(Non-Reading Review) Essays

The Spirit of Podcasts 2021 NEW
The Spirit of Podcasts 2021 by Michael Channing I had found my medicine.
Acid Park
Acid Park by Michael Channing The sculptures stood forty feet high or more. They spun and twirled like weather vanes. It was like a whole midway of carnival rides shrunk and hoisted into the air on metal polls. Miniature airplanes and carousels with iron horses, tilt-a-whirls, and spinning stars. And they were absolutely covered in reflectors of every color.
Nine One One Oh One
Nine One One Oh One by Michael Channing Terrorist season was open, and there were signs everywhere.
Anatomy of a Poem: "Chokes and Warbles"
Anatomy of a Poem: Chokes and Warbles by Michael Channing If Shakespeare were my teacher, he’d hang his head in shame, probably invent a new insult to write at the top of my paper.
My Five Favorite Songs About Suicide
My Five Favorite Songs About Suicide by Michael Channing There’s a lesson here, one I didn’t expect to find in this song: No two people experience depression the same way. It comes when it comes, from all manner of triggers within and without.
The Spirit of Podcasts 2020
The Spirit of Podcasts 2020 As I drove away from the Wendy’s in tears, having nearly finished the final episode--and confusing the server who handed me my bag--I knew immediately I was going to do another one of these lists.
A Series of Tributes to Neil Peart
A Series of Tributes to Neil Peart I was just a teenager taking the piss out of the adults. But I felt important with Neil’s words on my back. I felt as strong as life because of them.
'92/'93 by Michael Channing The music was made for us. We were The Youth, the prized demographic, reaching back for the cultural baton as our parents reluctantly passed it on. The entire entertainment business was busy keeping our ears full. And we were hungry.
Dissolving the Block
Dissolving the Block by Michael Channing We all face it. That inability to move forward with the work. We call it a block, but that’s not what it really is. It’s fear.

Here's a secret: There Is Nothing To Be Afraid Of.
What Do You Do When Your Heroes Do Drugs?
What Do You Do When Your Heroes Do Drugs? by Michael Channing I'm a teetotaler. I don't drink, don't smoke, so what do I do? Judge... mostly. When I was young I hated drunk people. I hated them and their stupid problems.
Magic is Friendship
Magic is Friendship by Michael Channing The one game I have played more often and with more people than any other is Magic: the Gathering. I’ve played at work, in coffee shops, conventions, comedy clubs. My card collection has been in tow for twenty-plus years now, a tangible part of my past, relics that paint a picture of who I am.
I Got Strings
I Got Strings by Michael Channing You are a puppet. That's right. You. So am I. Every last one of us.
Anatomy of a Poem: "Umlaut"
Anatomy of a Poem: Umlaut by Michael Channing I was on a roll at this point, washing baby bottles in my kitchen and writing in my head.
Video Games and Pie
Video Games and Pie by Michael Channing I’m riding from school on the bus. My parents will be at work when I get home. My brother will be at my Granny’s house. I will have three or four hours of solitude, and I’m planning to fill that time with two things.
Twenty-Five Years of Reading, part two
Twenty-Five Years of Reading by Michael Channing I'll want at times to slip the thin and bleeding skin I was born into and flex muscles I never had. Between the pages of a book, there are other worlds than these.
Twenty-Five Years of Reading, part one
Twenty-Five Years of Reading by Michael Channing Each year I keep a list of all the books I read. I write the title and author in pencil on a sheet of loose-leaf and clamp the growing stack of pages to a clipboard.
The Most Disappointing Novels I Ever Read
The Most Disappointing Novels I Ever Read by Michael Channing I try to read only good books, but sometimes even the best authors let you down, and sometimes circumstances require you to read a god-awful piece of dreck.
How I Failed My Saving Throw and Learned to Love D&D
How I Failed My Saving Throw and Learned to Love D&D by Michael Channing I, by random luck, rolled up one of the strongest natural-born humans in the D&D universe. To a kid made entirely of knees and elbows, this was the perfect piece of escapism.
The Celebrity Death of 2016 No One Talked About
The Celebrity Death of 2016 No One Talked About by Michael Channing Finding his books sparked my interest in Dungeons & Dragons, which led me to board games and polyhedral dice. New avenues of nerdom opened and welcomed me in. I connected with friends, and we hung out and went to shows and conventions and whiled away many a night at the gaming table.
