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Neighbor Q&A

 
THE ULTRA LIFE
 
I met up with neighbor Jennifer Ballard one week before she was to run her first 100 mile trail run, otherwise known as an ultramarathon. She was 
gracious enough to tell her story beforehand and to share her results after the event. Here is the partial pre and postrace interview. 
 
Prerace Interview
 
(Thomas Buck) So Jennifer, I first met you at a party thrown by Pauline Stafford. It turns out we both share Pauline as our personal trainer (at Garage Fitness). I also learned two more things about you: you are a neighbor - you live in Lochwood - and, you are training for an ultramarathon. That is what you call it?
(Jennifer Ballard) Yes, an ultramarathon.
 
And you are an ultra runner - or you will be?
I already am, but I’ll be more of one I guess, at a longer distance than before if I complete this race. And, you had just run 31 miles that day, which is amazing in itself that you were able to attend the party. That was a hard weekend. I ran 22 miles the next day after drinking a few beers that night!
 
That’s insane. So, how long have you been a runner?
Since I was 40. I’m 48 now. I did my first race in 2011. It was meant to be a hike. My neighbor Allison Schwartz concocted this idea that we should hike in the Grand Canyon. She looked it up and it seemed logistically difficult, but she also found a more practical event called the Palo Duro Trail Run that is 20K (12.5 miles). I had never walked longer than 5 miles at a time, but it was the most fun thing I’ve ever done. I just couldn’t believe how fun it was. People seemed so cool. This race had distances up to 50 miles; the 20K was called “the Fun Run,” although for me it seemed like a whole lot of miles.
 
That’s a warm up!
Yup! I couldn’t believe anybody could do anything like run 50 miles. The scenery was incredible. Have you ever been to Palo Duro Canyon?
 
Unfortunately, no.
It’s amazing! So, I came back and immediately signed up for the half marathon at the Dallas Marathon. I didn’t do much additional training, because I still had no idea what I was doing. I pretty much walked that half. It was pouring rain, 42°. And, I was hooked! Second most fun thing I’d ever done. So, from there I joined a running group to try to figure out how to pace myself properly to run. 
 
What running group?
I joined a group called Galloway, and it’s a run/walk group. I think run/walk is appropriate for anyone, but it’s really great for beginners and those of us who would like to avoid injuries. The weekly mileage stays pretty low compared to other half/full marathon training groups. 
 
So, did you grow up doing sports?
No, nothing. I was just a couch potato. Hated exercising. I joined the gym and went a few times, but it just wasn’t my thing. I think the reason running spoke to me was that it tapped into both a love for being outside and a love for being competitive with myself. Plus, I love all the gadgets!
 
Do you nerd out on the splits?
Yeah, even though they are terrible. But I don’t care. They’re my splits. Heart rate… I track all of it with my Garmin. 
 
Do you get the runner’s high? What does that feel like?
Yes, I think it’s more of a feeling of accomplishment when I finish, because it doesn’t always feel great when I’m actually doing it. There are days when everything feels right, nothing hurts, rhythm is good, and I’m just spacing out.
 
So, you get into a zone on the road and the trail?
Either way you do but I think the road has a more Zen feel. But it can get boring. Trails are never boring. You have to pay attention, time seems to go faster, and the scenery is better.
 
How many marathons and ultramarathons have you run?
I have run 11 marathon distance. 5 x 50K (31.5 miles), 2 x 50 miles, and that’s it. No 100Ks yet and no 100 miles yet. We’ll see. 
 
This run coming up in February, where is it?
It’s at Huntsville State Park. The event is called the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile. 
 
Is the run broken up into 2 days with 2 x 50 mile runs?
No, it’s a 100 mile trail run and I have 30 hours to finish it. So, it starts on Feb. 1st (6 am) and ends on the 2nd (noon). If I’m not done by then, I’m out. 
 
Ok, so an ultra marathoner is considered anyone who runs a 50 miler? 
Ultras are anything over the marathon distance, which is 26.2 miles. The Dallas Marathon has just added an ultra, and it’s a 50K. On road, I’ve mostly seen the 50k distance added as an option for a marathon. That just adds about 6 miles on, so not excessively longer. On trail, ultra distances are much more common and are typically 50k, 50-mile, 100k, and 100-mile. 
 
So, how are you preparing for this race? 
When we first met, that was my biggest run week. I ended up running 85 miles. That was my “peak week” and I’ve been tapering off ever since. 
 
And you might have tendinitis in your hip and knee? 
That hasn’t been diagnosed yet. Hopefully it’s not. I’m taking ibuprofen and stretching a lot and just resting and hoping that once I get out there and warmup I will feel better and settle in. 
 
Have you ever experienced “bonking?”
Often! I think most runners have experienced it. My last 50-mile race, I bonked about 25 miles in. The last 25 were just a slow march to the finish feeling awful. The real struggle is keeping yourself awake, remembering to eat for that many hours, and finding palatable things to eat. Not to mention managing pain, blisters, and your brain telling you to quit this stupid endeavor. It will come down to coping.  
 
Which distance tests your will power the most?
The 50-mile so far, probably because it’s the longest I’ve gone to date. Especially if it loops a lot. The last one I did had 7 x 7ish mile loops, so every time I passed the start line where my stuff and chair was, it was a tiny incentive to quit. Trail runners joke a lot about “the chair,” but the truth is once you sit down it’s really hard to get back up.
 
