The Birth of ‘Dark Discussions’

The Birth of Dark Discussions

By Philip Perron

If you miss your favorite ESPN show, go get it on a podcast. If you want to hear news from some of the biggest news agencies in the world, you can get it through a podcast and listen to it a day later. Podcasting has been a spectacular if not largely known medium that provides programming for those folks who prefer to listen to their favorite topics when they want and wherever they want.

Though satellite radio has been a great phenomenon where folks are able to listen to an eclectic mix of shows on books, movies, sports, news, finance, and even cooking, niche audiences still may not be fulfilled with what they really want to listen to. What about themes such as video games, gardening, or even something as specific as horror movies? This is where podcasting really has promise. Not only is it free, it requires nothing more than an audio digital device, a laptop, or even a smart phone.

As an avid fan of the arts, specifically books and movies, I was always visiting websites to read about the production of Martin Scorcese’s latest film or the progress of the next Stephen King novel. Then one day I came across an audio review on the film Cloverfield as well as an audio round table discussion about the film No Country for Old Men. Afterwards, I saw that these audio files were also being streamed from Apple’s iTune’s store for free.

Getting programs on my little iPod was a convenient way to listen to programs I wanted to listen to while doing my daily walks in the woods or working out or commuting to work. And with the wide variety of programming available I was able to search for shows discussing upcoming books and movies. And yet even more specifically books and movies within the horror and techno genres.

The interesting thing was that many of the podcasts I listened to were done by amateurs or simply people who did them for fun. Their shows were filled on topics they were passionate about. The discussions were probably the same ones they’d be talking about over a round of beers. They weren’t making any money, they weren’t making any inroads towards a more promising career, they were doing it simply because they loved talking about their focused topic.

Early 2011, I figured I could do it myself. While grabbing burgers with a few guys, I noticed our discussions focused around either sports or genre fiction which included horror, science fiction, fantasy, thriller, techno-thriller, and mystery. And having added a number of genre themed podcasts as part of my weekly listen to-do list, I did my research and started putting together the idea. What resulted was a genre themed topical podcast entitled Dark Discussions Podcast.

Finding two wonderful folks online through various genre themed forums, myself along with Eric Webster, of Ann Arbor, Michigan and Michael Dunleavy, of Port Jervis, New York came together and put together a weekly show on topics that anyone from the New England Horror Writer’s group would be familiar with. Not to be tagged as specifically horror, the tag line “Your place for the discussion of horror film, fiction, and all that’s fantastic” seemed to fit.

The podcast basically focused at first on themed discussions or specific movies. Topics such as a retrospective of the director and screenwriter Frank Darabont as well as the franchise of the Planet of the Apes were some of the early weekly episodes. But also films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and John Huston’s Moby Dick have been a focus. It’s true, we are no experts but our perspectives as fans of genre fiction were as well thought out as some of the genre websites and magazines available. And at the worst, we provide another voice on both obscure works and genre classics.

Some of the inventive ways the podcast has expanded were by being contacted by some folks for reviews and promotion. Horror Realm, a convention every September in Pittsburgh, emailed and offered the podcast passes to their convention. M.J. Preston, the author of The Equinox, asked if we’d be interested in a free copy of his novel to review. However, it was co-host Michael Dunleavy who really got it. While attending Horror Realm 2011 as press, he not only interviewed the film stars of some of horror fans favorite films, but he started interviewing the vendors and independent talent. What resulted was Dark Discussions Podcast helping out folks who need promotion of some really fantastic works that anyone who enjoys horror should know about.

This is where Dark Discussions Podcast in a sense merges with the NEHW group. After Horror Realm 2011, Dark Discussions contacted the folks at both the Rock and Shock and Anthocon conventions and received press passes to attend and promote their events. This is where our podcast became what some would call an unofficial promoter of the folks we met specifically at Anthocon and therefore NEHW. We interviewed such NEHW members as Charles Day, Gregory Norris, and Inanna Arthen. Small presses as Evil Jester Press and By Light Unseen Media, which had tables at Anthocon were also focused on.

