In This Episode: Say hello to my co-host (and long-time assistant), Clare Angelica.
“This is Episode 1 …so we’ll probably flub it up!” I said in the opening. But you know, for our first try, I think it’s a pretty decent effort. 🙂
Not just another pretty face, Clare is a smart, thoughtful gal who can hold her own in a conversation — pretty much what I need in a co-host for the Uncommon Sense Podcast. While she definitely has an uncommon amount of common sense, she has never done “radio” before, so she’s a bit tentative in her debut here. I suspect, though, in another episode or two, she’ll really be making her presence felt.
I took this pic of her just before we started recording, and she retaliated by taking the camera and shooting back the other way. Fair enough! (I’m still waiting for my mic boom to be delivered, dang it….)
- Clare’s web site is ClareAngelica.com (note there’s no “i” in Clare!)
- Clare’s women-pirate-romance book (about strong, independent female pirates who can kick men’s butts) is actually a trilogy, available for $2.99 each on Kindle and $19.99 in paperback:
- The This is True-related web sites mentioned are, of course:
- Clare also mentioned the Get Out of Hell Free button, which is a follow-on to the Doesn’t Play Well with Obliviots button.
There won’t be that many plugs in most episodes!
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Comments and Questions?
Randy: OK… Welcome to Uncommon Sense, the This is True podcast. I’m Randy Cassingham and this is episode one, so we’ll probably flub it up. Yes, there’s somebody there laughing. So I would like to introduce my cohost. She’ll be here most of the time. It’s Clare Angelica from clareangelica.com, who also happens to be my assistant. Why is it you have your own website, Clare?
Clare: I’m a writer.
Randy: What kind of things do you write?
Clare: So far fiction — historical fiction, romance.
Randy: Historical, romance, fiction. Next thing you’re going to tell me it has to do with pirates or something.
Clare: It does. Women pirates.
Randy: Women pirates, ooh.
Clare: Independent, strong women.
Randy: Do they fight male pirates?
Clare: They kick their butts, yeah.
Randy: All right. … She just said, “Can I say that?” Yes, you can say “kick butt.” Can’t say “kick ass” though.
Clare: We’ll have to edit that out.
Randy: Well, we’re not going to do much editing. If we really flub and I just did a flub myself, but I’m not going to try to fix every little flub. We’re pretty much going to do live tape where we just go with the flow, and if there’s something really bad happen like my pager goes off or something crazy like that, we’ll probably edit that out.
Clare: Fair enough.
Randy: But other than that, I think we’re just going to go with it. One thing I think we forgot to add is that when people go to clareangelica.com, they’ll probably spell it wrong.
Clare: They probably will. It’s spelled C-L-A-R-E.
Randy: Yeah, I think they can figure out Angelica. If they can’t, they don’t deserve to go to your site.
Clare: That’s right.
Randy: So you’re also my assistant. You’ve been doing that for some number of years now. You took a year off and moved away and then realized the error of your ways and moved back.
Clare: I did. I had to come back. I missed you.
Randy: Yeah? I was the only reason?
Randy: Okay. But, you actually didn’t get your job back immediately when you came back.
Clare: I didn’t. It was a few months, not too many.
Randy: All right. What should we talk about for the first episode?
Clare: I would like to know about how True got started.
Randy: You don’t know that story? You didn’t read all my blog posts and catch up with all that?
Clare: Well, I was five when it started so I’m a little behind. I probably didn’t know how to use a computer. We might not even had one in the house.
Randy: Five years old when This is True started. Just before we started recording, I took a picture of Clare so that I can pop it up in the episode page. She, of course, took revenge and took a picture back but we’ll have that and you can see what a five-year-old Clare looks like. Oh, actually, you’re not five years old anymore. It’s been a few years.
Clare: Just a few. Yeah.
Randy: Actually this week starts This is True’s 24th year, which is kind of mind-boggling to me. I can do the math and it sounds like you’re about 29.
Randy: Oh, so you’re not quite to your birthday yet.
Clare: Don’t age me yet. I got a year. Well, less than that.
Randy: Yeah, right. All right. How did This is True get started? Well, I was working at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab at the time and most people around the lab, I shouldn’t say most people, but a lot of people, had bulletin boards, and they would put up their favorite cartoons. What I put were clips from the newspaper, and I would clip out these weird stories and just clipping them out and putting them on the bulletin board wasn’t good enough for me. I would usually highlight some particular thing in the story just to bring attention to this point of what was this guy thinking or whatever, and I would hand write comments off to the side. And that’s what became the taglines to the stories. Instead of highlighting things in a 500-word story, we rewrite the stories with a stylized way of doing it, get it down to probably about a hundred words and then the tagline is added to the end. That’s how it started on a bulletin board at JPL.
My secretary would just love these clips. When I put up new clips, we’d get little crowds of people showing up. “Oh, there’s new clips. Oh, boy. Let’s go take a look.” My secretary was one of the ones that would just be hysterical reading these things, and she would say, “You got to write a column.” I thought, “Eh.” Yes, I have a journalism degree and I went into journalism school with the idea that I would be a columnist, and then I got reality in journalism school and found out you had to cut your teeth as a reporter to be able to get your own column and doing feature writing. You know what? I went to journalism school but I did not want to be a reporter.
I put that on hold and that’s how I ended up at JPL in the first place because I was doing technical publishing there until I found out about this Internet thing in the early ’90s and figured out or had the realization that I can put this Internet thing to use and just go completely around the newspapers, go completely around editors and syndicates and go directly to the audience on the Internet and publish it by email and I can be a columnist.
