20 Questions Tuesday: 280 - Illness

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So the little girl was sick yesterday and the illness was lingering today.  Nothing major, she had a fever and a bit of a cold.  She is 5 and goes to a petri dish known as kindergarten 5 days a week.  I am doing what i can to not be sick, but that might be a losing battle.  I am okay with that.  

Therefore today’s topic is “Illness.”  Thanks this week go to Andrew Miller, Lsig, and some other guy.  Onto the questions:

1. Illness, why? It's like Mosquitoes - why?
I do think there is a biological reason for illnesses… I am not quite sure what that justification is, but I am sure that it exists.  I would say that it is about culling the herd and making the species stronger in general due to natural selection reasons, but modern medicine is taking a bit of that argument away in an immunological sense.  Mosquitos are here for high-pitched buzz sounds.

2. Who is the best at being sick in your house? Who's the best at nursing the sick?
I am the best at being sick in the house because I like to go off into the proverbial corner, curl up in a ball and convalesce.  That being said, my wife is the best with dealing with sickness in the house.

3.  Waterborne brain eating organisms aside, I was always a fan of the neti pot until I got turned onto the Sinus Rinse where you actually get to shoot hot saline up in there. What sort of witchcraft do you subscribe to?
I have been known to use the neti pot from time to time.  I am a big proponent for using ZICAM for prevention purposes, to keep myself from getting as sick for as long.  I understand that zinc calcium and magnesium is truly witchcraft, but if the placebo effect works for me, who are you to judge me,

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4.  I still feel like crap, and some of the above are compound, we'll say multiple even, questions - so get off my back already - I made it into work yet again, isn't that enough?
Making it into work is definitely enough.  Well-done.  In fact I am at work today and accomplishing absolutely nothing, but I am here, gotdammnit!

5.  Wait, I've got it, now that you're a dad, have you found that sometimes it is a better choice to deal with the children at work when you're sick than to stay home and deal with the children there?
I have never brought my kids into work, sick or otherwise.  I would not want to expose my children to the nastiness that is my work environment.  There is no reason to see where papa’s malaise comes from.

6.  What's the worst sickness you've ever had?
I had the influenza when I was a kid.  I was down for about 4 days…  There was also this one sickness that ran through my wife and I during either our first or second year of wedded bliss. She went down first for about 2 days and required going to the ER for dehydration and to stop the “loss of liquids.”  I went down a day later and bounced back from it a bit faster, mainly because I knew what was coming.   

7.  Being sick while parenting is pretty much the worst. What's your least favorite aspect of this horrific phenomenon?
How needy the wee little beasties are… especially Little Man because he refuses to nap when he is ill.  SLEEP IT OFF, KID!!! SLEEP IT OFF!!!

8.  While I hate being sick, before I had kids I would get a lot of enjoyment out of a sick day now and again (it's delightfully self-indulgent even if you are miserable).  Have you, like me, lost the joy of the sick day because small needy people hang out at your house?
Sick days did start to be better once both kids were in school. It was amazing to be at home and sick and capable to actually sleep it off.

9.  Do you ever actually use the word "ill" or "illness"? I tend to use "sick" almost exclusively.
For the dad humor, I go with “illin.” ill illin

10.  Is there any illness that you particularly dread?
Tons… there are so many illnesses I dread… so many ways to be sick… so many ways

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11.  How often do you get sick?
Well, if by sick you mean big old full head of crap or a belly that needs to get everything removed in a myriad of manners… ugh I hate the different methods of getting things out of my body.

12.  Remember in the 80’s when people used “ill” as something good? The 00’s made it that into “sick.”  The 10’s dealt with “viral” as being a good piece of digital stuff for blowing up.  What will be the negative malady related term turned positive be for the 20’s?
I do remember the 80’s… because I am old and decrepit.  For the 20’s I think the word will be… “afflicted?”

13.  Pestilence?  One of the horsemen, really?  What would you replace Pestilence with?
Put Godzilla on a horse and have him wreak some havoc… He would ride on a lizard horse and his name would be Hubris.

14.  How many times do I have to throw up?!?!
Three, unless you tuck back into that old crab meat… and then the sky’s the limit!

15.  Is there a superhero/villain who uses illness/nausea as their power?
I am now going to draw a character named “Agent Brown.”  His side kick is named “Number 2.”  This will happen, even if I have to commission someone with more talent to do it.

16.  Are you a quiet vomiter?
Yup… My wife, however, could potentially wake up the neighbors.  

17. Audibly strain while evacuating your bowels?
This 20 Questions just went to a weird place… I am not comfortable answering that one.

18.  Favorite colloquialism for vomiting?
I have always been partial to “yarf.”

19. When should someone see a doctor about a fever?
When it is for the Flavor of the Pringles.  Once you pop, you can’t stop.  Seriously though, if you are coming to this website for medical advice, you should go ahead and schedule that appointment.

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20.  Ever hallucinate due to a fever?  Fevered dreams and the like?
Not that I know of.  When our little girl was 3.5 or so, we were staying at a state park lodge when she got sick.  We did not have any tylenol or advil with us so we thought we would just ride it out that night and leave early in the morning.  At about Midnight-30 Q was up and talking about AND TO the Imperial AT-AT’s in our room.  3 yr old and she hallucinates about Empire Strikes Back, arguably the best of the hexology.  That, my friends, is parenting done right.

To recap:
Me = awesome dad, because she hallucinates content from the best Star Wars movie
I would be a failure if she hallucinated Jar-Jar
I almost typed “film” instead of “movie” when referring to Star Wars…
Nope, that wouldn’t have been right
Sorry about the no-post last week
I was incapable of the posting
Ergo the lack of post
I have so much stuff due on my class on Thursday
But after Sunday, I am one class closer to getting this UXD degree
Until then I will go back to my QA/QC for the holes in the ground for Morgan County Ohio
Jealous?
You should be
Have a great week everyone


20 Questions Tuesday: 273 - Tom Merritt v2.0

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On Thursday, December 5th of this year, previous 20 Questioneer and tech news enthusiast, Tom Merritt announced with grave sadness that his contract with the TWiT network was not being renewed and that on 1 January 2014 (today) he will no longer be an employee of TWiT.tv and done with the podcasts Tech News Today and Framerate (2 podcasts I listened to/ watched religiously).  Much sadness, gnashing of teeth, Internet grumbling and general consternation ensued.  I found my reaction to be surprisingly emotional and disproportionately strong, considering my actual interactions with Tom have been relatively few.  I found myself having difficulty sleeping and so I tweeted at him my condolences. He responded and asked if I was interested in asking him 20 more questions… so here we are.  Without further ado… Tom Merritt’s 20 Questions v2.0

Onto the Questions!

I was let go from a job of 9+ years back in 2009.  That company was a victim of the economic downturn, so me and another 10% of that company found ourselves boxing out stuff up and going home early one day.  About 9 months after that I got a completely different job at a large non-profit.  The non-profit job was clearly a bad fit and just didn’t work out.  Summarily I was canned from there rather quickly.  After each of these changes in employment my wife and I went and had celebratory dinners together.  These dinners were used to celebrate the release of the increasing tension associated with the obvious stress in both professional environments as well as the new possibilities for my future employment.  Question 1:  How did you and your wife mark this particular employment event?

Answer 1: On that Tuesday I found out and couldn’t tell anyone publicly I stayed up until she got home from work because she worked late that night , heh. Then there was the Thursday announcement and that fallout. Finally on the weekend, we found a nice place to have a cocktail and some delicious food. She has been unceasingly supportive and cheering me on to whatever comes next.

It is always nice when the support system really kicks in. I had the luck/misfortune of knowing that things were going to happen at some point in time at my previous employments.  It really was a double edged sword... while I knew I would not be completely surprised when the hammer dropped and I was let go, I was also living in a world of anxiety.  I had been absorbing the tension  in my environment and knew that at some time, any time, maybe even the next phone call, something was going to happen.  Question 2 Was there any indication that your contract was not going to be renewed or were you effectively blindsided by this?

Answer 2: It was unexpected right then. I really thought we were about to reach an agreement but they decided to terminate the contract which took me by surprise. Still, I knew it was always a possibility. I had heard Lisa offered my job to someone else in May and of course Leo had made it clear all along that he didn't like my having to move to LA and preferred to have his hosts in studio. So it wasn't a shock that they let me go, and I understood why. It was just surprising at the time how abruptly it happened.

I figured it was something similar to that, just from the tone of the announcement and people’s reactions to the news.  It truly is unfortunate because one of the things I really enjoyed about Tech News Today is how it embraced the changing business culture and demonstrated how a team could effectively work together without being geographically constrained to the same office.  It showed that telecommuting is a viable collaborative work environment.  That will be sorely missed when only the guest is non-local.  

Question 3:  Was there a difference between how you thought/hoped your personal support network, friends, co-workers, etc... would respond to your situation and how they actually did?  In what way, if any?

Answer 3: Somewhat? I mean I guess I hadn’t really thought about it but I had a core group of friends right beside me the whole way, texting calling and telling me things I needed to hear both good and bad. It was *extremely* helpful and I wouldn’t have handled it nearly as well without them. My co-workers were sweet too. In fact Jason, Sarah and Iyaz packaged up the show logo plaque that a fan in Hawaii had made for us and sent it to me. Plus a bunch of other little notes of support and facetime calls and such. Best of all was Eileen, my wife. Right there with solid support telling me not to worry and just keep on. She is the best ever in the world.

You seem like a very genuine person, at least the limited interactions I have had with you have been grounded and enjoyable, so it does not surprise me that your support system really, well… supported you.  Question 4: How about your fan-base?  Did you realize that you had a fan-base prior to this (because you clearly have a fan-base)? and how would you describe how this fanbase has reacted?

Answer 4: Yeah that blew me out of the water. I knew we had fans of the show and I love hanging out in the chat room and talking to folks. And back at Buzz Out Loud we had a great tight community of folks whom I still love. But I never was sure how many people were along for the ride with me because they were just TWiT fans in general, or NSFWShow fans or what. The response was overwhelming. They organized and began spreadsheets to help me keep track of everything and sold weird shirts with my face on them and all kinds of crazy stuff. I’ve always said we have the smartest audience in the world but they showed they were also the most supportive too. I am honestly not deserving of this audience. Too amazing.

There is something here to say about self-organizing systems, but that is the forte of my wife and her mates.  I have to say that I was surprised with the rapidity and vehemence of the organization.  I figured there would be moral support and a bunch of “Man, sorry that happens” kinds of messages, but the actual mobilization of a network supporting you and just getting shit done is pretty amazing.  That is something I have never seen, and I have to say, I did not expect to be a part in.  I am a proud owner of a Merritt Militia shirt and am awaiting my Current Geek perks.  Having a fan-base must be both humbling and wonderful.    

Now, enough of the dour past and how that chapter of your work life has finished, let’s get into more enjoyable topics of what you are doing and what you will be doing in the near future.  You have announced a few items that you will be generating as you ramp up your independent productions.  But before we get into what will be new in this year of 2014, Question 5: What from your previous undertakings are still continuing?  Many people know you from your TWiT properties, but that is not all that you have been producing.

Answer 5: Sword and Laser is the science fiction and fantasy book club I do with Veronica Belmont. We have an amazing community at Goodreads, an audio podcast and a recently-funded second season of video! I also hope to continue writing the comic TenState with Len Peralta. We kickstarted the first 5 issues and have them for sale *finally*. I also have a few seasonal podcasts which means we only do 12 episodes at a time and usually one or two seasons a year. Those are all continuing, including Autopilot, a show about TV pilots, FSL Tonight, which is an imaginary fantasy sports league populated with teams from the great scifi and fantasy franchises. And It’s A Thing which is a trend commentary show I do with Molly Wood. Finally East Meets West which is my recreational podcast I’ve been doing with Roger Chang since 2005 will continue in its sporadic fashion. I also do a guest spot Wednesdays on The Morning Stream where I used to promote my daily tech news show and probably will again. I also appear on KFWB radio in LA every Monday morning as well. That’s all the stuff I had pre-existing that I’ll keep doing.

So, you have all these different properties that you are associated with and you have books that people can buy on your website tommerrittbooks.com.  You have audio podcasts, video podcasts, print media, you are on the radio… Question 6: What aspect of media have you not done (interpretive dance?) and is there a type of creative product you want to focus on or enjoy more?

Answer 6: I have not now, nor will I ever inflict interpretive dance on the world. That is a comment on my own dance skills, not on the form. I quite like a good interpretive dance when done well. I really enjoy writing fiction these days. I don’t seem to be able to stop. I woke up this morning and wrote the beginning of a story. I’m not certain I’ll ever be any good at it, mind you, but I do love to do it right now.

I have never found interpretive dance to be very good… if it is just dance in a broader narrative it makes sense to me, but just interpretive dance does not work work for me… much to my wife’s chagrin.  I have a copy of “Lot Beta” on my Kindle app right now, but due to my class readings, I have not been able to get into it just yet.  One of these days I will finish the book I started a handful of NaNoWriMo’s ago.  Lot Beta is in the chamber as soon as I am done with DogBoy: Den of Thieves by the delightful Bill Meeks.

I have a love of the words “whilst” and “ergo” (as well as some others) and have been trying to reintroduce those somewhat archaic words into everyday vernacular.  You are clearly a lover of words and quite capable of stringing together wonderful sentences in both the spoken and written word.  Question 7: Is there a word that you want to reintroduce and bring back to popularity? Could you use it in a sentence?

Answer 7: Luncheon. Lunch is a verb. The proper usage of luncheon is for the event we attend whilst we eat. Ergo, I would like people to say I lunched on sandwiches but say I went to luncheon. This is a sad and pathetic dream that will never occur and likely serve only to annoy people if pressed. But it is my dream.

