Let’s Get Ready to Roleplay!!!

So, what is roleplaying all about? We have all found ourselves in some sort of roleplay scenario at some point in our lives, whether it’s acting out a customer interaction at work with your coworkers, pretending to be in a certain role while playing house as a kid, or while playing roleplaying games of the tabletop or videogame variety. Maybe you’re familiar with tabletop roleplaying games already, but for those who are not aware, it’s a game of imagination and calculation where a gamemaster, the storyteller/referee/moderator, describes the setting and story as it unfolds while considering each of the players’ characters and how they are interacting with the world around them. The most famous of these is D&D, or Dungeons & Dragons. It’s currently on D&D 5th Edition commonly referred to simply as 5E. Thanks to the popularity of the Netflix show, Stranger Things, there has been a resurgence of interest in the genre. And, if you think D&D is for the nerds, I dare you to say that to the face of Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson or Vin Diesel. You could also incur the witty wrath of the likes of Anderson Cooper, Stephen Colbert, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt who have all credited D&D with being an influential part of their lives. If you’ve never played a tabletop roleplaying game or if you’re a nostalgic veteran looking to get back into it, here are some resources to get you started.

Though it’s referred to as a “tabletop” roleplaying game, you are not limited to sitting at a table with close friends to play. The onset of technology since the days of pen & paper roleplaying, a synonymous name for the genre, has made it possible to use smart devices and computers to replace the need for the pens, paper, and even dice. That means a group can sit around a campfire with their phones or tablets in hand and still participate. You can also connect with long-distance friends and family, or even some random people, and play a game online. Here’s how…

  • Roll20 – Roll20 is arguably the most popular web-based resource for tabletop roleplaying. It contains all of the tools you need to play including GM resources, maps, character sheets, dice rolling, and more. It also has content for hundreds, yes hundreds, of different roleplay systems, including the ever-popular D&D 5E. There are pay-to-use features but offers plenty of free content to appease the average player.
  • Astral – A recent competitor to Roll20, Astral offers similar web-based features with a little more polish and pizazz, but lacks in the content variety. Like Roll20, it hides some of its content behind a paywall but functions well in its free state.
  • D&D Beyond – If you’re planning on doing 5E specifically, you can use D&D Beyond to maintain your character sheets. It has a wonderful interface with automated features making the maintenance of your character a little less rigorous.
  • Discord – Discord is a popular chat and VoIP software that many gamers use to communicate. It offers live vocal interaction for communication while playing as well as chat interfaces for sharing information that is retained indefinitely.
  • Zoom – If COVID brought us anything great, it would be the popularity of video conferencing software like Zoom. Zoom may be used to make the interactions in tabletop roleplaying more personable or to share that amazing costume you assembled for your character. 
  • DriveThru RPG – An incredible catalog of content for many tabletop roleplaying systems, DriveThru RPG offers cost-effective content, frequent sales, and even some free material for anyone looking to delve into the world of tabletop roleplay.
  • RPG Table Finder – If you’re looking for people to play with, check out RPG Table Finder. It’s a website dedicated to posting as either players or GMs who are looking to play games.
  • RPG Geek – RPG Geek is an informative website on tabletop roleplaying games that connects a community of players and GMs to many resources and provides forums for communication and even a market for buying, selling, and trading tabletop roleplaying resources.

Though we have a limited selection on the MORE catalog, there are some libraries that are carrying various books for a few popular tabletop roleplaying systems including D&D 5E, Pathfinder, and various RPG Kits from the Cadott Community Library. For GMs who are looking for some help, Table Fables books are a great resource that offers various randomization tables for just about anything you could think of for a fantasy-themed roleplaying system. If you want to take a gander at the general roleplaying content in the MORE catalog, you should try the call number 793.93. There are a few other materials included such as Minecraft, but most of the books are tabletop roleplaying related.

Get Outside and Don’t Miss the Fireflies

I know it’s summer because I keep finding myself outside beneath the nighttime sky, walking alongside my wife, trying to stumble along with her elegant strides. And I see the fireflies. The sky grows dim and there they are, flittering along the edges of everything.

We love fireflies. Of course we do.

My kids will stop goofing around to stand silent, watching for the little dancing lights popping on and off here and there. By those lilacs. By that doorstep. Up in that tree.

They appear from behind some black curtain, showing themselves for only a moment before vanishing again. A tiny magic act.

Watch closely now…poof.

We know exactly how this trick works. It’s a chemical reaction in the bugs’ bellies, causing a luminous reaction in our hearts, from where all the best magic comes.

It’s science. Science that’s as good as or better than magic. So why don’t we just call it magic? Let’s do it. Let’s call fireflies magic. We’ve studied them, we understand them, and we can explain them in a diagram, but they’re still every bit as amazing. And we can call them magic if we want to.

This is a magic of the most basic kind. A magic of the most hopeful kind. A small wonder, out there in the summer dark.

A little bit of light winking back at us.


Getting the Most Out of Your Summer

A fun fact about the month of June: it has the longest days out of any month of the year. We can consider ourselves lucky to have more daylight when enjoying June’s warm weather, weddings, and festivals. While the month may be coming to an end, it’s also technically the official start (June 20th) of a promising Wisconsin summer!

This year, it should be extra special now that we are witnessing the rebirth of our restaurants, events, and businesses once again. While things aren’t quite 100% just yet, there is still an immense amount of progress to celebrate.

For families:

Farmers markets, playtimes, and museums are safely welcoming back Eau Claire’s smiling faces. Of course, the library’s doors are open once again as well, along with the beautiful book bike visiting your favorite parks and events!

For friends:

Music festivals like the Cadott Rock Fest, Sounds Like Summer Concert Series, and food trucks galore are making appearances across the valley. Or can we suggest your own cookout, with our selection of grilling/picnicking/campout cookbooks?

