Back in September I wrote something, maybe even recorded something, I don’t even remember, amounting to me saying I wanted to really commit to doing all of my old regular segments in the podcast again. I talked about making new music and bumpers and really revamping the show. And I really meant it. I really wanted to take everything a lot more seriously when it came to doing the podcast. I wanted to sit down and create my own theme song for the show, and really put a lot more time into crafting each episode’s topics and segments, and do a lot more writing on the website.
But when push came to shove, my laziness and constant procrastination just seems to get the best of me. At the same time, the additional time I thought that I had to work on these things disappeared when my boys’ school closed down on campus classes again and they all went back to full time distance learning. When I said I wanted to write more, I actually had time to write more. And I had time to sit down and work on music and bumpers and art and show notes and all of the things that would really help to improve the podcast. And just as soon as I voiced that desire, I no longer had the time to do it.
I never really asked what you wanted
I realized something as I was preparing to record the first new episode of the podcast this week. For all of my promising to commit to doing the news and podcast recommendations every show, I never asked if anybody really wanted me to. I just assumed that because some people had previously said they liked those segments, that I needed to have them. But in all honesty, I’m not sure how much anybody does or does not want me to do them. Now, I could be completely right, and I should totally put more effort into those parts of the show. Or, nobody really cares and I should just get better at telling stories in a funny way, and maybe get better at interviewing.
I mean, I should do that anyway, but should I just drop those other segments and focus on my stories and ramblings, or should I put more energy into the other stuff. I don’t know, and I probably wont really know unless someone comments on something. And even then, most people just give me the old, “you do you / do what you want”, answer. And it pisses me off for two reasons: First because it’s not giving me any information to help in making my decision. And second, because it’s exactly what I would tell someone.
Sooooo… New promise…
With a lack of information to go on, I am going to commit to making my stories better and funnier. And I will try to find a way to reincorporate interviews into the podcast in some way. I may or may not do more news in the show, but I will be sharing more of it on the social medias. Cuz why not? I really am going to try to write a new podcast review between episodes. I can’t guarantee I will always do it, but I really do want to try and do it. I need to get better about sitting down and working on things that don’t require me talking into a microphone. Talking is easy, writing is a royal pain.
That’s all I’ve got. If anyone wants me to do more of something in the show, they really need to tell me. I don’t need “yes” men. I really want to know what people want to hear from me. Beyond that, I don’t know what else to do.
So I’ve started writing formal podcast reviews here. (The first of which will likely be posted just after this.) And in writing this first review, I realized that I’ve never written a real review for something before. I’ve technically reviewed over 50 podcasts over the years verbally, but I’ve never really written any of it down as a coherent blog post with positives and negatives and stuff.
As I was writing I did what, in writing for a podcast is great, but in blogging is troublesome, I wrote the way I talk. And as anyone who’s ever listened to the podcast can attest, I meander.
I know I need to get more practice writing in general. I haven’t done much of it at all since high school. And I need to set aside real time to write both the review blogs, and prep for episodes. After all, I promised to be more prepared. I really think I need to start writing blogs and turn those stories into the episodes. The problem is that I can never bring myself to write what I’m thinking before I talk. I just am able to think out loud better than I can write my thoughts. I realize that I’m writing my thoughts right now, but trust me this bit is tough.
I guess I just have to go back to what I just said. I need to get better at writing. I just have to pick up my laptop and start writing during the day. The problem is, I am really uncomfortable using a laptop or working anywhere besides my office. I can sit down at my desk for hours and just chug away and focus only on the task at hand, but put my laptop in front of me and my whole vibe changes. I just can’t focus when I’m using that thing and I don’t know why.
Maybe I need to, like the writing, just do it more. I’m sure if I spend more time using my laptop to write, and maybe do some editing work, it’ll feel less weird to me. And then maybe I’ll get better at writing. And then maybe I’ll get better at writing reviews…
Wow that’s a lot of maybes that I need to do.
