Biography

Always Recording: How We Podcast

This week on my Podcast review show, Always Listening, I responded to some listener feedback by discussing the gear, software and processes we use to create our podcast. If that sounds like your type of thing, check the audio out right here:

http://percolate.blogtalkradio.com/offsiteplayer?hostId=902681&episodeId=8311101

Here's a list with links of the software and gear I discuss in the show:

Adobe Audition CC

Shure SM7b

Heil PR40

Electrovoice RE20

Mackie 14 channel mixer 1402 vlz3

ART USB Dual Pre

Shawn Smith TheMobilePro.net

ATR 2100

Pyle Pro PDMIC58

Shure S 58

Marco Arment’s Microphone review

Ferrite Recording Studio - Wooji Juice Ltd

Audio Hijack

Going it Alone (But Not Really, ‘Cause You Guys are Here, Right?)

Today is the final day of my $5 voiceover bonanza! It was a big success (in my opinion) and I want to say thank you especially to everyone who placed an order. In all, I booked $300 new dollars in voice work in the month of December. It was one of the big reasons why I made the decision to go fully independent and become a Sole Proprietor in 2016.

My Favorite Picture of Mom

There are a lot of great photos of my mother. I went back and forth over about 15 this morning before settling on this one. I always come back to this one.

That collar though! Seriously, break this out of the closet. 

First, 'cause that's an amazing suit pops is wearing, but mostly because of the look on Jamie Hodges Sharpton's face. My mom has had that look on her face for most of the last 35 years. Through good times and bad, through sickness and health, for richer or poorer. She does not always agree with him, and her voice is always heard. It's her strength that I'm so glad I inherited, even if it combined with his stubbornness to make me almost impossible to change.

 

But agree or disagree, Mom has always had that look in her eye for Dad. That's pretty amazing. It's been a wonderful center to hold onto as I brute force my way through the problems of life. No matter how hard the blow, when I clear my head and get up, Mom and Dad are still right where they were. And always behind me.

 

I owe her thanks for lots of things but first I owe her thanks for this. For that look. And for hanging onto it amidst the storms.

 

Happy birthday, Mom. Hope you and your Love celebrate it in style, and pretend it's 35 years ago. :)

5 Goals for my 35th Year

A year ago when I turned 33, I had an overwhelming lack of accomplishment.
I was now the age that Jesus was when he completed his ministry and died on the cross. To set the bar a little lower, I had outlived dozens of legendary rockers and people almost a decade younger than me were already CEO's and billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg. I felt old.

My podcasts should've caught on by now. I should be making more money in my job. Why aren't the girls already potty-trained? When the boys love Star Wars as much as I do?

I worry a lot. What can I tell you? But everything on that list is just a variation of the same worries and concerns that every grownup has. Can you provide? Is everyone ok? Are we all normal? So, somewhere in the last four months or so, I finally found my 30's groove, and so instead of dreading another birthday morning, I'm setting some goals for myself this year. Nothing earth-shattering, but it's not just a one-year project either. I'm hopefully gonna be around to let myself down with how little progress I've made on these anyway.

 
5. Never share an article, link or story without verifying the truth of it.
I value honesty and the truth as highly as just about anything. Intellectual dishonesty is one of the surest ways to get me to call you out, directly, loudly and consistently. And yet, I occasionally jump at a contest that ends up being a scam, or jump with indignation at some injustice only to discover that it was all an overblown misunderstanding. The fact that one story ends up not being true doesn't mean that there aren't injustices in the world or even stories just like the one that I shared, with different names and addresses. But sharing false or exaggerated stories dilutes my own "trust factor" for those that read the things I share. If it hurts and angers me when others do it, I must excise it in my own life.

4. Notice my neighbor.
Anytime someone asks me about my faith, I talk about loving your neighbor. It's the second commandment of Christ, after all, and like unto the first one, Love the Lord your God. I do a good job of remembering that I'm supposed to love them, and why I'm supposed to love them (loving them, is like loving God), but I often completely overlook exactly who my "neighbor" is. While I know they don't all look like me, I sometimes forget that they don't all vote like me or pray like me or feel about THEIR neighbors they way I think I'm supposed to. I've got to love them, but I've got notice them first.

