Tue, 30 December 2014
It's funny how a little thing can begin. We're just two tech writers who, after completing a day job project that ended in sending one of us to a new job and the other caught in the layoffs, said "Wouldn't it be cool to do a podcast together?"
For so many people, ideas go no further than that: the talking stage. We know people who have talked about podcasting for years...we know people who have talked about wanting to write (or do other things even longer), who never reach the day where they say:
In our case, we did it...podcasting not even half a year after a job went belly-up and we settled into new jobs long enough to say, "We're in the swing of the new gigs, so...let's do this!"
One hundred episodes later, here we are! If you listen to us, you know we're some of the last people to boast about an accomplishment, but seeing other podcasts start up and die (and start up again and die again) in the time we've been doing Men in Gorilla Suits, we hope that what we've done -- if nothing else -- inspires others to do what they want no matter the results.
We know results matter to many. We see podcasts start and relaunch under different names (doing the same thing, over and over), until they get the numbers they crave.
This is not to say we will see a day when we have millions of Men in Gorilla Suits followers, but...it's to say that when we say "This matters to us," we're not giving lip service as we wait for huge numbers to roll in. Our best month saw a little over 500 downloads. Our worst month: 143. To put that in perspective, Christopher's fiction podcast once saw over 13,000 downloads in a month, and typically sees around 2,500 - 3,000 a month, but...that is a done deal and does nothing for Christopher. Men in Gorilla Suits has rewired the brain of a dyslexic, enabling Christopher to speak much better than any time in his life. While many would bail on the numbers we get (and probably not be as honest as we are about numbers), we do this because we love doing it. And, fortunately, a few big handfuls of people love this, too.
We can't thank those people enough...
So here we are, 100 episodes into Men in Gorilla Suits. Doing our thing for no other reason than it's what we like doing. Before barreling into the next 100 episodes, we decided to dedicate an episode to talking about what the first 100 episodes have given us...
We begin the 100th episode of Men in Gorilla Suits talking about if we thought we'd even get to episode 100. After that, we discuss if any episodes changed our minds about beliefs we've held dear to us...and what's surprised us most about the podcast.
There are so many podcasts out there. We dedicate some time to talking about what makes Men in Gorilla Suits unique, and what we've hoped would happen with the podcast that has not yet happened.
We create every episode from scratch. In creating a show totally from nothing, we sometimes roll show ideas around for quite some time. Find out what topic we've not been able to tackle yet -- and then find out our favorite episodes...and why they are our faves.
We've joked about the podcast going on until one of us finally dies. Were such a tragic thing to happen, what would the survivor do with the show? Also, find out if there's anything we'd do differently if we could go back and start over, knowing what we now know.
We've created enough content that you'd have to spend almost 5 days straight to listen to what we've done. It's easy to sometimes forget what we've talked about until looking back at our list of shows. We talk about episodes we've forgotten we've done before discussing what we hope for in the next 100 episodes of the show.
We're coming up on doing this for two years without ever missing a week. We close the 100th episode of Men in Gorilla Suits out by talking about the most interesting developments in our lives since we started doing the podcast.
* * *
Whether you've listened to every episode we've done, just a handful, or maybe none at all but said, "It's cool you guys do that regularly," thanks for your support. We'd do this if we were the only two listeners, but knowing there are at least some people out there listening regularly means a lot to us. So...thanks for that!
Wed, 24 December 2014
Once upon a time, there were two guys who worked for a massive bank. These two guys wrote mortgage procedures -- because they found the world of tech writing that exciting. They had an idea -- they both found themselves saying:
And so, after completing a project to keep Uncle Sam from fining the ever-living-hell out of the big bank for not having certain procedures in place -- and after the layoffs arrived -- these two recorded their first podcast. And now, just one week away from episode 100, they have recorded this episode...one all about one of their favorite things: storytelling!
* * *
We begin this episode with a trip to the past, recalling the first stories we ever remember hearing. From there, we move on to talking about the first stories we remember making up and writing.
We'd argue that stories are vital to being human. We discuss why people feel such a drive to tell stories...and then we talk about whether we prefer stories told to us by others in person...or crafted stories meant to entertain or enlighten.
