VBR #10: 'It Was Probably Misplaced Enthusiasm', with guest @anamericangod

A lot of the folks on this show have been people I've never spoken to in person before. Joe is one I've only seen a single photo of. He's sort of an enigma, that @anamericangod. Intentionally ambiguous about his identity online, but very open about his emotional state. I've followed him for a few years now and taken solice in some of the more thoughtful tweets on his timeline and laughed outwardly at many more. It was interesting to get Joe on the line and hear his voice and get to know him outside of the 140 character limit.

Joe is the founder of American Dream Records, an independent record label that put out vinyl releases from some pretty amazing bands in the early 2010s. Since then, he's amassed an impressive and growing Twitter following as @anamericangod. Nostalgia swings it's mighty fist as we talk about the old days of music discovery and early Internet hangouts for music lovers. Then we talk Twitter, a lot of Twitter.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

Frank Ocean's 'Endless' Visual Album Arrives

Apple Music

It's been a long wait, but the time has come. Frank Ocean has released a visual album, Endless, on Apple Music. Watch it here. Thank you Frank.

It's going to take a few days to absorb this, but so far so great.

Tracklist:

  1. Device Control (written by Wolfgang Tillmans)
  2. At Your Best (You Are Love) (The Isley Brothers Cover)
  3. Alabama
  4. Mine
  5. U-N-I-T-Y
  6. Ambience 001: “In a Certain Way”
  7. Commes Des Garcons
  8. Ambience 002: “Honeybaby”
  9. Wither
  10. Hublots
  11. In Here Somewhere
  12. Slide on Me
  13. Sideways
  14. Florida
  15. Deathwish (ASR)
  16. Rushes
  17. Rushes T
  18. Higgs

Rolling Stone seems to believe Endless is a seperate project from Boys Don't Cry which has yet to appear online and may have been renamed as well. It's worth noting that in the credits of the Endless video, after numerous Endless logos, a Blonde/Boys Don't Cry logo appears as well.

STT #02: Chapter Two: 'The Weirdo on Maple Street'

James and I are back to our respective states after his wedding (which was really fun). That means we can continue watching Stranger Things! Naturally, James' recording laptop took a bath before recording so we're working with Skype audio until he gets it fixed, but we just couldn't wait any longer. Enjoy!

Jacob and James dive into episode two where the search for Will Byers truly begins.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

VBR #09: 'A Place For Us To Write Freely', with guest Brian Leak

After months of following up with the poor guy, I got Brian "Lion" Leak on the show with me. Initially, when this thing was going to promote Under The Gun and its writers, Brian would have been my co-host. It's wild how quickly things changed. Now Brian has jumped over to Substream to take over editing duties across the board. I've read through his first issue and it's quite good. I'm very impressed and eager to see how the rag changes moving forward.

This episode, like just about every one so far, had some issues with the recording process. First, Brian got ridiculously sick, but stuck to his commitment to record. What a saint! Second, it was lawn care day at his apartment complex, so there's a super brief intermission in there. Then there's the product of his feverish delusions that tacked a few additional hours (over several days) in the editing process: he forgot to put on headphones.

It's not a huge deal. It's only noticeable when either of us "crosstalk", but whatever. Like I've said before, I've got to learn to roll with it everyone's set up and access to equipment is different. I still think this one came out better than most skype-centered programs. Pre-recording reminders is something I'm working on in my efforts to ever improve the quality of the show. Hope you dig it.

When this thing started as an Under The Gun branded show, Brian Leak (aka The Lion) was initially supposed to be my cohost. Alas, a change in career led him to Substream Magazine where he is now Editor In Chief. A week removed from dropping his first issue there, we discuss how starting at a local rag evolved into a career.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals on Tiny Desk

Yes Lawd! Those who listen to the podcast will know that I greatly love two things, Tiny Desk Concerts and Anderson .Paak. Today, those things collide and it's a wonderful thing.