That is honestly something I did not know.  I always thought of “luncheon” as a specific kind of lunch event, usually in a larger room and with a speaker droning on about a topic no one there is truly holds any interest.  The speaker's name is usually Carl or something like that and the topic is usually some new data collection method… at least that is how I see it.

You clearly enjoy the history of tech…. You had a mini-podcast called Tech History Today where you outlined significant tech history news everyday for a whole year.  You are producing tech history books monthly illustrated by Scott Johnson (Scott was also 20 Questions Tuesday: 219)  Basically you are generating multiple methods for people to consume tech history.  Question 8: Is there anything specific within tech history that you gravitate to more than other aspects of tech history, or is it the whole of tech history for which you find yourself fascinated?

Answer 8: I’ve always loved history. I love to discover how people did things in the past, how they changed and didn’t changed in the future and how our world came to be as it is today. I also have always been a sucker for anniversaries. I always had those “Today in history” books when I was a kid. And I obviously am very interested in technology. So this is just me combining all that into one happy package. It started with me helping Molly Wood research her tech history show on CNET way back in 2009. Then I kept doing it for my own fun. Then I did the podcast you mentioned for about three months, but they couldn’t figure out how to sell it effectively and it was a lot more work than it looks to gather all the video and stuff so I retired it. But I decided to turn it into a blog post and then that made me want to make a book and then the rest has just cascaded out from there.

Question 9: So where do you consider the beginnings of “tech” history to be?  Is it the advent of the modern transistor, is it the creation of the Gutenberg press, is it the creation of the astrolabe by the Greeks a long long time ago?  Where does “tech” start for your consideration in the historical context?

Answer 9: Fair question and one I don’t have a definitive answer for. I kind of center my attention around computers and the 1950s. Anything that sprang from that obviously is fair game for the chronology. For prior stuff, anything that was essential goes in, like the development of electricity, audio recording, video recording, anything that was necessary to have the things we all love to mess with today. The grammophone is the ancestor of the iPod. Then there’s also the stuff that’s just geeky or fed our technological mythos, like the Library at Alexandria which is sort of the ancient idea of universally accessible information. But to answer your question, “tech” starts March 30, 240 BCE with the first recorded observation of Halley’s comet. Astronomy bloggers FTW!

Heh, I have never thought of ancient texts as the equivalent of blogging… this changes the whole idea of what I am doing right now…  The idea of this being an artifact as a legacy of this century is a little chilling.  Chilling indeed.  Scares me a bit.  Hellooooo archeologists, how’s things?

Question 10: You have a bajillion podcasts, write books, do a radio show, etc… what do you do with down-time? Do you have down time or are you addicted to the workahol? Does the amazingly prolific Tom Merritt have any hobbies?

Answer 10: I try to turn my hobbies into my work so the line is all blended. Reading tech news, watching TV shows, all that stuff is now part of my work and it’s still fun. I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately though which is only tangentially related to my work in that it keeps me alive. I was inspired by reading Darya Rose’s “The Foodist” to start eating better. It was rough the first couple of weeks but I’m getting good enough that even Eileen says I’m good, and she’s picky. I try to make three meals at home every week and all my lunches at home unless I have an appointment. It has the beneficial side effect of saving money. I’m going to sound like a freaking hippie but I’ve been making a lot of Kale salads that rock. But I also do pork chops, steak and chicken ok. OK?!?!? And sometimes Quinoa.  BUT ALSO BEEF! AND STEAK! WITH DRY RUB. sheesh.

I find that kale has a hard time getting rid of the dirt taste.  I have used it in some juices and such, but I have never had it in a solid form that was palatable.  I do most of the cooking at home but I cannot bake to save my life… well maybe to save my life, but I am much less inclined to bake now that I have gone all gluten free and such.  Gluten free sucks, by the way.  I miss donuts more than any other baked good (well, other than crusty breads meant for sandwiches), the other gluten free stuff works pretty well, but I have not found a bread that works well just yet.

Question 11:  So will there be a tech of cooking show coming up or is the cooking going to stay more of a private thing?

Answer 11: Well never say never but right now I have no intention of doing a cooking show. Just for me and the wife. Though I will say massaging the kale in a lime and miso dressing softens up and almost eliminates any dirt taste. (Kale Radicchio Superhero Salad with Farro)  I also like it pan-roasted with pecans. My god!  What have I become!

You’ve changed, man.  You’ve changed. I don’t even know who you are anymore. Kale, lime and miso, pan-roasted pecans…  Oddly enough this is the second 20 questions interview that I am doing currently that has brought up pecans… Growing up, we had two pecan trees in our back yard.  I am still pretty tired of pecans.  Yep, even now.  I do love cashews though…  not sure I would want some cashew production plant in my backyard.  Mainly because cashew trees are weird.  

Ah, Question 12: Top dozen podcasts, in your opinion…. and go.

Answer 12: NO!  I will not fall into that quagmire. You trickster god with your seemingly innocent question. That way lies peril. WITH the caveat that I don’t listen to VERY FINE podcasts because Veronica makes me read too many books, here are the podcasts on my subscription list. WARNING: These do not constitute a list of Tom’s favorite podcasts nor should be taken in any way as a ranking of value. OK. In alphabetical order: The Angry Chicken: A Hearthstone Podcast, Common Sense with Dan Carlin, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Do We Need This?, The Economist All Audio, The Instance: World of Warcraft Podcast, Jawbone Radio, NASACast: This Week @NASA, The Shakespeare Sound, Tangential Convergence.

Fine, question dodger, just go ahead and dodge the question, like, like, like a question dodger…  When I posed this question in a slightly different format last 20 Questions, you only mentioned 3 podcasts that you regularly consumed.  This time, 10 podcasts in alphabetical order… slowly I will get a ranked list out of you.  I feel that I am wearing you down, eroding your podcast ranking defenses.  I am surprised you did not just list 12 of your current and past podcasts and just be smugly self-referential… that’s what I would have done… except I have no podcasts and only this one blog… this one lonely blog.  All of that being said, I will take on the mantle of the trickster god.  I am Coyote, I am Loki, I am Lugh, I am Mercury ascendent, I am not Anansi… spiders creep me out.  /shudder…

Question 13 is usually all about superstitions and rituals, but we covered that in our previous 20 Questions foray.  So today we will make this question all about the year that was.  We will put 2013 to rest with Question 13.  Question 13: What is the best thing that happened to you this past year? and to what do you want to say goodbye (and/or good riddance)?

Daft Loki

Daft Loki

Answer 13: I’m up all night to get Loki. Best thing that happened to me this year was getting to spend the summer with my nephew. He interned with me and we got to hang out and drink beer and go to the beach and generally have a fantastic time. I would like to say goodbye to dramatic life changes. Moving cities. Major job changes. Family deaths. All of that and other stuff piled itself into 2013 and I’d like to be mostly clear of that when I leave 2014. So goodbye and good riddance to 2013.

2013 was, all in all, a perfectly respectable year for me.  I am now two semesters closer to my degree in User Experience Design.  My job is still full-time employment with pretty good benefits.  The kids both made it another year, and my wife's work continues to grow and thrive.  This was our first full year of living in our house, and the old house now only inhabits my memories when I  stop and think about it.   It was a pretty good year.  There was nothing especially groundbreaking that happened either positive or negative… which means it was a pretty great year.  There is nothing I can honestly say goodbye or good riddance to from 2013.  The more I think about that, the better I feel about 2013.  

So… 2014 is nothing if not filled with potential.  I have good feelings associated with this upcoming year, and, honestly, it is time to start looking forward in these 20 Questions.  We have looked back enough.  Question 14:  What are you getting ready to say “hello” to for 2014?

Answer 14: Independence. Frightening, unexpected, independence. On a less heady note, I’m looking forward to making four fantastic shows. Sword and Laser’s second video season kicks off this year thanks to generous Kickstarter support. I can’t wait to head back to the space castle and chat with more amazing science fiction and fantasy authors. Cordkillers is already underway and Brian (Brian Brushwood, 20 Questions Tuesday : 210) and I are enjoying its regeneration. My Daily Tech News Show is only going to get better as well. And Current Geek with Scott Johnson may have the most potential to surprise and delight people of any show I’ve ever done. That and my casual efforts to write interesting fiction are all plenty to keep me really interested in 2014! I welcome my new year.

I too am looking forward to your 2014.  I truly do think of this as a year for you to creatively thrive.  The rest of these 20 questions are going to focus on the future, so for all you readers out there in the Internet who don’t like the future, I suggest you put down your printed out copy of this blog post and stop reading now.  Question 15:  Since Current Geek will be posting in a matter of days, if not hours, can you give a hint at the awesomeness that you and Scott have in store for the rest of us?  Or are you just going to tease us for 2 more days?

Answer 15: Yes of course. Although I really have no idea what we’ll end up doing, I’ll tell you the aim. Scott Johnson has created a pretty amazing association of kind, talented and entertaining people covering all aspects of things geeks like. From comic books to tv shows, to movies to tech to all the things, you can find a Frogpants show with good people having interesting conversations about it. So Current Geek will gather together people from that group each week along with special guests to talk about the interesting things happening that week. It should be really fun, at least for us, and hopefully the audience gets something out of it too.

That sounds pretty darn amazing.  One of the things that I am looking forward to with Current Geek is the lack of constraints that you will have this time around. You did seem pretty hamstrung in the previous version due to your non-compete clause with CNET. Iffens I remember correctly, by the time you did not have that non-compete, Current Geek had been relegated to a segment for Scott’s The Morning Stream, and it was clear that it was withering a bit on the vine.  I think it is an interesting and exciting concept to see Current Geek being a potential hub tying together all the spokes on the Frogpants Network. At least that is how I am viewing it, and you cannot tell me otherwise.  

Now I am going to go old skool Fourcast on you for this next question in regards to this new chapter in your professional life.  Question 16: A: What is a short term, B: medium term, C: long term and D: crazy-ass prediction for your professional career post 2013?

Answer 16: Yes you remember correctly and I think you’re viewing Current Geek right. And Current Geek will have a little Fourcast in it! A: This year I’m going to have a lot of fun. It’s scary, because nothing is guaranteed but it’s amazing for that same reason. By the end of this year I hope to have figured out a main direction. B: In the medium term I want to get in a rhythm of what things work for me and what don’t and be able to do fewer things but do them a lot better. I also want to write. Not because I think I’m any good at it, but because I love coming up with stories. C: Eileen and I retire to Hawaii/NewZealand/Island somewhere and continue to make amazing independent things that support our geritol. D: Crazy ass prediction. All this independent stuff that you and Scott and Brian and Dan Benjamin and everyone else are making becomes the dominant way of making most things from real products to entertainment and beyond.

I love that your long term is not your crazy-ass prediction.  Many people would not consider retiring to an Island paradise as merely “long term” when “crazy ass” is an option for the prediction.  I would bet that your short term and medium happen in a time-frame you were not expecting.  I also think your crazy ass prediction seems to be more and more reasonable.  There are some ideas I have had with this blog to change it up and kick it up to a different level of multi-media. I have toyed with the idea of making this a podcast, with my wife and myself.  She would play the part of asking the questions and I would take the time to obtusely answer them.  Then, when I could, I would create an interview with interesting folk, such as yourself.  I think this is an idea for when I am not also in full-time classes for this UXD program.  It is a medium term goal to be sure.

So we are rounding the corner on these 20 Questions.  Question 17: is there a question that I have not asked you that your are surprised that I haven’t, or feel that I should have?

Answer 17: Nope.

MWahahahahahaha. I kid. Although in all honesty I always have a hard time with this. You know, like in the interview for a job and they say, “what questions do you have for us?” and you cast about and can’t think of anything. I guess you could ask me “How were you able to marry such an amazing person like Eileen?” but then I would say “I don’t know, she must be insane but I’m glad she did,” or something sappy like that.

Marrying up is the way to go.  I did it for sure.  The wife (20 Questions Tuesday: 262) was actually patient enough to do one of these 20 Questions as well.  I. Clearly. Married. Up. No one doubts that.

Question 18: With your new Daily Tech News Show, who is a dream guest outside your normal cadre of dream guests (you have so many great friends and delightful colleagues)?  Who is your elusive white whale of a tech news podcast guest?... and do you have aims at landing that whale?

Answer 18: Well now I feel odd answering because you’ve cornered me into unavoidably comparing my dream guest to a whale. So very carefully, and pointedly NOT comparing these people to a whale, these are folks I’d love to interview. Jeff Bezos to chat about his unique take on what’s important in a tech business. Linus Torvalds, to get his perspective 30 years on about what open source means. Same for Tim Berners-Lee about the semantic Web. Tony Hsieh to talk about HIS perspective on what’s important in business compared to his boss Jeff. Marissa Mayer on how she has formed her guiding principles for Yahoo. Ian McKellan, because Ian McKellan. David Tennant because he just sounds like a fun chap to talk too.

Ooooh, all of those are great.  I would also love to corner any one of those “whales” and ask them 20 odd questions.  I think comedically I would love to get Jimmy Pardo, Patton Oswalt, and John Hodgman to answer 20 Questions.  There are so many actors I would love to get… weirdly, Emma Thompson, is near the top of that list… but there are so many others… I got whales to the left of me, and whales to the right…

Anyway, now is the time on this blog where I let the tables be turned.  Question 19: Do you have any question you would like me to answer?  You have been crazy candid with your answers and I will strive to do no less.

Answer 19 that is actually a question: What is the one thing (or three) you think you need help with to make your projects really work the way you want to? I don’t just mean time, or money, either. Our community of creative types has proven themselves willing and more than able to help each other out. All of the Internet is listening. What do ya need buddy?

