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.

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!


Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 38 – Ed Grabianowski

Ed Grabianowski bio pic
Ed Grabianowski

Ed Grabianowski (aka, “The Grabster”) joins me on the show to talk about his career as a freelance writer for outlets over the years including io9 and How Stuff Works. He speaks to his start as a writer for a local newspaper in Buffalo and how that led to other writing opportunities as he continues to work on a novel. He discusses the pressures involved in producing content for an online audience that is bombarded with an endless stream of content. Ed also talks about his musical project, Spacelord. Ed performs vocals for the band, and he details their journey in the independent rock scene. While Ed provides details about Spacelord’s influences, a few samples of their music are including to give listeners a taste of their sound. The band is GOOD, and you should give them a listen! Ed shares a hilarious story about the cover art for the latest Spacelord album, and we close the show by rehashing our efforts in 2016 to narrow down to the best 12 songs from the Use Your Illusion albums by Guns N’ Roses. If you haven’t read our takes on this, then go do that now.

Enjoy the 38th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

Listen here!

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. 

New episodes are (typically) released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month!

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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….

Bard On!

The Bard is a class that I never played before, so when I was invited to play in a new Tomb of Annihilation campaign earlier this year – I figured it was time to give it a try. I lived vicariously through the exploits of other players talking about Bards and celebrating them through social media. The concept of playing a Bard always seemed enjoyable to me; it’s a character with high charisma that can solve problems in unique ways and bolster the efforts of the rest of the party. When playing in a campaign, I typically like to be up-close and personal in melee range making attacks and eliminating monsters, so playing a character that does not exactly shine in one-on-one combat would be a stretch.

I took on the challenge!

Character Development

One thing I wanted to do with the Bard was come up with a relatively simple backstory that did not rely on the character going through significant traumatic experiences early in life. Perhaps influenced by recent fatherhood, I created a character that is a family man first, performer second, and adventurer third. He’s got a stable home, a spouse, several children, and he travels the Realm from time to time to perform his music and assist other adventurers.

During our first session, I even had him ask the first major NPC we encountered, Syndra Silvane, to send money to his family in the event that he did not survive the quest to locate the Soulmonger. It was interesting to roleplay a character that expressed hesitation about the perils of adventuring rather than being eager to run in the direction of the next big, bad evil thing.

When creating my Bard, I thought about his name for a long time.

A very long, long time.

I borrowed/stole a device from Saga and named him The Stone. For a few moments before my son was born, I thought about Stone as a possible name; my wife wasn’t as keen on the idea. Pearl Jam is my favorite band, and Stone Gossard is one of the members. Plus, I’ve been curling for the past 5-6 years, and the rocks in curling are often referred to as stones. My wife and I ultimately decided on the name, Hugo, for our son – mostly inspired from this lovable guy.

The Stone featuring Dirk

With the name locked in, The Stone, the next step was to find some art that inspired me. While creating the character, I noted that a Bard could specialize in a small variety of instruments. The instrument that jumped out to me was bagpipes. YES! My Bard is going to play the bagpipes, and that obnoxiously glorious noise will be a part of future gaming sessions. I thought about a band we saw at a Renaissance Festival many years ago, Tartanic, and how they were wildly entertaining with pipes and drums. The next step was to conduct an Image Search on Google for: bard bagpipes.

Yes, this guy is – without a doubt – The Stone.

Oh, he’s magnificent!

Swap out the jug for a hand crossbow and we are set! I sent a question to our Dungeon Master, and asked if The Stone could have a companion animal. I clarified that the only thing the dog would do is carry around a tip jar on his back for times when The Stone performs. She enjoyed the idea, and allowed it, which has provided for some hilarious situations as The Stone tends to his pet in the severe jungles of Chult!

Continue reading “Bard On!”

Childhood Ruined

ChildhoodRuinedLogo_final small
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.

Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 15 – Wayne June

Wayne June bio
Wayne June

This week I am joined by Wayne June, voiceover artist and narrator with extensive experience in the audiobook industry. He is perhaps best known recently for his work as the voice of the Darkest Dungeon; he performs the lines of The Ancestor, who serves as the narrator throughout the game. Wayne first discusses his years as a musician and touring with the guitar icon, Johnny Winter. He pivots to detail how he became interested in the voice recording business, and how he found he niche in “creepy” literature such as volumes of H.P. Lovecraft works. Wayne talks about the shift from collaborating in a band to the isolation of voice work, and how the request from the Darkest Dungeon team thrust him into the gaming community. He shares the process for finding the voice of The Ancestor, and what it’s been like to gain attention for his work in the game. He closes by talking about current audiobook and gaming projects.

Enjoy the 15th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:


Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on June 6th, 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.