926- Stories of Swamp Based Beings | Otter Things Recap
This will be like child’s play with a set of muppets, looking back at how this story of odder things came together, just stand by me as I carry you off to dreamland.
926 – Stories of Swamp Based Beings | Otter Things Recap
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends beyond the binary, and my swamp-based beings, oh, and my patron peeps; hello, patrons. I don’t know why I just took on a tone, but it’s a sleepy…it’s a tone…may have groaned, but I’m here to bring a safe place home so you don’t feel alone, and rhyme…my rhymes are not like a cone. Again, you probably just groan. Goodnight, patrons. Thanks, and let’s get on with the show.
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing? Trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. Alls you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press play. I’m gonna do the rest. What I’m going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you could set aside whatever’s keeping you awake, whether it’s thoughts you’re thinking about, like things on your mind. So, thoughts, things…yeah, things you’re thinking about, thoughts, feelings, so anything you’re feel…experiencing emotionally that might be coming up for you. They could be about the thoughts or it could be about something else. It could just be there.
They don’t have any mystery subscription boxes of feelings, but I feel like I get one unexpectedly. I actually feel that way about mail in general, anyway. I say oh boy, what is this thing? I did get…I said today, I had two things, and I had a letter. Well, let’s not talk about that right…well, this is things that could keep you awake. ‘Cause I get that thing where you get your mail e-mailed to you before you get it. I always tell people about that and they say what’s it called? I say oof, I thought it was called Confirmed Delivery or something. I say, they take a picture of your mail or something. I don’t know. They e-mail it to you, so then you can start over-thinking before the mail even gets there. It gets…gives me a head start on delaying opening my mail.
It’s great; really has cut down on the time I pre…my pre-procrastination time. I can get straight to the procrastination, no more….it’s really added something to my life, I gotta tell you. I don’t know if there’s a place you could review whatever that service it’s called. It’s free, I think. If I’m paying for it, I didn’t even know about it. I’ll tell you what; if they say well, we gotta…some people say stuff about the mail and stuff. I say well, if you charge me five…I would definitely pay five bucks a month for that. I’m just saying. I mean, I already do pay…when I’m calculating my income, but I say I’m happy to pay five bucks a month to send me pictures of my mail so I can start thinking about it before I get it, before it even gets there. That happened today.
Maybe I’ll talk to the new listeners and try to get back to that ‘cause new listeners, you probably…you’re like, what is going on? Regular listeners, they kinda like me to…they like…they love my foibles. Oh, boy. They say Scoots, keep it human, man. That’s what they’ll say if there’s ever a coming-of-age high school movie about the…in the fictional world of podcasts, not a real one. When I walk off down the field and I say coach, I quit. Principal, you could take this award and pin it on someone else because what did I say I was supposed to say? I’m keeping it human. Oh, you’re not up for an award, son. Oh, okay. I guess I’m…oh boy, sorry, I was daydreaming again and walked to the front of the room. Sorry about that.
Okay, so…oh, if you’re new; okay, so thoughts, it could be feelings, it could be physical sensations. Whatever is keeping you awake, I’m here to take your mind off of that and let you fall asleep. Now if you’re new, you may already be questioning it unless you are down…are you down with delaying your mail-opening? Oh, boy. I’m not encouraging it. I do not want to glamorize my behavior, my avoidance behaviors, but I do want to normalize them for you because I say, that’s what one of these…important things the podcast serves. Okay, but so, thoughts, feelings, physical sensations. Could be something else keeping you awake but whatever it is, what I propose to do is create a safe place. I got room here. I’m smoothing it, I’m patting it down, I’m opening it. I got cross-breezes, I got other stuff.
You want it warm? You want it cold? You say Scoots, do you have a lukewarm safe place? I’d say sure, are you lukewarm on safe places or do you want a safe place that’s lukewarm? Here’s what I’ve learned through the listening skills of podcasts; I’d say tell me more about what lukewarm means to you. Do you have a specific number in mind or a feel? You say Scoots, no one’s ever asked me that before. Thank goodness you’re imaginarily here in an imaginary world where you…I say don’t worry, that’s what I’m here for. I say well, how could we possibly…I say well, this is a safe place. It’s a magical place, so just give me a thumbs up when…this would be…if…when the Sleep With Me…whatever, the Sleep With Me theme park opens, I don’t think it would be very successful, but who cares?
Whatever. They say well, what did you do with that grant when we pinned that award on you? Well, I opened up an…I re-opened an abandoned theme park that didn’t…became a…it never became abandoned, but it did shut back down. We cleaned it up though, and spent most of it on natural, organic climate control. We had thermal stuff, we had solar stuff, we had wind-based stuff. One of the key features, if you don’t mind me bragging, was the ability to even reach lukewarm temperatures which someone could determine on their own if that’s what lukewarm meant to them. Someone else might have wanted a temp…they say I like my safe place tepid. I say no problem, just give me a thumbs-up when we’re at the right temperature and if it changes, we’ll be…if you want it…if you want us to monitor, we can just come and check-in every once in a while or you could give us a buzz.
Or you could just call out and say, a little cooler. This is no longer lukewarm. I’d say, you got it. I’m gonna try to create a safe place where you could set aside whatever’s keeping you awake. One way is just to go off-topic and keep talking. What I do is I send my voice across the deep, dark night. I use lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, superfluous tangents, so I’ll go off-topic, I’ll keep talking, I’ll jump around. You’ve already kinda seen that and if you’re new, there’s a lot of important things I want you to know. The first thing is it’s okay to come to this show and not like it and not be sure if you like it and be skeptical or have a frowny face. I’m legitimately saying that because that’s a natural way to come to a sleep podcast. You say, I’m skeptical or I don’t know.
