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Q & A(rnold)

It’s no surprise action heroes are Hollywood’s single greatest export. Amid wildfires, mudslides, drought, and rolling blackouts, it’s a wonder the filmmaking capital of the world has survived any better than its on-screen alter ego, regularly ravaged by everything from earthquakes to alien invasions. The cost of living is untenable, the traffic is intolerable, even [...]
J.R. McMillan

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It’s no surprise action heroes are Hollywood’s single greatest export.

Amid wildfires, mudslides, drought, and rolling blackouts, it’s a wonder the filmmaking capital of the world has survived any better than its on-screen alter ego, regularly ravaged by everything from earthquakes to alien invasions. The cost of living is untenable, the traffic is intolerable, even the most groundbreaking feature film of last year was titled simply Get Out—and like most movies and television series these days, it wasn’t filmed there either.

California has in many ways become the star of its own disaster film. How can you tell? After years of economic malaise and mismanagement, the voters there actually asked Arnold Schwarzenegger to save them, and maybe we in Columbus should too.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Arnold Sports Festival, held the first weekend of this month. What started three decades ago as the Arnold Classic, the former bodybuilding championship has ballooned into a four-day health and fitness expo celebrating more than 75 established and obscure sports, from fencing to axe throwing.

But Schwarzenegger’s ties to Central Ohio run much deeper than just a long weekend once a year.

Back in 1970, Worthington Mayor Jim Lorimer invited a 23-year-old Austrian bodybuilder to the World Weightlifting Championship’s new Mr. World competition in Columbus to vie for the title and a cash prize of $500.

Arnold passed. The three-time consecutive winner of the Mr. Universe competition was already scheduled to defend his title in London, but Lorimer wasn’t taking no for an answer. He offered to fly Schwarzenegger back from London to Columbus immediately after the event there so he could compete.

Outside the then close-knit bodybuilding community, Arnold was just some guy who struggled to shop off the rack. That was all about to change. He won both Mr. Universe and Mr. World in the same weekend, a feat that was featured on ABC’s wildly popular Wide World of Sports, introducing him to his largest audience to date.

Schwarzenegger confided in Lorimer his dream of sponsoring his own tournament after he retired from the sport, and a seed was planted. After hosting several successful Mr. Olympia competitions here in the ’70s, and a brief acting hiatus in the early ’80s, Arnold ultimately launched his own competition in Columbus 30 years ago this month.

So what does that have to do with our fledgling film industry? More than you think.

Arnold has become an ambassador for Columbus for more than just sports. His annual health and fitness expo celebrates the city as much as the events and athletes. His own celebrity doesn’t just rub off on us; he’s helped introduce us to new audiences, just like we did for him with that first Mr. World competition.

He could have talked his action hero buddies Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis into opening Planet Movies anywhere on Earth, the motion picture rival to Hard Rock Café that coupled a Planet Hollywood restaurant with an upscale movie theater complex. But he chose Easton Town Center, and even though the concept was short-lived, the investment and effort shouldn’t be forgotten.

Action heroes also have a reputation for formulaic personas from one film to the next. Schwarzenegger is the exception, never afraid to try something unexpected or face the critics if an endeavor falls flat.

Yes, he’s been a barbarian, a commando, a spy, a hitman, and a killer cyborg from the future. But he’s also been a kindergarten teacher, Danny DeVito’s genetic better half, and even pregnant. His blockbuster appeal hasn’t stopped him from making fun of his own typecasting or being cast against type. Recent performances in Maggie as the protective father of girl slowly succumbing to a global pandemic that turns victims into zombies, and in Aftermath as an anguished survivor determined to avenge his family’s death from a mid-air collision, show an unexpected range and depth.

As soon as you think you know Arnold, he’s going to do something to prove you wrong.