What is your favorite place to trail run around here?
My favorite trail is North Shore at Grapevine Lake. So that’s about a 45-minute drive. In Dallas I like Oak Cliff Nature Preserve which is near Illinois and Hampton. Cedar Hill State Park is also nice to run in. I go a lot to Rowlett Creek preserve which is just about 15 minutes away, mostly because it’s close and has 16 miles of trail. Cedar Ridge Preserve is a nice hiking trail, 
no bikes are allowed. 
 
So, how long have you lived in Lochwood?
We bought a house in December 1996 on Lochwood Blvd., right across from the park. Then, we moved to Ridgelake in 2009. It’s already been 10 years there and it’s hard to believe. 
 
You lived in the same house on Lochwood Blvd. as Scott and Heather Kolodziej, and you would also lend out your electricity for neighborhood events at the park! I guess that house has always been the park “power house?”
Yep, although we didn’t have as many events back then. National Night Out was one of the events that we had to string the electric cord across the street for. We were also the “unofficial bathroom” of the Lochwood Parents Group/Wednesday Play Group. 
 
Wednesday play group at the park? What was in the park at that time? Was the swimming pool still there?
No, that was long gone. It was a playground, not the same playground we have now. I cannot tell you how many hours we spent over there. I have the best memories of meeting the moms and dads from the neighborhood, and just hanging out on Wednesday or Friday afternoons and letting the kids run around. We tried, in a small way, to let the kids have some old-fashioned, unstructured time. We’d let them explore the creek and woods on their own, as a group. We just checked on them every now and again. I feel like it gave our kids a little something that not every kid these days gets to do. They loved it. It was such a nice time. Those friends I made in the Parents Group are still my best friends. 
 
So, is there anything Lochwood-related that you’d like to see improve?
I really like our wildlife here and I don’t want to see anything change regarding that. And, as a runner, it makes me nervous when I see other 
runners and walkers out in the dark wearing black, non-reflective clothing, without any kind of reflective gear or light. Reflective vests don’t weigh much, and lights are inexpensive. I would urge people to please consider using them. I’ve had a few close calls with inattentive drivers. I know a vest won’t make them magically more attentive, but if it helps anyone see me, it’s worth it. 
 
Well Jennifer, good luck again on your run! Please let us know how it turns out. Do you have a goal time?
Thank you! I hope it happens. Goal time? Let’s just say 29 hours, 59 minutes & 59 seconds!
 
Postrace Interview
 
Alright, how’d it go??? I’m nervous to ask!
I’m happy to report that I successfully completed my 100-miler! I had a finish time of 29 hours and 20 minutes. The race was really fun, although I’m not sure I want to go through all that again! There was a 34% DNF (did not finish) rate, so I felt very happy to be among the finishers. I started at 6:00 am on Saturday and finished at 11:20 am on Sunday. I got to experience two sunrises during the race!
 
That is so awesome! congrats! What was the hardest part of the race?
Thanks! Fortunately, my hip and knee turned out to be a non-issue. The hardest part was the last 4 miles. That was just where fatigue was making me 
vulnerable mentally. I’d been awake for over 30 hours and mostly on my feet. I’d had a back issue crop up around mile 50 and it was driving me nuts by that point. Near the end, I got very emotional because I started to realize I was going to make it - even with very slow walking - which was all I could manage.
 
How many people completed? How was the weather?
There were 250 finishers out of 379 starters. I think I was finisher 238. Weather was perfect and the course wasn’t muddy which helped a lot. If you have not visited Huntsville State Park, please do. It’s so pretty. Any time I felt low I just needed to look around and be grateful to be in such a pretty place.
 
How many times did you take breaks? Did you sleep at all? Was the course lit at night?
A lot of people think we get to sleep or break overnight. We do not, or at least I did not because I’m too slow. I didn’t nap at all. The course is not lit, except at aid stations and it was dark! I had a headlight and carried another as a flashlight. I enjoy night running a lot, even on trail, so I was actually looking forward to the night. I had my sister-in-law pacing me for the overnight section, which helped me stay awake and on pace. Aid stations also serve coffee, which helped!
 
Jennifer, you are amazing and inspiring! you’ve made me want to explore all the parks you’ve been to -- but not at 100 miles a clip! Thanks so much for sharing your story and helping us learn about your “ultra” quest. Congrats again and enjoy the R&R!
 


 
 
PARADISE MADE. An interview with woodworking pro & neighbor Jack Paradise.
February, 2019
 
The finely-detailed, custom work you see before you is from woodworker, welder and fellow Lochwood neighbor Jack Paradise (older brother of Scott Paradise - who leads the SNAP initiative in Lochwood). There is no photo of Jack, because he is as private as he is talented. However, he was nice enough to invite me over, offer some good coffee and let me record our conversation. 
 
(Thomas Buck) So, having Paradise as a last name is pretty unique. what’s your family background?
(Jack Paradise) Well, there’s some contention there. My brothers point to our Irish lineage. But, I’m more of a holdout. I think we have some French lineage. It’s a zinger of a last name. It wasn’t too hard to convince my wife to take the last name when we got married. That was a bonus, I guess!
 
Why did you move into Lochwood? 
We lived in Casa View and my in-laws lived (and still live) in Lochwood close to the park. We would just throw the stroller in the car and take a short drive to the park. Then, we’d weave our way through the neighborhood - mostly all the “Spring” streets. We just fell in love with it. It felt like a different city.
 
What’s nice about these Spring streets is you probably don’t get a lot of traffic?
It’s really peaceful. The only traffic we get through here are the cars that come around when it’s bulk trash time - all the recycling guys picking the metal out of your pile, looking for scraps. With everybody else, you recognize the cars.
 