What are these creaky, dulcet tones in my ears? I feel tepid. I’d say, very good. That’s good. That’s a good way to approach everything, or at least that’s my…that’s the way I do it. I’m familiar. Yeah, this show is very different, so let me give you some information beyond the…your experience with the show is okay, and that is…I’d like to meet you where you are and not try to change your mind. Actually, you could change it. You can just see how it goes, and that’s the first piece of recommendation that just comes from listeners; give this show a few tries. If you kinda decide that now, then it’ll be easier to leave later, or you’ll just be…keep listening. You say okay, yeah, I’m just gonna give this show three tries and then after that, I’m out. Either you’ll be out of sleep or you’ll be moving on.
There’s other sleep podcasts; Sleep Whispers, Miette’s, Sleep Cove, Sleepy, Get Sleepy, there’s probably…oh, Empty Bowl. There’s so many more, and there’s other…so, it’s not a big deal for me to win you over. I just hope I can help you. That’s one, and a couple reasons why the show feels different and people don’t necessarily like it right away; one, it’s not really a podcast you listen to. As you’ve already seen, what I was talking about that I already [00:10:00] forgot about…’cause I was…wasn’t I talking about something before I started talking about safe place? I don’t even have any idea. I’m not kidding, either. I don’t have any idea what that was. I said well, I’ll try to get back to that. Did it have to do with grade school?
I don’t know, but so…oh, this is a podcast…obviously, you say wait a second, he doesn’t even remember what he was talking about ‘cause he’s got so much gobbledygook in his brain. I say yeah, you got that right. Whatever it is that’s keeping you…oh, so yeah, you don’t really listen to me. You only kinda bare…just like I talk about a lot of times, you say uh-huh, uh-huh, Scoots. Oh boy, lukewarm theme park, huh? Uh-huh. That’s interesting. Okay, okay. So, that’s kinda one way to approach it. Don’t listen to me. The other thing is I don’t really put you to sleep. I more keep you company as you fall asleep. Kinda just see how it goes. Yeah, I’m just…oh, wait…oh, I was talking about mail. I just remembered. Okay, so hopefully I’ll remember to talk about that more, avoiding mail.
That was one of the sequels to You Got Mail. I said, I don’t want mail. I was supposed to be Billy Crystal’s son in the movie. They said well, that doesn’t work. I said well, that…I’m writing it…I’m making it up. It’s called I Don’t Want Mail and My Dad Has Become My Mom…I don’t know, I didn’t…believe it or not, I’ve never seen that movie. I think Tom Hanks was in it and not Billy Crystal. My brain got…I had too much Meg Ryan free association going on. What’s my favorite Meg Ryan movie? I think it’s Presidio, if Meg Ryan’s in that movie, but I can’t be sure of anything other than I have to get back to these new listeners. This podcast doesn’t really put you to sleep. It’s more here while you…oh, maybe Top Gum. That’s not a Meg Ryan movie. She’s in that film, so no, I’d say. I don’t know.
Mark Harmon is…wasn’t Mark Harmon in Presidio? I don’t know. That’s not my favorite Mark Harmon movie, though; it’s Summer School. I think I’ve seen Summer School…I think I’ve seen Presidio, too. Those are old 80s movies. Don’t worry about it. Probably very problematic films; neither one I’ve seen. I shouldn’t be bringing them up ‘cause I don’t think I’ve seen either one in twenty or thirty years. Okay, so, sorry about that, kids. Oh, so, yeah, this podcast won’t really put you to sleep. It keeps you company while you drift off. That’s why the shows are about an hour, to give you plenty of time. Then if you can’t sleep, I’ll be here for you. Or if you wake up, I’m here for you. Like I said at the beginning, I underwhelm. That’s what I do.
If you need some underwhelming in the middle of the night or during the day or the whole night because you can’t sleep, I’m here. That’s my job and that’s my honor, whether you’re not listening to me asleep or you’re barely listening to me while you’re awake, or you’re actually listening. Those of you that actually listen, you know I’m here for you and I care. That’s one thing. Then the other thing that throws new listeners off, way off, even some long-time listeners which I say, haven’t you been listening to this show for three years? ‘Cause we really haven’t changed it very much. But so, show starts off with a greeting; ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends beyond the binary, and swamp-based beings in this case ‘cause of the type of episode, so that’s so you know you’re welcome here.
Then there’s business and actually, the front business of the show isn’t that long. There’s business and resources, so that takes up a few minutes. Usually we talk about Helix, we talk about the Patreon, we talk about resources. Then there’s an intro. The intro goes from like, six or eight minutes into the show to like, twenty or twenty-two minutes. That’s all -ish, somewhere in that range. That is me. That has nothing to do with business or anything. The only business it is is taking your mind off of stuff, putting you to sleep, over-explaining. Then sometimes stuff comes up, like my mail and the ability technology has given me to pre-procrastinate. Not even…yeah, to pre-procrastinate opening my mail. Hopefully I’ll get back…I’ll get back to that. Don’t worry, regular listeners. That’s the intro.
But that could still throw new listeners off. I see a lot of…I get a lot of strong e-mails about the intro because I think a lot of people just think it’s an ad which I say oh, have you…I guess I can’t ask you if you’ve listened to it if the purpose is not to listen to it, but the real purpose of the intro, the reason…’cause I could — and this was proposed to me multiple times in the first few years — just reuse the same intro. I say no, that’s not how brain bots work. They adjust and they adapt. Those things that keep us awake at night, they’re constantly evolving, in my opinion, or at least mine are, alongside technology. They said, you know, that literally happened to me with this mail example. But so, the reason the intros are different every time is so you get something different but familiar every time.
But also ‘cause the regular listeners, they use this as part of their ease into bedtime. This Sleep With Me podcast is not a…get into bed, I’m gonna count down from thirty and you’re gonna be asleep, and that may work in other places or with other shows. It doesn’t work here. This is more of a companionship show, a companion you don’t got…you just gotta barely pay attention to. So, the intro, you could start it as you’re getting ready for bed or as you’re in bed or wherever you are. It gives you some distance from the day and starts to take your mind off of stuff, and then I lose your attention. That’s the intro. Then there’s business between the intro and the story. That’s the important business you could always find in our show notes or on our website because that’s where the meat of the podcast…it’s just how podcast structure works.
