I’m Part of a New Podcast

Long time readers of this blog know that from late 2016 through mid 2017, I was part of a comedy podcast by the name of Everyone is Funnier Than Us. That podcast came to an end in July of last year. Since then, I’ve been playing around with various ideas, trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I poked around a few ideas involving blogging and podcast recording over the back half of 2017. I even considered going back to doing YouTube videos1Not that I had a brief stint doing that in 2015 or anything.. And though during that time I did stand up the freelance editing work I do, as well as start on a new writing work in progress, I didn’t have any new creative endeavors come to fruition.

Well before the end of my last podcast — from September 2006 through December 2008, to be more specific — I was the host of a sports radio show on a college AM radio station. That show, The Two Minute Drill, was a rapid fire sports show in the vein of Around the Horn or Pardon the Interruption, only with weird news and hosts who didn’t totally know what they were doing. While most of the sports radio shows in our college organization focused solely on sports, The Two Minute Drill routinely branched out, having multiple musical guests, hosting an on-air wing tasting contest, and even getting a nasty email from a member of university leadership at the University of Delaware2We did a couple of segments how the University of Delaware refused to play another in-state program, Delaware State University. Rumors had circulated at the time that this was because members of the U of Delaware leadership staff didn’t want to face a university that was a HBCU. In my youthful hubris, I emailed the segments we did to the president of the University of Delaware. I got a not so pleasant email back from a representative of the school saying that it was none of my business what U of Delaware did, but they appreciated my interest in their institution.. The show ended shortly after I graduated in 2008, but was one of the more popular shows on air at the station during its two-year run.

I say all of this to introduce the newest project I’m part of, a sports podcast named We Were Kind of a Big Deal in College.

We Were Kind of a Big Deal in College features a similar format to what the original Two Minute Drill show did. I’m the host of the show, and on each episode of the show, I will present questions to each of our three panelists, Mike Lampasone, Brian Fisher, and Tim Kilkenny. The panelists debate those questions — some sports related and some not — in an effort to get arbitrarily get points throughout the course of our show. The reward for earning the most points? You get to plug whatever you want at the end of the show. In recording our first show, our winner didn’t seem to understand the concept of what plugging something meant, so we’re picking up right where we left off.

You can listen to We Were Kind of a Big Deal in College on iTunes and other podcasting platforms. You can also follow the show on social media platforms, such as our currently blank Instagram account. At this point, we’ll likely be doing this podcast monthly, though we’ll see if that timeline changes in the future.

2018 Blog Goals

I have never been much of a person for making goals for a coming year, especially not for my writing or my blog. Sure, there’s things I’d like to do, but I generally don’t set them out in goal form.

I thought I’d change that this year for a few different reasons. First and foremost, I’ve had this blog for a little over three years now. While I’ve enjoyed writing on this blog, it’s never quite reached the traffic levels of either of the two blogs I had before that. I recognize that part of that is timing related. Early on in this blog’s existence, the active blogging community I was part of closed its doors. I received a decent amount of traffic from that site, we well as various bloggers who frequented that site coming to my blog(s) directly. Losing that was unfortunate.

Additionally, I think blogging as a medium is in a decline. That’s not to say that people don’t read blogs anymore, as I don’t think that’s the case. What I do see, however, is a decrease in the number of bloggers who have stuck with blogging for a long time. I can count on one hand3Maybe two hands. But that’s only if I’m being generous or if I’m forgetting a lot of people. the number of bloggers who I’ve seen stick with blogging over the past three years. There’s new bloggers out there who write good content, but for every one new blogger I’ve seen, I can think of three or four that have stopped.

I do see other bloggers doing great things. I’ve watched Laidig grow her blog significantly over the past year. Tabitha does some of the better written posts you’ll come across. Todd does some quality (and frequent) work on his blog. There’s other great writers out there (even non-bloggers) who are doing great work that leaves me inspired to improve what I do each day.

In light of all of this, I think there’s definitely some value to setting some goals for my blog. Here’s the goals I’m setting for 2018, along with a short explanation of why I’m setting each. I recognize the numbers I’ll be mentioning below aren’t big numbers, but you have to start somewhere.