For adults:

Wisconsin’s incredible wineries, supper clubs, and breweries are buzzing with new business and creative cocktails! If you’re trying to get the most out of the warm weather, many of these locations have outside seating and live music as well. I personally will be found sipping cocktails made by the wonderful staff at Fall Creek’s Connells Club 12!

With all this excitement, you may also be feeling a bit overwhelmed or overstimulated. While I’m looking forward to my favorite summer comeback events, COVID has taught me to become quite the introvert… and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! When I think back on my favorite summer memories, they often don’t include any expensive weekend trips or fancy vacations, but rather, small moments. For example, the spontaneous excitement of discovering some new secret spot in my hometown while on a casual bike ride. You can do this yourself, with our collection of bike trail books or maps!  I’ve also got a soft spot for wasting away the afternoon by laying in my yard, listening to oldies on my trusty cassette Walkman. While the public library may have outgrown cassettes, we do have an extensive music collection both digitally and on physical CD. We offer access to almost all genres of music, and by some incredible local artists as well. In fact, you can even create some of your own music with our selection of instruments to check out. The possibilities are endless!

My challenge for you this summer is to take what you’ve learned, and how you’ve grown in the past year or so, and use it to have your best summer yet.

Podcast Palooza

There isn’t much to say here. I have been researching podcasting for the better part of the last year and realized I had started to compile quite the list of podcasts. I went a little further and started to categorize those podcasts and expand in each category with even more content. Before I knew it, I managed to accumulate an insane list to share with you all. If you can’t find something of interest here, you may want to start re-evaluating your life.

Most of the following podcasts are actively releasing new content as of the writing of this blog post. The few that are limited series or seem to have been discontinued have it noted in the description.

A warning about content in these podcasts is well disclaimed in Conan O’Brien Needs Friend: “free from FCC regulation.” So, please take into consideration that any of these podcasts are subject to the unpredictability of freely contributed internet content without regulation. While some of these podcasts are produced by renowned organizations, many of them will contain content that is sensitive to some and most suited for a mature audience. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Jump to…

 


Interview (Comedic)

  • The Joe Rogan Experience – One of the longest running podcasts, The Joe Rogan Experience explores quite a variety including science, politics, celebrities, and fringe topics.
  • SmartLess – A comedy podcast hosted by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett. Each show has the trio interviewing a guest celebrity and hilarity always ensues. 
  • Armchair Expert – Hosted by actor Dax Shepherd where he interviews various celebrities.
  • Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend – Conan O’Brien takes his self-deprecating comedy to an auditory audience as he interviews various celebrities using a modified formula from his television shows.
  • Under the Skin – Russell Brand’s podcast delves into social issues and politics with leading professionals in their fields.

Interview (Serious)

  • TED Interview – You may have watched some TED talks on the many deep and meaningful topics they tackle. TED Interview has Chris Anderson, head of TED, interviewing like-minded professionals on a wide range of topics.
  • On Purpose – Jay Shetty’s podcast, On Purpose, is an attempt to “make wisdom go viral.”
  • You Turn Podcast – A podcast focused on improving its listeners’ lives in many facets of life through discussions with guests and hosted by Ashley Stahl.
  • The Genius Life – Max Lugavere brings professional guests on to share information on how to live a healthy life.

Listener Response

  • My Brother, My Brother and Me – Three brothers respond to listener questions filled with humor and sibling sarcasm. 
  • Timesuck! – Dan Cummins’ long but fascinating podcast episodes cover an array of listener-suggested topics taking on serious issues with a twist of comedic commentary.
  • Pen Pals with Daniel & Rory – The eponymous duo respond to letters sent in from their listener base.
  • Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People – A uniquely formatted podcast where the host takes a call from one listener and lets them tell their story while discussing the details.
  • The Peripheral – The host, Justin, collects listeners’ stories often considered taboo and shares them on the podcast. The show seems to have been discontinued but still has many episodes still available to listen to.

News

  • The Daily Zeitgeist – A humorous news podcast that ironically labels itself a second-rate program.
  • The Daily – A daily news podcast hosted by Michael Barbaro from The New York Times.
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Ears Edition – Takes the content from the television show, The Daily Show, and optimizes it for listeners in a podcast format.
  • Democracy Now! – One of NPR’s most popular radio shows and podcasts, Democracy Now! shares daily news on humanitarian and progressive issues in the United States.

True Crime

  • Casefile – An Australian true-crime podcast hosted by an anonymous man.
  • Mommy Doomsday – One of several Dateline podcasts, Mommy Doomsday is a limited series podcast hosted by the renowned Keith Morrison as he explores the strange disappearance of two of Lori Vallow’s children in Rexburg, Idaho.
  • Sword and Scale – The host, Mike Boudet, explores true crime stories while also interviewing criminals, witnesses, victims, and more in this long-running true-crime podcast.
  • My Favorite Murder – Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark share their favorite true crime stories while also hearing stories from friends and fans.
  • Criminal – An independently produced podcast hosted by Phoebe Judge where she shares “stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.”

 

Paranormal

  • This Paranormal Life – A weekly podcast where hosts Rory Powers and Kit Grier investigate cases surrounded with mystery and paranormal circumstance.
  • Spooked! – True stories about supernatural occurrences are shared by Snap Judgment’s host, Glynn Washington. 
  • The Dark Histories – A podcast that focuses on some of history’s strangest mysteries and darkest stories shared by Ben Cutmore.
  • And That’s Why We Drink – A terrifying and effective amalgamation of true crime and paranormal stories, And That’s Why We Drink‬ is the paranormal podcast to keep you up at night.
  • Unexplained You won’t find answers to these unsettling stories that have never been explained. 