Stories are so common that many of us don't even stop to think about them. We share some of the benefits storytelling has on society before talking about some of our all-time favorite stories. After that, we talk about whether or not some stories inherently have more merit vs. other kinds of stories (e.g. literary fiction over genre fiction).
Want to know our feelings about jokes? If you listened to the Comedy episode you probably already know, but if not -- we dedicate some time to something many people live for [that Christopher generally cannot stand!]
We've talked about advertising before. (An episode in which Shawn found himself hanging out with Molly Hatchet.) Marketers love to "tell stories." Find out our thoughts on that. (And take a look at this video by Stefan Sagmeister.)
We imagine a world without any stories before discussing what stories we're currently working on...and why they are the stories we're working on, instead of any others.
We close out the episode as we always do: looking toward the future. This time, we talk about what the future has in store for stories.
Have a favorite story you'd like to share, or maybe some thoughts about anything from this episode? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Thu, 18 December 2014
What do books, brains, and the Internet have in common? They're full of all kinds of data.
We are so surrounded with information that data often doesn't even register with us as anything special. Data has become ordinary, something we become linked to more and more each day. Technology has even allowed us to wear items that track data about how much we move, where we've been...so many things. Hell, this podcast is full of data. Granted, it's usually talking points about Star Trek and many other things, but when you stop and think about data, it's hard not to be amazed by the time in which we live.
Obviously, this week, we're talking all about data.
We begin with the first time we were aware of the massive amount of information out there -- when we realized there was more data out there than we could possibly know. After that, we talk about right now -- how all this data affects us as a species. Are we better off...or worse? We also discuss the first time we experienced data overload.
What humans do with data is always interesting. We talk about whether or not we make more decisions based on data or on feeling...before asking if, given enough data, if it's possible to predict future events.
We provide a lot of data to social networks. If someone were to die suddenly, how feasible would it be to make an accurate facsimile of that person in virtual space, using only data collected from the Internet? We give that thought some time before moving on to how concerned we are by how much data is collected about us on a daily basis -- and how much personal data about us is online.
It's no secret that personal data is big business. Marketers salivate for data. We talk about some of the slimiest uses of personal data we've seen and whether or not we'll reach a point where too much data about us will be out there.
We end the episode discussing the future of data and how it will be used.
As always, feel free to provide data about this episode in the comments below!
Thu, 11 December 2014
"I'm just not comfortable around people who aren't like me..."
"Hold my beer and watch this..."
Three statements many would attribute to rednecks...but are they entirely true? That's what we're talking about this week on Men in Gorilla Suits.
We begin by talking about the first redneck we ever knew. Recently on the show, we talked about stereotypes. After our first redneck encounter, we discuss whether or not rednecks live up to all the stereotypes.
After that, we talk about what we admire the most (and least) about rednecks, before moving on to whether or not rednecks are inherently neo-conservatives hellbent on talking about their beliefs at every turn.
Find out if we've ever considered ourselves rednecks. (Hint: Christopher has been noodling.) One doesn't have to be a redneck to have appreciated fine, redneck culture like tractor pulls, dirt track racing, or blowing shit up with dynamite. Find out what rednecky things we've been part of.
Rednecks and pop culture go together like Jack Daniels and pork rinds. Find out our favorite redneck depictions in pop culture before we talk about our all-time favorite redneck(s). And jumping back to pop culture, we share what we each deem to be the ultimate redneck tune -- and then jump to our all-time favorite stories about rednecks.
We close out the episode asking if other countries have rednecks and what the future for rednecks in America looks like.
As always, you're more than welcome to chime in about anything related to this topic in the comments below.
Wed, 3 December 2014
Christopher's first novel is about a car. Shawn's series of novels, while not containing traditional cars, feature all kinds of cool vehicles. We're not the only authors who feature vehicles in our stories. The automobile created the American landscape. Nations grew up and together because of cars. We're amazed it took us 96 episodes to finally dedicate an entire episode to cars.
We begin with the first cars we remember...and then talk about our first cars. Being geeks, we know too much about cars in pop culture -- so we talk about our favorite vehicles in movies, books, and television.
Cars turn heads: find out what cars we would have if we could have any cars we wanted.
When we record episodes of Men in Gorilla Suits, one of us drives to the other's place...in a car! Find out what cars we drive -- and if we like them.