I honestly can say that this question caught me off-guard.  It is most certainly not an unwelcome question, but definitely an unexpected one.  To be able to answer it fairly, I first had to sit down and contemplate what it is that I actually wanted.  I need to know the direction and desire before I can consider the obstacles involved.  After much deliberation I decided to just focus on what I would like to do to make 20 Questions Tuesday a thing.  It may be a bit of a cop-out, but I have no idea what I want to do professionally and feel it would be wise to be further along in the UXD program before thinking about professional goals.  Plus, my job is the one with benefits, and until there is a single payer system in the US, I will need to be gainfully employed with benes. So, for the time being, let’s simply consider making this a thing.   

I have been doing 20 Questions in some way shape or form since August of 05. Holy Crap!  That is a long time.  Other than the aforementioned time and money (of those 2, time is the more salient issue… not that my fam is proverbially “rolling in it,” but we are doing okay) the hurdles are mostly very typical… I need to...

  • get a url (Done)
  • find hosting and have a plug and play template (ie squarespace) (Done)

  • consolidate my content from the blogger days and the more current tumblr run onto the new platform (Done)

  • get an audience

  • switch up with a monthly podcast where the Wife reads the questions and I obtusely answer them...as my classload subsides, maybe ramp this up a bit

Of all these, the finding an audience is the most daunting of the tasks.  I think some of this is due to the relative randomness of the content.  One week I have an interview.  Some of the interviews are of relatively well-known people.  I got Clark Gregg (20 Questions Tuesday: 202) of Agent Coulson fame to do 10 Questions and then asked comic book artists 10 questions about the character Agent Coulson.  That one was super popular.  I have done a sizeable number of comic book artists.  Primarily they were young up-and-comers and now are drawing marquee books and becoming fan favorites.  I have done a handful of stand-up comedians.  Some of those 20 questions have been absolutely stunningly wonderful, because comedians typically have a depth that most people don’t see.  I have done a goodly number of Internet personalities that seem to have orbited around the TWiT network either as hosts or as guests. Coupled with these I have also done local people I know and find interesting from my Wife to a local mommy blogger nutritionist to the local Baklava Fairy (20 Questions Tuesday: 260 - Ann Marie McCallister).  In-between these interviews I ask friends, colleagues and some people I only know on the Internet for 20 questions for me to answer obtusely.  I give this bevy of questioneers a loose topic and they collectively send me 20 questions.  Last week’s 20 Questions about Christmas was one of them.  

Many action items I will be taking care of soon after I post this.  I will have a url and a squarespace site, and slowly building the site for public consumption. The piece that I have no idea about is the gaining an audience.  The technical aspects of creating a podcast and getting that feed going are also a bit daunting.  At one time I was acutely technically savvy, but 1995 was a looong time ago, and I need mentoring along that process.  Technical support mentoring as well as moral support.  So… of the list I have presented, the two obstacles that I need some motion and help with is the audience building as well as the technical aspects of adding a podcast to the mix.

Enough about me…

Question 20:  What are you taking from these 20 Questions that you did not bring in with you?

Answer 20: Calm. As you probably noticed I had to rewrite those first few answers a few times to make sure I meant what I said. It’s hard to keep your answers straight sometimes when you’re emotional. 19 questions later and I’m relaxed. I feel hopeful about 2014. Nothing is certain but at least I know what direction I’m headed and like you, have had to do a lot of thinking about what things I want. Now it’s a matter of doing them. Thanks for helping me out in that thinking process Scott.

You know, it’s easy to have convictions when they’re never tested. A lot of virtuous people both famous and not, get by on that one fact. I’m not saying they’re not good folks, just that circumstance can make it easy to be one way or another. When you’re thrown out of your comfort zone, you find out what things you really believe and what things you’ve really learned. Losing my job in December is far from the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, but it was not easy and it was not fun. I’ve been lucky enough to be supported by amazing friends and an insanely awesome audience. I keep reminding myself not to forget how lucky I am to have that and never to take it for granted.

I’m a kid from a town of 5,000 who’s Mom wouldn’t let him ride his bike more than one block away. A trip to downtown Greenville was a big deal for me. A trip to downtown St. Louis seemed the pinnacle of existence. That certainly has changed for me, partly, maybe mostly because of the Internet. The Internet has opened the entire world to lots of kids like I was and I want that to continue to be a net positive. (Pun! Sorry) We’re all in this together. Let’s go make something great!

On my blog, you never have to apologize for a pun.  Speaking of making something great… Where can people find what you are doing now, and how can they consume what you are producing? (an unofficial Question 21)?

Answer 21: Well the easiest way to find everything is tommerritt.com. I collect all the linky things there in a page called ‘subscribe to stuff’. There’s even a link where you can subscribe to all the stuff in one go, if that’s your preference. I also chatter a lot on Twitter @acedtect and Google +. I have a fan page on Facebook but I’m embarrassingly absent from it.

Everyone should follow what this man is creating.  He is a voice of reason in a sea of chaos when it comes to the things that could be labeled tech and/or geekery.  But you should also follow what he does because of more than just his professional capabilities.  Tom is a nice man, and I do not say this lightly or flippantly.  He is genuine and all of my interactions with him have been just delightful.  He is witty, enjoys both good and bad puns (probably bad ones more than good), knows when to be silly, and brings out the best with whomever he is working.  I know this personally because in the two times that I have interviewed him, he has made me better.  He continues to do so through example and through my hopeful continued interaction with him.  I often say that my interview “was a delight” and sometimes to say “delight” is stretching it just a bit.  With Tom I can easily and without reservation say that this interview was a delight.

 

To Recap:

Tom Merritt = Awesome

A new year is upon us

“Let’s go make something great” is a great mantra for a new year

The kids really need to get back into school

They are running around like caged monkeys in the house

Thursday they go back to school… that will be good

We had a delightful Christmas

And it is a new year full of promise and opportunity

Tom Merritt made me get 20QuestionsTuesday.com

Made me…

With his forcefulness

The site will become more visual as the weeks progress

Check back early and often

Happy 2014

Have a great year, everyone!

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20 Questions Tuesday: 265 - Field of Work

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This week, I had to do some “Out in the field” work which involved me taking pictures of a coworker showing the amount of movement a slow moving landslide had generated on a roadway…. on a scary roadway called Ohio State Route 666…..  ooooh spooky!  Halloween is around the corner and I was on OH SR 666 for a full day…. isn’t that how bad horror movies start?  Anyway… since I was in the field I decided to set up the topic for today’s post to revolve around the idea of “Field of Work.”


Thanks this week go to Chris Corrigan, some other guy, and my wife.  Onto the questions!


1.  How would you describe your field of work?

Stagnant and unyielding.  It is a field of work that is absolutely necessary for the continued use of our crumbling infrastructure, but it leads to nowhere.


2.  What are the other fields you are active in and why don’t we describe these also as fields of work?

There are some other fields that I am tangentially associated with, but I find myself hard pressed to claim membership.  I love the field of comic book art, but I am woefully under-educated about existing and past artists and writers as well as the over all recent plots associated with current comic book characters.  I am on the ball for 80’s and 90’s comic book lore and artists, but when you get away from that my knowledge is rather anemic. Other than that i would say I am an active participant in the field of parenting as well as a wannabe member of the field associated with watching soccer.


3.  Have you ever worked in a field?

Nope, that is rather backbreaking work and I seem to be allergic to backbreaking work.


4.  Your wife and I worked with some farm workers a few years ago. I think more people need to know what goes on in fields. Cheap food is a bad thing. What say you?  

Most cheap things ultimately end up being bad, so cheap food would not surprise me to find out that, overall, it is bad.  And honestly, it only takes thinking for less than a second about why cheap food could be cheap for one to realize that cheap = bad for someone.


5.  What is the nicest field you have ever played on?

I did not get a chance to play on it, but I got to see and kick a ball on Old Trafford.  Other than that I would say the fields my team played on when we went to England were all pretty nice.


6.  How large is your “field of view?”

I would say that maybe about 185°.  It is far from accurately measured, but staring straight ahead I can see my hands if they are just slightly behind being even with my ears..


7.  Is it true that an acre was determined as a unit of measure by the amount of land an ox could plow in a day, or is that apocryphal?

Looking into the history of the acre on Wikipedia it seems that it is not apocryphal.  It seems that the acre is an average amount of land a “yoke of ox” could plow in one day.


8.  Do you feel that you are an expert in any particular field?

Nope… I used to be, but my skills and knowledge base stagnated in that particular field.  People who were students of mine when I was TA’ing their labs are now much more gainfully employed than I am currently.  Therefore I am trying to generate some expertise in a new field.


9.  Do you feel that you “field questions” on this blog?

I had not thought of that, but, yes, it seems that I do field questions on this blog.

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10.  Were you ever very good with Field Theory in mathematics?

Nope, couldn’t do field stuff or complex manifolds or tensor sets, or a bunch of that stuff.


11.  What field of mathematics would you have followed had you stayed in the field of math?

I would have gotten deep into the nitty gritty of geometric topology, most likely focusing in knot theory.  I have to say that I am happy that is not my life.


12.  What is the weirdest agricultural field you have ever seen?

Well, “weird” to many would be “normal” to many others because agriculture is primarily a geographic thing.  Growing up in Alabama, I saw cotton fields when traveling through the state, while it was not a weird site because it was fairly common, the cotton plant is an oddly weird plant, so while I would say that seeing cotton fields was common if you are in that geography, cotton fields are weird.


13.  Have you ever been to the Field Museum in Chicago?

Yes, we went to the Field Museum when the King Tut exhibit was traveling through the US and we happened to be in Chicago for a conference my wife was attending.  We had tom truncate our Tut viewing because Little Man wanted to watch the commuter trains and the “Ell” more… even though we had already watched the trains for 3 hours that day.  Yes, I am a little bitter.


14.  Is there something going on with the Earth’s magnetic field?

Yes, there is always “something” going on with the Earth’s magnetic field, it is a very dynamic and volatile field.


15.  Why does “field of work” typically feel rather neutral but “piece of work” feel negative?

I… I… I don’t know… I haven’t thought about that… Is a field better than a piece?  Is there a “____ of work that is better than “field” such that the continuum goes from “____” to “field” to “piece?”  Crap… I am not sleeping tonight, so much to think about.


16.  Have you ever used that overdone joke about cows being “Outstanding in their field?”

I am a dad and therefore have tapped into the field of bad dad humor… of course I have.  My 8 year old at the time found it HI-larious.

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17.  Morphic Fields…. discuss:

Morphic fields seem to be the available capacitance for activity within a subject matter.  The example you (my wife) gave me is that a new skill was done in in gymnastics in Russia within a week in a different area of the world, say the USA the same skill was attempted and completed without any cross-pollination of idea or instruction.  Similarly, the creation of differential calculus was achieved near simultaneously.  I think the concept of morphic fields has to do with critical mass and quantum states.  It has to do with things being ready to shift.  They often do so simultaneously.  


18.  What is the least favorite work you do in the field?  Most favorite?

I think I enjoy the being out of office most of all, but the actual drive is the part I like the least.


19.  What fields of work do you see Little Man and Q going into?

Little Man: I think some kind of engineer, probably leaning towards aerospace

Q: Ninja


20.  Did you ever walk through a field and have you stepped in something smelly, squishy, and processed through an animal?

Is this an elaborate question to see if I have stepped in animal poo?  Yes, I have, and I did not like it one bit.


To recap:

Not sure how often I will be getting to these  for the rest of the semester in my schooling

The class I am in right now is crazy hard

So. Much. Work. To. Be. Done.

So. Little. Time.

I did get an “a” in my last course, so I am still rocking the 4.0

I have also started exercising again

That certainly sucks a big old bag of dicks

I need to get some reading done

Stupid homework!  I am 39 GOTDAMNIT!!!! I SHOULD NOT HAVE HOMEWORK WHEN I AM 39

Have a great weekend everyone!

20 Questions Tuesday: 188 - Goals

So, the wife ran her marathon this weekend.  She did the marathon in 4 hours 35 minutes and 23 seconds.  She is a badass.  She sped up from mile 15 to mile 26… passing tons of people around mile 17. So, the wife accomplished her goal.  Which leads me to today’s topic of “Goals.”  Everyone knows what they are, and everyone sets them.  So lets hear some questions about “Goals.”
 
Thanks this week go to Chris Corrigan, Nadolny, Brett Wood, Lord Pithy, Reilly Brown, Steev, Some Other Guy, Wifey, and Mimma.  Onto the questions!

1.  Why do you think goals are better than questions?  

Questions have their place.  I find that questions are a nice thing to model over arching themes for one’s life, but the open ended nature of questions make actions harder to determine.  Goals allow for the creation of action plans. 

2.  What happens if you should, by some strange coincidence, achieve your goals?

You pause, and then create new and better ones.

3.  Your favorite sport is soccer (I think), is the goal your favorite part of the game, or is the moving back and forth (ok, yeah, I don’t know what it’s called) your favorite part or is there a part I haven’t recognized?

I love most aspects of soccer, so I dig the back and forth probing of the offenses and defenses, the exploiting of weaknesses and the tactical match up between teams, but I have to say the lead up to and the scoring of the goal is always a fun thing to watch.

4.  What’s on your bucket list of goals for life?

Duh, immortality

5.  I don’t like soccer but I do enjoy when the announcers yell goal, do you enjoy that as well?

Eh, not so much. Andres Cantor is the guy who made it “popular.”  Now all the other “Gooooooooooooal” calls are just mimics who haven’t branched out on their own to define their own style.

6.  What is the goal of your blog?

I just want to entertain some people and myself.

7.  How awesome would it be if someone followed you around to scream, “Gooooooooooooooooal!!!” every time you accomplished a task?