3. Pray for my enemies. Until they aren't my enemies.
I've been praying a lot lately. For patience and love, joy in the middle of turmoil and a still tongue in response to insults. That's all good. Necessary even. But I was reminded, by one of my small group members (I'm gonna tell you guys about them at some point soon, and why you should find your own awesome group), that praying for myself will only get me so far. I'm supposed to be praying for those that have me perplexed and stressed. Supposed to pray for those that I'm holding my tongue against. Supposed to pray for my enemies. Not to change them, but to change me. Because it's really a problem of an incorrect mindset. They aren't my enemies, they're my neighbor too. So, I'm praying for them until I recognize our common property lines, so to speak.

2. Love my wife half as well as she deserves.
I feel like if I'm grading myself right now (fairly, but firmly) I'm giving her about a quarter of what she SHOULD get. Of my time, my attention, my affection etc. I'd like to get that to at least 3/8 by our next anniversary. The good news is, I've got all the rest of them to work on it.

1. Keep all my plates spinning.
I am a husband. A father of four children under 8. A full-time employee of a small terrestrial radio group with an air-shift, production responsibilities a couple of sales accounts and a pile of digital management and promotion work. Two podcasts per week (and a third miniseries to announce soon), and a serious jones to watch a movie or two every week at least. There's a lot on my plates, but so far they're all spinning. It seems the more I put up there the better I get at spinning them, so I'll just keep adding it on. Slow and steady, but always pushing myself to spin faster.

The Mother of Daughters

Today is a day that people like to pronounce their thankfulness and name its source. I find that I've got countless things to be thankful for. Friends who keep me honest and always make me laugh. A job that pays me fairly and consistently, and allows me to use my talents and pursue my interests. A family that supports me unconditionally and loves me immensely. A healthy body and a sound mind.

But this year I've added to my bounty. First in April when I married my Honeybun. Then last week when she gave me two beautiful daughters. A few weeks early and unbelievably small, but healthy and strong and the most unexpected of blessings.

I didn't want any more kids. And I never imagined that I wanted any girls at all but now that they're here, I can't imagine a world without them. I'm so thankful for my new daughters and the completeness they bring to our family of 6.

But this little post really isn't about the girls. It's about their mother. The titular "Mother of Daughters". That's a play on HBO's Game of Thrones and the "mother of dragons" one because we both love the show, but more because I like one of her other nicknames, and it fits my Honeybun just as well, "my moon and stars".

Kelly is an amazing woman, my best friend, my confidant, companion and my Moon and Stars. She's my rockstar and if anyone had any doubt about her awesomeness, the ease with which she handled the pregnancy and delivery should put it to rest.

As I've already said, I've got so much to be thankful for, but Kelly tops the list. Thank you, Honeybun, for loving me, for leading me and for letting me be the father to our wonderful little family.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

The VUTT, or Why I'm Not Afraid of the Dark

I haven't written much in a while, and for people who enjoy my blog, I'm sorry for that. Honestly, I've been enjoying my summer, trying to set up several projects for launch in the fall, and take a little extra time with family. Then the family goes and gives me something to write about.Yesterday, Honeybun and I had our first ultrasound. We found out we were expecting the Monday night before our wedding (as hilariously detailed in Episode 54 of Two Guys, One Podcast), and we've been ecstatic ever since, researching baby names, filling registries, remaking the house etc. But we'd both been on pins and needles to SEE the kid once and for all. Honeybun talks about "verification". It's not that she doesn't believe she's pregnant (she's showing all the obvious signs, including having felt the baby move in the past few weeks), but just that sometimes she feels crazy because the symptoms and the hormones and the well...if you've ever been pregnant or lived with someone who has, you understand.

