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Podcasts Well Worth Your Time for Oct. 2018

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Here are some more podcasts (a couple individual episodes, and a mini-series) from my recent listening that I really enjoyed, and thought you might too!

(Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any transcripts for these first two episodes.)

Lexicon Valley: “The Rise of They” (Website / Overcast )

English pronouns are evolving. It’s time to embrace it.

Lexicon Valley is a podcast about language — often about how English has developed and changed — hosted by linguist John McWhorter.

In this particular episode, he traces the deep roots of the singular “they” in English, as well as the many ways “they” is used today.

Citations Needed: “The Media’s Bogus Generation Obsession” (Website / Overcast )

“Baby Boomers are bloating the social safety net!” “GenXers are changing the nature of work!” “Millennials are killing the housing market!”.

The media endlessly feeds us stories about how one generation or another is engaging in some collective act of moral failing that, either explicitly or by implication, harms another generation. It’s a widely-mocked cliché at this point, namely the near-constant analyses detailing what Millennials have “killed” or “ruined” lately — everything from Applebee’s to diamonds to top sheets to beer to napkins.

The first rule of drama — and by implication, the media — is to create tension. But what if tensions that actually exist in our society, like white supremacy and class conflict, are too unpleasant and dicey to touch — upsetting advertisers and media owners who benefit from these systems?

To replace these real tensions in society, the media repeatedly relies on dubious and entirely safe points of conflict, like those between two arbitrary generations. It’s not the rich or racism that’s holding me back — it’s old people running up entitlement spending or lazy youth who don’t want to work!

I appreciate listening to Citations Needed, because they cover issues and trends in media from a perspective far outside the mainstream of political thought. (A past episode on Modern Money Theory was particularly interesting.)

They’re very good at deconstructing “common sense” or “received wisdom” ideas — in this case the notion, so prevalent in mass media, that “generations” are any sort of accurate descriptor of anything, or useful for any purpose besides generating business for marketing consultants.

Mini-series Recommendation: Slow Burn (Website, with transcripts / Overcast )

Even recent history is rich with surprising subplots, strange details, and forgotten characters.

On Slow Burn, Leon Neyfakh excavates the strange subplots and forgotten characters of recent political history — and finds surprising parallels to the present. Season 1 captured what it was like to live through Watergate; Season 2 does the same with the saga of Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

I didn’t listen to the first season of Slow Burn (about Nixon’s impeachment), but I really enjoyed this latest season, about the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal in the late 1990s.

It’s eight episodes long (and some change), and describes the events surrounding the impeachment in methodical detail, including many new interviews with parties involved.

I was in high school during that time, and I remember hearing the broad outlines of the story as it unfolded without following many of the finer details.

The series walks through it in a way that clears up a lot of the blind spots in my recollection, which I think is useful just insofar as it’s nice to be well-informed about history — but it also looks at what happened with an awareness of how attitudes around sexual harassment and assault have evolved over the last 20 years.

Transcripts are available of each episode on the show page, and the season was introduced with an article in Slate.

BONUS LINKS: In a previous post, I recommended an episode of Futility Closet (a show which I still highly recommend, generally).

Last month, I also contributed a lateral thinking puzzle to this episode of Futility Closet, and submitted a piece of reader mail which was read in this episode.

I’m a participant!

[Previous podcast  episodes worth your time.]
[All previous things worth your time.]

Sick Elephant Notification Forms

Reaction to our current story arc (which starts here) has been fascinating to see!

Thank you for the many kind (and even the few less-than-kind) emails. And for your own sick elephant suggestions — though I am perfectly well stocked, believe you me.

I know this has been going on for a while. And I assure you that this plane is on a gradual and appropriate glide slope to its narrative conclusion.