Whatever. For now I’m gonna just try to write my reviews in a way that is maybe a little more coherent but is definitely me. All I can do is work on it and hope I get better at it. In the mean time, forgive me if my podcast reviews sound, well, like I wrote them.
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local “weather,” news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.
In the early seasons, the story arc that flows through between episodes really adds depth to the world
Excellent writing and character development over the years.
Cecil’s voice and narrative style draws you in and makes you trust him, until you learn that he may have a little bit of bias.
The complexity of the story after 8 years of building is amazing. So many things have changed in this world since the first season that it’s hardly even the same world anymore. *wink*
The little running gags and dark humor will have you questioning what you just heard while also laughing your head off at the absurdity.
It’s got a taste of Lovecraft inspiration, but not directly .
The original musical score by “Disparition” sets the tone perfectly.
You really can’t just jump in at any time. You’ve gotta go all the way back to the start.
The “weather” segments are very “hit or miss.”
There are way too many ads at the start of each episode. (I know it’s shitty to complain about this, but after a while it gets really annoying to listen to.)
The later seasons start dragging out and become difficult to follow.
The main storyline in later seasons is less cohesive. It is obvious in the storytelling when the writers stopped focusing on this show.
First a little back story…
If I am going to start revisiting podcasts that I’ve featured in the past, I feel like I should probably start with one of the first podcasts that I really became a fan of. When I first got into podcasting, I just wanted to find something interesting to listen to. So I did like most of you probably did and I started browsing the categories in my podcast app. I figured I can’t go wrong with comedy, so I stated perusing that category. Listed among all of the hundreds of comedians interviewing comedians podcasts, I kept seeing this purple logo that said “Welcome To Night Vale.” When I read the description, “a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale,” it honestly sounded boring. Why would I want to listen to some small town community radio updates? Pass. But it just kept popping up everywhere I looked. So I looked a little harder at some of the episode titles and descriptions. “There is No Part 1: Part 2,” “Faceless Old Woman” and such, and it definitely got my attention. So I jumped in with the previously mentioned “part 2” and was left with a whole lot of “what the fuck am I listening to?” I imagine that is most people’s thought after they’ve gotten about 5 minutes in to their first listen to Night Vale. I actually ended up listening back to the episodes just before that one, thinking that I missed something important, but then I remembered the name of the episode, “There is No Part 1: Part 2.” So I went all the way back to the pilot episode and started working my way through until I got caught up. It’s still confusing as all hell…
And now our feature presentation…
At it’s simplest,”Welcome to Night Vale” is a twice monthly broadcast chronicling the goings on of a small desert community. There are traffic updates, sports reports, the community calendar, the obligatory sponsor breaks, and of course the weather.
A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. Welcome to Night Vale.
These are the words, so calmly spoken by the incomparable Cecil Palmer, that greet you in the pilot episode of “Welcome to Night Vale”. An accurate and oh so insufficient description of the world you are about to step in to. In this world where, “every conspiracy theory is a reality.” Where dogs are not permitted in the dog park. A faceless old woman secretly lives in all of our homes. And a literal five headed dragon can run for mayor, even though he is being investigated for insurance fraud. And even this expanded description of the world of Night Vale doesn’t even scratch the surface of the twisted world in this podcast.
If you are into borderline horror fantasy stories, this will 100% be your jam. The detailed descriptions of the invisible spiders crawling on every surface of the room you are currently sitting in is more than a little unsettling. And how the faceless old woman who secretly lives in all of our homes knows everything about everybody all at the same time is both disturbing and silly. Because in Night Vale, every creepy thing is balanced out by something equally humorous. The faceless old woman may have replaced your tooth paste with calking but “what’s the wifi password?”
And the faceless old woman is just one of a couple dozen, how else can I say this, dark and zany characters that inhabit this town, the neighboring community of Desert Bluffs, and the mysterious desert other world that can only be reached through the dog park. Each character, from SteveCarlsberg, and Hiram McDaniels, a literal five headed dragon, to Tamika Flynn, the militant teen leader of the summer reading program, intern turned mayor, Dana Cardinal, and even the Glow Cloud get rather complex character arcs over the series 8 year run.
