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This is What a Podcast Looks Like

29 Sep

My podcast!

Making a podcast–at least the way we want to do it–is tough. As I mentioned before, my fellow Olympic fan Alison Brown and I have started an Olympics podcast called Olympic Fever, and we’ve finally launched. This week we dropped episode 2 (“Who Wants to Host?”), and while it’s exciting, my head is swimming with everything we need to do for future episodes–and more importantly, everything we need to figure out.

Take recording and editing, for example. I took a low-key online self-study class through MediaBistro to learn about podcasting. Good move on my part–it taught me what tools I’d need to record, edit, mix, host and publish; in short, all of the technical stuff I really had no idea to do. Best $20 I’ve spent in a long time.

That said, once I had the tools in place, I had to learn how to use them. That learning is a little more complicated and who knows when I’ll actually master them.

Still, I’m having a blast, and I’ve learned that I love looking at sound. That’s us in the picture, talking. My track is on top, isolated because I discovered a nasty hum on my end after we finished recording (which I think I’ve figured out how to solve for future episodes, thank goodness). Anytime I’m not talking, I’ve cut my sound down so it’s not audible. But still, you can see on the front and back of my line where the light purple is a bit lighter–that’s the hum.

I’ve learned what laughs look like. I’ve learned what stutters look like and how long pauses are. It’s all so very fascinating to me right now, as is learning the art of where and how to edit. We make mistakes as we tape our story segments, and those need to get chopped out. We (mostly I) get cotton mouth and forget how to use our words.

But, we’ve gotten two episodes done and posted and have had fun doing them. My learning curve is decreasing dramatically, which is nice (episode 1 involved a very long Sunday learning how to split tracks and envelope sounds). Every day we get new ideas and opportunities for pieces that we’ll do on upcoming episodes [SPOILER ALERT: We’re going to Lake Placid this weekend to work on a few pieces], and we’re so excited about what’s in store!

I hope you’ll consider tuning in–and tell a friend and/or review us on iTunes. We’ve also got a Facebook group, if you want to chime in with your own two cents!

Coming Soon: Olympic Fever Podcast

8 Sep

Olympic Fever Podcast

We’re about five months out from another Olympics, which means that my case of Olympic Fever has been quietly raging for a while. If you remember, for Rio I tried having a blog, which while fun, was a lot of work and missed one essential element: The conversation.

One of my favorite things to do is talk about the Olympics, and without that element, it’s been hard to maintain the blog in the way that I’d like, which is namely, not a rehashing of the most recent news that’s posted as quickly as possible in order to get the most hits. Good research and writing takes time, and while I want to do that about the Olympics, that outlet became less and less of an ideal place as time went on. Also, posting is kind of one-sided. Blog comments just didn’t replicate the energy and excitement I feel when I can jaw about the Olympics with friends.

So I’m turning the blog into a podcast and calling it Olympic Fever. Each week my lovely co-host Alison Brown and I will be posting a ~30 minute episode that explores an Olympic story, includes some conversation, and preps you for the upcoming Games. We aim to find the unusual stories that make the Olympics what they are and why we love them–even if we know that there are tons of problems with them. We’re really excited about what we’ve got on tap so far, and we hope you’ll take a listen (if nothing, listen for the theme–I’m really proud of how that’s turned out)!

I’d Like to Thank….

23 Feb

I’m writing this as I finish watching last night’s Academy Awards ceremony. Old friends might wonder how this is possible–the Oscars used to be my thing. I’d have a big party (dress up as a nominated character! Themed food! Prizes!) and see as many movies as I could. This year, I thought, Oh yeah, it’s Oscar night. How many movies have I seen again? Two? 

Sure, people change–and I simply don’t make the same time for movies that I used to (in part thanks to being really turned off of the movies by “Gangs of New York,”), but every year I still get some form of the Fever. This year I was able to watch a good chunk of the ceremony before I compromised with the Boy and taped the rest so that we could continue catching up with the rest of the country by watching another episode of “Breaking Bad” (we’re on season 3).

Now that means that I’m quickly trying to finish watching it so that I can look at the rest of the Internet. And then quickly get some work done because now I really, really want to see a movie. I know some are on demand, others are on Netflix, or I could figure out how to download them; however I still love the theater, the experience of being enveloped by a movie, and the slow coming out of it once the lights come back up. That’s the magic of movies.

