Episode 5 is up at YouTube

Head over to the ShowerSandwich channel on YouTube for Episode 5.

It’s important.

All Growed Up

Not sure why I didn’t just start here, but I’ve now moved the “podcast” to YouTube, and I’m done calling it a podcast. If YouTube does RSS for folks, great, and if it allows folks to get stuff on mobile subscriptions, also awesome. But it’s not really a podcast on YouTube, it’s just awesome on YouTube. (Hopefully.)

Episodes 1-4 can be found here!

Any & all feedback is welcome, either here or in my YouTube channel.

Instant Shower for Your Butthole

Episode 3 is up!

Note: PodOmatic, while largely a very easy & great way to keep these things up here, only lets me embed player code that just takes you to the latest episode – so if I keep embedding it here, every embedded player will take you to the same episode. That’s less than ideal… so here’s the links to each one.

I’m officially over my “free” storage limit at podomatic, so if anyone has better ideas on where to post ~400MB video files for your enjoyment, I’m all ears. (Let me know if any of these episodes don’t work & I can save some space.)
Episode 3!
Episode 2!!
Episode 1!!!

There is only MAKE.

A friend has convinced me I really just need to keep doing this sh*t & eventually something will come of it – I can stop worrying about the planning, the editing, the censorship, the material, and just MAKE it.  In his words, “There is no win, there is no fail.  There is only MAKE.”

With much ado, Episode Two.

Step #1

Yeah, so I finally did it – I recorded a completely sloppy 10 mins of what I call “Make Shit Up” time.  “Why now?” you ask, “after all that blithering & whining & complaining about how you’re too afraid to put yourself out there?”  Many, MANY reasons abound… but those on the short list:

1) I’m feeling ballsy today because work’s going well, and I made a tidy sum on my first ever “day trade” yesterday.  (No, I’m not a day-trader, I just decided to bet big & roll the dice yesterday, and they came up rosy.)

2) I’m back in therapy, and today’s session involved a minor break-through acknowledgement:  I’m angry about not being in control of my own sense of accomplishment.  i.e. I have almost zero ability to try something new on my own volition because I’m always afraid of failing & the punishment it can (and did) entail.

3) I’ve been podcasting with the Tech Support Guy Show for years, and a friend of mine, who consumes more than his fair share of podcasts, complimented my performances, and suggested that I use a podcast as a test platform for comedy since I fear taking the stage physically for a live audience.  (Fear is an understatement.  I shake like a wet cat in a beer cooler on rocky seas.)

When these three elements combined, they led me to finally say FUCK IT, and so today & I sat down and recorded 10 minutes of pure riffing.  And you know what?


I’d love your feedback, but DON’T put it in the comments, since I never seem to get them there.  EMAIL ME.  actor@brianmhansen.com

I’m using podOmatic to upload & host it for now, but 10 mins recorded on iMovie at 640×480 took up 25% of the free capacity they give me, so I may just start uploading it here.  So enjoy it one of two ways: here or below.

Seriously… follow me there & keep looking for it here, because it may not last long on podomatic; at this rate I can only get 4 episodes of 10mins a piece before I have to pay. (PRO service is 4 times bigger but costs $10/month… not sure if it’s worth it.  Even Tina Fey spent more than 40 mins being awesome before she got Awesome-Sauced by the media.

That Good Old Fashioned Feeling

Well, it’s certainly been entirely too long since I wrote anything like a substantive update., so I won’t even waste your time with foreplay.

Job:  On the plus side, I’ve been doing it for 4 straight years (exaclty), so it’s much easier than it used to be, and I’m much more adroit at getting help when I need it.  On the down side, I still need a lot of help… mainly because we’ve got the work for 3 people and really only have me right now, and should really only have the work of 2.  (It’s the quantity driving the need for assistance, not the subject matter itself… I’m “approaching awesome” at what I do.)  We also have some of the world’s worst systems, and in case you were wondering, being on the other side of the country from them does NOT make them easier to deal with.  In related news, I’m starting to pick apart my day-t0-day & understand what parts of this I actually enjoy & which parts I want to avoid in the next role, whatever form that may take.  So far I’ve identified a minute part of what I do everyday as “Fun”, and the rest is all in the “Not Fun” supercategory.  *SURPRISE!*

Family:  Kate’s 15 months old now, and she’s awesome.  According to the world’s best Chinese pediatrician, she’s on track to be ~ 5’10” tall, weigh 130lbs, and to have a head too big for any hat.  She’s literally off the head-size chart… which means she’ll either have a GIANT brain, be a REALLY awesome candidate for performing arts on stage or screen, or she’ll have trouble dragging her melon through the halls at school & will be mocked for blocking everyone else’s view of the chalkboard.  Speaking of chalk, put one in the W column for Renee; without her efforts over the last year, we wouldn’t be all the things we are: great parents, homeowners, landlords, composters, members of our community, good children, good siblings, and good friends.  (Okay, I think that means “put several” in the W column.)

