Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

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The Gifting Dog

One of my goals for 2020 is to write more, which includes new short stories. This story is less than 900 words and was inspired by the writing prompt: “Every day when you return home from work, your dog greets you by bringing you a seemingly random item, which will turn out to be useful throughout the day. One day, after a particularly stressful day of work, your dog greets you with a sword at his feet, happily wagging his tail.”

Enjoy!


Olivia flopped down on her fluffy, purple beanbag in her living room. She let her whole body soak into the seat as she let out an exhausted sigh. The lights automatically dimmed a little to create a relaxing space. She tapped her purple star necklace, and it projected a 3D holographic sphere.

“Hey, networker, what’s on my schedule for tonight?” Olivia asked.

“You have nothing on your personal calendar,” the networker spoke in a cheerful tone based on her favorite movie actress. “However, there are several events happening tonight that may be of interest to you, including a new art exhibition at Sky View Museum.”

“Na, I think I want to stay inside tonight. I’m peopled-out.”

“Would you like me to start you a hot bath?”

“Maybe later. I want to sit here and do nothing.”

“As you wish.”

The sphere disappeared as Olivia’s dog, Shadow, rubbed his head against her beanbag and then under Olivia’s hand to be petted, which she did. She rescued Shadow a month ago at her job when a clothing rack fell him, trapping him until she freed him. It was a crazy day that day as demons, skeletons, a giant three-headed dog, and all sorts of weirdness rampaged the mall. She named the dog Shadow not only because he had black fur, but because he had a shadowy glow to him and he could blend in with the darkness to the point that one could only see his purple eyes. Olivia tried to find his owner but had no luck.

Shadow had become family to her and, in a strange way, somewhat helpful. Every morning before Olivia left for work, Shadow would bring her an item that would end up helping her out that day. She had no idea how her dog would even obtain some of the things. One time, Shadow brought her an extra lunch that she gave to her coworker, who happened to forget their lunch. Another time she was gifted a healing cut spray for when she ended up hurting herself while demonstrating a hoverboard. Some of the gifts had helped in odd ways, like a buy-one-get-one-free meal coupon for when her lame date ended up ditching her with the bill. Shadow would even sometimes bring offerings in the evening, like a bottle of wine for when her friends came over for game night that she completely forgot she was hosting. 

“I don’t suppose you got a cocktail for me tonight, buddy,” she said as she scratched Shadow’s back.

Shadow barked and then ran off around the corner, out of sight. A moment later, Shadow came back, dragging a silver sword. Shadow took his time as he avoided scratching the wall and floors with the sword. Olivia sat up. She did not own any weapons. The dog lowered the sword by her feet, wagged his tail, and barked at her. 

Olivia picked up the sword and inspected it. She could see herself with her long, curly purple hair in the blade’s reflection. She resisted the temptation to test the blade’s sharpness. It looked dangerous enough.

“You’ve never given me a weapon before, Shadow,” Olivia said as she stood up, nervous at what may happen that would cause her to use a sword. “What do you expect me to do with this?”

Shadow barked and led Olivia to his leash by the front door. Olivia grabbed the leash, and as she was about to put it on him, she realized he had her sunglasses in his mouth.

“It’s dark outside. I don’t need those.”

Shadow dropped them by Olivia’s feet. She went along with the request and put the sunglasses on after wiping them off with her t-shirt.

Olivia opened the door to be surprised by her neighbor about to knock. Her neighbor’s snake hair was on the fritz, hissing uncontrollably, biting themselves, and even herself.

“Oh, thank goodness you’re wearing sunglass,” her neighbor said in a relived panic. Gorgan snakes cannot turn a person into stone if they’re wearing sunglasses. “I must’ve eaten something I’m allergic to because my snakes are going crazy. You don’t happen to have a silver blade?”

Olivia nonchalantly raised the sword. “Will this do?”

“That’s perfect! Will you cut the snake that’s the reddest for me?”

“Isn’t that going to hurt you?”

“No, I’ll be fine, and my hair will grow back. Ow,” her neighbor explained as another snake bit her cheek.

“I don’t think I can cut off just the red one.”

“Don’t worry. Silver tends to cause the non-irritated snakes to retreat when you get it close.”

