Tag Archives: Mike Duncan

No internet, long drives, podcasts and history …


Having just moved into a new house I am currently enjoying a fun and exciting (read crappy and boring) 90-minute drive to work and another 90-minute drive home.

This craptastic situation has about zero point zero percent chance of improving in the near future. Fortunately, almost all of this driving in on German autobahns which means you can drive like a madman through like at least the two kilometers of autobahn not currently under construction.

The rest of the time I’m stuck driving 80 kph with lots and lots of cursing by your’s truly.

Roman Republic Empire map fast Like this, only with words
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thankfully there are podcasts. Thankfully, because I fully realize that even just a few years ago the time in the car would have been filled with loud, loud music. But I’m older (none the wiser), balder and becoming my father because if I could, I’m sure it’d be tuned to AM talk radio …

One of my favorites podcasts was and is Mike Duncan’s The History of Rome. Mike starts with the founding of the city and ends with the fall of the Western Empire. If you haven’t yet listened to it I encourage you to do so. Spanning 189

episodes its a great podcast that really delivers in an engaging way, with countless hours on the Roman Empire. Duncan not only excels at extracting the interesting tidbits from Livy and other ancient historians but boils down the narrative into digestible half-hour chunks.

The only bad thing I can think to say about it is that it ended.

]Roman Forum and surroundings Roman Forum and surroundings (Photo credit: KayYen)

When the Western Empire collapses Duncan tells us that he is going to move on to another project.

If you’re interested in giving The History of Rome a try you can do so here. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.

Fortunately another podcaster picked up where Duncan left off. The History of Byzantium is hosted by Robin Pierson (an American TV critic) and aims to keep the History of Rome’s style intact as he takes us from the downfall of the Western Empire through the Byzantium rise and eventual fall.

Having only started in May, the show has published just 15 episodes thus far, but having listened to them all I can tell you that Pierson does indeed succeed in capturing Duncan’s style while lending his own touches and flair.

If you, as I, loved The History of Rome give The History of Byzantium a spin.

That’s it for today.

We’re still unpacking, there’s no cable television and my porn … err, I mean, my Internet isn’t working yet, so again sorry for the lack of updates. But I promise you, as soon as the magic interwebz are active in the new house we’ll be back to drunken rants, foul language and, of course, boobs.

Need help annoying your partner during long drives, this updates for you!


Summer’s here and like many of you Dagmar and I just spent a wonderful, relaxing and nightmarish 20 odd hours in the car together.

Oh what a joy, the things you learn when you’re cooped up in a car with someone are remarkable.

Yes, yes I DO think history pod casts are interesting even after 8 hours!

Yes, yes I DO think history pod casts are interesting even after 8 hours!

For instance did you know that while the someone is exiting an autobahn rest stop, madly working the gears, checking mirrors and judging whether or not that Porsche in the left lane, driving a reasonable and insane 200 mph, is going to suddenly change lanes, that’s the perfect time to ask them to hand you things.

“Honey I know you’re pumping the breaks like a madman because of another of Germany’s infamous stau’s has appeared out of thin air but hand me that water bottle.”

Perfectly reasonable request.

In her defense she was probably close to insanity at this point because I’d subjected her to a collective 15 hours of Mike Duncan’s “The History of Rome” podcast.

Now I Love (yes, with a capital L) me some, “The History of Rome”, I love it so much I’ve listed to all the podcasts three times!   Yeah I’m dork so what, Cato the Elder would have said … oh never mind, sorry.  I should have been clued in though during hour 13 of the podcast when she literally started yelling at the radio, “Shut up, Shut up, Shut up!”

So maybe I missed a sign or something.

Also honey I give you a ‘C’ when it comes to bringing up uncomfortable subjects.    Sure you get an ‘A’ on subject matter, why WAS I flirting with that girl, but a ‘F’ on timing … I mean come on we were pulling into the driveway at that point.