HOWEVER, if you’d like to parachute out now, I UNDERSTAND. Put your email into this form and I’ll let you know when this storyline is over:

Sick Elephant Notification Forms

OR, if you happen to be of the opposite opinion, you can always put your email into this form:

Sick Elephant Notification Forms

What does this accomplish? WHO CAN SAY. Maybe, at some undefined future point, elephant fans might get something special in their email! THE WORLD IS UNCERTAIN.

Our Kickstarter campaign for the new book is proceeding apace!

Thank you to everyone who’s reserved a copy so far, I am very excited for you to get it in several months.

Sick Elephant Notification Forms

If we beat our funding goal, any extra money raised will go toward making everyone’s book longer, with more comics included – so please spread the word!

The new book will not, alas, contain any sick elephants; the contents come from a bit farther back in the archive.

(Though if you’ve read the past books, you know that Norbert, the hero of the present story arc, has made a small appearance in each.)

But here’s one thing I am including: over on the campaign page, there’s a link to a free download of my last book, Emperor of the Food Chain:

Sick Elephant Notification Forms

This is so interested parties can see firsthand what a Wondermark book is like, without me giving away too much of what’ll be in the new book!

You can download the book even if you don’t back the project — it’s just a “thank you!” from me for visiting the campaign page.

IT’S HERE: New Wondermark book collection now funding on Kickstarter!


It’s finally time! You can now reserve your copy of a BRAND NEW WONDERMARK BOOK, which I will be printing this fall and releasing this spring!

It will contain comics #556 through at least #740 (and maybe even more, depending on how much funding we raise).

This is a VERY FRUITFUL ERA of Wondermark and encompasses many of my favorite strips, such as:

I mean the book will contain entire strips, not just these random panels

You can also watch our campaign video RIGHT HERE on THIS VERY PAGE. It features the SURPRISING BACKSTORY of Wondermark as a concept!!

I’m gonna yell about this ALL THE TIME for the next month, so just get ready for that.

[ New Wondermark book on Kickstarter ]

The September Cast Card will feature: Gax!

The September Cast Card will feature: Gax!

Since we are in the final few months of the availability of Wondermark Cast Cards (little commemorative plaques that celebrate the important moments we share), I thought I should point out that the card for September will feature celebrated terrible alien Gax.

There’s a little less than a week left to claim the September card — just register for the Cast Card Subscription tier over on Patreon before the end of the month.

And then I’ll send you this card — and, if you choose to remain a subscriber, another card each month until the end of the year!

I’m drawing the Cast Cards to a close because, real talk, they are incredibly laborious to create — we assemble each one here at the workshop out of laser-cut wood, color-printed labels, and gold-foil-stamped stickers.

So this will be one of your last chances to take advantage of my foolish ambition! My wrist surgery ended up being postponed due to surgeon illness, so I’ve got a reprieve of a little while to get these made and shipped for you.

We’re also very close to the launch of a Kickstarter for the next Wondermark book — like, mere days away — and Patreon patrons (at any of our tiers) will get advance notice of that and possibly a chance to snag a book at a discount! Who can say!!

I’m podcasting the making of the next Wondermark book!

This post has a lot of big announcements in it!

  1. More new products in the store!
  2. A preview of my new podcast and other bonus material I’ve been posting on Patreon!
  3. An embarrassingly personal note from me.

In the last post about all my new stickers and pins, I teased that there would be more new products coming to the store soon. THAT DAY HAS COME.

In the studio, we’ve been making coasters out of cork! (Click the image for a closer look.)

I'm podcasting the making of the next Wondermark book!

These are some of 15 different coaster designs to choose from.

If you’ve visited any of my convention tables recently, you’ve probably seen these!

The surface is laser-darkened cork, bonded with a central layer of acrylic for stiffness, then backed with a sheet of soft felt made out of recycled soda bottles.

I'm podcasting the making of the next Wondermark book!

I now have a selection of them in my store, along with some wooden magnets made using the very same laser.

[ Coasters at Wondermark Brand Dry-Goods ]

There’s bonus content available on Patreon!