Acting:  I’ve floated my headshot out to a few things, but the most promising comes up this weekend.  It’s a traveling Dinner Theater Troupe based in South Jersey, and it looks like they do mainly fun comedy stuff and/or mystery dinners at a number of different venues around NJ.  I’m anxious to find out more & see if they think I’m a good fit; stay tuned on that.  Mostly I’m just glad to be able to feel like I now have the time/energy to give to the performance side of life again.  It’ll be an even bigger challenge than it was in SF given we have Kate & a home & a rental property … in short we have even more commitments than we used to, and now I’m trying to layer on this acting thing as well… so you can imagine I’m bracing myself to be a completely exhausted dude if things pan out.  But it’s all been worth it up to this point, and I know the acting piece is a worthwhile venture when it goes well (which really comes down to the commitment of the people involved), so I’m actually looking forward to the exhaustion.  It’ll come with an equally large benefit of satisfaction and fulfillment.  Maybe then I’ll stop complaining about IT support & work problems that frankly just aren’t worth the hassle.  R would love that.

Friends:  One of the many excuses I lean on as to why I only blog once in a blue moon is that we’re a very busy family when it comes to the social calendar.  In the year we’ve been here we’ve spent probably 3/4 of our weekends hosting or being hosted by some of our best friends and/or family.  I get to see a lot of the folks that would be reading this anyway – and to make it worse, when I see them I don’t feel like I have much to talk about other than work & the fam – so the motivation to blog just hasn’t been there much.  But in the last few weeks I’ve been pinged by a number of friends I haven’t seen or talked to since we moved, so a) my apologies for the long-overdue “update” format of today’s post; and b) now that I’ve written it I realize I ALWAYS have stuff to talk about – but somehow it’s easier for me to write it than to think of it in the social setting & deliver a diatribe on the spot.  HOWEVER: if you count yourself among the number of friends I haven’t seen since last September, get in touch & let’s get something on the calendar to visit – wherever you are or wherever you’re coming from, there’s always some possible solution.  (A clear example that proves we’re BUSY people if not geographically distant people:  I haven’t seen Cermak since his son was born in January, and he lives less than 200 miles away – and we’ve done exactly 3 podcasts together since then… that’s right, we barely have time to do THAT any more.  Meanwhile I’ve been to SF 13 times since October.)

In short, there are tons of reasons why we HAVEN’T seen you, but very few reasons why we CAN’T see you soon.

KJ, Becca Rufer & Joan – miss you ladies.  Joan, have a great 40th birthday… I’m sure you will, considering I still can’t believe that’s a number associated with your indomitable enthusiasm, energy & optimism.  World’s Youngest 40-Year-Old. :)  To you & Becca:  I’m out there soon & will be in touch to try to make something happen.  KJ, you too… perhaps another lunch with the C-Monster?

Ahh… that felt good.  Was it good for you?

Review of “Anathem” by Neal Stephenson

AnathemAnathem by Neal Stephenson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First, let me say I love all other books of Neal Stephenson’s that I’ve read. In most cases, they require a hefty investment (time, weight-the books are hefty, and spiritual collateral-you need to trust him), but the reward is more often than not HIGHLY worth it, and even when it’s not you still break even.