Creativity & Art

  • The Unmistakable Creative A podcast designed to help get us creatives out of our slumps. Break those creative blocks with some inspiration from this podcast.
  • Sound & Vision – Host Brian Alfred travels to various studios and galleries to interview fellow creatives on their creative exploration in art and music.
  • Etsy Conversations Podcast – Most people have heard of Etsy, but how many have wondered how the creators came to be? This podcast has host Ijeoma interviewing various Etsy sellers to discuss their crafts and stories.
  • Creative Rebel‪s – Hosts David Speed and Adam Brazier interview other creatives who successfully rebelled against the standard day-job norms.
  • Design Matters – Touted as the longest running design podcast, Debbie Millman has been hosting Design Matters since 2005 discussing a variety of design-based topics with professionals in their fields.

Maker/DIY

  • Making It – The host trio of Jimmy Diresta, Bob Clagett, and David Picciuto discuss each of their unique areas of creative interests and what they have been making.
  • Reclaimed Audio – Another host trio, Phil Pinsky, Tim Sway, and Bill Lutes, share their very different attempts on making with reclaimed materials.
  • My Disney Class – A podcast that strives to bring the art and creative inspiration of Disney to classroom and makerspace educators everywhere.
  • Shop Talk Live – A podcast published by Fine Woodworking magazine where woodworking professionals discuss various subjects regarding woodwork.
  • 99% Invisible – A podcast hosted by Roman Mars where he digs into the architecture and design that is often left unappreciated or unnoticed in our day-to-day lives.

Odd/Surreal

  • Everything is Alive – Host Ian Chillag interviews an inanimate object in each episode where the object gets to share all of the true aspects of its existence.
  • The Box of Odditie‪s‬ – A bizarre podcast on a slew of strange topics discussed by podcast hosts Kat & Jethro Gilligan Toth.
  • The Unusual History of Every Thin‪g‬ – Each podcast episode has hosts Melanie Dellas and Karen Lacy delve into the history of a selected subject matter whether it be leprechauns or the inaccuracy of our calendars.
  • This Is Actually Happening – A podcast that covers true stories full of unusual or extreme circumstances.
  • The Truth – A dramatic storytelling podcast that drags its listeners through unexpected places. Headphones are recommended.

Mixed Bag

  • Decoder Ring – Willa Paskin hosts this podcast on exploring cultural mysteries whether it be historical fads or unexpected societal changes.
  • The Adam Savage Project – Adam Savage of Myth Busters fame created a podcast to explore his many areas of interest including celebrity interviews, maker community discussions, and answering questions from the audience. The podcast recently concluded in January of 2021 but still has hundreds of episodes available to listen to.
  • Stuff To Blow Your Min‪d‬ – Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss the many wonders of reality.
  • The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week – A podcast from Popular Science that offers questions about a wide array of subjects.
  • Stuff You Should Know, or SYSK – Hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, former writers from HowStuffWorks, explore many topics to appease the inner information junkie in all of us.

Life, Health, and Love

  • Mark Groves Podcast – Mark Groves is a Human Connection Specialist and shares his insight into human relationships on all levels in his podcast.
  • Food Psych – Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CDN hosts this podcast on intuitive eating and body liberation.
  • Love, Food – Podcast host Julie Duffy Dillon, RDN navigates the complexity of intuitive eating in a world of social norms.
  • The Ultimate Health Podcast – Marni Wasserman and Dr. Jesse Chappus interview professionals on various health topics focused on holistic and alternative viewpoints to mainstream medical thinking.
  • The School of Greatness – One of the most popular podcast series on iTunes that provides listeners with information regarding many topics to help live a better life including entrepreneurship, health, and money.

Sports

  • The Golfer’s Journal Podcast – A podcast from The Golfer’s Journal covering all topics golf.
  • 30 For 30 Podcasts – A renowned sports podcast that brings captivating stories about sports and athletes from the broad world of sports.
  • The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny – Mina Kimes, an acclaimed sports journalist, discusses all things football with her friends and the occasional input from her dog, Lenny.
  • Pardon My Take – A comedic sports podcast from Barstool Sports that has hosts Big Cat & PFT Commenter covering various sports topics.
  • The Bill Simmons Podcast – Touted as “the most downloaded sports podcast of time,” Bill Simmons brings a variety show centered around his area of expertise—sports.

Science

  • StarTalk Radio – Famed astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson hosts his equally as famous podcast, StarTalk, with various co-hosts and guests from both the science and entertainment industries.
  • Radiolab – Both a radio program and a podcast, New York’s Radiolab is a well-known and long-running series that started with a heavy focus on scientific inquiry, but has since branched out to include much more.
  • The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe – A podcast that discusses scientific issues with a panel of “skeptical rogues” that approaches everything with a sense of “scientific skepticism.”
  • Science Vs – A team of science-focused fact-checkers that tackle popular issues that need scientific backing or debunking.
  • Nature Podcast – The official podcast of Nature journal brings its scientific professionals’ voices to listeners’ ears.

Deep & Heavy

  • Griefcast – Cariad Lloyd takes a comedic approach to a very heavy topic—death.
  • On the Media – An NPR podcast that takes a critical view of the media and how it impacts us from a worldwide lens.
  • On Being – A radio show/podcast out of Minneapolis that asked “What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?”
  • Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everythin‪g‬ – An attempt to “connect the dots” of the complex world around us through a wide variety of topics.
  • Mindset Zone – A podcast that attempts to grow its listeners’ mindsets.

Historical

  • The Dollop – A history podcast with a comedic approach.
  • You’re Wrong Abou‪t‬ – Journalists Mike and Sarah challenge the socially prominent view of various historical topics and re-evaluate the controversial topics.
  • Mobituaries – Mo Rocca of CBS News takes some of his favorite underrated people from history and shares their little-known contributions. This does seem to be a limited podcast with the last episode in early 2020.
  • The Alarmist – A podcast that shares the blame behind some of history’s worst tragedies.
  • Noble Blood – Dana Schwartz’s historical podcast focuses on the royal side of history and the impact that various nobles have had on their nations.

