, really cute shoes. On weekdays she wears respectable shoes and serves as Miss Boucher, the Queen of Kindergarten. On school holidays she writes stories about romance and adventure. And wears impractical super cute shoes.  Visit Sarah at SarahEBoucher.com or connect with her on TwitterFacebookInstagramPinterest, Amazon, or Goodreads.


Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a Fairy Tale Addict.

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Actually it’s worse than that. I’m a 40-year-old woman who believes in magic, happily ever afters, and the power of sassy heels. The only problems I’ve encountered are the following:

  1.  I’m not a princess in a tower with flowing blonde hair and birds for friends. Mostly because birds are creepy and I’m pretty sure they have a vendetta against me. Blech, beady bird eyes . . .
  2. I refuse to while away the time waiting for Prince Charming to carry me off into the sunset. If he had to pack me off on foot, I’d be worried about giving the poor idiot a hernia. And it turns out I’m allergic to horses.

So I guess what I really am is a Fairy Tale Realist who can’t get enough books, movies, and merch.

The series Once Upon a Time grabbed my interest from the beginning. Even so, there’s at least once per episode when my bestie and I give each other that look and say, “Nope.” and “Seriously, what are they thinking?” and “Yeah, I could have written that better.” Because in addition to Hobbitses, Hogwarts, and Han Solo, Hans Christian Anderson is well represented on my shelves. If only to provide evidence to support my arguments.

That clash between reality and fantasy pushes me to create my own brand of Fairy Tale Fan Fiction. I take the characters I’ve loved since girlhood and drop them into interesting situations to watch the squirm. Because there are always new aspects of a personality to explore.

Here I am, publishing my second Young Adult fairy tale and planning the next one. Or two. Or fifteen. That’s what happens when something captures your imagination for the better part of 40 years. You can’t shake the magic.

And hey, I’ll continue to believe in the power of hot shoes too. Because maybe, just maybe, Prince Charming has a thing for redheads in red peep toe pumps.

 

web-only-promo-book-coverSarah’s second book, Midnight sisters is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

What is it about?  Well, how about a blurb and excerpt?

The words rattled around Jonas’s head. What was the punishment again? Death? Dismemberment? Jonas, the newest addition to the gardening staff, couldn’t recall the exact penalty for breaking the rule. What does it matter anyway? He would never dream of meddling with the Earl of Bromhurst’s haughty daughters.

Until he comes face to face with Lady Ariela, the eldest of the Master’s daughters.

Her elusive smile and open manner cause him to question his convictions. In no time, he’s drawn into Lady Ariela’s world of mystery and intrigue, a world where she and her sisters will do anything—including leaving twelve empty beds at midnight—to escape their father’s strict rules.

Only Jonas can uncover the truth and save them from their father’s wrath and their own folly, if he is willing to risk everything he’s ever worked for.

***

“Jonas—”

I could see the words growing in his eyes.

“You know the cardinal rule.”

I wanted to roll my eyes, but kept my expression bland instead. Showing impatience had consequences for an undergardener.

“Do not meddle with the Master’s daughters.”

I had heard the words so many times my ears felt like they would start bleeding. If Higgins knew how pointless it was to fire them at me time and again, he’d save his breath.

“Understood?” Higgins asked with one eyebrow cocked.

The thought of running back to my family became more appealing with every upward slant of that eyebrow. “Yes, sir.”


blog-tour-bannerHer first book, Becoming Beauty, is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Find Becoming Beauty on AmazonBarnes & Noblebooks & thingsiTunes, and Goodreads. For the duration of the blog tour (January 9-20) Becoming Beauty in eBook will be 99 cents!

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Passionate Geek: Super-Comic-Christmas!

This month’s Passionate Geek is Robin!  Robin Rivera trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator. She writes young adult thrillers and her blog is Write On Sisters. Or you can find her on Twitter at @RobinRWrites. Robin has posted about her love of comics for us before with another seasonally appropriate post!

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Background Artwork by Rose B. Fischer. http://rosebfischer.com/

We’re always looking for more people to share about their passions!  Check out what’s been done in the past, and contact me if you’re interested in contributing!


Over 70 years ago, Superman made his first appearance in a Golden Age holiday inspired comic book. The man of steel, teamed up with Santa to save the big day and it was an instant success. The public embraced the new tradition and we have all been enjoying comics that celebrate the winter season ever since.

 

Today, Allison asked me to share some images from this comic treasure trove and since I love comics (and Christmas), how could I refuse?

