There and Back Again (a new Tolkien adventure)

I stumbled across Storywonk the way I “discover” most things: while looking for something else.

I have previously documented how I began listening to podcasts after I received my current iPhone. It began with Kevin Smith’s Smodcast shows before I branched out into other things. At present, most of the podcasts that I listen to regularly are the “after” shows of current television shows, like The Walking Dead and all of the DC shows on the CW or the Marvel shows on ABC and Netflix. Or, they are podcasts about past television shows, such as Seinfeld, The Twilight Zone, or any of the various Star Trek shows.

I have discovered something about myself that I believe is universally true of most of us here in the nerd-verse. We not only like what we like; we also like to talk about what we like, or, in the absence of anyone else to talk to about it, we like to hear others talk about what we like. There is a sense of shared experience, of community, that I think is genuine, even if the thing that brings us together is the fluff of entertainment. At this stage of my life, I’ve become convinced that the pursuit of entertainment is a valid life goal. In fact, it seems that I’ve spent most of my life trying not to be bored. Perhaps you can relate to this.

Anyway, this is about how I arrived at Storywonk, isn’t it? I never seem to tell a concise story.  Forgive me, Your Honor and esteemed members of the jury, but this bit of backstory all relates to present events, so I ask for your forbearance.

Way back in 2004, I became a member of Netflix. At some point during the previous two decades, I became an infrequent television viewer. Mostly because I worked overnight or early-early-morning shifts exclusively and never learned how to program a VCR. So, as an early-to-bed/early-to-rise person, I missed out on a lot. I never watched a single episode of Seinfeld until it was off the air, for instance (I now own every season on DVD). I also missed the entire run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy was one of the first series that I started watching when those little red envelopes started arriving from Netflix (you see, kids, this was long before streaming video was a real thing). With no shame, I will admit that I was hooked from the beginning, and I have been a Joss Whedon fan ever since. It’s no surprise to me that he’s become the patron saint of nerd-dom.

As way leads to way, smash cut to the present, and my ever-expanding search for other podcasts to listen to led me to one about Buffy. It was okay, an enthusiastic podcast by a couple of Aussies. After a time, though, I began to wonder if there wasn’t another, better, podcast about the show. As it turns out, there was. At least it was better suited to my tastes. It is a podcast called Dusted, hosted by the husband-and-wife team of Alastair Stephens and Lani Diane Rich. The podcast covers all of the Buffy shows, in the order that they were released, along with the Angel series, when it was successfully spun-off. I’m still listening to the shows, currently in season four of Buffy and season one of Angel, and will be listening for a while to come.

I found that, in addition to enjoying hearing them talk about the Buffyverse, I enjoyed listening to the couple talk about, well, almost anything. I also began listening to We Can Do This All Day, in which Stephens & Rich talk about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, comparing all of the Marvel movies and television shows against the Iron standard of the movie Iron Man, which kicked off the MCU. Recently, as I’ve begun to watch the TV show Veronica Mars, I’ve been listening to We Used to Be Friends, their podcast about that show. They told me that it was in the same vein as Buffy, and they were correct.

Lani Diane Rich is a published author. I’ve never read any of her novels, I must admit. I could be wrong, but they seem to be in the romance genre. She is also an adjunct professor at Syracuse University.

Alastair Stephens is Scottish and has a delightful accent. He’s seems to know a lot about storytelling and writing, whether or not he has any writing credits. He hosted The Journeyman Writer and Story and Star Wars podcasts solo, and I like them a lot.

It was through the Storywonk site that I learned of Alastair’s intentions to begin hosting the podcast There and Back Again, an 18-month plan to cover The Hobbit and all of The Lord of the Rings, as well as the Peter Jackson movies. This inspired me to begin another reading of the Tolkien novels, and I’ve developed a personal calendar planner to do so, along with listening to the podcasts, beginning in another week or so.

If this is the nerdiest thing you’ve heard recently, I completely understand.

But, it delights me to no end to know at least part of what I will be doing for the next eighteen months. The secret to happiness, as I’ve mentioned before, is always having something to look forward to. And this is one of my ‘somethings.’

P.S.: And I mention this sadly. I learned while looking up the proper sites to link to this post that Alastair Stephens and Lani Diane Rich are getting divorced. This saddens me. More for myself than for them, since I do not know them personally and I love hearing their co-hosted podcasts. Lani is retaining sole ownership of the Storywonk site, according to Alastair’s blog. I’m not sure what this means for his Tolkien podcast, but, selfishly, I hope that it will go on.

I also don’t know what that means for their Buffy and MCU podcasts. Neither will be the same without both involved.

However, you can’t change the past, and they have plenty of content already banked. So, I encourage you to listen to the Storywonk podcasts. 

3 thoughts on “There and Back Again (a new Tolkien adventure)

  1. Your post could have been written by me. For the last 2-years I have loved Dusted and now I am at a bit of a loss… I also ended up listening to their MCu podcast and Veronica Mars podcast. Divorce is hard, but I feel we all lost this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Last I read, StoryWonk will soon be no more. Alistair and Lani are both forming separate companies. I will miss them together but will continue to listen to whatever they put out there separately.


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