I normally listen to the audio podcast for Bob Boilen's concert series, but I made it a point to find the video for today's show. It takes the "full scope" so to speak to fully enjoy Anderson .Paak's energy.

Set List:

  1. "Come Down"
  2. "Heart Don't Stand A Chance"
  3. "Put Me Thru"
  4. "Suede"

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

image.jpg

When I was in the first grade, I read both Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber Of Secrets. By the time I reached the third grade, I had mastered the existing four books multiple times.[1]

This pattern continued until the series came to a devastating end in 2007. I would read through the books that had been released thus far in constant anticipation of the next one. J. K. Rowling was good like that. She penned seven books that left me wanting more every time I closed the back cover. The audiobooks did that for me too. Since I didn’t have to do the reading myself, Jim Dale’s performance of the Harry Potter series opened my mind to further exploration of the world Rowling created. To this day, no book series has quite captured my attention like that of Harry Potter and I expect none ever will; Harry’s is a wonderful and nearly perfect story that I enjoy still—frequently.

I’ll admit. My anticipation for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child wasn’t nearly as exaggerated as the books that preceded it. I love it when a good thing ends. When it does, it remains good. At least, history is more kind to an aging franchise than one with an unsolicited sequel—which I find this particular play to be. To be fair, the “8th book” in the Harry Potter series is a published Jack Thorne script used by the West End production of a play of the same name. That play debuted the day before the script’s release and I’ve yet to see it. Obviously, I’d love to. I tend to appreciate Harry Potter stories in all mediums. [2] Until then, however, I could hardly wait to dig into this new story—wary, I may be.

The play reads like a play. Not simply in the structure of the script or that dialogue and scene are expressed in their own lines, but that the dialogue itself is very much written to be spoken aloud. For those like me that read fiction visually—conjuring images in their mind about what is happening as they read—they too may find it difficult to place this one in their mind’s theater. I found it more enjoyable to place it on its own stage, with its own cast of stage actors playing their parts.

The story is short; just 308 pages. That’s less than books three through seven. If you took a word count, I’d reckon it’s significantly lower than books one and two as well. Overall, it’s an easy read which most could probably finish in one or perhaps two short evening sittings. The brevity may make for an enjoyable night in the theater, but left me wanting in the comfort of my bed. The want would make for a positive feeling two days removed from finishing it if it were that I wanted more like all of Rowling’s books before it. The issue with this one is that I wanted less.

In its essence, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a next generation tale which follows Harry’s middle child, Albus Severus Potter. Although the setting of the first scene is nearly beat-for-beat the same as the epilogue of the last in book seven, it’s made clear from the start that Albus is going to have a rough road ahead. He’s likable to small degree, but only through pity. His story is perhaps relatable to many, but to me it seems that his apparent differences from his famed father would drive every action from start to finish. To be clearer, Albus’ obvious dissimilarity to Harry in terms of skill and popularity are allowed to take control of every aspect of his life. In this, he makes friends with the only boy on the Hogwarts Express that could possibly sympathize with being cast, Scorpius Malfoy—son of Draco Malfoy.

Scorpius had a fairly interesting, if not comic book twist of a story. By the books, his parentage follows the Malfoy line of pure blood. His mother, Astoria Malfoy (née Greengrass) is ill from the start and passes within a number of pages. This is less a motivator for the boy than it is the husband. Draco has been working hard to “make good” since the Battle of Hogwarts, but fate continues to push him down the path of tragedy. Once she’s gone, all that remains the remains of his family wealth and his son—a boy the wizarding world rumors is actually the son of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Lord Voldemort himself.

As the years roll on, the relationship between Harry and his son are strained. We hear almost nothing about his other children, nor of Teddy Lupin. In fact, apart from passing mentions of Professor Neville Longbottom and a few brief appearances by Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore, there are few of the original Harry Potter cast to catch up to.[3] Naturally Ron, Hermione, Draco, and Ginny play their parts, but that nearly the whole of the reunion party.

