Childhood Ruined Opens a Musical Wormhole

ChildhoodRuinedLogo_final smallLongtime friend (and two-time guest) of Childhood Ruined, Chad, joins the show again after he bought Chris and I a pack of “10 Hot PhotoCards with Facts and Photos of Your Favorite ROCK, RAP, & POP STARS” from a card set released in 1991. We opened the sealed pack, and magic ensued! 

Not to give away surprises, but we got a chance to talk about some popular artists from our late-elementary and early-high school years. Do I play a few seconds of ‘Ninja Rap’ about 40 minutes in?


Do we celebrate Extreme a bit too rambunctiously?


Is Roxette now underrated?

Probably, yeah!

This was a fun episode to record. I hope you enjoy.

If you like this episode of Childhood Ruined, then please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes.

Malls & Free-Range Kids: The Strangest of Stranger Things

ChildhoodRuinedLogo_final smallAfter viewing the first episode of Stranger Things Season 3, your hosts of Childhood Ruined return to discuss the vastly different reality parents and children experienced in the mid-80s including crowded malls and the ability to wander around town without parental supervision. Chris and I explore why everyone seems to assume the world is more dangerous now even though statistics and research indicate that crime has decreased in recent decades.

We talk about the freedoms we had as children and whether or not we’d allow our children to experience the same independence – and whether or not society would even allow that these days.

We also discuss mall culture and how that has changed over time. Even though we have better technology to know where our children are 24 hours a day, we rarely seem to let them out of our sight now.

Is that a good thing?

Listen to Childhood Ruined on iTunes!

Marveling at Avengers: Endgame

The first exposure I can remember to superheroes were the Superman movies and the old Batman television series. The former was rather earnest and the later was incredibly campy, and both set the bar in my mind for what type of film or television was possible when based on a comic book. The initial Batman movie was such a phenomenon in 1989! Culture moved so much slower back then (trust me), so Batman owned what felt like a year or more of everyone’s attention. The movie expanded my perception of what was possible in a movie based on comic book characters, and it fueled an interest in comics as a hobby.

My first and really only dive into comic books was during the early 1990s when Image Comics splashed onto the scene. I was certainly aware of comic books before then and knew a few things about common superhero lore, though I didn’t start collecting until I had a chance to be in on the ground floor of something. The idea of getting caught up on characters and franchises that had been going on for many years or decades seemed daunting, and starting with #1 of any new book felt exciting.

Somewhere in my mother’s house sits several long boxes of early-era Image comics such as Spawn, WildC.A.T.S., Savage Dragon, Youngblood, Wetworks, Cyberforce, Shadowhawk, The Maxx, Pitt, Gen 13, Witchblade… I set out to collect all the Image stuff.

And for a time, I did.

I also sprinkled in other titles from those days like Spider-Man 2099 and the Star Wars Dark Empire issues. It all became too cumbersome and expensive though, and my interest in comics faded as I progressed through high school and into college. Superheroes remained something I was aware of, and I slowly got interested in graphic novels many years later – finding titles like Watchmen and Y: The Last Man quite profound.

Superhero Films Revival

The first X-Men film in 2000 was a reminder that the stories within comic books can be translated into quality entertainment at the cinema, and the first sequel in 2003 was a wonderful comic book movie featuring talented actors performing interesting roles with twisting allegiances, snappy dialogue and stunning visuals. Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 arrived around this time, and both of them delivered quality experiences. The Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy started in 2005, and the massive success of The Dark Knight (released July 18, 2008), fueled by the otherworldly and tragic performance by Heath Ledger, gave superhero movies increased credibility.

A few months earlier in 2008, another superhero movie, Iron Man, opened and started a chain reaction of events that would result in the following completely silly and staggering box office numbers below. Even with the success of several superhero movies and franchises, nothing could predict the outrageous popularity and success of what became known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

Marvel Box Office

Look at those numbers. It is absurd!! Twenty-BILLION dollars worldwide and counting from worldwide box office!? And that doesn’t factor in merchandising and gods-only-know what else they have as revenue streams.

Marvel released a movie about Ant-Man, and made half-a-billion dollars worldwide. 500 MILLION!? Ant-Man!?

I believe I have seen every one of these films in the theater, likely within a week or two of them releasing. They rarely fail to deliver on entertainment, and they have continued to thrive at the box office and avoid (for the most part) the natural cultural backlash that comes with anything that is this wildly successful.

The Endgame

I’ve tweeted this numerous times over the years; it amazes me how Marvel continues to keep this up. The casting has been fantastic, the marketing is always top-notch, and the films deliver escapism entertainment with heart and humor, and they make it look easy.

It’s not easy.

So after I saw Avengers: Endgame, I wanted to explore how this all happened. How did Marvel get the point that it could release a three-hour movie about a group of heroes battling back against a cosmic villain most people hadn’t heard of 10 years ago that culminated a 20-film story line – and it would be the highest-grossing movie of all time (most likely soon)?

How is Nebula, a side character from the pages of in a C-level comic book (in the eyes of the mainstream), one of the narrative linchpins of this film?

How does it all work!?

In the latest episode of Childhood Ruined, my co-host and I welcomed Duane Sibilly to the show to discuss these questions, and geek out about the wondrous splendor that is Avengers: Endgame.

I hope you’ll give it a listen!

And special thanks to the supporters of my Patreon including: Ashton Ruby, Adam J, Michael Shea, Duane Sibilly, Faience, Hawke Robinson, Jana Flesher, Samuel Dillon, and Sinan Turnacioglu.


Childhood Ruined – A(war)d Show, What Is It Good For?

