Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Adventures in Podcasting: The Behind the Scenes Bloopers

Garin and I rocked the house this weekend. We recorded 4 Episodes. Every week we do a review of what we read the week before. That was a fun recording this week since it was a single book each. Weekly we also record a previews episode of the comic books that will be released the following Wednesday. Some weeks we are lucky enough to score an interview. Sometimes we want to dive into a particular story line, character, or theme. Lately we have been doing Top 10 lists. I talk quite a bit about how that came to be in my David's Top 10 Favorite Comic Book Characters post. We have also been deep diving DC comic book continuity and pulling threads on really important moments. 

When you record a great episode you feel the magic in the air. There is a certain energy that just flows out of our back and forth that screams good content. I don't think we ever phone our it in. Garin and I are both too into the subject matter for that. We are fanboys at heart. Some shows are better than others though. This last Sunday was one of the magical sessions. 

You can see the results on YouTube and hear it anywhere fine podcasts are posted. What you won't see or hear is our screw ups. Now, we don't script our show. Garin and I come off the cuff with all our content with only the general subject matter of what we are going to talk about. He and I both have had episodes where it was important to have a few notes, but we really do make the show spontaneously. This post is not going to be about all the hilarious times that we had recording outtakes. Those don't exist. I refuse to allow any editing of the show. Since I am the jerk who records and edits, that is an easy thing to control. If you want to see or hear us royally screw up just got check out our content. Half the fun is seeing where we goofed.

Our bloopers are fun in whole different way. My favorite screw ups have been human error. Eventually video will capture us pulling the great we-didn't-press-record adventure. The controls on my Tascam DR-05 are incredibly intuitive. Power it on. Hit the record button once to start a file. Press the button again to begin actual recording. The record timer will start counting up. You are live. 

If you go listen to the show it is VERY common for there to be a 1 to 2 second pause in the beginning. You know what it is from? One of us, typically me, is looking at that counter to make certain we are actually recording. I know the above paragraph may have spoiled this goof, but there have been so many times that Garin and I have been talking for minutes without anything being captured. In fact, the reason I purchased a Zoom Q2N-4k that records high def sound in addition to being a good cam is so that we would have a reliable back up in the event we kept repeating this little error. 

When Garin and I talked for 25 minutes only for me to realize nothing had been recorded it was funny. The second take wasn't as good. We both know it. We don't talk about it. Because there is no script, it is impossible to capture the magic again. Would we have thousands of listeners now if that 25 minutes had been recorded? No. Still, we both know we lost something there. It is a little funny and a little sad. We don't really talk about that lost episode. 

That is actually what caused us to start goofing our intros. I had started the opening script. It used to be fairly uniform. After a couple of not-hitting-record false starts it became more routine for one of us to mess the other up on our second start. Typically, We were so busy laughing at ourselves to be serious in the introduction anyway. I think it is part of our charm.

This weekend saw a brand new screw up. Lady Luck was, as always, on my side in this one. I call this blooper,"YouTube with extra steps." The Zoom Q2N-4K has been an amazing camera. Is. It IS an amazing camera. I am in no way doing away with it. As usual, I set up the Zoom and I also set up my new GoPro Hero 8 Black. We filmed and recorded the first episode. Since it was the trial run of the GoPro I decided that I would record from two very close angles and compare video and sound quality.

Somewhere between the first and second episode the external volume control on the Zoom Q2N-4K got dialed down to zero. It recorded the second, third, and forth with absolutely no volume. I had no way to know this during the recording session. In fact, it wasn't until I was home and working on the monotonous task of uploading things to YouTube that I discovered the blooper. 

Yep. Had God not had my back we would have had 3 silent episodes for YouTube. Now, I MIGHT have been able to salvage something and cut the episodes down to match the audio file from the Tascam DR-05, and then I MIGHT have been able to sync the audio. Those are serious mights because I have never done those before. I have no software that would do that for me. I could figure something out. Maybe Possibly. 

Instead I had video on my GoPro Hero 8 Black. The Hero part really sounds pretty accurate to me at about the time that I am pulling the files off of it to upload to YouTube. This is a good news/ bad news situation. I am very brand new to the function of the GoPro. There is a chance that the GoPro has a setting that records video straight through any duration, but when I open up the files they are limited to sequential clips that max out as 11 minutes and 48 seconds. I love the randomness of that time. So my 40 minute episode is in fact 4 smaller clips that need stitched together somehow. 

