Robot music, and Todd’s jury duty for attempted murder

No robots were harmed in the making of this podcast. All music sourced for this episode was computer generated, except for a couple samples later on in the jury duty story (you can tell).

I got to catch up with Todd again while he was finishing up summer break from teaching and he told me about some cool and bizarre examples of computer generated music. He has been on jury duty for weeks, prohibited to discuss the criminal case, and now he’s finally finished!

Most music was captured from Generative FM

The first pop song ever written by artificial intelligence is pretty good, actually [Quartz]

An A.I. Wrote a Christmas Song and It’s Really, Really Creepy

Thanks for listening!

It would be cool if you give us a friendly rating on Apple Podcasts, or rate/favorite the episode in the app you’re using right now.

Wanna get in touch?

Tweet the show @sorrytopic, or at Rob @robrogan and Josh @themacinjosh.

Feel free to jump in our open Telegram chat.


Games, weddings, and language with Mike Rapin

Rob and Mike talk about games from DnD to Mario, wedding planning, learning Japanese, and other random crap.

I grabbed the intro and outro music from this great playlist! (Visit the website if any of these YouTube links don’t appear in your app.)

I love Takashi’s advice and comments about making a good platformer level on Nintendo Minute:

Japanese: The Game on Kickstarter (I don’t think you can buy the game anymore).

A couple videos that Mike mentioned were:

SMM2 Competitive Gameplay

SMM2 levels from Twitter

Mike’s SSMM2 level:


And you can watch Rob die trying it in this clip.

Rob’s SSMM2 level:


Have fun typing those in >.<

Thanks for listening!

It would be cool if you give us a friendly rating on Apple Podcasts, or rate/favorite the episode in the app you’re using right now.

Wanna get in touch?

Tweet the show @sorrytopic, or at Rob @robrogan and Mike @mikerapin.

Feel free to jump in our open Telegram chat.


Return of the Josh

Josh and Rob unite again to host a beautifully meandering episode about work, life, optometry, and shitty art restoration.


Productivity tools, life online, and trumpet talk with Todd

NEW FEATURE: Chapters!

This might show up in your current podcast app (let us know), but if you don’t see chapter markers then we recommend trying out the Overcast app for our podcast. Or don’t, whatever, just an idea.

Rob has a long chat with another good old friend from Band Camp. Todd currently lives and teaches music in New York City. He also studied trumpet, so we occasionally veer into the weeds to learn some interesting (to Rob) facts about trumpets.

If that’s not your thing, don’t despair, we also hit on a few productivity apps and methods that Todd has experience with, talk about similarities between education and tech jobs, and of course get a bit philosophical along the way.

All the external audio is sourced from youtube which you can view on our website or (if I did this right), hit the links in the notes below.

How brass instruments work from TedEd [youtube]
Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat Major by Franz Joseph Haydn [youtube]
Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury by Benjamin Britten [youtube]

Follow us on twitter @SorryTopic or leave some questions and suggestions in the free and open Telegram chat group.


Alex Monroe, part 2: New Music

Rob continues his conversation with Alex and they scratch the surface of “New Music.” Let us know if you dig this kind of thing. We can do some more like this once in a while!


If you’re looking at these show notes in your podcast player like a totally normal person, we don’t blame you; that’s how it should be. There are a lot of media excerpts in these notes however, and we highly recommend that you read the rest of this on our website.

Electric Counterpoint by Steve Reich

Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint” – we used it in the intro and a couple minutes later when Alex introduces minimalism.

Mallet Quartet: I. Fast by Steve Reich

“Mallet Quartet” is a quintessential example of Reich minimalism. The recording came out last year and won a Grammy.

I won’t even include a Schoenberg piece because I can assume no one wants to listen to him. Check out the wiki here if interested.

In a Landscape by John Cage

John Cage frequently experimented with structure in his works by using the I Ching to generate a “randomness.” This is an earlier work of his that is quite beautiful and tonal, but is not grounded in a common structure (whether verse, chorus, etc. or exposition, development, recap). This excerpt is not in this episode, it was in part 1.

