2018: A Year In Review

2018 is over.png

It’s been a really busy year here, but now that it’s come to an end, I’m finding it difficult to recap. 2017 saw less creative output than 2016 and that trend has continued in some ways and completely reversed in others. Let’s break it all down.

Achievement: Make a home for 3 Years

That’s three years on the board for Mae, Jazz, and I in our little home. Our downstairs neighbors moved out, a new one moved in, and then they left too. It’s been quieter around here as a result, but that’s okay. We also moved our bedroom from the large master upstairs to the more temperature controlled spare room downstairs.

We celebrated a lot of wonderful moments with friends this year. Tyler and Tara gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Millie who we love very much. I was a groomsman in Sam and Leah’s wedding and Mae was a bridesmaid in Jenna and Seth’s. Both ceremonies were outdoors and really special. We’re both excited to be a part of Brandon and Melissa’s wedding next year as well.

I couldn’t be more grateful to Mae for her ongoing support while I’m back in school. I don’t express that enough, but I really couldn’t do this without her.

Achievement: Entirely Quit A Job

Achievement: Get A Job


Last year, I stepped down from a management position in a retail store to pursue school again full-time. I stayed on as a part-time lead to pay the bills. That was a mistake. I stuck around longer than I should have and finally quit a few months back. As a result, I celebrated the holidays with my friends and family instead of crazed shoppers and crippling stress.

I also picked up a new gig with Breaker, a podcasting app with a social twist. I love the company that I work for and they’ve treated me so well since I came aboard in April. Thanks to my bosses, Erik and Leah, I was able to join in on the San Jose developer conference fun in June where I met a lot of folks I’ve truly admired for years. I’ve learned a lot from the team and look forward to rounding out my first full year with them in 2019.

Achievement Get: Stay In School

I’ve made it through my first full year as a returning student studying Computer Information Systems - Programming. Since last year’s Year In Review, I completed three more semesters of coursework, loading up my Summer to push through as quickly as I could.

My Grades:

Spring 2018: 3.485 GPA - 16 Credit Hours

Introduction of Logic/Programming — A-
Internet Tools — A
Introduction to Unix/Linux — A-
Visual Basic — B+
Intro to Database Management — A-

Summer 2018: 3.569 GPA - 15 Credit Hours

Technology & Human Values — A
Diversity In American Society — A
Essentials of Management Technology — A
Introduction to the Oceans — B+
Exploring Music: Bach to Rock — A

Fall 2018: 3.598 GPA - 16 Credit Hours

Technical Mathematics II — A
Technical Mathematics III — A-
Basic Accounting I — A
Client / Server Programming — A-
Systems Analysis & Design — B+
C++ Programming — A-

Boy, I’m tired. I’m 57% done with my degree though, which feels great. If all goes according to plan, I should graduate in Spring of 2020, which isn’t too far away. I’d hoped to pack another summer with classes and finish in the Fall, but I landed a full time internship at Smuckers this Summer that I’m really excited about.

Achievement Get: Podcast Some More

After recording Bantha Fodder intermittently for 2 and a half years, Mike Comite and I decided to start a weekly show that encompasses the sort of conversations we’d have before and after we hit record for our first show. That new show is called Podchasm.

At the time this was published, we’ve released 16 episodes and recorded one Twitch stream. We started out with a 5 episode backlog and we’ve pretty much burnt through the extras over the holiday’s so keeping our streak going in early 2019 should be interesting. Mike and I have a few fun ideas for this program and some more related podcasting projects I hope we can get off the ground at some point soon.

Considering our increasingly busy schedules this past year as well as some Star Wars fatigue, Bantha Fodder has not been published as frequently. We go in depth on this in Podchasm 001. Still, we put out 4 episodes this year and didn’t get it together in time for a holiday special.

We moved all of our shows to a new home at Transistor.fm, archiving some of my older ones. We also took on a few shows hosted by friend and collaborator Deanna Chapman. I’m not sure if we’re a network, per se, but it’s cool to make things with friends.

Speaking of which, I appeared as a guest on both Modern Vinyl and Welcome To Geekdom podcasts again this year.

