It’s the journey, right? Tony Stark said that “part of the journey is the end” in one of this year’s biggest movies, but while 2019 is coming to an end, my journey is still in progress. As all of yours are, to one extent or another.
But this hasn’t been the easiest year for me professionally, while personally, I’ve done some of my best work. That dichotomy has been hard to deal with at times. And as such, I’ve spent more time consuming media on the small screen, the big screen, and in written form to see what might help me in my own journey.
Along the way, there were plenty of patterns, but in the event that you’re looking for some quick overview, here it is: I launched my first podcast The Palmer Files, continued to produce the on and off Wicked Theory, I added a mic spot next to Dan on The Podcast Digest and continued co-host duties with Our Liner Notes.
Our Liner Notes’ host Chris, along with Marc Maron’s June 27th WTFpod guest Brent Butt sent me down a rabbit hole of Canadian content the likes of which I still haven’t come out of. Plus I picked a favorite CFL team.
My best friend, going way back to youth moved just a mile from me, and we started a weekly Pathfinder game night. Speaking of games, I have slowly continued my re-immersion into Magic: The Gathering Arena, which for those of you who were around in the early days of the blog, may remember I used to write about a lot.
There was plenty of good and bad at the box office, but I didn’t see too much through the tears as I cried my way through two of the years biggest films; Avenger’s Endgame and Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker. And I started watching Rick & Morty, Stumptown, and a few other things on Disney+ and Disney’s other streaming platform Hulu. Plus, in the year, there seemed to be a large Heaven and Hell contingent in my content with three great shows: The Good Place, Disenchantment, and Good Omens, all putting good and bad against each other.
All of that and I lost two jobs… So, if you’re satisfied with that, good for you, if you want a little more, keep reading.
Let’s start with the concept of the blogger, producer, and proxycaster, admitting to being a podcaster earlier in the year and then actually launching my own show.
At some point on one of my guest spots with Henno and Stef on either Gotham Lights (RIP) or Orville Lights (also RIP), or maybe it was on Moving the Needle, I caved to peer pressure and finally accepted my role as a podcaster. Now, this was before the launch of my own show, but there were a few people who knew about it ahead of time.
And for the sake of being thorough, I’d like to take the time to thank Bill Sweeney, Stef Muniz, Henno Heitur, Chris Hughes, and Grant Markham, as those who pushed the hardest against my second-guessing when I was talking about this loosely and didn’t want to commit to anything. There were others who pressed as well, but those five heard a lot of it from me and didn’t let me get in my own way.
So, I launched the show and it’s been fun. And while I do hope you enjoy listening to it, the most important thing right now is that I am enjoying myself, because otherwise, what would be the point? If you like my show, let me know, but more to the point if you like any show, let them know. A little feedback goes a long way! The same goes for this blog by the way. (Are you still reading?)
Anyway, The Wicked Theory Podcast celebrated its 200th episode with a Roast of Bill Sweeney, and I was in the studio for that… Then he took a break. Then he came back. Then he took another break. Look, it isn’t my show, so I can’t speculate on anything that I don’t know. I do know that you haven’t heard the last of Bill. What will come and when I can’t say, but I will say, on a personal note, working with Bill has been a triumph. I look back on what I helped him do, in my little way, and I know there isn’t much Bill and I can’t do. Bill recently went down a YouTube rabbit hole of the British show Taskmaster, and well, Greg and Alex are Bill and I personified. Plus, not to brag, but I get to hear Bill whether he has a show or not! So, if you want to hear Bill right now, there’s the entire back catalog of The Wicked Theory Podcast, there’s also the entire back catalog of Preacher Vs. Preacher, and of course he’s been on other shows too, including my own, as my very first guest!
And while Bill and I can’t seem to figure out how I became a “cog in the machine” that is The Wicked Theory Podcast, I know how I added the newest gig, my co-host seat next to the superbly talented Dan Lizette on The Podcast Digest. It started with a call when I asked him to be my third guest on The Palmer Files and he in turn asked me to be his co-host. It’s been a pleasure to “virtually” sit next to Dan. And while we haven’t been as consistent as either of us would like, there’s more to come, you just have to be patient. And again, there’s an entire back catalog of interesting people for you to listen to.