How did your experience with the Arnold Classic influence the decision to shoot the film Aftermath here? What makes Columbus ideal as an emerging film city? Columbus is a fantastic place for anything and everything. I’ve spent time in Columbus for 48 years through our bodybuilding championship, that then developed into the world championships in many different sports through our sport and fitness festival. It’s a perfect place that I use as an example, where the private sector and public sector work really well together. They’re very well coordinated. There’s no “we” against “them.” It’s always “us,” and it’s always what is best for the community. It doesn’t matter if it’s Republicans or Democrats in office, they all know they ultimately have to serve in a way to bring more businesses here. I have seen the great growth of the Arnold Classic and how dedicated the city officials are, and also the people at the state level. They’ve helped us every step of the way to make the Arnold Classic Sports and Fitness Festival successful. This is how it became the biggest in the world. This year we have 20,000 participants from 80 different nations. It’s gigantic, and we wouldn’t be able to do it anywhere else than Columbus.

When I did the movie Aftermath, I told the production company when there was a debate about should we go to Atlanta, or New Mexico, or Cleveland, I said to them, “Look, let me explain to you a little about Columbus…”. I told them basically what I told you. It’s an extraordinary place, and that I’ve talked to the mayor many times, the governor many times, and they all said if you come here with a production, we will help you because we want to establish ourselves as a city where you should go to shoot movies. Big movies, small movies, documentaries, whatever you want to do. So I took the risk. I said, “I’m not going to do the movie unless we shoot it in Columbus.” They decided to investigate, to check into it, and this is why after looking around, talking to the film commission, they realized this is a very friendly place where they are opening up their arms to productions. So we shot the movie here and the producers walked away absolutely delighted with one of the best experiences they’ve ever had.

My idea was that this would be the opening, and those production people would go to Hollywood and tell others about it. That’s exactly what happened.

This is why I think it’s a great place. Because people work together, they work tirelessly. People are talented here—the stage crew, the people who build sets —they’re energetic, they’re passionate. This is something you cannot buy. It’s not just tax credits. I made this clear, Columbus maybe doesn’t have the best tax credits, but you will get your money’s worth in many other ways, and it paid off.

Why is it important to take risks in film? Why do actors need to take risks, why do filmmakers need to take risks? Why is it important to get out of your box? I don’t think there’s a difference from one field to another. One cannot say, why do you need to take risks in movies, why do you need to take risks in the parts that you play, what genre of movies you make? There are people who love to take risks, and there are people who like to play it safe. I think I’ve always been a person who thrives on risk. When I started in bodybuilding back in Austria they said, “You’ll never be a bodybuilder. Austrians are known for soccer and skiing. But bodybuilding? Forget it.” But I took the risk. It’s no different than taking the risk of running for governor. In movies, you have to take risks. Hollywood is a place that loves to put you in a box. You’re the action guy. You’re going to make action movies, and you’re going to do one script after the next—which I did, and that was very successful during the ’80s and ’90s. But there’s a time when I’ve done enough of that, after I’ve satisfied the studios’ needs, to show that I can do other things, that there’s a different Arnold in there than most people know. So I take the risk.

When I did Twins, I said to the studio, I know you don’t want to put much money behind this like an action movie. They said they wanted to make a minimum amount, and I said, “Then, don’t pay me? I’ll take the risk. It’s my first comedy. Why don’t you not pay me or the director or Danny DeVito, and just give us the back end?” We took that risk and it was my most successful movie at that time in my life, and I had a backend of 20 percent.

You couldn’t ever get that deal today. It was all about being able to take that risk.

When you get to be more mature, with age you’re much more believable to play a father in Aftermath or in Maggie, with more acting than action. When you’re younger and an action star, they won’t write material like this for you. They write scenes with great action, but they won’t write scenes with great dialogue and great character building. That’s just the way it is. For me, it was great to take those risks whether it’s Aftermath and Maggie, or Twins and Kindergarten Cop and Junior. I wanted to branch out because there is a side of me that is also like that. So I think taking risks in which parts you take and which productions you choose is absolutely essential.

Aftermath, 2017. Photo By Brian Douglas/Courtesy Lionsgate Premiere

Typecasting is tough to escape, with studios and with audiences. Is there a role or genre of film that you haven’t done and would like to? We’re putting together a western. I’ve never really done one, and I’ve always wanted to do a western. It’s being developed with Amazon and it’s going to be eight segments, like a miniseries. It’s a terrific project—very intense, action-packed, great characters. We’ll most likely start shooting next year. It’s being written right now. This year, I’m going to be shooting Terminator in Spain, and Budapest, Hungary. We’re finalizing the script for Triplets, which will be a sequel to Twins with Eddie Murphy as the third twin brother.