Clare: You’ve since published, what? Are we in eight books now? We’re a little behind.
Randy: Oh, boy. She’s going to the guts right away! Man! … So, it’s Clare’s fault. Clare is the one that’s actually catching me up on publishing. There’s supposed to be a book for every year of the columns — just pile them all together. In the early days that was about 500 stories and headlines per year. Now that we’re doing more stories per week, it’s more like 6 or 700 stories per year. But, I haven’t been keeping up with the publishing, partly because in the old days — back in ’90s (you know, the old days), publishing a book was a little bit difficult in that it was printing presses. The only way you could make it pay was to do about 3,000 copies of the book. It was cheaper to do it that way because you’re doing it in volume. A book was X number of dollars to print and then Y number of dollars to ship it to you. Clearly we had upfront thousands of dollars to print a book, and then you had to store them, because you’re getting 3,000 copies. That’s about two pallet loads of books. You had to have a place for that.
It was okay for the first volume, the second volume, the third volume. I got up to six volumes. And it was like, ‘I don’t have any more space for these books. How am I going to have 10 volumes, 20 volumes, or now 23?’
So I just said, “OK: We’ve got to stop this.” I’m putting out thousands of dollars in inventory, first of all, and then trying to figure out where I’m going to store all these stuff. Then we moved in the middle of all this and we had to pay to move all these books from Boulder over here to Ridgway, and realized this isn’t the way to do it. So I pulled back for a little bit and meanwhile, instant printing came along where we could probably about triple the cost of the old method, we could do as few as 10 copies.
So now I don’t have huge amounts of inventory and, in the meantime, of course, eBooks came along, too. There’s no inventory cost for eBooks. We can just load them up to the server. If somebody buys one, they can download it. Drop it into their book reader, or tablet, or even their phones, and read it there. So we have two options now: we’ve got the eBooks and we’ve got the instant print books that are just basically when we need some more books, we say, “Hey, send us 10, or 20, or 30 more.” Don’t have thousands of dollars tied up in inventory, and we can ship them off one at a time when people order them. That’s what we’re catching up on now that all that technology is in place, so that’s where you come in and you’ve been prepping the books, and I’ve been falling behind on getting them actually off to the printer so that they can be ordered and that’s another story about travel and being too dang busy.
We are catching up and we will have more books coming out soon.
Clare: You always know when I’m editing because I’m laughing and it’s generally the taglines. The stories also are very entertaining but the taglines, I always have to read them, share with you why I’m giggling.
Randy: Yeah, I’m sitting here working and I hear Clare giggling over there. I was like, “OK: Are you working on a meme for the Randy’s Random site? What are you doing?” She’s saying, “Well, I just read this story.” I was like, “Which one?” ‘Cause I want to laugh, too! But it’s a fun job, it sounds like.
Clare: I enjoy it. I’m happy to be back.
Randy: Good. Well, I’m glad to have you back and not have to train somebody else.
Clare: Randy, you mentioned Randy’s Random. What other websites do you have going on?
Randy: Over the years we’ve done a lot of websites. Some have come and gone, but the stalwarts right now are Randy’s Random, like you mentioned, which is a meme a day site, the HonoraryUnsubscribe.com site which is an archive of the …basically obituary at the end of each issue. This is True is about dumb people doing dumb things and the Honorary Unsubscribe is the relief to that comical tragedy. It’s about somebody cool who really did cool things. There’s the Spam Primer because as an email publisher I realized spam was going to be a big, big problem — and it has been — and GetOutOfHellFree.com, which is an interesting sideline when one of my readers back in the year 2000 said, I was going to hell for one of my taglines. The Get Out of Hell Free card is my response to her. Since 2000, more than two million of the cards have been sold.
Clare: It’s a lot of fun to hand out.
Randy: That’s one of your benefits! In lieu of pay, I give you cards to hand out to people.
Clare: They usually get a chuckle.
Clare: I like the expression, too, when they first look at the card.
Randy: Right. About 99.5% of the people laugh or like the card and slightly less than 1% say, “I don’t get it.” Or, “What does this mean?” Or, “Are you a preacher?” Or something like that. I was like, “No.”
Clare: They like the GOOHF button, the Get Out of Hell Free button. That gets a lot of comments when I wear that.
Randy: There’s that one, and the original button actually is … Do you remember?
Clare: The obliviot button.
Randy: Yeah. Yeah. I think it says, “Doesn’t play well with obliviots.” Which was an afterthought to make that a button. I think I made it a virtual button and just posted it on Facebook and people said, “I want that!” I had to quick find a vendor to make buttons and, boy, the first … I think I had 500 made. The first 500 went out the door in about a month and I had to have more made. It’s just crazy. But I have fun wearing that one, too.
Clare: Yeah, that’s another fun one.
Randy: All right. Well, I think that’s probably good enough for the first episode. I want to keep them to 20 or 30 minutes and I’m not really looking at the clock but it feels like about 20 minutes. You had fun with this?
Clare: I did.
Randy: I had fun with it, too. This is True is supported by patreon.com. If you go to patreon.com/thisistrue, you can support this podcast: if you pledge at the $4 a month level, you can also get the paid version of our email newsletter. We really appreciate your support and definitely pop over to iTunes once this gets posted and you can rate the show. You can, after a couple episodes, maybe write a little review.
The show notes for this episode are at thisistrue.com/podcast1 — that’s a digit 1. It’ll include the links to the sites I mentioned and also the pictures that Clare and I took of each other as we got started. I’m Randy Cassingham of thisistrue.com. Thanks so much for joining us for our first episode of Uncommon Sense …and I’ll talk to you later.