Should I Post My Content During Major News Events?

Imagine: You are someone who needs to post on social media. Maybe it’s for your small business. Perhaps you’ve managed to make your online presence your full-time job. Maybe you’re just minimally maintaining your account. Idk, you know what bucket you fall into.

As you go about your otherwise unremarkable day, you get the notification. A “Big Thing” has happened. It could be a death of a world leader. It could be an uprising at your nation’s capitol. It could be a major weather system causing catastrophic damage. The specifics don’t really matter. What DOES matter is that the clever interpretive dance you filmed to the recharting 90s sleeper hit suddenly seems very out of place and thoughtless to post.

What do you do?

This situation happens a lot more than you would think, especially in the era of the 24-hour news cycle. As important as maintaining your online presence is, your account does not exist in a vacuum. Sometimes your perfectly scheduled feed gets thrown out the window because of the next Breaking News alert. How do you know what to ignore, when to lean it, and when to hold posting? Major news events tend to fall under three main categories; Emergency Situations, Notable Deaths, and WTF Is Happening. Like with all answers in life, how you respond to these depend on context. Here are my general guidelines for deciding how to work around major “real world” events in a content calendar.

Emergency Situations

What Is It?: An Emergency Situation is something that is impacting a great number of people in a clearly dangerous way. Examples are things like mass shootings, major earthquakes, civil unrest… anything that people are going to want or need to pay attention to trusted sources of information in order to keep themselves safe or informed. These can be from worldwide events to hyper-local situations.

Should I Post?: If this is a life-altering event that impacts you, your followers, or the good of humanity, hold your posting (unless your posts are providing information and updates from reliable sources or you are the reliable source). A, people aren’t going to be watching your resin pour videos at that second anyway and B, you don’t want to be the asshole talking about resin ashtrays when there is an actual crisis going on.

If You Must Post: Sharing information from reputable sources and amplifying the voices of the people who are impacted is encouraged. Just make sure you attempt to check that the information you share is accurate and legitimate. No FakeNews.

Notable Deaths

What Is It?: A notable death is when someone well-known and influential shuffles off this mortal coil. Examples include major heads of state, beloved celebrities, or local people of importance. This can be subjective; The Queen’s passing was a noted event worldwide, but the impact was quite different for the UK than it was for the US. Celebrity deaths and their impact are going to depend on demographics.

Should I Post?: Your posting options are going to depend on your followers, the magnitude of loss felt by this passing, and if you are running a personal or public account. If your audience is going to be paying more attention to the news reports or tributes coming in, hold your witty standup routine until their focus shifts back.

If You Must Post: If you are running a business account or any sort of large public-facing account, consider if a tribute post is appropriate and confirm that any of your previously scheduled content isn’t going to be constructed as insensitive. If you are running a personal account, you can carry on as normal but don’t just post a tribute to get the engagement. There’s nothing cringier than claiming to be the biggest fan of someone who passed and then talking about how much you loved the band that they weren’t even in. However, a heartfelt tribute to someone who inspired you is something that can help build your authenticity.

WTF Is Happening?

What Is It?: Sometimes shit just happens and all you can say is “what the fuck is that”. The Oscar host gets slapped for a bad joke on live TV. The former President’s lawyer holds a press conference at a landscaping lot. The hot tech company launches a much anticipated new product with a funny name. Usually, these moments don’t have the same sense of urgency or gravity as the previous two, but they are pulling a majority of the day’s focus.

Should I Post?: This is going to be highly dependent on your audience, strategy, and personal preferences as well as the actual event that is going on. If you are running a public-facing account for a business or brand I would urge you to think hard about running with anything that is controversial or political unless that is a stance you are comfortable defending. Otherwise, if you think you can hold your own, save your evergreen content for when you need to fill a void and Lean In. These are literally the moments that social media was made for. If you are watching it happen, are willing to take the risk that not 100% of your audience will agree with you, and have something to say, do it.

If You Must Post: Be witty but don’t try too hard. Credit your memes if you’re resharing. Be prepared to handle the backlash if it doesn’t land. Enjoy the ride, but don’t be the account that drags the moment out beyond its expiration date.

Final Thoughts

As always, the biggest rule is that there are no hard and fast rules. Flexibility and overall awareness are what save the day in these situations. If it feels right to post, or not post, your instinct is often correct. If you know your audience, know your strategy & posting schedule, and have a spoonful of common sense, you can negotiate your way through without having your account look out of touch or insensitive.

“Go Wild Tickets” Are How Much? Live Events Post Covid Restrictions

I started this blog as a planner blog and covered some experiences at different planner events over the years. I’ve stepped back from a lot of the planner content I used to create, but I was deep in the community for a while there. Planners Gone Wild and their GO WILD event were a huge part of that picture for me. I dipped out of the Facebook group a few years back since it wasn’t my thing anymore and, I’ll be honest, the GO WILD Vegas event had a weird vibe to it that I still can’t really explain. The point to all of this is, I still love the community and follow along mostly on lurk mode lately, have made some great friends along the way, and not every thing is for everybody.