  • 20 new WordPress followers – This blog doesn’t have a ton of WordPress followers, as I get a decent amount of my traffic via my various social media accounts. That said, I did pick up 16 new WordPress followers last year, bringing the site’s total to 29. I’d like to think that picking up 5 new followers per quarter (on average) isn’t particularly outlandish as a goal.
  • Average 250 visits a month – Last year, That Tiny Website averaged 197 visits a month. On one hand, that was a great thing to see, as it was this site’s best year ever. On the other hand, my previous blog’s worst full year saw an average of 245 visits per month. This will be the site’s third full year in existence and second one where I’m writing fairly regularly. I don’t want to be lagging behind my old work anymore. I recognize that this is around a 27% growth number, but I’d like to think I can hit it.
  • Grow comment count by 20% again – My blog comment totals got thrown all out of whack when I migrated from WordPress.com to a self-hosted blog4Through my own error. I didn’t follow directions well.. As such, the only comment data I have is from 2016 and 2017, where I went from 102 comments to 122. Ideally, I’d like to see a similar percentage increase this year, which would mean 147 comments on this blog this year.

I realize that none of this will be able to be done without the help of you, those who are reading my blog. Some of you have been reading and interacting with me for quite a while. For that, I thank you. Others of you are likely new to this blog. Welcome. I hope you stick around a while.

 

What are some of your goals for the new year? If you’re a blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, or other creator, what are some of your personal growth goals for 2018? Sound off in the comments.

2017 Book Charity Drive – Wrap-Up Post

It’s been a few weeks since the charity drive I was running with my book finished up. You might have noticed I’ve been a little slow to write up a post about how the charity drive went. There’s a reason for that.

Before I get into this year’s drive, I want to provide a little context with how things went last year. During last year’s drive, those who purchased my book raised $24.28 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. While it wasn’t the number I wanted to hit — it fell just short of one-quarter of the goal I was aiming for — it was still something and it still went to a good cause. This year, I decided that instead of doing a 50+ day long charity drive that I’d do a one week long drive. Considering the fact that about one-third of the sales that happened during last year’s drive happened within the first seven days, combined with the fact that I had more people helping me out promoting the charity event this year in comparison to last year, I figured thing would go close to as well as last year5I didn’t set any charity drive goals, but I was honestly expecting a similar result in terms of money raised..

About that.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the Kindle sales. As a reminder, the drive lasted from November 12th through the 19th.

That’d be one copy purchased. Total. At least it was on my birthday? Well, no matter. Most of my sales historically have been from the paperback side, which is (currently) tracked through CreateSpace. How did that go?

Oh6Fuck..

As for final totals, I was able to pull that from the Kindle site.

Needless to say, I’m not making a donation of $2.06 to UNICEF. I’ll be donating more than that7I don’t feel a desire to divulge how much. Sorry.. That’s not the point though.

It took me the better part of two weeks to write this post because I found myself at a loss for words. I didn’t know how to say what I was feeling without sounding like an entitled prick. There’s a pair of thoughts in my mind that I can’t completely reconcile in a way that I can phrase them quite in the way I’m thinking them.

On one hand, I really want to see my work become successful. Whether that success is through acclaim, through the admiration of a small but devoted fan base, or through actual financial success is something I haven’t fully figured out my desire for. But I want to be successful with my work. Specifically, I want to be successful with my writing8Because frankly, my actual work isn’t particularly fulfilling..

On the other hand, I recognize that by raising money for charity with my work, the important person here is not me. It’s the people the money will be going to help. I’ll be fine. But there’s a lot of people who won’t be if they don’t receive the help that charitable organizations give. Hell, I likely wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the work of charity in my childhood. So to see this event fail when I’m not the recipient of the proceeds is disheartening.

I’m going to be taking a break from writing for a while. I don’t particularly want to stop writing, but I also don’t feel like my writing has a purpose at this point. Maybe I’ll change my mind at some point. There’s a handful of blog posts I’ve pre-written that’ll still go up on this blog each Monday (as per normal). In theory those will last until around the end of the year. I have a few ideas that will likely be content here early next year, though I haven’t gotten around to writing those yet. As for my long-form/story stuff, I think I need to reassess where I’m at there.

6 Songs That Need Covers

I’m a huge fan of music. For large portions of my life, music helped me mentally get through the day. I have tons of musicians and songs I love, including some songs I’ve listened to on a daily or weekly basis. That said, I also recognize that the best version of a song may not necessarily come from the person who originally wrote it.

Take, for example, “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails.