Speaking of reboots, I’d be remiss not to ask if King Conan rumors are true. Is there another Conan installment we can look forward to with an elder Conan? That is correct. Those movies were really big hits way back when. It’s a theme in Hollywood, to come back to titles that are well-known. Independent companies take risks with production titles no one has ever heard of or that are new. But studios like recognizable names. That’s why Twins is becoming Triplets, it’s why they’re now writing King Conan, which is why there’s a Terminator 6—which is all good for me, to keep those franchises alive.

Some parents push their kids into their own profession. Others push them away. The upcoming release of Midnight Sun is your son Patrick’s first starring role. How do you feel about him getting into the family business? I never discouraged him from going into the movie business. I think it’s a great business to be in. But I also make it clear to all of my kids—no matter which field they get into—they have to be smart with business, and they have to be smart with money. My son is very serious about acting, but he’s also very serious as a businessman. He’s always been entrepreneurial. While I’m proud of him and his work in the movies, I’m also proud of him and his work outside the movies—so that he never ends up being vulnerable. It’s important to have a passion for acting, but it’s also important to be financially independent—not having to sell out and take a role just because they offer good money. He’s really serious about acting, but he’s also really smart about it. I was so proud when I saw his movie, and I think people are going to be surprised by his performance.

Aftermath, 2017. Photo By Brian Douglas/Courtesy Lionsgate Premiere

As a Midwestern city, Columbus can pretend to be anywhere on film, but many filmmakers don’t realize it. How practical is it to shoot here instead of more familiar film cities? Columbus has so many different sides to it. When we shot Aftermath, we had no problem finding any backdrops whatsoever. The plane crash site was done a little bit outside of Columbus, we shot in a jail and had free reign over that location. You can find government buildings and high-rises, dangerous looking alleys. If it’s a modern looking shopping mall, there’s Easton Town Center. If you want to find a nice Spielbergian kind of community like you see in many of his movies, you have that in Columbus. You literally have everything that you need. I don’t think there is anything anyone would say you don’t have. If you’re shooting a movie that takes place in New York, I would highly recommend you shoot 95 percent of the movie in Columbus. Five percent of the movie—all of the exteriors, walking on 42nd Street or Broadway, or Central Park or aerial shots of the city—you go to New York to shoot that. But the rest it? You can shoot it all in Columbus. 

The 30th annual Arnold Classic will take place March 1-4. Aftermath is available for rent on iTunes, Amazon and YouTube.

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Arts & Culture

True Stories: One Theme, One Mic, One Night

Columbus is a city of storytellers. From Larry Smith’s dedication to developing diminutive memoirs to Barry Chandler’s penchant for forging better brands, Ohio attracts and inspires wordsmiths from near and far. The transcendent allure of stories is that we all have them. As shared as the air around us, they’re still seldom spoken—especially amongst strangers. [...]
J.R. McMillan

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Columbus is a city of storytellers. From Larry Smith’s dedication to developing diminutive memoirs to Barry Chandler’s penchant for forging better brands, Ohio attracts and inspires wordsmiths from near and far.

The transcendent allure of stories is that we all have them. As shared as the air around us, they’re still seldom spoken—especially amongst strangers. Television is tedious and social media doesn’t count. One is increasingly broadcast distraction for the masses, the other a safe haven for hecklers.

Story Club Columbus is different, turning noise into narrative. On the first Tuesday of the month, the stiff drinks and potent sodas of The Rambling House prime an informal gathering of experienced and aspiring storytellers. Audiences can hide in the shadows, but any pretense of anonymity disappears as soon as presenters step into the light and take the stage. The rules are deceptively simple: Everyone gets eight minutes. Stick to the theme. And stick to the truth.

That doesn’t mean someone is going to quickly kill the microphone if you run too long. Nor is a little latitude or literary license going to earn you a giant gong. The format isn’t for the faint of heart, but it isn’t intentionally intimidating either.