After a quick series of searches on YouTube, I became really certain that I couldn't upload the videos in segments without making them each their own video. Super bummer. I got to learn a new software and a new editing skill for stitching the videos together. Crisis adverted. I didn't have to message Garin and deliver the awful news that I goofed the video and YouTube was getting shorted for the week. 

That should have been the end of the blooper. I headed off to work Monday waiting for the hours long upload to complete. I typically use my desktop for all the YouTube Production stuff. That frees up my tablet for writing and all the other fun and clever uses I can come up with for it. I did all the video editing on my fancy Surface Pro 7. It has a faster processor and a smoother operation overall. That doesn't matter for Audacity so much. It seems to matter quite a bit when I am working with large video files. 

When I got home Monday night I was really surprised to find out that my videos had paused around 26% completion. I had completely forgotten the power settings of the tablet. It had spent the day sleeping comfortably on my desk. I updated the power settings and waited around with the system for about 4 hours for the upload to complete. I missed our Monday at 10 pm drop time for the shows, but beyond that things ended up fairly well. 

Recording a podcast will constantly throw you curve balls. There is no way to predict them all. If you are going to run a show research things thoroughly. Talk to people who have experience. You can have all fancy, expensive, and professional level recording equipment and still screw up and forget to hit the record button. You will forget cords. Interviews will cancel or reschedule. 

The struggles are half the fun. I have a blast with the bloopers. I learn from all of them. Hopefully, the shows I am involved with are benefiting from these experiences. I really hope that I can keep building the success of these shows and writing these posts. Let me know if they are informative or entertaining. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

David's Top 10 Favorite Comic Book Characters

Garin and I have been having a lot of fun recording more and more creative episodes of the podcast. I suggested that we start a conversation around what our favorite characters were. The resulting 40 minute debate can be found here. Give it a listen. 

Thinking about the list was quite an exercise. I ruled out using independent characters even though that wasn't one of the rules. Garin didn't put any villains on his list. That also was not in the rules. What we ended up with was quite interesting. We didn't have nearly the overlap I thought we would. 

Everything I do in life has some sort of internal logic or methodology. If I cannot define a why for something I will rarely do it. Why do I record a comic book podcast? It is a lot of fun. It gives me something to do with a good friend. It gives me an excuse to continue reading comic books. See. Logic! Spock would be pleased. 

So, What has me thinking about my favorite comics? Minimalism is the answer. I have thought more and more about why I do the things I do and why I allow any given thing into my life. Getting rid of my physical books? It is the logical step for a journey I started on with my very first Kindle. I still have a few books to eliminate. I also still have a few books that really have meaning that I would like to keep. Still, progress has been made.

Movies? Again, going digital wasn't all that difficult. Offloading to the local used books, movies, and games store has been an adventure. I decided that parting with clutter was a LOT more important to me than making money on the adventure. Again, my logic is simple, I collected a massive lot of movies through poor self discipline and incorrect priorities. There were more than a few movies in my collection that I had never watched or watched once and never thought about again. Why should I worry about turning a profit? I cashed in what they wanted and donated the rest to Goodwill with no regrets, a sense of accomplishment, and quite a bit of pride. The kids movie section is still something of an issue, but that will solve itself pretty quickly as Teagan grows up a bit and her interests change. 

So I keep looking at my comics with a bit of horror. Getting rid of that collection needs to be without a sense of dread. I keep telling myself that I do not need a collection of comics. I cannot go digital as neatly as I can with books and movies. My collection is thousands strong. I cannot sell the books I have and replace them digitally at an equal rate. 

I also probably don't want to do that. I do like digital comics. I redeem those Marvel digital codes and have a few thousand digital comics in my library. Even all of those comics are not things I love. Digital clutter can be very real. 

Still, there are some stories I want. There are also some comics that I want original issues for because of their relevance to me and/or a character I identify with. There are some artists I cannot get enough of their art. There are some stories that tugged my heart strings. 