I would have much better goals and more goals as well.  I would be doing anything and everything in my power to put check marks by the items on my to do list, and then ripping my shirt off and sliding into the corner of the conference room in celebration.

8.  Would you enjoy work more or less if there were a giant lighted scoreboard?

Depends on who I am up against that day.  There are some people I would never want to be compared to productivity wise /cough/ my wife /cough/.

9.  Have you ever set a goal, accomplished said goal, and felt a little let down by the experience?

Of course.  One of the issues that one hopes to run into is the eventual disappointment of success…  didn’t fill in the hole that you thought it would, did it?

10.  What is your most unrealistic goal from childhood that you still, against all hope, hold onto?

I think I still haven’t completely given up hope of getting some art published for profit in one of the major comic book labels.

11.  Do you ever make a list of super-easy goals just so you can feel better at the end of the day? Give examples

Breathe, Eat lunch, Say “Hello” to coworkers, Shower… I have no idea what you mean… I am quite the success…  well, except for the whole “Shower” thing

12.  What were your goals for yourself as a child, and how have those goals changed as you grew?

Since I was really young (around 5-ish) I have wanted to do things with my art… For example, as a pre-teen kid I wanted to save hot pre-teen girls from maniacal super villains using my artistic skills.  I never really figured out the details on that one, I was 12, what do you want from me.  Now, I want to save super models from nefarious madmen using my artistic skills.  Again, the details on this goal are hazy at best.

13.  What goals have you achieved, failed, or abandoned over time?

Goal Achieved: I am for the most part a happy person
Goal Failed: I did not go as far with my soccer as I once wanted
Goal Abandoned: Self powered flight…. I am not an aeronautical engineer with unlimited resources.

14.   At what point does one decide that a goal is unattainable?

I think when the capabilities are completely gone.  For a good long while I felt like getting some art published was unattainable due to the deterioration of my drawing skills, but reapplying myself to art and the new democratization of the publishing industry, it might be attainable now.  on the other hand, playing soccer professionally is completely out of the question now, for I am too old, too decrepit, and too unskilled for that to be an option.

15.  How do you know if a goal is based in reality or is simply your ego telling what is possible (think bad singer on American Idol)?

Full disclosure here:  I have never watched even one minute of American Idol, but I think I know what you are getting at. I think the only way to have that is to have a strong and realistic support system around yourself.  You have to have a friend that you believe who will tell you that you are out of your frakking mind if you want to pursue a particular goal.

16.  How do you decide at what cost you are willing to achieve a goal?

That is all relative.  There are monks out there self-immolating for the goal of a free Tibet, and who is to say what cost is too much.  There is nothing that I “would leave on the field” if the goal were the continued safety and health of my family, for example.  However, there are limits to my efforts where the goal of self-flight is concerned.

17.  Is it a coincidence that the Olde English word “gaol” (meaning “jail”, or “to jail”) is so similar in spelling to “goal?”

I think some people are “locked into” their goals and “trapped by” their goals so the simple vowel shift is interesting, and some instances, rather un-ironic.

18.  What was your last big goal?  What is your next big goal?

hmmmm… I cannot say that I am super goal oriented, as you can probably tell by my answers.  I would have to say that my last achieved goal was to get some art published.  I have some work published with a small game publishing company and with an independant author.  My next big goal?  I would have to say is more associated with getting back down to a reasonable level of fitness and weight.  It is time for me to be serious about my health.

19.  What is the secret of creating a good goal?

I think reasonably attainable is the biggest one.  Yes, goals should stretch you in ways that you never thought possible, but they should be, overall, attainable.  I think over-all, all-encompassing goals should be able to be chopped up into quantized bite-size attainable goals.

20.  What is your next step to attaining an overall goal, without giving away the goal itself?

More juice.

To recap:
Our 3 year old is hopped up on goof-balls, right now
Orapred, Tons of Xopenex, Azithromycin, and Benadryl cocktails
She is riding the Dragon right now
And the Dragon is a fickle beast
She.
Is.
Out.
Of.
Her.
Mind.
The house is a wreck
But my wife finished a marathon this weekend
She is a badass
I am rather tired
I have a couple of interviews going right now, but I am open to others…
E-mail me or leave a comment and we can make this happen


20 Questions Tuesday: 176 - Thanksgiving (on Thursday.. whoops)

So, today, the fam is on the way to the first vacation in a long long time.  So we are vacating whilst having the Thanksgiving day festivities.  It is going to be a great time… that has been needed for a long long time.  Did I mention “long long time?” ….because you know, “long long time.”

Anyway… since it is a holiday week, I am breaking out the holiday tropes… The topic for this edition is, unsurprisingly, Thanksgiving.

Thanks this week go to: Guido, Lsig, Allrileyedup, Capt. McArmypants, and Some Other Guy.  On to the questions!

1. Whose house does your family usually go to for Thanksgiving?

We typically have the whole Thanksgiving thing at our house, with my family now and most, if not all of my family growing up.  This year, however, we are heading out of town and visiting with no one.  I think it is a welcome respite from the typical Thanksgiving hosting duties.

2. Whose job is it to kill “the bird”?

By “kill” I assume you mean either purchase or prepare.  Purchase?  Well, whomever goes grocery shopping that week.  Sometimes me, sometimes Wifey and sometimes the Ma-in-Law. Prepare? Never me, I hate touching poultry.  CANNOT STAND IT.  So either Wifey or Ma-in-Law do the bird preparations.

3.  Are you for, or against, putting up Christmas decorations prior to Thanksgiving? Personally, I’m against, I prefer my holidays one at a time.

One holiday at a time, please.  Now, we will put up decor the day after, often. This year it will be the week after Turkey-Day.

4. Is it tradition for you to eat absolutely as much as possible?  I try to have a little of everything, which turns into a lot of something!

Umm… I am not quite sure how to respond to this with something other than just a big ole “YES.”

5. Do you have any non-standard foods that must be part of your T-day feast?

Not especially.  We tend to stay pretty traditional.  Ham, Turkey, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, etc…

6. Do you call your turkey “Tom”? (I insist on calling ours Pablo. Pablo Pavo (Pavo being Spanish for turkey).

I think we only refer to the turkey as “the bird.”  Sometimes the “stupid bird,” or “that fucking bird in the bag.”

7. Who does the bulk of your thanksgiving cooking?

My wife and her mom do pretty much every bit of the cooking for the feast.

8. Do you go around and say what you are thankful for like they do on tv?

Yup, we all sit on one side of the table and try to avoid looking at the audience while we say what we are thankful for and watch clips from past episodes fade in and fade out.  Who doesn’t love a clip show?

9. Pumpkin pie? (I vote yes)

Hells yes!  With whipped cream, of course.

10. What is your favorite T-day tradition?

Umm… The eating of the foods. Is there any other tradition to look forward to?

11. How many T-day traditions do you have?

We really don’t have too many traditions, per se.  They mainly revolve around the food and the eating thereof.  So as a family we typically have 2.  The cooking and the eating…

12. Why does T-day get so shafted by Christmas?

Well, because Christmas also has a big meal associated with it, but, oh so much more.  There are gifts, and decorations, and carols, and TV shows, and wrapping paper, and trees, and lights, and food (often much of the same foods).  Plus, it is only a month away.  I am sure some people use Thanksgiving Day as a dry run or dress rehearsal for their Christmas Day feast.

13. What artwork has the children (or perhaps just one of them) brought home?

I don’t remember… I am a bad parent… maybe Little Man has done one of those turkey hands or something.

14. I am all for cultural appreciation, but I think sometimes we overlook the obvious. When eating partially fermented Bird Fetus with yolk still in the egg or pickled pigs feet or diet ice cream remember that people ate these things because they were starving not because they enjoyed it.  Which traditional Turkey Day treat do you give the maddest props to in terms of awful but still served at the table for the sake of TRADITION?

I think sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce would be the two that I think of.

15. Which traditional food be yer favorite?

Yaaarrrrr, Sausage stuffing be my favorite.  as long as it not be corn bread stuffing or too soppy, it be the blessed food of the seven seas, yarrrr.

16. Which tradition be yer favorite?

Tis, the tradition of nae touching the raw bird, that be my favorite, once ye gets past the traditional grub’n’eatings.

17. 24 NOV 11:  Looking forward to the main course or the Dessert more?  24 NOV 85:  Looked forward to the main course or the dessert?

This is a really interesting question.  I am currently really looking forward to the main course, whereas in 85 an 11 year old me was looking forward to spice cake with cream cheese frosting and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

18. When you get “into the Holiday spirit” do you try focus on the “thanks” for what you have or the “giving” to others?

I think I am more concerned with the whole “giving” thing, mainly because I need to figure out what they want.  Piffle, who am I kidding? I am focusing on what I am getting.

19. Best Thanksgiving Day story?

Well, one year the Mom-in-Law (refered to as “M” in this story) invited her elderly neighbor whose husand had died previously that year, we will refer to her as “R.”  Little Man’s surrogate grandparents, brought their elderly Alzheimer riddled neighbor, let’s call him “J.”

J: M, Whatever Happened to that nice man who lived next door to you?
R: **Cries softly**
M: He died this year, R is his widow.
J: Oh, that’s terrible.  I am sorry for you loss, R.
R: **More crying**
—Ten minutes Pass—
J: M, Whatever Happened to that nice man who lived next door to you?
R: **Cries softly**
M: He died this year, R is his widow.
J: Oh, that’s terrible.  I am sorry for you loss, R.
R: **More crying**
—Ten Minutes Later—
J: M, Whatever Happened to that nice man who lived next door to you?
R: **Cries softly**
M: He died this year, R is his widow.
J: Oh, that’s terrible.  I am sorry for you loss, R.
R: **More crying**
—Rinse and Repeat ad Infinitum—

The best Thanksgiving story ever.

20.  If you weren’t able to spend your Thanksgiving at your house or at a relatives, where would you spend your Thanksgiving?

Oh, I think the fam and I would spend our Thanksgiving at a State Park resort in West by God Virginia.

To recap:
Wild, Wonderful

5 hours of driving in the rain
Through backwoods county roads
In the rain
Close to being serpentine 1 lane roads
I shouldn’t be dramatic
We stopped for 30 minutes for lunch
It was really 4.5 hours
I have to format this and get it posted
Have a great holiday, all you US folk out there
Have a great weekend everyone else
And I guess you US folk could have a great weekend too

20 Questions Tuesday: 173 - Dave Anthony

 

Here we go again with a brand spanking new 20 Questions Tuesday.  This time it is an interview with LA Based stand-up comedian and co-host of the Walking the Room podcast, Dave Anthony.  Last week I interviewed Greg Behrendt the other co-host of the Walking the Room.  Oddly I started the interviews at the same time.  Greg finished his interview a week earlier than Dave… Does that mean that Greg has more time on his hands than Dave? Does that mean that Dave is not as “into” his fanbase as Greg? Would the outcome have been different if the two knew it was a race? The world may never know, but Greg won the race.

 Dave has an acerbic wit and a fairly twisted view of comedy. The podcast that he co-hosts with his good friend is quite possibly one of the funniest things on the Interwebs. It is not for the faint of heart though and tends to take dark paths and disturbing highways to get to the funny.  A lesser known talent of his is his twitter feed.  It is enjoyable for many reasons, but I love watching him interact with people as they unfollow him.  So without further adieu…
 
Onto the Questions:

 One of the reasons that I dig listening to you and started watching for you was your interview on WTF with Marc Maron.  I believe it was during that interview that I learned that your wife is a therapist.  My wife was a therapist for many years, and being married to a therapist can be an interesting ordeal to say the least.  Question 1:  Do you see anything in your life now that you can think of that is significantly different since you are married to a therapist?

 I’d like to say yes but not at all.  She’s very good at keeping her therapy out of our relationship and I am a stubborn asshole, so it’s a perfect match.  She doesn’t analyze me or talk about why I am doing what I am doing, etc.  Very occasionally she will ask me why I feel that way, or the other day she asked me, “What makes you happy?” and I just laughed at her and mocked her until the moment was crushed and any hope of a meaningful conversation was destroyed.

 And, yes, she thinks I should be in therapy.

 That is pretty awesome that you are able to keep the work/life stuff separated that well.  It is not often that I get the chance to ask another spouse of a therapist that question, so I typically do…

 I have no good transition for this, but Question 2: Why Manchester United? (who seem to be utterly unstoppable this season so far, and Rooney is playing out of his mind)

 Fantastic question.  When the Premier League began showing on American televisions I really didn’t have a team to follow.  I tried with a few but nothing stuck. Manchester United was the team that was on tv the most.  So, I became familiar with them but I still have reservations about following them because they are basically the Yankees of English football.  Then the Arsenal “invincables” came along. I have never watched a more horrendous group of arrogant, whining dicks in my life.  The only team that had a chance to knock them down was Manchester United, so I started following them.

 I should add that the English Premier League is really two leagues. There’s the teams that can win it all, which currently number 3.  Some teams bob back and forth. In total, it’s a league of about 6 teams.  I follow United, who are in the league this league of 6.  Then there are the rest of the teams, who will never, ever win the title and are just playing for survival.  In that league, I follow Fulham.

 I mentioned in an email to you previously that I had the opportunity to go to the Bobby Charlton School of Football way back in the day, and there is a high probability that I lined up against Beckham (I was, 10 so the memory of who I tackled that night is too foggy), so I have a soft spot for Man U in the top 4 slot, but in regards for the rest of the pack, I also follow Fulham, first because of McBride and now because of Dempsey.  Any team that gives that many Yanks a shot should be rewarded with my interest.

 Question 3: Did you play soccer, or is this an interest that you came to as an adult?