I don’t remember my first introduction to these books; however I do own one, and just one, in my Silver and super early Bronze Age collection. It’s a lovely over-sized comic called “Christmas With the Super Heroes.” On December 1st it came out of storage and I put it in a place of honor so we could all take turns reading it. It’s one of the few books in my collection I don’t make the kids handle with extreme care. After all, it’s Christmas, and it’s a holiday that’s all about making the kids happy.

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Since Superman’s first big holiday team up, these seasonal comics have been penned by all the most respected artists, and most of the core characters we know and love, Hulk, X-Men, Flash and more, have taken up the shenanigans at one point or another.

 

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And it’s not a tradition restricted to just DC and Marvel. Gold Key, Dark Horse and all the other companies grace the racks every December with new stories and amazing holiday cover art.

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One of my favorite covers is this one for Hellboy. I think it hits the right note of nostalgia and creepiness, making it a visual treat to be savored.

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But I also love the silly ones. I’ve always enjoy seeing Hulk in a Santa hat, or watching the superheroes hunt for the perfect gifts. It’s nice to know even they struggle with the age-old question: What the heck should I buy my relatives this year?

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The best thing about these seasonal books is the traditional décor lends to a brand new dimension to the crime fighting gear. When Batman hurls a Christmas tree through the air, it’s bound to make an evildoer think twice. Plus, a snow dipped Gotham City is always worth a leisurely page stroll, if for no other reason than to enjoy the ambiance.harley-quinn-christmas-cover
Browsing the old holiday comics section is a great way to find a long forgotten movie tie-in comics, like this Ghostbusters title. ghostbustersvolume2issue11coveraOr this one from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

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Even the most notable villains and antiheroes come out of hiding during the winter season. They’re joined by animated toy soldiers, ghouls, wicked elves and the odd evil holiday shoppers. And of course old St. Nick can have a moment of villainy too, just to keep thing interesting.

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In fact, many super scary characters have come out to play in these holiday theme issues. You can find offerings that are not always the best buy for young children, featuring plots designed to add a dose of naughty to the nice.

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Others books strive to bring readers more uplifting mix of stories. These ones are much more in keeping with that you might come to expect from the holiday season, and promote messages that are hopeful and often humorous. One Superman story even featured putting Santa on a diet.

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The one thing to note about these books is they are overwhelming Christmas focused. You may see New Year’s get some holiday love, but Hanukah gets much less page time, and I’ve yet to find any evidence that Kwanzaa gets any mention at all. However, I still like them and I’m looking forward to seeing them appear in my local store this year.

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Looking for a 2016 sneak peek? Take a look at the new Harley Quinn teaser cover from DC:

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And you can find more sneak peeks here at http://www.dccomics.com/comics

So far Marvel hasn’t released any seasonal news, but keep an eye out. I’m betting something fun is in the works.

Passionate Geeks: A Post-Election Follow-up

This morning this month’s Passionate Geek featured Gene’o and his reflection on being a politics geek.

When it was originally written and queued up to post feels like a lifetime ago in many ways. None of us actually expected what happened in the political world last night and today we both reflected on how jarring the original post felt given our current states. It just… didn’t fit.

Facebook conversations have been flying fast, and this reflection from Gene’o came as part of it. This, we realized, was a very good continuation – a follow-up – of the original post.

I will be posting more of my own thoughts and reflections soon – but for now I want to give you Part Two of this months Passionate Geek.

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After posting about this election practically every day for over a year, I feel as though I need to say something. I just don’t know what. My news feed is like a funeral parlor during a wake right now.

I’ll leave the postmortem of the election to more qualified people and just tell you how I’m feeling about all this after a few hours’ sleep and a few cups of coffee.

First, it is fair to say that not everyone who voted for Trump is racist or sexist. But that doesn’t change the fact that he openly aligned himself with white nationalists or that he brushed off serious sexual assault allegations by insinuating that his accusers weren’t attractive enough to warrant his attention. His campaign was driven by misogyny and racist resentment. Minimizing that fact and putting this loss down to distrust of the Clintons is naive.

For my part, casting a vote for a racist candidate is the same as doing or saying racist things yourself. It’s not about what people believe for me. It’s about how they act. I’ll say that to anyone, and I will not apologize for saying it.

Second. Trump is not Hitler and this is not 1933 Germany. But his authoritarian mindset and his willingness to tolerate political violence are deeply troubling. He threatened in a nationally televised debate to legally harass and imprison his opponent. His supporters threatened physical harm to their adversaries and in some cases, doxxed people. Those are also facts, and pointing out that he isn’t going to send the secret police to round us up on Jan. 20 misses the point.

A President Trump with a GOP-controlled Congress is a serious problem. Given the way he runs his own businesses, what do you think his economic policies are going to be like? There’s the ideological balance of the Supreme Court to think about. And what sort of foreign policy will we end up with? These are serious questions. The consequences of this election are real.