How do I sort out the things I love from the rest? Well experimenting with ideas of how to break the hold of all these comics on my life is exactly what got me to thinking about what means something to me and what doesn't. Here are some ideas I arrived at:

  • I don't care anything about having a "valuable" collection. I could do a lot more by saving up my money than "investing" in comic books. There are probably no comic books in my collection that are truly irreplaceable, but if I part with something I am committing to not trying to replace it. Once I give something up it is gone. 
  • The chances of recovering what I have in the comics is zero. I shouldn't be trying to. If I manage the purge,I will continue to read comic books, but I will set myself a limit of what I have collected up. When I hit that limit I will purge the collection again. In fact, I probably should part with pieces and runs of the collection in a way which inspires other people to read and love comics. I want the hobby to grow. That is also a big reason I record the podcast. 
  • I cannot be a completionist. The cost to put together full runs of characters like Wolverine are thousands upon thousands of dollars. Even collected editions and replicas are hundreds of dollars. Multiplying that by the number of stories and characters I enjoy means the pokemon method (Gotta catch em all!) is stupid! If I cannot have everything then it is ok to only have the really meaningful stuff I love.
  • I should think more about following the characters that bring me joy rather than keeping up with continuity. I will do SOME of that for the sake of the podcast, but there is no sense wasting money reading something that feels like a chore. My reading habits need to change along with my collecting habits. 
  • It is much better to have 10 comic books I love than 10,000 I don't care anything about. 
  • I am really struggling to figure out how to do this. 
  • I do want to do it. I want my closet back. I don't want to move those boxes again. 
  • I need a real system to eliminate the fluff before I get to the hard decisions. 
I literally sat staring at boxes of comics and an entire book shelf full of graphic novels and trade paperbacks scratching my head. How do I pick my favorites from this mess? Favorites... Now there is an idea.

So I messaged Garin and said,"How difficult would it be to put together your top 10 favorite characters to talk about tomorrow?" I think I almost killed him. Even the idea of putting together a double handful of "favorites" is hard for guys like us. We literally access 4 decades plus worth of memories and cultural approval when we think about things like this. In a way, I really envy the people who have the ability to just read one book or character and be totally satisfied. As I have said many times, I am too in love with narrative. 

With a few hours of work, while carefully not looking at my collection I scraped out the following list. It has problems. It needs revision. I already missed at least one character due to my no independent titles rule. Here is what I came up with: 

  1. Wolverine
  2. Batman
  3. Joker
  4. Conan the Barbarian
  5. Doctor Doom
  6. Doctor Strange
  7. Emma Frost
  8. Phoenix/ Jean Grey
  9. X-23
  10. Harley Quinn
My thinking behind the list was highlighting Marvel and DC characters that will cause me to buy a comic book. I thought about characters I follow faithfully. I thought about characters I love even when they are executed poorly. 

I also could rewrite this list by half. I am not sure I got anything right or wrong. I know that this is a topic that I will revisit. The podcast is planning on doing some gatherings. I will redo the list at least once or twice before the first sit down. That should distract me from the problem of having no idea how to part with my comic books! 

Well that is a lie.Today we recorded our favorite writers episode. Next week we are covering our favorite artists. It really is helping me think about the things I want to keep.


May 20 Comic Book Pull List

Ablaze

Mirka Andolfo's UnSacred #5

AWA

Year One #1
I haven't really followed the solicitation on this one, but I love zombie stories. I also really like Benjamin Percy. His X-Force and Wolverine runs have been phenomenal. 

DC

DCeased Unkillables #3
Two Zombie books in one week? Oh yes, I think I will. 

Image 

Deadly Class #44

This is the first week since March 27 that we are getting new comics. I am glad that the offerings are light. I am excited to see what next week will bring. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Comic Book Pull List May 13th

DC

Justice League #44


Comic Book Pull List May 6

DC
The Flash #753
Green Lantern: Season 2 #3
Joker/ Harley Quinn Criminal Sanity #4

This is a pretty interesting return to having new comics. DC has stepped outside of Diamond Comics Distribution and shipped comics to be sold Tuesday May 5th. Since my LCS is holding one line on release date (good decision) books were available Wednesday. I hope we don't end up in a chaotic period where comics are dropping on different days for different companies. The rumor mill says we are about 2 weeks away from Diamond shipping new release comics. It was nice to have a few new books to tide me over and give me a break from reading Multiversity for this week's podcast recording. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Regret: I make a lot of mistakes.

I reflect quite a bit on the simple question,"David, do you like yourself?" Of all the great questions of life, that one gives me the most trouble. The reality is that most days I do like myself and I am pretty happy with myself. Is life perfect? Absolutely not, but a perfect life is NOT the goal.

The goal for my life is pretty simple. I want to improve a little bit every day and attempt to do more good than harm. There are a few people who would cheer my death right now, but I like to think that if I were to depart the world right this minute I would be remembered in a mostly positive light. Death has a way of polishing up the blemishes of the deceased.

