Stephanie Goes to Seattle (But Actually TANIS) – Part 2


    The hot, humid Chicago weather has me nostalgic for the nice, misty, chill of the Pacific Northwest. And I realized I never finished documenting my journey there. You can see the Twin Peaks, Portland, and Part 1 pieces if you click on those words.

    The final full day of our trip, Jess, Nick, and I met up with Taylor and her duder for donuts and coffee at Top Pot. Let me just tell you: this place has something called an Ovaltine Latte. My life has not been the same since. I think about it every morning when I’m about to get some pretty good hazelnut coffee or a chai latte. Good, but just no comparison. Also, the donuts were a-mayyyy-zing. Way better than Voodoo Donuts, ya’ll.


    Since Taylor and her dude work at Bungie (the studio that originally developed Halo but now works on Destiny and many other games), we got a nice little tour of the place. We saw all the awards, art, goodies, hung out with Master Chief, etc.

    After that, we headed to a little nature preserve. A cute old woman handed us a map and assured us that if we followed a certain route, we would find our way back easily. Yeah, sure, old lady.

    For those that don’t know, Nick and I are OBSESSED with an amazing podcast series called TANIS (the sister show to The Black Tapes — also amazing, obviously). It takes place in the Pacific Northwest. And basically, you don’t seek out TANIS, but it finds you. But you’re definitely more likely to happen upon it if you’re in the woods. And there are certain things that happen when you’re nearing or entering TANIS. Snails and slugs start appearing everywhere. Strange things start happening. You can see a way out, but you don’t know how to get there. Continue reading

    Stephanie Listens to the Judge John Hodgman Podcast

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    As of this posting, I have listened to all 270 episodes of the Judge John Hodgman podcast. It was an endeavor I did not take lightly since I began at episode 1 — and some days it felt like running uphill as a new episode would be released nearly every week. But nearly two years later and, by gum, I’ve done it! Now, I can join the rest of the ranks listening to a new episode as it comes out weekly — what a novel concept!

    So, why am I writing a post about this podcast? Well, because there’s some specialness attached to it — and when you spend that many hours dedicated to something, you get a little attached. Anyway, my BFF Nick, who I let have writing space on this very website, has been a Hodgmanite for really long time. I knew Hodgman originally as the Deranged Millionaire on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and from his short stint on Battlestar Galactica. Nick and I were driving to St. Louis for Wizard World Comic Con, which took place inside the Rams stadium. He made a joke about the convention being a nerd-jock convergence, and naturally, I was annoyed that I didn’t fully get the reference. And then he tweeted it AND John Hodgman retweeted it. Well, I couldn’t have that.

    So, perhaps out of spite or (more likely) because my best friend and I have the same sense of humor, I embarked on this endeavor because he assured me I would enjoy it. Or at the very least, finally understand half of his daily references. Much to my delight, I loved the podcast instantly. It was indeed my sense of humor, and I had to conceal my laughter on several occasions as I listened at work. And to top it off, Hodgman, Nick, and myself are all only children, so there are things that only we understand. Much of that is expressed in many of Hodgman’s rulings. We’re all part of the “super-smart-afraid-of-conflict-narcissist club” — another Hodgman reference. Get with it, guys.

    I don’t remember exactly when I started listening to it, only that this silly, funny podcast eventually became a lifeline when everything else in my life made me feel as though I was drowning. I won’t go into it, but having this constant presence and seemingly endless (at the time) amount of episodes to listen to got me through many rough days. I could focus on other people’s silly disputes to escape my own very real, very awful problems. And more than a year ago, I did escape my own. And then the Judge John Hodgman podcast became a thing I listened to for fun, for leisure, for my own enjoyment. I no longer cling to life for a distraction. Now, I sit back and laugh fully at it, no longer worrying what my anxiety brain will do when it ends and the real world returns. It’s a nice feeling. Maybe it’s a little silly to feel these things from a comedy podcast, but you know what? Who cares! Whatever gets you through the rough times are important, especially if it’s a medium that lets you be engaged and gives you some form of enjoyment, no matter how little it may seem at the time.

    But I just want to say thank you to Judge John Hodgman, Jesse Thorn, and several of the guest bailiffs for getting me through a rough time and now becoming part of my weekly routine.

    If you’re looking for an entertaining podcast that might make you laugh out loud (or lol) in awkward places like your quiet office or on the Chicago bus, you should give Judge John Hodgman a whirl. He probably doesn’t need my advertisement or endorsement, but considering how much a part his voice has played in the background of some significant life moments, this was all worth jotting down to me.

    For some of my personal favorite episodes and key Judge John Hodgman rulings, I’d recommend:

    • To Tree or Not to Tree
    • Are Machine Guns Robots?
    • Parents Just Don’t Understand
    • The Colbert Rapport
    • Slash-Friction
    • The Pepperoni Pauper

    Basically any of the ones with weird dads or cooky brothers are the best. I started going down the list and wanted to list too many. So, if you like some of those, I’d recommend doing the crazy person thing and listening to it all, like me! Now that I’m caught up, ‘My Brother, My Brother And Me’ is next, but I’m doing that backwards.

    Stephanie Attends Slay-A-Thon 2016


    Slay-A-Thon always rolls around on a weekend when I am moving or out of town, but finally I was able to attend! My friend Karen and I put our best Buffy shirts on and headed to Dave & Buster’s in Chicago, where the marathon was already well under way in a cool, dark room fit for a vampire. A magical Buffy sanctuary from the 90-degree sunny Saturday.

    For those unaware, Slay-A-Thon is an annual 12-hour Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon to raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation. There are silent, live, and online auctions during the marathon full of fun memorabilia, autographs, books, art prints, toys, and much more, all with proceeds to the foundation. And sometimes surprise guests show up. I believe Nicholas Brendon (Xander) and James C. Leary (Clem) have attended in the past.

    My hype for the event began early because I get my weekend lattes at the Coffee & Tea Exchange. They partnered up with Slay-A-Thon to offer Buffy-themed drinks for the entire month of June with 10 cents of each purchase going to the organization. Unsurprisingly, the “Chosen One” was my go-to drink every weekend. Vanilla bean and peppermint latte, mmm!


    Karen and I came in during “The Wish” and were given a rundown on how everything works. Everyone is encouraged to throw pennies at the stage when something scary, funny, sexy, awesome, or emotional is happening on screen — which is basically every second of the show. Sometimes there are so many pennies flying, it’s almost terrifying. They actually sell hard hats if you’re brave enough to sit up front in the line of fire. There’s also very little love for poor Dawnie. Whenever she’s on screen, there’s a resounding, “Shut up, Dawn!” It’s pretty hilarious even though I’ve come to appreciate Dawn after many, many additional viewings.

    We saw a variety of episodes (“Earshot,” “Pangs,” “The Gift”), witnessed some fun trivia contests, ate Buffy cookies, wore fake vampire fangs, and sang the musical with a roomful of fellow Buffy nerds. They did, however, make us all watch “The Body,” which was rude and also a challenge to hold yourself together when everyone you love on screen is crying their eyes out.

    I’m glad I was able to attend. I really wish I had some spare cash because it was truly painful to let certain things go in the auction, like puppet Angel. Now that I know what to expect, I’ll wear something comfier, brush up on my trivia, convince more friends to go, and start saving some pennies now!



    *Top photo credit to Slay-A-Thon