One Geekified Interview: Royal Monster Battalion

Hello loyal and New readers! You’re in for a real treat I have another interview for you, that’s two in one week! No way! That’s never happened before! About to head out to California with my husband and his family so as promised here is the last interview I needed to post!

Please give a warm welcome to my United Geeks Network mates Mike and Jeff from Royal Monster Battalion!

Tell us about yourself. Anything you care to share.

Mike: Ah, well, I’m married with one child, I’m a graduate of a small Colorado HS with no College education, I sit on my ass as much as possible, I lived through the hatred of geeks in the 90s and I had a pretty good time during that, I’ve seenThe Exorcist about167 times, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT! NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU’RE TALKING TO A MOVIE FREAK! NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK?! IS that enough about myself?

Jeff: Well I am 43 and live in Knoxville TN with my awesome wife Christy who puts up with me and my ever-changing family room setup and our 4-year-old daughter Everleigh (Evie). I moved here 9 years ago with my wife to be close to her parents. We were both born and raised in San Jose California. My dad always worked in tech (Intel, Memorex, Sun Microsystems, SanDisk and a couple of other little companies that died out along the way) so we always had newer tech while I was growing up. And back in the day you didn’t just turn on a game and go you had to load drivers for controllers and graphics cards which is where I think I got the modding or tinkering with electronics from. My dad used to bring home new chips and parts from people he worked with and we would install them and get it all running right so from an early age I was into setting up and working on computers.

How has social media impacted your life?

Mike: Actually very little, outside of its how I met Jeff.  I really don’t do much on most social medias except play games, spread the love of the podcast, and pester other podcasters from time to time

Jeff: I wouldn’t say it has impacted it too much. I do check into my Facebook account every morning while eating breakfast and just before I go to bed but not on it much other than that. I used to be on it a lot playing games but once I had my daughter I don’t really have the time to be on it. Just like to see what my friends are up mostly. I have no idea how to use Twitter LOL.

Who inspired you to be the geek you are today?

Mike: I think that would have to be my parents.  My mom taught me how to play Dungeons and Dragons, 2nd Edition, when I was ten years old and my whole family used to play games on a pretty regular basis.  Mostly just stuff like Monopoly and Uno, but it was what got me started.

Jeff: My first reaction to this question… No one really. But then I thought about it and would have to say without a doubt my younger brother and my friends in High School. I was your typical short fat computer geek who was not on the chess team but spent every lunch hour with them playing. While on the other hand my brother was the popular skater kid who did what the cool kids do. But somehow my best friend turned out to be the rocker/stoner type and also happened to be the brother of my brothers best friend so we all hung out in the same group of friends. And they were an awesome group of friends. Although I was the shy nerd they all accepted me for what I was and no one cared and they all had my back 100%. There were a couple of times we were out and someone would be talking about me as to what I was doing there or trying to get me to do something I did not want to do (typical teenager things… a little pot or a little drink) and the group I was with would make sure it was known that I was with them and if I said no then that was the end of the story I was fine with them doing what they wanted and they respected my not wanting to partake. I would say I had a pretty good time through High School I was fortunate to be a nerd but yet had plenty of fun with the popular crowd as well.

If you could give a geek from this generation advice what would you say?

Mike: Enjoy the world you live in!  The games, the tech, everything is just amazing.  I used to be astonished by how cool it was that I could play a MUD with someone from across the world when I was a kid, and now I can Download a game someone in Germany developed today, play it, and he can have any bugs fixed before he goes to bed.  It’s simply awesome.

Jeff: After High School no one cares what you are and if for some reason they do then they are just insecure in what they are and have to resort to picking on someone else to make themselves feel important. Screw those guys you will be their boss someday J

If you had to give up one geek hobby what would it be? And what would you replace it with?

Mike: Honestly I think it would be console gaming.  I enjoy playing on my Playstation, but would much rather sit down with some dice and cards or in front of a computer on Roll20.  I don’t think I’d replace it with something NEW, I would just start playing other things a bit more.

Jeff: I only have a couple of geek hobbies so I guess reading and since it would not be technically reading I would replace it with getting into audiobooks. Is that considered cheating the system? That way I could still play video games, keep my gadgets and do the podcast with Mike J

If there was one thing you could change about geek culture what would it be and why?

