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Podcast of interest: Local duo launches true crime empire from garage

614now

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At the corner of a cold bar, the walls echo with discussions of suspicion, deceit, and general human malevolence. The two men producing these echoes sip their drinks, hats pulled tight over their heads, their speech steeled by eerily extensive knowledge of murder and mayhem.

These two men aren’t plotting a crime—although they have no last name as far as the author knows. No, they’re carrying on their favorite hobby—one that has turned into a career—which is breathing new life into cases long forgotten, and rarely solved.

These two men are Nic and The Captain, and from a two-car garage they’ve built an unlikely empire on the unlucky—and in the process become de facto experts in a sordid field.

As it turns out, Nic and The Captain aren’t the only two “true crime dorks” out there. Their weird shared conversations became the foundation for True Crime Garage, now one of the most downloaded podcasts of its genre, swimming in the same sea as My Favorite Murder and Serial.

“From the beginning, [Nic] wanted everything to be as accurate as possible, and to leave out information if it can’t be verified,” The Captain said. “He takes his job very seriously.”

While true crime exploded as a genre, the boys were still shocked by their sudden popularity—especially when their unpolished first shows reached nearly 10,000 downloads.

Fittingly, it was a local story that really put True Crime Garage on the map. Episodes 16 and 17 focused on Brian Shaffer, an OSU student who disappeared from Ugly Tuna Saloona in March 2006 and was never seen again. As The Captain recalls, the number of listeners skyrocketed after the episodes were published, as they provided the first truly extensive look into the crime.

“It’s actually weird how much the case has done for us,” The Captain said. “I hope we’ve done something for it.” (The Shaffer episodes remain some of the most downloaded of the show.)

A new season is in the works; they renewed contracts for a year of steady advertisements, and there are plans to visit a few true crime conventions. There have even been discussions about converting the podcast to a visual medium. Many people have aspirations of doing creative projects with friends for a living; True Crime Garage’s DIY success shows that it can be done, and that it can be more than entertainment in the process. But while they get plenty of offers to sponsor the show or help with merchandise, thus far they’ve spearheaded their own success and are comfortable doing things on their own terms.

Story by Dylan Taylor-Lehman 
Originally appeared in (614) Magazine February 2018

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4 perfect pairings for National Picnic Day

Mike Thomas

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Spring has officially sprung in central Ohio, and what better way to celebrate than with a picnic? In honor of National Picnic Day (today, April 23) here are four of the city’s top places to fill up your basket accompanied by the best nearby park for the picnic of your dreams!

Weiland’s Market | 3600 Indianola Ave | Brevoort Park

A vast selection of the best locally-sourced meats and cheeses, plus a top-notch beer and wine program, Weiland’s market is the stuff spring afternoons in the sun are made of. Once you’ve stocked up, head across the street to Clintonville’s Brevoort park and dig in!

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Tour of Clintonville parks

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Coronado Wine and Cheese | 3576 Riverside Dr | Griggs Reservoir Park

Coronado might go a little heavier on wine than cheese, but let’s be real—you probably will, too. Grab a bottle of your favorite varietal and head over Riverside Drive to Griggs Reservoir Park. The whole riverfront is your personal picnic heaven.

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North Market | 59 Spruce Street | Goodale Park

This one’s a no-brainer. Snag a readymade lunch at one of the markets many great merchants, then swing by The Barrel and Bottle for some picnic libations. With Goodale Park just a short walk from the market, this picnic day combo is the most “Columbus” way to spend your day.

Giant Eagle Market District | 3061 Kingsdale Center | Northam Park

The Market District at Kingsdale in Upper Arlington has fantastic beer and wine selection, all the first-rate groceries you’d ever need, and even sports a hot-bar of diverse a-la-carte items. It’s also stone’s throw from Northam Park in UA, which features plenty of open green spaces to to spread out out a blanket.

What’s your go-to picnic spot? Let us know in the comments!

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Entertainment

614 Survival Guide: Dime-A-Dog Night

Mitch Hooper

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Warmer days are finally here and it’s that time of the year everyone can’t stop talking about. No, it isn’t patio season. We aren’t talking about summer festivals, either. We’re talking baseball, and more specifically, we’re talking hot dogs you can buy for just 10 pennies.

The Columbus Clipper’s Dime-A-Dog Night is not only a chance to enjoy America’s pastime, it’s a chance to test your eating endurance. How many hot dogs can you put down in nine innings? To beer, or to not to beer; that is the potentially bloated question. And you do realize how many dogs you can get for $20 right? That’s 200 dogs, dawg!

Surviving this madness, however, is an art unto itself. You can expect longer lines, but everyone is just getting hot dogs so you can also expect them to move relatively quickly. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, and we are here to help. Here’s a six tips to making the most of Dime-A-Dog night.

6.) Bring the Tums, hun

Don’t be a hero, bring the anti-acid. Hot dogs are hotbeds for hidden ingredients, and you don’t know when one will drop a missile of indigestion upon you. Be prepared, pack the little chalky tablets.

5.) Bring The Little Ones

Dime-A-Dog night is a great way to change up the speed of things throughout your weekdays without having to tank a ton of money into entertainment. Beyond the insanely cheap Sugardale hot dogs, children under the age of 2 get in for free!

4.) Be Early (duh!)