 

Myth and Folklore

  • Myths and Legends – A podcast by Jason Weiser who shares stories from mythology and folklore from around the world.
  • Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby – A host known simply as Liv shares her favorite stories from Greek and Roman Mythology.
  • Mythunderstood – Paul Bianchi and Sarah Oliver take a comedic approach to sharing Paul’s love of Greek Mythology.
  • Drunk Mythology – Another comedy pair shares stories in mythology while they become intoxicated.
  • The Myth Legend & Lore Podcast – Siobhan Clark’s mesmerizing Irish accent drags her listeners in her tellings of mythology.

Creepypastas

Variety Storytelling

  • Selected Shorts – Short stories are selected by guest hosts and performed by various famous actors and celebrities. Episodes are available for a limited time after first airing.
  • 1001 Classic Short Stories & Tales – Some of history’s greatest classics are read aloud by the show’s host, John Hagadorn.
  • The Writer’s Voice – The New Yorker provides a podcast where the authors of their stories read the stories that were provided in issues of The New Yorker.
  • Clarkesworld Magazine – This Science Fiction & Fantasy magazine shares some of its printed short stories in a podcast format for readers and listeners to enjoy.
  • Lightspeed Magazine – Another Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine that shares its published material. 

Horror Storytelling

  • Nightlight – This podcast has horror both written and performed by Black writers and actors.
  • Chilling Tales for Dark Nights – A weekly horror podcast that shares several stories per episode from various authors and professional voice actors.
  • The Magnus Archives – One of several varying podcasts out of Rusty Quill Ltd., The Magnus Archives is a horror anthology podcast touting five seasons of content so far.
  • The Wicked Library – An award-winning horror podcast that has a whopping ten seasons of content.

Real Life Stories

  • This American Life – A weekly podcast hosted by Ira Grass that airs on various radio stations and as a podcast that focuses primarily on non-fiction content.
  • Here Be Monster‪s‬ – A podcast by a socially anxious host, Jeff Emtman who shares his own experience on how to conquer one’s own fears.
  • Ear Hustle – The podcast about daily life in the prison where they interview prisoners currently or formerly incarcerated in the American prison system.
  • Conversations – A podcast based out of Australia and produced by ABC, Conversations brings truly incredible stories of people who have had amazing and sometimes horrifying experiences.
  • The Mortified Podcast – A podcast that has adults share some of their most embarrassing memorabilia from childhood.

Pop Culture

  • The Popcast With Knox and Jamie – A self-aware waste of time, The Popcast has hosts Knox and Jamie discussing pop culture every week.
  • How Did This Get Made? – Hosts Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas discuss terrible movies and wonder, “How Did This Get Made?
  • The Trend Reporter – A podcast that keeps its listeners up to date on the latest trends and topics.
  • Keep It – A podcast self-described as “a show about pop culture, politics, and what happens when they smack into each other at alarming speed.”
  • Culture Gabfest A Slate podcast about culture.

Technology

  • Reply All – A podcast from Gimlet Media about the mutually impactful effects of the internet and its users. This popular series was recently placed on indefinite hold as of February of 2021 but the almost 200 episodes are still available for your listening pleasure.
  • Accidental Tech Podcast – Three self-described nerds, Marco Arment, Casey Liss, John Siracusa, discuss nerdy tech topics in a collection of hundreds of episodes and counting.
  • Rocket – A weekly podcast where hosts, Christina Warren, Brianna Wu, and Simone de Rochefort, have “accelerated geek conversation.” A true nerd variety podcast.
  • Tech Talker – Eric Escobar takes the intimidating complexity of technology and explains it in layman’s terms for the average listener to understand.
  • Clockwise – A weekly podcast where hosts Dan Moren and Mikah Sargent invite two guests and the four discuss four topics regarding technology.

Business

  • The Angie Lee Show – The self-declared “hilarious business x wellness bestie,” Ang, has made it her goal to help others find their energy.
  • Business Wars – A podcast that strives to bring the truth behind the scenes of business decisions that the average person is often left unaware of.
  • Dear HBR – HBR, aka Harvard Business Review, is a podcast that provides listeners with solutions for their difficulties at work.
  • The BizChix – A podcast for female entrepreneurs with a variety of success stories and coaching episodes.
  • Brown Ambitio‪n‬ – A weekly podcast where successful-in-life hosts, Mandi Woodruff and Tiffany Aliche, share their tips on how to be successful through investment and career choices.

Therapy & Psychology

  • Heavyweight – A seasonal podcast with host Jonathan Goldstein delving into the past of one subject per episode where he helps them come to terms with a moment they wish they could change.
  • Deeply Human‬ – A BBC podcast that helps explain why humans are the way they are.
  • Therapist Uncensored – A pair of therapists, Sue Marriott LCSW, CGP, and Ann Kelley PhD, host as they bring on various professionals in neuroscience onto the show.
  • ADHD reWired Podcast – Host, Eric Tivers, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with ADHD. He offers tips, stories, and strategies to help other adults with ADHD cope.
  • Therapy Chat Podcast – Best described with the intro from iTunes, “Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, Psychotherapist, Burnout Prevention Consultant and Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator interviews guests to discuss holistic and alternative approaches used in psychotherapy, counseling, coaching and healing sessions.”

Religious

  • Interfaith Voices – Started by a nun after 9/11 to bring together a multi-faith panel to discuss religious matters in an attempt to inform the public on religious issues and promote dialogue across religious lines.
  • Bible Project – BibleProject is a website dedicated to providing biblical information through modern technology. Their podcast expands on some of their other content and gets deeper with conversations between hosts Tim and Jon.
  • Hijabi Diaries – Its subtitle “Muslim women, speaking for themselves” speaks volumes. This podcast brings several Muslim women together from Indiana for them to share their otherwise unheard voices.
  • Buddhism Guide – Host Karma Yeshe Rabgye separates this podcast from other Buddhist podcasts by focusing on the “way of life” rather than the philosophy or religion. 
  • Heart and Soul – A BBC podcast that covers topics covering many religions throughout the world.