Mike: There’s a bit of a combativeness between the different genres of geekdom.  Comic Book Geeks think Movie Geeks are low-brow.  Movie Geeks think Video Game Geeks are less intelligent.  Video Game Geeks think Board Game Geeks… so on and so forth.  This is easiest to see in the Console Wars (PS is better than XBox!) and really should come to an end.  I don’t think MOST geeks have the “We’re Better Than You” mentality, but those that do are pretty vocal about it and give most the rest of us a bad name.

Jeff: I dunno. I know it is probably sacrilege but I am not really a big follower of the geek culture… L

Where can my readers find you?

Mike: All my various contacts can be found on RoyalMonsterBattalion.com.  You can e-mail me at DragonDeadite@yahoo.com, on Twitter @DragonDeadite, or on Facebook.com/RoyalMonsterBattalion

Jeff: Most likely at work or asleep. But they can always find me at RoyalMonsterBattalion.com (shameless plug)

As geeks we have all been ridiculed at some point in our lives. How did you cope with that and how has it effected you as an adult?

Mike: I got made fun of more for being fan than being a geek (And lets face it, I still am) But I was actually pretty lucky when it comes to that aspect of being a geek.  I grew up in an age where being a geek wasn’t nearly as frowned upon and of course I grew up with parents who were great big geeks themselves.  I mean, my parents were playing D&D, in UTAH, in the middle of the big uproar about how horrible of a game it was during the ’70s and ’80s.  I didn’t exactly handle being teased and ridiculed very well, but I always knew I could go home to a pair of geeks that understood my frustrations, that no matter how much of an outcast I might feel like at school I knew I wasn’t alone as a geek because my parents were there to sit down and roll the dice with me whenever I wanted.  Not everyone can be as lucky as that, and I know a lot of my friends much preferred to play games over at my house just because of my parents.  As an adult I try to be very inclusive in my games, mostly because of this, and think I do a fairly good job of that.  I’ve made some new friends and introduced new players to various games and can only hope I have passed on my geek genes to my son!

Jeff: I can’t think of any specific experience I am sure there must have been something at one point that made me super shy around people but can’t pin it down to any one event. As I said above I had an awesome group of friends growing up so ridicule was not much of an issue for me. As an adult… still super shy in social situations so don’t go out much. I am much better now with non-social interactions like talking to people in work related situations.

Do you have any hobbies that aren’t considered to be in the geek realm, if so What?

Mike: I really don’t think so, unless you count my unhealthy obsession with Halloween as non-geek.  Every year I take the week of Halloween off to set up my front yard for Halloween, a massive graveyard, a huge pathway that kids have to walk down to get candy, great big decorations, and the whole family gets in on handing out candy and scaring people.  It is a blast!

Jeff: I love wood working/furniture building. Would do it as a job in a heartbeat if I could afford to but I work in a quasi-governmental job right now and with a family the benefits alone would be hard to beat anywhere.

Tell us about your Podcast “Royal Monster Battalion”
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Mike: RMB first started out as just a Facebook page where myself and a friend (not Jeff) started writing movie reviews.  Eventually this bloomed into me wanting to do a Podcast and I needed a co-host.  Jeff and I had been friends for a while at this point and I pretty much just told him one day he was going to do a podcast with me and the RMB Podcast was born!  We watch anything with a monster, including kid movies and animated movies, so long as it has something more than human in it, we’ll watch it.  It makes it a bit different from most horror podcasts.  We also like to focus more on the aspects of the monster, what makes it a good monster or a bad monster, than just on the movie itself.  There’s some good movies with low scores because the monster wasn’t very good, and there’s some bad movies with good scores because the monsters were enjoyable.

Jeff: We do a bi-weekly review of monster movies. It can be any movie as long as it has a monster in it. We pretty much do it free flow we try to do it in a bit of an organized way but usually lose that once we start talking about the movie. We jump around a lot as far as parts of the movie goes pretty much like you were just BSing with a friend about a movie you just saw… because that is exactly what we are doing. Mike is much more knowledgeable about movies in general and monsters that is his thing for sure. I am more like the Ed McMahon to his Johnny Carson (you may have to google that one for the younger ones out there I am old remember….) 