And therein lies the biggest strength of “Welcome to Night Vale.” The characters in the world are so well written and voice acted that you really do have a pretty solid understanding of who they are, what their motivations are, and how they may behave in a given situation. Carlos will always side with the science. The city council will always go on vacation whenever the going gets tough. Steve Carlsberg will always see through the crazy world he lives in and do what’s best for his family.
Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor did an amazing job of establishing this world and all of its notable inhabitants’ personalities while also leaving their physical appearances almost completely up to the imaginations of the listeners. With exception to Kevin’s smile and Carlos’ teeth and haircut, (curse you Telly the barber) there are very few physical details ever mentioned.
That’s about the only detail left unsaid actually. Most other things are described in horrific detail. Whether it’s the faceless old woman recalling the exact color and texture of the mold on the bottom of the crisper drawer in the fridge, Cecil describing the teeth and gore that cover the walls of the Desert Bluffs community radio station, or whatever the hell a Strex-Pet is, you’ll have those images burned into your psyche for some time. Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor have absolutely mastered the art of theater of the mind.
Of course, it’s not all in what you see or not. The way the season arching stories are peppered throughout the news segments in each broadcast is a thing of beauty. The way the appearance of a stray dog in one episode could lead to a near armageddon by the end of the season is mind boggling. Or how a tiny city underneath lane 5 of the bowling alley in season 1 could become a major turning point in season 5. And don’t get me started on the multiple timelines and multiple universes. It is such a complicated world that it absolutely has needed about 5 years to put it together.
But it’s not all sunshine from a smiling god
I say 5 years when it’s been going for 8 because that’s really when the other shoe dropped. Right around the end of the 5th season the stories started to fall a little flat. The format shifted from telling the stories of Night Vale and the characters in it, to just telling isolated stories of particular characters with little to do with the larger world. Now I’m all for learning more about the different characters, but I don’t need a multi part series about the football coach and his relationship with a person from an alternate dimension Night Vale. And later when they went back to bigger picture stories about the town as a whole, the story itself introduced so many new characters that you don’t know or have any attachment to that you really don’t care about what’s going on. At this point there’s so much emotion built into the established cast that I don’t care how tragic this new person’s story is, I’m not interested. Most of the established characters have been put on the back burner for occasional cameos but very little substance. As someone who has been listening for 5 years, I want to know what’s happened to Hiram. I’ve had enough of time travel shenanigans. Where’s Kevin? The blood space war is better left as a running background reference, not a main season plot.
Honestly, I just feel like, as the show has grown, and the writers have created other podcasts, they have really lost a lot of focus on Night Vale. I will say that I am a fan of some of their other work, but it just seems like the passion for Night Vale isn’t really there anymore. It’s almost like they just keep doing it for the paycheck since it’s the flagship show on the network. I still enjoy the show, but it doesn’t have nearly the same emotion and energy to it that it had even 2 years ago.
And now, the weather…
You can’t talk about “Welcome to Night Vale” without mentioning the music. Night Vale would not be Night Vale without the original score by “Disparition.” Both in the regular episodes and in the live shows, it doesn’t feel like you are there without his music. His score is equally important to the feeling of Night Vale as Cecil’s voice. But that’s not the only music in Night Vale.
Every community radio broadcast has “the weather,” which in this case means a music break. Every episode features a song from an independent artist across a multitude of styles. It could be Christian rock, blue grass, rap, country or anything in between. Which is both a plus and a minus for the show. The quality of the songs are very hit or miss. That may be just a matter of the varying styles that are represented. Realistically, with the variety of artists that are featured, you’re bound to like some and not others. There are some people who just skip the weather by default, but I at least give each song a chance. You never know, you may find something you never thought you would like. I will say, for me, I find more misses than hits, but that’s just my opinion based on my musical taste. Your milage may vary.