As Albus and Scorpius take off on their misguided adventure through time to save Cedric Diggory, events are altered in ways that completely change the reality of the present we’re first introduced to. I think perhaps this would be interesting if the world had been drawn out over the course of several lengthy chapters. Had more characters been explored and the state of the wizarding world in the aftermath of Voldemort’s near-rise to power explained, the changes made in the boys’ efforts to “save the spare” would have been more compelling. Alas, the nineteen years since Dumbledore’s Army saved the day have apparently delivered little to be accounted for and due to that lack of detail, the resulting changes in the course of their lives in each level of their meddling are just as interesting—if not more so.

Millions of copies will fly off Barnes & Noble bookshelves this year as Harry Potter fans the world over hand fists of cash to find out “what happens next.” What they’ll get is less than riveting and adds so little to the wonder of the world Rowling built that I can’t help but feel disappointed. I think there are lessons to be taken from the seven books that make up Harry’s primary story. Lessons in life, loss, and love primarily. The Cursed Child has bits and pieces of all three, but one clear statement resounds most loudly: be good to your dad. And hey, that’s fine. Dads deserve a son’s love and sons too deserve loving dads. The way the script reads is sweet and has emotional moments, even some fun and lighthearted ones that briefly reveal the magic of J. K. Rowling’s fantasy world. Beyond those small glimpses of nostalgic bliss, sadly, this story lacks depth and ends with a twist that seems more Hollywood sequel than thoughtful addition.

I so wanted to return to Hogwarts and learn more about Harry’s kids. I wanted to feel invested in their adventures within the castle walls as I did with their parents. Sadly, I just don’t think it is possible. To replicate the feeling a reader has means more than familiar locations and references to prior work. The story of Harry Potter was magical because it had seven books to breathe. 3,407 pages full of adventures, mishaps, and incantations. Perhaps this story will find such air on stage. The show’s first preview had a run time of two hours and forty-five minutes. In that time I expect the characters could sell the story with personality that reads better in person than a book. I hope so. I think the story is fine, albeit contrived, and will be better received in person.

I can’t recommend Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but I understand it. I can even tolerate it. What I can’t do is add an 8th book to my occasional Harry Potter marathon.[4] As readers and consumers of media we have the privilege of maintaining levels of personal head canon—what we perceive as true events where holes in the story exist. Having read this, aspects of my own have been altered forever. As a purist, I have to respect what was published as fact. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m committed to and anticipate more of this particular branch of the tale. Both The Cursed Child and my love for the series can live in tandem. They will sit on the shelf side-by-side, but they are not equal in the way that many sequels are not. They are simply there.


  1. Yes, I read at a 6th grade reading level in my first years of primary school. Thanks very much to my parents and some old stuffy copies of Tolkien’s works I inherited early on.  ↩

  2. Save for Stephen Fry’s taped readings of the books. Though I love most everything about the man, those are rubbish.  ↩

  3. The Hogwarts Express trolley witch was given more background than anyone else we’ve previously heard of.  ↩

  4. This should be easy enough, considering they are not doing an audiobook for this one. That’s how I prefer to reabsorb the books anyway.  ↩

VBR #08: 'It's Just A Lot Of Teenager S**t', with guest Mark Garza

I started this music writing thing "officially" in January of 2011. I was a senior in high school at the time. Mark Garza, founder and owner of Funeral Sounds (a record label and online publishing company), Label Manager at Broken World Media, and occasional PR/Freelancer has just graduated. In comparison, I didn't do a damn thing worth a damn before graduating. That means Mark is probably superhuman, but that doesn't mean they can withstand the burnout and jaded feelings that can often come when you've explored so much so fast. I've been there and I knew they must be feeling it, so I probed him about it.

The result is a two hour conversation surrounding Mark's career so far, his future potential, and the mindset that sits somwhere in between. Mark truly impresses me in a way that most their age haven't. This episode is good for teens and young adults that are trying to find their way in this industry as well as the older folks that want to feel worthless.