There’s the business there, then there’s our story. Tonight, it’ll be a wrap-up of our episodically modular series, kind of like a making-of our series Otter Things. Then there’s thank-yous at the end. That’s the structure of the show, and to kinda go along with the other stuff, the reason I make this show is because I’ve been there tossing and turning, mind racing, trouble getting to sleep, and I care. I know how it feels in the deep, dark night. If I can help you, give you some companionship, be your bore-friend, your bore-bae, your bore-bud, your bore-bestie, your bore-bruh, your bore-sib, your bore-cuz, I don’t know, your bore-buddy. Did I say bore-bud? Yeah, any of those things…and I can help, that’s great. It really gives meaning to my life. But more so is the fact that you deserve a good night’s sleep.
You deserve a place where you can rest. If you get that rest, if I can provide it or someone else can, that’s really a good thing for you to be able to be more rested tomorrow, ‘cause I know how it feels not rested. I know what is…my world’s like and what it’s like when I encounter other people and try to get stuff done. So, if you’re rested, the world’s gonna be a better place. That’s true. That is actually true, those things. You deserve a good night’s sleep and the better your life is, the better our world is. The more you can flourish, the more the world can flourish. I mean, if there’s simply a philosophy driving that show, that’s pretty much it. I mean, mostly, I know how it feels though, because…so, this mail thing, and this is what I’ll wrap up with ‘cause I say well, I know how it feels.
I have the thing where it e-mails me my mail before it comes. There was a strange confluence. This always happens; I had procrastinated on getting two things in my apartment fixed. Well, one thing, then something else broke. Believe it or not, I haven’t even told my…two other things broke on top of that, but not major things. I kept procrastinating, procrastinating, and finally the second thing happened and I said oh, I gotta get this fixed ‘cause it’s…water’s coming out of it. I put in a work order literally within…I’m not even kidding, within moments, then I got my mail and it was an official letter coming from my landlord, like a picture of my mail coming tomorrow which was impossible related to the work order. Instead of being open…I said well, that’s not good. Oh boy, that’s really not good.
Instead of…I just don’t have that ability yet. I’m trying to develop to be like well, it could be anything. I did say, couldn’t it be anything? It said nope, not for you, buddy. Should have never put that work order in. Talk about the last nail in the old C-O double-F to the I to the, you know, that letter before M. It comes after M, though. Anyway, and I didn’t really have the ability. Then I was like…then I said what’s time’s my…I don’t want to open my…I don’t want to know what’s in that letter. Who knows what it could be? Not [00:20:00] Tenant of the Year. Whatever the opposite of that is, even though none of this is true. There’s no…anything factual, you say well, you’re pretty quiet. You mind your own business. You probably…your biggest flaw could be not getting stuff fixed on time.
This letter came out before you were…I mean, so…and it ended up it was totally nothing. It was hey, this is a policy about this thing. It was to all the tenants, all the properties that they own and manage. I don’t know, that’s the kinda person that makes a sleep podcast, I guess is my point. I say, if…yeah. I don’t know. It’s interesting that you say, what…some people…I think there’s adjusted people out there that say well, yeah, I don’t need that mail thing ‘cause I love getting mail. I’d say, really? You don’t have multiple…do you have any…do you have multiple stacks of mail or just one big stack? Or do you vacillate between them? Stacks of mail? I get to my mail as soon as I open it up. I say oh boy, you betcha. Wow.
Well, I make a sleep podcast, so that’s not what happens for me, but that’s great for you. I’m glad you’re here. That’s the main message. I really hope and I really yearn and strive and I really hope I can help you fall asleep. I appreciate you coming by and give the show a few tries like most listeners say, and here’s a couple ways for you regular listeners, I’m able to bring you this podcast twice a week.
Hey everybody, this is Drew Scooter here, and I’m gonna be…or tonight, we’re talking…this is our 14th episode and a look-back at the creation of Otter Things. This could be a good episode to listen to ahead of time or to…mainly to sleep through or to keep you company in the deep, dark night, or to fall back asleep to or to listen to during the day as a distraction or to repurpose in some way I’m not even thinking of. What I want to talk about tonight is a couple things, hopefully. By saying this, hopefully it gives me structure since these episodes are a little bit less structured, is why Otter Things? Then what worked and what was new and different and what didn’t work. Maybe some…even some technology talk which could be interesting, and some behind-the-scenes production talk, and then some…what inspired it which some of it’s clear but some of it might not be.
Then if we have time, what’s next, which is kinda funny because when we hear about what worked and what didn’t work, but…so, when I’m recording this, it’s like the middle of September 2020 and ideally, this episode’s coming out about two months or a little bit more than two months after I recorded it. Then I’ll start recording and I actually already started working this morning on our holiday series which will probably be a three-episode series. Okay, what was the first thing I was gonna talk about? Oh, why Otter Things. I feel a little bit forlorn about this because I think…I know I talked to a lot of the patrons ‘cause I have a little bit easier way to connect with the patrons and get their thoughts on things.
I know a lot of patrons that don’t…that skip TV episodes also skipped this series even though…which kind of…I guess I kind of anticipated it but I said oh man, I really feel bad and I understand that people skip the TV show. I guess they’re not listening to this, so it doesn’t really matter. The people that are listening to this can more relate to it, but it really made me not sad like an I-statement and I wish you didn’t do that kinda sad; more I’m aware…these are the pitfalls of making a sleep podcast sad, I guess, because I feel like this ran very far field of the TV show, and you definitely didn’t need to see the streaming show Stranger Things to enjoy this.
Again, a lot of the TV show content I do, I go out of my way to craft it so…in a way that’s very sleep-inducing, but I feel like it stands on it own…its own, ‘cause it was really only inspired or a parody or whatever you want to call it, a satire of that show, or a tribute. I’m just a little bit…it’s just a pitfall, like I said. It’s just the reality of making a sleep podcast, is that…and that’s why I do work so hard to keep the content coming in a variety of ways and keep switching every third episode is a little bit different. Actually, it even influenced some future decisions. I don’t know, that just came up for me in the moment, so I wanted to mention that.