GO WILD announced their 2023 event location and ticket price today. It’s finally an east coast-ish location in Washington DC, and I do love the play on WASHIngton. Tickets are $700. You could hear the collective gasp at the sticker shock echoing through the Facebook groups. It’s causing quite a stir, both for some good and some kinda silly reasons.

Of course, since Planner Drama gets me the most clicks on my blog, I have some thoughts. Grab your hydration vessels and let’s talk about some things.

This Hobby Is WILDly Expensive

I’m gonna be blunt; planners & planning are a “privileged” hobby and a big part of that privilege is having a high dollar amount in disposable income. There is no better example of that than planner events. It’s not just the cost of tickets, travel, and lodging that you end up budgeting for. There’s a huge culture of FOMO merchandise and extra costs that comes along with this (and many other planner-related) events. At the *minimum*, you’re probably going to buy a special sticker kit for the week, but most people get shirts, and more stickers, and a special planner insert, and special pens, and tablemate gifts, and swap sheets, and matching roommate stuff, and special outfits, and the list goes on. GO WILD in particular has a culture of *more* when it comes to all the extras. It’s not required but it does make things more fun, and I say that from experience.

GO WILD Is Trying To GO Premium

The similarities between how GO WILD and DisneyParks are structuring their experiences are really noticeable. Disney has been coming under some scrutiny lately for essentially pricing out or limiting the experience for the average family. Go Google it for the full in-depth business analysis, but the TL;DR is that the new pricing structures are focused less on the quantity of people coming through the gates and more on the quality of visitor experience (aka, people who are willing to spend more for extras that used to be free). I have no numbers on any of it, but I believe the assumption is that the ROI is going to be higher if you cater to the people with more money who want a more elite experience than the budget traveling family of 5 who is going to pack their own sandwiches into the park.

If you take that idea and move into a planner event, you have a situation where it might make sense to the organizers to charge a high dollar amount for a conference that features more fireworks at the cost of not being financially feasible for a majority of their members. And, like… this is a conference that is known to bring in C-list celebrities as keynote speakers and light-up stilt dancers for the cocktail party. It helps create the FOMO for next year.

And yeah, there is a snobbish gate-keeping aspect at play here too.

WILDly Unpredictable

Ok, Kiwi… you seem to be pretty understanding of a $700 price tag for an event that has gone up a quarter in price since you last went. What’s the catch?

I’m glad you asked! I actually don’t think the price increase is that unreasonable on the surface given the state of live events and the cost increases in everything over the past few years. My side-eyeing comes from having to commit hundreds of dollars before you even know what you’re getting out of the event and their handling of refunds (or lack thereof).

GO WILD tickets typically go on sale before they announce anything about the event other than location. You are putting down hundreds of dollars and you literally don’t know what you’re getting. Yeah, you can make some educated guesses based on the previous years’ line-ups since there are a lot of repeat presenters but there is no confirmation on who or what is going to happen at this event until after you’ve committed your $700. You might get to see someone who you’ve always wanted to see speak and be moved to tears by their presentation! Or you might have to sit through a noted anti-vaxxer vegan former celebrity talking about something completely unrelated and want to stick forks in your eyes. You don’t know. It’s like a blind bag of events, except the cost to play is a significant chunk of money, even for the higher-income attendees. It feels like a weird lottery that you don’t entirely agree to.

No GO, No Dough

Like everyone else in the world, when Covid came and ruined everyone’s 2020 (and counting), GO WILD had to cancel their event for the year. I don’t know if you know anything about canceling major events, but it is a major fucking pain. It sucked for everyone both planning and planning on attending.

They rescheduled for 2021. This involved a whole new lineup than the previously announced one. If you had a 2020 ticket and wanted to go to 2021’s event, you were golden. If you couldn’t attend the 2021 event for whatever reason, you were kinda screwed. There was a no-refund policy in place that prevented you from getting your money back from the organizers AND from personally reselling your ticket. There was an official resell list through the event, but most people on there did not have their tickets resold. There are conflicting reports on if a digital viewing option was available and/or working. The whole thing ended up being a bit of a poorly communicated cluster that left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.

To be fair, the nonrefundable/nontransferable issue is not just a GO WILD thing. It’s a hotly debated subject involving Ticketmaster/Live Nation as well. The music industry side of me sees the pros. The consumer side of me agrees with the cons.

