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Professional Geek Podcast
48 minutes | Jan 10, 2018
Interview with Paul Tassi
Paul Tassi joins us as our 22nd guest. Hosts Mark Beers and Blaire Knight-Graves interview Paul Tassi, science fiction author and video game, technology & pop culture journalist for Forbes. Paul has taken his long time passion for all things pop culture and transformed that into a career where he criticizes or praises pop culture content. His work has appeared on IGN, The Daily Dot and The Colbert Report. Paul is also the author of the science fiction Earthborn trilogy, and has a new book coming soon. In this episode, Paul discusses how a degree in economics became a career as a prominent games journalist, the sometimes grueling hours he needs to spend playing video games in order to write about them, the games journalism community and the strife game journalists have seen in the recent years, and his claim to journalism fame as one of the reporters who’s written the most about Pokemon Go since the game’s release in 2016. Learn more at www.professionalgeekpodcast.com
51 minutes | Nov 8, 2017
Episode 21: Emily Graslie
In this episode of Professional Geek Podcast, hosts Mark Beers and Blaire Knight-Graves interview Emily Graslie, the Chief Curiosity Correspondent at The Field Museum in Chicago, IL and host of the educational YouTube channel “The Brain Scoop”. As host of “The Brain Scoop”, Emilie brings an infectious enthusiasm as she shares the work that goes behind the scenes at not only The Field Museum, but other museums and science communities around the country. Emily dives into the strange circumstances that lead to her becoming a YouTube influencer, what it is like to be a woman in STEM (even though she has an art degree), how being a digital native lead to her career, and discusses her background in fan fiction, her love of Battlestar Galactica and Sailor Moon, and why she calls herself a “nature nerd”. Learn more at our website www.professionalgeekpodcast.com.
63 minutes | Oct 4, 2017
Episode 20: Hank Pearl
Hank Pearl joins us as our 20th guest. In this episode of Professional Geek Podcast, hosts Mark Beers and Blaire Knight-Graves interview Hank Pearl, photographer and owner of Black Pearl Photo. Hank specializes in event photography, album cover photography, and product photography with a focus on all things subculture. His photography skills have been tapped by Red Bull, Cirque du Soleil, Decibel Magazine, National Rock Review, Wizard World Comic Con, and the Atlas Moth cover for their album “The Old Believer”. But Hank’s passion is for photographing all things weird and what he calls alternatively authentic people: burlesque, LGBTQIA* events and pride festivals, metal concerts, and other odd gatherings. Hank dives into what it takes to be a freelance photographer, how to get started with gear and cameras for photography, how to find photography gigs and make money freelancing, what education is needed for photography, and how to balance passion with career while building a portfolio. He also discusses his love of metal music, comic books, and film noir. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
44 minutes | Sep 20, 2017
Episode 19: Blaire Knight-Graves
And we’re back for season 2! We’re putting the finishing touches on our guest lineup for this upcoming season, but we wanted to start the season off with a retrospective on season one and a conversation about our philosophy with an interview with our Executive Producer and Host. In this episode, co-host Mark Beers interviews host Blaire Knight-Graves to discuss the benefit of a single-gender education, Blaire’s professional life and career track, her geeky obsessions with dungeons and dragons, television, and film, and the philosophy behind Professional Geek Podcast: Where the idea came from and why we keep going, as the co-hosts reminisce on their first season together. To learn more about Blaire and our podcast, visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com
22 minutes | May 5, 2017
Bonus Episode: Cracked "After Hours"
In this special bonus episode of Professional Geek Podcast, Professional Geek Podcast's blog manager Zach Weiss interviews the cast of Cracked's "After Hours" webseries on the con floor of C2E2 2017 at Chicago's McCormick Place. Featured in this episode are Katie Willert, Michael Swaim, Soren Bowie, and Daniel O'Brien. This episode was not recorded in our studio, and as such background noise can be heard in these interviews. For more information, visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com.