“If you said so,” Olivia said as she raised the sword, taking her word for it.

From the presence of the silver, all of the snakes retreated in defense except for red one as it stood tall. Olivia slashed the snake off in one clean cut. It hissed and withered away as husked skin. The rest of the snakes relaxed.

“Thank you so much,” her neighbor thanked with a big hug. “How about I get you a drink as a reward.”

Shadow barked. Inside his mouth were a pair of coasters. 

Reflecting on 2019

Hello, Adventurers!

It’s time for my New Year’s Eve tradition of reflecting back on the year. I like to start off with some numbers in regards to my accomplishments.

Uncovering Oklahoma Episodes: 52 (more if you count Artist Statements and event coverage)
Yes! Science! Episodes: 6
Tales Unveiled Episodes: 14
Quarter Minutes: 4
Art & Victory: 6

Before I talk about how each of the series did, I want to note that this year I made a big step toward my TV studio goal. I bought live-streaming equipment and started live-streaming shows! I got familiar with the equipment thanks to Startup Grind OKC as I live-streamed those fireside chats. I also filmed shows with a live audience!

Uncovering Oklahoma in 2019

Since Uncovering Oklahoma was my biggest project for the year, I’m going to start off talking about that series.  Here were the top ten most viewed videos on both Facebook and YouTube. This list only includes videos that were made in 2019.

Top 10 Made in 2019 Videos Watched via YouTube

  1. Oklahoma State Fair Food 2019 (2,881)
  2. Poe Bouyz House (2,636)
  3. Black-Owned BBQ Restaurants Vol. 1 (1,017)
  4. Press Waffle Co at The Collective (893)
  5. Dead People’s Stuff (816)
  6. Factory Obscura Mix Tape Phase 1 (589)
  7. The Musical Swings (499)
  8. Scissortail Park: A Brief First Look Tour (488)
  9. Creative Burgers Vol. 1 (380)
  10. Michael Murphy’s Dueling Piano Bar (334)

Top 10 Made in 2019 Videos Watch via Facebook

  1. Cornish Smokehouse (8.1k)
  2. Brielle’s Bistro (6.4k)
  3. Parlor OKC Sneak Peek Tour (4.3k)
  4. Oklahoma State Fair Food 2019 (3.4k)
  5. 3Sixty Restaurant & Bar (3k)
  6. Dystopia Rising (2.9k)
  7. Creative Burgers Vol 1 (2.6k)
  8. Magnolia Bistro (2.4k)
  9. Freezing Cow (2.4k)
  10. Creative Burgers Vol 2 (2.3k)

Same deal as last year, YouTube count is based on views while Facebook is from minutes watched. I upload episodes directly to each platform for maximum reach. My total minutes watched from all videos (includes previous years) via Facebook was 107.1k, which was up 3.8 % from the previous 365 days. As for Uncovering Oklahoma’s YouTube analytics: Totals views: 61.2k (up 49% from 2018), watch time in hours: 2.5k (up 62%), and 351 new subscribers (up 81%).

Uncovering Oklahoma is still growing! At the time I’m writing this post, likes for Facebook was 15,946 (was 13,130 at the start of the year), Twitter was 3,962 (3,549 last year), Instagram followers was 2,550 (1,426 last year), and YouTube subscribers was 669 (351).

I released a feature documentary, Welcome to the Plaza Walls, which premiered at the Tower Theatre on April 15, the ten year anniversary of Uncovering Oklahoma. It was a wonderful treat! After some feedback at the screening, I made some changes and released it for free shortly after. It was the only feature documentary I made during the year, other than a compilation for Amazon Prime. My focus has been weekly episodes.

My collaboration episodes included Creative Burgers Vol 1 and 2, Black-Owned BBQ Restaurants, Oklahoma State Fair Food 2019, Zero-Proof Cocktails, The Collective, Streetcar Ghost Stories, Parlor OKC, and Downtown in December. All of the collaborations were a hit. I was inspired by how well the ones I did in 2018 that I had to do more in 2019 and I plan to be doing even more in 2020.

There’s been so much to cover that I started releasing videos on Tuesdays in addition to my Thursday videos. The ones one Tuesday were more time-sensitive, such as event coverage and artist statements. I renamed the Tuesday Treats feature to Creator Conversations and moved it to Wednesdays.