 Yes, I played soccer as a kid.  I was pretty good, actually.  We didn’t have coaches, so who knows how good I could have been.  When I say we didn’t have coaches, I literally mean my friend’s dad was the coach of our high school team and he was a complete moron.  It was extremely frustrating.  I eventually stopped playing and started smoking pot, as God intended.

 I never really got into the illegal substances… it is clearly my loss.  So one thing that I have noticed with the insane amounts of comedy podcasts I listen to is the preponderance of substance abuse within the “comedy scene”

 Question 4: It seems that many of the comedians I enjoy are starting to have kids and still perform. I don’t remember comedians of 10 years ago having kids or if they did, actually trying to be involved in their kids’ lives.  Is this a newer thing or was I just not aware of the father/mother comedians of the 80’s and 90’s?

There were comedians with kids but I just think they weren’t as popular as those without.  Kid comedy isn’t really something the masses love.  It seems to be very repetitive and everyone is telling the same joke.  Louis CK kind of found a way to be different but I bet if someone went back they’d find someone doing similar material years ago.

But you also have to understand you are now far more aware of our lives than you were of comedians in the 80s and 90s.  Back then, you just knew about the comedian because of his material or through the press.  Now you have the internet, which not only gives you access to more material but other aspects of a comic’s life.  Podcasts are a huge thing, but so it Twitter, etc.

My personal belief is if you want to have kids you have to cut down on the amount of time you go on the road.  A lot of comics get caught in the nightmare of having to go out on the road more to deal with the costs of having kids.  That sort of cancels out the reason you have kids.  It also creates more strippers and comedians.

Fair point, I think my frame of reference may be tainting my memories as well.  I am pretty sure when I was kidless, I did not notice as much stuff that was kidfull.

Question 5: So were you aware that Hobotang, a word created by your podcast, is in the Urban Dictionary right now?

It’s a little weird and a little cool.  I think it’s more an indication that we had a word void that had to be filled.  Above ground domesticated hobos have existed for years and it’s time someone gave them a name.

It is also proof of the insanity of our listeners.

It does seem that some of the listeners are a bit off, to say the least.  Not saying that I am not quite bent as well, just that some of the cuddlahs are a bit scary.

Question 6: Any of the cuddlahs honestly scare you?  Any interactions that made you want to avoid eye contact and back away slowly?

Ha.  No one has scared me yet.  But I’m sure that moment is coming.  Anytime you venture into something like this you get someone who is waaay to into it.  It’s inevitable.  That’s why I carry a sawed off shotgun under my trench coast at all times.

It can be a little weird because people know so much about me and seem to assume I know a lot about them but I don’t.  So, it’s a one way familiarity situation.  I’m not really good at that kind of stuff anyway.  I’ve always been the comic who doesn’t go out to meet the crowd after the show.  I’m pretty happy being anonymous offstage.

That over-familiarity of your listeners is actually something that I am fighting in this 20 questions.  Since most of the people who read this blog don’t listen to your podcast, I feel like I cannot really ask some fo the “inside baseball” questions for Walking the Room.  Crickets, Hobotangs, etc…  I feel like I do have a pretty good “History of Dave” kind of knowledge going on here as well.  I listened to you tell your story to Maron, and I have over 70 hours of WTR to call on about your life and likes/dislikes.  Trying to stay away from the typical questions and keep the questions interesting to me is, frankly, kind of difficult.

I am a fairly liberal thinker and tend to be left leaning.  That being said, I made the conscious decision when I started this blog, not to be political in this forum. Question 7: You used to write a pretty political blog "Stop All Monsters,"  did you find being political on the web to be an enjoyable experience or did it just make your blood boil?

Well, I started writing politics on the internet for Suicide Girls.  I was their political editor.  Then I branched out onto my own blog.  At SG it was pretty annoying because the people who go to that site are, ironically, very limited in their thinking.  Not all, but the people leaving comments were largely douchebags.

My own site was better.  I had a few trolls that would post but for the most part it was people who actually like my writing and my point of view who read.  Mostly, I just got fed up with politics and, in particular, Obama.  In my opinion, a very obvious game is being played by Democrats, Republicans and Obama to get the corporations everything they need while fucking over the common man.  And even when we reached the breaking point, they continued on.  I think Obama will end up being one of the worst things that ever happened to the Democratic Party.  So, that’s why I left my blog.  I just couldn’t take what was happening anymore.

That makes sense.  I am clearly more forgiving of Obama than you are, but I am really starting to tire on his administration and their policies continuing the status quo.

So, recently, you got a writing gig for the AMC aftershow, The Talking Dead, associated with their mega-hit The Walking Dead Question 8: Were you a fan of the whole zombie genre beforehand, or of the tWD comic book or show prior to getting the gig?

I am a huge zombie lover but I didn’t read the comic book until I started on the show.  I did get the job because of my zombie expertise and my love of the television show.

I don’t read many comics and those I do read tend to be more like Optic Nerve.   I don’t care for the comic very much.  I think his story development is okay but the characters are weak and the dialogue is not good.

Okay, I got my M.A. in geography and, if I remember correctly, your undergrad is in geography (jealous much?), so I hope this question seems interesting. That being said, this is one of my favorite questions, and I try to use it as often as I can.  I was born in Oklahoma City, OK.  I moved to Montgomery, AL, and then grew up in Birmingham, AL.  I went to undergrad in Kent, OH, and then settled in Columbus, OH.

Question 9: What is your geographic history?  

It’s nothing as grand as moving around the Oklahoma, Alabama, Ohio triangle.

I grew up in Marin County, California.  Specifically, Fairfax, home of that American Taliban guy.  I lived in the same house until I was 18, when I moved to San Luis Obispo for 1 year to go to college at Cuesta. (Hold on, I was in college forever)  I then went home and went to College of Marin for 1 year, then I went back to San Luis Obispo for 2 years.  Then I went to UC Santa Barbara for 3 years.  If you have any grasp of math, you will see that I stretched my college career out to 7 years.  That’s fucking impressive.

After college, I moved to San Francisco for 5 years, then moved to New York for 4 years, then to Los Angeles, where I have lived eve since.

During my stand up career I have visited every state in the continental US, which is pretty cool.  Still haven’t been to Alaska but plan to at some point.

Question  10: So which of these places do you consider “Home” with a capital “H?” For example, I lived in the Birmingham area for 15 years where I grew up, but I consider Columbus home, because Birmingham may have been where I spent my formative years, but Columbus, is where I built/am building my life.

I considered Fairfax home for a long time but once I got married and had a kid, LA became my home.  It’s weird because we are trained in Northern California to grow up hating LA, yet here I am.

I’ve liked everyplace I’ve lived except New York.  I think it’s a dehumanizing shithole.  I can’t understand how people love it so much but I think that might be a west coast thing.  Growing up here it’s all open and spread out.  Could never adjust to the compacted existence of NY.  And the heat.  And the subway.  Seriously, fuck that place.

It is amazing how getting married, having a kid, and raising the youngun will almost immediately change where you consider home.  Sadly my Birmingham, AL home stopped being my home when my childhood cat died during my super-senior year at Kent State, Columbus became home for me soon after being married.

Question 11: So, speaking of kids, how old is your little boy and are there any of his shows that he relentlessly wants to watch on TV (making an assumption that he relentlessly wants to watch something on TV, because he is a kid and that is what they do) that you secretly enjoy?

He’s 2 1/2.  His name is Dangerous Top Anthony.  He enjoys Curious George, anything with garbage trucks and Sons of Anarchy.

I do not really like any of his programs.  They are rather juvenile.

Seriously, I don’t like anything he watches.  Franklin can go fuck itself a million times.

I hear that.  Franklin is a whiny bitch of a turtle, and don’t get me started with that wuss Caillou.  What the hell is the that name to start with?  Really with kids programming it really is choosing the lesser of the evils presented, and, yes, it is all evil.  I knew I was watching too much kid’s TV when I started finding Mrs. Foil from The Upside Down Show to be a hotty.  Yep, I started doing other things right then and there.

Question 12: So, when the wee one is partaking his Curious George, and Franklin, and whatever other crap, does he ask you infuriating questions about what is going on in the insipid show you are trying not to watch, just to try and make you watch the eyesore moving pictures on the TV, when he knows that you are trying your damned best to not have to watch?… ummm. Yes, that question is for you… actually, what does the wee one allow you to get away with whilst he is viewing his shows?  For me, it is stuff I can do on my phone.

He lets me do whatever when he’s watching TV.  But he doesn’t watch very much tv right now. Mostly playing with cars and trains and for that I have to just sit there and do what he says.

He’s a Nazi.

Oh, god, I remember the trains, oh do I remember the trains.  My boy fell in love with trains at the age of -1 and played with them near relentlessly until he was 6.  It got so bad that he made us by DVD’s of trains made by creepy train lovers who hang out at crossing gates with video cameras.  Those guys are one panel van away from touching kids.  Anyway…he started with the wooden trains like the Thomas ones, but didn’t like Thomas, because Thomas is a whiny bitch, and he wanted to play with trains that he could see in real life that didn’t talk.  When he turned 5 we got him into the Tomica Wolrd battery operated trains and he loved those.  At 6 he moved on to planes and now is firmly ensconced in LEGOs.  So it does get better. I should start a video campaign for dad’s stuck with shitty kid’s TV shows and horrible play times….

Question 13: Since this is 13 it is time to ask about superstitions.  Do you have any superstitions.  As an example, the closest thing I had to one was a very ritualistic way of getting ready for soccer games… a specific way of putting on the socks and shin guards, etc… anything like that.  Could be associated with going on stage, or a pre-writing ritual, or maybe you need to circle the bed three times before lying down? Anything you can think of that is at all superstitious?

Well, that’s weird.  I was just murdering my nightly goat in order to get a good nights sleep.

No, actually.  I have no superstitions.  Probably weirder to not have them.

That is not particularly surprising.  You seem to be a pretty much “no fuss, no muss” kinda guy, and superstition and ritual don’t really seem to be in your bag.  Honestly, for you, I would have been surprised if you did have a superstition.

Question 14: Other than hang out with your kid, or podcast with Greg, what do you enjoy doing with your downtime?… do you have downtime?  I have no idea how things work out there in the entertainment business.

I’m so busy right now I have zero free time.  That’s part of the entertainment business.

It always seems to be all or nothing.

When I’m not working I like to lay around and do nothing.  I excel at doing nothing.  I used to play a lot of video games before my kid was born.  Now I pretty much watch movies and stare at the Internet.  Occasionally, I enjoy going for a bike ride.  But I haven’t had any free time in ages.

Now I’m sad.

I live to serve… I have finally gotten you sad, soon I will have you crying.  I am the Barbara Walters of teh Internets!

Question 15: Tell me about your mother…
Cry!  Why won’t you cry!

Okay, real Question 15: Speaking of sadness, this is a question I also asked Greg Behrendt, your co-host of Walking the Room.  How close to your day to day interactions with Greg are the Walking the Room podcasts?  I assume they are just polarized versions of your friendship where you both consciously exaggerate your typical behaviors to create teh comedies, but it would crack me up is that is just you 2 recording a typical conversation.

It’s pretty close.  Whenever we talk we’re fucking around and trying to make each other laugh.  Obviously, there’s the understanding that we are talking in front of an audience, so we want the podcast to be entertaining but we’ve always fucked around like this with each other, always tried to make each other laugh.

We do exaggerate our behaviors a bit but that’s what you do.  We are both pretty much being as honest as possible, though.

I am impressed at how similar yours and Greg’s answers were to this question.  I honestly find this to be absolutely beautiful.  That is an amazing friendship that you have and I hope that you cherish it greatly, because it is super fun to listen in on.

Question 16: Do you find yourself editing your happenstance conversations with Greg because you think a particular topic would be great for the podcast and you don’t want to “waste” it just with an everyday un-recorded conversation?

Yes.  There are certain things that will happen and one of us will say to the other, “I’ve got something to tell you but I’m saving it for the podcast.”  Certain things are just too perfect.  I usually write them in my phone and am trying to push dumb ass to do the same but he likes to wander around and stare at palm trees and not actually make notes.

A lot of our off air conversations are now business conversations because off all the stuff going on around the podcast.  Shows, merch, etc.

I hope that this does not mean that your typical conversation will become tiresome and too businessy.  It would be tragic if you were only having conversations that are equivalent to spreadsheets, and not the faux vitriol laden insult fests that we get to peak into through the magic of podcasting.  

Question 17: Since we are winding down to question 20, and since I am not above letting you turn the tables on me.  During the course of this set of questions, have you thought of any questions you want to ask me?

Our fans seem to be more active and interested in the show than other podcast fans. Why do you think this is?

Greg asked a similar question of me, and I can honestly only speak for myself and guess at the rest of the cuddlahs addiction to the podcast.  For me, I have always tried following comedy, which is pretty difficult in central Ohio.  Podcasts really became a revelation for me.  Some of the comedians I loved seeing on Comedy Central or on hour long specials started making podcasts.  Through listening to other podcasts I followed a breadcrumb trail to Walking the Room and I started listening to you guys I think on Ep 2, so going back through the back catalog was fairly simple.

I think your questioning of what the hell is going on in your professional career drew me in.  Your incredulity of who has become successful in spite of their lack of ability resonates with many people.  I identify with your looking back at where you are and wondering how the fuck you got there and where you can go from here.  Your overall themes are very identifiable and relatable. We, the listeners, are basically listening into a private conversation between friends, who are just being who they are.  We get a very candid look into your lives.  Coupled with that content is the intimacy of the delivery method.  Your content is consumed individually via earphones or solitarily in a car.  It is a very private and intimate experience wrapped in failure and the smell of sadness.