So there we were, smiling and starving for a look. When we got more than we'd bargained for when we SAW not one, but two bambinos. Twins, though there are ZERO sets of twins on my side of the family for generations back on either side, and just one set on Honeybun's side of the family. Twins, though Honeybun was on birth control (again, as hilariously detailed in Episode 54!) and I'd said we needed to wait AT LEAST a year or two before adding even one more member to the family. Twins. Oh my.

twins-original

So what does that kind of information do to you? For Honeybun and I it was astonishment, then elation (holy crap, we'll get to do two kids, but all at once and still retire on time, woohoo!), then a little panic (holy crap, we're going to have to feed four children for most of the next two decades or so!), then a lot of nervousness and fear. As any parent can tell you, the vast UNKNOWN terrible thing is the worst part of being a parent. It sits on your shoulder, weighing you down as you go about your job and the carpool and kickball in the back yard. The vast UNKNOWN terrible thing (or the VUTT as I like to call it) is what replaces the boogeyman and monsters in the closet for grownups. The VUTT is what you read about happening to other people's children in the paper, the million different syndromes, conditions, diagnoses and labels that you fear your unborn child might have that will somehow make his/her way in life just a little harder, when you already know it's plenty hard enough. The VUTT is the bus accident you heard about in the next town over or the school shooting you saw on the news. It's cancer, it's diabetes, it's depression, it's Down's Syndrome it's Parkinson's disease, it's congenital heart failure and male pattern baldness.

It is the terrible secret of our genes and the cruel twist of fate and there is nothing that can be done about it.

The VUTT descended on Honeybun last night, in a full double portion, as befits the news of Twins. She'd feared and dreamed and hoped for our child already, of course, but last night just before we climbed in bed it hit her with all it had. She bent under the force, as I have time and time again. Parents, if you haven't cried a few tears thinking about all the ways you can't possibly hope to protect your kids, then I question your parenting. Or at least your humanity. But my Honeybun surprised me, as she has since the day I met her. She immediately saw the VUTT for what it is. Motivation. Listen to that scary little voice on your shoulder, feel it's weight from time to time, and then carry it for your kids. Make sure it keeps you from ever forgetting a seat belt, or a locked medicine cabinet, let it make you understand how important every moment with your children is, and how few there really are when you add them all up.

We created the boogeyman and monsters under the bed and in the deep woods to keep children in line, and perhaps Someone greater than us gives us the VUTT for the very same reason.

We're scared. And humbled. And excited. And blessed.

And thankful to everyone who's dealt with the VUTT or Twins or blended families or parenting before us. And thankful for the love and support we've already been shown. As Son #1 said about Honeybun and me getting married, "My family is getting bigger with love!"

Amen, kid. Amen.

Two Guys, One Year: How I Became a Podcaster

2guys1podicon Hi. My name is Joel, and I'm a podcaster.

This wasn't always the case, of course. Once, I was just a legitimate radio personality. Sure, I'd dabbled in blogging once in awhile and was an avid Tweeter, but those are harmless.

Of course, I listened to podcasts. But still, what's wrong with listening. It's not like I was one of them.

But then one day I read this from Adam Wilcox and I thought, "Why not? Why aren't I one of them? Why don't I have a show?"

For a long time, the reason was that I didn't have a co-host. It's awfully hard to jump off into the ether if you're the only one jumping. Then I found the Other Guy. He's genuinely funny, quick witted, good-natured and just asshole enough to think he deserves to have other people listen to him talk about nonsense. We'd been friends for a while, and more than once I'd said I wish we were recording our conversations for other people to enjoy or at least for us to remember later. Then one day I sent him a text:

One Guy: We should record a podcast. We'll call it "Two Guys, One Podcast." and we'll intro it like this. 'I'm one guy', 'I'm the other', 'and this is the podcast.'

Other Guy: Ok then.

It was four days before we did record, and in that time, we had discussed a few ideas for things to talk about on the show, but mostly, we opened the mic and talked to each other, just like we did in our living rooms. I was so excited about that first show I edited it that night, then shared it with the Other Guy, his wife and Honeybun.

They liked it, surprisingly. I had such a good time with the whole thing, I talked Other Guy into recording a second episode the next day and from there, we were off and running. By the fourth episode we'd added a theme song from Professor Shyguy (I hate you, Brandt Cooley), the featured outro song, and started using bits from the show as our "intro". We had become a show. Other Guy was fully on board by this time too. He started pitching segments or bits, doing research on his own and sending me link after link of funny news stories to discuss. "Two Guys, One Podcast." was a real thing.