So you grew up in Dallas? 
I grew up in East Dallas near Skyline High School, by Saint Francis and I-30. It was a good place to grow up. I went to Bayles Elementary, which is still there. I liked that neighborhood. I still drive through there every now and then. They have a skate park now that wasn’t there when I was a kid - which is a drag. 
 
You wish you had one when you were growing up, right? 
Yeah. I had a group of buddies and we were all pretty serious about 
skateboarding. We built ramps and one of my friends had a half pipe. You had to sign a waiver to ride on it. His parents were like, “you have to get this notarized - no broken elbows or arms or whatever else. It’s not on us.” I got my mom to get the thing notarized so I could ride it.
 
I read on your website (jackworks.smugmug.com) that building skateboard ramps really got you into woodworking. 
Totally. It’s kinda weird though. When I was 8 years old, my dad passed away. He had the basic assortment of power tools and hand tools. After he passed, it just dawned on me that I should appropriate everything in the garage and that would be “my thing.” So, I started getting everything organized and making use of the space - and just fell in love with woodworking. At school, I would sneak away and work on three dimensional drawings of ramps I had day-dreamed about. I really enjoyed that whole process - the 3D element of it. Imagining what parts I needed and where I would place things to make it structurally correct. My buddies and I would go around and scrounge through the trash to get good supply wood - old 2x4s. We were breaking down old pallets and banging nails out. For no money, we actually built some really cool things. We built a 4 foot tall by 6 foot wide skateboard spine ramp. 
 
Do you think that was a constructive escape for you as you dealt with your dad’s passing?
I think it was a place where I could take my mind and focus on being creative and just exercise that part of my brain. Fine tuning the ability to see things in three dimensions. Also, skateboarding was so awesome because that sense of freedom and creativity.
 
When did you take up woodworking as a profession?
My background is electrical engineering, and when I came back from a job in Maryland, I changed my whole operation. I went back to what felt comfortable. I’m a problem solver. I love solving problems. Engineering was a great way to keep my brain active like that. I love the math. In college taking trig, calculus and physics - I loved all that stuff. I loved the numbers. I love the ways that you would see things. The problem solving was super cool, but it wasn’t really satisfying for my soul to be sitting in an office, working on electrical drawings. When I got back to Dallas, I started to realize I didn’t want to work for anybody else. I was like, “whatever it takes, I’m going to go off on my own.” So I started building decks and fences. I did whatever I had to do to get started. This was probably early 2000.  I built up from there and began getting more specialized. I’m still sharpening it. I’m still paring it down. It felt natural and the rewards were all mine to have. Taking ownership of the finished product - there’s nothing like that. When it comes together and you get paid for it - it’s like, “yeah, we nailed it.”
 
You weld as well?
(Stain glass artist) Steve Thompson actually got me into welding. I was very reluctant because I was happy just doing woodwork and wanting to stay focused on that path. He could see it though. He could see that it was going to be a good fit for me. Steve really encouraged me - helped me get and set up my equipment. He’s just a really good role model. We still do projects together.
 
Any other role models?
I worked with a contractor named Steve DeCosta. I started out working with him when I was in high school and he taught me a lot about taking your time and being clean. Making everything really tight. All of his work is super, super tight. He would build his own cabinets. He has a different approach to putting things together that I just soaked in. I’ve always been really happy doing things that take a lot of patience. If it takes extra 
patience, it’s probably going to be very interesting for me.
 
The first time I was introduced to your work was over at the Miller’s house. 
So, someone else created that wood pattern, but we went in and had to play with the design a bit to get it to work out in that space. But as soon as I saw the initial drawing, my mind was made up to do the project. I told him you called the right guy because this is something I would really like to do. When it’s something that I really like, I’ll spend the extra time - go the distance - to get it right. Just the way that I would want it, you know, for me. But also for you too!
 
Everyone I talked to says you’re a very private guy. You like to keep to yourself.
I don’t do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, any of that. I have some friends that are really close and then I keep in touch with them. I don’t really want to. It’s too much for me. You know, the whole social media thing is just too much for me to keep up with. I feel like it takes something away. I don’t think it really gives you as much as people think it does. You know, I think there’s a way to have happiness without it. 
 
One thing I enjoyed looking at was your work from start to finish. You also sketched out a few things.
I started just taking pictures of stages of a project because I like looking back on it in it’s raw material. I’ve been really bad about keeping up with my sketches, but I’m trying to get better at holding on to that stuff because I think some day it would be nice to pass on all the hand drawings. I love to draw stuff with a pencil. I’m not a digital person. In my engineering days, I spent plenty of time doing AutoCAD and it lacks that human element. There’s a lot that comes through in a handmade drawing, just pencil and paper. Those little imperfections that come through are really beautiful. I never give away any of my original sketches.
 
That’s interesting. You’re a perfectionist who likes the imperfections of drawings and sketches. 
That’s the influence from Steve Thompson. One of the things that I’ve learned from him is that the beauty of stained glass is the imperfection. The way that a piece is not perfect that makes it attractive. It draws your eye . A broken piece or a rounded line - that’s what makes it cool. What makes it beautiful is just letting it be. Someone said “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” (cartoonist Scott Adams). Taking risk is critical. Pushing it, being risky, taking chances and not being afraid to make mistakes. 
 
Kind of like skateboarding. 
Yeah. Just a lot less painful.
 