Achievement: Design is Fun

dribbble shot solo mock.png
mockup basic.png

I did less client work this year, but refreshed my portfolio and added a few new things. I also posted my first Dribbble shot with a logo design I did for a friend’s new publishing venture. I’m really happy with the work and I know that James at AuxCord is too.

I also took a stab at an art style I really enjoy, inspired by 60s and 70s books for scientific journals, using my friend’s forthcoming book as inspiration. I guess green was my thing this year.

Achievement Get: Survive

Another year has come and gone. I, like many others, felt the weight of the world a lot more this time around. I’ve also wrestled with my anxiety a lot more this year, which I attribute to the work load I’m given at school as well as the work load I put on myself. There’s a lot that I’d like to do, read more, study more, relax more, create more, et cetera. I’m slowly realizing, however, that I can’t do it all. In 2019, I’d like to continue to simplify and find more joy.

Cheers, all.

2017: A Year In Review

2017 is over.png

Over the past few days I’ve been reviewing my creative output year over year from 2016 to now. It should be no surprise to anyone reading this blog that I made a lot less “things” this year than last. Still, 2017 was marked with some major moments in my life, the results of which are hopeful but remain to be seen. Let’s break it all down.

Achievement Get: Live Away From Home w/ Mae for 2 Years

Mae, Jazz, and I have made it through our second year together in our quaint little apartment. We added a shoe-rack, which is pretty exciting. My office is still littered with Star Wars memorabilia, but it’s not coming in at the same clip as before. I’ve scaled back my spending quite a bit.

Achievement Get: Quit A Job

Achievement Get: Go To School

I left my full time management position at Under Armour this year, which, in hindsight, is less scary than it felt when I handed in my notice. I made the leap after making the decision to go back to school full time to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems - Programming. I’m writing this on my first winter break in several years. I made it through my first semester with decent grades and a goal in mind. Next semester I’ll start the fun classes.

My Grades:

Environmental Geology — A-
Environmental Geology Lab — A
Humanities in the World Since 1300 — A
Beginning Spanish I — B- 1

Achievement Get: Spend Money

I mentioned before that I quit my job and started spending less money. That all happened after I secured a new 5K iMac for my office. It’s incredible and totally worth mentioning here. Oh, I also got a Nintendo Switch. That is also awesome. Here’s my gaming post for the year.

Achievement Get: Make Money For Your Art

I designed logos for three companies this year and I got paid! I can’t share any of them here at the moment, but trust that your boy feels proud.

Achievement Get: Start Another Blog

In 2016, we killed Under The Gun Review. At the beginning of this year, I worked on something new that never got launched. That project was called Worst and was a place where people could write about their feelings. I spent a lot of time getting it built and filled up with some amazing pieces of writing, but I couldn’t quite get the nerve to publish it. I wish I could explain why, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me to mentally maintain.

Instead, I expanded a project I launched in June called The Frank Ocean Master List. This list was an archive of sorts for fans of Frank Ocean. I took that post and pushed it further, building an entire site around it. The result is blonded.blog.

Achievement Get: Continue Podcasting, Sometimes

Variable Bitrate went on hiatus at the end of last year. I produced the show on a weekly basis for 21 weeks straight, which was a proud highlight of last year. This year, I gave myself a break. To those that have sent me kind messages telling me the loved the show, that they miss it, or that they wish it would come back, thank you and stay tuned. I don’t think the show is dead, it’s just not a priority of mine at the moment.

Bantha Fodder has continued. Mike and I recorded 10 more episodes this year including a new holiday special and a three-part run on fan edits featuring the work of DigModiFicaTion.

I appeared as a guest on a few shows this year. I had the pleasure of joining Jason Tate for Encore at the top of the year and Deanna had me on Welcome To Geekdom a few times throughout to talk about various things. I made a trip out to Chicago in January to hang with the Modern Vinyl guys and help them out with their live show. We recorded a drunk bonus episode there that never saw the light of day, but I can be found defending AFI on their Pop-Punk roundtable in episode 192.

