Podcast Recommendations- Cardboard Chronicles/BreakerCulture Podcast

The pod-a-sphere is a strange place, as you’ll literally find a podcast catered right to your personal taste (all of your legal and moral tastes that is). Ever since I’ve gotten into podcasts I’ve been occasionally plugging the following search terms into the podcast app’s search engine (with little success):

“Trading cards”

“American football cards”

“Hobbies, collectibles”

And to my surprise, 6 days ago my search terms actually resulted in a relevant hit!

Cardboard Chronicles- Joshua Johnson

Josh is a young-ish guy who has a passion for Basketball trading cards, and what better to do than to start your very own podcast to talk about your passion! And if you’re able to make a few bucks along the way by publishing an e-book, teaching others in how to turn card collecting into a bonafide investment portfolio? Even better! Only in America! Right?

Being the first trading card podcast I lucked on, I think his program is still my favourite (although there are better ones out there), he sounds like an honest, down to earth guy, who has found a way to make money from his hobby, and sounds like he just wants to share his experiences and wisdom with other like-minded dudes. Me, I’m super envious as that is the dream isn’t it? Having a passion, and being able to make money (and perhaps a living) from it? Living your best life!

Josh produces a weekly pod, approx. an hour in length, where he interviews fellow hobbyists, sharing stories of how they got into card collecting, show-and-tell what notable cards they have, and just general chit chat around topics of interest (usually more interesting to them, than it is for us the listener). The interviews are unstructured, which feel more like eaves-dropping in on a crossed Skype line, but if you do have a genuine interest in collecting trading cards, you’ll find yourself hanging around and listening in, regardless where the conversations might go.

If you’re one of the rare card collectors out there, and interested to check Cardboard Chronicles out? Click HERE!

BreakerCulture Podcast- BreakerCulture Weekly

And like always, once you’ve lucked on a good thing you follow it down the rabbit hole of ‘You might also like’ and I found a few other trading card pods- the most interesting of which was ‘BreakerCulture Podcast’. To be honest with you, I’ve only listened to two episodes thus far, but from what I’ve heard I think I’ll be tapping in on a regular basis to hear his latest content. Where Josh from Cardboard chronicles comes off as an introvert and sounds like a guy who isn’t the life of the party, however Ty Wilson, the host of BreakerCulture, is clearly an extrovert, and is a dude who everyone probably looks to in any group social setting. So as mentioned, although I’ve only had the chance to hear less than 120 minutes of his channel, I found him to be extremely engaging and I can’t wait to hear more!

Ty’s show is similar to the Chronicles, i.e. each episode he interviews a fellow Hobbyist to learn of their collecting past, what they’re currently up to, and discuss all the goings on in the hobby world (like allegations of trimming and fake cards doing the rounds), and what stands the Breakers out from the other trading card podcasters, is the fact that Ty is involved in the Breaker sub-culture of the trading card scene. No, they’re not Californian Surfers who also collect cards, but Breakers is a term given to a scheme where a group of collectors all contribute towards the purchase and unboxing of an expensive box of trading cards (selling shares in the box in advance) and depending on your election of a team (in the case of NFL, electing one of 32 teams), the box is opened by the Breaker whilst streaming live on Youtube (when everyone who has a stake in the box watches on nervously).  And if (and it is if, as there isn’t any guarantee that each box contains a card of your team’s) a card depicting a player from the team which you’ve elected is pulled out? Regardless of how valuable or how worthless that card may be? That card is all yours! Sent to you curtesy of the USPS!

So adding this sub-culture’s ways onto this already niche sub-culture, it really makes things that much more intriguing to listen to! Not to mention that Ty seems to be able to bring-in higher calibre guests, compared to Josh.

So if I’ve piqued your interest? Check out BreakerCulture podcast! Just click HERE!

So you might be wondering, who in their right mind would collect cards? Silly bits of coloured cardboard paper? Well, I think you have to be a guy who grew up in the 60s to the 90s to be able to answer this question from a point of experience. For me, I was in year 5 when I first started collecting sports cards. My first 2.5 by 3 collectable being NSWRL, Rugby League cards from the 92 season. I don’t know what the trigger was, but it seemed like the whole card collecting phase took-off at our school at this time. Every boy (regardless if they had prior interest in rugby or not) were all of a sudden into collecting and trading, so like a sheep I too followed. And for months and months all the boys had in their back-pockets their stack of glossy trading cards held together by a rubber band, ready to be shown to and swapped with all the other guys in our grade.