See Jack Paradise’s work by going to
jackworks.smugmug.com
214-320-5700
 


 
 
MIRROR OF THE AGE. An interview with podcast producer & neighbor Lindsay Graham
January, 2018
 
Meet fellow Lochwood neighbor Lindsay Graham (no, not the Senator). Lindsay grew up in Dallas, co-founded an audio production/storytelling startup, is currently a marketing director for SMU, and modestly admits to having the number one podcast on iTunes early this year - reaching millions of listeners. Graham combines voice, sound effects and a little character acting for the #1 charted American History Tellers podcast. He also created the popular, political audio drama podcast Terms, where the fictional commander in chief is frighteningly similar to today’s real-life POTUS (although he came up with the storyline in the 90s). And, he is coming out with a new podcast this Spring/Summer, focussing on widely unknown events following Lincoln’s assassination. Enjoy.
 
TB: Well Lindsay, tell us about yourself.
LG: I grew up here in Dallas. I was born here and except for a few too many years spent in college in Virginia, I lived here all my life. Pretty much Preston Hollow, Junius Heights, and now Lochwood.
 
Why did you decide to stay here?
I kinda bottomed out in college, as many people do. So coming home was more of a retreat to home base than anything else. Then after that, you get friends and buy property. You know, stuff that anchors you. I have no problem with Dallas as a city. And also, I was in the middle of some exciting, creative things back in the late 90s in Deep Ellum with the music scene. That was a good time. I never had a reason to go to NY, Chicago or LA. There’s a lot of culture and opportunity here. But, if I could do anything for Dallas, It would be to add a mountain or a shore.
 
What did you study in college?
I started off as a history major, and switched to psychology. Then, I switched to business because at the time I was working at Geico, trying to get myself through college. Business courses were the only thing that they would pay for. I had no money and I wanted to finish my education. So, I switched majors, which was fine. I enjoyed a business education. So, bachelor's from Mary Washington College. It’s now called University of Mary Washington - a small liberal arts school in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Then I came back here, eventually getting my MBA - more business education - from SMU.
 
You co-founded Spoke Media. What got you into that, coming from a marketing standpoint?
It was the desire to do something completely unlike anything I had been doing. I had this recording studio and a peculiar moment in my life in which I was able to see if my passion for audio could work as a viable company. And, just at the same moment, my co-founder came down from New York looking to do audio books. It made sense at the time. But startups are really hard, and so at some point, it was borne out for me not to be viable. Spoke is continuing and hopefully does great things, but I’m no longer with them.
 
You’re obviously a history buff. It’s not hard to tell that it’s a passion of yours.
Yeah. If I had to rank things, history would probably fall just under politics and philosophy. I like history because it’s the intellectual exploration of human behavior. There are a lot of systems and functions and a bunch of humans making independent decisions in history that have impact. That's fascinating. I’m interested in the motives of people and how they bear out in economics, or politics, or anything, marketing - it’s all the same thing. It’s all an understanding, and often a manipulation, of how humans work.
 
Did you produce audio books?
I produced and edited. Never narrated. It's not a bad job. But, it’s definitely a “crank-it-out” sort of position. You know, some voice artists get paid very handsomely for a radio ad, but they only get one radio ad a month. So, with audio books you have the ability to do more work more often, but the hourly rate is much less. And then, the vast percentage of audio books being produced are not Malcolm Gladwell novels that you might share an interest in. They are mostly romance and sci-fI, and that's what you end up reading - all day - until you reach levels of fame and fortune in the audio book world.
 
So, was Terms your first podcast?
Not technically. I did a local, music podcast called dconstruction. That was in 2004 with Robert Jenkins (attorney and music enthusiast) about local music. But, honestly, it wasn’t very good. A few people liked it, maybe 12.
 
That's early in the podcast lifespan.
It was pretty early, so that was fun. I think we had eight episodes and then abandoned it for lack of direction. Terms was the first, real, professional attempt at doing something. dconstruction was just two guys talking, and there are far too many podcasts with two dudes talking. So we wanted to do something better than that.
 
Did you come up with the idea for Terms?
Yeah. We knew we wanted to do a scripted, audio drama. We just needed to find ideas. So, we asked for pitches from people, but the one that everyone liked was the idea behind Terms.
 
What was the process like? This is, I imagine, new territory for you.
We'd never done a scripted drama, nor have I done anything adjacent to it. I never produced a play or wrote a movie script. But, Terms has portions of all of those things.
 
So a lot of first attempts? Learning on the fly?
Right! I hadn’t done any audio editing or sound effects work to this scale where you have to construct the entire world out of whole cloth. So we spent our late 2015 trying to figure out what the story is. We got some traction, wrote an episode, recorded it, hated it, re-did it, wrote it again, and then, all of a sudden it was September/October. We realized that if we don't release it on or around the election, then we'd lose all momentum. It was a giant scramble to get the first three episodes of Terms finished and released. That's when Wondery got in touch with us because we sent it to a bunch of podcast distributors. Hardly any got back to us. In fact, those that did said, “we kinda think that everyone is done with politics right now.” And then Trump won. Seriously, the next day we had three calls asking if Terms was still available.
 
So, because of the strung out election process, everybody was so tired of it, right? It just is so long. So everybody wanted to be done with it, but then Trump won.
Yeah, big surprise! The distributors were like,”maybe this is something we should look at again.”
 
So, the election outcome was an eerie parallel with your script and what actually happened?
We had to think about rewriting things, because a month after we would complete a script, Trump would actually say some of the things that we had written. We didn't come up with “Make America Great Again,” but we thought, “what would our antagonist’s slogan be?” So we borrowed from history - the Pat Buchanan slogan “America First.” But then, you know, Trump comes out and uses the same thing, which is loaded with historical, dark trappings. We were texting back and forth to each other, “do we rewrite it?” “No, we'll just have to explain that we came up with it, too.”
 
