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Colin's Last Stand: Fireside Chats

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Fireside Chats, Episode 113: The Strategy Gamer

Today's guest is named Darren MacNally, and Darren has been on a pretty interesting voyage these past few years. One day a little over a decade ago, he fell in love with Creative Assembly's long-running Total War gaming franchise, and even parlayed that passion into a job at the developer for a time. But Darren's true passion is actually in making content surrounding strategy games, not in making the games themselves, and he pursues that passion on YouTube. What makes a creator like Darren...


Fireside Chats, Episode 112: Massage Therapy

It might be easy to poke a little fun at massage therapy, what with the easy Happy Ending jokes and all. But in reality, the art of relaxation is a serious endeavor, especially here in the 21st century, as people around the world become more aware of their bodies, and the curative qualities unorthodox treatments bubble to the forefront. Today's guest, David Merlino, is a professional massage therapist. Well, he was, anyway. These days, he primarily plies his trade as an instructor and...


Fireside Chats, Episode 111: Infertility

For many married couples, having children is a huge part of The Plan. But what happens when biology doesn't cooperate, and you're left unable to have kids like you counted on? This week's guests -- The Mayberrys -- have special insight into an issue that affects millions of couples the world over. While they were ultimately able to overcome the hurdles in front of them and get pregnant (after many thousands of dollars spent on medical care), the journey wasn't easy. In fact, there were...


Fireside Chats, Episode 110: The Gay Experience

John Shehan is a 24 year old man who first realized he was gay when he was six, but only came out to his friends and family very recently. Today's episode of Fireside Chats is dedicated to his story, and how he found himself after years of self-doubt and anxiety. The outcome of his journey has been undoubtedly positive, yet the road he walked was an emotionally harrowing one. Thankfully, his experience can serve as an uplifting reminder for all of us of staying power and belief.


Fireside Chats, Episode 109: Space Travel

If you didn't know, I'm obsessed with space and space travel, and obviously, Fireside Chats couldn't possibly end without having someone from the space industry on our show. Let's call today's guest John Doe, an engineer who works at a major American aerospace corporation on projects for NASA (and others), and not surprisingly, he has a lot of interesting stories to tell. What are we doing right this very second to achieve the space travel of our dreams, and what do the near and faraway...


Fireside Chats, Episode 108: The Game Designer

At Boise State University in Idaho, a small group of college students in a program called Games, Interactive Media, and Mobile Technology work quietly on prototypes and projects that could very well be The Next Big Thing in gaming. To represent the school and the program, welcome Nicholai Cascio to Fireside Chats. Cascio is an aspiring game designer eager to talk about the craft, the future of gaming, what he's been working on, and just what it takes to make a game from stem to stern,...


Fireside Chats, Episode 107: American Farming

Virtually every culture in the world has a tradition of agriculture, but America takes it to the next level. In fact, the United States takes farming so seriously that, even in a country of 330 million people, the country exports around $150 billion worth of grown and raised food a year, making it a powerhouse on which many other nations rely. Today's guest, Will Thelander, is an Arizonan farmer that provides incredible perspective on what it's like to be part of America's booming...


Fireside Chats, Episode 106: The Comic Creator

Over the last two and a half decades, the Internet has revolutionized the free market, and not just when it comes to cheap consumer goods. For artists, writers, musicians, and other creative types, the Internet has been nothing short of a life-sustaining miracle, allowing those who want to explore unorthodox business opportunities nearly endless latitude to do so. Heck: Colin's Last Stand is a product of this new economy, and everyone reading this description is that economy's consumer. It's...


Fireside Chats, Episode 105: Sleep Paralysis

Today's guest -- Eric Dominguez -- suffers from an inexplicable ailment that only strikes when he slumbers. The affliction is aptly named Sleep Paralysis, and for thousands of years, it has left people in civilizations around the world and throughout recorded history completely mystified. To those that suffer from it, however, its effects are anything but mysterious. With your mind awake and alert but your body unwilling and unable to move, falling into a bout of sleep paralysis can be a...


Fireside Chats, Episode 104: Questioning Faith

A common theme throughout Fireside Chats has been religion. Talking about it, thinking about it, debating it. Today's guest -- Paeter Fransden -- is a knowledgeable, evangelical, friendly, and determined believer in Christ, and out of all of the Christian-themed episodes we've done so far, I (Colin) must readily admit: This one personally made me think about and question my own beliefs the most. Perhaps you'll have a similar experience. Perhaps not. But either way, put on your thinking caps...