Then I changed schools at the end of year 5, and in my new school everyone were collecting NBA basketball cards. In my humble opinion at least, I believe this to be the peak of card collecting fandom in Australia- where teenage boys just flocked to and hung-out at ‘Card Shaq’ in the MidCity centre mall, for hours each Saturday and Sunday kids would stand around admiring all the cards on display in the glass cabinets, enclosed inside hard plastic protective covers with a sticky label announcing how much the card was worth in US dollars. And like a sheep, I too hung out at Card Shaq and switched  from collecting Rugby cards to collecting Basketball cards- but like an Asian  cheapo (which I can be), American Football cards were a dollar cheaper per pack than Basketball cards (as they’re way less popular) so I also collected NFL cards. And when the 95 season swung around I purely evolved into only collecting NFL cards (which explains why I’m still an NFL fan to this day).

So throughout the 90s (93-99) I was an avid collector of football cards, no-longer just buying single packets, but instead I’d go in for an entire box of cards (24 packets each) easily droppin’ a couple of hundred of my parent’s hard earned cash each time on this cardboard obsession of mine. My obsession was so well known, that one year for my birthday, my uncle (who lives in America) sent me a box of cards for my 13th birthday. And when my dad went overseas to meet up with his brother in Hong Kong (the same aforementioned uncle) my dad would come home with a couple of boxes which my uncle had carried half way around the world so he could hand deliver it to my dad, so he could bring it home for me (at this time the Sydney trading card industry was on its last legs). I would be so addicted to the thrill, the hope of pulling out a rare special card (called Inserts), that I’d lock myself away in my room as soon as I got home with my box and just methodologically tear open packet after packet, thumbing through the brand spanking new cards, seeing if I had scored a sort-after rookie card or a rare Insert! Just thinking about it now quickens my heart rate. Haaha. And when I was 15 years old and had a chance to live in Hong Kong for 6 months- I went nuts! There was one precinct in Hong Kong (The Alliance Centre in Prince Edward) where all of the trading card shops used to cluster in this one shopping mall. I’d go to this mall once a week, doing a circuit of each shop one after the other, checking out if they had received any new stock (this happened to be in Feb-July in the NFL off-season). And when I’d learned that they had some new stuff, I’d plead with my parents (international phone call) to allow me to tap into the funds which I had travelled with, so I could take a couple of hundred bucks out of what was meant to sustain me, but to instead buy the latest box from Upper Deck, Fleer, Collector’s Edge, or Topps. I probably purchased at least 10 boxes in that period of time, but man did I score some nice cards (which are probably worthless now).

And my fondest memory was when one of the stores was closing down, and as a fire sale the young dude who owned the store, he allowed all the kids to go through his personal collection- boxes and boxes of Inserts in their individual protective sleeves, each gem priced at $3 per piece. I honestly went back 3 consecutive days- pretty much cleaned him out of all of his worthwhile NFL cards! I can still picture that shop clearly in my mind although it was over 20 years ago.

But like all good things, things eventually had to come to an end. I came back home to Australia, where there wasn’t a trading card industry anymore – and the Internet and online shopping wasn’t like it is today, so I stopped buying cards. Not because I had lost the fire or passion for it, but due to the lacking supply of good cards coming our way down-under.

But from all accounts, from what I’ve heard thus far in the podcasts, this tale of fading away from the hobby scene? This was a similar outcome across the world. Perhaps it was our generation, the little 12-13 year olds who got in during the early 90s craze, but now these same kids were 16-17 years old, and were too cool to be still collecting cardboard cut-outs like geeks. So from my understanding, most of the dudes of my elk, and the same with the dudes on the podcasts, they all said that they had stopped collecting in the late 90s, and had recently just gotten back into the hobby due to a resurgence in the collectable. And perhaps this is the reason why in the past (let’s say in the past 2 years) I’d never stumbled on a trading card podcast, but presently there are a handful of good podcasts, each emerging in the past 12 to 15 months.

So hearing all these guys talk about their collections, about ‘Nationals’, a 5 day trading card fest, and guys owning pieces which are numbered 1/1 – I have to admit it has re-awakened an itch within me which I thought was long dead! But nah! I can’t fall into that trap all over again! I’m a responsible adult with adult responsibilities and real bills to pay! Besides, if we’re talking about wasteful and unsustainable practices? Collecting cardboard and all that single use packaging?! My wife would kill me if I’d come home with a couple packets of foil, containing squares of cardboard. Haaha. So I’ll just have to live vicariously through Josh and Ty. *Smile*. But for you boyz, here are my favourites from my 20 year old collection.