Everything is not bad, Mark. Just James Cassar.

Mark Garza graces us with his presence to discuss what it's like being 18 with a 3 year old record label. Mark is starting college this year and already feels jaded, so Jake tries to help him through. This is a must-listen for young music industry professionals.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

VBR #07: 'I'm Giving You A Hard Maybe', with guest Joshua Hammond

Joshy boy, joshy boy, cast me a pod.

My good pal and longtime friend calls in to talk Americana, a mature genre of music that truly speaks to him, but we eventually start talking about My Chemical Romance and All Time Low. Typical.

Josh is a unique and wonderful human. I sat on two panels with the guy at SXSW last year and gushed over Julien Baker with him after both. My dude recently switched PR firms in NYC, so we talk about that and his initial move to the Big Apple. Oh yea, and that time Josh completely shit on a band in a review I assigned him because of a bad day. GOOD times.

Joshua Hammond is a blogger turned publicist that's been writing around the Midwest for about a decade. After a while, he switched ends of the email chain and picked up publicity, which moved him from Kansas to The Big Apple. We discuss everything from the start of his career at Popwreckoning to today, as a publicist at Press Here.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

Bantha Fodder #11: I Am An Awful, Terrible Nerd

We're back! After a short hiatus imposed by our increasingly busy podcasting schedules and the sheer length of time it took to prepare and produce this episode, Mike and I haves something really special for you.

We've had collecting on our topic list since we started this thing and we wanted to talk about it with an interesting angle. Further, we've been playing with the format just to show our range. Well, for Mike to boost his portfolio. Mr. Fancy Pants landed a gig as the East Coast Editor for Headgum! Anyway, this one is more in line with what you'd hear on Radiolab or an NPR program. Listen through the first half of the show and you'll see what I mean.

The both of us talk heavily about our childhoods and our collections. Things got sort of deep in certain moments in a way that can only occur when you're discussing the toys and methods of play that made the foundation for such a time.

In the eleventh episode of Bantha Fodder, Mike and Jacob discuss collecting, a phenomenon that goes hand in hand with the pervasiveness of the Star Wars franchise. Mike and Jacob have very different perspective on things, so Mike brings in a friend to balance it all out and provide a unique look into a New York City collector that has a big collection, but a tiny place.

Find the show on Twitter and at banthafodder.fm.

STT #01: Chapter One: 'The Vanishing Of Will Byers'

I've got the podcasting bug and a lot of ideas. As a result, I wanted to try a pop culture show centered around one specific television program called Stranger Things. Netflix has been crushing it with the exclusives all year and this is no exception.

My friend and colleague James Shotwell are digging into the show epsiode by episode to find the nuances in the plot and inspiration behind the hit show. If you've watched through all of Stranger Things, or you're making your way through it now, subscribe to the show! We set up a Twitter account as well so that you can share your theories. Just don't spoil anything beyond our latest episode, please!

James and his fiancée are getting married next week and I'm in the ceremony, so it's quite possible we won't have another episode out for a little while. Still, we wanted to get this thing off the ground while the show is hot. We hope you enjoy!

Jacob and James crack open episode one and get to know the people of Hawkins.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

VBR #06: 'Don't Start The Night Before', with guest Michele Stephens

Yea, I uploaded this one roughly 12 hours late, but it's still Monday so guess what? It counts.

Some scheduling conflicts two weeks back—as well as some heat-induced illness this weekend—ended up affording me the buffer time I had made for myself, but it's fine. Also yes, Two Hearted played it's part in the aforementioned illness that left me bedridden for a 12 hour spell post-canoe trip. I digress...

This marks the first episode I had to record fully from my end. Typically, that would bother me to no end, but I've come to terms with the fact that I will undoubtedly have to contend with recording limitations on the guest end if I continue on with the project at the pace that I've been going thus far. It's simply not realistic to expect every guest to have the means or know-how to record locally. This isn't WTF and I'm okay with that.