Another point is that yes, maybe I am a male-chauvinistic pig but when I grew up dad did all the driving.  If they were both in the car, pops had the wheel.  I see it as the man’s duty, like mowing the lawn, re-shingling  the roof and looking at porn.   “No honey I can’t go to bed yet, this porn’s not going to watch itself is it?”

You, yeah you reading this, do you keep change in the car?  You know in the divider thing between the passenger and driver’s seat?  Maybe you keep it in the ashtray?  Do you?  If so never, I repeat Never, let Dagmar in your car.    This type of change storage is an affront to the very laws of our existence and it must be policed up, sorted and stored in a proper change receptacle (this little bag in her purse).    Loose change (both the kind in my car and the retarded September 11 2001 conspiracy movie) drive her nuts.  Makes no never mind that the next time I need 35 euro cents I’m screwed, everything has to be organized.

Which leads to another fun game I call, ’round up the trash!’  Now I’m all in favor of having a car that’s reasonably clean and who am I kidding, without anyone else in my car the interior quickly begins to resemble a public landfill.   But I’m not so stupid that I don’t pick up before she, or anyone else, gets in the car but it’s always amusing that during long trips she become litter patrol super captain of the world!    For instance, I’m a filthy smoker and yeah, yeah don’t smoke it’s disgusting and filthy (really don’t), but I’ll often put empty cigarette packs in a little cubby hole on the bottom of the driver’s side door panel.   Heck tons of stuff can go there, empty coffee cups, empty drink bottles, tissues whatever.

These are great opportunities for her to ask me to hand her things during my before mentioned attempts at passing a 1950s Winnebago while someone tries to park their Lamborghini in my ass.

“Todd can you hand me that empty cigarette pack?”

“Sure thing my love, just as soon as I’m done merging into a construction zone surrounded by Italian drivers.  I mean if we live that is.”

This is more of a suggestion in italy, I mean if you want to go right who am I to stop you?

This is more of a suggestion in italy, I mean if you want to go right who am I to stop you?

Which, unrelated to my lovely bride and her adorable passenger habits brings me to crossing international European borders.   Entering Austria from Germany is a yawn, like visiting a sibling, they’re the same as you but different.  Entering Italy from Austria is akin to visiting Charles Manson wearing a shirt that says, stab me please while handing him a knife.

Want to drive 70 KPH in the fast lane, go right ahead in Italy.   Lane changes need not be indicated by signal lights, just change lanes damn it, extra points if you cut someone off and then slow down.   Letting someone merge into your lane means you have a small penis and yes, yes you can slow down to check out the hot chick.

Crossing back into Germany it’s like everyone flips a switch and the rules count again.

“Holy shit, did you see that?   That dude just used his ‘blinker’ to indicate he was making a lane change.  Someone should tell the Italian’s about this!”

I think I’m going to get a lot of support from the men reading this next point.   If the start time, for getting on the road, is agreed upon, say 9 a.m., then 8:45 is not the time to start elaborate philosophical discussions.   See we were visiting our best friends (hey Maggie and Alex) and I guess, the fifteen minute mark is the time to start a discussion about ‘what it all means’ or ‘why are we here’ or ‘are Oreo’s better than Chips ahoy?”.   But Alex I do want to add that I’m in.  In  retrospect, I’m down with the Somalia plan but you’ll have to navigate because …

Listen officer, the GPS TOLD me to drive over this guy's lawn.

Listen officer, the GPS TOLD me to drive over this guy’s lawn.

I confession I suck at directions.  Thank god for GPS.  I failed land navigation as a young soldier at the (then called PLDC) Warrior Leader’s Course.  I failed it AND because of a crap-ton of snow we were doing it in garrison.  Those of you that know what I’m talking about are laughing at me right now, go ahead … dicks.   For those that don’t know what I’m talking about the instructor basically told me, “go four blocks that way, turn left two blocks and tell me what the sign there says.”  Yeah, I fucked that up, repeatedly.So YES honey you DO have a better sense of direction than I do but that’s like me saying I’m better at golfing to a retarded, physically handicapped 5 year old.  It’s not much of a victory.