So after a year and a half, the podcast keeps going. The listenership grows. And topics as wide ranging as modern novels as Scott Sigler’s Infected and independent cinema as Simon Rumley’s Red, White, and Blue are featured. As an inspiring writer, I know the work folks go through juggling their everyday lives with writing. With Horror Realm come and gone and Rock and Shock and Anthocon coming up, Dark Discussions looks forward to seeing everyone and helping you promote your new and wonderful works. As an inspiring writer, I know the work folks go through juggling their everyday lives with writing.

Experiencing the iPhone

My New iPhone

by David Price

I was born two years before man landed on the moon. My earliest memory is actually watching the moon landing on a static-filled black and white television, up at our cottage in New Hampshire. I have grown up in the age of hand-held electronic gadgets, and I have seen them all. The very first has to be the transistor radio, followed by those nifty electronic calculators that we used to write “ShELL01L” upside down. I guess I have always been intrigued by these devices, because I can remember owning all of them. Digital wrist watches were cool, with their glow-in-the-dark faces and their nifty electronic beeps. Remember the first hand-held electronic video games? I had this “football” game which was really just a bunch of red dots on a screen. You controlled one electronic light and had to evade all the others on your way to scoring a touchdown. In eighth grade, I even remember having a digital watch that had a scaled down version of Space Invaders on it.

There was some electronic innovation in the eighties, of course. The eighties gave birth to some of the technology which today practically runs our lives, like the cell phone and the personal computer. There were some cool gadgets too, like the Walkman. Everybody had to have one of those. This was also the time of the birth of the Compact Disc, which would go a long way to revolutionizing music. I bought my first VCR in the eighties, too. Then in the nineties, cell phones started to catch on and become an affordable technology. The Palm Pilot was a nice digital replacement for

those hefty day planners some people used. Personal computers and video games took a giant leap, and the internet was born. It’s all gone crazy since then, hasn’t it? Now we have technology that looks like it is straight out of science fiction. Star Trek even seems a bit short-sighted, doesn’t it?

What if I were to tell you that there is a device that can replace just about every hand-held device you have ever owned, except for possibly the Taser gun? That device is, of course, the iPhone. I purchased my iPhone about six weeks ago and I am constantly amazed at how useful it is. The keys are the apps. You have to find the right apps, but once you do, you find out what an amazing little device this is. Where do I begin? Last week, my wife had to travel to a bridal shower in an unfamiliar town. She was going to just use the GPS, but couldn’t find the power cord. I pulled up the GPS app on my iPhone, programmed in her destination, and sent her on her merry way, with my iPhone, unfortunately. But hey, at least the emergency was solved. When she returned from the shower she told me it was a good thing I had given her the iPhone, because the directions she had received from my mother were wrong.

Another app I particularly enjoy is called “Around Me.” This is another one that uses the GPS feature, and will show you just about any kind of business in the area that need. Around Me lists stores, banks, atms, bars, coffee shops, gas stations, hospitals, movie theaters, and, well, you get the picture. It is very useful. As a contractor by trade, I travel to wherever the jobs take me. Sometimes we find ourselves in unfamiliar cities looking for a bank, or someplace to grab lunch. Problem solved. With the Xfinity TV app, I can set up the DVR to record a show from anywhere. I also have a local news app, which has proven useful with traffic and news alerts. I like sports, so I have a few of those apps that keep me updated with scores and information. Do you like space? I have two NASA apps; one for regular news, and one for NASA TV. There are also cool sky map apps like Sky Safari and Star Walk. With Star Walk, you can point your iPhone at the sky and it will identify constellations and satellites for you. If you are one of those people who has all those rewards club tags hanging from your key ring, there is an app called, you guessed it, Key Ring, which will scan all of those into your phone so you don’t have to carry them around anymore. If you just can’t live without your social media there are apps for Facebook and Twitter.