Patreon is a subscription site that lets you get bonus content from folks like me for just a couple bucks a month. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve been posting to my own Patreon page lately:

I’ve started a new podcast, and you’re invited!

I'm podcasting the making of the next Wondermark book!

It’s called “Malki on the Mark”, and it’s all about the making of the next Wondermark strip collection.

Here is a 2-minute teaser:

In this post I explain a bit more about what it’s all about:

The podcast will be a sort of journal related specifically to the design, production, Kickstarting, printing, and fulfillment of this particular project.

You’ll get to follow along through the entire process as I explain all the things that are happening behind the scenes with the production of the book, and the decisions being made along the way, that I normally wouldn’t bother to share (but that end up making up most of the actual process).

If you’re interested in book design, or crowdfunding, or project management generally, or just want to listen as I (SURELY) encounter unexpected problems and have to figure out how to deal with them, this will be the show for you…

My hope is that you’ll find it interesting to follow along as I embark upon a project that will be sure to have lots of twists and turns!

Every time I do a big project like this I think, “If only I had been keeping a journal, or doing recordings along the way, to keep track of all the minutiae that readers and customers will never see, but that are a necessary and inevitable part of any project, and that I personally find fascinating.”

Well, this time I’m doing it.

As I explain at greater length in the post I’ve quoted above, the podcast will be a reward for folks who support Wondermark by becoming monthly patrons.

I’ve posted six episodes so far.

Sometimes it’s just me talking in EXCRUCIATING DETAIL about book design, and other times it’s me talking with a comics-making pal!

To give you a sense of it, I’ve made Episode 4 (featuring a discussion on Kickstarter reward strategy with Sam & Fuzzy‘s Sam Logan) free for everyone. It’s 43 minutes long.

[ Malki on the Mark Episode 4, feat. Sam Logan

Patrons also have access to other behind-the-scenes series:

2 Minutes to Wondermark timelapsed screen recordings (with after-the-fact commentary added) of me making each Wondermark strip.

Back in January, I started screen-recording the making of (almost) every comic, and with these commentary videos, I’m showing you the process.

Here’s one that I posted recently:

• Archive Dive in which I look back at various individual comics from the past 15+ years and explore common themes at absurd length, such as “Five Wondermarks Based on True Events” and “Five Wondermarks that Foresaw the Future”.

• From the Roll-a-Sketch Vault — basically the same thing, but talking about what went into some of my favorite Roll-a-Sketch drawings, rather than comics!

These series are irregular and will be added to as time allows.

Of course you can also still get in on the final few months of Patreon-exclusive Wondermark Cast Cards — 2018 will be the last year the Cast Cards are offered.

Here are a few that went out to our monthly Cast Card subscribers earlier this summer!

I'm podcasting the making of the next Wondermark book!

I'm podcasting the making of the next Wondermark book!

[ Subscribe to Wondermark on Patreon ]

Finally, a brief scheduling note.

In a couple days, I will be having surgery to remove a marble-sized mass from my right wrist/forearm.

It is (supposedly) minimally invasive surgery, but in advance I don’t have a good indication of how much it will affect my ability to work. It’s possible that my dominant hand will be immobilized for a period of some weeks.

I’m sure I will still be able to fill orders from the store, and I expect to figure out a way to make and post comics on something like a regular schedule, but just in case, I ask for your understanding in case the typical posting schedule ends up suffering somewhat.

I am a bit nervous about the upcoming recovery period (and the upcoming absurd medical bill, because we live in America), but the truth is I won’t know anything definitive until it goes however it’s going to go!

But don’t worry — I’m confident we will be able to follow the Sick Elephant Saga of 2018 to its upcoming dramatic conclusion. (Or will it ever end????)

Anyway, friends, let’s be real, this is a definitely a good time to pick up something from the store, or the other store, or to become a patron. Thanks for reading down this far!!