Podcast Recommendation- Conviction

There’s a lot of ‘True crime’ pods out there, and so are there True crime buffs, but is ‘Conviction’ by Gimlet Media worth your while?

I’m a real sucker for in-pod advertising! Really! Where as most people do anything to avoid TV adverts, and as soon as YouTube starts to waste your time with ads, most people (and so do I) hit ‘Skip ad’ as soon as you can. However there’s something about in-pod advertising which gets me every time, sometimes I even rewind pods to re-listen to ads. Call me weird? Maybe? So no surprise, ‘Conviction’ got on my radar from in-pod adverts, then I was forced to listen to a 15 min teaser ep from another Gimlet Media pod I was subscribed to. And after 15 mins, it left me hanging and it had me hooked! I can listen to that! Oh! I can listen to that!

Conviction is the first season of a new investigative reporting series by Gimlet, hosted by Saki Knafo- a New York Times reporter, who spent over a year investigating and recording this story.

The back-drop of Conviction is present day Bronx New York, and it’s a tale of police injustice; young innocent minority males being picked off-the-streets and placed behind bars; and one bull-dogged protagonist PI (Private Investigator) named Manuel Gomez- who dedicates his life to right the wrongs of his city, and stands-up for the downtrodden.

The seven 30 minute episodes in Season One are a mixture of interviews, Saki Knafo’s dulcet narrative tones, court room recordings, and live action  recordings as the tape recorders roll while Manny runs down witnesses and chases down leads, all in an attempt to free his client! And just when you think you know who is good and who is bad? We find out along the way with Saki Knafo, that everything isn’t as black and white as it seems, but everything is shades of grey! Is Manuel Gomez on the side of the good? Or has our host Saki Knafo been sucked in to a yearlong ‘wild goose chase’ following a dishonest PI, with a personal agenda out for revenge on the NYPD? Well……You’ll just have to listen to find out!

To start binge listening to ‘Conviction’, just click HERE!

Podcast Recommendation- Inside Star Wars

Can you imagine a world pre-dating Star Wars the cinematic film? It’s hard hey? Especially if you were born after 1977, and words like wookiee, Jedi, and lightsaber has been a part of your vernacular for as long as you can remember. But through the power of podcast and immersive story-telling, now you can!

Inside Star Wars is a 7 episode podcast deep dive into Star Wars; through extensive research and re-enactments it tells the story of a young man who forged Star Wars out from his very own hands (George Lucas); explores the lives of the unknown cast before they became Luke, Leia and Han; and exposes all the doubters who thought Star Wars was going to be a universal flop!

Hosted by Mark Ramsey and brought to you by Wondery, you’re transported back to a time where tales of universes far far away were laughable, extra-terrestrial lifeforms resembled green Martian things, and movies were low-tech affairs produced in film lots in Hollywood. Take a trip down memory lane to learn of George’s back-story, his obsession to detail, the unlikely stars who became larger than life, and life after Star Wars.

I’m not that into Star Wars, but this podcast had me hook, line and sinker! I couldn’t wait till each Wednesday when the next episode dropped to hear what else would be revealed when another layer was peeled away, and I was just so blown away finding out what a hard slog George Lucas had to endure to bring his movie to life; getting my head around the concept that people actually thought that Star Wars was a bad concept; and the fact that Harrison Ford was a carpenter building movie sets before he was rocketed to stardom on the back of….or thrusters of…Star Wars!

If you’re an oldie and you can remember the 1977s, check out the pod and be taken back to an age long long ago in your own personal history! For non-fans, check it out to better appreciate the origins of Star Wars! And for you Jedies, you’ll listen to it regardless, as you’ll consume anything Star Wars related to help you pass the time until ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ finally reaches your nearest cinema!

To listen to Inside Star Wars, click HERE! Enjoy!

Podcast Recommendations- Tech Guide

First there was Jeff, then there was Mario, but here to stay is Stephen Fenech!

I’m subscribed to over 24 podcasts, but the podcast which I eagerly await the most is Tech Guide, when the latest episode is uploaded after midnight on a Monday night, here I am listening to it on a Tuesday morning at 5am. Hot off the press, as they say!

Tech Guide is a weekly Australian podcast which covers Tech news, Tech reviews, and answers listeners’ tech questions. It’s a quick 40 min weekly dose of all-you-need-to-know in tech – so that you’re up-to-date with all that is going on in the tech world.