I just think events should be transparent about what your ticket is getting and not be shifty about whether or not they will actually resell your ticket, especially as everyone is trying to figure out how to do things in person in a “Post Pandemic” world. Obviously, I don’t know the financial margins on this event, but I do know that there is a longer ROI on finding a way to accommodate a frustrated fan to keep them engaged than there is burning that bridge with a hard no.

Final Wild Thoughts

Is $700 too much for a ticket to GO WILD? It’s more than I would spend, but if it sells out at this price point then obviously there is still a market. I think people who have been through a few rounds of WILD sales are rightly skeptical of the cost this year. Those people probably won’t GO. Life goes on and the world continues to turn, you know?

What I will say is that I do have some of the best memories from my two WILD experiences, and they were less about the event and more about being with my friends. I would absolutely spend $700 to spend a weekend with them, but I would rather take our ticket money and spend it on an Airbnb at the beach instead.

Team No Sleep will ride again

Going “Beyond Salmon” at Nashville’s Miel

As a cliche urban millennial, I want my fancy dining experiences but also don’t want the guilt of the environmental impact of dining out. When we can find restaurants and experiences that align with both of these values, we get really excited. When my husband was browsing The Nashville Scene on Twitter one morning, he found this…

… and asked if I was interested in doing this “Trash Fish Dinner Thing”. I was intrigued.

Miel is an interesting place. Billed as a French-inspired restaurant, Proprietor Seema Prasad and Chef Jason LaIacona are dedicated to creating beautiful food and experiences that are elevated while also remaining hyper-local and sustainable. Matt & I went once before this event and were really impressed. I recall the highlight being the wood-grilled oysters (which are probably not transplant friendly but I live on the edge) and our wonderful gentle giant of a waiter.

The premise of this dinner was to highlight the different kinds of sustainably caught fish outside of the standard Salmon/Tuna/Shrimp rotation commonly found on seafood menus. All you had going into this was a rough idea of the flavors and preparations the chef wanted to work with.

The Night’s Menu

We were taken to The Barn, which is a lovely event space on the premise (and now where I want to have our elopement reception), and introduced to the concept by Chef LaIacona. Everything served was chosen because it was fresh, sustainable, and delicious. The actual menu ended up shifting slightly to what you see above based on the quality of what they had gotten in that morning and other ingredients available. Sounds fab.

Pre-Dinner Drink: Watermelon Shrub

While we were enjoying the unseasonably reasonable weather for Nashville in The Barn, we were offered a pre-dinner non-alcoholic drink – The Watermelon Shrub. It was a tart and refreshing palate cleanser. Not very watermelon-y in terms of what you think of when you hear “watermelon flavored”. It tasted like it was made more from the rinds of the fruit as opposed to the flesh, which I have since learned makes sense. Shrubs are essentially a vinegar-based cocktail. I can see how a splash of rum would have made this quite dangerous.

Course One: Mussels with Yuzu, Coconut, & Acid

This was delicious. Mussels are one of those foods that I forget I enjoy until I have them. These were tender and had that slight sea salt burst when you bit them. This broth though… fantastic! It was buttery and slightly salty with enough citrus to make it interesting. I had to stop myself from sticking my face in the bowl and slurping it up. I wish we had been given bread with this.

Bonus Course: Smoked Sable Mousse With Potato and Black Garlic Shoyu

Not wanting to waste anything in the kitchen, we got a few “bonus courses” through the evening. The first was this smoked sable mousse with some sourdough toast. Flavorwise, it was very reminiscent of a smoked salmon spread but with a looser texture. Would absolutely eat this again.

Course Two: Seared Sable With Smoked Honey Vinegrette and Summertime Beans

Take two with the sable was almost as good as the first. The fish was beautiful and delicate. The vinaigrette was phenomenal. The beans were… ok. They were fresh, which was great, but they weren’t cooked, or not cooked enough at least. I appreciate the joy of eating a bean right from the garden, but raw lima beans aren’t really my jam. Still, that vinaigrette dressing made it easy to overlook the texture.

Let’s Talk About The Wine For A Second…

We opted to do the wine pairings with the meal. This got us three glasses of white wine that were curated to go with the dishes served, starting from lightest to “heaviest”. The first was N.V. Maitre de Chai, Chenin Blanc, Wilson Vineyard, which was a lovely sparkling choice from California. A few dishes in, we were given a glass of the 2020 Albarino d’Fefinanes, from Rías Biaxas, SP, which really came alive with the dish below. We finished the last course and dessert with a glass of 2012 Chateau de Chasseloir, “Comte LeLoup”, Muscadet Sevre et Maine. Loire Valley, FR which stood up well to the heavier finishing course.

I’m not a wine expert, but they did pair very well and left me feeling a little buzzed towards the end of the night. Perk of being a lightweight I suppose.