But the reason why Otter Things; one was that something that came up on a intro…I don’t even know when, and I said okay, that’s definitely the…it’s something I would like to see made even in the greater world, is a mash-up of Emmet Otter…exactly kinda what I made but in a not-sleepy way, like the Muppets and Stranger Things coming together or, yeah, whatever…Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas meets Strange Things. I really feel like I wanted to see that in the world, or my idea, my tribute to that, or my…say, well, I can make something that’s inspired by those things. In a sleep podcast, I have a little bit more leeway.
When those ideas come up, even if it’s years ago, much like everything else along the lines of this podcast, there’s ideas that come up for this podcast that I say that’s not gonna work or I don’t see how I can make that work, or there’s ideas I just forget about, but then there’s persistent ideas that keep calling to me and that was just one of…this is just one of those persistent ideas. Saying, what about Otter Things? I said well, I don’t know how I could figure that out. There was a lot of times I put it off, but it was there waiting for me to say come and see it. Then I said, okay. Whatever, months ago or a year ago. I said okay, that’s the slot in the schedule. Can we make it? Can we make Otter Things?
I said, okay then, we’ll…well, now’s the…now, once you commit to it, kind of, your brain starts to move into the brainstorming, problem-solving place, at least for me, to say okay…like, once it’s on the schedule for production, I say okay, my brain starts working even though I’m not actively working on it. I was working on finishing up, whatever, Get Besos. Then, let’s see, so then the schedule comes for the pre-production, the writing. The other reasons why I loved…I can still remember whatever year…I can remember the year Stranger Things first came out, but just the magic. That magic, even though it’s there for those of us that love consuming media, whether it’s music or streaming shows or movies or podcasts, even then, that real magic is so rarely…when you get to experience it, you really do appreciate it.
Then they follow it up with a couple seasons and even the most recent…I don’t know; when I’m recording this, there might be another season that’s come out, but even Season 3, I remember texting people and being like wait a second, it had a different feel. I just loved that. I’d have to look at my text, but I said man, this feels like…and I haven’t re-watched Season 3, so I’m not as fresh on it. But I said it feels like they’re taking these things and putting their own spin on them. It was like, something you could be excited about with your personal community, too. That’s another reason why it’s like jeez, I just loved what they did. I also realized the level of difficulty with these youth-based characters being the leads. I don’t know, when you go back and you look…you think about it, you say man, how did this really come together?
It really was…the sum of the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts, or the…whatever. I said, wow. It was so impressive. That’s another reason why, and then I said…I guess it’s like a challenge, very similar to other stuff I’d done where it’s like well, why not, then? Why can’t we mash up and see what happens with…if we combine these two ideas? Like, what would happen? I’m trying to think of any other whys. I don’t know. I just said well, that’ll be interesting. It’s very, for me, visual even though when I’m talking about it, it kinda [00:30:00] feels more blurry. It’s like okay, this is something I can kinda see. Maybe not as a…I don’t know. It’d be interesting to see it with Muppets, but it could be some other way, but I don’t know. I don’t know, those are a couple reasons why, is why not?
I guess, and to say okay…and then I just felt like again, it would offer this challenge. This kinda goes to the pitfalls even more of like, okay, we’ve done Breaking Bad, we’ve done Game of Thrones, we’ve done Doctor Who which all have their different archetypal challenges to kind of…this extra hurdle of making it sleepy. That kind of was a challenge for me. I said wait a second, how much is this gonna make people resistant to listening? I think statistically — I haven’t looked at the statistics recently — but I’m pretty sure that they’re performing at or above where they’re supposed to be, so they’re not…the episodes are definitely not under-performing and a few of them may have over-performed.
That says a lot for Sleep With Me because Sleep With Me episodes are very consistent as far as how many times they get downloaded, how many times they get listened to, the parts of the episodes they listen to. When I say 2% of people skip ahead to the twenty minutes or whatever, that’s like…I could tell you if we looked at three, four hundred episodes, it would be within a very small range of deviation. These aren’t statistics, actually, off the top of my head, but how many people drop off, have their sleep timer set their forty-five minutes or sixty minutes. Again, that’s all just server data, so it’s not like your personal device. Or maybe, no, I guess it’s like…I don’t know.
It comes through the…anonymized through your podcast app of Apple Podcasts or Spotify or…I think those are the only two that shows that consumption data which is very important for me because I say oh, okay, wait a second; do I need to change something or is everything performing how it normally is? If you want…don’t want that stuff, just use a app like Overcast that’s like, more…make sure you pay for…if you’re gonna…if you want to have more of a…pay for Overcasts or pay for another podcast app that’s paid for…‘cause you can use Overcast for free but if you pay for it, then you’re supporting it. Let’s see, so where was I? Okay, so why Otter Things? We covered that. Oh, so some of the hurdles, yeah.
Making it based on a show that’s popular that people have preconceived notions about or direct experience with is always interesting with Sleep With Me. When people have direct experience with something, that’s a little bit easier ‘cause it kinda is an AB decision. They say okay, I’ve watched Game of Thrones; I don’t want to listen to a podcast about it. Then they say I’ll listen to the other two episodes that come out every ten days or I watch that show and I’m too much of a fan. I might listen during the day or I’m just not gonna listen to it. Very, in this sense, a binary decision; yes or no. When people haven’t seen something and they have a preconceived notion about it, for our show, I always think about Star Trek: The Next Generation which unfortunately a much larger…and I guess it shows the great expanse…I mean, multi-generational, is The Next Generation.
It’s a multi-generational show as far as preconceived notions about it because that’s the only thing that we make that consistently has a big drop-off, and the big drop-off is just ‘cause so many people have a preconceived notion about Star Trek. When I made Doctor Who, I wondered if it would happen with Doctor Who; it didn’t. When we made Strange…or, Otter Things, it did not have that same effect, meaning that the swath of preconceived notions is just not as wide with those. It’s strange because Star Trek: The Next Generation — I don’t want to use the word vanilla — but it is probably the most…is the least…it doesn’t impact any…I have preconceived notions about Doctor Who, so when I say that about Doctor Who…I grew up in the 80s and every once in a while we’d turn on PBS and in the middle of the day, or in the afternoons, and there would be a Doctor Who episode on.