How did you approach producing this project?
The two principle writers were Rob McCollum and Michael Federico. They are both involved in the theater scene, and I’ve known Rob for years and years and years. He introduced me to Mike and it just kinda took off. We developed, together, the arc of the series. They would go off and write an episode, and then we would review it and make changes on a weekly basis because we were releasing episodes every week. We barely stayed ahead of it. I would finish the edit probably just six or seven hours before it was released. It was stressful.
 
The people you got to do the characters. The “voicers”? What do you call them?
Actors. They're all friends of ours. I mean, casting was pretty easy because we almost wrote to the cast that we knew we wanted. Jeff is going to play this character, and Lydia is going to play this character. And they're all very good at this sort of thing. It really helped to know exactly who we were writing for. It was just total fun, but an absolute scheduling mess because we were so far behind in terms of production. We'd ask people, “umm, can we have you come in for like five minutes and record, right now, this one line?” and then four hours later we’d realize we need to have them back again for another five minutes. So not efficient at all.
 
What's the editing process like? How much goes into post production?
A whole lot. Once you’ve recorded it, then you have to listen back to it all again. And there's probably four to eight takes of everything. You start marking that “I like this take,” or “the front or back half of this take.” You start making an assembly of the dialogue, which takes a long time.
 
Are you partly a director?
It was Rob who directed most in the recording studio. But the selection of takes happens in post. Oftentimes Rob or Mike didn’t participate in that process, just because of the time involved. If you have eight takes of a scene, you're going to listen to it at least eight times. And then, if you want to be critical you'll listen to it 16 times. And then even more, if you have to make additional decisions. So now you've listened to four minutes of audio 36 times just to find the right take.
 
Did you have to do script changes on the fly?
Yeah absolutely. We use iPads and a Google doc. So all the iPads are sharing the same Google doc, and we're just changing things right in front of the actors. Sometimes as they're reading, we're changing things. Most of the reads are cold. We certainly didn't send the scripts out ahead of time.
 
Is there any improv?
Yeah, but not a lot though. I mean, we would ask for an improv, like, “this isn't working, let's see what you got!” As with any acting, what you intend and what falls out of the actor's mouth could be completely different. They take a hot scene and may play it cold and it works in completely different ways. So I wouldn't say that there's like a lot of improv, but a lot of interpretation for sure. It’s really interesting.
 
So what do you think of having the number one podcast in America (American History Tellers)?
Well, it's number 19 as of right now (it was #1 beginning of 2018). It's fantastic. I think it tells you a lot of things. I think it tells you that there's a real audience and thirst for not just podcasts but podcasts of this sort that educate in a narrative fashion. And, I think it's not surprising to anyone that people want to learn things and be entertained at the same time. I’m glad that we've hit on a formula right out the gate that seems to be really appealing.
 
So how often does the (iTunes) ranking system chart? Is it every week?
It seems to change at least twice a day. I have no idea what's in the bowels of that machine. I think it’s based on how many downloads and how many ratings. (Expert's best guess is the algorithm considers how many people have subscribed to a show, the number of reviews and number of downloads. Credit WFAA).
 
So you can download the podcast to your device, or listen online on Wondery.com, Art19.com, which I recently discovered, and iTunes.
Art19 is a hosting provider, kind of more of a technology thing. The way podcasts work is, there's an MP3 that lives somewhere. In this case, it lives on a server that Art19 controls. Then, that MP3 is syndicated through a feed to who ever wants to point to it. So, iTunes is really just a browser for podcasts. You type in Terms or American History Tellers, and it knows where to go and it pulls up the episodes. There's some structured information that tells you what episode it is, and so on. So yeah, any “podcast catcher” will work on your phone or on your computer.
 
And your sponsors? Do they contact you or do you approach them? I see it kind of varied within each episode, right? You might have eHarmony and Zip Recruiter on one and then you may have SquareSpace on another.
That's one of the things that Wondery does. They're trying to be the NBC of podcast delivery. They have relationships with advertisers and there are entire podcast ad agencies now. So, that's their job to find and sell the inventory of ads.
 
But you're a part of it. You voice the ads as well.
Yeah. It's harkens back to the old-timey, radio endorsement. The host endorsement. The ads that are effective - and that's what advertisers want - seem to be the ones that come from a host, or voice of the show. They tried just dumping radio ads in the middle of podcasts and they bombed. So, if you develop a relationship with your listeners, hopefully they actually listen to the the ads.
 
When did you know that your voice actually comes over well (on a broadcast)?
When I did the ads for Terms. We needed to sell ads and we didn't want characters, like fictional characters, selling things. I don't think advertisers wanted the villain of the show to sell soap. We had an announcer, but that didn't make sense either. A real radio-y type of voice. He doesn't have anything to do with the show and is more marquee art than anything else. So, as the creator of the show, I was like, “hey, sure I'll do it”. Wondery and the advertisers liked it, and liked it enough for them to ask me to do the ads for Dirty John (another podcast under the Wondery umbrella). That was peculiar because Chris Goddard, the reporter for the LA Times that wrote and narrated Dirty John, could not sell or endorse things because that would affect the integrity of his journalism. So, they were kind of stuck. They had a host of a show, but they can't have him read the ads. So, Wondery reached out to me and asked, “hey, would you do the ads?” I said “sure!” In the same phone call, they said, “oh by the way, we also this idea called American History Tellers.”
 