P.S. Almost immediately after publishing this evening, Maria Gironas (guest on episode 3) made me aware that some of my automation on the theme song track was screwy at the beginning. At this point, my Macbook decides the 90°+ in my office is no longer bearable and locks up before I can bounce a fix. Fun! Thank you for looking out, Maria.

Our good friend Michele Stephens swings through to chat about tour PR, the lifeblood of her career in music. As a tour publicity pro at Epitaph Records, she lends her expertise and drops some hints about what not to do when trying to cover the alternative music scene's biggest roaming festival, Warped Tour. Naturally there is some talk about Troye Sivan, My Chemical Romance, and Cute Is What We Aim For to be had, for Michele is a pop lover through and through.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

VBR #05: 'Live In The Chinese Factory', with guest Ian Kenny

After years of jamming his music in my car to and from school, I finally got the opportunity to talk to Ian Kenny of King Neptune. Ian spilled all the juicy deets on the fate of NGHBRS and revealed what he's been up to since the project went quiet. He promised me that this was an exclusive, so there you go. I'm a reporter again. How about that?

This is my first artist interview for the show, but really it was just a fun conversation between two dudes with mutual admiration.

*blushes*

We had some Skype issues halfway in, which I considered leaving in for those that enjoy two people saying things such as "hello" or "can you hear me?" for minutes on end. The Survey Monkey market research I conducted following the recording revealed that number to be few. Enjoy a prolonged, yet condensed chat with Ian Kenny.

It only took five episodes of this thing to land a juicy exclusive. Jake talks to Ian Kenny of King Neptune about what exactly happened to NGHBRS, the project he’s been known for leading into this new project.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

VBR #04: 'I'm Probably Going To Be Honored Forever', with guest Connor Feimster

A few years ago, a photographer on my Facebook feed was asking for the names and contact information for graphic designers that could make him a logo for his photography business. Swept up in a gust of inspiration, I mocked one up for him and he bought the design from me. Despite paying me in full for the work, he still gives me rights to his photos whenever I ask him for permission to do so. Connor Feimster is nice like that. I've followed and admired Connor's work for years, so it's only natural that I grill him about everything he's about on the show.

There were a few audio hiccups with Connor's recording about 2/3 of the way through. I did my best to level them out, but it's still going to sound funny. My apologies. Through those glitches, I hope you will enjoy what I considered an imeasurably pleasant chat between Connor and I.

Connor Feimster calls the Variable Bitrate hotline to banter over the news and his life as a working-class music photographer slash actor slash editor slash tour manager. Turns out Connor is a big Paul Simon fan, and super knowledgeable to the Swan-core scene. Enjoy!

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

PokémonGo: An Overview of The Phenomenon

As a twenty-something in the year of 2016, I've been catching Pokémon for almost my entire life. Never before has it felt as interactive as it does with Pokémon Go, the augmented reality game by The Pokémon Company and Niantic. After a rough few days of server errors and frozen screens, I find the game mostly stable. Enough at least to provide my overall thoughts on the phenomenon that's sweeping the nation.

Starting Out

You have to walk?

It's as if millions of millennials cried out and were suddenly silenced by the main objective of the game, to exercise. For me, exercise is not one of my main concerns. I have an Apple watch with all but the weekly feedback notifications of the health and fitness tracking software disabled. I occasionally play tennis or go for walks with my girlfriend and pup. Apart from those leisurely jaunts around town, getting out much hasn't been a focus of mine. That was until Pokémon Go landed.

I'm lucky to live in a historic part of town. That means there are 15 Pokéstops and 3 gyms within view on my map while sitting on my couch. From what I've gathered by chatting with friends and coworkers, I have a pretty generous supply of Pokéballs cached in interesting locations around my home. Armed with my phone and a battery pack, I've spent roughly 4 hours traveling around my neighborhood that would normally be spent doing anything else. It's working.

