Life Update

Welcome back to Concreate Chaos, life preparing for and with an infant has been crazy. I started wrapping up my commitments early last year. I was going to devote much of my attention to our new family member.

I said goodbye to my dear furry friend, Rocket. He died of cancer in October 2016 and it had profound effect on me. I found myself unable to write. Whenever I sat down to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, my thoughts drifted to him and the cat sized hole in my heart. I miss him still. It took over a year, but I’ve healed now.

I signed off of podcasting. Culture Conquistadors was a labor of love for many years. Movies remain a favorite passtime of mine. Though these days, they’re seen months after release via streaming or Redbox. Now, my former co-host and dear friend launches his solo venture, Iconography. You should definitely have a listen as he starts into season two.

I left two D&D campaigns. My regular group continued on their journey in Wander-Lost without Chase Starryeyes. Despite my desires, I was never able to return to play her again. In a few sessions, Wander-Lost will wrap up. Operation Phoenix concluded last year before Babels was born. The play time of the campaign doesn’t lend itself to my participation, but even so I haven’t made an effort to rejoin.

I gave up watching sports live. My Saturdays in the fall were often filled with Florida State and Florida football games. There’s a lot of things wrong with football at the collegiate level. I will always love it in some ways, but I won’t dedicate every Saturday for months to it. Instead, I spend my Saturdays with my new family watching Babels grow.

We did manage to make it to DragonCon. Babels was a hit as Salamence and my Brendan cosplay looked sharp. We went to the Marvel photoshoot for the first time in a few years. It was a far better experience this time around. Nova is a much lighter costume for the summer Atlanta heat. But the event ran far smoother also. I spent a day playing D&D with my brother, my best friend, and another good friend. It was an amazing experience. David enjoyed it so much, he asked if we could find a way to play again.

So, I started an Adventurers League legal Tomb of Annihilation campaign. With Babels’s schedule set, we were able to carve out some time to play some Dungeons & Dragons. I wanted this group focused on a regular, exciting experience for my family. I set expectations for schedule and commitments and invited the players. It’s been a resounding success.

Amber started an in-person Adventurers League legal Tales from the Yawning Portal campaign. We play roughly monthly. I wish it were more frequent, but scheduling is difficult. With two new players, it’s always fun watching them discover bits and pieces of the game.

Blog Update

With the last year of my life highlighted and recapped, what does the future hold? My hope is, a lot of reading, gaming, and writing. It’s been fun being back in the DM seat for Tomb of Annihilation. I haven’t ever run a published adventure cover-to-cover. Despite the monthly game, I miss playing D&D more frequently. I want to run a modern day urban game later this year. And for DragonCon, I have a new costume in pre-planning.

I’m hopeful that all this will lead to more writing, here, at Concrete Chaos. I’ve already added a few new pages to my notebooks for the last few years of books, games and films.

Hello 2016!

While I’m not a fan of celebrating on New Year’s Eve, I am fond of turning the page onto a new year. The clean slate. The upcoming events. There’s always a sense of wonder and excitement for me.

So here are my 2016 resolutions for all to see!

  1. Read one book every month.
  2. Watch one movie in a theater every week.
  3. Design a game as part of 1GAM.
  4. Continue progressing my workout routines.
  5. Continue podcasting at least bi-weekly.
  6. Improve the quality of blog posts and journal entries.

Most of these are incremental goals. Small steps that move what I have been doing forward. But that’s what makes them great resolutions. They are improvements that will take effort and dedication but are wholly achievable.

Oh and I’m getting married this year!

I figure I’d take a day to promote one of my major projects, The Culture Conquistadors Podcast. The podcast is an audio journey through the arts. Well mostly movies but sometimes television or music. Charles and I have collaborated on other side projects before but the Culture Conquistadors Podcast maybe the most enduring one. For two years, we published an episode every other week. Some of our discussions meandered for over an hour. One of our triumphs is the AniMadness Bracket.