“Telling a story is extremely empowering. I love watching new storytellers get on stage and realize they have a warm, captive audience for the first time,” explained Meryl Williams, founder of Story Club Columbus, who brought the idea here from Chicago. “I used to live there, and once a month, I went to Story Club Chicago with a group of friends. It took me more than a year before I got enough nerve to get on stage myself. I knew when I moved back to Ohio that I wanted to start a branch of Story Club in Columbus.”

“Telling a story is extremely empowering. I love watching new storytellers get on stage and realize they have a warm, captive audience for the first time.”

Intimate oratory isn’t always easy, even in a sympathetic venue filled with eager ears and fueled by liquid courage. It’s not stand-up comedy, though it’s often amusing. And it’s not beat poetry or spoken word, even when the room grows solemn or silent. It can be all of these, or none of these over the course of an evening—or even a single performance.

“The stories that stick with me the most are the ones that were clearly hard for the performer to tell,” Williams recalled. “Sometimes stories are kind of heavy, or they’re hilarious, but my favorite stories told on stage are the ones that manage to be both.”

Story Club isn’t the only outlet of its kind. Right around the corner at Wild Goose Creative, Speak Easy also meets monthly. The programs are similar, but not the same. Both have a monthly theme, but Story Club is a curated mix of open mic and invited presenters. Add the libations and atmosphere of The Rambling House, and maybe the art form feels a little less polished and more spontaneous.

Now two years in, Williams has moved to eastern Ohio and recently handed the microphone to a new host, Samantha Tucker. The two share more than a passion for storytelling. They’re both Ohio Roller Girls, so neither was short on grit or afraid to take a hit. But being fearless on her feet isn’t the only skill that made Tucker a natural fit.

“I have experience in writing, theater, and improv, so it was an easy transition. But the focus on non-fiction is what initially attracted me to Story Club,” noted Tucker, whose first show as host in October had the seasonal (not intentional) theme of “Fear”. November’s theme was “Election”, though that didn’t keep political concerns from slipping into the collective conversation ahead of schedule. “I think my first month’s theme was a happy accident. Several presenters mentioned the Supreme Court. We try to keep our theme open, relevant, and in the moment—where we are as a city, and as a country.”

Though the basic construct remains unchanged, the content is evolving with a more noticeable shift from known voices to new voices. Outreach into the immigrant and refugee communities, seeking the stories of New Americans, is quintessential for Columbus and personal for Tucker.

“Both of my grandmothers were what some would call ‘war brides.’ One is from Korea, one is from Germany, and that’s where they met my grandfathers. In my family, a lot of what we know and understand about each other is from oral history,” she revealed. “I feel like my identity is shaped by immigrant stories, and very different perspectives of what it means to be an American.”

Regardless of the theme or tone, the thread that binds each evening together is the appreciation of stories that are live and true in an era favoring discussion that is distant and dubious. Tucker offered a few pointers for those apprehensive to take the stage.

“If you’re a first-time presenter, I tell people to reverse-engineer their stories. If you’re not sure how to get somewhere, start with the ending—the last thing you want to leave with your audience, the thought you want to linger with them,” she explained. “Think about five moments you want to include in your story, then work your way back to the beginning. You have to know where you want to land.”

Some storytelling suggestions are esoteric. Others are obvious, or should be.

“If there’s a theme, know it and stick to it. That hasn’t happened once or twice. No more than three puns per story, because you don’t want the audience to turn on you,” chided Tucker. “Okay, I made that rule up, but it’s still good advice. Speak into the mic, that’s also a good one.”

“There’s something romantic about stories that happen that evening and nowhere else. People are reluctant to pay for art because they don’t realize they’re part of the process.”

Another defining element of Story Club is that featured storytellers are actually paid, which is exceptionally rare for upstart art exhibitions of any kind. With a suggested donation of $10 for a one-night-only performance (which is a steal), proceeds are divided among invited performers. Patrons cast ballots at the end for their favorites, which offer guidance for future shows. Amateurs become regulars, and regulars often become featured storytellers. It’s a simple strategy that still works.

“There’s something romantic about stories that happen that evening and nowhere else. People are reluctant to pay for art because they don’t realize they’re part of the process,” noted Tucker. “I don’t know if there is art without audience. When we ask people to vote and pick the story that meant the most to them, that’s what we’re acknowledging, that we’re doing this for you—that we can’t do this without you.”

