A whole lotta love for the Maximum Fun podcasts

I’ve mentioned my love for podcasts, The Adventure Zone and My Brother, My Brother and Me before. Those two podcasts plus the other host of McElroy family of podcasts (like Wonderful! — another favorite of mine) are part of the Maximum Fun network. Last week and this one is the Maximum Fun pledge drive where the podcasts on their network as listeners to help support their work. The pledges go directly to the podcasts you listen to and help support the creators continue making good work. Not all of these podcasters do their podcasts for a living, but some do and personally I like knowing that I can help support that.

I don’t often contribute to these things, or like even patreons for people I don’t know. But in the past few years that I’ve been listening to these shows I’ve come to appreciate how much joy listening to these shows give me. For instance, Episode #400 of MBMBAM which was last Monday’s episode at the beginning of the pledge drive, kept me in stitches. I listened to it while at the gym Tuesday night and I barely noticed my time on the treadmill because I was laughing so hard. I’ve laughed about it in the week since and continued to feel connected to this random group of dudes because it feels like we’ve shared an experience… even though I’m just listening from home, work or the gym.

I’ve consumed a lot of their episodes. Over half of the 400 episodes of MBMBAM all ~90 of The Adventure Zone, most of the new episodes of Wonderful! and a handful of others. I pay good money for things like Netflix or Hulu and honestly, I often get way more enjoyment and bang for my buck from the McElroy podcasts than I do from the shows on those networks.

So last year I promised $10 a month to the MaxFun drive. It got me a cool MBMBAM pin and access to a proverbial shit load of free content dedicated to the pledge subscribers… stuff I didn’t know existed before. This year, I’m planning to increase that donation. Not because I feel pressured to… at least not by these creators. But by my own want to support these creators who give me so much of themselves in each episode.

One of the coolest things to happen so far this year is based on their 2018 motto of “Stronger Together”, Collabor18. I started a MBMBAM Discord channel specifically for fans who write or wanted to get into writing. The channel has over 100 members, is active daily, and we’re in the process of building an anthology of written works about collaboration, any proceeds of which will go to charity. And that’s only one small thing that’s happened from a giant community of fans. (I’ve got plans to post more about this anthology sometime soon.)

If you listen to MaxFun shows, I suggest you think about how much you’ve laughed and enjoyed these shows. And maybe do the same.

Shakey Graves on Audiotree Live

Audiotree is an artist discovery platform with a YouTube channel where they regularly have an artist record several songs for them live. In 2014 they featured an artist named Shakey Graves, a singer-songwriter with a guitar, a suitcase drum and a tambourine. A little like Bert from Mary Poppins, he can be a one man band when he needs to be.

I don’t know how long after they did this first series of songs with him I discovered them, maybe 2015? But I go back to this little series of videos pretty often. I find this series recorded with Audiotree one of the best introductions to Shakey Graves. You can see his charisma in the way he plays to the camera as he sings and though I haven’t seen him live (yet) I feel like you get a pretty good feel for what that might be like. Not only does his stage name have this good Southern Gothic vibe to it, so does his music. I find it almost always puts me in a better mood — at least the upbeat songs do.

Below is the series of videos he did in this first set. My favorite song from this set is the first one, “Roll the Bones”.

A year or so after this set of videos was recorded, Shakey Graves did a second set for Audiotree, which you can see below.  From this one my favorite is the third song, “Where a Boy Once Stood”.

 

 

 

MisCast 2018 — Robbie Fairchild “The Music and the Mirror” from A CHORUS LINE

Every year the MCC Theater in NYC puts on the MisCast Gala where a handful of Broadway actors perform something from a role for which they’d never be cast. Usually this is something as simple as gender swapped performance. There’s playlists of these performances on YouTube for the last few years. This year’s playlist hasn’t been compiled yet but the videos are up on the MCC Theater channel if you want to look through them all. There’s an amazing standout video of James Monroe Iglehart singing “Satisfied” from Hamilton. Which I do love it but it’s not my favorite.

As the title of this post gives away, my favorite from this year’s performances is “The Music and the Mirror” by Robbie Fairchild. He takes Cassie’s big dance sequence and makes it his own and I LOVE IT. The original Zach, Bobby LuPone performs Zach’s lines from the audience, which is pretty awesome.