Course Three: Grilled Bronzini with Lemon, Parsley, Corn, & Leeks

This was Matt’s favorite dish of the night and I don’t disagree with that assessment. The fish was heartier than the previous choice and went so well with the wine they selected. I appreciate that it was a really simple dish; lemon, parsley, salt, pepper and that’s it. It’s a testament to the cliche of the quality of your ingredients matter. This corn is also now on the list of things to recreate at home.

Bonus Course: A Take on Fish & Chips

Another bonus dish from the kitchen. I think this was Hake (I was a few glasses of wine in at this point) with the cutest little waffle fry I have ever seen. The tartar sauce was really good and the grated egg on top was a surprisingly fitting finishing touch. The presentation won a lot of points in the dining room too.

Course Four: Roasted Monkfish & Skate Wing with a Umami Ragout

First of all, ragout is a severely underrated dish. This was so good! There was such richness and depth to it. I think I heard something about the black garlic shoyu being used again, which would make sense given the umami theme running through the course. This was my first time having monkfish, and in spite of being known as “poor man’s lobster” I thought it was just ok on it’s own. The skate was the better of the two in my opinion although it was also just ok on it’s own. What made it really good was the tiny little bit of miso butter they included. I wish we had at least one more blob to put on top of these fish.

Dessert: Seasonal Fruit, Coulis, Chantilly, Basil, Tart Crumble

I think this was the least successful dish of the night. Plating wise, I think it’s beautiful. When you were able to scoop it all together in one bite, it was really good. What didn’t work for me was the deconstructed aspect. I don’t want to work for my dessert, you know? Given how constructed all of the previous courses had been, I was expecting a little more of the same for this. If this has been combined in a little ramiken as a summer berry cobbler and served warm with the cream on top, I would have been in heaven.

Final Thoughts

One thing we kept saying through the meal was “I didn’t know ______ could taste like this”. We came away wanting to expand our horizons with our fish orders as well as making a small list of things we now want to cook at home. I think it’s safe to say the goal of the meal was a success. If there was a complaint, it’s that this was a long dinner service. By the time dessert came around we had been at our table for 3 1/2 hours, which was a little more than we had expected to spend there.

Overall, our experience at Miel was as good as our first. The staff was wonderful, even if they were being kept busy the whole time. The interior is lovely. The food was amazing. We’re already planning our next visit back to see what else this team is planning to do with foods we didn’t know we enjoyed.

Find Miel Online

Website | Instagram | Reservations

In Defense of Lego VidiYo and What Could Have Been

Not every toy line is a smashing success, and even the big names have experienced a few failures to launch. It really sucks when you are one of the few who actually enjoy said line and see the potential for it to be great. Yes, I am one of the handfuls of people who actually really enjoyed the Lego Vidiyo line and am sorry to see it go.

With less than a full year on shelves (March 2021 – January 2022), Vidiyo got written off and called a flop before the full first round of products was fully released. Yes, this product suffered from some strategic missteps and never really seemed to leave Beta versions, but I don’t think it’s fair to completely write it off. The concept and idea behind it were solid, and dare I say it… innovative. It just fell apart in the execution.

It didn’t have to be this way.

What Is Lego Vidiyo:

To quote directly from Lego’s official site, Lego Vidiyo is:

… a music video maker for kids, that combines old-school bricks with state-of-the-art AR tech to revolutionize kids screen time! Because why should creative kids just consume content… when they could be making it instead?

Lego.com

It’s a neat concept. You get a very cartoonish minifigure, a special base, and a handful of Beatbit tiles in each box. You’re directed to download an app and scan in your character and tiles – similar to a QR code – to have your figure come to life through augmented reality. Depending on what you scan in, you can unlock different video effects or character stylings. From there, you can select a song from a small library of music thanks to a partnership with Universal Music Group, and “film” a music video directing the minifigure with the tiles you selected. The video can be viewed and stored only using the approved app.

Lego Vidiyo Party Llama Character and Beatbits (Lego.com)

According to the official press release, this launch was aimed at ages 7-10 and provided a “refreshing opportunity for children to express themselves creatively.” Then, they proved they really know this age demographic by releasing a branded single with a costumed character and well-known childhood icon, Ne-Yo.

Honestly, I had no idea about the music video here until well after I found out about the product line.

Why I Liked It:

Initially, I grabbed the $20 “Beat Box” with the Unicorn DJ because I thought I could do something clever with it for an Instagram post and the price was right. And, like, it was really cute! Once I dug into the set and saw some of the pop culture references on the Beat Bits, I bought in.

A lot of the theming and design for Vidiyo were clearly pulled from Millennial music. Going through everything you can find homages to 80s hair metal, 90s RnB, and 00’s Emo phase. We’re talking about the characters, app features, dance moves, beatbits, all of it. I mean, come on… the shark heads for the characters look almost identical to the shark fruit snacks of my youth (and also the infamous Katy Perry Left Shark at the same time). This makes sense, Millennials are probably the ones designing it since we’re not actually still children. These figures were designed to be homages to music that the “parents” are familiar with, not the kids.