The podcast attracts an older crowd (so I’m not their target audience) but I’m there for the information, not just there to be entertained. And it’s rare to find a locally produced tech podcast, there are many American tech pods out there – but what is the point of being informed about products which may or may not ever reach Australia’s shores? I used to listen to the pod on a Saturday morning while I had my breakfast (like the Saturday paper) – the blue ribbon podcast time-slot of the week! But even listening to it 5 days after it’s been uploaded, some of the news has already become old news! Yes, technology does go out-of-date that quickly!

Our host Stephen Fenech literally attends every launch and media review; he tests and uses every product he talks about; and would even go in and bat for listeners if you’ve been stuffed around by a company! He’s like a Tech journalist super-hero! And if 40 mins a week isn’t enough for you, you can read his news, reviews and tech support articles in full on his website TechGuide.com.au

Because I listen to Tech Guide, it’s enabled me to have “intelligent” tech conversations with colleagues at work; I sometimes have ground-breaking tech recommendations for friends; and on the odd occasion we even buy the latest tech product which I had heard of, being at the head of the line as an innovator (beats being the late majority- where I used to be with tech adoption).

So if you always like to be in-the-know with technology, and you like to be spoon-fed your information, check-out Tech Guide the podcast! Drops every Monday night! Enjoy!    

Podcast Recommendation- Hackable?

Hey! This week I’m going to recommend one of the most intriguing podcasts I’ve ever heard before! Now that our lives literally revolve around our various smart (and sometimes not so smart) devices, thus the topic of hacking and our online vulnerability is a timely topic. For me personally, I have an interest in the world of hacking, not because I want to hack anyone, but I’m just intrigued by guys & gals who have the ability to play their fingers at lightning speed over their keyboards like pianists, typing out commands and keystrokes, working their way into other people’s systems. It’s both frightening and intriguing at the same time, and now there is a podcast which reveals this shadowy enclave of our society!

‘Hackable?’ is a podcast brought to us by McAfee®, the anti-virus company – the branded podcast is award-winning and is hosted by famed Canadian media personality Geoff Siskind. At the time of writing this post, Hackable? has wrapped up their 3rd season of  episodes, so there are 24 episodes you can binge listen to, and my fingers are crossed that a 4th season is coming soon!

The podcast is very well produced, adopting a structure to each episode which makes it both predictable and entertaining (the 30 min eps just breeze by).

Each episode opens with a scripted re-enactment from a movie or TV scene depicting human interaction with technology – the visuals are described in much detail by our host (piquing our interest in what is to come). This is all before the show’s intro jingle, introducing the podcast and our greeting from our host Geoff Siskind, where he credits where the clip was taken from and what hack he has installed for us this week!

If Geoff is seemingly the foolhardy one, Bruce Snell, (cyber-security expert from McAfee) is the rational one, whom Geoff speaks with at the top of each episode to gain his expert opinion on the said area to be hacked. The show is predictable, as Bruce warns Geoff of the dangers, before Geoff outlines what he has already set in motion to expose himself to a hack (d’oh), revealing how easy it is and how vulnerable we all are if we’re the target for hackers.

In the more recent episodes, the show has introduced an interlude segment where Producer Pedro interviews a victim of said hack, before we cross back to Geoff where he has inevitably linked up with a Hacker or two, and has surrendered his own device for the hackers to invade his privacy, all in the name of science and our entertainment! No, no it’s very educational as well.

After the hackers prove that they can take control over Geoff’s device (it can easily be ours), Geoff re-connects with Bruce Snell, where Bruce advises Geoff and the listener on how we can protect ourselves from a similar attack. And like always, Geoff vows to be safer online, until the next episode where he once again volunteers his device or himself to another hack.

The hacks which have stayed with me have been: how easily your personal information on your laptop can be accessed if your device falls into the wrong hands, even if your laptop is password protected! How any digital image floating around the Internet has GPS coordinates embedded in the image’s code, that with the know-how and the right web-site, anyone can pin-point where that picture was taken and potentially find out where you live! How a keyless car fob works, and how easy it is to mimic that frequency so with the right hardware someone can steal your car without your key, like as easy as stealing candy from a baby! And how some smart devices around our home are literally inviting strangers right into our dwelling places, allowing God-knows-who to see and hear us in our most private setting, and take control over devices around our home! All very very scary!