Racial Topics

  • Be the Bridge – Latasha Morrison hosts this podcast as a voice against racial injustice.
  • Floodlines – A limited podcast that covers the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the racial disparities and racist reactions to those events.
  • Code Switch – A hard-hitting podcast that attempts to bring racial topics to the table that are often avoided but are in dire need of coverage.
  • Good Ancestor – An interview podcast with host Layla F. Saad where she combats racism through conversations with “change-makers & culture-shapers.”
  • Intersectionality Matters – American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw hosts this podcast that covers various topics that explore racial inequality in the United States.

 

LGBT+

  • Still Processing – A New York Times podcast hosted by Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham that covers many cultural topics through a queer lens.
  • LGBTQ&A – A podcast with an obvious subject matter that focuses on the success stories and lives of people who identify with LGBTQ+.
  • Food 4 Thot – I can’t describe it better than the iTunes description: “A multiracial mix of queer writers talk about sex, relationships, race, identity, what we like to read, and who we like to read. It’s not about food — we just really like the pun.”
  • Getting Curious – You may know him as the energetic hairdresser from Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness, or JVN, hosts this podcast where he interviews professionals from a variety of professional fields where they explore anything they find “curious.”
  • Las Culturistas – Hosts Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang talk with guests on their professional area of interest, culture. 

Local Eau Claire/Chippewa Valley

  • Get Lost: A Walking Podcast of Eau Claire – An innovative podcast created by students from the UWEC Theatre who took the opportunity during the COVID pandemic to create something unique and fun for the Eau Claire area.
  • Eau Claire Hometown Media – A collection of local community-related podcasts including emBarks’s A Dose of Dog, Northwestern Bank’s Banker with a Beer, and several more.
  • Cool & Unusual Punishment – Locally famed for its year-long coverage of the Joe Luginbill controversy, Cool & Unusual Punishment  covers Midwest “crime, corruption, and fascinating people.”

Podcasts About Podcasting (How Meta!)

  • Podcasts We Listen To – This podcast is focused on interviewing other podcasters to help listeners get to know their favorite podcast hosts a little better.
  • School of Podcasting – Not much to explain about this one. More than just a podcast, School of Podcasting has many tutorials and other resources to help would-be podcasters get launched.
  • Podcasters’ Roundtable – A podcast where podcasters get to have meaningful discussion on podcast topics.
  • She Podcasts – The host, Jessica, discovered a disparity in the female presence of podcast-related podcasts and knew that people needed to see the wonderful world of women in podcasts.
  • The Podcast Engineering Show Another meta podcast that focuses more on the technical side of things. Chris Curran interviews podcasters on their equipment and software.

Library

  • Dewey Decibel – American Library Magazine’s podcast about all things library.
  • Cyberpunk Librarian – A podcast that amalgamates two wonderfully compatible topics, libraries, and technology.
  • Circulating Ideas – A podcast where they discuss innovation in libraries.
  • Book Riot – Books and reading is the topic of this weekly podcast.
  • Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange – A series of podcasts for librarians regarding professional development and material selection/suggestion.

Library Staff Favs

  • LeVar Burton Reads – Everyone’s favorite childhood bibliophile is now reading stories for adults in his very own podcast.
  • David Tennant Does a Podcast With… – Everyone’s favorite Doctor, or not, has his own podcast where he interviews various celebrities.
  • Ear BiscuitsGood Mythical Morning’s Xenniels, Rhett and Link, sum the show up best in their introductory statement, “Where two lifelong friends talk about life for a long time.”
  • Unf*ck Your Brain – A successful woman, Kara Loewentheil, podcasts with advice on how to cope with the struggles of succeeding as a woman.
  • Hello From the Magic Tavern – Host Arnie has been teleported to the magical land of Foon and uses his mysterious WiFi access to share his interviews with Foon’s inhabitants.

You Might Actually Enjoy Poetry. Who knew?

Like many people in our country and around the world, I watched the 2021 presidential inauguration and was absolutely enraptured by Amanda Gorman’s recitation of her poem “The Hill We Climb”. Her performance actually gave me goosebumps. It was the perfect reminder of how powerful poetry can be when given a chance.

“We’ve braved the belly of the beast.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,

and the norms and notions of what “just is”

isn’t always just-ice.”

-Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”

Many of us, when we think about poetry, conjure up memories of being forced to tediously study the works of long-dead white men. Byron, Wordsworth, and Whitman are all still well-known poets for a reason, but they’re not for everyone. If your introduction to poetry was slogging through Tennyson for a high school literature class, you probably wrote off the whole affair.

But our memories deceive us. If you think your introduction to poetry happened in your teens, you’re probably mistaken.

Poetry is difficult to define. It can be defined as simply as “metrical writing” (Merriam-Webster), as extensively as “the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts” (Dictionary.com), or as, well, poetically as “that synthetic and magical power, to which we have exclusively appropriated the name of imagination” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria).

By all of these definitions, many of our most beloved children’s picture books are a form of poetry. Meant to be read out loud, they frequently employ rhyme and rhythm, tell imaginative tales, and evoke beautiful and ofttimes magical imagery. Sure, they might not count as “elevated thoughts”, but rereading them as adults can bring out far more meaning than our young minds originally found.

“But the wild things cried, ‘Oh please don’t go—

We’ll eat you up—we love you so!’

And Max said, ‘No!’”

-Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

“Goodnight stars

Goodnight air

Goodnight noises everywhere”

-Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon

As you got older, chances are that you were introduced to fun poems written for children, such as those by Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky.

“There is a voice inside of you

That whispers all day long,

‘I feel that this is right for me,

I know that this is wrong.’”