Catching Pokémon

Using your map, you'll instantly recognize your neighborhood. Maps sourced from Google are textured with grassy plains, perfect for Pokémon to hide in. Rustling leaves mean there could be a Pokémon hiding out, waiting for you to enter its radius. Once you do, it's on.

The act of catching Pokémon is much different from the Game Boy games of yore. In Pokémon Go, you're expected to take aim and flick a Pokéball at the critter ahead of you. Those who remember a simpler time in iOS gaming will surely recall office-based paper basketball games, a concept that hasn't changed much in the years following. While obstacles in games like that often included desk fans and rolling chairs, Pokémon Go has Pokémon that will jump, flip, or knock away a Pokéball if your timing isn't just right.

The visual AR aspect of the game kicks in once you've engaged a Pokémon in battle. Using your camera, you can move the view around to bring the Pokémon into frame. Personally, I prefer to turn this off. The disorienting nature of the AR view provides an additional challenge when chucking Pokéballs, but since I'm frugal when it comes to in-app purchases (more on my moment of weakness in a moment), I'd rather set myself up to succeed. Turning it off allows me to continue walking to the next PokéStop, rather than stopping in place (which could be dangerous to myself and those around me. I've seen young kids stop short on busy walkways, doorways, and in roads to catch a Pokémon whose name they've never even learned to pronounce.

As the game progresses and you level up, the Pokémon catching aspect of the game gets more involved. Berries become a useful tool in keeping Pokémon around. Depending on the level and species, Pokémon will flee after attempts at capture. A berry here and there will make them stick around for a least a few more tries. The rarer the Pokémon, the more I use. I take no chances at missing the good ones.

One evening, I slipped up. There was a Clefable in the street and I decided that I must have it. After attempting capture with 5 berries and about 20 Pokéballs, I ran out. Against my better judgement I bought 20 more and luckily captured him before I grabbed another batch. The freemium model is very much alive in this game, but completely avoidable with an attention to the levels on your supplies. Know your Pokéstop hotspots, folks!

Leveling Up

The more you play the more you and your Pokémon can level up. Increasing your trainer level will encourage more higher CP level Pokémon to show up around you. Increasing your Pokémon's stats will improve your shot at taking and controlling local gyms. Experience points and candies are the key to success. Here's what you do.

Visit PokéStops and you'll gain experience by stopping at local points of interest and grabbing free potions, revives, berries, Pokéballs and eggs. Winning battles in friendly or opposing gyms will also net you some heavy point hauls. You'll get some for every Pokémon caught, for each medal you earn for catching Pokémon, and for every upgrade and evolution your initiate with candies.

Candies... This is where the game takes its most drastic turn from the Nintendo games I grew up with. Rather than battle experience bolstering the power of your Pokémon, you'll need species specific candies to reach the results you desire. For example, to obtain a Pidgeot, you're going to need to catch a Pidgey or 50. Each Pidgey is essentially worth one Pidgey candy, so to cash that in you'll have to transfer all but one to Professor Willow—a one-way transaction that is necessary to become the best. Once you've traded in a bunch of those flapping little twerps, you can use your candies to evolve the remaining Pidgey into a Pidgeotto and eventually a Pidgeot. This works for every Pokémon with possible evolutions, so good luck with evolving your starter. As rare as starters appear to be in the wild, it's going to take a while.

Gyms

Once you hit level 5, you'll have the opportunity to partake in gym battles. The first thing you'll do is pick a team. There are 3 choices, Instinct (Yellow), Mystic (Blue), and Valor (red). I chose Team Instinct which is not the controlling party in my hood (yet), but is the controlling party at my place of work. This means that I can train at the friendly Yellow gym there to boost my experience. If that gym is taken over by a visiting trainer of an opposing team, I will have to take on the Pokémon left there to restore allegiance to my team. This is the most directly competitive aspect of the game so far. Until the game expands their feature set, this is the only way you have to engage with another player's Pokémon.