The price point for the larger sets wasn’t bad either. “Adult” Lego sets can run hundreds of dollars. The most expensive Vidiyo set was still in the double digits. It was also a boombox, so again… tell me who it was designed for because I don’t think children know or appreciate what cassette tapes are these days.

In summary; a toy I played with as a child released a cute, colorful, musical nostalgia bomb that costs enough to feel like a treat but not so much that I have to give up groceries for a week. Yes, I’m going to get it.

Why It Should Have Worked:

On all accounts, Lego Vidiyo should have been a modest hit. The Blind Box concept is a staple item in collector toys and Lego has clearly had success with it in just about every minifigure release. Minifig sets themselves are clear winners for the brand as well. These minifigures are really cute and unique!

The little square beatbits included with the packaging were also a neat idea; 2×2 tiles printed with a loose resemblance to some recognizable musical moment. There are 122 of them to collect as well with some tied directly to the minifigures/sets and some a random luck of the draw. It felt a little like a “gotta catch ’em all” situation, which we all know is an established win for any toy collectible. Lego clearly likes the concept since they’ve reused it with the 20th Anniversary Harry Potter sets including random Wizard Cards.

The thing that I thought would have been an added bonus was the integration of technology into physical creative play. Like it or not, children have their own screens and are making digital content. Augmented reality is cool and already used in so many clever ways. Why not lean into it?

Also, as discussed above, the nostalgia bit. Life is hard and people want to be reminded of things of their youth when everything felt easier. Lego knows this, that’s why they’re doing things like releasing sets from Friends & Spice Girls.

Of course, I have the Spice Girl set…

Where It Went Wrong:

You might have noticed that I haven’t brought up the app yet. That’s because it was pretty bad. It felt like it was stuck in perpetual Beta testing; it crashed and glitched and DRAINED your phone battery something fierce. When half of your product depends on an app, you need to make sure it’s functioning the way you want it to. It felt like certain aspects of the experience were put in the “figure it out live” category and they never really did.

It was also completely insular; you could not save and share your Vidiyo videos outside of the app. You also could not really connect with friends on the app. In theory, you could watch other people’s Vidiyos on the main feed, but I never got one to work. It was as though the designers took a social media feed and removed all social aspects from it. Since this toy was presented to be aimed at children, I do understand how the choice was made to lock it down because of privacy concerns. I also understand how Lego probably didn’t want to create and manage a whole new social networking platform because that’s a lot of a headache. What I don’t quite understand is why you couldn’t save the Vidiyo directly to your device. I assume it had to do with the music licensing, but I suspect that could have been worked around for short clips. Kinda like how they did for HitClips back in the day.

However, remember the quote from the Lego site, I brought up earlier?

… a music video maker for kids, that combines old-school bricks with state-of-the-art AR tech to revolutionize kids screen time! Because why should creative kids just consume content… when they could be making it instead?

Lego.com

Is it really creating content when you can’t share it?

The lack of user sharing did Lego a huge disservice. In addition to essentially nullifying a large portion of your branded mission statement, it cut off a huge opportunity for organic marketing. Children have social media accounts now, COPPA be damned, and adults like to play with toys too. These videos could have created some great user-generated content for Lego without the company having to do a thing, as well as having some localized virality among friend groups – which is absolutely how kids end up wanting new toys.

The second issue was the mixed messages when it came to demographics. With the product itself leaning towards a younger audience but the theming and musical references skewing towards their parents, I don’t know if Lego knew what direction they wanted to push Vidiyo.

Ultimately, the line has been put on hiatus for 2022 with maybe a relaunch for 2023, but it’s not looking likely.

How I’d “Remix” it:

As someone with an opinion on everything, I have some thoughts on how to save this line without completely throwing the whole thing out the door. The bones are good. It just needs a little shaping.

First, I would figure out how to make the app work better and at least allow the content created with it be able to be saved to the device. I’m not a legal expert but I would imagine that there is a way to make that not be a liability for Lego. Next, in addition to another round of minifigs, I would relaunch with a set of low to mid-tier priced builds that actually had some building involved instead of the pop-in-place construction of the Beat Boxes.

Lastly, assuming that Lego wants to keep this target demographic in the 7-10 age range, I would look for an up-and-coming musical act that was in the late elementary demographic and team up with them to do a small-scale partnership. You need someone like XOMGPop!. Not only would there be Studio Siwa involved, but their candy-coated dance troupe vibe is exactly the energy needed to bring some life back to this line. Plus, they were at a big licensing event in Vegas this spring so you know they’re looking for a tie-in. I actually have some real thoughts on what this could look like, which I should save for another day because this post is already hella long.