Website traffic is down again this year, however, video views and social media engagement is up, so I’m happy. I want people to watch the videos more than I want them to visit the website.

Tales Unveiled in 2019

Tales Unveiled took off in popularity this year. Episode download averagers for the first season were 2oo to 300 while the second season averages were over 1,000! We were featured on Stitcher, Oklahoma Gazette, and Oklahoma Today, which you can read about that coverage here.

The most downloaded episode was Creepy Conversations with 2,167 downloads, The Return to Chandler came in second with 2,160 downloads, third was The Ritz of Shawnee at 2,008, fourth was The Tombstone Tales of Enid at 1,746, and fifth was Embark on a Ghost Streetcar Tour at 1,571.

Yes! Science! in 2019

Taking advantage of my new live-streaming setup, I reinvited the series as a talk show hosted by Pallas the Librarian. We started the new season in March, doing monthly live events for six months. The show didn’t take off in popularity but the series was well received. Pallas has been an amazing host. All of the guests have enjoyed their time on the show. Plus, I learned so much from producing it. I’m taking the knowledge I’ve gained to make a better season for 2020.

Art & Victory in 2019

A new series! Art & Victory is a panel discussion series for creative entrepreneurs. Themes range from industry-specific discussions to more broad topics for all creatives working to make a living with their art.

Due to the lack of good wifi at the venues, I wasn’t able to do this a live-streaming show, but I did do it with an audience. Another step closer to the studio goal!

Quarter Minutes in 2019

After not making any in 2018, we made four stories in 2019. We enjoy making these super short films and I’m determined to keep getting better. I had a goal of releasing one a month, but when my other series started to pick up, Quarter Minutes fell through the cracks. With as much as I do, perhaps one every other month or every quarter would be a more realistic goal for 2020. 

Top Songs of 2019

These were my most played songs in 2019 according to Spotify, which is how I mostly listen to music. Keep in mind I will often put a song (or playlist) on repeat when writing or for inspiration sessions. It’s all good fun.

Plans for 2020

My plans for 2020 are to keep upping my game.

For Uncovering Oklahoma, I’m going to start releasing videos in 4K HDR. I’ve released videos in 1080p simply so I could get creative with my framing, but I want to flex my skills. I recently got an HDR computer monitor and I’m in love with HDR. My Panasonic GH5 is capable of shooting 10-bit HDR, but I never really used it until recently. I know it’s going to be overkill, but this move will be more about producing higher quality content.

I want to take Yes! Science! to the next level. I want to build an elaborate set and up the overall production quality. I would also love to get it on a major streaming service to fund the series so I can bring out of state guests.

For our third season of Tales Unveiled, Jeff and I are going to continue traveling the state for ghost stories. We are planning to start recording in January this time as Jeff is still working on his ghost stories of Oklahoma book, which he plans to release in the fall.

I’ve been picking up more freelance work and I’m worried that will take away time from all my shows, but I need the money to make those shows happen. On the subject of balance, I’m getting better at balancing everything I do.

In my past end of the year recaps, I talked about my books and how those are so close to being done but never get released the following year. I have written out Intertwined by Cracks, which has undergone some major changes this year and needs some more work as the last feedback I received was that the story moved too fast. Collecting Cassie’s Soul, the sequel to The Crashing of Heaven and Hell, has been finally written out all the way! I’ve also been working on a third book this year, but not much as the other two have been my main focus.

I’m looking into starting a political satire series in 2020. Been learning what it takes to do a live show in 2019.

There are some random things I want to do: create some interactive public art piece, film a Borderlands short fan film out in the Little Sahara, write weekly short stories, make a feature-length horror movie, film something out of state, make a scripted mini-series, do a space drama podcast, take more artsy photographs, do a big New Years Eve special show for those that want to stay home, and get some famous women on Yes! Science!

I feel so inspired. There’s so much I want to do. Seriously. So much I want to create. I want to thank you for following and if you want to support these amazing endeavors of mine, join me on Patreon.

Happy Adventures!