My podcasting stats for the year:

Bantha Fodder: 1 Episode ever 34 days with an average length of 1:27:47

As Guest / Co-Host: 6 Episodes.

Achievement Get: Survive

This year was not as exciting as the last, but that’s okay. I’ve got a good feeling about next year. The semester begins on the 16th. Wish me luck.

  1. My university should be ashamed of how this class was organized. I’m surprised and so pleased to have emerged with the grade I did. ↩︎

Featured Posts from 2017

Evazan and Baba: A Tale Of Misadventure and Cosmetic Surgery

The Cantina Cast has published a peice of mine on two of my favorite Star Wars "background" characters. This is a complete history of Doctor Cornelius Evazan and his mate Ponda Baba. These characters are the subjects of Bantha Fodder's 2016 holiday special. My thank you to Rebecca Benjamin for publishing.

2016: A Year In Review

Within the last month or so, I’ve been hit with a bit of the blues [1]. You know, just the down-in-the-dumpies surrounding just about everything I normally set my mind to. As a result, the podcast and my writing here has been less frequent. I haven’t been creating as much lately and that’s been bumming me out, pulling me deeper into this nasty rut. While stewing in my discontent, it came to mind that 2016 has been, without question, the fastest year of my adult life—full of accomplishments and experiments alike. To break the cycle, I’m listing those out.

Achievement Get: Live Away From Home w/ Mae for 1 Year

In October of 2015, I moved out of my Dad’s house and into an apartment with my girlfriend and dog. That was a big move for a lot of reasons and the experience has been interesting and trying at times, but mostly it’s been a lot of fun. I think having our own space has really helped us grow as partners. I know it certainly has for me individually. While I’m still not hip to the clean sink every night sort of routine adulthood, having an office of my own that’s separate from my bedroom and removed from where I relax has allowed me to create things like never before. It’s also allowed me to collect an embarrassing amount of Star Wars-related merchandise.

Achievement Get: Be In Two Weddings

On another personal note, I was asked to be a groomsman in two of my dearest friend’s weddings. So here’s to them. Thank you, James and Lisa Shotwell for giving Mae and I an excuse to revisit the Western shores of the mitten and join your family (and many of our UTG brethren) in such a beautiful day. Thank you Tyler and Tara Regan for introducing Mae and I to each other in the first place and asking us both to be a part of your special day. Hauling an actual TARDIS to your wedding is high on my list of coolest things I’ve accomplished this year.

Achievement Get: Kill A Blog

2016 marked the end of the start. My humble beginnings in entertainment criticism and web administration began at Under The Gun Review. The site died with little fanfare back in June, but will remain online due to the savvy and generosity of my good friend Terin Stock. It’s still weird to know that UTG will no longer update. I have a lot of great memories tied up in that blog. I met a lot of amazing people and was afforded incredible opportunities as a result of it as well. Still, at least we shut it down knowing we got the damn thing back from SPIN.

Achievement Get: Make Your App Store Debut

In collaboration with artist Chris Fafalios (of Punchline ), I published a sticker pack application for iOS that is available on the App Store. I’m no app developer by any means, but making this happen required some learning and patience. In the end, I’m thrilled that Celebrity Friends exists.

Achievement Get: Do SXSW

Last year I was asked to speak on two panels at SXSW Music in Austin, Texas. Not only were our panels actually picked, but they both went really well! I had a blast meeting friends for the first time, exploring the city, take my first Uber, and watching some of my favorite artists perform multiple times. The experience was unreal.

Digital Distribution & Security: The End Of Music Piracy

Knowing how to securely share your new and unreleased music with industry professionals and journalists alike is one of the most important things you need to know. This panel investigated the best methods for promotional distribution today, and highlighted those that best allow for customization of presentation, as well as digital security (watermarking, takedowns, etc.).

Speakers: James Shotwell - Haulix Jacob Tender - Alternative Press Magazine Jen Appel - Catalyst Publicity Group Joshua Hammond - Another Reybee Production

No Basic Pitches: Publicity By The Journalists

When it comes to the proper pitch, it’s important to remember the audience you are trying to reach out to: PEOPLE. Most successful publicists start off as journalists, and those who don’t can sometimes lack the perspective necessary to provide a successful pitch to a potential writer.