It’s a good song. I love Nine Inch Nails. I love dark songs. You’d think I’d find this to be the best version of this song. That said…Johnny Cash exists.

If Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” isn’t the single best cover of any song ever, I’m sure it’s at least in the discussion. There’s plenty of songs though that need covers that either don’t have them or don’t have them in the style that they need to be covered in. For today’s post, I thought I’d go through a handful of songs I think need covers in different styles, different vocal ranges, or by certain artists.

“The Waltz” by Neverending White Lights

I enjoy hearing orchestral instruments in a good rock song. This song is one of my more recent discoveries, however I’m fairly sure I’ve listened to it pretty close to once a day since I found it. I really need to sit down and listen to this whole album straight through at some point to get the full experience. That said, something’s off about it. It’s a good song, but it needs a cover by a different vocal range to be effective. I’m thinking a contralto/alto female voice would make the song a bit more haunting. Perhaps something along the lines of Joss Stone or Rachel Sermanni. I get that Sermanni in particular drifts into alto quite a bit, particularly in the song below, but I think she’d be a good fit.

“Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga

I like Lady Gaga as much as the next person. That said, this song is one of the few she’s written that’s just better as a cover. Take, for example, this cover where Lady Gaga’s vocals are paired with instrumentation by Andy Rehfeldt.

Paparazzi is just meant to be a non-pop song. And as much as I love heavy metal, I don’t think it’s the best option for covering this song. Personally, I’d like to see Paparazzi done in a slow jazz/lounge style. It’s been done well before…see Jessica Lea Mayfield’s cover of Nirvana’s Lounge Act for an example. Lady Gaga has done quite a bit of work with Tony Bennett. Why not have Bennett himself cover this song?

“Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” by Biffy Clyro

This song has been my favorite song for the past three years or so. Nothing else has come close. That said, I’ve only heard it done in one of two styles — either exactly like Biffy Clyro did it, or with a single acoustic guitar. Both of those ways are fine. After all, it’s an amazing song. But there’s something missing. That something is a piano.

In the event you’re not familiar with Vika Yermolyeva, she’s a kickass pianist9It’s at this point that I’d like to mention that looking up one of Vika’s videos has led me down a rabbit hole where I binge watched two hours of her piano videos in one sitting. While doing nothing else. I am CONSTANTLY multitasking. Her piano work is ridiculous.. While I don’t think she’d need to be the one to do the cover of this song, I do think this style of music — where the entirety of the instrumentation is covered by a single piano can add power to a ton of songs. It’s not like Biffy Clyro’s music isn’t suited to piano, as there’s hundreds of piano covers of their songs. That said, the intricate parts of “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” make the song more challenging, but potentially more rewarding.

Need another example of how this can be done well? Take a listen to Norah Jones’ cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”.

“Rich Girl” by Gwen Stefani

I just need this covered by My Chemical Romance or Panic! At the Disco. I have no shame.

“Shadow on the Sun” by Audioslave
“Hands in the Sky (Big Shot)” by Straylight Run

I want to end with both of these songs combined into one idea, as when I hear both songs, I immediately think they need big, powerful voices to cover them. I’ve tried singing “Shadow on the Sun”. It is easily the most challenging vocal song I’ve ever attempted. Meanwhile, “Hands in the Sky” is an exercise in vocal restraint, especially as you’re slowly building up to sing with the most powerful voice your lungs can muster. Chris Cornell and John Nolan, respectively, use these two songs as vehicles to show off the amazing talent they have with their voices.

I really want to hear both of these songs done in a female voice. While there’s a lot of good options out there, the singer with the vocal range and style I think would work best — Amy Winehouse — isn’t around anymore for this to happen. That said, there’s a plethora of excellent female vocalists that could do these songs justice. Lzzy Hale of Halestorm seems like a good place to start. Halestorm’s already done some good covers, so they’ve got a leg up on others.

Have a suggestion for a great cover in your mind? Suggest it in the comments.

A Quick Podcast Note

Hey all. The Everyone Is Funnier Than Us podcast has come to an end. Even though it wasn’t totally official, I’ve known the writing was on the wall for nearly two months now. Hell, I even hinted at it in this post.

I’m looking to start a new project in the not too distant future. We’ll see if it happens. I do want to thank everyone who took the time to listen to us, to share your feedback, and care about what we had to say. It really was extremely appreciated.