Battling has two input commands. Tapping attacks the opposing Pokémon, swiping left or right dodges attacks. It's basic and rather frustrating, but super effective.

The Social Experience

By far, the most interesting aspect of the game is the social one. Walking down familiar streets feels new when met by other trainers out and about with the same goal in mind. Sidewalks that are usually empty in the late evenings when we take the dog for a stroll are now filled with dozens of locals hitting Pokéstops before bed.


Its pretty fun, actually. It's nice to interact with strangers with common interests and it's surreal to interact with things you can't see with the naked eye with others at the same exact time. Running across a mall or neighborhood to nap an Abra together is exhilarating in a way. Playing Pokémon Go is unlike anything else.

What I'd Like to See

The game is far from perfect. In fact, it hasn't even hit a one-point-oh. As a beta, there's a lot left to do. Many bugs to squash, many servers to bolster. However, I'm a forward thinker and I have some ideas that I would love to see used once the time comes.

Trading:
I would love to be able to trade some rare Pokémon I catch on a trip to an oceanic area to friends when I come home. Having that last Drowzee needed to evolve your friends' into a Hypno would add an additional level of comradery that has been a staple to the Pokémon world since 2000.

PvP:
Certainly once trading is available, so will PvP. Battling outside of a gym will provide entertainment to those who live in more remote areas and make the game that much more interactive with players on the street.

Seasonal and Event Pokémon:
There's little doubt in my mind that this is coming. In Pokémon MMO, the frowned upon hack that runs on Gameboy Color-era games with realtime chat and player visibility, there are Pokémon that are only available during certain times of the year or at in-world events. This sort of exclusivity would increase the length of time a player dedicates to the game and also makes for a good marketing ploy. Imagine the headlines every time a rare catch appears at a major sporting event or cultural gathering.

Apple Watch Support:
As cute as the $35 Pokémon Go Plus accessory is, I'd very much like a simple app on the Apple Watch that allows me to simply attempt catches or collect loot from PokéStops without pulling out my phone. If these things were possible, along with accurate distance tracking for egg incubation, I would be willing to subscribe to or purchase a "Pro" version of the app. No dongle, just my existing equipment as an extension of the game.


Overall I'm a big fan of Pokémon Go. The work it's done so far to get kids (and adults) off of their keisters and into nature is staggering. There's a lot of room for potential as the months go on. I'm not sure if I'll be grabbing the Pokémon Go Plus arm band just yet, but I'm dedicated for the time being.

VBR #03: 'An Arms Length Away From Avril Lavigne', with guest Maria Gironas

Three weeks in. It's all happening. Episode 3 has Maria Gironas in the digital chair opposite me. I ask her about her history in PR, Warped Tour, and that Alkaline Trio Blink 182 song. Good times.

I'm actually ahead of schedule with episode 4 recorded and pending an edit. I wanted a little extra time this holiday weekend with my loved ones, so I just got it out of the way. There's been so much to talk about lately that it made sense.

It is round three of the show, and my pal Maria Gironas has joined me to chit the chat. First, we talk about her gigs with various outlets and then dig into her experience in music PR. Tears fall as we mourn the impending loss of Yellowcard and Blink's magic as well. Warped Tour comes up even though we have no idea who is on the tour this year. Grab your liquor of choice, friends and drink up whenever 'Taylor Swift' is said aloud.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

VBR #02: 'The Challenge Of Entertaining People', with guest James Shotwell

Hey, look at that. I've actually set a weekly schedule for this thing. My second guest probably comes as no surprise, being that he's been my on-again-off-again partner in crime for the better part of a decade now. James Shotwell of the Haulix fame (ex- Under The Gun Review, Antique Records, etc.) joins me to talk about a lot of subjects, most notably about the impending demise of Under The Gun, a thing he started and gave me a start with. He also talks about closing down Antique Records and what he's working on with Haulix and the Haulix sponsored podcast, Inside Music. Also music news and some solid recommendations, per usual.