We stuck with a "home-rolled" podcast for the first nine weeks, using a combination of Dropbox, Feedburner and Tumblr to host and syndicate, but it was pretty complicated for me, and not nearly as user-friendly as we wanted to be. There are lots of podcast listeners, but we had lots of potential interest from people who'd never heard a podcast before. We needed to make it easy for it to be any good to people.

That's when I found Libsyn. They were (unbeknownst to me) the premier podcast hosting service in the world, with some of the most popular and listened-to shows on the web using their services. Libsyn is the service that Kevin Smith and Marc Maron and Adam Carolla and everyone else uses. Of course my show needed to be there too (humility is a great trait, but it doesn't help get Big Things started)!

It's a small financial commitment for us every month, one that is very unlikely to be recouped in the near term by advertisement or affiliate sales (buy something from Amazon through our links, won't you?). But the cost is nothing when considering the good times Other Guy and I (and our growing cast of characters) have spent together over the last year in that studio. The cost is nothing when considering how much fun it'll be to have this window into my younger days when I'm old and grey. The cost is nothing when considering that I get to share my friendship and our good times with the world.

It's a pretty cheap hobby to start with, but it's given me more than my money's worth in positive life experiences already. For those of you that are already Poddies, thank you. If you think a little funny is exactly what your ear has needed, please feel free to insert this into it.

Two Guys, One Podcast.

If you keep listening, we'll keep recording. Well, truthfully, we'll probably record whether you listen or not. It'll just be more fun if you're along for the ride. It's been exactly a year today since that first episode was released into the public. We're celebrating our birthday/anniversary whatever with a "Best of" episode to be released Wednesday at noon. I'll add the link here once it's up.

We've learned a lot in this last year. I can't wait to see where we are a year from now, when I'm putting the finishing touches on the "Best of Season 2"!2G1P-Actual Guys

Handsome and Beautiful: A Modern American Love Story

There's this girl I've been sweet on for a while now. Maybe you've read about her before?It took me a long while to realize exactly what I had in my life with Beautiful. I tried, for a long time, to chase her off. But she stuck with me through thick and thin and with enough time, I realized she was the love of my life. Once that came through, I had to make her my wife.

Before we could do that, she wanted to go where no other girlfriend have ever been with me...the recording studio.

I have a weekly comedy podcast with my best buddy called, Two Guys, One Podcast. This week, I sent my cohost packing and spent the evening with the woman I'm gonna spend the rest of my life with.

I'll give you some disclaimers. Our show is generally explicit. We use foul language and make dirty jokes and that's not for everyone, I understand. Honeybun and I don't exactly put any sailors to shame, but we do use a few "dirty" words and talk openly and honestly about our relationship. Its ups, its downs and its surprising present location.

I'm biased, of course, but I don't think I'm blowing smoke when I say it's a funny, engaging, interesting glimpse into just what its title suggests, "A Modern American Love Story"

So, for your approval and consideration, your entertainment and edification, but mostly because I'm madly in love with this woman and I want everyone to know about it

Episode 46: A Modern American Love Story

It's a bit of a spoiler, but I know the language will put some of you off listening, so here's a little incentive. Starting at about the 1 hour mark, we tell the story of our proposal, and then announce a surprise. Check that out (with VERY few dirty words) if you just want the big story without all the muss!

For every one that was a part of our meeting, dating, engagement or the WEDDING this weekend (that's the surprise in the podcast, you spoil-sport) a big huge 'Thank you!' from One Guy and Honeybun, Handsome and Beautiful, Joel and Kelly.

From My Blog April 19, 2012: Goodbye to Google

Is-Google-still-worth-our-love-or-has-it-become-another-selfish-corporationOne year ago today, I gave up Google.Well, sorta.

It’ll take me a year or so to be able to turn the spigot off completely. I continue to use Google Reader, but only as a backend syncing solution for my RSS reader apps.