I have a long standing soft-spot for A Chorus Line since watching it years and years ago with my grandmother. She was the sort of grandma who always let me watch things that were way to adult for me, but they were always these really great performances pieces like Dirty Dancing or A Chorus Line, where she knew I’d be way more into the dancing than the story. Which I was.

And this performance is no exception. Watch and enjoy and then go back and watch some of the other performances. There’s more than a few hours of enjoyment to be had, I believe there are MisCast playlists going back to 2009 on YouTube.

Phone-less

I’m very much missing my really nice phone right now. I bought it last summer after losing my much NICER phone, one I couldn’t afford to replace the way I wanted to. However, the nice phone I bought as replacement fell out of my pocket on my way out of town two weekends ago. It was a short fall, from the seat of a low car to the curb I was next to at the time. It wasn’t a hard drop and was so short, but the glass on my phone cracked in the corner. The glass is specific and a local place in town quoted me $400 to get it fixed. So I called Samsung and they quoted me less although still way more than I want to pay.

What I love though is that calling customer service (anywhere, really) is an exercise in patience with people balancing listening skills and patience. Even spelling out my name letter by letter meant getting an email addressed to Eladeveth instead of Elizabeth, despite the fact that he somehow got my email perfect.

When I called today to make sure my phone had been received and was being worked on, I was called ma’am twice in every sentence and the guy I talked to tried to give my shipping tracking number twice in answer to the question of whether or not someone was working on it. Patience won out (on I’m sure both sides) and now I know I should be getting it back within the next five or so days. THANK GOODNESS.

In the meantime I reactivated a much older phone that I spent a whole weekend updating before it would work properly. I’m remembering now why I got a new phone — this one gets hot if you’re using it for any time at all and eats the battery like crazy.

Thank goodness for Google cloud based apps though because everything I really need to get to until my real phone is returned to me is available. I’m not lost without my phone, I’m perfectly capable of putting it away for extended periods of time although I often need to have it close for my job. But not having MY phone, the one I use every single day when I pick up a phone to use, has been a real struggle. Everything feels weird and it doesn’t fit my hand right and my audiobook isn’t on it and even if it was I’d have to find the right spot to pick up again. It’s like parallel universe me’s phone. It’s familiar… but not too familiar.

A plethora of playlists, thanks 8tracks

With the announcement by the team at 8tracks that unlimited streaming is back (in part due to subscriptions and ads and all that) I thought I’d drop a few mentions about the two dozen+ playlists I’ve had stored there for awhile. Most of them are fandom based, some just for fun, a lot of them in regards to my Dragon Age RP stuff. Still, all good if you like a variety of music (like me).

You can find me on 8tracks as Cherithe (an account name I have a number of places).  Depending on what you’re into, let me offer a few places to start.

A) Hey — Mary Poppins is coming out sometime in the next year, right? Were you always a fan of whatever secrets were behind Mary & Bert’s relationship? No? Cool… me either. But you know if you like old timey-eque music with what is perhaps a bend toward the romantic, check out Jolly Holliday. This literally came about because some friends and I were reminiscing that we’d all at some point growing up thought that Mary and Bert were in love.

B) You want my favorite of the list? Check out War is Never Cheap Here, a playlist to accompany the fanfic that a friend and I co-wrote with the same name. I still regularly listen to this playlist because I love the songs we put on it so much. This is the only playlist on the list with cover art made by someone other than myself.

C) Want something random? Years and years ago for a fandom exchange I made a playlist for someone writing a Forever Knight fic. It’s titled A Son’s Denial, which I believe was also the name of the fic — although I’ve long since forgotten the name of the person or the exchange.

D) Do you like water themes or songs about ships or just good rock songs that occasionally take a turn for the melancholy? Cool. ME TOO. They’re my jam. If so, check out Where I’m Coming From a playlist about two pirates that’re a bit like siblings, and the very best of friends, neither of which really knows how to speak their feelings but they just know they other understands.

Okay, that’s a good start. There’s 27 playlists there in total and those don’t at all include the playlists I’ve put up elsewhere in the years that 8tracks streaming has been useless. If need something to listen to, there’s plenty.