What I really like in American History Tellers is how you paint the picture of the time period, like going to Disneyland in ’77 and seeing the Russian cosmonauts interact with the US astronauts and seeing them ride rides together. Or, you know, I noticed, kids saying, “Hey, I need some ice cream.” Whose kids were those?
That's just sound design. There are a bunch of libraries of sound effects I have available. I had an idea: I bet someone's recorded their kids saying “ice cream.” I found two that were perfect. And so, I interrupted myself narrating to put that little piece in the script in post production, and I think it's awesome because it lends a veritas. I had to go back and re-record my lines to make that fit, but it sounds like I'm actually being interrupted by those kids.
Yeah, there’s abrupt interruptions, or little soundbites, where you have something from TV or the radio, but it’s a very, very short bite. But, you can tell exactly what it is. Very cool editing.
 
Would you like to talk about your next podcast?
Yeah, absolutely. But, you know, the only danger there is I don't know when it's coming out. I’d say this Spring, but this Spring may be August. I don't know. But yeah, so it’s is a new scripted podcast that was brought to me by a former Dallasite Steven Walters, who now lives in LA and is writing for a few shows. He has deep, deep ties to the theater community here and had this play called Booth, which was the dramatic telling of Lincoln’s assassination. He thought it would make a good podcast. We started, I guess in February or March last year, trying to shape it. I think we have our final episode scripts now, like this month (January). It took nine months of work. It's not full-time work of course, but over the period of nine months, we got a script for 12 to 13 episodes, plus a little bonus series - but at some point there were like 18 episodes. We cut it down and we reconfigured. It's a fascinating story of - not the assassination of Lincoln; we pretty much shoot Lincoln in the first 10 seconds - it's just the aftermath. It’s really the saga of Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, and how he tried to keep himself and the country together and set the path for reconstruction. And, how he ended up, for instance, convicting and executing the first female in American history. There are all sorts of shocking things about this period. Probably only 90 days worth of American history, but it's amazingly fascinating. And just a hell of a drama.
 
This period of history seems really untapped. I mean, not a lot of people probably know about these events around the reconstruction.
Right! The most astounding fact that I can tell you about this time is - did you know that Abraham Lincoln's son, Robert Lincoln, was engaged to a woman who was having an affair with John Wilkes Booth?
Wow! Holy sh**. What a degree of separation.
Lincoln's future daughter-in-law was sleeping with his assassin. This plays into exactly where both Terms and American History Tellers live - it is very similar. There's politics, there's history. We’re investigating Andrew Johnson, one of the worst Presidents in US history, and making it entertaining. It's a stylized, period drama.
 
So, is that one of the things you're trying to accomplish? Reviewing, researching and telling history differently than the way teachers did when we were growing up?
I think so. One of the most common iTunes reviews of American History Tellers is, “If they taught me history like this, I would've paid attention.” And so, I see this as more of a public service, if we are doing a good job. If you can walk away from a 40-minute episode and know more about history, and felt you spent your time wisely, that’s great. I think it’s a very worthwhile endeavor.
 
So do you listen to other podcasts?
I barely do, because I'm making them. If I have free time, I'm probably editing my own podcasts. There's some new scripted podcasts out right now called The Walk, and the big idea there is that you are the main character and rest of the world kind of happens to you. So that's intriguing. I want to figure that one out. But mainly, it's just to see what's going on in this kind of Wild West of podcasts. It's a brand new world, but still old fashioned at the same time.
 
So, how much time do you spend researching?
Thankfully, not much at all because we rely on Ph.D. historians who actually know this stuff to put together the meat of the episodes. If I do any work that isn't recording or post production, it is reviewing scripts with an ear to an audience. Like, these historians have never ever, ever written for audio before and we know that. So there is some work involved in getting a script together that a listener can follow. There are certain things that you can easily do on the page - because someone can just glance up to the previous paragraph and refresh themselves - but none of that works at all in audio. You have to be very direct, very linear and make sure the train of thought keeps going.
 
Did you ever listen to the old, like thirties and forties radio broadcasts?
No, but I've been listening to public radio forever.
 
I think it was The Dallas Morning News that compared Terms to an old-school, Orson Welles-like audio drama.
There were all sorts of audio dramas in the golden age of radio. I don't know that there's too much difference between then and now. It’s just easier to consume now. The content is still compelling. It’s just a lot easier to listen to a podcast than a radio show.
 
What does your budget for one of these things?
Ah. Well, Terms has not recouped. It was popular enough to crack the top 50 when it debuted, and we’re going to charge forward with a second season, but we have to do things differently. More efficiency on our end, but also much more of a push to monetize it. Otherwise, it just has to go away. It’s a recognition that you've got a ton of really talented people working on this, and a lot of times this is their actual job. Rob is a writer/director. Mike is writer, and all these actors are actors. This is a machine that it couldn't possibly be done pro-bono. If we tried to even think about that, then we wouldn't have made it. It's just not fair. So yeah, we haven’t recouped on Terms. We will probably attempt season 2 to engage the audience more. A lot of podcasts subsist on kind of a subscription model, or use a social crowdfunding platform like Patreon or something like that. I think we need to lean on that harder, and also get our audience numbers up. If we double or treble our audience, then we get more advertiser money and then it becomes a sustainable.  
 
Which you like doing better - the audio drama, or what you're doing with American History Tellers? Will your next podcast be a combination of the 2 or just what you're doing now with AHT?
My roles is in all three are so different. The one thing across all of them is that I'm doing audio engineering and sound effects/design work. I did that in Terms, AHT and will do that in the next podcast.
 
Other than what you just listed, your responsibilities change with each project?
I was the creator and showrunner of Terms, and more of an executive producer, dealing with networks and making sure that it works. Same with our next podcast, but I didn't do any of the writing or concept work there. On AHT I’m on-mic talent. My role there is really just to take an episode and make it as great as I can. So, I couldn't really compare them all, but I’ve enjoyed doing all of them.
 