For more details on Story Club Columbus and upcoming themes, visit storyclubcbus.com.

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Arts & Culture

Girls Just Want Societal Autonomy

It’s the holidays and your conservative uncle is at it again. He’s going on-and-on about how women are flooding into politics and are becoming a larger-represented group in areas like Congress, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. His sentiment is simple: women hate men, especially feminists, and they’ll stop at nothing to take down [...]
Mitch Hooper

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It’s the holidays and your conservative uncle is at it again. He’s going on-and-on about how women are flooding into politics and are becoming a larger-represented group in areas like Congress, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. His sentiment is simple: women hate men, especially feminists, and they’ll stop at nothing to take down every man.

But what do feminists actually want? Maybe I’m not the best person to answer this. As a man, my life is pretty simple. I can go outside wearing any outfit I want and no one, besides maybe my mom, is going to say anything to me. If I want to sit in bed and eat a large cheese pizza by myself on Saturday, my roommates won’t bat an eye or tell me that it’s going to go straight to my thighs. And when the plumber comes to fix my toilet, we talk about sports and the weather—there’s no grazing eyes or unsolicited flirtations.

These are just the things that I, as a man, don’t have to endure. But for women, these are day-to-day experiences. Women are presented with a constant struggle of, “I had a long week, but I can’t go to work without my makeup on—” because everyone in the office will surely ask, “Are you okay? You look tired.” And heaven forbid a woman sit in bed and binge Netflix while they gorge on junk food. You *know* where all those carbs are going, right?

As you can see, it’s tricky waters for women. For every potential voice pushing forward for progress, there seems to be a louder one pushing against. But treading these waters is something some women are used to, and when it comes to the authors of “New Erotica For Feminists: Satirical Fantasies Of Love, Lust, & Equal Pay,” they are experienced.

“We take the literal view of feminism as all people should be equal, We’re not trying to create a society where men don’t exist. It’s just literally like, ‘treat women like humans.’”

“New Erotica For Feminists” is not an erotica novel. Readers will experience the same stereotypical situations you’d find in erotica novels, or maybe even pornos, but the story is told much differently. The book uses those erotic yet corny situations—the plumber stops by the house while you’re alone to “lay some pipes”—and juxtaposes them with moments that shed light on modern-day feminism—the plumber and the protagonist happily walk to the bathroom where the plumber lays down new copper piping and the two talk about the upcoming midterm elections. Instead of an overly and ridiculously sexualized situation where the woman is but a sex pawn for the story, the book uses these scenarios to show that feminists aren’t after some sort of hierarchy, rather, sometimes they just want some new copper pipes and a good conversation with another human being.

“We take the literal view of feminism as all people should be equal,” co-author Brooke Preston said. “We’re not trying to create a society where men don’t exist. It’s just literally like, ‘treat women like humans.’

The book was a collective effort of four different satire writers: Caitlin Kunkel, Fiona Taylor, Carrie Wittmer, and Brooke Preston. Coincidentally, the collective effort was actually more of a cloud effort—the four writers never actually met in a room to write the vignettes until the weekend they finished the book. Their meeting spot? Brooke’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

“He calls me into his office and closes the door… to promote me. He promotes me again and again. I am wild with ecstasy.”

The women were already experienced writers because of the website they co-founded, The Belladonna, a comedy and satire site with women and non-binary authors. In the book, the women explain that the idea sprang from them all goofing off in their group chat while editing some things for the website. It started with trying to devise a scheme that would get LaCroix Sparkling Water to deliver them cases with the intent to obtain a “corporate sponsorship.”

“And hey, while we’re speaking these desires into the universe, why not send, say, Tom Hardy to make that delivery?” —excerpt from the ‘Foreplay’ of “New Erotica For Feminists.”

After a shorter version of the book went viral in early February 2018 on McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, a humorist website that’s been around since 1998, the four women did some legwork, secured a book deal in the United Kingdom, and eventually secured a deal in the States as well. Believe it or not, the entire process—from contracts to writing to publishing—all happened in 2018.

“He calls me into his office and closes the door… to promote me. He promotes me again and again. I am wild with ecstasy.” — vignette from the original McSweeney’s story.