The People Who Cut You Open
The People Who Cut You Open by Michael Channing I have some skills. But these guys are good at saving lives. To me that sounds like magic, but to them it's Tuesday. Or any day. That is amazing.
My Favorite Book Series
My Favorite Book Series by Michael Channing In no particular order.
Novelists I Should Read at Least Once
Novelists I Should Read at Least Once by Michael Channing For some reason or other, I haven't gotten to these writers yet. But I will soon.
My Five Favorite Songs About Donald Trump
My Five Favorite Songs About Donald Trump by Michael Channing Sometimes it's easier to believe Donald Trump is the actual biblical devil than it is to believe that so many people hear all his mean, ugly, bigoted, hateful, insensitive, divisive ramblings and think, "Yeah, that's me, too."
Video Games I Have Loved, and That Have Loved Me Back: Part Three
Video Games I Have Loved, and that Have Loved Me Back: Part Three by Michael Channing I longed for my basement room, for my friends, for video games, so I decided to take a sweet trip down Nostalgia Lane on this new thing called the Internet. I Alta Vista-ed Dragon Warrior.
My Ten Favorite Guitar Riffs
My Ten Favorite Guitar Riffs by Michael Channing It's a riff so solid, you can lean against it.
What Makes a Miracle?
Open the door and see all the people, with Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass Does anybody believe in miracles anymore? Walt Whitman saw them everywhere.
The Best Year of 2014
looking back on 2014 I got married twice.
I love my little nephew.
I hosted seven Nerd Quiz Live! shows this year.
This was the year I accepted Ronnie James Dio as my personal savior.
The Island of Misfit Toys and Lies
Dharma Mattel There's a toy war going on, and the sad things is the corporations are winning. They've fooled us into believing the lie of pink for girls and blue for boys.
Memories of Robin Williams
Mork's suspenders Trying to follow Robin's lead will crush you.
Video Games I Have Loved and That Have Loved Me Back: Part Two
Dragon Warrior III NES box art Thank you, video games for keeping my memories sharp, my heart light, and for making the years flow in reverse for a few short, bright moments.
My Five Favorite Songs About My Least Favorite Thing
Bruce Springsteen at work Rollins is right, it's not an adventure, it's a job. But you have to have a job. You gotta pay the bills and feed your family more than just free salt packets from Burger King. Staying is easy; quitting is scary.
Clockwork Angels Listening Review
Clockwork Angels Listening Review This is one of the heaviest albums I've ever heard, right up there with Tool and Pantera. I'm not kidding. There are some mosh-worthy songs here.
My Five Favorite Songs About Killers
Seasons in the Abyss Are we attracted to killers because they represent our own dark passengers? Do we vent our black desires vicariously through these fictional boogeymen?
What to Get Me For My Birthday (2014)
Fozzie the Bear needs surgery I don't ask for much, just some power tools, or objects of power, or the power to warp space and time.
Six Seven Things You Don't Remember About Last Year
That first cup of coffee in the morning What of the small, not at all insignificant moments that fell between the big memories and were lost? They are just as vital, just as precious and in need of preserving.
All the Right Places
MST3k nirvana Don't relocate the sock. Or if you do, at least leave a forwarding address.
Music in the Abstract: Three Ways to Listen to Rush
Rush Roll the Bones What's the best way to enjoy almost forty years of mostly great music? How about...
My Faith
Brainy Smurf does not approve. Something to do with the Smurfs in the hands of a jealous god. Hard to explain.
Nerd Party
Party on, Yoda. Party on, Merlin. I would have been able to loosen up at the party had all those people not been there.
My Five Favorite "Radio" Songs
Party on, Yoda. Party on, Merlin. Oh, the insipid, toothless thing radio has become. In its effort to please everyone, it has nothing exciting to say.
The Naming of Songs
Hair of the Dog, by Nazareth. A song's name is not always in the chorus, but most people think it is.
Bon Who?
Mary's eyes acording to The Art of Noise. Most popular music I have intentionally avoided.