It is that combination of candidness and intimacy that creates a bond between the cuddlahs and you and Greg.  Does any of that make any damn sense?

The clever turns of phrase keep me coming back though.  Seriously, Hobotang?  That is fucking brilliant.

Question 18: Any questions you can think of that I did not ask you, that I should have?

Q: Where do you think the podcast will go?

A:I think we will end with an actual army and invade a small country - perhaps San Marino - then we rename it Old Corndog and start breeding.  After that it’s anyone’s guess.

I am afraid of what the flag for Old Corndog would be… Very scared.

Question 19: Is there anything that you are not amazingly cynical about? Seriously, you take sarcasm to a different level.

Yeah, I’m not actually that cynical when it comes down to it.  i think it’s mostly just show business that I’m cynical about.  I’m also not too thrilled about the course of our country but that’s a pretty common belief at this point.

I think eventually teddy bears will rule the world.

I love that your delivery of this cynicism takes the form of a pretty biting satire.  I think that your kind of satire is a dying art and I love being able to follow your diatribes against Trump and the Kardashians on your Twitter feed.  You, sir, are the wrong kind of funny, and should be way more famous than you are. In fact, your lack of fame angers me.

Question 20: is there anything that surprised you in these 20 questions and answers? Is there anything you take away from this that you did not have before this interview?

That’s a tough one because it was so spread out.  Do I have to now go back and read my own blathering nonsense?  I guess so.

Now I have done that an my answer is “no.”  Apparently I have taken nothing from this interview.  I hope that makes you feel good.

You cut me to the quick, Dave Anthony, you cut me.  This pain is immeasurable and unyeilding.  How will I make it through the rest of my life, much less the night, knowing I have affected you so little?

Thank you so much for putting up with this interview and its long drawn out tiresome process.  I really feel honored that you took this time with me, and I have really enjoyed your answers.  Seriously, you spent an ungodly amount of time answering these questions, and I didn’t pay you shit and I can’t monetize my Tumblr since only 13 people look at the site.  You should be very happy to know that any other emails you get from me will primarily be notes about how I think you can make Walking the Room better (two words: penguin shit…. and two more words: Greg’s closet.  So, in total, four words: penguin shit Greg’s closet.  Add the word “in” for your own benefit, if you want, but I think it is implied)

To Recap:
Next week a normal 20 Questions Tuesday
Then an interview with Khoi Pham
Comic Book Artist par excellence
He is a badass
Halloween happened last night
The kids loved it
The sugar coma will last for a week
The girl loves her some chocolate
I need some sleep
Tonight I am going to bed in the early times
If you want to be interviewed or want to ask me questions…
Drop me a line with your email on it
Enjoy!
Have a great weekend, everyone!



20 Questions Tuesday: 172 - Greg Behrendt

It is my great pleasure to be able to ask 20 questions to one of my favorite comedians, Greg Behrendt.  He is known for a bunch of various reasons, some of which you may actually know… right now he is the co-host of the podcast Walking the Room and the spin off subsequent comedic shows known as the Starfish Circus… that tend to happen in LA, but not in Columbus, Ohio…. which makes me a bit jealous of the denizens of LA. (technically it is L.A. and not LA, they aren’t doing these shows in Louisiana for God’s sakes!).
 
Anyhoo… there is no reason not to start the questions… so here he is, Greg Behrendt, upon you like a griffen, gryphon, griff… whatever.  onto the questions!

My wife loooves baby-name books.  Due to this love of all things baby-naming, it was subsequently very difficult to come up with baby names that were acceptable to all parties involved in the actual naming of the kids.  It was a long drawn out process involving lists, playground taunts, and limited veto powers.  We came up with 2 names that we really dig, but it was a bit of a chore to do that.  Your kids’ names are fairly unique, yet still accessibly and easily understood.  So the question is… Question 1: How did you and your wife arrive on your kids names?  What was the process?

My wife and I like music, and my wife and I like books. And our last names suck. So our thinking was lets come up with self contained first and middle names so they could drop their last name if they wanted and still be themselves. And we thought if they sounded like characters from a novel or members of a great band and if those names could have aspirational value we’d be home. So your get Bella True 9 and Mighty Luna 6. And to be fair my wife was the driving force behind the names. Otherwise they would have been called Camerosmith, and Brian Setzer Girl.

That is really well thought out and articulate.  Many people we have met just look through a list of names they like and pick.  Though, I have to say that I am a bit surprised at how saddened I am that you did not name them Camerosmith and Brian Setzer Girl.  In the end we went with names meaning God’s Gracious Gift and Bright Shining One (Zane 8 and Eily 3 for those scoring at home for bloggy purposes I have referred to them as Little Man and Q… you share and I share, I am equitable like that… For the record, Eily loves listening to “True and Mighty” but not quite as much as she enjoys “Short Pants for Fatty”)

Question 2: You design pants, play in a band, make a podcast, do stand-up, and write…. what do you do in your free time to relax and unwind, or can you relax and unwind?

None of those thing with the exception of stand-up really make me any money so they are what I do to relax. I love to work on a project. I love working w people.  Doesn’t matter what it is band, writers room.  I also hang with my wife and girls a lot. In pajamas at 6pm on a Friday eating pizza and watching a movie is my idea of fuckin’ heaven.

It is amazing how having a family and being committed to said family will change your Friday evening priorities.  Your Friday night sounds rather heavenly.

So, I am trying to avoid the hack questions because there are many great interviews out there that you have done.  Within the last year you have guested on a number of podcasts, as well as hosting your own, other than Walking the Room, Question 3: Which podcast you have guested on have you enjoyed the most?

Never Not Funny hands down. It’s the podcast that revived my comedy career. It’s host is truly one of my favorite comics and people of all time. And Jimmy’s support of WTR has definitely helped us build a fan base. And then those fans realize they’re good people and go back to just listening to NNF!

Jimmy is quite possibly one of the funniest humans alive and NNF was my gateway drug to many a comedy podcast.  Truly, I listen to an insane amount of comedy podcasts.  In this drudgery of the day job I watch many a progress bar slowly creep across the screen… lots of free time on the hands, I say… lots of free time.  This was one of the reasons I asked your about free time…. I have lots of job free time. Did I mention my freetime? Question 4: So, I know that my contact with you is something that would not have happened even 5 years ago.  How has social media altered how you have to deal with people who are not in the entertainment industry?

Did you get my answer to three!

I believe that might be the most accurate and concise answer to Question 4.  I thought you were making a statement about your comedy career  ”revival” and how the NNF ep and new/social media was how you jump started that process

I would like to add. I’m not a cynic when it comes to social media. I like that I’ve not only made fans but friends out of it! And a few sold business partners!

So, Question 5, without a smarmy segue, it is safe to say that you might have a sweet tooth, all things being equal, what is your go to confection? (mine is Vanilla Bean Cheesecake… I have very little will power against it, I have eaten a half of the whole cake in one evening before… It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty impressive, I think my wife started fearing me at that time)

I’m still pretty high on the chocolate caramel Tim Tam. I’m sure I’d marry it if I could. But last year I attended a wedding where they had double chocolate cake with salted caramel filling and I’d kill you for another piece.

I’m listening, I am hip to that jive…. That sounds lovely, almost like a turtle sundae but with cake.  Knowing what is good for me, I have been able to avoid the Tim Tams so far (pretty sure that would be a soon to be empty package), but a wedding cake?  Yeah, that’s perfectly acceptable in modern society.

Question 6: You are very introspective, and very knowledgeable about yourself.  You seem (nothing implied here, I haven’t ever met you for reals and such) to be pretty intelligent and well-read.  That being said, you are also a performer who goes in front of people to make them laugh.  Would you consider yourself an introvert (quiet time with the fam and singular solo efforts) or an extrovert (gregarious [pun not intentional] and seeking to entertain others)?  Which really gets your batteries recharged?  Do you need the quiet time to be able to perform, or does the performance give you the energy to spend time with yourself?

Great question. I’m not overly gregarious… I think before I got sober and before I had any success I may have been a bit  overbearing needy and self seeking, but sobriety gave me the ability deal with it, and that in turn gave me all the things I have and I only got those things by being patient and being quiet. That’s not to say I don’t have my moments but at least I recognize them and  try and auto correct.  I need quiet to perform but the chaos of everyday life to write.

Speaking of the sobriety, one thing that I have learned by listening to 40+ hrs a week of podcasts is that there is a shit-ton of substance abuse within the comedy scene. Question 7: I am seriously curious about this, in your expert opinion, are the substance abuse issues inherent to the business or is it brought by the baggage the comedians are carrying with them?

I am not an expert on the topic but substance abuse problems are just people problems. Insurance adjusters are just as likely to suffer from the terrible self loathing that often leads to alcohol abuse as artists. Comics are not special or or entitled to more bad behavior than anyone else. We just happen to have forums to discuss our travails publicly. We may however be funnier drunks than the rest of the lot. Then again maybe not :)

Fair enough… I have not noticed illicit substance abuse at my jobs, however there have been some serious alcoholics and probably some prescription stuff that went un-noticed by me.  I guess due to my lack of popularity and my general disdain for people (one is a consequence of the other, but it is kind of chicken egg all up in that), I also have not been invited to the “partays” where serious (or frivolous) drug usage occurs.

Onto a completely different line of question.  You may know this about me, but I am a cartographer.  I love maps and I love the idea of places.  I was born in Okalhoma City, OK, moved to Montgomery, AL for a short while, grew up just to the northeast of Birmingham, AL, went to college in Kent, OH, and settled down in Columbus, OH. Question 8:  What is your geographic story?

West coast! Born in San Francisco in 63 moved to Marin County in 73 went to the University of Oregon 81 back to San Francisco 86 moved to Los Angeles 94 and that’s my story. West coat baby. My wife’s family lives in Hawaii and I’ve spent a lot of time there. For my money the best place on earth!

I have heard that Hawaii is tres tres spensive, due to how far from mainland anything it is.  The cost of living there has to be through the roof. Crap, my Midwest sensibilities just buzzkill everything.

So, I heard something odd the other day on one of the podcasts I frequently numb my existence to when I am at job 1.  This person was saying that men’s cargo shorts were the equivalent to women’s sweatpants with writing on the ass… appropriate for the young and hip, but passe and gauche for established adult males.  Since you are the closest thing to a male and masculine (emphasis on masculine) fashionista I know of Question 9: Are cargo shorts gauche for men late 30’s and up? and if so, what is their in kind replacement?  I love my cargo shorts…. save me!

I’m not a big fan of letting anyone decide how I’m gonna dress myself. Make your own rules. If you feel good in it it’s right . Period. Find the things that make you feel like the guy you came here to be. Taste makers and arbiters of style are just people that don’t want to get real jobs. A man isn’t a man until he owns his taste! So cargo the fuck out of it!

That is a fashion philosophy I can live with.  

Firstly, I have to thank you for hanging in there with me.  This has taken up waaay more of your time than you most likely expected.  Question 10:  Can you believe we are only half way done with this?  I need to ask more yes/no questions

I’m into it. I like it. BRING IT!

Consider me bringing it.  It has been broughtened. Question 11: You have a very strong amount of energy in your sets and in your podcast.  Do you ever shut it down, or do you bring that same amount of frenetic energy to PTA meetings, going to the grocery store, getting new shoes, etc… ?

I can be an excitable but I really only need that energy to create, not to live. I’d be more unbearable than I already am. My wife tells me I’m loud though.

I tend to be rather laid back and even keeled, so I always enjoy watching people with energy do their thang.  Yours is some frenetic energy that I could watch everyday.  

Question 12:  So you played rugby in college, and the Rugby World Cup is going on right now.  As of this time Wales, France, Australia, and New Zealand are still in the mix… are you still interested in rugby, and if so, who you got for winning the WC?
I left it on the field in college. I spent the first 20 years of my life trying to be an athlete and meeting with very little success until I joined the rugby club senior year of high school. We went on to win the Nation Championships in ‘81 and it was the highlight if my sporting life. I tried to stick with it in college but the allure finally wore off. I broke my hand on a guys forehead sophomore year, quit, and went directly to the theatre dept. and never looked back.

Well, rugby ain’t my game, but looking at the stats really quickly, my money (if I had any) would be on the New Zealand All Blacks (Editor’s note: New Zealand won Vs France with a score of 8 to 7).  They seem to have destroyed almost every other team so far.  I played soccer as a kid and in high school and enjoyed non-varsity level fencing in college, which leads me to a question that I have asked others…

Question 13: Prior to games in high school, I had to put on my socks and shin guards on a very particular sequence and at fencing tournaments, I needed to follow a pretty strict sequence of stretching and exercise.  Since this is Q13, do you have any superstitions? A certain set of actions you have to do prior to taking the stage, a song you have to listen to prior to exercise, you have to circle the bed three times before you can lay down to sleep (like some kind of family pet), NO WIRE HANGERS!!!!.. You know some kind of superstition? Anything?

No hats on the bed! I wear hats. I also love the movie Drugstore Cowboy. No hats on the bed. Bad luck. I’m not very superstitious but I do not put or allow hat’s on the bed.

How wonderfully random and particular.  It is interesting that there are 2 potential origins to that superstition.  The first is that often crowns were placed on the funeral biers of rulers and the equivalent was a hat on the bed, and thus signified a death. The second is that Italian priests with their funky hats would never take off their hats unless they were at bedside and putting on their priestly vestments to give last rites. They would place their hat on the bed and then eventually that person would die (for those unfamiliar with that particular superstition, I have my brown belt in Google Fu)..

Question 14:  So, I have a 3 yr old little girl so I am sure that I will be doing some super girly girl things in my future.  Currently, she has not gone completely girly girl (even though she does like brushing my hair sometimes).  Since you have 2 girls, what is the girly girl thing that you found yourself doing, and thought, “I Never would have thought I would be doing this?”