Quarter Minutes Season 2019 Collection

Thank you for watching Quarter Minutes in 2019! Here’s a recap collection of all of the stories we made throughout the year, with some minor improvements. This collection contains the short films, Zloou’s Prank Show, Modern Haunted House, Shift Happens, and Deadly Repeat, as well as our bloopers. Our 2019 season featured the talents of:

  • Daniel Austin
  • Pallas
  • Brian Gililland
  • John Souders
  • Aaron Souders

I know this series is my least popular, but I enjoy making these and I’m determined to keep getting better. I had a goal of releasing one a month, but when my other series such as Art & Victory, Tales Unveiled, and Yes! Science! started to pick up in April, Quarter Minutes fell through the cracks. With as much as I do, perhaps one every other month or every quarter would be a more realistic goal for 2020. 

Help support the next season by becoming a patron supporter! What is in it for you? Why early access to new stories and exclusive behind the scenes content! Become a patron at https://www.patreon.com/TSSNStudios

Be sure to subscribe to the Quarter Minutes YouTube channel for the latest videos!

OVF: Trang Nguyen, Douglas Sorocco & Craig Shimasaki

The Oklahoma Venture Forum is a non-profit organization providing entrepreneurs and growing ventures in Oklahoma access to capital and management development through education, networking, and other resources. I’ve partnered with The Golding Group to record and host the podcast series. These are the first two episodes that feature me as the host.

Dr. Nguyen launched Mimosa Health in May 2017 with a mission to provide expert advice on the use of medications by older adults. Mimosa Health utilizes specialized knowledge in geriatrics and the unique medication-related needs of the senior population. Dr. Nguyen helps seniors reduce medication-related problems, reduce healthcare costs, and improve their quality of life through our community medication education seminars and personalized senior health services.

Douglas Sorocco is owner of Dunlap Codding in Oklahoma City, an intellectual property attorney, PHOSITA blogger, chemist, visionary, social entrepreneur and creator of DC on Film Row. He’s also one of the volunteer co-directors of the new Oklahoma Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program (OKEMP). Modeled after MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service (MIT VMS), OKEMP matches an entrepreneur with a team of unbiased, experienced mentors.

“This type of commitment is what’s been missing in Oklahoma,” he says. “OKEMP provides mentoring teams who follow entrepreneurs throughout their whole career. Because true entrepreneurs don’t stop with just one idea.”

“One of the beauties of the program is that no matter where the entrepreneurs are in their life cycle, they’re getting matched up with mentors who can offer unbiased, unconflicted advice.”

What mentors also offer is access to their experiences as successful entrepreneurs, delivered during regularly scheduled 90-minute meetings. “There is a curriculum,” explains Sorocco, “but it is driven by the entrepreneurs who are coming with questions and concerns.”

“For example, the first entrepreneur may already have a prototype without ever looking at markets. So it’s backward! So the mentor helps identify who’s going to buy the product. Whereas the second entrepreneur may be a programmer who’s never sold anything. So the mentoring team teaches how to develop relationships that don’t seem too transactional.”

“Most entrepreneurs are going to fail with their first or second company. What we need for them to do is learn along the way so that when they get to number three or four, they’re more likely to succeed.”

Software Developer Autumn Loveless on Yes! Science!

Pallas the Library interviews Autumn Loveless, a software developer at amshot in this episode of Yes! Science! Pallas and Autumn also talk about making robots, 3D printing, and the book, “We Are Legion (We Are Bob)” by Dennis E. Taylor.

Autumn’s previous experience ranges from managing servers, to creating a project management website for computer science students, to supplementing development staff at several small and large companies. The common denominator in her job experience is designing creative solutions to problems. She likes to view each challenge as a puzzle, which, coincidentally, she also spent time designing while working at an escape room.

Autumn spends her free time competing in Ludum Dare, building robots, and creating smart gadgets, especially if they are eco-friendly or look like magic tricks (like her “floating” lightbulb creation, made with a magnet and a wireless charger). She also regularly serenades her wife and two cats on one of the many instruments she plays.


Stay connected with Yes! Science! by following on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube. This series is supported via the Patrons of The Show Starts Now Studios and our sponsors. Became a patron to receive early access to tickets for our live shows as well as bonus content.

This is the last episode of season three of Yes! Science! There are plans for a fourth season in 2020, however, I’m looking at selling the series for distribution to take it to a whole new level.

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