Is going green important to you? Thanks to the iPhone, paper and pencils are now obsolete. The iPhone is a notebook and a calendar. With the Stitcher app, you can link to magazine articles that interest you. Combine this with the Nook and Kindle apps and you have the ability to carry around a small library. Add a crossword puzzle, Sudoku, and word search app, and time spent sitting in a waiting room flies by. You actually have access to what you want to read, not what the dentist office sees fit to provide (like two years of Golf Digest or Woman’s Day). If you are a comic book geek, you can even get some cool comic book apps like Comixology, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and Dark Horse Comics. Comic books delivered right to your phone. Who knew? Last month, I attended a science fiction convention in Boston called Arisia. An app called Guidebook took the place of a paper program and listed every event available at the con.

I have tried to show how this amazing little device can take the place of every other device you own. The iPhone was based on the iPod touch, so saying it plays all your music goes without saying, but I also added the Pandora radio app, because I don’t like to clog up the phone with too much music. I am always trying to improve myself or learn something new, so I like to rotate an audiobook through there. I would rather leave enough space for any cool apps that come along. Flixster is great if you like to go to the movies. I’ll never call Movie Phone again. You can even watch movies and TV on your phone with either Netflix, Hulu, or iTunes. I’m not really one for watching video on the small screen, but my kids seem to like it. One app that looks cool, but I haven’t had a chance to try yet, is called Bump. If you and another person both have this app, you can just touch phones and it exchanges contact info. I like to get little bits of inspiration once in a while, so I also have the Notes from the Universe app by Mike Dooley. I’ve saved the games for last because I’m sure most of you are familiar with many of the addictive games that are available. In case you are not, many of the favorites are Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Cut the Rope, Tetris, Bejeweled, Doodle Jump and Words with Friends. That’s pretty much everything I have experienced with the iPhone so far. Six months or a year from now, who knows what else I will be doing with this amazing little device? To sum up, it’s awesome.

What to Get After Receiving a New Phone or iPad

What to Get After Receiving a New Phone or iPad

by Jason Harris

It’s been a few days since Christmas. What do you do if you received a phone or iPad as a gift? You should buy a case to protect your new present. I know how a person can be rough on their gadgets especially a phone. You clip it to your belt or throw it into a purse or pocket. You definitely don’t want to do that without your phone being in a case.

You may be wondering why this entry about cases is on this blog. It’s important to protect your devices. I have used both my iPhone and iPad in my professional life.  A phone isn’t the best device to write something on, but if it is the only thing available then you have to do what you have to do to get an assignment in on time. If you depend on your devices for your job, you don’t want something happening to them.

The Defender series

The cases I have used for both my Apple devices are an Otterbox Defender case. These cases are made to protect your device from a lot of different every day accidents that can befall a device. I have dropped my iPhone many times and nothing has ever happened to it. Only the case has been scrapped up by these falls. I feel comfortable letting a child handle my iPhone or iPad since they are protected.

There are two reasons I recommend Otterbox products. They get the job done and the companies customer service is up there in my book with Apple’s customer service.

A few weeks ago, I had to contact Otterbox because my wife’s iPhone case was broken. She hadn’t dropped it or anything, but the case was cracked. I knew she hadn’t dropped it since most of the time her phone is in her purse. It’s not clipped to her belt like I have mine. I chalked it up to a defect in the case. I contacted the company and they asked for a four digit number on the inside of the case. All I saw was a one digit number so I emailed the customer service person who emailed me. I decided to include a few pictures of her case to go with my message about not seeing the numbers. The next email I received was one telling me that a new case was going to be shipped to me.

The reason I equate the customer service at Otterbox to Apple’s customer service because there were no hassles. I had an issue and they took care of it just like what Apple has done for me in the past.