Now, to “Anathem”… The plot, in short, “Anathem” played to me like the work that might have inspired the screenplay of Armageddon, except they had to add Bruce Willis, remove all the references to geometry & logic, replace it with faux-geology, swirl in some sex jokes, and oh yeah why not have an Anthem by Aerosmith. Take the Michael Bay out of Armaggeddon, and you have some idea what Anathem is about. People stuck in remote places doing what the world has told them to do (or more appropriately what they can’t), and then some extraterrestrial threat presents itself & the people stuck in remote places become extremely important. Anathem = spaceship containing four races of interplanetary/interdimensional life forms; Armageddon = big rock.
None of this is to say that fans of Stephenson will be disappointed. Au contraire. Of all the books I’ve read of Neal’s, this one is the beefiest. Part of the premise is that you’re reading an account of the transpirations that happened on a different world/track and it had to be translated from Orth into your language. Yes, it includes a glossary & several clips from reference books; it even includes some geometrical puzzles & proofs. ANathem smacks you with this right up front, and it may take you a week to get through the first 100 pages.
If you get that far, you will be rewarded. Yes, the “action” is dry – there are zero vestiges of Michael Bay. The humor is also quite dry, but not surprisingly so. You’re encouraged to keep reading if you can get into some of the sharpest examinations of logic, dialogue, rhetoric, philosophy, geometry & nature you’re likely to find in a work of fiction. The voice you read learns much throughout the events that happen, and it speaks in a way that makes you think you’re finally about to learn something profound if you just keep going. Right up to the end I found myself getting little snippets of what Neal’s on about, of what his worldview really is or what I’m not considering about my own; these little nuggets were just big enough to keep me hitting the feed-bar.
Well, I kept going… and frankly, the “singularity” moment I was expecting never arrived for me. I’ll admit to not being able to follow the multitude of strings of social commentary Stephenson’s woven here; some of them are obvious & omnipresent, but I found myself repeatedly questioning whether or not there’s supposed to be some parallel meaning or secondary lesson I just didn’t quite see. In the end I decided there were probably more parallels than I could know (because Neal’s much better read & smarter than me), but of those I could perceive, I can say I’ve absorbed his POV. For other readers, this book may become a How-To or a DIY narrative. Still for others, Neal may have alienated them in the first 100 pages & never given them much of a reason to keep going, and their trust may not return.
In short, not my favorite Neal book. My fave is still Cryptonomicon. But I’m glad I read Anathem, if for no other reason than to be reminded what action movies would have been like without Ben Affleck.

View all my reviews

Kickstart me!

Launched a new project! Super excited to see if this takes off or not…


Guilt on the Side

I’m tired of being 5’11”, 167 pounds, and still feeling like I still live in my 14-year-old 235-pound body – my inner Fat Kid. (I think he actually ate my Ego.)

The summer between 9th & 10th grade, I lost 40 lbs. I went from being a weird, nerdy, insecure, smelly 235lb 13-year-old kid who only wore “husky” sweatpants and baggy shirts (to hide the chesticles) to being a weird, nerdy, insecure, slightly less smelly 190lb 14-year-old. And no, I wasn’t into P90X before it was cool. (Newsflash: it will never be cool, so stop writing about it on Facebook, people named Eric.)

I owe that relatively astounding & ultimately life-saving drop of elbees to my sister, who was diagnosed with anorexia in spring of that year. In fairness, the fam knew something was not right, but in our little town, eating disorders were not widely discussed. She was down to 68 lbs (even at 4’10” that’s not a sustainable weight) and had started growing fur all over as her body’s survival instincts to keep warm started to kick in. It took her collapsing in shock at the bus stop one morning at school & a concerned school nurse to get her to the right medical professionals & to be diagnosed.

Not that I find her disease to have been a good thing just because it led to my transformative summer. In no way was her challenge a healthy one. It was a cloud, a pall of frustration & embarrassment & worry over our heads for years later. But if you can’t grow by going through that type of thing, then you’re doing it wrong (along with a lot of other things, probably).

For all the agony that summer and the years leading up to it contained, it was the turning point in our knowledge about food. Nutrition Facts had only recently become de rigeur, and at 235lbs I obviously couldn’t stop eating boxes of Wild Berry Pop Tarts long enough to examine that panel, let alone translate the numbers into anything useful… and useful was loosely defined as delicious for me at that time. And the parents? Forget it. Food was food, and the faster and cheaper and easier it was to feed us, the better. Aside from the occasional seasonal tomato (for 5 Minute BLTs on white Wonder bread slathered with mayo, of course), the main color of our fridge’s interior was soda-caramel-brown; we used the “Crisper” drawer to hold a case of soda, and I just thought that was the model name of our fridge, like a car. Our pantry was a New Mexican sunset of clay reds & mustard yellows & unnatural purples, Betty Crocker scalloped potato AND brownie mixes, Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper, Little Debbie, Hostess, Lays, KoolAid… Basically we bought food that had someone else’s name or charismatic cartoon character on it. There wasn’t a whole grain or unrefined flour to be found. Scratch was not a type of cooking, it was only something you did to your ass or balls when it was hot out.

I was addicted to eating that way. Did it for 14 years. And we honestly didn’t know any other way to do it. (I certainly didn’t, and if the parental units did, they chose the path we were on in spite of it.) So the addiction (which maybe now I could downgrade to an extreme affinity) to that sort of food, whether it’s mental or chemical, is still there.

That spring my sister spent two months in the hospital, learning the skills she (okay, we) needed to eat enough of the right kinds of foods. For better or worse, we learned later that her main concern with food was about control: she refused to be told by Mom or Dad that she had to eat, what to eat, when to eat; so in order for us to know that she was getting the right nutrition, we ALL had to learn what the right nutrition was.