As for how we should respond. The best I advice I have is to stay engaged. Keep talking. If you were advocating for things like gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, an end to racist violence, sensible gun laws, prison reform, etc. before this election, it’s time to double down and get back to work.

If the election opened your eyes to some things and made you feel as though you need to be more involved, stay involved. Keep in touch with the friends you’ve made who care about the same things you do. Find a way to channel your anger and pain into something positive.

The worst thing we can do is close our eyes to all this and go back to not paying attention to politics. It is vitally important that we do everything we can to preserve the little bit of progress we’ve made during the last eight years.

Mid-term elections are in 2018. Turnout during off-years is typically low, and midterms favor the party that’s out of power more often than not. The first step toward getting ourselves out of this jam is to take back the Congress.

In the meantime, keep calling out the bigotry when you see it. Let people know it is not okay. Be firm, but don’t be mean. And if you’ve gotten to know me through the political stuff I’ve been posting here, please keep in touch.

This is a serious and unfortunate setback, but it’s not the end of the world nor the end of the republic. That’s all I’ve got for now.

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Passionate Geeks: A Dispatch from A Passionate Political Geek

Today’s passionate Geek is Gene’o, who can be found at various places around the internet!

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We’re always looking for more people to share about their passions!  Check out what’s been done in the past, and contact me if you’re interested in contributing!


When I was a kid, I had a friend who was so fascinated by machines, he’d take them apart and put them back together again just to figure out how they worked. His dad owned an auto shop. The summer after he turned sixteen, my friend disassembled an old jeep down to its frame – he even took the engine apart – and then put the whole thing back together. My friend wasn’t into any of the activities we think of as classicly geeky things to do. But man, he geeked out on some engines.

I am passionate about social systems in the same way my friend was passionate about machines. “Social system” is just a fancy word for “an organzed group of humans,” and I’ve always been obsessed with groups. I love to try and figure out why they form, how they function, and why some dissolve but others persist. When we start asking questions like that, we’re asking political questions, even if the groups we’re talking about don’t have anything to do with government. politics_header

 

Elections and international relations are just the tip of the political iceberg. We can also talk about gender politics, racial politics, cultural politics, political economy, political theory, academic politics, office politics . . . you get the idea. When I start rattling off all the different ways I know of looking at politics, I remind myself of Bubba from Forrest Gump talking about shrimp recipes.

Since we can’t dismantle social groups, study the individual parts, and put them back together again, things get a bit abstract. The most basic definition I can give you for politics is that it’s about power relationships and how they work. Since even the most equalitarian, apolitical groups depend on some form of power to function, every group can be examined politically.

My passion often drifts into obsession, especially during high stakes elections. I’ve never thought very much about why I’m so fascinated by it all until recently. The best answer I can give is twofold. Politics matters because it affects the way we live our day-to-day lives; and even though I don’t have much influence on the outcomes, I do have a little. I believe we all do.

To illustrate. Does anyone think that if the U.S. Congress repealed all our anti-discrimination laws, we wouldn’t see an increase in race and gender discrimination from authority figures such as employers, judges, medical professionals, etc.? I hope no one thinks that, and this is only the most basic example of they way our political choices affect peoples’ day-to-day lives.

Here’s a more realistic example from my own experience. It made a huge impression on me as a child. In fact, it’s probably what turned me into a political geek.

When I was nine or ten, some people in my hometown decided to get together and outlaw the sale of alcohol in our county. A huge campaign and months of debate ensued. Most of the churches in the city and in the surrounding rural area supported the ban. Many retailers in the county seat, and people who enjoyed being able to have a drink without driving 30 miles to buy one, opposed.

Even though the merchants had a ton of money, this was in the rural south during the late 1970s.  You can imagine how the vote came out. We ended up with a dry county and a city ordinance which allowed the sale of beer and “light wine,” (meaning wine coolers, not the real stuff) inside the city limits.

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In January after the new laws took effect, I was riding around with my grandmother. I noticed these two stores at either end of town were dark and there were no cars in the parking lots. The month before, they’d been lit with neon signs and bustling with activity, especially on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. I wondered where all the people went, so I asked my grandmother about it.

“Remember when we voted against the liquor? Well, that’s about all those stores were selling. They had to close because they can’t make enough money to stay open now that they can’t sell the liquor.” She was pleased, and she had good reason to be. Our conversation taught me the power of one vote, and since that day, I’ve never doubted that how we cast our individual votes matters.