I target my good works, if they can be called that, carefully toward the people I love. My friends and family should be glad that I am a part of their lives. I was certainly tough on my parents, and for years I excused this because they chose to have me. God help them. If they had been able to see the future, they might have avoided quite a lot of pain. By contrast, my kids didn't ask to have me for a Father so I try not to botch the process more than I absolutely have to. If good intentions were all that mattered I would say I had won the game. Sadly, execution matters more than planning or intent. In this case it leads to pleasant work.

I have led a life filled with conflict and controversy. I didn't realize until shortly after my Mom's passing how much of it I brought on myself. The therapy I went through at that time is not the first time I asked the question," David, do you like yourself," but it was the first time I had another person ask me. It was the first time I was forced to spend more time with the reflection of myself in my head and really examine what I saw. I found that I could qualify the answer. I like myself, but...

The answers on the other side of that,"but," are an absolute bitch. I have been telling myself for years that I am so purposeful in my actions that I can live life almost completely without regret. Sure, some major things in my life went wrong along the way. I didn't get in bad situations because I meant to and in the end I fought the good fight and that is enough, right? Yeah, sure, right. Meaning no. Not at all. Not really.

I was subconsciously putting myself into absolutely awful situations so that I would go through the punishment I felt I deserved. I was smart enough never to get myself into drugs or drinking. Maybe smart enough isn't that right explanation. I was probably too much of a coward. Substance abuse doesn't work out for control freaks like me. I rarely let go of myself long enough to even get drunk. To this day I have never tried a legal drug that wasn't prescribed or any type of illegal drug. Again, not morality, it just didn't fit the profile of the type of hurt I wanted to experience.

From what I understand marijuana might have chilled me out. I didn't really want to be chilled out. I wanted to be stressed, anxious, angry, and wallow in all of the depression available to me. Poe liked to drink and wallow in his own wretchedness. I liked to keep myself as emotionally screwed up as humanly possible. That isn't to say I wanted other people to feel sorry for me. Had someone suggested that they pitied me or my situation I would have lashed out in anger and pointed out all the things I was clearly doing to clear myself of trouble. I had things under control. I was working a program of my own devising.

All of that was true too. I had myself exactly where I wanted me to be. I picked my dates very carefully. If you weren't likely to cheat on me, steal from me, be completely emotionally fucked up, or best of all so caught up in your own shit that you were totally emotionally unavailable to me then I just wasn't interested. For years I claimed I didn't have a physical type. Blonde, Brunette, Redhead, or beautiful black hair didn't matter to me. Thick or thin. I had no preference. Tall or short. Who cares? The only qualifier is that on some subconscious level I had to know that you were going to cause me pain and the relationship was never, ever going to work. 

The funny thing is I have been doing this for years. I chose my friends growing up the exact same way. I had almost no standards in the behaviors I allowed people to display toward me. I actually became more loyal the worse someone treated me. You tend to do that when you don't think you have any value. If someone was hanging with me because they wanted to watch my cable, sleep with my girlfriend, or just to use me to meet someone else in the crowd I somehow managed to keep around me so much the better. The betrayal would become clear. The hurt would start. I would wallow in it. I was fulfilled in my own misery and depression.

The problem with that is it creates a very unhappy person with some strange habits. I stopped fitting in. I didn't want to fit in. I looked at normal and functional as boring and unworthy. I was so complicated and difficult to understand. If those "normals" could just understand life the way I understood it then they would stop settling for the boring life they were living and try extra hard to be like me in my brooding, artistic awesomeness.

Problem there, kids, is that life wasn't all that awesome. I developed a wonderfully arrogant defense system that I struggle to keep turned off damn near every day of my life. All that emo acting out and seeking out destructive relationships means that I don't have nearly as many long term relationships as other people my age. Most importantly along the way I have done things that I do regret.

Yes, folks, you heard it here first. I am not the heartless sociopath that I have pretended to be for oh so many years of my life. The list isn't all that long, but there are things that I would do differently if I had them to do over again. Gosh, that is practically a normal sentiment.

I cannot say that I regret completely not giving healthier romantic relationships a chance. I think the people that didn't have me inflicted on them romantically in the long term probably got out better than if they had to endure things ending badly. I could "what if" all day long here, but realistically I think things worked out as they were supposed to. Let me give some specific regrets.

