Men in Gorilla Suits
Men in Gorilla Suits Ep. 21: Last Seen...Being Critical

This week's show is all about criticism. While it leans heavily toward writing criticism, we do talk about general criticism and criticism as it pertains to the arts and jobs in general. So here we go:

We begin with an important question: is criticism even helpful for writers and artists, or is it counterproductive to creating "pure" art? Along the way, we discuss how to offer criticism and take criticism that comes your way. We share some personal stories about criticism: the best and worst criticism we've received as well as some other tales of being criticized. With anyone with an Internet connection able to review someone's work online, the review has become a type of criticism. We discuss ways writers and artists can use reviews to see how people feel about what they are doing and maybe even improve their work. We close by looping back to the beginning and asking if criticism is a necessary component of art, or if great work can be created with no outside influence.

Direct download: migs21.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Men in Gorilla Suits Ep. 20: Last Seen...Under the Influence

This week, we're talking about influences. Find out our earliest influences--and what/who later influenced us to write. Discover our strangest influences, and what influences changed as we got older. We take a detour and discuss creating under the influence of alcohol and drugs. It's easy to think about people and things that influence us, but we take time out to acknowledge that we all have the ability to influence others. Christopher shares a great story about somebody he influenced without ever knowing. And because not all influences are good, we talk about negative influences. Finally, we wrap up with our most recent influences.

As always, we'd love to know what has influenced you over the years; leave a comment and we'll reply!

Direct download: migs20.mp3
Category:Pop Culture -- posted at: 8:21pm EST

Men in Gorilla Suits Ep. 19: Last Seen...Predicting the Future

You probably didn't know this, but Shawn was once a reserve "mathlete" as well as a benchwarmer for his school's classical music team. (Those nutty Germans!) Christopher was good friends with the first kid on the block with an Apple II in his house. But that's all in the past...

This week we're talking about...THE FUTURE!!! More specifically, we're talking about fiction's importance on the future. From cyberpunk to warp drives (even penises drawn on the surface of Mars), we have it covered. Along the way, we discuss stories that got the future right -- and those that got it very wrong (including the movie that made Shawn almost fashion a noose from Red Vines and hang himself in the theater.)

While much of this episode is about the future as it pertains to science fiction, we also talk about predictions we got right, and what we think will happen to the world in the next 10 and 20 years. (Clearly, we are seers!) Also, our hopes for the future of fiction and for the real world of tomorrow.

We'd love to hear what you think will happen in the next 20 years; feel free to tell us in the comments. (We expect CMStewart to put us to shame!)

Direct download: migs19.mp3
Category:Pop Culture -- posted at: 8:49pm EST

Men in Gorilla Suits Ep. 18: Last Seen...Being Afraid

BOOOOOooOOoOoOOOOOooooOOOO!!!

This week, it's all about fear! Find out what things from childhood still creep us out--and what our greatest fears are today. Listen to us talk about how we've overcome many of the fears we've faced. Learn about how anger and fear are related. We all have a phobia or two, but what happens when we give into irrational fears? We talk about how statistically, most of us are safer than ever, and yet many people we talk to have never seemed more afraid. Many of these people watch a lot of "news." We discuss how the media, in a race for ratings, benefits when it can play to our fears and keep us on edge.

Fear isn't just about things that go bump in the night--the stresses of working in a time when layoffs are not uncommon leads to fear at work. We talk about how to break those fears, and most other fears you have (including how to use fear to overcome fear). Finally, sometimes we love being scared. We close this episode talking about why some scary things bother us, but yet we gravitate toward amusement parks, scary movies, and haunted houses.

Beta listeners have said this is one of their favorite episodes, and we won't argue with them. We haven't had this much fun doing the podcast...

Direct download: migs18.mp3
Category:Pop Culture -- posted at: 9:26am EST

Men in Gorilla Suits Ep. 17: Last Seen...Doing Research

Ah, microfiche! We friggin' LOVE microfiche, even today (especially today)! Libraries? Wonderful things -- perfect places for...research! This week, we're talking all about research: online, in libraries, and research obtained simply by living a cool life! More specifically, we're discussing writing research.

Does every story need to be researched? Shawn spins the adage, "Write what you know," on its head, making much better sense of the saying. Christopher gives in and is forced to admit that he researches much more than he thought he did. Along the way, Shawn mentions why cramming 10 pounds of poo into a 5-pound bag is not a good writing move, and Chris sings praises to Jim Lynch. We also discuss some of our specific research methods (Christopher: "ALL HAIL EVERNOTE!!!"), and it's revealed how Shawn's 47 Echo series is really all about tap dancing mimes!

Whether you research for writing, school, hobbies, or other reasons, we hope this episode has something that can help you.

Direct download: migs17.mp3
Category:Pop Culture -- posted at: 9:11pm EST

Men in Gorilla Suits Ep. 16: Last Seen...Working Obsolete Jobs!

Ah, to live the life as a National Hockey League rover, or to entertain the cigar-rolling masses as a lector. To pump gas or serve as the director of photography on pornographic movies. To open your own Blockbuster Video store franchise or manufacture cassette tapes. These are jobs...some totally obsolete, some on their way out...