How did you come up with the name?

Mike: Well, back when I first started this as a Facebook Page it was called Monster Squadron! In honor of the movie Monster Squad.  However the official spelling to get to the page wasn’t correct (Squodron) because that was the only spelling my friend could get for it.  So I decided we needed to change the name so I could do something a bit more legit with it, but I still wanted it to feel like the original name.  After a couple of weeks of brainstorming we came up with Royal Monster Battalion, I loved it, and went with it.

Jeff: That one is on Mike

How did you two know each other outside of the podcast? What made you want to be pod mates?

Mike: We met playing a Facebook game about racing cars, not exactly something I’m fond of, but I got engrossed in the community around the game and met Jeff under one of his pseudonyms, which is where the name Farmer comes from.  We became fast friends due to both having kids and enjoying rather geeky things.  We play video games together when we can and generally bitch about our jobs to each other during the day.  We have yet to actually meet face to face, but hopefully that’ll change soon!  I decided I was doing a pod and told Jeff he was going to do it with me… I do that a lot actually.  Jeff has started a LOT of projects with me that have fizzled out.  I think he’s surprised we’re still doing the podcast after a year now.

Jeff: Mike and I met playing a couple of games on Facebook. I think we really clicked one day when we got into talking about kids cartoons that our kids were watching or we wanted them to watch or something along those lines. From that point on we kept talking and became fast friends. Now unfortunately for him he has made it into my inner circle and there is no leaving alive…. Errrrr Ummmm… I mean he is now one of my best friends and although we live thousands of miles apart and have never met in person he is more like a brother to me. What made us want to be pod mates… that is easy. He messaged me and said watch this movie, load Skype we are going to do a podcast review on it Thursday.

What web comics do you like to read? Are you into Indie. Marvel, or DC?

Mike: Well… if you’re feeling adventurous (and over the age of 18!) one of my favorites is Oglaf!  The more family friendly ones are Charby: The Vampirate, PVPonline, Table Titans, Manly Men Doing Manly Things, Gamer Cat, and Looking For Group. I am much more into Indie comics than the Big Two.  The last Marvel comic I read was the collection of comics about Skarr, Hulk’s son, and that was at least a couple of years ago.  That isn’t really because I try to avoid them, but I much prefer darker comics than those two are willing to put out under their names.  Comics like Crossed: Borderlands or… okay nothing else is coming to mind along those lines, but the more blood and boobs the better!

Jeff: I used to read them once in a while but not enough to have any real preference.

What is your favorite movie?

Mike: That’s a hard question for a movie lover.  I can tell you my favorite one to re watch is easily Cabin In The Woods, but I think Bride of Frankenstein and Creature From The Black Lagoon are much better films though not seen as often.

Jeff: That is tough. I have a couple for different reasons so to pin it down to one movie is hard. I guess if I could only watch one more movie and had to pick one it would be the original Blues brothers. I love that movie for the movie itself but also have great memories of watching it with my dad when I was a kid also it was the first DVD I ever bought. My other choices might be just as disappointing to the geek crowd as well.. Heat for the shootout scene it is intense and sounds awesome in surround sound, Bullet for the chase scene, Animal House and Ferris Bueller because they are Animal House and Ferris Bueller.

What are you looking forward to the most in the upcoming year?

Mike: Jeff getting a second TV and getting my wife on the podcast a bit more.

Jeff: Looking forward to Jurassic world because dinosaurs run amok is always fun and the new star wars because star wars.

You said you liked video games I have to ask which console do you prefer? Sony, Xbox or are you a PC guy?

Mike: For the most part I’m a Playstation guy, though I also play a few MMOs on the computer from time to time when the mood strikes me.  I used to have an Xbox but when we upgraded to the last gen system PS3 just had more RPGs that I would enjoy playing rather than the FPSs that XBox focused on.  I’ll play whatever system lets me slay the most dragons!

Jeff: I have a Wii, 2 PS3s and a Dreamcast. One of the PS3s (the one I use 99% of the time) is factory the other PS3, Wii and Dreamcast have been modded to some point. I play the PS3 with mike most of the time I got that for Christmas 2013 before that I played games only on PC.

What are some of your favorite games to play either board games or video?