So if this has piqued your interest, and you’re curious to hear how all these hacks are possible, and how to protect yourself (for those whom I’ve just made paranoid), just click HERE! And you can start listening immediately to how, and how you can protect yourself from being a victim of hackers. Enjoy!

Podcast Recommendations- American Football Pods

Ok, I’ve called an audible! A last minute change-up from what had been scheduled for this month’s Podcast recommendation. I couldn’t help it! This has been inspired by the NFL Draft night hype, so I’m going to recommend a trio of NFL/sporting podcasts!

I remember as a teenager in the early 90s before the advent of the Internet, the time of the year I used to look forward to the most was the month of May-  because this was the first time American Football Trading card producers released their rookie cards, and my first chance to see which up-and-coming stars were going to which professional teams. Fast-forward to 2014, in Australia at least there was no longer a month’s delay of learning of the landing spots for Rookies, but the only way we were able to follow the NFL Draft live was via the NFL.com web-site who were streaming the Draft live; but inevitably every 2 minutes the stream would cut-out and to continue the stream we need to hit F5 refresh, to give ourselves another 2 mins of FREE live streaming- and with these things inevitably it always cuts out when a draft pic was being announced by the Commissioner. D’oh!

But today as I draft this post, I’ve got the 2019 NFL Draft playing live on my Google Home, curtesy of the NFL radio and Tune-in! So inspired by the Draft, here are a trio of NFL pods which is def worth your while!

NFL: Move the Sticks with Daniel Jeremiah & Bucky Brooks- NFL Media

The stars of NFL Media come Mar-Apr (the months leading up to the Draft) are a pair of ex-NFL scouts- Daniel Jeremiah (former collegiate Quarterback) and Bucky Brooks (former professional Wide Receiver/Defensive Back). What makes their podcast unique, is that they juggle a nice blend of covering the NFL and the collegian football ranks all year round. And as the Super Bowl confetti is swept away for another year, the boys start their path to the draft coverage which results in fans of their show being more clued-in on rookie prospects, which make Draft day that much more interesting for fans! Unfortunately as you read this post, it’s too late to follow their predictions for 2019, however it’s not too late to subscribe to their pod and follow their post-draft breakdown, and looking forward to the upcoming NFL and college seasons! To listen to ‘Move the Sticks’ podcast, click HERE

Sports Wars- Wondery

The latest sports pod to be launched has been Wondery’s ‘Sports Wars’ hosted by Dan Rubenstein! They have timed it perfectly, to launch this pod and its first episodes in time with the NFL Draft. The first Sports Wars episode to drop has been a multi-part episode on the Green Bay Packer’s internal war between Quarterback Brett Favre and his eventual replacement Quarterback Aaron Rogers. What makes Sports Wars different from other sporting pods/documentaries, is that the production is presented as a dramatic re-enactment of true stories which we may not have been aware of – which I have to confess has been compelling listening! Historically, I learn of podcasts late into its life, and I usually have the luxury to binge-listen to series as all episodes are already available. However this time I’ve lucked onto Sports Wars early in the piece, so I’ve already consumed everything they’ve put up there and am now eagerly awaiting the bi-weekly new episode drops.

I’m looking forward to future Sports War episodes, they’ve teased of deep-dives into the Red Sox Vs Yankees rivalries, and the battles between Michael Jordan and Isaiah Thomas, to name a few. If you want to join me in listening to entertaining deep dives into some well-known sport rivalries, click HERE!

Around the NFL- NFL Media

And the last of the American Football trio of podcasts which I’m subscribed to, is ‘Around the NFL’! The show is made up of a 4 man panel of ‘Analysts’ (this job title used very loosely), who are actually just a bunch of football fans who’s highest level of football achievement thus far has been their Pop Warner careers …….. But join the Zeuser, The Quiet Storm, The Mailman, and The Old Boss, for 3 eps per week, of football talk and mirth! If you don’t get a chance to watch each NFL game come Sundays in September, just tune in to Around the NFL for an entertaining hour of football re-caps, news, predictions, and analysis by a bunch of football fans! The analysis isn’t solid, they don’t have any football insider connections, but what they are is entertaining! If you’d like to check them out for yourself, click HERE!

If you’re already a NFL fan, I hope your team has selected well in the 2019 NFL Draft, thus you’ll be looking forward to the upcoming season of football! If you’ve never gotten into NFL before, the 100th season of   America’s game is the perfect time to start! Check out the above pods, and see if you’ll become a non-American Gridiron convert like me!