And you recorded all the podcasts in your studio?
Yes, but that might change for future audio dramas. I'm interested in location recording, but that certainly wouldn't work for our next podcast, which is set in 1865. The minute a plane or a car goes by, I’m screwed. Outside of being in a studio, there's no way to keep the modern world out of those recordings.
 
How long have you been a resident of Lochwood?
Almost 2 years. We wanted more of the traditional, family street, backyard environment. And, so yeah, we moved and it’s been pretty nice.
 
Did you do much looking around before choosing to move here?
We went through the normal process. You know, we found a realtor and looked at properties. There was this, and there was that. It just started with a budget, a dollar figure and then figuring out where we can go.
 
What about Lochwood would you like to see improved?
I cannot tell if it is an actual thing or just an awareness of it, but the amount of petty crime that happens here. My car got broken into twice in the first six months of moving in. If you leave your car unlocked, it's going to get rifled through. We’ve now installed cameras, of course. There's NextDoor.com, and there's the Lochwood Facebook Group. You see a lot of chatter, “my car got broken into,” “my shed got broken into.” But I really think it's because that it’s a large community raising the profile on all sorts of things. So, if anything, I would say - I would like my tools back, please.
 
I would too. What are the things about Lochwood you like the most?
Honestly, things like this interview. That there are people that are interested in other people. Before taping this interview, we mentioned Erin Melendez, you know, who is just fantastic. All these groups, who not only care about their missions, like the Parents Group, but care also for the people involved. It is a real community. It's really nice.
 
TB: I totally agree. Well Lindsay, I really appreciate you letting me interview you. I think your story, as well as many others in the neighborhood, make Lochwood extra special in my mind. Thank you.
LG: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. I love talking about history, podcasts and Lochwood.
 


 
 
DANIEL DOES IT ALL! An interview with Dallas Mavs ManiACC & neighbor Daniel Jacob
February, 2016
 
Meet Daniel Jacob. Marketing Executive. Massage Therapist. AirBNB-er. Mavs ManiAAC.
A Neighbor as Unique as Lochwood.
 
What is your name?
A: Daniel Jacob
 
What is your quest?
(chuckles) I want to get across the bridge.
 
What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
African or European?
    Q: Huh, I don’t know that….Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
    A: Ok, now that we got that out of the way… 
 
Yes. Alright, how long have you lived in Lochwood?
I bought my house in 1999. Memorial Day of ’99.
 
Where were you living before and what made you decide to move to Lochwood?
I was at SMU. I graduated college and decided I didn’t want to pay anybody any rent. My sister just graduated graduate school was moving down here for work, so we bought the house together. She has since moved on to Atlanta and started a family, but I’ve been here since ’99.
 
How did you discover Lochwood? Did a realtor turn you onto the neighborhood?
Yes, a realtor at that time. There were, at that time, a lot of affordable homes straight out of college. It was near the lake, so I liked that. I leaned on my realtor then and lucked out in finding a great neighborhood. 
 
What do you do for work?
Multiple things, but during the day, I work for Rokkit Marketing. We build websites for  small businesses, and then help market those sites and their services via digital email marketing, social media. All the different channels. And then, I’ve been a massage therapist since 2004. I moonlight out of Lake Highlands Acupuncture @ NW Hwy/Ferndale. I rent out a room in my house through AirBNB. And, of course, I dance at Dallas Mavericks games since 2002, as a founding member of the Mavs ManiACCS.
 
Fantastic! So wait, AirBNB? How do you like that?
It’s been great. I’ve always had roommates. About a year and half ago, I decided I didn’t want somebody longterm, I but still enjoyed the cash flow from it. I was in NYC and stayed at an AirBNB in Harlem, and it was a great experience. So, I made a mental note, and about a year ago, I tried it out and it took a while to get reviews. But once I had a few people stay and give me positive feedback, it’s been rolling ever since.
 
And massage therapy? How’d you get into that?
Well, I always enjoyed massage therapy. In 2004, I went through school, got certified, and I’ve been either full-time to part-time ever since. But, mainly part-time for theist 5-6 years. It’s a passion. I’ve always enjoyed it.
 
What made you decide to become a Mavs ManiACC?
So, I graduated from SMU with a degree in cinema, and my first career in and out of school was acting. The main commercials I did involved being a boisterous fan, a big fan of whatever sporting event, whether it be for an insurance company or for American Airlines. The Dallas Mavericks had an ad in the paper that said “We’re looking for clydesdales, not chippendales”, which is the best tagline ever. I wasn’t comfortable in my dancing ability, but I was comfortable being a “big fan”. Basically making an “a$$” of myself, I was alright with that. And, they were offering free playoff tickets. So, they had auditions, had you send in a full length photo, b/c they didn’t want professional dancers. They wanted Mavs fans first, entertainers second. I was chosen as one of the 80. Then from the auditions, they choose 13 of us. We rehearsed for 2 weeks, and there was supposed to be one performance during a playoff game in 2002. it was supposed to be just one game, and now it’s 14 years later. We do every home game. 41 home games, they every home playoff game, as well as watch parties, weddings, corporate events (over 100 events outside of the AAC) per year. And, we were just blessed to be asked to our third Allstar game. We want to Denver in 2005, at AT&T Stadium in 2010, and now in Toronto this year.
 
Congratulations! How’d you get picked to do that?
So, the NBA is a big fan link. Every year they do “best in show”. They’ll go around to the different organizations and if something works well, they’ll send out a YouTube video link and say “here’s the best from all the teams”. Mavs CEO Floyd Jahner was contacted by the NBA to see if the ManiACCs would be interested in performing. We were like, “Absolutely- were in!”
 