-Shel Silverstein, “The Voice”

Poetry is all around us in our everyday lives, too. Famous lines are printed on our coffee mugs, etched into statues and monuments, quoted in the dedications of our favorite books. We regularly reference poetry in conversation whenever we call our path “the road less travelled,” ironically bemoan our thirst despite there being “water, water, everywhere,” or comfort the grieving with the sentiment “’tis better to have loved and lost”. I’d even argue that song lyrics (at least some of them) are just poetry set to music.

So this April, for National Poetry Month, I challenge you to seek out poetry that you enjoy. If you enjoy nature, check out Mary Oliver. Do you read young adult and coming-of-age stories? Try Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming. If you like vivid, artistic imagery, try former poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. And if you’re just looking for a bit of nostalgia, A Pizza the Size of the Sun is where it’s at, I promise not to judge.

*Also, if you’d like to try your hand at writing some poetry, check out these instructions from our Dabble Box Makerspace on Types of Poetry and Blackout Poetry.

Image shows a city snowplow plowing a snowy street.

A Tale of Snowplows and Theoretical Flamethrowers

This winter many have you feeling a little cheated. The relatively light snow accumulation we’ve seen this year has robbed many locals of a classic Wisconsin pastime: complaining about snowplows.

It’s our birthright as Wisconsinites, right? It’s a legacy we’re obsessed with preserving. And of course, it’s a subject most of us know absolutely nothing about. But who cares about experience or expertise when you’ve got Facebook and a healthy dose of unearned confidence? Not us.

We complain about our street not getting cleared, and then we complain after the plow goes by and…clears our street (the wrong way). And for many, it usually comes down to the dreaded snowbank at the end of the driveway.

Listen, I understand how hard it is to remove this blockade of snow at the end of your driveway. On a non-hilarious note, if you are physically unable to clear all that snow on your own—and your mode of transportation is disabled—it can seriously hobble your ability to do important things like “getting to work” or “getting to the hospital” or “getting to Kwik Trip to buy a cheddar-filled corndog and and some day-old donuts.”

However, I’m not sure how much we can really expect a snowplow to do. There isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room in basic street-plowing strategies, and the physics involved is kind of stubborn. So let’s resolve to be more reasonable.

That said, and hear me out, I think the city should sell all of its snowplow attachments and buy (or build) dump truck-mounted flamethrowers. Then we can simply vaporize our unwanted snow, allowing it to gently float away on a soft winter breeze only to refreeze into sleet and fall on some other city, hopefully in Michigan.

Image shows flames on a black background.

Hear me out.

Think of it. No more snowbanks. No more trapped cars. And no more armchair snowplow experts.

I’m not being (totally) absurd, here. On Jan. 22, 1948, the mayor of Boston, Massachusetts (a large and perfectly legitimate US city) wrote a letter to the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (a large and perfectly legitimate technical college), asking him to task MIT scientists with building anti-snow flamethrowers.* Allow me to quote Bostonian mayor o’ yore James Curley:

“I am very desirous that the Institute of Technology have a competent group of engineers make an immediate study as to the ways and means of removing the huge accumulation [of snow] not only in Boston, but throughout the entire state, whether it by the use of flame throwers or chemicals or otherwise…”

Now, the fact that American cities are NOT currently blasting snow into fiery oblivion with government-funded flamethrowers—sixty years after this letter was typed by a mayoral aid—can only mean one thing:

They are still working on it.

Though it saddens me to see so much snow just sitting there un-vaporized, I am not discouraged. Snow-busting technology is a crucial area of research, and I can only assume the smarties at MIT are busy perfecting it. I applaud their silent diligence. And I hope they are also developing snow-destroying lasers for both home and municipal use.

In the meantime, short of this amazing technology becoming a reality, let’s help each other out. If you see snow-locked neighbors in need of shoveling assistance, by all means, assist when possible. If we stand together (with or without flamethrowers) surely we can overcome the Frosty Menace. Surely, we can prevail.

*I know this letter is real, and not just because I saw a picture of it on the internet. In case you doubt me, here it is in Popular Science (a large and perfectly legitimate magazine).

Text reads February Factoids: of 28 is but one

February Factoids

Thirty days have November,
April, June, and September.
Of 28 is but one
And all the remnant 30 and 1.

Happy first day of the shortest month of the year. After a January that felt like a year-long month, I am actually looking forward to the abbreviated month of February, perhaps for the first time in my life. After we’ve all (hopefully) remembered to say “rabbits, rabbits, rabbits” this morning for a little bit of luck to get us through the cold days ahead, here is a list of 28 factoids to help us celebrate this shortest month of the year.