My unsolicited sale pitch aside, there is such an opportunity to leverage the connection with UMG to find music acts to collaborate with. If that falls through, both Nickelodeon and Disney are elbow deep in that age range and can probably provide opportunities beyond just commercial time to make those same connections within that demographic. Also, omg… Encanto-themed Minifigs & Beatbits? Yes, please!

Conclusion:

Lego’s Vidiyo is a fun idea with a lot of potential that struggled to deliver on its promised intentions. That happens when you’re the first to do a new, innovative idea that hasn’t been fully tested. If the company takes what it learned from the exposed weaknesses (and somehow reads this and listens to me about my partnership proposal), I believe this can be reworked into a successful product line with ample opportunity for growth in the future.

And, if not, I have a full collection of a “hard to find” Lego line that should provide some potential resell value in about 10 years when it becomes chic again.

Why Can’t I Count A Podcast As A Book?

It sounds like the setup for a 90’s style Seinfeld joke, right? I’d launch into this right after a bit about terrible airline food and how I just flew in and boy are my arms tired!

If you spend any amount of time in bookish spaces online, especially spaces where people are discussing reading challenges or their yearly Goodreads goal, you’ve probably run into the debate on if listening to an audiobook is the same as reading a physical book when it comes to counting on if you’ve read a book. The widely accepted answer is yes, it does count the same with the reasoning being that it impacts our brains the same way.

What is less clear is how podcasts factor into this discussion. Specifically, podcasts that are set up to tell a whole story arc in a single episode, within multiple episodes, or over the course of a season. My question (that always goes unanswered in these groups) is, what is the difference between a chaptered audiobook and a serial podcast and why not consider serial podcasts as an entry for “books read”?

First, let’s define what we’re talking about. An audiobook is a book in audio format. They often have a single narrator, although that is changing, and it’s usually a straight reading of the original book text. It is usually a predefined length. Distribution is mostly done through the book publishers via a third party like Audible where you purchase a copy to listen. 

A podcast is an audio production available for streaming or download. It comes in many forms, from chat shows to narratives. They tend to be episodic in nature with episode lengths varying from a few minutes to a few hours. Distribution is mostly independently run by the creators with multiple third-party apps providing access to listen. They are free to listen, but often ad-supported. 

The thread that ties audiobooks and podcasts together is storytelling. Not every podcast is set up to tell a story. Arguably, not every audiobook does a great job of telling a story either, but that’s another argument.

Ask any writer, English teacher, or book lover and they will tell you all stories need to have the same core elements; characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. A good book has all these elements if it wants to find an audience. A good podcast has these elements if it wants to hook a listener. 

If you need proof, look no further than Welcome to Nightvale. Started as a serial podcast telling of strange occurrences from a fictional town, 10 years in, and the Nightvale canon now includes some books, as well as 210 podcast episodes as of writing and spinoff shows. With episodes running about a half-hour (or about 3 pages of text), it’s not unreasonable to equate a season with a novella or short story anthology.

The same can be true on the non-fiction side. Slate’s Slow Burn covers a historical event as it played out in real time over the course of a podcast season. In the 7 seasons of this podcast, each subject is researched, sourced, and covered as well as any traditionally published book on these topics, with the added bonus of having interviews and quotes coming directly from the speakers’ mouths.

I would argue that most of the differences between podcasts and audiobooks come down to accessibility and production value as opposed to content. Podcasts tend to be more accessible without a paywall and audiobooks tend to have more production behind them. However, that is constantly changing with a steady stream of new avenues for sharing and content creation. My 3 minute Google searching showed me it was way easier to set up to share a podcast than it was to get an audiobook published on Audible, especially since I have no publisher (or book, but whatever).

There is also a bit of snobbery involved, especially in the online book groups. The fact that you see a post at least weekly on whether or not an audiobook “counts” as reading and the ensuing debate leaves little question as to how some people still cling to book purity as a virtue. Podcasting is still for the bros in some eyes and they can’t fathom crossing that stream.

I AM ready to cross that stream and accept that in this era of rapid content creation there are tales to be told on podcasts and they are no worse than the mid-rated novellas I find on Audible. Counting podcasts as books can open a new avenue of accessible indie publishing to people who have a story to share and a microphone to speak into. And yes, it will help pad my Goodreads goal number.

Deconstructing My 2021 Spotify Wrapped

December is full of “end of year” wrap-ups and none are as highly anticipated or scrutinized as the Spotify Wrapped. I love peeking at what my much cooler friends are listening to. But what I really love is the yearly affirmation that I listen to terrible music.

My 2021’s Spotify Wrapped does not disappoint. Let’s dig into this musical mess.