Still, like anyone who sits at home watching the big show, during the lower moments (technical awards previously given, odd Lady Gaga tributes to “The Sound of Music”), I do spend a fair amount of time crafting my own acceptance speech, so I thought I’d share that with you this year.

The Oscar viewer knows that acceptance speech strategy is key, particularly in any category I might win. You get your 30 seconds (if that), and you are quickly played off. Heaven forbid I be nominated with somebody–it always stinks to be the second (or third or fourth) person who doesn’t get more than two seconds to try to yell their thank you’s over the strings (or if the conductor’s pissed, the brass).

The key part of my strategy would be preparation, and for that I have one word: Intervals. Hustle to the stage, and you could get an extra five or six seconds. This whole “let’s move slowly and gracefully because this is a big deal” is bunk because we know the show runs long for no good reason, and people have to get up in the morning (which is hell on the East Coast). So practice those sprints and wear something pretty, yet moveable.

Next is to say something different. Acceptances shouldn’t be 100% thank you. Say something unique, something they’ll remember. This year was great–Patricia Arquette talking about equality for women; Graham Moore, the screenwriter for “The Imitation Game” talking about being weird; John Legend mentioning the fact that there are more incarcerated black men than there were slaves; Eddie Redmayne talking about ALS; Julianne Moore pumping the cause of Alzheimer’s research; the guy who thanked his dog. What a great year!

Me? I’d thank the people who hired me, of course; the Boy for believing in me; but honestly, I’d also give a shout out to all of the Oscar partiers, the ones who truly make the awards what they are. Sure, it’s Hollywood’s big party for itself, but it wouldn’t be as big of a spectacle if people at home didn’t celebrate, so really, I’d celebrate them. And hope to hell they’ve got me picked in their Oscar bingo or drinking games.

Warning: A New Fever May Be on the Loose

13 Feb

Last week I came across a rather subtle announcement: Birmingham, Alabama, will be hosting the World Games in 2021.

Stop the presses! World Games? Is this an international spectacle of sports that could be fever-inducing?

From what I’ve been able to tell, the World Games seems to be the cast-offs of the Olympics. They’re held every four years, in the year after the Olympics, so summer sports and no competition from the granddaddy of international sports showcases, although the two organizations do cooperate. From what it seems, most of the sports on the World Games programs are being tested for their viability to be included in the Olympic program, so it seems like not just an elite global competition for a more obscure sport, but also an Olympic training ground.

The other big difference from the Olympics is that at the time a city bids, its plan may not call for any new structures to be built solely for these games. They have to either currently exist or be in the works for a non-World Games purpose. That’s particularly interesting, since there are so many issues surrounding construction for the purpose of the Olympics. Even temporary structures cost a fortune. This “use what you’ve got” scenario appeals to the DIYer in me.

But let’s get back to the sports, because this is the key. Let’s look at the sport program for Wroclaw 2017. If you’re sad that tug of war was removed from the Olympic program, you can find it here, along with:

  • billiards
  • bowling
  • fin swimming
  • fistball
  • floorball
  • korfball
  • orienteering
  • sport climbing
  • air sports (parachuting, glider aerobatics, etc.)
  • beach handball
  • canoe polo
  • ultimate frisbee (or “flying disc”)
  • squash
  • water skiing
  • sumo
  • and more!

A few Olympic sports do find their way in–archery, gymnastics, powerlifting–but for the most part, the program consists of obscure sports that need some attention. As someone who’s involved in the obscure sport of roller derby, I know just how much a global stage can help bring much needed exposure, which leads to more participation, which leads to more sponsorship dollars, etc. Obscure sports show just how many interests people have and how much they’re willing to participate in an activity.

ESPN would have you believe that the only sports that really should be shown on TV are football, baseball, hockey, and golf–with about a million hours of recaps and commentary (because that’s likely much cheaper to produce. Sometimes soccer. And CrossFit Games (though it probably helps that a major sporting goods manufacturer is the money behind it). And the X Games, to show some edginess. NBC’s cable network does show some different stuff–they’ve had skiing and biathlon, cycling, etc. But there are so many more sports that deserve to be discussed regularly. We shouldn’t dust them off every four years. Give them a shot and see how they can change ordinary people’s lives.