How often do you practice?
At least once a week. Leading up to performances, we pack in an extra 2-4 hours of rehearsal just to get it right.
 
And there’s 13-14 on the roster.
16 this year. 3 original. There’s Kendall (Crazy K), who’s our main choreographer, Big Rob, who has been the “face” of the ManiACCs, and myself. Then everybody else - it ranges from their first season to being here 10 years.
 
With there being so many different personalities on the roster, it seems like you all are having an absolute blast. Are you?
We are! All the work we put into it is to add atmosphere to the game. Recently, we were asked to open for Mark Cuban at a TXU corporate event, and he noted the ManiAACS as being one of the best ideas he’s had from an innovation standpoint. Mark was the one who came up with the concept of the ManiAACs, after seeing a “large” fan captured on the big screen dancing in Seattle. Since then, I believe 17 of the 30 (NBA) teams are doing something like what we do. It’s the old saying that imitation is the best form of flattery. So, often imitated, but never duplicated.
 
Absolutely agree. so, I saw your tongue-n-cheek post on the first edition of “ManiAACs History” recently. More history to come?
Yes, we did that last Fall. There is more to come. There’s always something in the works.
 
Who came up with your (ManiAACs) name, BoyAin’tRight?
A police officer at the game. He had been on the force for many years. In fact, he retired maybe 5-6 years ago, so that tells you have seasoned he was. During one of the games, I guess I was being extra boisterous, and he (the police officer) goes: “I’ve been on the force a long time, and that boy ain’t right! 
 
Do you ever get nervous performing in front of 16,000 people?
Yes. I would say around year 7 or 8, there came a more of a calmness. Now it’s more about knowing we put in the time and having that confidence. You don’t want to be a deer in headlights or look scared. You got to look like you’re having fun however you’re performing. The nerves have calmed some, but there’s always a little bit of excitement going on, on the court. And the crowd’s reaction adds fuel to the fire.
 
Are you always wanting to one-up your last routine and add something to the mix?
Absolutely. We always want to keep it fresh. We just added a dubstep (robotic dance move) this year. We’ll take older routines and add to them. We did a lot a (Justin) Timberlake moves in 2003 that were a lot of fun, and it has evolved from there. But, we’ve realized that we have a simple formula. There’s busting out, wearing our belly shirts, and then some kind of pushing the envelope move, like building a human bicycle out of guys. That’s what they (the fans) like. 
 
Who brings the ideas to the table? Can anyone?
All of us are collaborative. Kendall is our director and Rob puts together our edits. But, they ask for feedback. They are very open. But, you have to have chiefs. They are the captains of our team.
 
Have you ever completely bit it, or messed up (a move) really badly?
Yes, I think all of us have. I don’t think you are dancing hard enough if you haven’t messed up in some way. 
 
Do you see each other socially when you are not being ManiAACs?
We do. Last night we had some birthday party drinks and socializing after rehearsing. It’s a balance. We’ll get together a lot more during the offseason. During the season, it’s not unusual for us to be together 5 nights a week. I’m amazed how much time we spend together practicing and not talk about life and things because we are focussed on the routine and being “on stage” at games.
 
How do you come up with your costumes?
So, every year we get together and “boy-dazzle”, which is putting the crystals on our shirts. We have a big meeting where we are sitting there all together with glue and crystals for our shirts, and make them ourselves. We’ve got a designer with the Mavericks who comes up with a new design each year, and then our warm-ups. And then all the “acrutramon”. That’s where everyone brings their personality. We want them to be individual, but also work within the framework of the team. 
 
How long do you plan on being a ManiAAC?
This is my 14th year and I’m still enjoying it. It’s like the Malcom Gladwell 10,000 hours thing. All of this time has been building up and we’ve got guys that are walking into this preformed thing, where before, it was just a lump of clay when we started. Our ManiAAC baby is now a teenager, so we are starting to see the dividends in that investment. All I can say is that I’m still enjoying it, and I’m not going to try to hold on if I’m not.
 
you are a VIP, one of the few that patrols at night. How has that experience been?
It’s been great. I look forward to it. Mike Mason and I have been patrolling together for 3 years. We can always use more people on the patrols. To just spend 2 hours a month, it’s a pretty easy commitment. We’ve gotten to meet our neighbors, and stay more connected with the neighborhood. There has been a lot more fences installed and a lot more lights turned on at night I’ve noticed in the last 2 months, which is great. It’s amazing how deep the shadows are when it’s dark at night. I know we have a neighbor, Kathy (Hatcher) who has been promoting turning on our lights at night, and we’ve both commented on how many lights have been on lately.
 
What would you like to see improve in Lochwood?
I like the direction it’s going in. I like how connected we are through Facebook and Nextdoor. Maybe reminding people to come outside and meet your neighbors and say “hello” from time to time with street gatherings or events. Exchanging contact information and just watch out for each other. I think reinforcing that, and then just getting people to go through the VIP training is key. Even if they are not able to patrol right away, it’s good to have the training. I like what’s going on with Lochwood Park, and also the clean-ups around the creek beds and green spaces.
 
What do you think about the idea of bringing back the block captain to connect the street and hopefully help connect it with the Neighborhood Association?
I think it makes sense? It’s kind of like a welcome wagon (for new owners). I’m all for that.
 
TB: Well Daniel, I thank you for your time. You’re quite the renaissance man. You make Lochwood that much more interesting. Thanks for all your service - not only what you do but how you do it.
DJ: Thanks Thomas. You too.