Mike: For video games I’m still all about Diablo3 and Destiny, I love those games not only for their gameplay but because they’re all about the co-op!  I don’t do well in PvP…  For board games I’m all about SmashUp!  I’m very jealous that Jeff King and Jordan already have the new expansion!  I WILL HAVE MY PONIES AND KITTIES!  Oh… and Cover You Assets.  Blast of a game there!

Jeff: I like to play a lot of the old arcade/console games. I really want to build a game cabinet to put in my office. I have the computer and software built and running for it already. Also want to do a digital pinball table.

What are your thoughts on RPGs? (my forte :D) Playing any at the moment?

Mike: I am all about the RPGs both on and off the table!  I’ve recently gotten obsessed with getting a game of Savage Worlds going, most likely online as that is the easiest way for me to play with a wife who teaches two nights a week and a kiddo.  I play some D&D Encounters from time to time but I’m really all about Savage Worlds right now, the system is just so much more free than D&D and allows for transferring from one genre to another without any hassle at all.  Really hoping to get a weekly or bi-weekly game going some time soon!  Anyone looking for another play, LET ME KNOW!!

How long have you played DND/ Savage worlds?

Mike: My mom taught me how to play D&D when I was ten years old.  I was running games for her and my friends when I was about 12 or 13.  D&D was really the only system I would use until a few years ago when I met up with a new group and we decided we wanted to try a new system which lead us to Savage Worlds.  I ran a game in the world of 50 Fathoms which is a fantasy/pirate world and had a blast with it and since then I’ve really preferred SW for its flexibility and it just runs faster than D&D.  I still play D&D, but SW if my preferred system now.

Jeff: Never played it… Take that back never played an organized game. I tried it back in High School but no one knew what they were doing so we only played once or twice.

 

Jeff lets talk gadgets! What makes you enjoy Modding?

Jeff: I like to have my devices do more than the original intent. I always liked to mess with stuff but it really took off when I was trying to get content to stream from my pc upstairs to my tv downstairs that is when I started hacking my Wii. When that worked it was like hmmm what else in the house can I mod and anything I can find (and my wife lets me) is fair game.

What all have you Modded?

Jeff: The Wii and a PS3 to play video from my pc, homebrew and also play games backed up to hard drive so no loading of disks. The Dreamcast to play backup disks. PSP to play games and movies from memory card. Amazon Fire tv to play unsupported apps and Kodi (XBMC) as well as live tv recording from antenna. My router to add security features. Ipods to run differ skins. Fish tank and pond to simulate tide. Nook tablets to load apps and movies (these are 1st gen nook colors so they could not do that at the time).

 

Tell us how you geek out about home theater? Both the automation and the server sides of it

Jeff: One of my biggest things is I like to have everything hidden. When you look at my tv all you see is the Tv on the stand I built and the speakers sitting next to it all wires and equipment are hidden. The wires are run along the backside of the table bundled and out of sight going into the wall then under the house to a closet under the stairs where the receiver, server and video game consoles are. I don’t have cable or satellite so everything I watch comes from live tv or the internet so I am now really getting into setting my server up to be like an ondemand where I turn on the tv and all the shows and movies I watch are ready to go when I am. Server side I am always trying new plugins or software to find just the right one. I find one I like but then my wife doesn’t like it or my daughter has a hard time with it and I move on to the next one. I do keep one up and running that everyone can use though. I am also a messy person in real life you should see my desk at home. But for some reason I am super picky about how the files on my server are kept. So automating that and getting it to put things and name them the way I want was a bit time-consuming but in the long run makes things run smooth. I think my next project is getting whole house audio up and running controlled via ipads or phones.

What do you consider to be your dream Home theater setup?

Jeff: When we moved to TN we really wanted a basement we could turn into a home theater. Massive screen on wall, projector, theater seating the whole 9 yards. We wound up buying a house with no basement thus no theater. So that is what I would like. On the backside I would like a new sever and massive network storage a gigabit internet connection. I have the automation and surround covered. I got an awesome surround setup when we moved but rarely use it as my wife is not a big fan of the surround sound. Funny thing is we bought a plasma tv when we bought the house and it was not even HD. I have this all setup to get killer content and was watching it on an old standard definition tv up until just a month or two ago J We now have a 4k tv and it makes a world of difference.

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