I wasn’t able to grasp it. This isn’t a criticism of Doctor Who; just my childhood brain. I’d say, oh my goodness, I don’t know how I’m gonna process this. That impacted my own personal consumption. People say well, I’m a bit Whovian. I’d say oh no, man, that’s not for me. That mud tunnel or whatever it’s traveling…even that makes me…when I see the credits, and I had to have a direct experience with the newer Doctor Whos to…I had to have a curiosity, first of all, to want to have a direct experience to change my mind. All those things are not really…those are two heavy lifts to ask a audience to do. It’s just always…when I make something, I say well, is this gonna be like Star Trek?
Now, we haven’t given up on Star Trek and we still do kind of about the same seven or eight episodes a year because one, I really enjoy making it and two, I think it has a depth of fandom that it doesn’t impact the budget. I mean, it’s like a different…it just doesn’t impact things as much. I think by reducing it, it’s actually helped the episodes perform better with our overall audience. It’s not just about performance, but it is about sustaining the show. I always have to look at all these kind of things and take them into account. So, I was afraid that there would be a big drop-off if we did a Stranger Things recap show which we ended up…I said, no. Then when I said okay, well, we’ll do Otter Things; will there be a drop-off? No, there was not a drop-off.
Whatever…some people skipped it, yeah, and I heard from those people but the same amount of people that skip every kind of episode. Some people only listen to the random episodes formally known as Trending Tuesday episodes, the episodes…I don’t know if…I talk about this a lot, but sometimes everybody hears the things with fresh ears. We put out three kinds of shows and we alternate between those three shows constantly; TV recap, random Tuesday-style episode which could be anything, or personal essay, personal story, made-up story, board games, Ray, Bernie, seminars, and then…so, there’s that. Then there’s the serialized, episodically modular series which this one, Stranger Things…and I guess I didn’t quite realize that people…what I didn’t realize is people would get it confused and say oh, that’s just a Stranger Things recap, which it’s not, but that’s fine.
There’s the overall Sleep With Me listenership and there’s probably…the major…I think the regular Sleep With Me listener just listens to the episodes, but those are probably the people that are least engaged with the show, and the people that are most engaged with the show are the people that keep the show going by supporting it. Those people that are most engaged, they probably pick and choose their episodes. Some people are very specific and some people actually…I guess they don’t realize this; it’s like, even if you only listen to one episode over and over and over again over a few weeks to a month to a year, your consumption kinda counts on my end as far as trying to plan and stuff, as much as somebody that just listens to every episode.
It’s like, the new episodes in the end support the ability…well, I guess that’s changing slowly. Anyway, that’s not important. But so, what was my point in there? Oh, so that…I guess I talked that out as…some…I really wanted to make this and I was hoping the audience would respond, and they did in a regular way for Sleep With Me, so that’s one thing. That’s why. Then we go okay, what worked and what didn’t work? So, that’s kinda talking about what didn’t work, which I’ll kinda lead into the last thing that was concerning for me. I wouldn’t say it didn’t work, but it was definitely concerning for me…was like, so, writing the show and doing it as a re-invention of someone else’s show kinda felt like a little bit of a…it was less…it was a different kind of work.
I wouldn’t say it’s less work but in some sense I feel like it gave me this advantage that I feel is very dangerous. I say, that’s not what I’m in [00:40:00] for. It’ll be a while…I mean, we probably will return to Otter Things, I would hope, just ‘cause I love the characters now, but it’ll be a while because even having some sort of basic loose outline gives me an advantage which I guess in this sense paid off because I felt like the shows were even…be more able to be puzzle boxes to put you to sleep. But as a creator, I just wonder if I was getting my muscles…it’s like oh, you’re just doing that one kind of exercise? I don’t know if that’s really helping you. I don’t know, that might not make sense to everybody, but it’s like oh, I wasn’t having to break the story from the beginning.
It does remind me of when we return to Season 2s or Season 3s that there is…it is a little bit…I’m able to be more creative on the story side and make it more sleepy on the plot side because I know the characters and how they’re gonna behave and I can…then I can create situations where they’ll behave or create obstacles that…where they’ll behave in the way that I can predict or that I say well, I know how Vaughn is gonna react or I can picture Vaughn in my head, or James Cash Penny or Richard Warren Sears. Where if it’s a first season, like Dr. Triangle and Isosceles, even by the end of that season, I said I don’t even know how…it still…you probably heard about it in my recap of that season of like…and just getting to know the characters after spending eight to twelve episodes with them, again, because of the hurried writing process of making constant…what is this? Content.
I don’t know, that’s just another thing that I say oh, okay, well, I don’t want to go back to…I won’t…the next few series — except for this holiday series because it’s gonna be a soap opera, so it’s based on a archetypal thing — but after that, for 2021, it’ll be interesting ‘cause 2021, now I have competing ideas which would both be Season 2. Well, one would be Season 2 and one would be in a world of another show, I guess. We’ll see for 2021. Don’t ask ‘cause I don’t have any idea. I mean, probably it’s not…it’s probably gonna be the one that’s in a world from another series that we did a while ago. But we’ll see. I don’t know, that’s just one thing. I said well, I’m not so comfortable with this because…I don’t know. I don’t want to say…I just…it doesn’t…it feels like it was less difficult but it gave me more leeway.
Like I said, when…oh, I don’t know how many people heard, but we did…for $10 and $20 patrons, we did a series with twelve, thirty-minute episodes that came out as six hour-long episodes of the making of Otter Things. I talked a lot about it in there about…I don’t know, that was more about the writing and stuff like that. It was just like…oh, my surprise at…when I was planning it, I’ve been planning down because now we put out about a hundred or ninety…eighty-eight to a hundred episodes a year, new episodes. It’s like okay, well, I’m gonna try to do series that are eight to ten episodes maybe, or twelve on the large size because each type of series we do would be like, thirty-three…well, thirty, sixty, ninety. Yeah, so we’d do thirty scripted series a year, thirty Potpourri series a year, and thirty TV recap episodes a year.