Speaking of inconsistency, Our Liner Notes has been a bit spotty, but neither Chris nor I have given it up, nor do I think we ever will. Sure, he’s building an extension on his house with his bare hands one brick at a time, and the time difference has always been hard, but we find the time when it works and we record. Plus, he’s partly responsible for how Canadian I’ve become…
You read that right…
Chris, along with Tell Me Stories Podcast host Paula, have been suggesting Canadian music to me for a while. And Chris successfully turned me on to The Tragically Hip, so it’s not like I was unwilling to the suggestion. Then, on June 27th I listened to Brent Butt on WTF with Marc Maron. He was not only a great guest, but it led to my discovery of Corner Gas. Which led to my discovery of Northey Valenzuela, which led to The Odds, and then through the show, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but that wasn’t where the Canadian ended.
I’ve always been a bit of a CFL (that’s Canadian Football League) fan, but I never had a team. This year, I chose, and boy did I choose poorly. I picked the Toronto Argonauts because I have family in Toronto and my name is Jason, so #GoArgos. They went on to be one of the worst teams in the league, but I still watched every game, plus all of the Thursday Night CFL games where I got to text Chris about what band was playing at halftime, which led me to The Trews and more.
And now the year is wrapping up and I’ve seen Corner Gas: The Movie three times because during sleepless nights, there have been quite a few this year, Corner Gas became a comfort show. So I’ve seen the series through three times, and was even more excited when the animated show came down south stateside on IMDB TV… So yeah, I’m becoming more Canadian, plus my own show The Palmer Files will come episode 10 have had three Canadians on it… That’s 30%, so I’m basically producing a Canadian Content show if I keep that up…
Anyway, back to more local trends, my best friend for over two decades, Jason Zapata, moved to within a few blocks of my home. This meant that we get to have a friendship based on hanging out together in person, and not just a few phone calls and the occasional visit. This has led to a weekly game night that started with a few weeks of board games but quickly manifested itself into a Pathfinder night, where Stef is our GM (DM), and Valen (Zapata) and Ira (that’s me) get to pillage and plunder.
Now, for those of you who are interested, Zapata was called out by me during the “after-credits” of episode one of The Palmer Files, and we’ve started working on the project that will precede that book. So that project will come to be. Zapata will also be the 9th guest on The Palmer Files, which will release a few days after you read this if you are reading this upon its release.
But this is a lot to take in, so perhaps you took a break and came back to it. Or you’re not reading this at all, because you just come here for book reviews, and my thoughts on older movies and other random things I think of. And while this isn’t the end, let me know that you got to the part with Zapata by tweeting me “I read to at least the part with @zapatawordsmith.” Or don’t, it’s up to you.
Anyway, my old friend is back and so is an old hobby! I’m regularly playing Magic: The Gathering. Now as I stated earlier, those of you who have been following the blog here for a while will know I spent a lot of words reminiscing on the sets from my playing days. Well, Sean “Day” Plott and Geek & Sundry’s Spellslinger’s show, was how I got Stef interested in Magic. Then, we went from Spellsingers to watching Day9tv on Twitch, which then led to both of us downloading the game, still in Beta at the time, and well, I play it almost daily. I’ve also been following the Mythic Championships as they have occurred this year, and it’s been a thrill to get back into the game, though I don’t have any interest in the competition as I used to, I still enjoy playing the game, which is what it is all about.
It wasn’t all fun and games this year… I did let my emotional side out… Or at the very least, I cried in a public movie theater on multiple occasions. But that’s also because I saw Avenger’s Endgame multiple times and even recently Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker made me cry as well.