Speakers: Maria Gironas - Substream Magazine Josh Hammond - Another Reybee Production Angela Mastrogiacomo - Muddy Paw PR Jacob Tender - Bottle Cap

Download audio from this session here.

Achievement Get: Break Into The Rap Game

With my “partner in rhyme” and Bantha Fodder Co-Host Mike Comite, I busted out some dope verses as the lovechild of Childish Gambino and Donald Glover’s soon-to-be Star Wars credit, Lando Calrissian. “Rebellious Landino” uses the beat from “Freaks and Geeks” and is the most underappreciated thing I’ve done all year.

Achievement Get: Podcast Like Crazy

I’ve appeared on various podcasts through the past several years, but this is the year I began podcasting on my own. In 2016 I published three shows and appeared on many others.

Here’s a final tally:

Variable Bitrate: 23 Episodes
Bantha Fodder: 16 Episodes
Stranger Things Things: 2 Episodes [2]
As Guest / Co-host: 6 Episodes

That leaves a grand total of 47 podcasts in 52 weeks. Not too shabby. Now, if I learned anything about podcasting this year it’s this:

First, the gear does matter (to me). You can podcast for free with your cell phone if you wanted to, but to make something that sounds right you need the right equipment. I upped my audio production game with a new microphone, interface, and plenty of accessories to record some audio I’m truly proud of.

Second, You have to work very hard to upload consistently. I did the weekly thing for 21 consecutive weeks. I do wish I would have kept it going at that pace, but scheduling gets tough and I couldn’t keep up.

Some stats on upload frequency and episode length:

Bantha Fodder: 1 Episode every 23.64 days with an average length of 1:02:01
Variable Bitrate: 1 Episode every 8.82 days with an average length of 01:25:30

Third, never be afraid to try something new [3]. VBR started out rigid, following a strict formula every time. Loosening that up made the entire process from prep to publish so much easier. Conversations flowed better, more interesting topics sprung out of nowhere, and edits became a lot less tedious. With Bantha Fodder, we played with the format and production of the show constantly and the show as become more goofy and fun than any Star Wars show I’ve ever heard. From this we got our first single and a Christmas special.

Fourth, It’s always easier to be on someone else’s show. Always. I provide part of a conversation and an export of my local audio and the rest happens elsewhere. No mess. I love it and I’m happy to fill in or appear on anyone’s show at any time.

Lastly, always have whiskey handy to lube the conversation.

Achievement Get: Survive

It’s been a good year. As bummed as I’ve been lately, I’m trying to remember that. My work-life has been stressful, which impacts my personal life on more levels than I’m comfortable with, but I’ve got a lot going on the side that makes me happy and proud. I have no idea what I’ll be making in 2017, but I’m eager to find out.

  1. SEE: Seasonal Affective Disorder, undiagnosed.  ↩

  2. SEE: FAIL  ↩

  3. In fact, do something new often.  ↩

Featured Posts from 2016

Bantha Fodder Presents: "Rebellious Landino"

Cover artwork by Jacob Tender

Cover artwork by Jacob Tender

As mentioned previously, my Bantha Fodder cohost Mike Comite and I love audio production. I'd say that our podcast is about 75% about the Star Wars universe and the remaining bit is about trying new things with our format, mixes, and extraneous things to collaborate on. This week, along with our latest episode, Mike and I put together a remix of Childish Gambino's "Freaks & Geeks" from the perspective of Lando Calrissian, a Star Wars character being brought back to the screen by Gambino himself, Donald Glover.

I wrote and performed the song and Mike mixed and mastered it for cohesion and clarity. I think the result is pretty cool and can be found for free on either Soundcloud or Bandcamp.

You might be asking, "So Jake, this song is hot fire. Does this mean you've entered the rap game?" Not really, but don't expect this to be the last song you hear from Bantha Fodder. We've got some ideas.