In my mental movie of this life, the transition happened so fast that I barely even remember it, but it seems that almost overnight, the soda was replaced by cans of Ensure or Boost or Slimfast (the band aid solution to being able to count calories and track nutrient mix for her until we all got up to speed on just how shittily we were doing as eaters). Then the 2% milk became skim milk, and was even (briefly) replaced by soy milk. (This was still mid-90s in rural Pennsylvania though, so it was long before there was “milk from beans” that didn’t actually taste ironically like a cow’s asshole; hence the brevity of its appearance.) Then, in what seemed a remarkable shift in the palette of our kitchen’s canvas, there was color… naturally-occurring, found-on-trees-or-leaves, non-Looney Tunes-related colors. Salad. Fruit. Wheat bread. Vegetables that DIDN’T come out of a box. It was like living 100% Warhol for 13 years and then discovering, oh, I don’t know, EVERY OTHER ARTIST THAT EVER LIVED.

So gradually, I started to shed some weight. I no longer looked like the really fat Keebler elf that bakes delicious treats in a magic tree that somehow never burns down even though there are elven bakers living in its insides. I started to more closely resemble Theodore from Alvin & the Chipmunks, only slightly taller & with longer shirts. And I felt so much better about myself, which got me fully invested in dropping more weight, creating a virtuous cycle that, eventually, became most of the food habits I still have today.

Slightly smaller chesticles, and the possibility of them going away completely, weren’t the only reasons I was investing in this less convenient & significantly less fun meal plan (there is something entertaining about eating M&Ms by the handful). Being the nerd that I was (okay, am), I really became obsessed with the numbers & the math & the science behind nutrition, metabolism, weight loss, etc. I began counting calories, tracking nutrient mixes, and genuinely thinking about eating instead of just eating what I was given or eating because I was bored. It gave the analytical side of me something to do every time I encountered food, which was quite often.

But it wasn’t easy giving up the fun foods. I started to feel incredibly guilty every time I ate something that I knew my sister wouldn’t have even thought about eating, which was a very long list of all my favorite things. In my head I knew if she wouldn’t eat it, it couldn’t possibly be good for me, but I still craved them. Unknowingly, she was a huge source of dissonance for me. (No hard feelings though – only now am I even aware that that happened, and the guilt couldn’t have come along without the life-saving change to healthier options. They’re like matched luggage.)

And I went about managing that dissonance in exactly the wrong way: I deprived myself of them as long as I possibly could, and then when I found myself confronted with them & no access to a healthy option (I.e. School pizza parties or birthdays), I over-ate like no other. Friends from high school have stories of watching me eat a whole pizza, multiple foot long subs, bags of Doritos, cases of Pepsi, boxes of Little Debbie, barnyards of McNuggets… All with a dollop of guilt slathered on top like a condiment. Tasted great on the way down, but the taste of mental anguish lingered for HOURS afterward. That type of avoid-resist-indulge-binge-hate cycle is exactly what defines addiction, and its key side effect is Guilt.

The guilt still sits with me. The addiction to shitty food and its associated guilt are huge parts of my daily internal monologue. There is still a fat kid inside me.

Over the years & with lots of research and experimentation, I’ve finally figured out the path around those pitfall moments, but the negative feelings surrounding those foods are omnipresent. The knowledge we gained eliminated any possibility of the ignorant bliss I need to be able to actually enjoy most of them. I can’t really even look at the bakery case at ShopRite without triggering the craving, fighting to resist the craving, and then hating myself a little bit for even having the craving itself – even if I completely succeed in fending it off. How f’ed up is that?!?!? I can’t even let myself LOOK at a baked good without some level of self hatred? That, my friends, is what the French call Le Bullshitte.

In my humble opinion, Life without muffins and chocolate cake would not be worth living. But not being able to enjoy them without self-imposed psychic damage is, arguably, a worse proposition. What it means is that I still struggle with the self-loathing fat kid in me, and will always struggle if I don’t forgive myself (and the Fam) for ever being a fat kid in the first place.

So I am forgiving myself. Three reasons:
A) I never chose that lifestyle or that body in a conscious way.
2) Behind Regret, Guilt is the second biggest waste of energy in the world (Glenn Beck is a close third).
D) I don’t want my daughter (or any of my loved ones) to pick up such a useless attitude towards the food that can be such a wonderful, simple & available source of pleasure.

I’ll take one giant Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffin please. Leave the Guilt on the side.


Our pricing analyst just told me she’s quitting & going back to school.  I’m depressed.  And slightly jealous.