Much later, I figured out that the ban on liquor and the city ordinance allowing the sale of beer in the county seat must have been a huge windfall for the convenience stores. Most of those stores were, and still are, owned a few local families who are in the gasoline distribution business. I have no idea who supported the liquor ban and who didn’t, but the winners and losers in that transaction have always struck me as curious to say the least.

A lot of people who prefer other forms of alcohol, but just fancy a drink, will buy a six-pack that’s five minutes away rather than driving 45 minutes for a pint of whiskey. Political decisions always entail winners and losers, even when the changes are legal and just. I don’t think politics always has to be zero-sum, as many of our elites would have us believe. But there’s no such thing as a political  transaction in which everyone wins.

I’m a passionate political geek because groups are fun to analyze and because power is sexy. But also because I belive very strongly that a more just and equitable society is possible. The way we get there is by educating ourselves about politics and engaging with the issues we care about. ivoted

 

I don’t do a lot of blogging these days, but I talk about politics frequently in public Facebook posts and I do get passionate about some issues. This election has crowded most of my normal stuff out these last few months, but it’s done now. (I hope you voted!)  I talk a quite a bit about intersectional issues and I advocate nonviolent solutions to problems caused by bigotry. That’s pretty much my whole game when there’s not a high-stakes election sucking all the oxygen out of the internet.

I occasionally post about books, movies, and other non-political geeky things at Comparative Geeks and at Part Time Monster, my sister’s blog. I hope to have a few pieces for both those sites later this year and in the spring.

Passionate Geeks: Horror Comics!

This month’s Passionate Geek is Robin!  Robin Rivera trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator. She writes young adult thrillers and her blog is Write On Sisters. Or you can find her on Twitter at @RobinRWrites.

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Background Artwork by Rose B. Fischer. http://rosebfischer.com/

We’re always looking for more people to share about their passions!  Check out what’s been done in the past, and contact me if you’re interested in contributing!


As a college kid, I stumbled into my local comic book store on a back issue sale day.

While my then boyfriend, now husband, haggled over the issues he wanted, I struggled to find anything that would make me part with my hard-earned cash. After about an hour, my partner had already spent much more than he could afford. His haul included his first 3-D shadowbox comic art created by Todd Reis. Trust me, look this artist up. He is amazing and photos do not do his artwork justice.

I finally found something interesting that day, but not until I’d drifted into the store’s back room.

The back room was a place I normally avoided because it was a crazy jumble of comic book boxes stacked four high. The boxes were wedged side to side across several long tables. Most of these books were out of order, often damaged or by lesser-known publishers. Basically it was a room packed with all the stuff no one wanted to collect.

Within moments of cracking my first box I was enraptured. I had discovered a small cache of early Bronze Age horror comics. These issues were adorned with lurid pulp fiction inspired covers and packed with Gothic tales and other seriously weird stuff.

There were monsters comics.

A few vamps.

But mostly there were ghosts, ghouls and other supernatural stuff.

Frankly, I loved them!forbidden-tales-of-dark-mansion-group

Best of all, the store wanted to sell them for pennies on the Overstreet recommended prices. I picked up about 20 books that day. Most of them were only twice the original cover prices and since they were in the .15 to .25 cent range I managed an impressive haul without denting my bank account.from-beyond-the-unknown-coverinside-shot-beyond-the-unknown

That day was my first major dive into collecting DC comics. Originally I built my new horror collection with one of everything, but slowly I started to pick up runs in several series.

 

I liked Secrets of Sinister House, originally called Sinister House of Secret Love.

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Also House of Secrets. Many of these books featured Neal Adams cover art.

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And The Phantom Stranger, 2nd series. This series often features Jim Aparo cover art.

Later, I added a number of Marvel series to my collection, picking up an assortment of Where Creatures Roam. Although consisting of reprints from earlier monster tales, these are often packed with Jack Kirby artwork and still one of my favorites.

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Issues of Dead of Night, including issue #11, the highly desirable Scarecrow storyline.

And no collection like this would be complete with a batch of Weird Wonder Tales.

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Over the last few years, some of these series have gained traction, leading to several Showcase Presents editions from DC and a few Marvel omnibus collections. If you have an interest in reading early horror comics, you might want to start with those books. There is also this amazing and highly detailed analysis of the genre, Superheroes from the Crypt posted at The Thought Bubble: http://www.wymann.info/comics/007-SuperheroesFromTheCrypt.html

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The horror comics are still not a BIG thing for most comic collectors; many of these books sell for just a few dollars each, especially in lower grades.

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I hope you enjoying seeing a small sampling of the books in my collection.

 

 

Passionate Geeks: Podcasts!

Passionate Geeks is a monthly feature of someone exploring and sharing something they are passionate (and geeky!) about!