 

Champions of the Earth! a podcast

Recently I started listening to a new actual play podcast called Champions of the Earth.

I’ve tried several actual play podcasts that aren’t Critical Role or The Adventure Zone and had a lot of trouble getting into them. Many of them explain too much or take themselves way too seriously or just have too much bro-ness about them that make them uninteresting or just boring. Champions of the Earth  was a recommendation through twitter because one of the members is Gina DeVivo, who’s on a few different Geek & Sundry / ProjectAlpha shows… not all of which I watch. That’s a long way of say that she was my way into this podcast.

The GM for Champions of the Earth, Collin Kelly, is a big fan of The Adventure Zone and I think that shows strongly in the way he tells the story. But in just a few episodes I’ve found that I really enjoy how he backs out of the story when the characters are having moments among themselves. He lets them direct some of the action, let’s them have character moments that aren’t necessarily plot related by have an impact on how the characters will interact when the plot resurfaces. It’s a good mix of storytelling and actual play. They use a modified version of D&D rules to play which makes the game play familiar enough for people that know 5th ed. rules and they explain character changes and rule updates quickly as they come into play, but don’t belabor the rules too much.

What’s different about Champions of the Earth is that it’s not a medieval-esque fantasy world though. It’s a modern day story of high school students thrust into a world of zombies, aliens and giant mecha knights. It’s a little Power Rangers and a little Twilight. It’s great.

It’s also really great that the episodes are about an hour like The Adventure Zone instead of 3-4 like Critical Role. If you start now, you’ll catch up to today’s episode 8 in no time. I think episode 8 also has my favorite moment of the show so far — a scene in which one of the characters is about to get into a fight with a creature, but pauses zen-like to take a sip of Fresca before it happens. It’s perfect.

You can find Champions of the Earth on iTunes and Google Play and wherever fine podcasts are sold. #ChampionsCast

Pacific Rim: Uprising; spoiler-free review

I LOOOooooooooooooooooooooVED Pacific Rim. Listen until Wonder Woman came out, the Pacific Rim theme was my ring tone. (Now it’s the WW theme if that wasn’t clear.) My love for it was only partially because of my love for Idris Elba in pretty much every role he’s ever in, the other part was the depth Guillermo del Toro put into what was essentially a robots vs. monsters movie. Good old GdT doesn’t do sequels and the writer Travis Beacham didn’t return for Uprising… but I know how to go into a movie with low-to-middling expectations, so that’s what I did.

I’m not going to go into detail here, this is after all supposed to be spoiler-free. But, I will say that if you’re going into this movie for a lot of plot… or science… or solid ties to the original… you might not find what you’re looking for. But if you, like me, are going into Uprising looking for a robots vs robots or robots vs kaiju extravaganza, well, buckle up and prepare for a good time. Go for the new cool-ass jaegers, stay for the mighty morphin power kaiju.
And if you’re on the fence, check out this Nerdist vintage kaiju movie version of the trailer and tell me that doesn’t look like a good time.


#worldpoetryday

I’ve loved poetry since I was a kid. My family had some old collection of children’s poems and songs, some of which were common and most of which weren’t. I got a collection of “Best Loved Poetry” from my grandparents pretty young from their much larger collection of classic books with matching bindings. At every point in my life there’s been at least one book of poems on my bookshelves, usually more than one.

Love of poetry also led me into a love of quotations and I used to build notebooks full of quotes based on songs and stories and poems. Eventually I started writing my own poetry, like any teenager full of emotion they’re inept at showing outwardly. I still have most of it, though it is admittedly horrible and full of conservative Christian beliefs and symbology because that’s the world I grew up in. It’s funny, I didn’t believe the godly stuff I added to my poems but the more people reading my poems, the more I added because I thought I had to.

In high school I also did speech competitions in the poetry category. I would memorize a poem every year to take to competition — my favorite to memorize was The Walrus and the Carpenter, which was just fun. The bitch to memorize and compete with was the one I did my senior year which was a good-sized portion from Paradise Lost. I never won anything, but I always really enjoyed picking out a new poem and memorizing it.