In short (Too late)
“Welcome to Night Vale” is a dark macabre comedy that pulls you in with a soothing voice and beautiful music. The characters of both the town itself and it’s inhabitants are fleshed out in such a way to give the seasonal story arcs serious emotional weight in the early seasons. But over the last couple of years, the writing has begun to falter.
I’m not going to go as far as to say it’s bad, but it’s not as strong as it once was. As much as I want to blame the writers’ other projects for taking their focus away from this show, ultimately I think the real issues is just time. 8 years is a long time for a scripted audio drama podcast. There are only so many stories to tell before it gets stale. Sad to say, I think they need to be working towards a final ending sooner rather than later.
Being away from the podcast for these last few months has given me some time to think about what I want to do with things. Honestly, the way the world is right now made me seriously reconsider whether or not I should come back to the podcast at all. In the last year I have struggled a lot with, besides just getting content out, coming up with topics to cover on the show. I haven’t listened to a great number of new podcasts lately to offer many new recommendations.
The situation with “distance learning” and the battle over mine and my wife’s schedules has reached a point that we are having to make serious changes. Because of our separate work schedules, it has been very difficult to balance work and our boys’ school lessons. We are now having to look into changing our work schedules to accommodate it all. Ultimately, the issue lies with the need to supervise our younger boys during their school day, my wife working during school hours, and my graveyard work schedule necessitating me sleeping during the day. There’s only so many hours in a week, and I need all of the ones available to get sleep and take care of home business.
With that, I’ve decided to put the podcast on an indefinite break until a time that I will be able to continue producing it without having to sacrifice my limited sleeping hours and potentially my health.
I know I have said this in the past, even as recently as earlier this year. But under the current circumstances, I simply cannot continue the show. The stress of trying to navigate my children’s education mixed with my already questionable work/life balance just doesn’t leave any room right now for podcasting. I have even had to pass up paid podcast editing opportunities due to the current lack of any time to do so. I have to take some time to try to find a balance, and hopefully, before too long, I’ll be able to come back to the show. Unfortunately, I do not know when/ if that will happen.
I would like to say, thank you for listening. Thank you for your support for the last 5 years. I know there are far more entertaining shows to listen to than my ramble fest, and you are an amazing group of people that have continued to motivate me to keep going for all this time. And you are also the reason that I will do whatever I have to do to figure this out and come back with all of the energy I had before the world turned upside down.
I had a headache. Ok so it’s not that simple, but that’s the gist of it. I’m not normally one to really get headaches, especially like major migraine type headaches. But tuesday afternoon I got hit with a serious headache. It was like a, head spinning, can’t think clearly, all light hurting, think I’m gonna throw up kind of headache. And, like I said, I really don’t get headaches.
The thing is that, in the covid times, everything is a symptom of Corona. Coughing, sneezing, fever, body aches, but apparently especially a headache. At least from what I’ve heard, one of the most painful parts for, non-hospitalized, covid is the massive headache. So of course I got spooked. Part of my job is disinfecting and cleaning offices after possible exposure. So I’m theoretically at an elevated risk. So I did the responsible thing and got tested for Covid.
Nevermind that it is actually a little tough to find a place to get a covid test in my neck of the woods. (That has more to do with offices being booked more than anything.) I actually managed to find an urgent care clinic right near my house that took walk-ins for covid tests. More accurately, they take drive ups because it’s all done while you sit in your car. They bring you the paperwork and get your insurance information. They take your vitals through the window and even do the doctor questions/ exam via video chat on your phone.
Then the fun begins…
That has got to be the most uncomfortable thing I’ve had to deal with since my Army physical. Now it’s not painful, per se, but when they stick that swab up your nose… Well, have you ever seen a picture of a woodpecker’s tongue in it’s skull? It feels about that long. It’s like they have to swab the backside of your brain cavity. Oh yeah! They have to do it for both nostrils. The swabs smell something like a combination of pool chlorine and dirty celery. (Don’t ask.)