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Today’s Passionate Geek is David, co-founder and managing editor of ComparativeGeeks.com, a geek network covering anything and everything as long as there is a writer interested. He co-hosts the Comparative Opinions podcast (more on that below!) and has a webcomic, The Astral Chronicles. He does all of this with his wife Holly, along with their Geek Baby, and two cats, Merlin and Shadow.


People have asked a ninja, what is podcasting?

Ask a Ninja was probably the first podcast I subscribed to and watched. It was a video podcast, but iTunes would keep track of it and download it for me just fine. When I had time, I would watch them, and laugh, and watch again often, because they were short and sweet and awesome.

These days, a video like that would probably just be a YouTube video, and would not a podcast make. Podcasts through podcatcher apps – probably the most dominant of which is the one that is now standard on the iPhone – tend to all now be audio, and the move to the audio and the longer programming (longer than Ask a Ninja) kept me away from podcasts for quite a while. Finding a time and the inclination to listen made it hard. I’ve since found out that a lot of podcasts also have a live video they record at the same time, which generally ends up on YouTube, but that’s not what I’m looking for anymore…

Last year, I got back into listening to podcasts. I was doing a lot of repetitive tasks at work, or physical work moving library materials around, and I decided to try listening to podcasts to keep my mind going. I started with some niche stuff, podcasts around my Warmachine and Hordes gaming, and found one I really liked. From there, I branched out and listened to a bunch of others for the game – there’s a ton! I keep trying them, and people keep starting them up… some I like, some I don’t, and that’s the way of things.

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I’ve found a few other talk and opinion ones I’ve liked alright, but the one to really talk about is Welcome to Night Vale, one of the first things I listened to. Well, I haven’t caught up, so I guess I’m still listening to it! It’s a fictional radio show about a small, quiet, Lovecraftian town. It’s absolutely amazing if you love the Lovecraftian mythos and atmosphere.

But it’s also a fantastic representation of how people creating podcasts think about what they are doing: they are recording radio shows. They’ll joke and laugh when someone stops to Google something, or does something visual, or in some other way does something that totally breaks the medium – and tend to say something like “well that makes for great radio.” So I think some of the reason I wasn’t working podcasts in was because I don’t listen to the radio at all; my commute is short enough that a couple of songs from my iPhone is all I get to listen to, and my old car had a broken radio so CDs or my bluetooth speaker were my options. So I never turned to podcasts as a radio alternative.

That doesn’t stop me from loving podcasts. Getting in on the inside jokes. Sometimes interacting with the hosts via social media. Laughing, learning, thinking, motivating. I worry for the time when I’m not doing as much mindless work at work – because it’ll mean a lot fewer podcasts for me!

Listening to all these podcasts got me interested and thinking I could do one too. Some of what did that was episodes where the hosts would take questions from the audience – and often there would be questions about podcasting, about software and hardware and keeping a schedule, all those sorts of things. Having a topic that people want to listen to, where honestly a niche is probably what you want!

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Much like our website, the Comparative Opinions podcast is a bit more loose on subjects we’ll hit, so hopefully listeners are okay with that… We got an omnidirectional microphone for in-person recording, invested in Skype recording software for recording with guests on Skype, found music on the Free Music Archive, and we’re so far successfully using Apple’s Garage Band to manage the audio file, which we’re then hosting on our website.

We also came up with a format where our goal is to not need to do much editing – which is a major part of why Garage Band works, because it seems like it used to have settings and options for podcasting and those are all gone now. But with that, we found out that podcasting in general worked for us – we can very easily have a natural conversation, with very limited pauses or breaks, and record it to share. Many of these are like conversations we would have before writing a blog post, as we work our way through the ins and outs, think of examples and things that relate, go down tangents… all the good stuff! Recording that is like catching it in a bottle, and releasing it for others to hear.

Meaning, it’s been a lot of fun! There are a ton of podcasts out there these days, and I don’t know that I have great recommendations on what to listen to or on how to be found. I listen to what I’m interested in, and there’s probably some fun ones out there that you’re interested in. And in terms of being found, I’m still new enough into it that I’m not quite sure! But I suppose I could share a few links with you and maybe you could listen…

Find us on iTunes here, or the feed is here or on Comparative Geeks! And if you’re not listening to any podcasts right now, maybe give them a try, like during your commute or when you’re doing chores. They tend to be some people geeking out about whatever it is they’re passionate about, so find the ones for you and it’s like finding your geek community – or at least the radio part of your geek community! Happy listening!


Want a chance to talk about what you’re passionate about?  Let me know! I’d love to have more people share their interests!