We all have memories of events happening in cars. We dedicate some time to our favorite car memories before talking about the one car we've absolutely hated!
Car people are a different breed. Find out if we get along with them or if we find them a bit too odd.
We both love the Simpsons episode where Homer gets to design the car of his dreams. Find out what features we would add to cars that are currently unavailable.
It's easy to take cars for granted; we talk a bit about what society would be like without them. After that, we discuss self-driving cars and if we lose something as a society when self-driving cars become the norm.
We wrap it all up, as always, looking to the future with our predictions of what is in store for our beloved vehicles down the road. (Get it, down the road?! We crack ourselves up! (Right now, Shawn is shaking his head and saying, "I had nothing to do with that pun -- that was all Christopher!"))
What was your first car? Have a favorite car story or want to chime in on any of this week's points -- have at it in the comments below!
Thu, 27 November 2014
That's great it starts with an earthquake, zombies, nukes, and climate change -- and meteor strikes make some afraid...
In honor of Thanksgiving in the states, we're talking about the end of the world (as we know it). Hell, some people may rather face the end times than tip toe around the rantings of racist uncles and doting parents asking when you're finally going to settle down and get married as you gather with family. Dogs (and people) will eat themselves ill, and when the evening is done, carcasses will be strewn about tabletops. Cranberry sauce will make it look like plates were used in a cannibal feast. And you? You'll find yourself in the front room, away from the piles of gurgling bodies in the den, Tweeting to anyone who will listen in the hope of some sign of life you can commune with.
Putting it that way, Thanksgiving is not entirely unlike the apocalypse. But we're not talking about dysfunctional families this week...we're talking serious end times!
We begin this episode talking about the first time we became aware of an end-of-the world scenario...and if there was ever a time we believed the world was going to end (and why).
Tales of the end come in all varieties...and some of those tales are pretty strange. We take time to discuss the craziest end-times scenario before leaping to the coolest eschatological myth. (Eschatological myth = religious end-of-the-world story. Don't feel bad if you don't know that...Christopher had to look it up, and he's fairly bright.)
Some are so convinced the world is close to collapsing in on itself that there are industries built around these people. It's even entertaining, reflected in shows like Doomsday Preppers. We talk about why we think doomsday prepping is such a big thing right now and then discuss how we'd survive the collapse of nations.
There are always survivors in stories and myths (and even theories) about the world ending. Find out which fictional post-apocalyptic tales are our favorites...as well as the best post-apocalyptic story we've read or watched lately. (And Christopher leaps in with a recent post-apocalyptic tale that fell flat in his eyes.) While on the subject of post-apocalyptic stories, we also talk about our all-time faves.
Rounding out this episode, we get back to reality, discussing whether or not we believe we are heading for the end of the world. And the last thing we talked about before a zombie-encrusted meteor slammed into Earth is how we think the world will end.
As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts about any of this week's talking points...or anything else you want to talk about. (In honor of the day, feel free to even share a favorite Thanksgiving recipe! By the time you listen to this, Shawn might be packed full of turkey, while Christopher will be packed full of veggie Thanksgiving eats!)
Thu, 20 November 2014
We know some very organized podcasters, people who have almost completely automated their workflows. They have synced calendars and can tell you what they will be doing in 7 months. These are podcasters who have studios where everything is in its right place, and often -- when you look at other aspects of their lives -- things are equally regimented.
We are not those podcasters, but this week...we are talking about organization.
We begin this episode by discussing how organized we consider ourselves overall. Next, we talk about how we keep all our writing organized.
By this point in the episode, it will probably be clear that we are organized enough...or at least have methods that work for us. We know people more organized than us...and and we devote some time to talking about the most organized people we know before moving on to how important organization is to our everyday lives.
This episode came to be on a day Christopher did some organizing in his office. We talk about how often we purge old things and do a massive organizing spree...and whether or not we find it difficult to get rid of old things. Also, we share tactics for what stays and what goes when we decide to go through old things.
It is now possibly to store so much more digitally than we can physically. Find out how we keep our digital lives organized, and see if affordable digital storage means we have less clutter in life overall.