Backyard Quest
Link finds a rusty lawnmower gear. I failed every one of my quests. No resets, no save points, no walkthroughs. Hyrule burned to the ground because I sucked at everything.
I'm Not Racist, But...
Not the clansman I was expecting. A touchy subject I am in no way qualified to discuss. But why should that stop me?
Good Vibrations
Still life with skull and bass. Had you asked me when I was twelve what my favorite band was, I would have answered, "The Beach Boys." Because that was the only rock-and-roll tape my mom had.
Memories of Bruce
Santa Bruce. For her birthday last year, my fiancee Connie got to cross an item off her bucket list. We drove from South Carolina to Kansas City, each of us catching a few hours sleep in the back of the van, to sit behind the stage at a Bruce Springsteen concert.
An Assemblage of Fools
That sweet glock rock. Despite what the gods command, I will continue to do comedy.
What To Get Me For My Birthday (2013)
Word ninja. You know, if you wanted to.
Interview with Cody Hughes part 2
Word jester. Cody: "It woulda been funny if I got hit in the head with that beer bottle."
Interview with Cody Hughes part 1
Word jester. Cody: "Doing the comedy that you want to do falls apart so easily."
Pain-A-Day Calendar
Peanuts calendar of sad. This week is going to suck.
End of Me
Above average dick joke. Do you think about when you're gonna die? I think about it all the time.
PK Podcast 1: Dead Writers
PK podcast one. I must remind myself from time to time that my heroes are not perfect.
My Five Favorite Songs About Fatherhood
PK podcast one. The most positive fatherly example I've grown up with may very well be Darth Vader.
My Open Mic Manifesto
Me on the mic. I take it to the maximum.
Up, Up, and Away
Super me. I figured if my super powers weren't going to evolve naturally, the only other way to get them was with, according to comic book lore, radiation. Turned out there were very few sources of radioactivity in my hometown.
My Five Favorite Songs About the Apocalypse
Apocalypse songs. As more and more musicians began to reject the pervasive greed and excess not only in rock-and-roll but in American culture, the glamour boys who needed nothing but a good time began to find themselves ignored and unemployed. The reactionary themes of the Sixties reappeared, only this time angrier and darker.
Video Games I Have Loved and That Have Loved Me Back
Ultima: Exodus. You felt like a character in the story rather than a machine manipulating buttons and a joystick at maximum efficiency. It's true escape, not just empty motions.
My Five Favorite Rock-and-roll Screams
A scream from The Wall. The releasing of anger can better any medicine under the sun.
My Five Favorite Song Choruses
My five favorite choruses. Songs are usually built around choruses that stick to your brain like peanut butter, but the entire rest of the song exists only to kill time until the chorus can come round again
Super Murder Fuck
The Falcon Lords. I left with many mementos of my adventure: a ringing in my ears, smoke in my clothes, a band around my wrist, someone's Dead Kennedys button entangled in my hair, and a graveyard tango ghosting in my brain.
Step Right Up
Sideshow banner. Only in Asheville would a tapeworm puppet teach us about water harvesting at a sideshow.
Home Sick
I'm sick. Rainbow nurses me back to health.
I'm sad. I visited my grandma at the nursing home this Christmas. I recognized her mostly because everyone else there called her Grandma and Mamma. But this wasn't the woman I remembered.
Put the X Back in Xmas
I'm sad. You can wish me merry Xmas if you want. I won't mind. You can even pay me to have a merry Xmas. I'd gladly take upwards of five bucks to have a happy holiday, especially since you insist I remain joyful the entire month of December.
Setting the Platinum Record Straight
Bob comes to the defense of Rush. If you're not a Rush fan, please pay close attention to these amazing and true facts about the world's greatest band.
These Lyrics Suck
These lyrics suck: Sorry. This song had it coming.
Happy Rollins Day
Me, painted red like Rollins. How you can celebrate the birth of everyone's favorite alternative icon.
Flayed in the USA
I'll have to do this swiftly. For all the atrocities done for my benefit, I say thanks.
Instant Normality Kit
I'll have to do this swiftly. Calling all nerds, geeks, dorks, and other geniuses. Do you feel left out at your job, unable to mingle with the normals?

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Chokes and Warbles
Now Available

Chokes and Warbles, a collection of essays and poems by Michael Channing