I regret ignoring Becca. I did a lot more harm than good by putting her through years of questioning her own self worth because she should have had my attention. I am sure we would have been a complete train wreck had I given things a go, but I sure could have been less of a complete asshole to her. I'm sorry for the hurt. I am appreciative of you inspiring this post. I had been thinking about it for years, and have held off because honestly this is uncomfortable and being so emotionally vulnerable and honest is scary as fuck. This is me dying in my own little way, but that needs to happen sometimes.

I regret losing Elizabeth's friendship. I was in a terrible place, and I lashed out cruelly. She is the woman my Mom warned about me. That in and of itself is an awful feeling, but I feel her loss keenly every day of my life. Our friendship had a truckload of problems, but until the day I ran her off she was intensely loyal to me. I regret hurting her because no matter what could have been what was, while imperfect, was a great friendship that meant a lot to me. When I wrote that nasty email I didn't for a moment think that it would run you off. I'd take it back if I could. I know you though, and I know you won't ever let that happen. I will die feeling this loss with no way to make it up. I will probably try at least a couple of times a year. I am stubborn that way. I guess I am putting it out into the atmosphere not to unburden my soul, but because I have a need to say I'm sorry even if it doesn't matter to you. I am sorry. If I hadn't stupidly removed addresses and phone numbers I would have found a way to get the message through by now. Damn it.

I have a few regrets that are too intimate for the internet. There are things I would say to people I have loved and lost that just aren't appropriate for public consumption. Some of my mistakes were unintentional like Becca and Elizabeth. I didn't think through my words or actions. I didn't pay attention to the damage I was doing. All three ex wives fall into this category for their own reasons. Regardless of the why that lead to the split up each one of them suffered from me in different ways. I wasn't always aware of what an emotionally unavailable wreck I was. Sometimes I was just too selfish or absorbed in my own bullshit to notice I was hurting someone else.

I think it would surprise Whitneigh's parents and brother to find out that I regret that we do not have a relationship even though I certainly played an active role in bringing that result about. Who doesn't regret generating hatred where there should be love? Regret isn't the same thing as being able to compromise reasonable standards though. I don't see that rift ever being bridged. Some things are much more important than a little regret. The happiness and health of my child, for example, means a lot more to me than accepting insane, unreasonable behavior. Since they have now actively tried to sabotage my involvement in her life, I have no plans to compromise in spite of my regret. Hate me if you must. There are some things you just shouldn't do. There are some trespasses that cannot be taken back.

I think back on these different situations and know I would have handled some of them differently. I am a much kinder and more humble person today than I have ever been before. I have learned not to be reckless with the hearts of other people. I have also learned not to accept people who would play me false and be reckless with my own heart.

I am an intensely loyal person. My friendship and love are not hard to maintain. I have learned that it is good to have standards. I cannot fault Elizabeth for not tolerating me to the point of not even acknowledging that I exist. I regret being a dick, but I am not arrogant enough to believe I deserve a second chance. It amazes me when people think that I should give them another chance to trample on my feelings or hurt me. The days of me accepting that type of treatment is well over.

I have some great people in my life. I am working to let the worthwhile people in closer to me. I am also pushing the people who are not worthy further away. Please be patient with me while I am learning this skill. I have spent decades keeping almost everyone including my closest friends and family as far away from me as I could tolerate. I am working on being so much more vulnerable. I know there are people I can trust my heart to.

I also know that I cannot avoid regret anymore. The time has long past in my life where I should have stopped playing so carefully and just enjoyed things even when they could hurt me. I have always been easy to hurt emotionally, but I am also extremely resilient. I spent years metaphorically torturing my own emotions. Learning to have "normal" healthy relationships is a lot more challenging than I expected, but I really love it.

I am thankful for all the people who put up with my silly shit. I go too long without communication. I leave people wondering how I feel. I make things complicated that should be simple. I write long posts on the internet exposing my vulnerability because it is a lot easier to do that than it is for me to just say any of this out loud. Stupid, I know, but I am working on it.

Stick around. This is only going to get more interesting as we go along. I like myself a lot better these days than I ever have before.





Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Collector Becomes a Minimalist

I have made more progress down my path toward a minimalist lifestyle. I have gone from 6 computers, three tablets, a smart watch, and lots of peripherals down to a desktop that belonged to my mother which has replaced both an Amazon Firestick and a Google Chromecast while giving me a solid at home processor for my video and audio editing, my Surface Pro 7, and my Kindle Fire. I am giving myself a pass at the moment on my old laptop sitting unused. I will be parting with it as soon as I factory reset the system.