Whether it's at work or home, chances are we've all met people with very different methods of organizing things. We talk about how we deal with those people and then ask if a person can be too organized.
We wrap up this week's episode with this question: Is there organization in chaos?
We'd love to hear what methods for keeping things in order you use, or any other tales of organization (or chaos) you feel like sharing in the comments below.
Thu, 13 November 2014
A guy in a pickup truck drove up to Christopher and a couple friends at their high school in the 80s. This is what he said:
Everyone shook their head.
Everyone was stunned by the stereotype, and the guy drove off.
Whether it's a drunken Irishman, a pasta-slinging Italian, or a cartoonish Native American mascot, stereotypes continue to live on. And that's what we're talking about this week.
We kick off the episode with the first stereotypes we ever remember hearing. From there, we jump to the most damaging stereotypes we've ever heard, before talking about if we've ever heard a stereotype that was proven right.
Next, we talk about where stereotypes come from, and why many have a need or compulsion to stereotype certain people. We also spend a couple minutes discussing if we've ever found stereotypes to be useful, and then pick a few groups we could be safely classified into and talk about how well we conform to the stereotypes of those groups.
Find out what the oddest stereotypes we've ever heard are -- and if there was any merit to them.
In the final stretch of this week's episode, we talk about how damaging stereotypes are...and why they continue to endure. Then we finish by talking about if we consider ourselves stereotypical in any way.
We'd love to hear your tales of stereotypes: the strangest stereotypes you've heard, whether you've found certain stereotypes to be true...anything you want to discuss down below in the comments.
Thu, 6 November 2014
Guess what? One day, you will die.
Shawn will die; Christopher will die.
It's such a cheery little topic, we decided to talk about death this week!
We begin by talking about our earliest memories that life one day ends -- and what caused that realization for us. Then we jump to discussing if we've ever been present when somebody has dies...and how it affected us.
Death can come slowly or instantly, and the way it hits people can vary. We dedicate some time to that before moving on to a short question: are you afraid to die?
Next, we take on the roll of a psychic and predict the ways we think we will die. Keeping the snowball of happiness rolling, we ask each other if we've ever thought about taking our own lives and...if we could find out when and how we will die, would we want to know?
As serious as death is, sometimes the way people die is strange...even funny. We talk about some of the stranger and humorous ways we've heard about people dying and then talk about movies.
Death is often the focal point of stories because we've all experienced someone dying. We talk about the best movies deaths we've seen. (We'd love to hear your answers in the comments below.)
There are usually rituals after someone's passing. We ask each other if there's a proper way to mourn one's death, and then talk about what we believe happens to us after we die.
We close out this week's episode by talking about what we would do differently with our lives if we found out we only had a year to live.
As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts about death and this episode in the comments.
* * *
Well, with that death talk out of the way, something more lighthearted...
This episode is a Skype episode because...Shawn is in London.
Why is Shawn in London?
Look at the photo below...
Tue, 28 October 2014
Were it up to Christopher, this episode would be titled "ALL HAIL, BENDER, SUPREME ROBOT OF ALL ROBOTS!!!" but Shawn wouldn't go for that. So instead, this week...we'll talk about more robots than just Bender.
(Shawn can bite Christopher's shiny metal ass!!!)
We begin this episode talking about the first time we can remember seeing a robot -- fictional or otherwise. Then it's on to, "What's the first thing that pops into you head when you think 'robot?'"
But robots aren't always cool. We talk about the most upsetting development in robotics -- real or fictional...and then we discuss the best robot in the realm of fiction.
("ALL HAIL BENDER!!!")
Oh yeah...and the crappiest robot in fiction or the real world. Poor sad, stupid robots we don't like...
(Yes, there was something in the 80s far worse than Alf!)
The future is always a moment away, so we take some time to talk about what uses for robots in the future make us a bit uneasy...and then we talk about if we think we'll see sentient robots in our lifetimes.
As always, we wrap it up looking forward with a glint of optimism in our eyes (Take that, Skynet!). We close out this episode with the best possible future of robotics.
(Oh yeah, Christopher totally forgot a couple other fave robots: Daft Punk!)
We'd love to hear what you meatbags think about our robotic overlords in the comments below. Remember: the machine is watching...and it does not take kindly to criticism!