  1. February wasn’t even part of the evolving Roman calendar, or the Calendar of Romulus (named after the legendary first king of Rome), which commenced with the month of March (the spring equinox) and ended with December. The coldest and darkest part of the year was of no use to harvesters and planters and remained nameless until King Numa Pompilius said, “Hey, what’s the point of having a calendar when we are ignoring one-sixth of the year?” Thus, the calendar was reformed to align with the lunar cycles and those nameless days became January and February, but they originally fell at the end of the year!
  2. Punxsutawney Phil lives in a climate-controlled habitat attached to the Punxsutawney Memorial Library. Although the in-person celebration at Gobbler’s Knob has been suspended this year, you can witness the Prognosticator of Prognosticators predict our wintery fate starting at 6:30 a.m. EST here: https://www.groundhog.org/
  3. February 3 is known as the The Day the Music Died, commemorating the untimely death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper. Their pilot, Roger Peterson, also perished in the crash.
  4. President Gerald Ford decreed Black History Month a national observance in 1976, on both the fiftieth anniversary of the first iteration and America’s bicentennial year. Every year since, the American president, issues a proclamation endorsing the annual theme chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Founders of Black History Month. This year’s theme is The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.
  5. It’s also known as “National Fasting February,” a month for transforming new health resolutions into healthy habits and lifestyles.
  6. President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed first American Heart Month in February 1964 via Proclamation 3566 on Dec. 30, 1963.
  7. Every Super Bowl since 2002 has occurred in February, but as the Packers aren’t in it this year, I couldn’t care less.
  8. February 8 is Kite Flying Day. Area forecast calls for a high of 6 degrees and 12 mph winds from the WNW. No thank you.
  9. February was the most commonly misspelled word in the state of New Jersey in 2016 according to a Google search trends report. What was the most commonly misspelled word in Wisconsin that year? Vacuum.
  10. The play Death of a Salesman premiered on February 10, 1949. Oddly enough, its playwright, Arthur Miller, died on the same day fifty-six years later.
  11. Perhaps one of the oddest national days on the calendar, February 11 is known as “National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day.”
  12. Yes, the 16th president of the United States was born on the morning of February 12, 1809 in a one-room log cabin with a dirt floor, but did you also know that Abraham Lincoln was kicked in the head by a horse as a child and presumed dead? Maybe that explains why he became such a successful vampire hunter. February 12, 2021 is also the first day of the first month on the Chinese calendar, marking the beginning of the Chinese New Year. 2021 is the Year of the Ox.
  13. Charles “Chuck” Yeager was born on February 13, 1923. He was the first pilot in history confirmed to break the sound barrier in level flight, and he accomplished this amazing feat on October 14, 1947 with two broken ribs.
  14. Those same ancient Romans that gave us the month of February may also be responsible for the name of our modern day celebration of Valentine’s Day, but for some pretty dark reasons. Emperor Claudius II executed two men named Valentine in two separate years during the 3rd Century C.E. On a lighter note, one in four people buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets and almost half admit to cuddling their dog more than their partner.
  15. Did you know that Presidents Day (a.k.a. President’s Day or Presidents’ Day) is not a national holiday? However, it is a great day for boosting car sales.
  16. February 16th, or “Do a Grouch a Favor Day,” and may or may not have been invented by Big Bird. If you have a grouch in your life, try to engage with them through an act of kindness and break them out of their slump. After all, as Oscar the Grouch would say, “It’s called a garbage can, not a garbage cannot.”
  17. Some fun factoids for February 17th: Sardines were first canned in Maine, Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase incensed viewers, the PTA was founded, and Elvis Presley was awarded his first gold album for “Elvis.”
  18. Pluto was discovered in 1930. Joke’s on them. They totally thought it was a planet.
  19. The Anglo-Saxon name for the month of February was Solmōnaþ, in modern English this translates as hearthcake. During this month, they offered cakes to their gods. For some great cake recipes, check out our system’s collection of cake cookbooks.
  20. Now that you’ve had some cake, how about a slice of pie? February 20 is Cherry Pie Day. Grab a slice of cherry pie and a cup of coffee, because as Special Agent Dale Cooper would say, “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present.”
  21. February is also known as “Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month.” This has been observed since 1969.
  22. I’ll be taking my dog for a walk today, as February 22 is Walking the Dog Day, but I do that every day, so maybe I’ll spend the day learning this Yoyo trick instead…
  23. February 23rd is the 54th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, the calendar that is used in most of the world. There are 311 days remaining until the end of the year. The Gregorian Calendar is more accurate than the Julian Calendar it replaced, but it is still off by one day every 3,236 years.
  24. In 1712, Sweden and Finland actually had a Double Leap Year, creating a February 30. If the odds of being born on February 29 are 1 in 4,691, just imagine the odds of having been born that day! (I’m not a statistician. If you want to do the math, you can let me know the odds in the comments).
  25. The Beatles made their first appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964. Over 73 million Americans tuned in to watch the Fab Four perform. Despite the turnout in viewers, the show’s musical producer didn’t really care for them and was quoted as saying to the New York Times: “The only thing that’s different is the hair, as far as I can see. I give them a year.”
  26. February 26th is National Pistachio Day. Not only are these little nuts fun to crack, they’re heart-healthy, too! (see number 6) Fun facts about pistachios: they grow on trees, the trees take 7-10 years to mature, in China they are called “the happy nut,” and while Pandas are mostly known for eating bamboo, they also love pistachios because they are crispy and sweet. Oh, and they are great on ice cream!
  27. A month without a full moon can only happen in the month of February, and it takes almost 20 years for the cycle of lunar phases to work out just right. However, the Snow Moon will rise at 3:19 a.m. EST on February 27. This moon represents the time to come out of our rest and hibernation and for our intentions for the year to truly manifest.
  28. Final fun factoid for February: According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, February 28 is the best day to: quit smoking, begin diet to lose weight, have dental care, harvest below ground crops, wean animals or children, and pick fruit, all based on the position of the Moon.

 

International Games Week, Month, Thing 2020

Wondering if we’re doing anything for IGW this year? Bummed out because COVID’s getting all the fun stuff canceled? Well, we are doing what we can! We have a few options for all you gamers and game-curious. We are running a couple of games online as well as providing customers with packets of printed games, often referred to as Print & Play games. I will also share a list of Print & Play resources if you want to print some of your own copies at home.

Now, for the events! First, we have Teamfight Tactics night with Jon. He will be running a session with up to seven other players on Thursday, November 5th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Players will need a Discord account and a Riot Games account to participate. Come a little early if you need help. Don’t be alarmed when you find you are creating an account for League of Legends. Teamfight Tactics is part of LoL. Registration for the event is here.

 

Second, we have Board Game Arena night with Brad. The night is Thursday, November 12th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Come a little early if you need help. Depending on the number of registrants, there will be a number of games to choose from. We could play Carcassonne, Kingdomino, Sushi Go!, Love Letter, or Saboteur. Players will need a Discord account and a Board Game Arena account to participate. Registration for the event can be found here.