Cleaning out my closets turned out to be extremely easy. I am down to a single closet and I have decided upon a system of eliminating clothes further. I am nearing the point in the year where I can pack away the cold weather gear. I hold my coats out longer since I am a motorcycle rider. Once I can put the cold weather gear away the process of elimination will begin.

The pivot will happen with laundry. I am going to move all of my in season clothing into one closet. As I wear and wash clothing I will move it to the other closet. At the end of 2 months, anything that I have not worn goes into the donation pile. The only exception to this is probably going to be my suit. Yes, as an uncultured savage, I only have the one. It is too big for me these days, but would serve in a pinch. It doesn't hurt to have a little formal wear hanging about.

The books I am keeping now fit neatly on one shelf. I have more Bibles than I need, but I am massively uncomfortable with the thought of giving away family Bibles. I don't even know who I would give them to. A solution will present itself when the time is right. For now, they aren't hurting anything.

I am waiting on a replacement comforter to throw away several old and outdated blankets. That will settle me with two matching sets of bed clothes with one extra set of matching sheets for either set. With a 4 year old I consider a back up a prudent option. I literally watched her wipe spaghetti sauce on my comforter a few days ago. No one is talking me out of the back up bedding set.

Now my problem comes to my collections. Some of them I have answers for. Some of them I do not. I am going to run through my addictions one at a time.

Movies

I have more movies than I care to count. The collection mostly gathers dust except for the kids movies which Teagan enjoys cycling through on a limited basis. I will keep those cycling through them occasionally to weed out things she has outgrown.

I am keeping my Star Wars DVDs/ BluRay. At this juncture, I feel a sense of pride in having the entire Skywalker Saga. I don't have any of the animated series so the set is fairly compact. I have decided to sacrifice all of the rest of my DVDs.

The Kevin Smith set I have been lugging around for years really tugged at my heart strings to part with, but ultimately it is the right move. I can love Kevin Smith without having a copy of every DVD on hand. I will digitize these movies for occasional viewing with the exception of my two "Evening With" sets. Eventually, I want those autographed along with Batman Cacophony, Batman Widening Gyre, and Green Arrow: Quiver. 

I had to really debate the merits of holding on to those. Kevin Smith has been to Knoxville a few times over the years and I have never ventured out of my way to meet the guy.  Since part of my minimalism values is intentionality, I am going to use that as motivation to step outside my comfort zone and seek out that meeting and autographs. The meeting is more the point than the signature. I have never been particularly impressed by things being signed. I do understand why other people are.

I am building a little bit of digital clutter in digitizing my movies. My Movies Anywhere account is swelling quite a bit. Vudu has a great tool to convert your DVD to digital. It doesn't work for every movie, and it does come with a price tag of $2 to $5. I like this because it makes you choose carefully the movies that matter. I pulled over my Matrix Trilogy, the John Wick Films, The Fast and Furious Franchise, and the Back to the Future Trilogy thus far.

Beyond that I have a handful of movies always on my Hard Drive. The interwebs does crash. Sometimes I want to escape into nature, but still lull myself to bed with a movie (Yay 12.3" Surface Pro 7)  This process is really having me evaluate what movies are my favorites and why. As I lay hands on each DVD there has been a pile of 10 (or so) that I have held on to as movies I really treasure and want to share with other people. I am weeks of work away from having this totally refined, but I will share once I get there.

Role-playing Games

I absolutely love tabletop role-playing games. I have way too many of them even in my cut down collection. I have yet to make a move on the gaming side of my collecting habit. The good news is I have come to a decision on what I am going to do.

I only need one rules set for each type of role-play. For fantasy, I am sticking to 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. This means I can part with my Warhammer rules sets, Pathfinder Rules Books, and my older Core Rule Books for Dungeons and Dragons. I am going to allow myself to keep setting books and adventure modules.

The biggest question mark there comes in the form of my Warhammer Quest Board Games. I could easily justify keeping them just for the board game value, but honestly they could double as adventure source material. I am leaning toward a complete Warhammer purge. There is a little bit of money to be made in parting with the models and board games. Cashing out also reduces the likelihood of me wading back into the hobby. I am done assembling and painting for the foreseeable future. I do well to get in a regular tabletop session. I just don't have hours on end to drop into the craft side of the game.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition is a bit of a pain point. I am a few hundred dollars into adventures and source books. I would rather cash out now than when I am thousands of dollars in. I really love their adventure path modules and I plan to still collect them. It may be sacrilege, but they really can be run in other systems without much work. I will miss the innovation of the new action system, but it isn't worth dropping 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons where I am heavily invested and heavily stocked.