This week, it's all about jobs that no longer exist: some long gone, and some we've seen die in our own time. We talk about jobs that are fading, many jobs shoved into one catch-all job, and even discuss why outsourcing may not be the evil many believe it to be. (We might not be in the majority on this one.) We discuss how the "Good ol' days," were only good for some, and why our jobs these days is to simply figure things out. Of course, Shawn works Star Trek into the discussion, and Christopher entertains what a future in which computers write novels might be like. (Smash Gerbils reference goes to Deacon McClendon.)

We wrap it up by discussing how the Internet and nostalgia have brought some obsolete or dying jobs back -- kind of a grudging praise for...the Hipster! Also, wanna be a blacksmith? It's still a better option than many jobs that are on the way out! Don't believe us? Then give this episode a listen!

Note: This episode was recorded under the influence of copious amounts of caffeine (Shawn) and a couple Martinis (Chris). It's a bit frantic and wacky, and that, dear listeners = fun!

Direct download: migs16.mp3
Category:Pop Culture -- posted at: 8:30pm EST

Men in Gorilla Suits Episode 15: Last Seen...Building Character(s)

This week we're talking about characterization -- in particular, characterization in fiction. While the episode skews a bit toward writing, what makes a good character should interest everybody. We talk about some of our favorite characters, characters that don't work so well for us, and how we go about tackling strong characters in our own writing. No matter how grounded or out there a story is, chances are, one of the things that keeps you coming back to certain stories are the characters. Find out why some characters have such a strong appeal in this episode.

Direct download: migs15.mp3
Category:Pop Culture -- posted at: 9:05pm EST

Men in Gorilla Suits Ep. 14: Last Seen...Acting Peeved!

This week, it's all about those little things that get under our skin: pet peeves! What's the difference between a pet peeve and a complaint? We talk about that as well as how so many people inflate pet peeves into bigger issues. Is social media part of the problem, or does it all depend on how we use things? When is a pet peeve a sign of a bigger problem, and how can pet peeves actually be good? We talk about that as well as revealing our own pet peeves. Somewhere along the way, Shawn talks about eating chalk. Seriously. That part alone is worth the listen, but even beta listeners admit -- from start to finish -- this is one of the best episodes of Men in Gorilla Suits to date!

Feel free to share your pet peeves in the comments, or leave a rating or review on iTunes if you like this.

Direct download: migs14.mp3
Category:Pop Culture -- posted at: 8:44pm EST

Men in Gorilla Suits Ep. 13: Last Seen...Managing Time

If you think you don't have time to listen to this episode of Men in Gorilla Suits...you probably need to listen to this episode of Men in Gorilla Suits. This week it's all about time management!

We'll tell you how to find the right time management system...for you! We discuss how having a day job can help you find time for your creative endeavors, and we praise the smart phone as a time management tool. (But probably not in the ways many "time management gurus" would tell us to use our phones.) We chat about time management tools and systems -- including how some can take up more time than they may be worth for your needs. We share ways to identify bad uses of time, and how sometimes you just gotta suck it up and not do the things you want to do because other things take priority in your life for awhile. Hell, we even discuss the importance of allowing yourself to occasionally give in to being lazy (i.e. the Netflix Marathon).

Christopher shares the big time management tip that helped him tame his to-do list, and Shawn's big tip for time management feeds itself each time he's busy. There's even a little Zen moment when we discuss if we're like concrete or water in the way we create. Also: is waiting for "The Muse" a good idea, or is she a massive time management killer? (Spoiler: she's really a succubus out to drain you of time you should just be creating!) Finally, we talk about the difference between multitasking (ick; you can't do it, even if you think you can!) and task stacking (Hooray for task stacking!!!).

We know it's asking a lot for an hour of your time, but that's the length of a commute for most of us. We hope that by the end of this episode, you'll get that hour back...and then some...

Direct download: migs13.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13pm EST

Men in Gorilla Suits Ep.12: Last Seen...Being Creative

Last week we talked about the independent pursuit of creative endeavors. Before you can get there, though, you have to make something -- and that usually means dealing with some level of creativity.

For many, creativity is an ominous thing, the fickle Muse that may or may not show up and shower you with inspiration. We're here to tell you that the Muse is BS and that creativity, like anything, can be attained by simply working hard. Some highlights from this week's show:

  • Tips for people who doubt they have creative abilities.
  • Rethinking what creativity is -- The Creative Physicist and Programmer.
  • The power of breaks from creative pursuits.
  • How to take breaks from the things that distract you from finding time to create.
  • Why we're not so enamored with those labeling themselves "Creatives." (Hint: actions speak louder than...well, you know...)
  • How to deal with those wanting to exploit your creativity. (What we really mean: those who want to exploit your willingness to actually do the work!)
  • Some of our creative heroes. (Including a bit about Shawn getting email from his hero.)

It's our hope that anyone doubting they have some creative ability in themselves will see that's not the case by this episode's end. As long as you're willing to work hard, it's amazing what's possible.

Direct download: migs12.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45pm EST