I mean, it’s different ‘cause it’s on a rotating basis, so it doesn’t work out that way. But I do have to plan ahead, so it’s like planning like that. We’re always mixing them up. It’s like, eight, sixteen, twenty-four…or, nine, eighteen, whatever. I don’t know. But then I also have to look at the calendar and not have any gaps in there, so I was trying to figure out with Otter Things; I’m like okay, this is getting…it’s not gonna get all the way to Thanksgiving, so what are we gonna do in-between the conclusion of Otter Things and Thanksgiving? But I said okay, well, we’ll figure that out. It’ll be okay. Then it kept getting stretched out to where I was like holy cow, this is gonna actually be thirteen episodes. I can’t believe it.
I think that was because, like I said, because I knew the characters and I had a better idea of them because they were already inspired that I said okay, I have a little bit better idea of how they’re gonna behave, so I can create things. I don’t know, it’s just something I’m like, I don’t know if I want to do that again anytime soon because I really just don’t want to get out of the shape of making stuff, and I don’t think I will because the next thing…next…I mean, the holiday series will be one thing. That’s just kind of more fun…three episodes, I think. I haven’t looked at the calendar. Then by the time…let’s see, right now we’re in September. Yeah, by the time you hear this I’ll probably have this 2021 series…one or two episodes recorded, I hope.
That’s what maybe didn’t work or didn’t…the other things that didn’t work…oh, so technology-wise, this was interesting; so I watched the episodes of Stranger Things a bunch of times, right, to try to get everything and get an idea and just kinda see how they did stuff. One of the things is that when…what’s his name on the show? Oh, Hopper; he’s Chief Hopper, right? He’s the Chief of Police. So, in Otter Things, they don’t have a Police Department. They have a Community Resource Department. It’s just a different…they’re mammals; they’re not humans. They kinda have more of a restorative justice model. Again, I don’t want to hear…this isn’t like…this is just about the fictional world they live in. It is a metaphor, but it’s not like the metaphor that some people are jumping to.
It was just like that’s their…I mean, they’re animals that live in a swamp. I was saying what kind of governing system would animals that live in a swamp have? I thought it would be less punitive, much more cooperative. I talked about that a lot in the beginnings of the series, the first few episodes. That meant that Leon was the head of community resources, which is a very similar role. But you say well, what…maybe he had some social work background as well and some sort of consensus building. I don’t know, or maybe you could assume that now. But also that the…but the language still carried forward. It was like, Chief Hopper. Then I was like, Chief Bull, when I first started making it. I said wait a second, that’s not his role though; he’s not chief…also, I don’t like that word, personally.
It’s just a word I feel that could be disrespectful to some listeners and cultures. I said wait a second, I’ll try to get that word out of my descriptive language, especially for something fictional. Even from a technical standpoint, you say well, it’s not accurate. You can’t have…you can have a head of community resources, but by using that terminology…but so, what was interesting is when I first started making it, ideally when I’m recording, I have most…it’s been getting to the point where I have more and more of the episode written, handwritten. It might not be handwritten…what is that called? Sequentially, so I may have to jump around my notebook and stuff. Then I’m kind of like using that…creating a new draft live while I’m recording it based on the draft I have in front of me.
But sometimes that can mean immersing myself in that world and being there and kind of…I guess maybe this is a flow state. I don’t know that stuff that well, but the danger of falling into a flow state or a deep…I don’t know, whatever, place of living in your imagination, is then I’m hearing the language from the show sometimes, so I was using that word. I said, I don’t like that. How am I gonna fix that? ‘Cause I said wait a second, the first two or three episodes, I used it more than I was comfortable with. Actually, there’s this piece of technology, this newer piece of technology called Descript which really enabled me to go back and find all of the usages of that which in the past would have been impossible, or for older episodes, this stuff just is impossible, at least cost-effective and time-effective-wise.
But because I caught [00:50:00] it in the…during the production process, I said okay, let’s see if we can just get this word out of the podcast as much as possible ‘cause I’m not comfortable with it and I don’t like it. My tech side said okay, well, we could try this tool out and it’s like a…just a new kind of podcast audio-editing…machine transcription; not the transcriptions we use for our main show. Those are done by Leah, the transcriptionist that works with the show. So, okay, so then I was able to find all that and listen to it and kinda take it out and, I don’t know, so that’s a time that was cool that…what do you call it? Technology enabled me to do that, and I don’t know. That was something I was happy about. Hopefully that’s the tool we can use in different ways.
It’s still not my main audio…they call it a DAW, Digital Audio Workstation. I use a different…that, and then the editors…I’m only doing a final edit and a mix and editing…I’m not doing the edits of the recordings that Karl and Chris are. What up, Karl and Chris? I’m not doing the first edit which is kinda the most time…right, Chris, Karl, whoever’s listening? Most time-consuming and monotonous one. Where was I? Holy moly. Totally lost, as usual. I don’t know, I got to use that and play around with it, and it’s interesting. While I won’t change the regular work-flow for the show, I was trying to do some…mix some Patreon episodes on there, but I was having…I got a…I don’t have a lot of time to train myself, either. Okay, so why Otter Things?
Oh, what worked…I think…I guess we talked about…what was I talking about? Oh, Descript, okay. So, we use Descript. That was interesting. What worked? I don’t know, what worked with this series? I mean, one, it was something I really wanted to do and I really thought it’d be interesting to see what this…what it would be like, how it would transfer over to a world with things…I felt like I really enjoyed it. I felt like there was a lot of love between the characters and I felt like we had a lot of opportunities to really change, to make it different, because one; I’ve just learned that trimming down…and again, I have the same problem with the holiday series I’m about to do, is having a smaller cast is always a necessity because you say okay, well, how many stories can we handle here on a sleep podcast?