Last, and certainly not least, we have our Print & Play games. Five games will be available for you to take home and play. The games have been printed out and need to be cut out, but will be yours to keep and play forever after. Each game was obtained from the manufacturer/creator who has graciously shared their games for anyone to use. We will have the demo version of both Dixit and Carcassonne from Asmodee, Love Letter Sender from Z-Man Games, Dungeon Squad 2 from Bully Pulpit Games, and Caterpillar Feast from Venntik Games. If you have the means to print at home, you are certainly welcome to grab the files yourself and print at your leisure.

The following is a list of more resources where you can find games to Print & Play at home.
Jellybean Games
Greenbrier Games
Asmodee
Good Little Games
Cheapass Games
PNP Arcade

The following is a list of free tabletop game websites where you can play various tabletop games online.
Board Game Arena
Yucata
BrettspielWelt
Boite a Jeux
Tabletopia
Playing Cards.io
netgames.io

Friday, the Australian Shepherd Puppy

Puppy Love

It has been twenty-three weeks (yes, I am counting) since the state’s initial stay-at-home order. By day three, I wanted a puppy.

Now I know what you are thinking: “Ah, yes, yet another pandemic puppy,” and maybe you are right. But what better way to get through this pandemic than to bring home a lovable furball who is (mostly) oblivious to the high-stress environment surrounding her. Another creature to bring joy to our family; something to focus on other than the latest news and our lack of normalcy. And I’m not the only one! Four other staff members at LEPMPL have adopted puppies this summer!

In celebration of all these new library pups, here are some top picks from our catalog featuring some fabulous canines.

  1. Dog Man: Grime and Punishment by Dav Pilkey (Author, Illustrator) From the creator of “Captain Underpants” comes #9 in the “Dog Man” series, release date September 1, 2020, so place your hold today! What type of dog is dog man? A hound.
  2. Think Like a Dog (DVD) Oliver is a middle-school tech prodigy whose science fair experiment has a furry twist that gives him a telepathic connection to his dog, Henry. If you are wondering Cover Art of Where the Red Fern Growswhat kind of dog Henry is, he is a Labradoodle.
  3. Muzzled by David Rosenfelt Reluctant lawyer Andy Carpenter and his beloved golden retriever are back on the case in this 2020 release about a missing owner.
  4. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls A list of titles featuring dogs would be incomplete without this classic tale of a young boy and his adventures in the Ozarks with two redbone hounds.
  5. The Call of the Wild (DVD) If you want to see Harrison Ford take on the role of Jack London’s John Thornton, the final owner of Buck, a Saint Bernard/Scotch Collie mix, check out this 2020 title.

If your household has recently been blessed, (or the other, depending upon how sleep-deprived you are right now), and you are looking for some training guidelines, wondering why your puppy seems to have a witching hour at 7 p.m. every evening, or need some advice on crate training, check out this list of puppy training titles available in our system.

Happy training and enjoy those puppy snuggles!

To Socialize, Or Not To Socialize

It shouldn’t have to be a question!

Though we refer to the expectation of distancing ourselves from others around us as “social distancing,” it does not mean that we have to negate all social activities we could have with others. Socializing is best in person, but that is not necessarily the only method of socializing. The modern technological marvels we have access to provide us with a means of socializing that has been historically impossible. We don’t have to be locked up without any way of communicating as our ancestors had with Spanish Influenza, so why not take advantage of the resources at hand? “What resources?” you might ask. Well, let me share a few with you.

Craving some face-to-face time with family and friends? If you haven’t heard of Zoom, where have you been? It’s free to sign up and easy to get started. You can also use the “video call” feature in Google Hangouts if you already have a Google account. You can even get creative and work in some visual games like Heads Up! or Pictionary.

Image courtesy of Tumisu CCO

Missing out on board game night? I know I am! There are so many options available out there. If you want a really genuine board game experience where you can pick up and move those pieces around the board and you enjoy the authenticity of calculating everything yourself as you play, go check out Tabletopia. You can play many games for free and play with your friends online. But be careful, the free reign of the board means you have to keep on eye on those players who like to make “mistakes.” You know who I’m talking about.

If having to do everything yourself with the board games sounds like too much hassle, check out Board Game Arena. It’s free to sign up and you can join any existing tables that have been started. Most of the games are completely free to host yourself, but the premium titles like Carcassonne and Kingdomino require a subscription to host. Though, you can always ask if someone would kindly host a game for you through the website’s chat feature.

Maybe you aren’t such a board game fan, but you really miss playing card night with the regulars. Well, there are some great options there too! If you are looking for that genuine experience, once again, there’s a website for that! Check out playingcards.io where you can pull in as many decks of playing cards as you like, manipulate their contents to match your game, and play a few rounds of your favorite card game. And the best thing of all, there is no need for an account! Every game receives its own unique address that you share with your friends for access. Unlike the other options in this post, all communication will require another application like Zoom, Discord, or your favorite chat app.

There are, of course, many options to play card games where the computer keeps track of the rules. Anyone who remembers the 90s will likely recall Solitaire on their computer that was a Windows staple for years. One of the most popular online playing cards resources is Cardzmania. Like playingcards.io, it requires no login. Anyone can host a game and simply share the match’s address for friends to join. Cardzmania will even provide computer-controlled bots to fill in if you need more players.

Image courtesy of Piotrus CC BY-SA 2.5

Chances are, if you’re a tabletop roleplayer, you have probably heard of Roll20, but this is both a reminder to the veteran players and nudge in the right direction for the TTRPG curious. Roll20 is a versatile tool that allows a group of roleplayers to coordinate via the website with their online character sheets, dice rolling, and maps to play their favorite tabletop roleplaying games online. It’s free to use the basic features for both players and the game master and provides the GM with even more tools if they wish to subscribe. It’s not a bad idea to use something like Zoom to help keep the experience genuine.

There are so many options to socialize in our “socially distanced” world right now. Take care of your social health and take advantage of the resources available out there! Social distancing doesn’t mean there is no socializing. Just socializing distantly.