A year later, I still haven't "turned off the spigot" on the gmail account. I just get everything forwarded (once it's passed through a rigorous series of spam filters) to my actual @me.com email address. And I use the @me exclusively for sending emails. With consistent and sustained use, you'd be amazed how many people will eventually start sending mail to the correct address.

Of course, Google Reader was just given it's invitation to the big retirement farm upstate for all of Google's less desirable projects. So, I am now being forced by Google to abandon the last of their services that I actually love.

Of course, in the year since I gave up Google, there was a little hiccup with Apple Maps, and eventually a Google Maps alternative in the App store. I've downloaded it in case Apple Maps ever steers me wrong (bad pun alert) but so far, I like Apple maps better and it's been perfectly accurate so far. There is one dramatic gesture I made a year ago which I haven't lived up to.

My dissatisfaction as a consumer is so thorough that I’ve even switched my default search engines to Bing. That’s right, I’ve chosen Microsoft over Google.

That didn't hold up. Bing is fine, frankly, but I do a tremendous amount of image searching and I can find what I want faster and easier with Google than with Bing every time. Google+ integration or no.

I understand that I am not everyone. User experiences may vary, as they say. But I'm happy with the decision I made then. Here's to another year with even less Google.

Stylin' and Profilin' With Papaw

Today is my grandfather's birthday. He's my only living grandfather and one of my favorite people on Earth.Edgar & Odell

He's worked hard at hard work his entire life. He is precisely the kind of man that you think of when you think of the Greatest Generation (although his age left him in between major wars and he never served in the military).

He had minimal education, but he had a strong back and a strong will and charm and a sense of mischief that makes a lifetime of labor bearable. He found himself a beautiful girl with a will as strong as his own and they raised a family together. My aunt first, then my mom a decade later. The family grew, one grandson, then a couple then a granddaughter, now a handful of great-grandchildren to join the ranks of the people who owe Papaw and Nana everything.

This birthday, Papaw is recuperating from open-heart surgery. He had two bypasses and a repair to a heart valve just a week ago. In their mid-80's not a lot of patients would have been good candidates for such extensive surgery, but Papaw is still as strong as an ox, and the doctors saw it too. So, they cracked him open, repaired what had worn out and sewed him back up. The road to recovery is a long one, and time eventually wins every battle it fights, but Papaw is on the mend and headed back to health now.

To recognize his birthday I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite Papaw stories.

He's not exactly sure which birthday this is. - The state believes my grandfather is 86 years old today. My grandfather contends that he is actually 87. It turns out Louisiana in the 1920's was pretty loose and free with record keeping and lots of birth certificates were filed years late if at all. I guess it matters very little in the grand scheme of things, but the novelty of a possibly of an incorrect birthdate has always tickled me.

Dirty songs and jokes are exactly what Grandpa's are for. - My family (both sides) is and has always been devoutly religious. They're good Christian folks, no boozin' or carousin' and as little cussin' as we can manage muddling through life as frustrating as it can at times. Papaw was all that too, but he has a mischievous streak a mile wide and it was that side of him that taught me silly little songs and jokes that thrilled me as a kid, it was a glimpse that the rules didn't always hold and that bending them (with the right company) was a hell of a good time. My favorite? An army style chant, "I don't know, but I've been told, a catfish has a round asshole!" I can't wait until I have grandsons of my own to teach dirty jokes their mother will hate.

He taught me about the Squared-Circle and the Sweet Science. - Papaw loves boxing. Not the shell of a sport that exist today in the shadow of MMA, but the thriving, thrilling sport that was at the center of pop culture for a lot of the 20th century. He's seen bare-knuckled fights and Championship bouts in person and countless matches through screens at his home or friends' homes as he followed his favorite fighters. Boxing (at least heavyweight boxing) fell apart when I was still young, but I remember going with Dad and Papaw to rented PPV's or HBO specials with a room full of old men, harrumphing and cheering the "sweet science". He also loved the old NWA wrestling and took me to my first matches as a kid. We stood and cheered for Sting and Ricky Steamboat and booed and hissed as Ric Flair and Big Van Vader walked by. I don't follow the world of wrestling anymore, but it was a mainstay of my youth and the hours spent in front of the TV and in arenas with Papaw are some of my fondest memories.