Fireside Chats, Episode 103: Top Chef

Meet Jose Horrach, a New York City-based professional chef with a ton of experience, loads of interesting stories, and a whole lot of insight. Our Fireside Chat, not surprisingly, revolves around cooking, eating, and drinking, but for as fun as shoving food in our faces is, tales from the kitchen can be just as riveting. What is it like working in the cutthroat, under-paid, demanding, and daunting world of professional restaurants? And how can newcomers make their way into the field... if...


Fireside Chats, Episode 102: Special Effects

Legions of great films have relied on stellar special effects over the decades, but it's the ones that utilize practical effects that really stand the test of time. Today's guest -- Damon Weathers -- is Studio Coordinator at Legacy Effects, an award-winning practical effects team responsible for some of the awesome stuff you've seen in tons of Marvel movies, the Jurassic Park and Terminator franchises, and even shows like Grey's Anatomy. What does Damon do, and how do he and his team work...


Fireside Chats, Episode 101: The Pushbroom Philosopher

There are only a few questions that have truly consequential answers. "What's for dinner?" is a far more common (and certainly useful) inquiry than "what's the meaning of life?" It's just that one seeks a constantly-changing answer in pursuit of an ephemeral solution, while the other gets at the very basis of who we are, why we're here, and what our purpose is. Today's guest, Robert Bell, mixes the blue collar with the white in an interesting way, seeking knowledge as a means to better...


Fireside Chats, Episode 100: A Conversation With Colin II

50 episodes ago, we flipped the script here on Fireside Chats. Instead of being the interviewer, I (Colin!) became the interviewed. Episode 50 quickly went down as a fan-favorite, and with that in mind, I thought I'd do something similar for Episode 100. Once again, my girlfriend Erin sits in to ask me questions, and not surprisingly, we touch on quite a few topics: Finding happiness in the world, coming to terms with who you are, seeking out analog activities in a digital world, the ups and...


Fireside Chats, Episode 99: Metalhead

Things tend to lean in a serious direction here on Fireside Chats, and that's all well and good. We often delve deep, get real, and challenge ourselves. But today's episode veers in a decidedly more lighthearted direction. Collin Sparling is a young 20-something music fan who asked to come on the show to talk about his experience singing in a metal band. But our conversation quickly veered into general music talk, our shared love of rock, playing in a band growing up, and how important our...


Fireside Chats, Episode 98: The Addict's Wife

Back on Episode 80 of Fireside Chats, we welcomed Kris Hall to the show, a man who was willing to openly talk about his battle with alcoholism, how adversely it affected his life, and how it almost cost him everything, including his children and his wife. Today, we welcome Kris' wife Joanne to the show, so she can give her "side" of the story. While we learned a great deal from Kris about what it means to be an addict, we still have much to explore about what it's like to be subjected to an...


Fireside Chats, Episode 97: The Future is Now

Meet Jeremy Goldman, an expert in computer learning algorithms and AI who has worked for some of the world's biggest tech companies. And boy, does he have a ton of insight into what's going on with Google, Uber, and many others who rely a great deal on knowing and understanding you. Yes, you! For what may seem futuristic and still on the horizon is quickly drawing near at an unexpected and unsettling clip. But one thing's for sure: The likes of Facebook know you a whole lot better than...


Fireside Chats, Episode 96: Dog World

People either get dogs or they don't. Heck, sometimes a person doesn't get dogs, and then suddenly, they do (like yours truly). But one way or another, they're an essential part of human life, and have been for thousands and thousands of years. Today's episode of Fireside Chats focuses on our most trusted animal companions, but through a random lens: The world of grooming. Nakita Jenks is an Arizona-based dog groomer, and she comes packing tons of industry stories and a lot of expertise into...


Fireside Chats, Episode 95: Trading Toys

Toys are an integral part of childhood, but for quite a few of us, they remain relevant in some way, shape, or form long after they probably should. Then again, that's what's so fun about toys as we get older: They're plastic encapsulations of a simpler time, before bills, relationships, jobs, and reality took over. Today's guest, Kenny Koepnick, works at a toy and collectible shop in Ohio, and not only does he get to live in a world of nostalgia, but he knows a whole lot about what makes...


Fireside Chats, Episode 94: Judaism

We've spent a lot of time on Fireside Chats discussing the ins and outs of Christianity, but we never ventured into the territory of its sister religion -- or perhaps parent religion, more accurately -- until right now. Judaism is a fascinating point of conversation, because unlike many other global religions, it's both a religious identity and a cultural identity, many times in excess of Irish or Italian Catholics, the Russian Orthodox, and pretty much any other similar fusion (save maybe...