That’s probably why this show ended up being thirteen episodes because there was A, B, and C and even D stories to kind of follow and tie up which was a good thing in this case. But again, it’s like, okay, so the first person we didn’t use was Jonathan. Jonathan and Nancy kind of became one character which in some sense I liked because then the Jonathan and Nancy character was able to take the best things from them, and I guess in some sense, and become Dari. Dari kinda was one of the few…well, I guess a lot of the characters — because it’s a sleep podcast — don’t have gigantic flaws, but I was able to put them…keep it as a family. Then I was able to give Mike on the show Emma to have Teffe who was very much like Steve as a brother which I said, that creates a nice…a nicer dynamic.
Though on the show, Mike and Nancy’s relationship’s a pretty good dynamic, too. I don’t know, I just felt like Emma having to be a sibling with a smooth otter named Teffe was like…I don’t know, it just was a dynamic I enjoyed, and thinking about their whole lives together is something…I don’t…I had just found it stimulating. That did work out, and then just kind of keeping it simple. Okay, so then Frances is their mom. We did have a visit from Lenny, their biological dad, but other than that, focusing on that threesome of Frances, Dari, and Willow, even though Willow was gone. Then Bull kind of running the Community Resource Department and having that just be a…having Bull carry most of that role throughout the series without any other players.
Then having the friendships of Mike, Lucas, and Dustin as Emma, Vaughn, and LJ, or Elijah. That felt like that worked and it was fun. Then Billie…I mean, I had to name someone Max Modine. I think that came up in a intro before, too; it was like…anytime I can say…oh yeah, maximum Modine. That was an intro I did once. I don’t remember what it was about, but that’s how I like my Modine, at maximum. That was fun, and then the idea of Billie as a platypus, that was a pretty early idea, probably before I started writing. I guess we didn’t get to play that up as much as I would have liked because, I don’t know, it just…time-wise and reality-wise. Then early on, it was fun to kinda figure out with the first three episodes of Stranger Things, like okay, there’s a lot of intensity there that we won’t have in a sleep podcast.
How do we replicate the stakes in a way that’s more sleepy and the consequences and/or the fake consequences, it ends up. That was where Willow’s music career came and these fake albums. Creatively, those kinda challenges are really fun to say okay, how are we gonna make this? Then it kinda got more and more convoluted because nothing could be straightforward with Sleep With Me. Again, I wanted this to just be inspired, not a recreation of anything. I said okay, how are we gonna do everything with Billie and her powers? Where does that come from and why? There ended up being some open mysteries which I like, because I have a better idea of the world they’re in; of oh, yeah, if we’re gonna return to this world, there’s some other things like the road in-between the swamp and the place beyond the swamp, these ideas that they struggle with of are humans real or are humans just a rumor?
Are we descended from humans? Is that what Dr. Max is really worried about? Military industrial ideas. Those are all fun to play with. Then it was like okay, the hardest part was…I guess it was trying to figure out okay, we know what happens in Stranger Things and we know that there’s kinda this…two different forces at work in that show, so we have Dr. Max Modine who’s one force, and then we had the uncontrolled force. I don’t know where I came up with the idea for a goose-bunny. Maybe from goose chases; I don’t know. That kinda felt like the most…I guess the hardest thing ‘cause you say okay, now you’re in…you are an archetypal nighttime thing, so I was really having to be really careful, but at the same time, have something that can create a story that’s moving.
It’s like, how do I create something…and even the idea, I said wait a second, this is risky, having…the idea of a bunny with goose heads, to me, I say I don’t know if I like that idea. But I said okay, we don’t have to focus on exactly what it would look like, right? I didn’t want to go too deep into the Mice and Men trope. I just wanted to touch up against it ‘cause I don’t…in my belief system about the story, it’s not a one-for-one analogy that the bunny is like Lenny, but I just wanted to touch up against that for anybody that was listening to say oh, okay, it softens it too. It’s just the reality; the bunny…what can I tell you without ruining everything? But the bunny’s not…well, the bunny’s partially operating on instinct.
Well, I guess Lenny was, too, so the bunny…and again, the bunny’s intention is not to take people from our world into another world like what happened with Babs, but it’s to…the bunny [01:00:00] has its own intention. The bunny’s not a villain rewriting…seeing itself as a hero. The bunny’s just doing…maybe that’s…yeah, the bunny’s operating more on a instinctual-based role, and it’s like a caretaker. It was accidental, the irony that it was a bunny that had to touch up against Lenny to kinda say okay, this is…there’s an innocence here. That’s the word I was looking for. But not pure innocence or whatever, so I don’t know. That was…I don’t know, that was fun. That was the biggest challenge and then saying okay…and then how do we make it our own with Billie’s powers? The songs came up early.
I don’t know if that was even before I started writing that she was gonna have song-based powers and then we could use the hits from 1991. But that made it fun, but also that it wasn’t a…again, this is just inspired. It was like okay, for her, what can I tell you? Whatever was going on with Dr. Max, Billie was going to a…maybe this takes place in what would be known as Florida. I don’t know, so maybe Billie was going to a different place in Florida for some reason. She was seeing big billboards and stuff for stuff, and then somewhere along there she came over this…her powers connected another rift in the world or helped open up a rift between our world and another world. That kinda part was inspired by Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, and I mean, I guess the other books in the series, the Southern Reach Trilogy.
I don’t know if that was what inspired Stranger Things but for me, it was like, I guess it is different. Well, no, ‘cause it is organic, kind of. But it was like oh, how can I make this my own and what is interesting to me, and that whole idea. Again, it’s different…I think the movie’s very different, but how does that idea…one of the main ideas in at least the…well, it gets called back. I don’t know, the idea of towers and organic beings and stuff like that is big in that book and, I don’t know, strange connections between worlds or whatever. For me, that kinda fit together with…I don’t know, what we were trying to do. Then again, I was like okay, what about this…they…how do I create it as a world? I don’t know.