Happy birthday, Papaw. I know you'd rather spend it in front of your TV or at the ballpark or probably anywhere but the hospital room. We're just glad you're spending it with us. Here's to dirty jokes and dirty wrestlers and dirt under your nails. Here's to you and here's to many more birthdays, even if we don't know exactly how many there have actually been.

From My Blog March 25, 2007: An Awfully Shaky Sword

From My Blog March 25, 2007

Swordplay (particularly the pre-choreographed, stage and screen kind) relies on confidence. Right now, I am not very confident with my swordplay. It’s been a long time (somewhere around four years) since I’ve even picked up a sword. I’m clumsy, a little skittish, and probably pretty dangerous to be around (but not in the cool deadly way, just in the I might accidentally put your eye out way).

Can't believe it's been this long since I was in Zorro. I was in Fiddler on the Roof in the spring of 2010 and in a fight show in the winter of 2011. It's been a while since I've tread the boards. Maybe it's time to start looking for a project.

Also, six years ago, MySpace was still a thing that people used. That's weird, right?

From My Blog: March 19, 2008 "Five Years in Iraq: One Idiot's Selfish Opinion"

5 years ago today, I wrote about my thoughts on the 5th Anniversary of the Iraq war.I was embarrassed a bit to read this post. I was SO much more conservative 5 years ago, it's hard to read it as the same person. In reality I wasn't nearly as conservative as I thought I was, I'd just never been forced to face my real feelings on most of the political questions of the day.

Here's the beginning of my swing from conservatism and much like Ohio Senator Rob Portman, it took a personal cost for me to realize the error of our ways.

As we sat in the grass in front of the Theatre building, my best friend, Richard, told me about his plan to go into the Army and why it was the exact right thing to do.

I had been more than a supporter of the Iraq war (and really everything Bush did internationally) until this sudden, and completely unexpected personal cost was attached to that support. I tried to talk him out of it, but even then I maintained support for the war. It didn't happen overnight, but eventually Richard's involvement caused me to question as the conflict continued.

The point is I’ve been thinking about our Vital National Interests. What is worth the loss of American lives? Historically speaking, the American Revolution was obviously worth the loss of life we sustained. The men who died on those battlefields were ensuring their (and their descendants) ability to make a life for themselves free of the rule of others. The Civil War was worthy two-fold, to preserve the Union created by the Revolutionary War and to end the question of slavery for all time. WWII was fought to rid the world of two terrible regimes (although we left one pretty bad one lying around). But what about Iraq? What are we fighting for now?

It's a fascinating glimpse into me half a decade ago. Selfish little conservative bugger. I love Richard, I'm so proud he served his country and I'm even more glad he made it home alive and in one piece as so many haven't.

This April 20th, Honeybun and I are having an engagement party and shower, but we'll also be celebrating the end of Richard's commitment to the American Armed service.  An exciting milestone for him and his family, and one of relief for me. Selfish little liberal bugger. It was realizing how much I cared about Richard 5 years ago and how much an unjustified military action was costing me and mine that finally made me begin to think about others in a real way. I shamed Rob Portman and the GOP for waiting until it cost them personally to care about Gay rights, or women, or whatever civil rights issue they're completely disregarding tomorrow. But I was guilty of it too.

The Apartment, with Apologies to Jack Lemmon

This weekend I left my home for the last three years and one of the most formative stages of my life, and if you'd humor me I'm going to wax poetic about a tiny little apartment.In January of 2010, my wife and I separated and moved back to north Louisiana. I needed a place I was comfortable with and I needed it fast. I knew two apartment complexes that I'd lived in previously and was happy with. I tried the first and found an available unit. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, pool and laundromat accessible. Within spitting distance of my office. It was kind of perfect.