I never really thought about it. That’s telling:)  However I refuse to play dolls. Not because it’s girly but because it’s flat out painfully dull. Can’t do it. But we’re at card games, bike rides, Wii, and I love all the painting and drawing stuff. I have two of their drawings as tattoos. To be fair I relish every freaking second with them. I can’t get enough.

Ha!  For full disclosure, I am not saying I won’t do girly girl stuff, just that I will notice doing the girly girl stuff.  I too have made it to the store with a barrette in my hair.  Yeah, I think playing dolls will be the death of me, but luckily she is into her older brother’s interest right now.  She is going as Jango Fett for Halloween.  It is going to be awesome.

Question 15: So, for Halloween, are you taking the kids around the neighborhood as the Silver Surfer or are you getting a Galactus costume together and making your kids into the heralds? (if it is the former, no pics please, if the latter, tons of pics please)

I’m not really a costume guy anymore. I let the girls have the fun and I do the door. Last year I went clown from the neck down. This year I’m gonna be a convict. I love how into it they get. It’s their night :)

I was really hoping that you were the Galactus to their heralds, but it is understandable to not upstage the kids.

Well we are nearing the end of the 20 questions, so, Question 16: Are there any questions that I didn’t ask you that I should have?

I let you know when we’re done :)

Good enough.  I have been dogging you for questions for a good long while now, so Question 17: In the course of all these questions, is there anything you would like to ask me?

People who love podcasts seem incredibly dedicated not only to the show but to their hosts as well. Why do you think that is?

That is a good question.  I think it boils down to two main factors.  The first factor is that podcasts are completely by choice. The choice of the creator to   The creator of the podcast is trying to get SOMETHING out, whatever that may be.  The podcast almost always seem to be a true extension of the creator/s.  In many ways it allows people to see the behind the scenes persona and sometimes the vulnerabilities of the creator.  That level of vulnerability seems to bond the viewer to the creator.

The second factor is that the method of ingesting the podcast.  Listeners typically listen to podcasts on their own.  That makes the podcast a very intimate experience for the listener.  It ends up being like the listener is a silent participant in a candid conversation.  I think that is why WTF, Never Not Funny, Walking the Room, Mental Illness Happy Hour, Nerdist, TOFOP, etc… tend to create rabid fans of the podcast and the artists on the podcasts.

So the combination of the creators creating and people searching out for those creations, and then the intimacy engendered by the medium create the rabidity of the fanbase.

So Question 18, (I will turn the tables on you) does the fanatical fanbase alter your creative process for the podcast, because you are concerned about losing their listenership?

The fan base of this particular endeavor only makes it possible for me to take bigger risks and get better. We never promised anyone anything so therefore we can do what we want. Certainly  we care about the quality but if the show succeeds it does because we’ve achieved our goal of pleasing ourselves.  When you take a deal at a network there is an understanding that you are trying to make a hit show that will run forever and make everyone a big chunk of change. And that is a really hard way to create anything. You ultimately aren’t doing it for yourself you are creating for others which is impossible. If I make Dave laugh I’m almost certain you will laugh. Or hang yourself.

So, this is a question I have had on my mind since I started asking you questions.

Question 19: How close to your day to day interactions with Dave are the Walking the Room podcasts?  I assume they are just polarized versions of your friendship where you both consciously exaggerate your typical behaviors to create teh comedies, but it would be delicious if that was just your everyday conversation with Dave.

Dave and I have such a long and kinda complicated relationship. There was an almost 3 year period during our 22 years of knowing each other where we did not speak but I would say still thought the other one was hilarious. The cuddle is only slightly exaggerated. His insults make me laugh because they are accurate and the flip side of a compliment. He is oddly the easiest person I’ve ever worked with in comedy.  Super open to ideas, always laughs, ok with failure. and easily the funniest guy I know.

At the risk of sounding sentimental and a little bit maudlin, your relationship with Dave really is a beautiful thing.  When you look past the surficial taunts and faux disgust, it really is a wonderful interaction to watch, and I think that is why people continue to listen to your particular podcast.  The content is funny, there is no denying some of the golden phrases that have happened during the podcasts, but it is the interaction and genuine care for each other that brings people back.  Your friendship is clearly the backbone of the podcast, and that shows through.

So, the last question in this 20 Questions Tuesday (other than you revisiting Question 16 concerning questions I SHOULD have asked)

Question 20: Is there anything that surprised you in these 20 questions and answers? What can you take away from this that you did not have before this interview?

I guess if I had a question I wanted you to ask me it would be this. “Given that you rant so much about your career how do you feel about what you’ve accomplished so far?” And I would say that after reading my answers to the questions so far is that “I have it pretty damn good.”

Yes there have been peaks and valleys but because your questions were so good I was able to see that I’ve had a great run. Have there been disappointments?  Sure, the fate of Greg Behrendt Show, certain haircuts! But there have been more surprises and triumphs like Letterman, 3 Comedy Central specials, and one HBO Special, He’s Just Not That Into You, Walking The Room, The Reigning Monarchs, and I feel like there is a lot left to do.

I’d love to make some kind of bigger impact in comedy whether it be just podcasting, the Starfish Circus, making something with Dave or my wife. I’d also like to make the single greatest surf and ska album of the new millennium and make and sell custom cardigans and tux pants! This has been a blast. I will miss your e mails.

Okay, I am not sure you could possibly know how much it means to me that this odd set of questions had any kind of self actualization to it.  I am humbled by that and in awe of your willingness to answer these questions so thoroughly and candidly.  You are a rock star and a wonderful soul.  I feel truly privileged to have had this level of interaction with you.  This has been a great great interview.

To recap:
Sweet good god damn this was an excellent interview
Seriously, wow
Wifey is back in town
She is at a local version of a book launch today
Today, is of course Oct 25, 2011 (for those of you reading not on the release day)
Walk Out Walk On, page 188, bitches!
That also means I have been at this job for a full year
And I am no longer on probation
So, there is a bit of a sigh of relief here
I am now more difficult to fire from the job I don’t like
And I will be the only person in the office tomorrow
Week 11 of 13 for contract job 2
Would love to interview anyone out there
Let me know if you want to do 20 Questions Tuesday
More interviews on the way
Have a great week folks



20 Questions Tuesday: 171 - Chris Burnham

It is Tuesday again and time to post this bad boy… today I am posting to both the blogspot site and the new and shiny tumblr site… it is shiny… so so shiny. Get ready folks, I am porting over to tumblr…

I belong to a comic book artists forum called Ten Ton Studios. If you go through my archives you might see some of the work that I have posted there. Anyhooo…. one of the “officers” over there is a fellow by the name of Chris Burnham. He is one of the most detailed pencillers I have ever seen. His lines are chock full of potential energy that you can almost see them vibrate off the page. He is technically precise, while allowing himself to be almost whimsical with some of his shapes.

I asked him if he had any books to plug and he suggested (his words, not mine)Officer Downe: Bigger Better Bastard Edition - an oversized hardcover edition of last year’s sold out critical smash, complete with all new art & backup features” as well as Batman, Inc.: Leviathan Strikes #1. Both of these books are slotted to come out in December of 2011. Officer Downe on December 7th (hmmm 70 years ofter the attack on Pearl Harbor? Coincidence? I think not) and Batman, Inc coming out later that month.

Enough of the jibber jabber! On to the questions:

So when I was in high school, I was quite un-abashedly a comic book geek and a nerdy nerd from Old Nerdtowne Question 1: How would you have classified yourself in High School and looking back, how would you classify your high school self now?

High school… I’d say that I was an upwardly mobile nerd. I had a pretty solid squadron of fellow nerdy types but I mixed pretty well with everyone else. I went to a really small private school - my graduating class was something like 54 people - so everyone got to know everyone else pretty well. Which has its pluses and minuses… Sidebar: in 7th 8th and 9th grade I was a SUPER dweeb and a real late bloomer (I’m 6’3” now, but at the beginning of freshman year I was shorter than my mom, who is 5’4”), and I feel like that nerdy rep followed me through the last three years of high school. Or perhaps it was all in my head and I was the only one who thought I was still a nerdy little twerp. Heh… my junior year I went away to Spain for the fall semester, and became a pretty popular dude with a really attractive girlfriend. (Hi, Leah!) That school was really eclectic and weird… the popular kids were all writers & musicians rather than lacrosse players, so I think I fit in a little better there and it gave me a new chance to figure out how a new group of people would perceive me. ANYHOW, when I came back to Pittsburgh I have a very specific memory of a couple of girls I’d gone to school with for the last four years giving me a "Whoa, look at Chris Burnham all grown up" look… but then I immediately launched into a discussion about the markets in Spain selling bull testicles and skinned rabbits, and they snapped right back to “What the fuck is wrong with that dude?” Haha. Bitches.

Looking back, I definitely could have dated a lot more girls… I think the key is actually talking to them rather than creepily leering at them from across the lunchroom. Who knew? But then again, if I were a swinging dick stud in high school, maybe I would have knocked up my girlfriend and had to work in the plant to feed my family and never been able to follow my dreams & draw comics for a living. And I’ve got a great lady, to boot (Hi, Erin!), so I guess it’s worked out pretty well.

I see that you have answered questions like this before. This 20 Questions should go really well… So Question 2: So people’s art evolves over time, it is part of the artistic process. Art should grow and change, sometimes gradually and sometimes radically. For me, one of my earliest shifts occured when Walt Simonson took over X-Factor way back in the day. The angularity of his lines and the chunky spot blacks that he uses to denote soft rounded objects was incredible. Can you think back to anytime when your work has had one of these radical alterations, and if so, what do you think was the catalyst for that evolution?

I can think of two big style shifts. When I was first trying to break in around ten years ago I was trying out a bunch of different styles… from a Jim Starlin / John Buscema sort of thing to trying to be John Totleben to Katsuhiro Otomo, without much success. Granted, I was doing a terrible job of marketing myself… if I would have put my stuff on Penciljack at that point I’m sure my career would have taken a drastically different turn. Anyhow, when I moved here to Chicago I started developing this character, Valentine, with my roommate Nathan Allen. He was a pulpy spy-smasher sort of character and I thought that trying to do an open linework David Lloyd sort of thing would be perfect. I tried the style on one little sketch, saw that it worked, and jumped right into inking the story! We printed up 1,000 copies of this 14-page ashcan and gave them to everyone. I started getting work based on that, and for the next few years I worked pretty exclusively in a David Lloyd/Milton Caniff/Jean Paul Leon sort of style. Heavy black brushwork, not much detail.

A few years later I read an article about Richard Starkings starting up Elephantmen. I’d given him the Valentine ashcan, he really liked it, and we’d kept in occasional email contact. So out of the blue I emailed him to ask if I could do an Elephantmen backup. He agreed, and as I was flipping through Ladronn’s Hip Flask artwork to look for reference and inspiration I became taken with the idea of applying some Milton Caniffish shadows to Ladronnish linework. It worked pretty well and my career took off with Elephantmen leading to Nixon’s Pals to Fear Agent to X-Men to Marvel Mystery… And it’s been a much more subtle growth since then… adding in some Darrow for Officer Downe and then mixing in some Quitely for Batman.

That was some significant sequential art name dropping going on there. Truth be told, I am going to need to spend a good day just looking for these references. Clearly some of them I know off the top of my head, but others are a bit more obscure. Question 3: How would you describe your style to someone who is not versed in the nuances of sequential art and its artists?

Oh, jeez… hopefully it comes across as detailed art with dynamic compositions and clear storytelling. I dunno! I certainly draw the shit out of backgrounds and people getting killed in horrible ways.

Boy! Howdy! You do know how to off some people in bizarre ways… always well-done, but Bi-Zarre. Question 4: Your work seems to be almost made for Bat-stories, is there a character or book out there that you dream of regularly drawing?

I’d love to try my hand at the New Gods, who seem to be alive and kicking again. I wouldn’t want to draw Kalibak or Desaad, tho… Kirby killed those guys himself and I think they should stay dead.

I dunno, maybe do Challengers of the Unknown as kindof a Tom Strong or Planetary sort of thing? Or the Fantastic Four? Or adapt Thor’s Journey to Utgard somehow?

So, you have a near encyclopedic knowledge of all things sequential art and/or comic book-ish. This means, that you must pretty much eat, drink, sleep, and breathe comic books. Which leads to my Question 5: when you are not drawing/reading/signing/etc… comic books, what do you do? Your vocation is my hobby, so what are your hobbies, what does a Chris Burnham do during his down time? (was that Inside the Actors’ Studio enough of a question?)

Hob…bies?

Heh. I suppose I don’t really have one at the moment. Yikes! I listen to a lot of forensic shows… I’ve seen/listened to just about every episode of Unsolved Mysteries, Cold Case Files, Forensic Files, Disappeared, Dateline, 48 Hours, The First 48, Crime 360, all that shit. Disappeared is the best show of its kind ever. Discovery ID. Live it!

Kids, if you’re ever arrested for anything, shut up and get a lawyer! The cops ain’t got shit on you!

(Also, don’t commit any crimes)

Question 6: Do you see any of your love for forensic procedural shows creeping into your books or, worse yet, your daily life? For example, Wow, Honey, if I were mad at you, this ditch would be a perfect place to hide your blood drained body. I could dump a 50 pound bag of lye on it and the remains would be nigh unrecognizable… Please pass the salt.

Hmm… The more of these shows I watch, the more I’m convinced that the only way to get away with murder is to kill a random stranger… and where would be the fun in that? Err… what I mean to say is killing is wrong, kids!

I CAN recall one night after I’d gone on a serious forensic binge, and I could not sleep… my brain was stuck on murder mode and I seriously could not think of anything for more than 5 seconds before my brain spun it around to murder or prison. It was absolutely terrible.