In my senior year I also did a special poetry project for extra credit (yeah, I know) that was a personally curated collection of poems. Basically it was a matter of curating poems that fit specific patterns, metres, genres. My teacher gave me a list of poem types to pick from and I ended up going over the top and picking a poem (sometimes two) for every genre or type listed. Mostly, I loved the internet rabbit holes that searching for poetry led me down. I also really enjoyed design work, so I specially designed the pages the poems went on in ways that matched the words.

It was during that project that I fell in love with the poem: “When We Two Parted” by George Gordon. Or for many years it was only attributed to a George Gordon. The full attribution is of course, George Gordon Byron, also known as Lord Byron.

When We Two Parted 
George Gordon Byron, 1788 – 1824 
 When we two parted 
 In silence and tears, 
Half broken-hearted 
 To sever for years,
 Pale grew thy cheek and cold, 
 Colder thy kiss; 
Truly that hour foretold 
 Sorrow to this.
 The dew of the morning 
 Sunk chill on my brow– 
 It felt like the warning 
 Of what I feel now. 
Thy vows are all broken, 
 And light is thy fame; 
I hear thy name spoken, 
 And share in its shame. 
 They name thee before me, 
 A knell to mine ear; 
A shudder comes o’er me– 
 Why wert thou so dear? 
They know not I knew thee, 
 Who knew thee too well– 
Long, long shall I rue thee, 
 Too deeply to tell. 
 In secret we met– 
 In silence I grieve, 
That thy heart could forget, 
 Thy spirit deceive. 
If I should meet thee 
 After long years, 
How should I greet thee?– 
 With silence and tears.

I’m still not sure what it was about this poem that really struck me the way it did. It’s not particularly complex and it’s not difficult to understand. What it does however is strike at the heart of what it’s like to have to see someone again that you’re not supposed to know anymore, let alone love. It’s worth noting that not long after this I feel in love with a country song “I’m Not Supposed to Love You Anymore” by Bryan White. Which as the title might suggest, has a similar sentiment. I think… looking back with the self-knowledge I have now, these works meant something to me not so much because of a specific person in my life but because of the nature of going to a very conservative, fundamental Christian school/church. I no longer knew anyone that wasn’t part of that church or school, but I still lived in the same town I’d always lived in. So I knew very well what it was like to see people you couldn’t associate with anymore. My tastes have shifted over the years, but this poem will always hold a place in my heart.

Music: Tank and the Bangas; NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

I think you have to have been living under a rock not to know what the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concerts art. So you don’t need me to explain how good they can be to find new music or to see good indie musicians do what they do in an intimate setting. And the setlist isn’t tight or too defined, the musicians can talk or riff or whatever makes them feel the music or connected to the small audience in the office at the time. I’m not an NPR fan and I don’t watch every new Tiny Desk video when it goes up, but every now and again something will catch my eye.

Last year’s winner of the Tiny Desk Contest was a band called Tank and the Bangas. The video went up pretty much a year ago yesterday and it’s 20+ minutes of good fun. Their music is hip hop soul with a big voice and really hefty lyrics. I fell in love pretty much immediately, listened to all the songs I could find and then sent the video out to all of my friends.

They were in town for a Tedx youth conference recently and I’m kicking myself for not knowing. I would’ve loved the chance to see them perform in person. But I’ll settle for watching this video over again a few more times.

Critical Role S2 Pinterest Boards

From my time putting together things for a Dragon Age RP board, I’ve built up quite a collection of Pinterest boards for both characters and ships. Since starting though, my collection has expanded quite a bit to literature, podcasts and other media I enjoy. These days, I’m pretty sure you can tell exactly how much I’m into a thing by what boards I’ve created.

My boards are themed in a way, characters assigned cards from both major and minor arcana from the tarot, as well as the lenormand cards. (As a note, I started doing this long before the Major Arcana for Critical Role S1 was ever announced so my cards don’t match the characters, and I refuse to adjust them to match.)

I tend to pick and choose characters that I like best, I’ve never created a full spectrum of boards for all the characters in a thing. I never put together a full list of boards for Critical Role S1 characters. And yet, Critical Role S2 totally made me want a board for each one of the characters. Today I created the final board I needed to finish my collection for the Mighty Nein. If that’s the kind of thing that interests you, I’m listing them below.

Feel free to follow one, all, everything… none. I just like having them all in one place and thought I’d show them off.