My sister and I lived in this apartment complex previously for one year, her Freshman year. She found the place while I was off summer-theatreing and couldn't be bothered with things like "living arrangements" or "moving my own stuff". She had picked it for the pool, the fact that a few of her friends from high school had moved in next door, and it's nearness to campus. I loved it for the walls and the windows and the weird back alley off my bedroom. It fit me, for lack of a better description. I was heartbroken a year later when (while I was off summer theatreing again) Sister decided that we should (with an assist from mom and dad) buy a mobile home for the duration of our college experience. Again, other friends had done this, saved money on rent and then got most if not all of their money back by selling or renting it after their graduation.

I should note here that that is pretty much exactly how it played out. I moved out of the mobile home after just one year (I got married) but Sis lived there until she had degree in hand, job in waiting and a new place in a new city, at which point mom and dad pretty much broke even on the deal. Kudos to the businesswoman.

But I missed the apartment.

So, years later when the need to find a space for single (and single-dad) Joel arose, why wouldn't I check back in on it? I didn't get the same unit, I got it's mirror. The back left corner instead of the front right. But it's familiarity was amazing, and stabilizing in retrospect. Having known people who've gone through a divorce then having my own experience to compare with, I'd say we had it easier than most. But that wouldn't be to say that we had it easy. Divorce is hell. And divorce with children (as long as both parents actually love the children) is a particularly low ring of hell.

The apartment (even though it was host to a series of fights in the early months of the separation) was a refuge from that hell. It was my own personal traveling regeneration chamber. It's where I rebuilt Joel from the ground up. Not without help, of course, but since we're talking about the apartment, I want to focus on its contributions.

I figured out how to be a Daddy in this apartment. I say figured it out, because as anyone who's actually become one will tell you, it's not natural and there is no instruction manual (not that we'd read it if there was). I've always loved my children, but I've not always known what to do with that love. How to show it properly (other than just holding them, which I've always been pretty good at) or how to care for them, which is the primary responsibility and purpose outlined in the Dad job description.

I found my adult self in the apartment. There was a Joel that existed in puberty, one in college, one in early married life and then there was a long period of grey. I'm sure I'm not the only one who sees his life as a series of roles. Just as a movie would cast multiple actors throughout a biopic, real people evolve over time. The adult Joel is less sure of himself than early married Joel or college Joel. He's stronger and in better shape than both of them too, so He's pretty sure He'd kick their asses. He found that strength in the apartment. He re-found his religion there too, though He hasn't found (and isn't necessarily looking) for a church. The apartment reminded him that we ARE the Church.

I also found my heart in the apartment. Maybe for the first time. First I mean for other people. college Joel and early married Joel were pretty conservative. "Personal responsibility" and "personal liberty" were my two favorite political catchphrases. The apartment (and the people, ideas and situations I encountered there) helped bring "global community", "marriage equality", "societal good", and above all "Love" to the top of my vocabulary and mind. I've said before, college me would think adult me is a Commie Pinko, but college me was kind of an ass, so I don't mind so much.

Secondly I found my heart for one person, my Beautiful. I was convinced when I moved back in to the apartment that I'd never marry again. After a year there, I was convinced I'd always alone (once the kids were out of the house). But after two years there, I was pretty well convinced that I couldn't live without this amazing woman. She's been as sad to see the apartment go as I have. It brought the two of us together in some ways and all of our "firsts" were there. But a regeneration chamber isn't for permanent occupation. The Houses of Healing aren't retirement homes. The apartment was about getting me ready for what's next.

A podcast. About a dozen websites. Station revamps. Job changes. Another podcast. A new car. Multiple good and terrible girl "friends". One girlfriend. One fiancé. One great new life. That's the short list of things that the apartment helped see me through. All that, with a great landlord to boot, who even during the move has been gracious and friendly and supportive. More like an uncle with some property than the rest of my landlord experiences.

I'll miss the hell out of the place, if for no other reason than it helped me find my way through hell. Thanks and farewell, my friend, may you serve the next traveller as well as you did me.

The Basis for My Shift From Conservatism

I've been trying to put my finger on exactly what it was that triggered my shift from a fairly strong conservative political mindset to, what I'm finding to be, a pretty liberal one now.And it comes down to this:

Based on my knowledge of the world, its history, its peoples, its current climate, I see no way forward for mankind except together.