Oh boy… Avril Lavigne’s Hello Kitty as my opening credit theme is the cringe I was expecting from this. I would like to acknowledge the clear issues with the song, mainly the music video, which have all been well documented on the internet. And the video is very problematic. But the song… we’ll discuss more in a second.

My “final battle” being Misery Business by Paramore is spot on and right in line with my basic millennial profile. The choice of Pure by The Lightning Seeds for “kiss” song is an older and more obscure hit from a UK band circa 1989.

I was surprised by this number on two fronts. 1. I thought my total listen time would have been higher, and 2. I would have though more people would have listened to more minutes than I have. The big takeaway here for me is that I definitely do not have a daily commute anymore.

Let’s talk about “Hello Kitty” some more. The song though is pure pop bliss if you don’t listen to the words too hard. Avril also wasn’t the right artist for this song. If a popular girl group were to take this and make a few adjustments, and a less appropriative and stereotypical music video, it would be number one. I will not be taking any further questions on this.

Looking at the rest of the list, I can definitely see the influence TikTok has had on my musical choices this year with “Don’t Lose Your Head” and “Savage Love” making high appearances on the list. Strong showing of a 2010 throwback as well in “The Mother We Share”.

I don’t know much about music theory, but I think there’s some similarity in the repetition of musical hooks in these songs. If you know anything about this, leave a comment below.

It’s safe to assume that this slide is 100% because of my gym playlist. I’m not sure how “Hello Kitty” figures into the equation.

I love how Punk has made an appearance on the top genres. Not sure what, if anything, would indicate punk music thus far… although I did shout along to the Ramones in the car a few times this year

Rob Paulsen is the voice of our childhoods (re: Kiwi is a super basic millennial). He is the voice of Yakko from Animaniacs, Pinky from Pinky and the Brain, an OG Ninja Turtle… and a billion others. He has a very old and defunct podcast that I occasionally will put on and listen to him interview other voice actors.

Otherwise, most of my podcast listening is done through Youtube or Apple Podcasts.

I’m very pleased to see the Six Cast Recording as my number one “artist” this year. A Broadway musical about the six wives of Henry the 8th done as a pop music reality dating show? Hell yeah!

2021 was Britney’s year, and I know I’m not alone in having her in my top 5. Same with Taylor, although I’m a little more surprised by that one since I’m not a huge fan. Backstreet Boys are always close to my heart. And I guarantee Avril is only there because of fucking “Hello Kitty”.

In conclusion, I realize I like pure sugary pop music and I see nothing wrong with that. But, if you’d like to get a fuller picture of the songs that aren’t represented on these slides but still played a major part of my year, dive into the playlist below.

The Target Christmas Cat Tree Tradition

I got Baby Cat in 2017 and like any anxious new mother I joined a bunch of Facebook groups to be told I was doing everything wrong all the time. But, I did find out about these Target Wonderland Cat Houses. Naturally I had to have one for my precious little baboo. It has ended up being one of my favorite Christmas traditions. The second year in, I started recording the building process as a fun memory. It’s become a whole thing.

Since I’m feeling nostalgic, I thought I’d take us on a trip down memory lane and share all 5 years of the Baby Cat Christmas House.

Christmas 2017 – The First Christmas

There’s no video or photos from the building of this cat house because I didn’t know it would become a thing. A lot of photos are also lost from that era currently because of a computer crash. I do have this photo though, to show that this was Baby Cat’s “crinkly paper” era.

Please note the cat on the couch watching Youtube Birds (probably)

Christmas 2018 – The First Video

I picked the single story house this year and decided to document it. If I remember correctly, this was during/after a particularly challenging patch in my life and I was clinging to Christmas as a return to “normalcy”. I also had no idea how to actually speed up videos so this one clocks in at a whopping two and half minutes. It’s fine if you skip to the end.

Christmas 2019 – The Best Video

This was a good year and I had learned some tricks on making time lapses. I applaud my choice of music for this one as well. I don’t know… I just really like this one

Christmas 2020 – The Pandemic Christmas

It’s safe to say we all struggled in 2020. I don’t think I uploaded this at the time, which is a shame because I think this was my favorite themed house.

Christmas 2021 – The Christmas Train From Hell

This brings us to the present. This year I went with the big boy of all the picks from Target; the Cat Train. I will never do it again. The second layer was ridiculously difficult to put together and that cat seems meh overall about it. The video is cute though.

Here’s to kicking off the Christmas season! What are some of your favorite traditions?

Hocus Pocus Cookbook: Book Review

It’s Halloween season, and for many of us of a certain age, there is one movie that captures the very essence of this season better than any other; the modern classic Hocus Pocus. And what do we love more than a good movie binge? Why, a cookbook that goes along with the movie to create your own full immersive experience at home!