Look, in their own ways, they were both endings. And sure the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t going anywhere, and there will be other Star Wars films released in theaters, but both were emotional, and I’m not hiding the fact that it wasn’t just tearing up, it was tears running down my cheeks. Both of those movies are now on the level that Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is for me, in that when Aragorn says “my friends, you bow to no one,” I’m gone… Same with some very key scenes at the end of Endgame and The Rise of Skywalker.
Yet not everything I watched this year made me cry, obviously. Corner Gas is a comedy, but I also watched more than that. Let’s start with the Heaven and Hell stuff…
Good Omens, Disenchantment, Preacher, and The Good Place. Four vastly different shows that all basically deal with Heaven vs. Hell. They all do it very differently, but it’s all so very much 2019, that they all work.
I also started watching Stumptown, which means there is a new show that I like and enjoy, which was as surprising to me as it was to anyone else. Not that Stumptown isn’t good, but that there’s a show on network television that I really like. As a side note, and also equally surprising was that Netflix showed me I still like new music in the form of Sturgill Simpson’s Sound & Fury, which I’ve written and talked about enough already.
I also started to go back and take a look at some things I missed. I’m really enjoying Rick & Morty, though as I write this I’m only partway through season two, so please, no spoilers. I’ve also, on Zapata’s advice, started working my way through The Clone Wars with its new availability on Disney+. Additionally, Hulu has Black Books and Travel Man, which I am enjoying again as Stef watches them for the first time.
Remember those sleepless nights? Yeah, it wasn’t just Corner Gas, I added in some comfort movies as well, rewatching Twister, Apollo 13, and Demolition Man countless times as well. I also read a lot, while I couldn’t sleep. But if you’ve been following along at all you’ll know where I’m at with who I’m reading.
But the big news for my reading habits is that sometime in 2020 my Deighton read will embark upon the Bernard Sampson part of his bibliography, which the Spybrary community ensures me is fantastic. Otherwise, for anyone who is wondering how I read so much, I make it a priority. Before bed every night, or almost every night, I “unplug” by reading before bed. Now, I’m not one who can fall asleep reading, but because I’m old school reading the physical books, it means that most nights before bed, I am not staring at a screen… Then if I can’t sleep I go back to the screen, but I made reading a priority. And if you do it too, you’ll also find that reading is as wonderful as anything else. Honestly, I’m a big fan of reading and I have no problem getting evangelical about it. But not here… Or at least not now.
So, why the sleepless nights? That would all be tied mainly to the loss of two jobs, professionally. Unfortunately, I saw both coming, but that doesn’t make it any easier, especially because after I lost the first one, I picked up the second one because I felt I had to, and then when I lost the second one, I decided that this time around I’m going to try and find something fulfilling, not just for a paycheck, but it’s not that easy to do such a thing.
I’ve been networking. I’ve met with a career coach, who’s been very helpful. I’m not sure I can easily describe what she does other than she helps guide my own thoughts, by telling me what I said and thought exercises designed to, if not solve for answers than at least elicit clues that help further the journey.
I talked a little about it during episode six of The Palmer Files with Carl Landra, so more of my thoughts on the subject of changing careers and looking for a job are found there, but it isn’t easy, or at least it isn’t easy for me. So, for anyone of you out there in a similar boat, or who are just unhappy with where you are and looking seems fruitless, know that you can always reach out to your friends, or even me.
But it wasn’t all consumption of media and professional strife. Stef and I celebrated the anniversary of our relationship together in person. We’ve also successfully not killed each other after living together for a year and we went on an adventure where I showed her my humble origins and she was able to put the pieces together for why I am who I am or at least I gave her the clues as to such by showing her where I grew up and went to college.
It may have come during a period of lesser work, but it was still a vacation, something that Stef does with much more frequency than I, and it was good to get out, especially amid the unknowns of job searching. Sometimes, you just have to getaway.
So it’s been and continues to be a challenge. But 2020, just like every day is something new. I don’t prescribe to the idea that it’s new AND exciting every day, but it is new. What will come? Where will we go, and who will we become?
I’m not sure, but I wish you and yours the very best. To a happy and healthy new year!