ChildhoodRuinedLogo_final smallWe take the Presidents Day holiday to record a new episode and give each other an update on our son’s behavior. Chris prods me on my lofty expectations for my two-year-old son, and I encouraged him to follow his son’s diet of recreational activities. Chris brings up the topic of the Grammys, and discusses how they seem even more irrelevant than usual. The hosts ponder if an organization like the Grammys is losing prominence as the pace of the music accelerates and the scope of music broadens. The conversations expands to discuss the Oscars, and how the film industry in heading in a similar direction. The hosts debate over whether awards shows do (or should) mean anything to a wide audience given that they are still decided by a group of people that are older, wealthier and whiter than the general population.

Enjoy the new episode of Childhood Ruined!


The Nostalgia Grab

ChildhoodRuinedLogo_final smallWe’re back with another episode of Childhood Ruined this week!

Your hosts briefly detail how the polar vortex scraped their original plans for this evening, which involved a brewery and a night of music trivia. Michael introduces a topic that has been burning his mind, which is the various forms of nostalgia that seem to be spinning in the news. The possible looming death of GameStop is discussed including how purchasing trends of physical media seem to be declining to the point of extinction. Chris talks about some of the unpleasant aspects of the GameStop experience, and Michael ties this into other efforts to capture the attention of similar demographics with nostalgia efforts in games like Dungeons & Dragons and franchises such as Transformers and Star Wars.

Chris and Michael detail their reactions to Bumblebee, which both agree was a quality movie that “felt” like it was right out of the 1980’s. Michael inquires about the problems with nostalgia, and wonders if the glossed-over-the-rough-edges Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, is a sign of people being too keen to celebrate nostalgia in a safe way while overlooking reality.

The Teal Podcast

ChildhoodRuinedLogo_final smallChildhood Ruined is back with an emergency episode dedicated to Weezer’s Teal Album. We discuss our shared confusion about the aims of the artistic endeavor while going through the album track-by-track, and explore why a popular band from the mid-90’s still inspires such blazing-hot takes across the internet. Chris and I talk about what makes a good cover album, or even a good cover song. We throw around the question, “What is the best Weezer album?” while being completely self-aware that Saturday Night Live already executed the best version of this conversation! As a bonus, I got to test out a new microphone-and-headset combo for the podcast, so it feels good to be back. Stay tuned for more episodes in 2019!

In other news, I have two articles about Dungeons & Dragons marinating, and those will be posted in the next week or two. For now, here’s the emergency episode….

Childhood Ruined

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Thanks to Jimi Bonogofsky for the logo!

Earlier this summer, a close friend, Chris, and I launched a new podcast, Childhood Ruined. The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the notion that various things we were fond of while growing up in the 1980’s are not mangled for some reason in the modern day. We saw the podcast mainly as a forum to catch up with each other, and to talk about the realities of being two nerds beyond the age of 40. Chris and I are both mental health providers (we met in graduate school close to 20 years ago), and we thought an audience might enjoy listening in to our conversations about the intersections of geekdom, pop culture, and mental health. You can download and subscribe the podcast at the following locations:



The first episode truly hit the mark in terms of feeling like a part of our formative years were lost. We recorded the weekend after Chris Cornell died, and learned that his death was by suicide. We spoke about our love of alternative music in the 1990’s, which was during our high school years, and how Cornell’s suicide complicated the relationship with his music. We also explored the stages of grief, the realities of life with depression, and how it is vital to openly talk with loved ones about suicide.

In the second episode, we shared our thoughts on how music has changed in importance over time, and then dove into how our consumption of music has changed in the past 20-30 years. From buying cassette tapes in the 80’s to streaming music in the present day, we explored how and why music feels different now. The results from a recent research article about engagement in music over the lifespan was reviewed.

Chris and I felt like we were finding out grove with Childhood Ruined by the time we recorded the third episode. We spoke about a recent article, Why Do We Play Games Nowadays? The article presented eight reasons for playing games, and we provided our reactions to the reasons presented. Along the way, we detailed how our approach to gaming has changed over time and explored the changing nature of community in gaming, including the rise of eSports.

The fourth episode focused on Chris’ enjoyment of electronic dance music (EDM), and how he turned that into a hobby of mixing music and DJ’ing. This transitioned into a conversation about music festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival, and the psychological principles that often result in bad behavior at these shows. We discussed the grief associated with losing touch with important hobbies as we age, and how our children fill that void in some ways. Chris talked openly about his son being on the autism spectrum and how that shapes his experience as a father.

Chris and I had put together four shows in four weeks, and we were feeling better and better about the content. However, soon after we posted the fourth episode I experienced a devastating personal loss when my brother died suddenly. Chris also spent weeks during the summer dealing with some personal matters – and Childhood Ruined got put on the shelf just when it felt like it was getting into a good routine.

And We’re Back

We decided to hop back on the horse this week, and recorded an episode about how we both approach competitive gaming, and how we handle the management of hobbies and collections. I talked about my first real attempt to reach the Legend Rank in Hearthstone, which resulted in an increase in stress, frustration – and maybe an ulcer! Chris provided some counsel to me, and we reviewed coping strategies for dealing with the anxiety that can come along for the ride during competitive gaming. Chris reviewed a current dilemma related to his collection of Magic: The Gathering cards and music albums, and we both talked about how hobbies from our teens and twenties start to lose a bit of meaning and value as we age.

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Feels good, man.

After grousing about how “miserable” it was for me to try hard to achieve Legend in Hearthstone during the last episode, I succeeded in that quest after all. I believe talking out my frustrations with Chris was a big factor in being able to regroup and focus on that task – and I did have fun with it. I plan to write about my season of hitting Legend in Hearthstone in the future; stay tuned.

Our plan is to record and post new episodes almost every Friday starting later in September. If the content sounds up your alley, then give Childhood Ruined a listen, and let us know what you think.