This is a no brainer, but it pays to be in the know. For 7:05 p.m. starts, the gates will open 90 minutes prior to opening pitch. On the other hand for 6:35 p.m. starts, the gates open one hour before opening pitch. Being first in the gates means you have first crack at the fresh hot dogs that weren’t made at lightening speed to keep up with orders. This leads me to my next point….

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3.) Know The Flow

Dogs at the beginning of the game taste better than dogs later, but there is a Goldie Locks point. At a certain moment during the game, bellies are going to get full and the rush for more food slows down. This is when you should have your second wind. The hot dog slinging has slowed down and the lines aren’t nearly as long. Take it easy on the first run through and save some room for dessert: more dime-a-dogs.

2.) Beer: Your Enemy, Or Friend?

This tip is more of a “check yourself before you wreck yourself” thing. For some people, beer is the magical elixir that allows them to devour hot dogs like Joey Chestnut (*not literally). If this is you, you know the fuel to your fire. For other people (me), beer and carbonation fills the stomach too quickly leaving no room for more hot dogs. If this is you, mixed drinks are your happy alternative.

1.) Go Crazy And Buy More Expensive Tickets

#NotAnAd. Seriously, though. Think of the money you’ll be saving on dinner (and potentially breakfast the next day if you wear cargo shorts). Two quarters will get you five hot dogs and that’s damn near an entire pack from the store. A few extra bucks could be the difference between catching a fly ball and never coming close. Protip: the seats along the third base line are nice, but make sure you bring your shades because that sun set shines directly in your eyes blocking your view… of more hot dogs.

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Food & Drink

3 bar trivia spots for weeknight fun

Mike Thomas

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“Man, you guys suck!” The trivia host said as he came by our table table to retrieve his brightly colored buzzer. He wasn’t wrong. My friend/trivia partner and I probably should have had less to drink. We probably should have been playing closer attention to the questions, or stopped second-guessing ourselves into wrong answers. Now, the contest was over, and our chances at a $10 bar tab were utterly dashed. Of the six or so teams competing, we came in dead last.

In recent years, bar trivia has emerged as a popular pastime for bar patrons to put their knowledge to the test in a quiz show format, complete with dynamic and entertaining hosts. In these contests, teams which typically consist of a handful of friends, vye against each other for meager prizes—usually a small amount knocked off of the winning team’s bar bill. As my luckless friend and I quickly learned, it’s a form of entertainment where only the fast and the nerdy survive. 

Photos by Rebecca Tien

Like karaoke, bar trivia offers participants a chance do something at their local watering hole besides pound drinks. Bars are eager for something to draw customers on the slower nights of the week, and contestants get the chance to put their pop culture knowledge to work. But what kind of person goes to a bar on a weeknight to mentally dominate drunk strangers?

“In my opinion, there’s trivia people, and then there’s not,” explains John Egbert, who hosts several trivia nights each week for the company Excess Trivia (it was Egbert who chided my friend and I that evening when we completely bombed). “I have a lot of people sign up just to try it, and quickly realize it’s not for them.” 

By day, Egbert is a working artist—he recently designed beer labels for Columbus’ Elevator Brewing. By night, he leads bar patrons through rounds of buzzer-style (think Jeopardy) and multiple-choice rounds of trivia in his role as host.

“When I started this I wasn’t a trivia guy. I did not have fun playing Trivial Pursuit; I didn’t watch Jeopardy,” Egbert says of his beginnings in what has become a full-time pursuit. He only fell in love with trivia after tiring of his onetime role of karaoke host. 

“I felt like with karaoke, one of the downsides was dealing with really busy nights and everybody wanting to sing—and not wanting to wait to sing,” Egbert explains. “With trivia, everybody gets to play at the same time. Everybody gets to be the star.”

If public recognition is a motivator for their audience, you have to wonder what would inspire Egbert and his fellow hosts to choose this unique vocation.

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Jason “Squirrel” Davis runs his own trivia company, currently hosting three nights each week at local bars. He is perhaps best known for his first and longest running show at The Gateway Film Center. By day, he works in the accounts payable department at Capital University.  

For Davis, it’s the chance to stretch his legs as an entertainer in a way not afforded to him in his day job that keeps him coming back. “As a host, it’s the performance aspect,” Davis explains. “I like to think I’m funny. My style is more of a fun game. For the teams, it’s more about fun than the challenge.”

To Mike Durst, who like Egbert is among the dozen or so hosts employed by Excess Trivia, it’s the social dimension that makes the work appealing. 

“It’s pretty much my entire social life. My social circle has basically turned into people I know through trivia,” says Durst. “It’s nice, I get to go to work and know that I’ll see friends of mine and have a couple of beers and see what’s going on in their lives the past week.”

Davis’ sentiments are shared by Egbert, who also appreciates the opportunities for socialization that trivia affords to host and player alike. “I’m pretty selfish about it. I look at it like, it’s my night too, so I want to have a good time while I’m doing it,” he explains. “I always tell people, if you’re a real try-hard, overly-competitive type, my night might not be for you. I run a fun game, and it’s a reason for you and your friends to get together at a bar.”

With the prevalence of fan culture today, it’s likely that the brains of most people are overflowing with a wealth of trivial knowledge on at least one topic: sports stats, Breaking Bad, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter—whatever your bag may be—bar trivia offers a small form of redemption for countless of hours spent in idle media consumption. 

The next time you’re hard up for something to do on a weeknight, spare the neighborhood bar your 10,000th karaoke rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” and give trivia a try. You might even make some new friends along the way.

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