62 minutes | Apr 17, 2017
Episode 18: Max Temkin
Max Temkin joins hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers as our latest guest. Max is a designer for political campaigns and games. Max, along with 7 of his grade school friends, are the creative minds behind the hit party game Cards Against Humanity. Max has lent his design talents to such clients as Obama for America, Hillary for America, Jonathan Coulton and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In addition to Cards Against Humanity, Max’s designs can also be seen through his contributions to the creation of games such as “Secret Hitler”, “Slap .45”, “Humans vs. Zombies” and “Table Flip”. He also serves on the board of “The Chicago Design Museum” as well as “Friends of the Bloomington Trail” and sits on the National Advisory committee for DonorsChoose.net. Most recently he is one of the co-founders of “Black Box”, a new independent shipping company. In this episode Max discusses with our hosts his idea of professionalism, his experience designing games, his contributions to marketing stunts, his philosophy on the lack of the secure workplace environment, and the current political climate. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
31 minutes | Mar 28, 2017
Episode 17: Mark Beers
In this very special episode of Professional Geek Podcast, host Blaire Knight-Graves interviews co-host Mark Beers to discuss the history of their friendship, Mark’s professional life and career track, his other podcast Across the Nerdaverse, his trivia night in Chicago called Riddle Me That, and his geeky obsessions which include pop culture trivia, DC Comics, video games, and the theatre. Learn more at www.professionalgeekpodcast.com.
53 minutes | Feb 21, 2017
Episode 16: Jessie Link
Jessie Link joins hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers to discuss her experience as a software engineer. Although she is currently serving as a Director of Engineering at Twitter, Jessie’s career did not start in coding--she originally pursued an Air Force fighter pilot career before moving into software engineering. She previously lent her talents to brands such as Living Social and Looking Glass Cyber Solutions before ultimately finding an international career at Twitter’s United Kingdom offices. In this episode, Jessie discusses being an immigrant ex-pat, how she came to teach an international course in coding to young girls in Swaziland, and how her geeky obsessions with the NFL and video games became a professional asset when helping with newly developing content services at Twitter. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
56 minutes | Jan 13, 2017
Episode 15: Cory Coken
Cory Coken joins us as our 15th guest (and our first guest of 2017!). Cory Coken is a Sound Designer whose career has touched the soundscape of many worlds: film, television, video games, radio shows, and more. Along with his extensive background and work on broadcast commercials and other commercial work, Cory’s credits include Hoop Dreams, Goodfellas, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Shaq Vs and Apollo 13 (for which he has an Oscar), and those are just a few of the notable names that jump out from his IMDB credits list, which includes over 120 titles. Cory is also one of the owners at NoiseFloor, Professional Geek Podcast’s home recording studio in downtown Chicago. In this episode, Cory discusses with hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers his sometimes prestigious and other times challenging and unique passion projects in his audio work, how his experience with being surrounded by audio as a child helped influence the direction of his career, the benefits and challenges with owning your own business, and some of the stranger sounds he’s had to make in his career. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
33 minutes | Dec 20, 2016
Episode 14: Paul & Storm
Paul & Storm join us as our 14th guest(s). Paul & Storm are a musical act who are known internationally and across the Internet for their musical comedy, which is often considered to have a “nerd-ish” bent. In addition to their own live performances, Paul & Storm are co-founders of the geek-oriented variety show w00tstock along with Wil Wheaton and Adam Savage, which takes place at San Diego Comic Con. Their song “Another Irish Drinking Song” was featured in the hit movie Despicable Me 2, and the duo have had their guitar smashed on stage by George R. R. Martin. Paul & Storm co-produce the annual JoCo Cruise with Jonathan Coulton, which will be taking off for its seventh year this Spring. In this episode, Paul & Storm discuss with hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers their origin story as musicians, the balancing act between taking gigs and a day job before they hit it big, how they went from admirers of nerd celebrities to their cohorts, and the process and fun behind producing JoCo Cruise for seven years. Visit firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