But then Charles and I ended up as roommates1 and the time for recording disappeared. I’ll admit, I’m at fault for a lot of it. Often we’d schedule a recording session but then I’d cancel last minute and we’d just keep pushing it off. During our “Roommate Period”, we recorded just four episodes! It was a fun time. Charles was a great roommate for me but our podcast suffered. In July, our lease ended and we moved in with our respective significant others.

The Culture Conquistadors website has also hung over my head during most of this time. I’m responsible for the technology aspects of the podcast and we’ve both been unhappy with the website. Figuring we should re-launch the podcast with Season 3, I decided it was now or never to do a website overhaul. Much like Concrete Chaos, I moved the Culture Conquistadors website to WordPress. I love Drupal and will continue to use it but for the current needs of the podcast, WordPress is just better. We’ve integrated analytics for both the podcast episodes and the website itself.2 It’s a pretty plain website but it works for us. Maybe in the future we’ll add some more stuff but we’re focusing on the actual podcast for now.

Speaking of the podcast, Charles has streamlined the production process. Previously, he worked hard to clean out “umms” and “uhhs” and other things. While he still does this to an extent, it’s much more focused and the production timeline has gone from days of hard work spread over a few weeks to a couple hours over a few days. The end result should sound a lot more natural with fewer cuts. I’ve also upgraded my recording equipment with a Blue Yeti mic. So hopefully, the episodes sound not just more natural but clearer.

With that production process revolution, we’ve worked hard to try some new things with the podcast. For Spectre and Mockingjay, we’ve split the discussion into a preview and review. Taking what would’ve been a two hour conversation and splitting it and making both discussions more focused on the topic. We’ve also been on a weekly recording cadence. The publication of the episodes hasn’t quite hit an exact rhythm yet but we’re recording every Tuesday night! I’m not sure we’ll be able to keep it up forever but it’s encouraging that we’ve managed to do so for the past couple months.

All in all, the podcast is in far better shape than it was for most of 2015. We’re excited for Awards Season, playing Fantasy Movie League and looking forward to continuing to produce a podcast that we hope will grow. But even if it doesn’t, we’re still having fun doing it.

  1. Also long-term committed relationships. 
  2. The numbers aren’t high, but there are at least a few people listening to us. 

Culture Conquistadors Season 1

The first season of the Culture Conquistadors podcast has come to a close. About a year ago, Charles and I finally jumped on the audio podcast format. We’re both avid movie goers and the podcast has given us a platform to share our thoughts with our friends and family. We held a March Madness inspired tournament involving 100 animated films. We’ve seen good action flicks and bad action flicks. Superhero movies. Indie films and blockbusters. We’ve also listened to pop music and watched amazing television shows like The Americans. In total, we’ve recorded over 40 episodes!1

It’s been an amazing first year. We’ve learned a lot and hope you’ve seen the growth from our early attempts. The recording and production quality has improved. The podcast has a name and the discussions flow better. We even have a theme!2 We tried a book club and now our individual reviews are being published on the website. Basically, we feel we’re in a much better place than we were a year ago and we’re only looking to get better.

So what does Season 2 bring? A more consistent and timely schedule. Movies are only in theaters so long and if it takes a month for us to record and produce, we really can’t convince our listeners to go out and see the movie unless it’s already a big success. Towards the end of Season 1 we improved greatly in this area and we’re hoping to build on that for the next season.

An expansion of our contributors and our content. We’re launching a new podcast, Gaming Guerrillas, that will be hosted by myself and Ben. We’ll be discussing everything gaming, table top, role-playing, computer and consoles. And it won’t just be reviews, we’ll also talk about RPG topics like world building, character creation, story telling and adventure writing. No matter what type of gaming you prefer, we’ll be bringing you a podcast that we hope you’ll find appealing.

In addition, we’re making our first foray into original video content. Charles has already experimented with reviews but now we’ll be exploring

  1. Some were lost to the awfulness of technology and the internet. 
  2. Written by Charles! 

So, I’m planning on learning to take the bus system here in Gville for my Tuesday class and I’ve decided I need some podcasts to listen to. So I went on a podcast binge (downloaded some 30+ podcasts) to give each a try and see which ones I’ll stay subscribed to.

Anyone have some podcast suggestions?