The Boy and I have discussed going to Rio for the 2016 Games, but honestly, I kind of want to go to Poland in 2017 to catch this fever instead.

Olympics? How About Oldlympics?

14 Feb

Who says you have to be young to be a competitive Olympian? The Sochi Games have produced at least three medalists who are in their 40s, which says to me that your peak athletic years don’t have to be behind you if you’re over 25. As I get older, this thread of hope becomes even more important to me.

I haven’t looked at all of the medallists to gauge their ages, but let’s look at the men’s luge: The silver medallist is 42 and the bronze medallist is 40. Wow!

Oh, I know what you’re thinking: All these guys have to do is lie on their back and slide down a mountain. Any old person can do that. OK. I present Exhibit B: Ole Einar Bjorndalen, Norwegian biathlete, who won gold in the Men’s 10km sprint at age 40. This gold medal was his twelfth overall, tying the record for most medals in the Winter Olympics. Let me remind you that the guy is 40. Biathlon’s not easy either–you cross-country ski as fast as you can, then you have to get your blood pressure down as quickly as possible to be able to hold a rifle straight and hit a small target that’s about 50 meters away. It’s tough. I know. I do summer biathlon (running and shooting). I am no Bjorndalen…..unless he ever decides to start sponsoring the penalty loop, since I tend to spend a lot of time running around that, making up for missed shots.

The fact that these guys in their 40s can still be competitive gives me hope that if I work hard, I too can achieve a better level of fitness, lose those last 10 lbs, still achieve personal best times.

I just saw a piece on American snowboarder Kelly Clark, who at 30, is kind of surprised she’s competitive. She talked about having to work much harder to keep up with the 13-year-olds. If she’s not in the gym six days a week, she can’t hang.

Interesting, and when I hear a woman several years younger than me say that, it’s a little depressing. Then again, I’m not trying to twist and spin my body into a million directions and then stick a landing in a halfpipe. I’m just trying to be the fittest Jill I can be so I can do things like jump rope, run 5Ks and referee roller derby for a long time. It’s nice to have role models who show me it can be done.

Dueling Fevers

24 Jan

Every four years, a horrible thing happens: The Winter Olympics collide with Oscar Season.

This used to be a more dire situation for me. I used to be a movie junkie, and I’d have a huge Oscar party every year. Attendees dress up like nominated movie characters, and I’d have themed food, games, and champagne. When I had it at my apartment, I’d rent a big screen TV. Then I started having it in a private room of a bar, which allowed for more people and fun.

Martin Scorsese changed all of that. I don’t know how I sat through all of “Gangs of New York.” Perhaps it was trying to see if Cameron Diaz’ accent ever got better. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but after that dreadful experience–luckily at a cheap movie theatre–I stopped going to the movies so much. Every time I wanted to go, it had to be something I really wanted to see because not much was worth the $10 price of admission.

That hasn’t really changed today, and ticket prices have gotten a little bit higher, lessening my desire to see many movies. I’ve only seen a few this year; however, that general malaise I have about the movie industry goes out the window when the Academy Award nominations are announced. I’m excited for the nominees, and these are the movies that have been deemed to be good. This is my short list of what to bother with.

Of course, if that short list is pretty long, I have a bit of movie viewing to cram in during the nomination season. This year is no exception. I’d like to see at least eight of the nominated pictures, and on paper, that’s not such a daunting task….until you realize that the Olympics are on as well.

We’re in the run up to Sochi, and I’m so excited to watch–and become an instant expert on–obscure winter sports. I want to see how Sochi does as a host, how it deals with security threats, and how all the money it’s put toward these Games is actually spent. I want to spend hours watching television, looking for obscure glimpses of judges and officials, wondering how they get to that level. It’s been a while since I threw a big party, so a few friends are helping put together an epic one for the Opening Ceremonies. I’ve got Olympic Fever to the max.

When Olympic Fever collides with Oscar Fever, it’s tough. Real tough. While I still love the movies, they may continue to sit on the back burner. Double the Fever can be double the fun, but we’ll see if I test that theory.

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