Question 7: Do you think that the abundance of these forensic dramas is ruining actual prosecution’s cases because the level of technology in actual crime labs is no where near the fake level of technology shown in the shows? Do you think that juries are looking for more definitive evidence that is only available in TV shows?

Um, I think you’re misunderstanding what I’m watching. Forensic Files, Dateline, 48 Hours, etc are all documentary shows - actual crimes, interviews with the victims, police, reporters etc… I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen an episode of CSI.

I don’t really have an educated opinion on the so-called CSI effect. I’ve never been on a jury and I don’t have any evidence on whether or not it actually exists. Sounds plausible, I guess, but if a prosecutor isn’t able to convince a jury that the defendant belongs behind bars, then he hasn’t done his job properly, right? Reasonable doubt and all that. I do know that eyewitness testimony is horseshit and people give false confessions all the time… I think juries should be far more skeptical of that kind of evidence than they are.

Oh, man, how about that Cameron Todd Willingham case? I’ve seen his story on three or four of my shows and every time it gets my blood boiling. Really seems like Texas executed an innocent man. State-sanctioned murder, if you ask me.

No, I got that you were looking at the real deal, I was curious, since I imagined you have seen some of the procedural forensic dramas, if you thought that the fantasy versus the reality could be tainting a jury’s conclusion of “reasonable doubts.” I think the more documentarian shows that one finds on A&E, the Science Channel, Discovery, etc… show more realism than the dramas. I think it would be really interesting to see a drama that dealt with reality in a crime drama. That being said, I am not sure I would want to watch a lab tech titrate some chemical to get a precipitate to put into a mass spectrometer… Maybe the dramas have it right for the entertainment value.

There are too many death penalty cases where post execution, the person was exonerated by newer techniques and new details. It really is state-sanctioned murder. seriously states, you are better than that, don’t stoop to their level.

So, I was good in chemistry in high school, but I hated it as a subject. seriously, I was a badass at stoichiometry, but I hated the shit. Question 8: Any school topics, high school or college, that you were good at, but could not stand?

Hmm…. I’m fairly certain that while many people on death row have been freed, I don’t think anyone who has actually been executed has been legally exonerated after the fact. Independent examinations point to a lot of innocent people being executed, but I don’t think any courts have come out to put a legal stamp on approval on those investigations.

This might sounds douchey, but I was really good at school (Summa Cum Laude, motherfucker!) and didn’t really like much of it. I guess I liked math all the way up through Algebra and Geometry, to the point where I wanted to be an engineer. But trigonometry and calculus beat it out of me. I was able to memorize all the right formulas etc, but I never really understood or enjoyed what I was doing, despite being good enough to get a 5 on the BC Calculus AP test (5 is the highest score on the APs, by the way). Perfect score on the math half of the SATs, too. I was seriously so good at algebra and geometry that the questions might as well have been 2+2.

Most of that knowledge is gone, tho. I’ll do some basic algebra to figure out panel dimensions if I’m doing something tricky like wanting 4 panels in a row that get smaller and smaller at a uniform rate, but that’s about it. I was trying to do some basic subtraction a year or two ago (like, 1,153 - 827 sort of thing) and totally forgot how to borrow and carry. Ha! Comics will rot your brains, kids!

I majored in mother fucking math, jackass, I got your math theory right here. I, however, only got a 4 on the AP Calc test, so bask in your AP glory, mister, but fear my ε - δ definition of limits knowledge. I still got set theory chops and I remember some of my Calc… I have, however forgotten all my LaPlace Transform info, and my advanced diffy-q knowledge I have forgotten more math…. I think it would take another 4 years of courses to get back to my mathematics fighting weight.

Question 9: One of my favorite questions coming up: I was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, moved to Montgomery, Alabama, then to Birmingham, Alabama, went to college in Kent, Ohio and settled in Columbus, Ohio…. What is your geographic story?

Haha! No sets for me, and I have no idea what those goofy squiggles mean. You win, Scotto!

I was born in Connecticut (no city for you, identity thieves!); lived in Avon CT until I was 7; moved to Sewickley (suburb of Pittsburgh), PA; went to college in Washington, DC; lived in Pittsburgh for one more year; moved to New Haven, CT for a year; and have been in Chicago, IL for the last 9 years.

Question 10: Which of those places resonates as your “home-town?”

Sewickley.

I went back a few weeks ago for the first time in over two years. I really miss it. The roads are so much fun to drive on & our woods are so awesome. My brother and I found a few caches of vines that would have made for some awesome swinging if we had a solid afternoon to get them cut and the runways cleared. Next year!

Question 11: Since comic books are relatively geography-less and you can pretty much do your job anywhere there is computers, scanners, and the Internets, what is keeping you in the Windy City?

The people. I’ve got two great circles of friends here, based around The House Theatre of Chicago (the theater company I did design work and illustration for seven years), and the Chicago comic book community. Plus a bunch of other buddies I’ve picked up at random jobs, parties, etc. It’d be tough to leave all of them.

Friends will do that to you. It is nice to have a large local cadre of friends to draw on… or so I am told. I tend to find more community online than in real life. There are some people I have never met that I call friends. Which leads me to ask. Question 12: How has the blossoming of social media and social networks affected your interactions with people or your life in general

Hmmm… well, I certainly waste more time on Twitter now that I’m on Twitter! It’s cool to keep in casual touch with comics buddies who I normally only see two or three times a year, and those casual interactions pay off when we get to see each other in person at cons. And it’s a nice ego boost when some pro I think is awesome starts following me before I start following them. I thought I was really hot shit when Ilya Salkind friended me on Facebook… until I realized that he’s friends with almost everyone in the industry. Still, being fake friends with the producer of Superman is awesome!

I guess I’m developing a halfway decent fanbase. I’m closing in on 2,500 Twitter followers… (@theBurnham) hopefully that’ll translate into increased sales of the new Officer Downe hardcover, but who knows? I certainly follow a bunch of people whose comics I don’t regularly buy. Too much shit out there to read everything, but I like to know what people are working on, if only to avoid overly awkward conversation when I see them in person.

There’s only thing worse than the despair in someone’s eyes when you’ve never heard of their project is their despair when they’ve never heard of yours!

Seriously, if you can get your 2500 followers to send you $20, you could pocket $50k (before taxes or expenses). You should make that request of your followers and see if you can just live off them like that friend who is “just gonna stay on your couch for a few weeks until I can find a place.”

Question 13: Since this is Q13, do you have any superstitions? A certain way you have to have your materials laid out before you can start working on a page, you have to circle the bed three times before you can lay down to sleep (like some kind of family pet), NO WIRE HANGERS!!!!.. You know some kind of superstition? Anything?

Ha! I should do a 50/50 Twitter raffle! Winner takes half the pot, Burnham’s Home for Wayward Comic Artists takes the other. Genius!

I’m sure I’ve some lingering superstition somewhere, but I really don’t have much patience for that stuff. If it doesn’t actually exist, why waste your time on it? (says the guy who makes his living drawing fictional characters. hmmmm…)

I guess I’ll knock on wood, but I treat it more as a reminder to not take anything for granted. Plus I think it’s funny to say “Knock on, err.. particle board” or whatever non-wood substance is at hand.

Yeah, when I stopped playing sports is when I lost my belief in the superstitions. The ritual of putting on the sporting vestments was VERY superstitious, but since then I can’t think of anything superstitious either.

Question 14: So, other than Walking the Room, are there any other podcasts that you listen to?

Oh, man… a bunch. Going down my iTunes list, the ones I’m actively listening to are…

The Economist

Freakonomics

Jordan, Jesse GO!

Judge John Hodgman

My Brother, My Brother and Me

NPR: Planet Money

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe

Skeptoid

The Tobolowsky Files

This American Life

Radiolab

WTF

You Look Nice Today

and the occasional comic podcast when the interviewee sounds interesting… War Rocket Ajax, Word Balloon, iFanboy, Around Comics.

I listen to, or have listened to many of these, so looking at it that is about maybe 20 hours of padcasts a week, correct? If you like Walking the Room, might I suggest subscribing to Never Not Funny with Jimmy Pardo. It is not as sad and pathetic and a bit more whimsical.

One of my mantras in life is “Funny over nice.” Often if there is a nugget of funny in a situation, I will try to mine the funny prior to showing any significant compassion. Question 15: Do you have any personal mantras?

I used to listen to Never Not Funny. If memory serves, I thought the free content was annoyingly shilly and rather than upgrading to the $ version I stopped listening altogether. I do think those guys are funny, but the show always shut off just as it was getting good, and it started to feel like thy were purposefully doing a shitty job at the beginning to make me pay for the good stuff.

Personal mantras…

"The hard part is over. Here comes the hard part." At the moment I’m doing it, I feel like each and every stage (of the creative process, or learning, or growing up, or whatever) is the most difficult thing in the world and am looking forward to the next stage, which I’m sure will be a cakewalk by comparison. It never is.

And some storytelling ones I learned from my film professor, Dr. Thiel.

"Get inside the action." "Realize is not a verb." "If I didn’t see the handkerchief, there’s no handkerchief."

I have always loved Pardo. I dig his stand-up and have for a while, and his payment scheme is not too bad for me, but I couldn’t afford all the podcasts I listen to if they all had that model. I think the 20 minute free version of NNF was always a commercial for the full version.

I adopted my wife’s family mantra, “Don’t let the fuckers get you down.” And until recently, I have been letting the fuckers get me down, but I am working on that.

We are closing in on the end of the interview, so thanks for sticking with me so far (interviewee and reader) Question 16: Who is the coolest person you have met? Not necessarily the most well-known, just the coolest, and I hope it is not someone well-known.. That makes for better radio.

Ummm… Natasha Henstridge’s husband Darius was pretty cool. I assumed he was a 40-ish European billionaire prince or something, but it turns out he’s just a 30-something millionaire pop star… Kinda disappointing in retrospect.

Honestly, the coolest person I can recall meeting was this 10-year old kid at a comic convention a year or two ago. This kid was just so self-assured, casually inquisitive and well-adjusted… seriously the most socially capable human being I’ve ever met and he was only 10. That dude is going to be the president of the universe.

Question 17: Any questions that I should have asked you?

Q: What’s the awesomest shit ever?

A: Getter Robo. Nearly all of it is available as free scanlations at

Shit is super fun. Brilliantly mindless entertainment. Most of the anime versions are pretty cool, but the manga is tippity top.

And you provided a link. You are the awesomest!

Question 18: Any questions that you want to ask me?

You’ve been a Ten Tonner for quite awhile… how’d you get involved? Confession: for some reason I used to think you were Jason Baroody’s girlfriend!

Okay, the confession was completely unnecessary, because deep down aren’t we all Jason Baroody’s girlfriends?

Maybe 5 years ago I started remembering how much I loved to draw. I was in a dead end job that was not taxing me creatively and I started to frequent the comic books section of The Drawing Board. I started drawing again over there in little baby steps. I was a lurker for a while because I hadn’t picked up a pencil for drawing a good long while. In college I was only a few courses away from a studio art minor with a focus on pen and ink. And then I stopped drawing for 10+ years and lost most of my ability. After lurking I started contributing there. Over there I was only mmmpig.

That forum is a great forum, but it was a little bit too sunny for me. Very little solid criticism and more of a “you can do it, keep trying, way to go” vibe. I was always impressed with the work Baroody was posting there and most of what he was posting there was associated with some kind of Sketch Challenge thingy. 4 yrs ago I followed him back here and devoured the art all of you were throwing up, and as I read the threads I realized that this was a much better community for me. Crits at TT are solid and never unprofessional. The banter is way more vulgar and snarky and a bunch less cream-puff and sunshiney. So I stayed and slowly I have been trying to recover the drawing skills that I let get too rusty.

So my goal now is to win a Ten Ton Sketch Challenge

Question 19: How can people see your work in person and online?

Is this a subtle dig at me for never updating my website or posting art? ;)

I’ve got a slightly out of date portfolio at chrisburnham.com and I’m fairly active on Twitter where my handle is @TheBurnham. I’m on Facebook but don’t really do anything on it other than look at pictures of my niece and nephew. And of course I’m on Ten Ton.

Convention season is over for the year, so other than bumping into me at Dark Tower Comics or Challengers Comics & Conversation (both here in sunny Chicago), I think the next chance for people to see me in person will be the Emerald City show in March and C2E2 in April.

In the meantime, the Officer Downe: Bigger Better Bastard Edition comes out on December 7th (pre-order yours today, kids!), and what was originally going to be Batman Inc #10 comes out, um, eventually! Hang in there, kitty cat, it’s gonna be great!

I want to thank you profusely for taking so much time with me. Especially since this interview will be seen by at most 31 people. I got juice… I got juice. Since this is the last question, let’s make it retrospective. Question 20: Did you come away with anything particularly interesting from this set of 20 questions? Learn anything about yourself through answering the questions? and/or did you at least enjoy this long drawn out process?

It’s always fun to answer questions I haven’t been asked before. Thanks!

Holy Shit! Amaziballs! This was an amazingly fun. Thanks so damn much, Chris!

To recap:

Wifey is out of town until Sunday evening

Sweet Jeebus and all that is Holly! That is a long time away from now!

This weekend is Mid-Ohio Comic Con!

I will be at table 1024 with the amazing Brett Wood

Sitting next to William Grapes and Matt Horak

There will be drawings

Spaghetti for dinner?

The kids will like it

Me? not so much… I am kind of tired of the spaghetti

Not sure that I will partake of the pasta meal

So, who likes the tumblr?

Me

That’s who

Still trying to work out the bugs with tumblr

Have a great weekend everyone