While on the surface, reading this book might create the illusion that these writers are professional comedians with touring careers, Brooke said it’s not as it seems. She said she lives in “the shadows of suburbia,” or in other words, she’s a wife and the mother of a five-year-old. For her and the other authors, the joy of this book is in satire writing.

But why erotica? When Brooke told her parents about the book deal, she was quickly met with, “Brooke? Are we going to be able to show our face in church?” But, as the book says, erotica offers the chance for the reader to imagine themselves as someone else, and this book is no different in that sense. Sometimes people’s reaction to that is good, and other times people are a bit more reluctant.

“For the most part, people get it. [When I was in] New York, people were like, ‘Yeah, no I get it. I read the subtitle,’ ” Brooke explained. “But here the reaction I usually get is, ‘Oh, my!’ Usually, I’m like “stop clutching your pearls, it’s fine! It’s all tongue-in-cheek!”

Brooke said the themes in the book were meant to be universal, and that included steering clear of being too political.

“We felt like the book was political in itself just because all of those things do affect women on every level. We do touch on health care, paid maternity leave, and all those things, but we didn’t want to put Trump in our book.”

There’s many reasons for that, but most notable is the idea is that anyone should be reading this book—regardless of party lines. Yes, the book itself is progressive and your aforementioned conservative uncle will probably not agree with everything therein. But what the book does do is open the eyes of people who might not realize their actions have implications.

“It’s like you walk up and press the button and a man walks up behind you, checks, and presses it again ‘just to make sure’ that it’s been pressed. It’s just like, ‘Cool! You’re an adult, you know how to use elevators!’,” Brooke explained about the elevator vignette in the book. “It’s just a small subconscious thing, but when it happens to you all the time, you’re just like, ‘I’m not a child! I know how elevators work! And if it’s not working for me, it’s not going to work for you.’ ”

So maybe this book won’t be the driving force for a change in conversation for the holidays this season, but what it might do is change the way we go about these conversations. Instead of your uncle bitching up a storm about too many women in politics, he might respectfully accept your point of view as another human being and engage in a political discourse that is beneficial
to society.

New Erotica For Feminists is available on neweroticaforfeminists.com. You can also find more work from the authors on their website, thebelladonnacomedy.com.

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Arts & Culture

A Podcast Awakens

Not so long ago (2014), in a city not terribly far away (New Albany), two best friends are up late, mashing buttons on controllers, getting drunk, and yukking it up. Little did they know that this interaction on one chilly January evening would eventually lead to a raving community of fans totalling up around 150 [...]
Danny Hamen

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Not so long ago (2014), in a city not terribly far away (New Albany), two best friends are up late, mashing buttons on controllers, getting drunk, and yukking it up.

Little did they know that this interaction on one chilly January evening would eventually lead to a raving community of fans totalling up around 150 thousand downloads over the course of 165 podcast episodes.

While this might not seem like a fitting genesis story to match the galactic grandeur of their source material, this is the moment when Cody Boyce (aka Commander Cody) and Paul Melton (aka Mopar) knew that they had unique chemistry.

“[Rogue Squadron Podcast] started as an accident,” chuckled Melton. “We were living in New Albany and I was visiting Cody playing Battlefield 4. We were loving the game, screaming at each other, getting triggered—just having a blast of it. It got to a point where we were laughing so hard we were crying. I remember saying, ‘Dude, we should just record this.’ ”

It just so happened that Boyce has an audio engineering background and owned a myriad of sound equipment that he kept in his spare bedroom. So, the two old friends got drunk and went to work.

“It got to a point where we were laughing so hard we were crying. I remember saying, ‘Dude, we should just record this.”

“I had just gotten turned on to the Joe Rogan experience,” said Boyce. “I remember thinking that we do the same thing he does, except instead of talking about drugs and UFC, we talk about beer and Star Wars. So, we miked ourselves up and three hours later, we had our pilot episode.”

Rogue Squadron, while entertaining, debuted with a bit of an identity crisis. If anything, it was more an onslaught of stream-of-consciousness style of nerdom ranging from film to television to video games. Boyce explains that it was merely coincidental that a recurring commonality in their content happened to be Star Wars and craft beer. But despite their lack of structure, austere style, and crawling three hour runtime, their cutting commentary was infectious, gaining them a modest handful of dedicated listeners.