Enter “The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook”. This cookbook is authored by Bridget Thoreson, whose other works include “XOXO: A Cocktail Book”; and consulting for “Are You My Wine?” and is clearly written by someone with a deep love for the film.

I would like to thank Pacific & Court, Bridget Thoreson, and Ulysses Press for sending me a copy of this cookbook for review.

The recipes in this book are loosely organized and seem to focus more on the macabre naming of the recipe as opposed to what the recipe is actually for. The first three sections are thematic in nature; fall favorites, “townspeople” curated food, and “macabre” named items (which were my favorites). The last three sections are for alcoholic beverages, nonalcoholic beverages, and miscellaneous items that you might need to go with previously mentioned dishes. It’s great if you’re planning a menu, but gets confusing if you’re looking for something for dinner.

You can’t really review a cookbook without doing some actual cooking; so that is what I did. I picked four recipes from the various sections to test. All were super quick and easy to put together. They were also easy to modify based on what was available at the store.

@fabkiwi06

Cooking my way through the Hocus Pocus Cookbook! Review on glitterandprofanity.com #cookbooktiktok #hocuspocus #hocuspocuschallenge #nashvilleblogger

♬ original sound – Kieran ‘Kiwi’ Bailey

First up, we had the Bones of 100 Chickens, which is a take on wings. I made it using the pre-cooked wings from Publix because I was tired. These got rave reviews from both my partner and myself; a great flavorful spicy as opposed to a heat spicy. Just make sure you check your spice blends for salt before you add more to the mix.

Next, I made a big batch of the Cinnamon Pecan Syrup. I’m a Yooper living in the South… I love my maple and I love my pecans. This was delicious as is. Wonderful on pancakes, waffles, and the lot. But as a coffee syrup? To die for.

Moving on to the weakest of the lot, A Spell For Flayed And Crispy Breast of Chicken. This tasted a lot better than it looked; my oven did not want to toast this bad boy up. I’d make it again, but probably pan-fry to get it to the golden perfection it deserves.

Lastly, I had to try breakfast and I made A Little Child… On Toast, which wins the best recipe name in my opinion. You can’t go wrong with a classic egg toast like this. Would probably also be delicious with some of the leftover wings from above after a night out.

The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook is a loving tribute to the world the Sanderson Sisters stepped into when they were awoken in modern-day Salem in the mid-90s. These recipes are a fun way to create a mini-immersive experience while you have the movie on a constant loop for Halloween or any time of year; It is always Hocus Pocus season, after all.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book & Publishing Info:

The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook by Bridget Thoreson
Published Sept. 2021 by Ulysses Press
Author Website | Ulysses Press | Goodreads | Amazon

“Leftover” Candy Cake Mix Cookies

One of the best things about Halloween is the candy.

If y’all haven’t done the Box Cake Mix cookie, y’all are missing out. This recipe is a great one to tuck in your back pocket for any last minute baking emergencies or potluck panics. Next time you’re at the grocery store and you see cake mix on sale, grab a few to stash in the pantry. You’ll thank me later.

The real beauty of these kinds of cookies is that you can do pretty much anything to them and they’re delicious, but I think they really shine around the holidays. Especially when you’re looking at the bottom of the candy bucket and have the stuff you’re less than thrilled about left. For example, I have never looked at a Baby Ruth and thought, “I want to eat that.”

Now, for these cookies in particular I ended up going with my favorite Halloween candy combos; chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter. Think Kit-Kats, 100 Grand, Reese’s, Rollo, Butterfingers, and even the much maligned Babe Ruth. Give the candy a rough chop (I used the food processor) and toss it in the mix. How much candy? Measure with your heart. You can bake them naked or give them a roll in some seasonal sprinkles before tossing them in the oven.

A couple things that are worth investing in for your kitchen in general, but this recipe in particular, are a cookie scoop and a silpat. Things can get a little gooey.

I did not inherit my family’s genetic predisposition for proper cookie dough portioning and this scoop has made it easier to crank out pretty uniform cookies that wouldn’t get me a death glare from Paul Hollywood. Silpats, or silicone baking mats, are also PH approved. If you are baking anything gooey or cheesey or just don’t want to deal with stuff sticking to your pans, these are a must. Parchment paper also works if you’d rather, but it’s really not the same.

10-12 minutes later and you have your dish to bring to your awkward office Halloween lunch thing.

Leftover Candy Cake Mix Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Cake Mix
  • 1/2 Cup of Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • Leftover Halloween Candy
  • Sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine Cake Mix, Eggs, and Oil in bowl and mix well.
  3. Chop leftover Halloween Candy into bits and mix in to the dough.
  4. Scoop large tablespoons of dough and roll into balls
  5. Optional: Roll balls in sprinkles
  6. Place on lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes

Have you tried these cookies? Leave a rating in the comments below!