46 minutes | Nov 3, 2016
Episode 13: Ralph Corona
Ralph Corona joins us as our 13th guest. Ralph Corona is an award winning tattoo and graphic artist who specializes in comic-book style art. As one of the owners and artists of Code of Conduct tattoo parlor in Chicago, Ralph is sought out by individuals looking for comic book and cartoon characters to be tattooed on their bodies, as well as original tattoo art concepts. Ralph’s childhood love of superheroes and cartoons, as well as his father’s own surreal painting, inspired him to become a visual artist. He took over ownership of Code of Conduct with his friends, where they are able to display their own artwork as well as create tattoo works for customers. In this episode, Ralph discusses with hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers what it was like to be the kid who took picture notes in class instead of written notes, how he came to be a tattoo shop owner, the difference between painting on canvas and working on skin, and how tattoo artistry as a craft profession isn’t as easy to get into as some might think. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
58 minutes | Oct 7, 2016
Episode 12: Keisha Howard
Keisha Howard joins us as our 12th guest. Keisha Howard is a multi-faceted entrepreneur who has taken her passion for technology and video games and translated that into the Sugar Gamers online community, and other creative projects. Sugar Gamers, under Keisha’s leadership and dedication, strives to break down many of the barriers that people of color, women and LGBTQIA* individuals may experience in gaming and tech industries. Sugar Gamers facilitates after school programs, networking events, gaming get togethers, and geek events, and gives Keisha the opportunity to be a frequent speaker at comic book conventions and entertainment expos. Keisha’s work with Sugar Gamers has offered her some minor celebrity, affording her national television appearances on shows like SyFy Channel’s Robot Combat League, and allowing her to interface with pop culture creators such as George Lucas and Stan Lee. In this episode, Keisha discusses with hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers how she accidentally became an entrepreneur, how she actively sought opportunities to be the diverse voice in the room, and the insight she’s received as an entrepreneur from the random odd jobs she’s chosen to take on over the years. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
63 minutes | Sep 16, 2016
Episode 11: Chris-Rachael Oseland
Chris-Rachael Oseland joins us as our 11th guest. Chris-Rachael, better known by her online blogger name “The Kitchen Overlord”, is a full-time geeky cookbook author and culinary historian. Her books “Dining with The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook”, “Wood for Sheep: The Unauthorized Settlers of Catan Cookbook”, and “The Illustrated Geek Cookbook” have all seen viral success, and she has had many recipes featured in io9 and Nerdist (including the famed Dune Bread recipe from the 2015 holiday season). In this episode, Chris-Rachael discusses with hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers the struggles of learning to self-publish, how her training in history and cuneiform helped her develop historically accurate recipes for various geeky properties, and how being a second-generation geek gives her the upper hand in her work. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
44 minutes | Aug 26, 2016
Episode 10: Carlyn Hill
Carlyn Hill is the Writer and Content Manager at Threadless.com, an online apparel company that prints designs which are submitted and voted on by their artist community. In this role, Carlyn manages the site’s blog contributors and writes original and branded content. She also writes for HelloGiggles, The Mary Sue, and Black Girl Nerds. There’s no doubt Carlyn is an accomplished writer, but she didn’t plan on a writing career, she initially graduated Indiana University with a B.A in Psychology and minor in Telecommunications, because she was torn between a career in psychology or television. In this episode, Carlyn discusses with our hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers the joys of having a geeky career at a geeky place. However, she also had to learn a few lessons along the way. Despite some hiccups, the way she sees it: the journey was just as meaningful as the destination.