And, since I was there anyway, I went ahead and got the antibody test done, just to see if I had actually had covid in the past. That one is a quick finger poke, which of course they had to do twice because my finger wouldn’t bleed. But it only takes about 15 minutes to get the results back. (That one was negative by the way.)
Now we wait
It can take anywhere from 3 to 14 days to get my results back. At this time it’s been 7 days. Some of the people at work have gotten tested and gotten results in 3 days, but I guess every testing site and lab has their own capacity and testing rate. In the mean time I can’t go to work. And I don’t have any editing clients to work on at home right now…
If you’ve been listening to the podcast or following me on any of the social medias, you would know that right around Christmastime we purchased our first, and hopefully only, new home. If you’ve ever purchased a home, you will know how much that whole process SUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKSSSSSSSSSS!!! That’s not even counting the whole packing up everything, moving, unpacking, and cleaning the old house out with the miniscule hope of getting back any part of your deposit. There’s just so many different verifications and meetings and reverifications and documents and reverifications and processes and reverifications followed by a marathon session of signing so many documents that you start forgetting how to actually spell your name. Have I mentioned it sucks? Just checking… But we did it, and in mid December we moved in to our brand new, never before lived in, home in a gorgeous neighborhood.
Recently I have mentioned that I’ve been looking into starting a career in voice over. Between my time behind a mic podcasting, and the handful of times I’ve been asked to do character reads for friends’ podcasts, I’ve found that I really enjoy the work. At the same time I’m also much more actively looking into working as a podcast editor. As much as it is the part of podcasting that most people truly hate, I actually like doing it. I enjoy getting to see the transformation from raw audio into a finished product. Unfortunately for me, both of these ventures are forcing me to do something I’ve never been particularly good at. I don’t know how to sell myself.
One of the things about me, and in turn the Odd Dad Out Podcast, is that I have always been better at promoting others above myself. It’s just sort of a thing about me. When I enjoy something, I tend to talk about it, at great length, whether you want me to or not. The thing is, I wouldn’t really say that I’m an especially great salesman. That line in and of itself is kind of a bad omen for my future in business. But the thing that I am, without a doubt, is passionate. I am passionate about music. I am passionate about podcasting. I am passionate about my friends. And I am especially passionate about sharing the things I love in a way that nobody can deny. I may not necessarily be able to sell you on my things, but you will surely know that I stand behind it 100 thousand percent. Somehow I have to find a way to take that passion about others and turn it inward to be able to promote myself.
It just feels strange to me to tell others about how great I am. I’ve always been more of a shower rather than teller. I have always felt that my work should speak for me. Unfortunately, when you are trying to get work in the first place, you’ve gotta do some talking to get them interested in seeing what you can do. That’s the number one area I have to work on, and I know it’s going to be a doozy. Aside from my time on mic for podcasting, I’m not the best at talking to people. Now, anybody who knows me would probably say differently, but it’s very different rambling on with co-workers about things in my life and talking to prospective clients about how I will be the best man for the job they need done.
Of course, I’m still very much in the baby stages of both of my business ventures. I know that it will probably drive me nuts trying to learn to sell myself and my services to people. But I know that if I don’t learn to get out there and show the world what I can really do, I’m going to fail. And after 33 years, for the first time in my life, I think I really know what I want to do when I grow up. Of course it’d take me this long to figure this out. After all, it did take me 30 years to figure out my favorite color.
Recently, good friend and fellow podcaster, Perry Johnson from Hello Life WTF and the Pod Stuff was diagnosed with an inoperable form of stomach cancer, which has spread to his liver and the lymph nodes in his throat. They have chosen to fight this cancer to the end and he has begun preparations for chemotherapy. This recent development only adds to the strain on this family. As the sole income earner in his family, Perry’s inability to work through treatment makes things that much more difficult. Please support this amazing family in this time of need.