I have a few various systems on the shelf. I can cash out of them rather painlessly. For now the only other system I plan on keeping is Fantasy Flight's End of the World series. The premise of these are all post apocalyptic. The system is clean. It also is a great system for quick pick up games and one shots.

That cleans my shelves off pretty significantly. My next step is to pare down my DMing set up. I gifted the majority of my dice to my very talented Dungeon Master friend Calinda. I expected that to be painful. It was quite the opposite. I was excited to pass along even sets I am surprisingly sentimental about to someone I know will put them to good use. I am considering doing away with the majority of my miniatures too. I could realistically run a game with a handful of minis or even none at all. It might be more interesting to move to tokens, beads, or dice. I hesitate because I think that minis do add an element of depth to the game. Again, this is the challenge.

Magic the Gathering

I have a backpack full of decks taking up space in a closet. I don't even know how I convinced myself to buy back into the game. Oh, Magic the Gathering based Podcast was the plan. I have so many things that I want to accomplish. I am not sure that it makes sense to maintain this distraction. For the moment, I am going to slide Magic on the back burner. Likely I will talk myself into doing something with it, or I will talk myself back out of the hobby.

Board Games

I have so many Board and Card Games that just sit on a shelf and collect dust. This is a two part problem. Problem one is that I have far too many games I don't care about. I am going to trim the collection down to my favorites. I wish I could honestly stick to a 10 board game limit. I cannot. If I had a friend's group to play board games a few nights a week I would be totally invested, That is the second problem. It is time to get a regular board game group together in the near future.

I need a general night to play things like Cosmic Encounter, Pandemic, and Battlestar Galactica. Then I need a group to play Arkham Horror the Card Game. That may be a little more challenging. I don't know anyone locally who is as crazy about Arkham as I am. It scratches my Horror Gaming/ Horror RPG itch in one setting. I would really like to top down video the gaming sessions. The game deserves some love.

In the next week I will lay hands on that collection and pull down the tributes. The secondary goal here is to be able to sort, organize, and store everything neatly. Warhammer Quest is fun if you have the hours available to play it, but it it is a pain in the butt to store. As Arkham Horror releases return to boxes it is getting bulky on the shelf, but all you need for a single game session is incredible compact. It could easily be a campsite game.

I do mentally stock the camper I don't own yet far too often.

Comic Books

I had a really cool break through thanks to COVID-19. I spend a LOT of money and time on comic books. I actually spend more money and more time than I want to spend on comic books. As much as I absolutely love being in the know on comic books I don't necessarily want to have a huge comic book collection.

I have a business idea that is very LONG TERM that would fix this problem neatly. In the short term I am going to narrow my collecting focus quite a bit. I have a short list of my favorite writers and artists. The time has probably come to cash in the majority of the back log that I don't have strong feelings about.

I do really love my Batman and X-men comics. Garin and I are going to be doing a very cool segment this Sunday on the podcast talking about our dream comic book collecting list. I had to really rack my brains to put together what I would want. The process made me realize that the real wants I have are all characters I strongly identify with. I have always cared more about story-line and character than I have artist or writer.

Well, that isn't true. Erik, Walt, Garin, and Richard have all evolved my comic book tastes in different ways. None of them have turned me away from my uncultured, savage ways. I still don't love Frank Miller's Batman. I do see the validity of his writing, but I don't find myself begging for more.

Erik turned me back toward Image books and expanded me from capes, tights, and mutants. Walt helped me to be a lot more selective in the books I read. Bad writing is bad writing. Art that isn't to my taste shouldn't get my hard earned dollars.

Garin has given me an education in the writers and artists. He was doing this long before we were recording the podcast. I started looking at who wrote the books that I really loved. That is why I can tell you that I will follow Mirka Andolfo through any publisher, subject matter, or cover art. I have a signed, graded Unnatural #1 now that is among my prized possessions.

Richard really challenged me to think about comic books as an investment. Now, the books I buy to read aren't about speculation, but it is more fun to gamble on the first appearance of the Bat Penis (I am not even making that up) going up in value than to buy a lottery ticket. I am not going to retire on these little forays into ecommerce, but the Bat Penis really did pay for a month of my comic habit.