54 minutes | Aug 8, 2016
Episode 9: Indiana "Froskurinn" Black
Indiana Black, better known by her online handle “Froskurinn”, is an e-sports shoutcaster, or color commentator, for the Tencent League of Legends Pro League for the LPL region of professional competitive LoL. A native of Portland, Oregon, Indiana turned her geeky passion for video games into a career as a player, coach and shoutcaster for one of the world’s most popular video games after developing a strong viewership on Twitch. She took a big risk and moved to Sydney, Australia in order to provide English commentary for China’s top competitive division. In this episode, Indiana discusses with our hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers the rise of e-sports and how they compare and contrast to athletic sports, the importance of taking big risks, the sometimes scary world of being a public figure, and the importance of always showing up to be on the job. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
57 minutes | Jul 21, 2016
Episode 8: Wesley Sun
Wesley Sun joins us as our 8th guest. Wesley is a writer and the Communications Director at Sun Brothers Studio, a creative comic book publication company that he founded with his brother Brad Sun. At Sun Brothers Studios, Wesley has co-written the indie darling comics "Chinatown", "Monkeyfist", and "Apocalypse Man", and has had his comic book works featured in "Killer Queen" and "Then It Was Dark". Wesley speaks at comic book conventions and entertainment expos around the midwest about inclusion in geek culture, how to self publish and be successful doing it, and how to reach your goals on crowdfunding campaigns--which Sun Brothers Studios has accomplished numerous times. In addition to his comic book life, Wesley is the Director of Field Education and Community Engagement at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, where he teaches and manages internships, as well as being a volunteer chaplain at Cook County Jail. Wesley shares with hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers how he was inspired by table top role playing games and 80s cartoons, and which are his favorite comic cons. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
59 minutes | Jul 6, 2016
Episode 7: Paul Alexander Clark
Paul Alexander Clark joins us as our 7th guest. Paul is the Director of Healthcare Research at Digital Reasoning Systems and the CEO of his own company Curate Health. At Digital Reasoning Systems, Paul helps develop artificial intelligence technology that helps identify health problems, such as cancer, that health professionals might miss when focusing on more immediate issues, such as a concussion. But his career started because of his passion for Sim City and ability to code. Paul cultivated his own educational experience to create a focused career: he’s earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Public Administration in Science and Technology Policy from George Mason University, a Master of Arts in Bioethics and Healthcare Policy from the Loyola University Chicago, and a Masters of Healthcare Administration from the University of North Carolina. Paul’s resume is extensive, but not nearly as big as his passion for patient support and bettering the healthcare system in the United States. Paul shares with hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers his love for the Buffy universe via Angel, science fiction and fantasy fiction, and how he believes a moral spectrum can be developed by the media you consume. Visit our website www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
62 minutes | Jun 17, 2016
Episode 6: Sean Fewster
Sean Fewster joins us as our 6th guest. Sean is a crime reporter in Adelaide, South Australia. He is currently serving as the Chief Court Reporter for The Advertiser and The Sunday Mail newspapers in Adelaide. In addition to Sean’s work as a reporter, he is also a true crime author. His crime reporting focuses on the real voices and experiences of victims and perpetrators alike. Sean shares with hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers that although his job can be very upsetting, it was his love for V for Vendetta, Batman, and Superman at a young age that helped him realize that he could be a true crime story-telling vigilante who gave a voice to those being judged in the court of public opinion. Outside of his writing of true crime, Sean uses his journalistic platform to show off his geeky side by contributing pieces featuring some of his geekier passions: professional wrestling, 80’s cartoons and the Adelaide fandom communities. Visit our website www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
54 minutes | May 27, 2016
Episode 5: Majdi Badri
Majdi is a video game professional, currently the team lead for Global Assault, the mobile game created by Synapse Games. But Majdi got his start as a Writer and Designer for indie video game darling Octodad and its sequel Octodad: Dadliest Catch, a Young Horses Production. Majdi shares with our hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers his passion for gaming: from video games, to board games, and table top gaming. Majdi also brings up the difference between writing for indie games, mobile gaming, and AAA games, how indie game creation has stayed in the family with his little brother Amir Badri’s newly released Omnibus, being a part of the development a goliath indie game while in college, his new personal project, and the struggle to remain creative when deadlines come up. He doesn’t see being a professional being separate from being a geek—for him they go hand in hand. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
51 minutes | May 11, 2016
Episode 4: Becky Sarwate
Becky Sarwate is a multi-award winning blogger and columnist, as well as an English Professor at Northeastern Illinois University. In addition, Becky is currently serving her second term as the President of The Illinois Women’s Press Association. Becky writes for many publications, but one of her favorite accomplishments is being the first female contributor to Wrigleyville Nation. Becky shares with our hosts Blaire Knight-Graves and Mark Beers her passion for writing, literary history, the late and great Prince, the Chicago Cubs and her experiences teaching her course Making Your Liberal Arts Degree Work: Writing for the Professional World and Internships, a class that focuses on helping budding creative professionals learn to ply their skills to corporate settings. Currently Becky is employed as the Sales Communications Manager at TransUnion, where she writes for a living. Visit www.professionalgeekpodcast.com for more information.
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