That part is…definitely more in a sleep podcast realm wouldn’t work, I don’t think, outside of a sleep podcast. I mean, if you want to see someone make it work, probably most people…I read this stuff at bedtime, but don’t read Annihilation at bedtime, but you might want to read it if you like that kind of sci-fi with a level of intensity. But it definitely…I mean, it just…that book is still with me. I think I probably read it…I don’t even know how long ago. Not that long ago; a couple…or a year or two ago. Some of that…concepts even I’m still trying to grasp, and that the book had so many mysteries, at least for me. I’m sure someone with double the gray matter that’s using 5% of their gray matter, they probably absorbed it in a different way. I don’t know, so that…those are some influences, I guess.
Then of course, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, I’ve re-watched that. I talk about this a lot in the behind-the-Otter-Things, but watching that with fresh eyes not at the holidays…now, when you’re hearing this, it’ll be the holidays and I strongly encourage you watching it, but watching it with fresh eyes. It was my daughter’s first time seeing it which I was surprised about, was the level of dignity and the circumstances of the characters; that had a profound impact on me. Now, they don’t necessarily live in a swamp. They live in a forest or off a stream near River Bottom. But I don’t know, the idea of the interconnectedness of the community, even though their community was much more consumer…I mean, it had conflicts between consumers and capitalism and stuff, but I don’t know.
It has this deep sub…or nearly subtextual social message and a message about…just like Stranger Things in the end; what does family really mean and what does real love look like? I think both series covered that in a brilliant way. What does that really mean? What does it mean that families deal with these imperfections or imperfect circumstances, and how do we live with dignity and hope? At least, yeah, I guess both the shows. I guess when you start to look at it, if you overlay Emmet and his ma and Will and Joyce and Jonathan, you say wow, there’s some real similarities. I don’t know, I mean, it’s nearly subversive when you watch, if you really pay attention and you watch. It’s a beautiful movie and it’s…or special. It’s brief.
It’s also…the beginning is so slow which was like a Sleep With Me episode, too. I said whoa, the pacing of this…though it does…the pacing picks up where they really just spend some time. I don’t know, that was definitely inspiration but also a re-inspiration by sitting down and watching it right in the middle of making this. It really helped me say okay, let’s…this is what it’s really all about. I think ours was more about friendship and community and love than about family, not to tell you the message, but in more…I don’t know, it just was. I mean, we got to explore a lot of interesting thematic things towards the end, like Hopper’s journey or…Bull’s journey was different than Hopper’s journey and the consequences of his actions, and then Lenny and Dari and Frances.
But really in the end, it was about…I mean, Emma was our real lead and the heart of the show. I don’t know, I think the series kind of…you could make the argument that Mike is the center of Stranger Things, but Emma was our narrator which was a lot different. Yeah, I mean, or Mike’s the person…no…I don’t know, I got to really pay attention to a lot of things I loved about Stranger Things like Lucas. This goes back to just things…characters I love on other series like Data or Worf or Ser Jorah or Tyrion…of these characters, Lucas is, to me, very much like…I guess he’s a much better version than — no offense to Ser Jorah on Game of Thrones — but they both…oh, or Bran. I guess Lucas is…has the best qualities from both those characters without the…some of the non-positive qualities of those characters.
Lucas, in some sense, was this heroic character ‘cause he’s the one keeping the eye on…he was keeping things moving forward. Now, I guess Mike, you could say was oh, well, I have this…we gotta use our friend and this new resource, but Lucas was like no, we have to find Will and help Will. Then in the end, everything ends up coming together, but there was that. I don’t know. Yeah, so, I don’t know, overall it was really fun making this. It was definitely a new challenge and it was different than anything we’ve ever made, and we probably will return to Season 2, but it will be a while. I don’t know if it’ll be in 2021. Maybe it’ll be in 2022.
Then yeah, let me just take a few minutes…so, we’re working on our holiday series that is gonna be a soap opera with different characters, but it will be As the North Pole Turns, but it’ll take place in a different part of the North Pole. That’ll be interesting. I haven’t started…like I said, I just started today with kind of the basic brainstorming but in reality, I gotta record it in ten days or two weeks. So, we’ll see how that turns out. Then after that, yeah, I have two things…originally, I was like okay, what are we gonna make next? Then the [01:10:00] idea came and it was like, okay, this is the next idea, right? It’s something I had been waiting on and the inspiration struck. I said okay, that will be…finally, we’ll be able to make this because now we have the concept for it.
There was that, but then as I’ve been working on this series, DnD has played a big part, like Bards and Big Bunnies and DnD played a big part in that. In my personal life just during this time of Zoom and connecting at a distance, DnD has played a big role in my life because I’ve been playing it with my brother and his wife and his son and my daughter and her mom. I’ve been the DM which was a new role for me to learn. I don’t know, I’ve been kind of immersed in DnD, Dungeons and Dragons. That’s what DnD is, and it’s a roleplaying game. Then I said wait a second, this gave me new ideas for another concept. What I really love sometimes in making this podcast is that we don’t do quite the nesting doll idea, but the idea of stories within stories within stories. I think that makes things really sleepy.
I said wait a second, we could do a…there’s a kind of podcast called…I don’t know what they’re called; live-play or something. Adventure Zone’s a pretty big…or Harmontown used to play at the end of their shows. I don’t know what it’s called; live-play or something where you listen…the people are recording their DnD sessions. I said wait a second, what if that’s the conceit just on the basic level. Then the module is where our…is our story level. Then we have…this is conceptually where I’m probably going. I said okay, well, the module doesn’t…it’s not gonna be Bards and Big Bunnies. I said oh, it could be based on…in that world where we already have had a story. I said wow, this really offers a lot of interesting…I don’t know, so we’ll see. I mean, we won’t know that for a few more months. But yeah, that’s it.
That’s a little look-back at Otter Things. I’m glad you’re here and I really hope…here, let me tuck you in. How about that? Yeah. Oh, you want to move that? No problem. I just love Emma so much. I loved working with Emma and feeling her competence and confidence, so thank you, Emma Otter and everyone out there. Goodnight.
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