“It was a cool feeling at first when we put something out there and we saw, like, three listens—that someone out there was actively clicking on our podcast to give it their attention,” said Melton. “About a year in, we began to implement a structure and committed to a once-a-week schedule, and that’s when the podcast really started to take off and people started to reach out.”

A few of the recurring staples in their now hour-long podcast is a craft beer review, a “guess that scene” segment, and a revolving door of special guests from around to country, ranging from fellow podcasters to YouTube celebs.

“We unintentionally created this community,” said Boyce. “Even our fans reach out to other listeners to yell at each other and develop friendships. It gets out of hand in a good way—you have a guy in Germany who is yelling at guy in Australia about Rogue One on our forum. It’s abso-lutely crazy.” Since its inception, the team has moved their studio into the Idea Foundry in Franklinton: a tiny sound studio ornamented with collectible figurines, sci-fi posters, and a record player spinning Zeppelin III. The duo hands me a Quadrahopic IPA (rated 3 stars) from Land Grant Brewing.

“We unintentionally created this community. Even our fans reach out to other listeners to yell at each other and develop friendships.”

There is a special symbiotic relationship between the Rogue Squadron podcast and local breweries, pairing with the likes of Land Grand and Wolf’s Ridge, among others, to create collaboration brews to serve at their events (complete with puntastic names like The Last Red-Eye). And listeners from all around the world tune in weekly and learn about the nuances of Columbus craft beer.

And that, to me, is pretty damn cool.

“Columbus is such a supporting community for creatives,” said Boyce. “I never would have thought that I could walk into Land Grant and say, ‘Hey, you guys wanna do a Star Wars beer?’ and they are just immediately into it. Same goes for Gateway Film center, who hosted our first event with open arms.”

But at its core, the duo just wanted a platform to nerd out about Star Wars—the living and breathing universe that they have sunk their teeth into since they were old enough to say Tatooine. Podcasts are about finding a hyperspecialized niche and forming a community around it.

“There is an opportunity for every person on earth to enjoy a bit of Star Wars,” said Melton. “You can get enjoyment whether you are three years old, just enjoying big bad Vader beating someone up, or a grown-ass man enjoying the true spiritual aspect of the force. My short answer to why is Star Wars so good? Because it’s not Star Trek.”

For more information about Rogue One Squadron and to download every episode, visit roguesquadronpodcast.com

What local beer would these characters drink?

Luke Skywalker: Photon from Actual Brewing. Something real light. He seems like too much of a baby to enjoy a strong craft beer.

Darth Vader: Hmm, absolutely something dark–I’d say the Yub Nub Imperial Stout from Wolf’s Ridge.

Han Solo: Han would probably rock an IPA. Or maybe like a brown ale. Let’s go with Franklinton Pub Ale from Land Grant.

Princess Leia: She’s doing something citrusy. Or yeah, probably Thunderlips IPA from Columbus Brewing Company because she’s got a mouth on her. She’s talking shit to everyone.

If you could get hammered with any Star Wars character, who would it be and why?

Melton: If I am looking to just chill in a dive bar, I would choose Obi Wan-Kenobi. He’s been through so much shit that I would just love to pick his brain and hear him talk. But if I am looking to cause some debauchery, I am definitely going with Episode 3 Anakin. He’s going to get in a bar fight and I’ll be cheering in the corner.

Boyce: I would go out with Chewbacca because he likes to have a good time, and if anyone wants to talk smack, he can throw down. Also I’d get to cuddle with him after.

What character would you least want to share a jail cell with?

Melton: C3PO because he wouldn’t shut the hell up! “The chances of us getting out of this jail cell is 3.24 perce—…” He would just keep going and going.

Boyce: Jar Jar Binks. He just looks like he smells like bad seafood. He’d probably get his tongue stuck in the door and would just mumble and drool everywhere.

Which Star Wars character is most likely to throw their life away due to alcohol abuse?

I feel like Episode 3 Anakin is in a very weird place. That and Watto. I feel like they would go out together and cause some trouble.

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