As promised, I have a bunch of great guests lined up for the show and—believe it or not—the next two aren't UTG alumni. gasp I know. Oh, and this is the first anybody has publicly mentioned the current status of UTG. We're not entirely sure what we're doing with the brand just yet, so sit tight on that.

It’s round two of the Variable Bitrate podcast. This time, Jacob is joined by James Shotwell, his former partner at UTG and friend for the ages. The two of them talk about moving on from big projects, James’ new endeavors, why Bayside’s new record could be their best, and some of the week’s biggest news topics.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

VBR #01: 'Why Would You Break The Formula?', with guest Dan Bogosian

Here is the first official episode of Variable Bitrate featuring my hairy friend Dan Bogosian. Dan and I ran through his career so far, some news stories, and a few bands we're digging right now. He also told me a story about his parents doing the dirty, but I cut that from the show for the pure sake of time. Look for that special nugget in a b-side reel in the future.

Editing a podcast can be difficult when you're still working in a new DAW environment. The difficulty grows exponentially when you're on vacation and trying to "relax" properly. I'm pleased with the way this one came out and really looking forward to some feedback. I have a bunch of great guests lined up and I don't want to fudge it up for them, so let me know if something sucked or worse. You can email me your thoughts and praises here.

Speaking of "fudging" things up... I censored Dan's explitives, then decided to take out the beeps right before publishing. I'm not marketing this podcast to kids, so fuck it right?

In episode 1, Jacob is joined by longtime friend Dan Bogosian to chat about his tenure in the music industry and what's going on in the news. Jacob fails to reign in the conversation in time to talk about Radiohead while Dan makes as many Queen Moo references as possible.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

VBR #00: 'There IS Going To Be A Record', with guest John Bazley

Here it is, the pilot episode of my new podcast, Variable Bitrate. It was a lot of fun putting this one together. This was the first podcast I've edited since college and it felt good to get back "behind the boards," so to speak, and make John and I sound intelligent.

I've got a number of episodes planned for the next month or so with some awesome great guests. My goal is to get to know these people and their work as well as the stuff movies and music they dig. This should result in a carousel of varying tastes and personalities, not unlike The Talk Show with John Gruber—for those inclined to more technologically savvy shows.

Enjoy the show and if you'd like to promote your product, service, or creative endeavor to our listeners, please shoot me an email.

In this, the pilot episode of Variable Bitrate, host Jacob Tender is joined by John Bazley (owner of Why Bother Records and writer for Under The Gun Review) to talk about what's currently good in the world of alternative music. Hey, let's give this a shot.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes.

Bantha Fodder #10: 45 Days Later

We hit two digits in the run of our little Star Wars program. It feels good. We have some higher production episodes coming up, so expect some longer droughts in-between.

In the tenth episode of Bantha Fodder, Mike and Jacob dive into the character-rich Aftermath by Chuck Wendig. As they sift through the various plot-lines and interludes of the book, they get down to whether or not this one is worth reading and what could be coming next in the three-part series.

Find the show on Twitter and at banthafodder.fm.

Zane Lowe interviews Chance The Rapper

I love Coloring Book, so much so that I've been bumping nothing but Chance's 3rd mixtape since it dropped. From top to bottom, it's a work of hip-hop perfection with new gospel and club bangers colliding in perfect harmony.

Zane Lowe interviewed Chance for Beats 1. They talked about the record and it's many collaborators as well as Chance's role in The Life Of Pablo. Among the back and forth, Chance played early versions of "Waves", "All We Got", and more. If you're into this record half as much as I am, this serves as a behind the scenes look like you won't get anywhere else.

Oh yea, and Chano confirmed that the Gambino collaborative mixtape is still coming. It's unfinished and on hold while Donald Glover works on his new TV show, but promises it's on the way.

Bonus: The track called "Grown Ass Kid" Chance mentions near the end of the interview can be heard here.