Yes, you read that right. I bought extra copies of Batman Damned #1 and made money on the venture. I pay attention to first appearances, key character changes, and key moments. I have a couple of short boxes worth of comics that have increased significantly in value. If I wanted to invest the extra time to make money on them, I certainly could. Minimizing probably says that now is a good time to do that.

My next steps here is investing in some sort of Comic Book Database software and cataloging the collection. As I am going through I will probably not enter the majority of the books, but I will be sorting them into things I want to drop to McKays in bulk, books of value I want to sell, and the collection I want to keep.

Knives and Guns

Ok, so I collect too many freaking things. How many knives does one guy need? At one point I had a mutlitool and a swiss army knife in my backpack, a pocket knife for general use, a pocket knife for peeling fruit, and a survival knife is my car. I don't know how I talked myself into the idea that I needed all of those tools. I am proud to have reduced this to the multitool in the backpack and my general use pocket knife.

The problem is I have a huge tub full of blades. Some of them were my grandfather's knives. I won't ever carry them. That moves them from a tool to a sentimental object. Right now I haven't been able to banish the sentimentality to part with them.

That tub though is also full of knives I have collected for years. I have some very serious money tied up in pocket knives. I have thankfully cut (ha) off that habit. I need to purge them.

I have developed the same problem with pistols. I have too many guns in general. I want lie. I want MORE. I am two firearms from having the exact set up I want, but I have quite a few more than I need. Logic says I should probably sell the excess and get down to that prime set up. I have to admit the temptation to have a matching set of every day carry pistols is a dream I haven't embraced since I was 21.

Sigh. I see that I have a problem.

Video Games

I don't know. I have more games right now than I could possibly play in the next year if I was spending several hours a day gaming. If video gaming was my primary hobby, I still have too many games. They sure are a wonderful distraction though.

No freaking clue how to talk myself down from the video game ledge. I am a little ashamed that I got Final Fantasy VII Remake and stopped playing it because the fan on my PS4 is frustratingly loud. Plus side there is I have really finally put time into Breath of the Wild on my Switch. Amazing game. I am sure when the next title launches that I just cannot live without that I will circle back to FFVIIR.

Podcasting Equipment

I think we are producing a great show. I want to build a studio with a "professional" set up, but that is more out of a desire to diversify my own podcasting network than it is to produce the current show with a higher quality. I have manged to minimize the load. I can easily transport my "studio" anywhere and record for several hours. It really is pretty cool, and it feels amazing that I can do it with so little gear.

I am not sure I ever want to allow myself to lose minimalism there. I just have to keep telling myself that I don't need a second camera to get into "better' dual screen shots with a top down view of Previews and a second camera on us. Garin really is so perfectly animated that I hate not capturing him.

Did I call myself a collector in all of this? Listing it all out makes me feel more like a hoarder. That is actually why I don't typically look at everything at one time. I am not really working on all of the stuff I am listing. During those idle hours away from home when I cannot be making actual moves to rid myself of the burden of stuff I put my brain to work on solving what I want. I think about the video game conundrum. I ponder the value of my comic book collection. Talking about it and writing about it really helps me gain perspective.

This blog has long been my therapist and journal. Don't get me wrong. It is heavily edited. I don't trust the public with all of my truth. I have strong defenses. I like to think they are both healthy and prudent. I certainly would not blog about doing something like making back up digital copies of my DVDs with pirating software and then parting with the physical media. That would be amazingly stupid.

I also would not be so foolish as to go into the breadth and depth of the guns I own, carry, and the legality of those actions. My entire adult life I have really struggled with the idea of any form of government telling any citizen how much they are allowed to protect their life and the lives of their families. Once upon a time I started writing a post apocalyptic novel that started with a traffic stop going very wrong.

Gosh, all of that sounds paranoid. I don't want to end up on any watch lists, but I suspect I have been there for years and they are probably tired of the really boring show. I really do spend a lot more on comics and games than I ever had on bullets, knives, or guns. I am a good shot. I could teach someone else to shoot, but I could also tell you the origin story and major developmental points of most of the capes and tights characters for the last 20 years or so. Except the Punisher. I never really cared for the Punisher.

I think I would trade all of this stuff for a Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom, a nice Ford Bronco, and a well equipped Toy Hauler and a group of friends and family to hang out and talk shit around a camp fire. In fact, that is the plan. Minimalism invites new cash flow. The purge raises funds. I plan to use them very wisely.

Not bad for a guy who turned 40 years old an hour and a half ago, huh? Happy Birthday to me!


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