So necessary are other people in my view of the equation, that I'll gladly sacrifice a portion of my own and, yes, even a portion of my descendants' so that those less fortunate could stand closer to equal footing.

I can't fix this imbalance on my own, so I am for sane government policy that helps us spread the burden.

And yes, 20 year old Joel would have said that's Communism. 30 year old Joel says it's common sense.

Old Friends

Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks spend 3-5 hours together almost every night. Generally at Carl's house. Often watching television. Always laughing and talking.I know that because they both talked about it with Marc Maron on his great podcast "WTF with Marc Maron" which is really becoming a beautiful history of comedy.

It was just one little anecdote among dozens in two conversations with some of the funniest men alive. But it got me thinking about friendship and how lucky I am to have men that I can see myself still visiting and enjoying time with decades into our old age.

Romance is mysterious, but it is also involved in the propagation of our species and therefore has been discussed and dissected by pretty much every writer that ever picked up a pen. The bromance on the other hand is a more recent topic of discussion and contemplation and one that I think is still misunderstood and undervalued by our society at large.

The emotional toll for modern masculinity is high. In a world where the historical errors and misdeeds of the Male gender are so openly on display and constantly examined in relation to our modern existence, it's hard being a guy. Particularly one that is excited to see an end to the Male dominated culture, but also very fond of being a dude.

That's where the bromance is so important. Two (or more if you're so fortunate) like minded men can keep each other sane in the battle to be manly but not a Neanderthal. To live in a multicultural, gender-equal world but still like to blow stuff up and burp once in a while.

I've got several such friendships. But three that I'm likely to take with me as long as Carl and Mel have carried theirs.

The first is my banker and my big idea buddy. He's been engaged and unengaged, I've been married, divorced and engaged again and we're still together. If I'm ever to hit on a hot stock, it'll likely be from his recommendation.

Next is the godfather of my children, Son #1's namesake and the future head Imagineer of my personal theme park. Through deployment and divorce and a total of four births, we're still spending Saturday afternoons discussing what the word will be like when we run it. And dreaming of ways to take it over.

Last is my Other Guy. My partner in the endeavor that is "Two Guys, One Podcast." He's my good-timing buddy, my co-host, my co-pilot and my comrade, and I can't believe that 3 years ago we weren't even friends.

My life is immeasurably better because of these three guys. Maybe you don't have three, or maybe you're lucky enough to have dozens. Regardless, gentlemen, tell your friends you're thankful for them. If it's been a while since you've seen them, make plans. And hang onto those friendships as time passes.

The luckiest of us will have a Mel to our Carl to chuckle through the evenings with in our old age.

The Beginning with Beautiful

Today isn’t that special a day to most of you. And honestly, it had never been that special to me. There isn’t a national holiday or even a bank holiday. There’s no big game or special parade. No giant sales and not even any free samples that I’ve seen.But today is the anniversary of the day I pulled my head out of my nether regions and noticed that I’d met the love of my life. I call her “Beautiful” when I’m saying goodnight, “Honeybun” when I’m talking about her on the podcast, but I just call her Kelly most of the time.

We met on Cinco de Mayo, two years ago. She was fun and funny and fit in with my friends, but I was a confirmed bachelor and I would have none of that relationship nonsense.

Turns out, Kelly is a lot like her native New Orleans. If you find you like the city, you may realize you love the city. And if you love it, it’s hard to live without it. That all goes doubly for my Beautiful.

So, on the anniversary of the day I finally asked her to be my girlfriend, I say thank you, Kelly. For being patient, when I was being petulant. For being strong when I’m silly and being silly when I’m sad.

Thanks for taking me on with my flaws and my fantasies and my two kids, who are not feather-weights themselves when it comes to neediness.

Most of all, thanks for agreeing to start this whole thing with me. When both of us have been here and failed before. When either of us would be forgiven for coiling up and forgetting about that relationship nonsense. When lots of people would tell you you’ve got better options with less baggage than I.

Thanks for being my girlfriend. And becoming my roommate. And my Love. And my Honeybun. But most of all, thanks for being my Beautiful.