Saturday, August 12, 2017

Podcasting, WPIIA and Other Things

Yesterday, I finished my guest appearance on a Point of Insanity Podcast, specifically Whose Podcast is it Anyway, which will turn up on Friday, August 18.  It was a lot of fun and I got to talk about some of the things I've lately posted about, along with slamming the company behind D&D, adding some talk about Sasquatches and about Russian history.

Listening to Chad, the Podcast presenter, talking about his relationship to the Reagan era (he turned 13 when the Wall came down), I was astounded by the knowledgeable distance between what he knew and something that was happening while I was a conscious and politically active, self-aware individual.  I had turned 16 before Reagan was elected; I watched that campaign, my first (politically interested Canadians watch both the American and British festivals, as we are affected by both), and I remember very clearly what sort of things were being said about Reagan.

None of those things are being said now.  Reagan is the go-to president when people want to talk about a Republican who did bad things but was basically of good character.  Pundits will often say, "Reagan did this or that thing, but at least he was aware of the consequences of what he was doing." Like being aware makes it all better.

Reagan was awful.  Worse than that, he was a joke.  But the Iran-Contra thing had been going on all that summer and making Carter look like a worse joke.  Reagan "got the hostages out," which he totally did not do, as anyone conscious was aware of at the time, but all that has disappeared into dry history books no one reads.  I have lived long enough as a political animal to watch history being rewritten by the winners.  Totally rewritten.

However, as you will hear, Chad seemed to find my few comments about the Afghani war and the coming down of the wall as interesting ... and that makes me wonder about how much raw history is being lost on a daily basis as people who remember first-hand what was going on in the 60s, 70s and 80s are passing away.  History seems a mystery to most people anyway, since the education system (in Canada too, as much as anywhere) is shoving it aside in favor of social culture and social responsibility.

I can't say that the world "needs" me to settle in and write a ton of history, giving my take on things like the Reagan years or what it was like to listen to stories about Carter's brother or Gerald Ford's falling down stairs, both of which were so important a week couldn't go by without either being parodied or discussed.  There are hundreds of thousands of history students who are already doing this, not to mention a major cultural effort of writing the history of everything via Wikipedia.

It reminds me, however, that people don't read history.  If it happened before we were born, it seems to bear little interest for us; why care, everything that matters must have happened after 1964, the year I was born.

(I know, you think that everything that mattered happened after 1976 or 1983, but you're wrong)

Of course, we're willing to make some exceptions for things like Kennedy's assassination, that McCarthy thing and Nazis, but we don't want to get crazy, right?  Not that anyone understands the fifty reasons why people would want to shoot Kennedy, or who McCarthy was or what started that witchhunt, or that Nazis were not just bad guys in Indiana Jones' movies, but hey, we're just interested in the important stuff, right?

I think it is a little sad.  I could do a podcast every week where I did nothing but talk about history, potentially with time to look up small details on the net just to be sure I got the details right ~ and what's odd is that I'm sure that some people would really like it.

But my experience with Chad reminded me what I really need to make a podcast work: someone to ask me questions.  I'm great at answering questions off the cuff.  I enjoyed doing the bits with my daughter, but the issue there was that she steadfastly refused to be a set-up person for me (something about not wanting to be in the shadow of her father or some silly thing).  I've played around with just talking, but it feels ... weird.  If I'm just going to chatter, I'd rather write.  I write better than I chatter.

I'd love to do more podcasts.  I've looked, and I've had some others who have looked, but we haven't found any podcasts who are willing to step up.  If anyone has any ideas ~ or connections, which is better ~ I can write the introductory email.

And if someone wants to dig in and go head to head with me, I have the means to record us and I have the guy to edit us (if he's still willing).  So let me know.  Could be fun.


  1. If I'm not mistaken, WPIIA? is the same podcast that one of your players appeared on a while back. I'm looking forward to listening to the new episode, once it's released.

    Something that strikes me about your idea for a history podcast: the person asking you the questions should ideally have a different background than you have. The obvious differences would be age; someone significantly younger than you might have no idea how people viewed an issue before they were born, while someone significantly older might be similarly curious as to how you viewed things through the lens of a different time in your life. (I'm only in my 20s, and already I've realized that I'm a very different person than I was at 18.) But the geographical/national circumstances could also produce food for discussion - as an example, I hadn't thought about the effect of both American and British politics on Canada until you pointed it out.

    Even talking with my parents has led me to think about different perspectives; heck, they were both of exactly the right ages to have experienced the first generation of D&D, had they lived in more populous areas. Years ago one of them explained to me why Reagan continues to be so well-liked, and that brief conversation (based in their first-hand experience of living through the 1980s) has stuck with me more than every pat article on the split between television and radio audiences for the JFK/Nixon debates.

  2. Oh, oh, my. This strikes a chord with me.

    Yeah, it IS sad. There's a lot of sad things about the culture, the society we live in these days, and what folks think are important.

    [me, I'm practically a history junky, always researching things on Ye Old Internet as soon as a topic gets broached. Last night, it was two hours spent on the Phoenicians and their history (up through Carthage and Hannibal). Today it was the absurdist theater movement: Ionescue and Beckett and all the rest. Last week it was the historic background for the new film, Detroit...what happened, what the riots were about, etc.]

    [but who cares? only me]

    Regarding podcasts...I've got nothing for you, sorry. But I love your podcasts and wish you'd do more of them. But I agree, you need some sort of interviewer/partner in crime to make it crank. Hopefully, you'll get more interview requests in the future.

    You should totally write a novelization of Reagan or the Reagan-years. I'd buy it.
    : )

  3. I wouldn't say I don't care about history that happened before I was born (I am not even two decades old - the history I remember personally is a very poor history indeed) - but it certainly has a dream-like, mysterious quality. The 80's and 90's feel like a before time, when the nature of the internet-based world I live in were still unformed and being shaped into what they would one day be.

    ... I am little prone to making a mythology about these things.

  4. Just think, Archon,

    In those same before time 80s and 90s, I was pursuing art, having sex, holding together a family, marveling at new music, film and other art, writing, playing D&D and puzzling about the future we wondered was going to happen. I have so many memories of that before time it's almost scary.

    Yet it seems like a before time to me too, no less so than it does to you. Sometimes, it doesn't even feel those memories happened to me; it is as though they were memories of some other person.

    But this is how it is. One day you will find yourself talking to someone who can't conceive how we lived in these backward days of the 20-teens.

  5. I know. It horrifies and amazes me, to think that all this will fade to stories to tell to the youth.


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