John Cage’s 4’33”

Cage is probably most known for his piece “4 minutes 33 seconds” which is a ‘silent‘ performance.

the so-called laws of nature: part III by David Lang

This piece is so zen. It also is a great example of using found objects to make sound. The main hum you hear is a set of flowerpots being played with yarn mallets.

playing the flowerpots

Alex says: This is an example of how percussion groups have gone mainstream and become more like bands:


Alex Monroe, part 1: Buddhism

We’ve got another special edition with Rob and guest of the show, Alex Monroe! Alex is a percussionist living in Chicago, and the Executive Director of Beyond This Point – ooh fancy. They mostly talk about meditation and the philosophy of Buddhism. Coming soon, in part two there’s an interesting introduction to modern / ‘new’ music for you too.


If you’re looking at these show notes in your podcast player like a totally normal person, we don’t blame you; that’s how it should be. There are a lot of media excerpts in these notes however, and we highly recommend that you read the rest of this on our website. Go ahead and open it up in the background while you listen, we won’t mind 🙂

13:00 – Threads (mvt. 1), by Paul Lansky – Narration by Alan Watts – Performed by beyond this point and Matthew Duvall. Here’s the video:

16:30 – Alan Watts’ recorded lectures make up the soundtrack for this awesome hippy game called Everything. This is the trailer you heard:

Buddhism has transformed Alex’s worldview, even his politics! Rob feels like he had been somewhat Buddhist all along, but didn’t realize it until he read What the Buddha Taught. That Goodreads link has lots of options to buy or check out from a library.

27:20 – Music sampled in the background is from Satyagraha by Philip Glass, someone you’ll hear more about in Part 2. Listen to the full piece here

29:00 – Alex talks about the Headspace app, which is helping him meet his goal of meditating every day for a year! We also play audio from one of the videos just because it’s a cute mix between goofy and interesting. Here’s the Headspace ‘How It Works’ video:

44:00 – Rob refers to some books by Pema Chödrön. A pretty long, but great audiobook he listened to is called Noble Heart. A good, shorter read is The Places That Scare You.

If you want some free podcasts of Buddhism, meditation, Q&A sessions with beginners, and much more, check out AudioDharma. You can search for it in your podcast app to subscribe, or go to the website and browse for specific lectures.

Rob loves talking about this stuff, so if you want to hear more, figure out a way to let us know and maybe we’ll do more like this episode.

/ Side note

51:00 – Totally switching gears, Alex needed to vent about his quest to find an auto part that no one had.

We’ll be back with Alex Monroe, part 2: New Music in a couple of weeks!

Check out for photos, YouTube clips, and other great stuff.


Now on Stitcher!

Special update to people who use Stitcher for all their podcasts:

Sorry to get back on topic has been approved for Stitcher. We hope this makes listening easier for you to keep all your shows in one place.

One concern: Rob is very anti-advertising and we’ve seen that Stitcher is very ad heavy. As long as we can keep it under 5,000 listeners we won’t be required (by Stitcher) to include audio ads. In the app however, there are banner ads, which obviously no one likes.

In short, we hope this makes enjoying the podcast more convenient! We’ll monitor how many listens we get on that platform as a trial run and may not stick around unless people are definitely getting value out of Stitcher.

Let us know!

@sorrytopic on Twitter or Telegram


Rob is lazy, and OTHER topics with special guest: Mike Rapin

Josh is still too busy to catch up lately, so I invited our mutual friend Mike Rapin to substitute in his absence. He does an… okay job.

In this episode we go way back to our early podcasting days with live Ustream feeds and the TalkShoe service that let people “call in” to our podcast recording

We also talked about chat and texting services like Slack versus Discord, and Telegram versus WhatsApp, Line, and Facebook Messenger.
Learn about our Telegram group on the podcast’s about page

Remember way back in Episode 1 when Josh and I talked about finding friends as an adult is almost like dating? Mike was the one who told us about Patook back then, the app where you make a quasi-dating profile but it’s platonic

Check out Mike’s podcasts. Seriously, they’re an inspiration to us all:
Getting Caught Up
I Read Comic Books – now in its 5th year!!
@mikerapin on Twitter and social things

Find Rob on Twitter as @robrogan or say hello to us all in the Telegram group 🙂


Disaster Transport

The smoke from the California wildfires made the air quality here in the San Francisco Bay Area worse than ever, with the Air Quality Index measuring in the mid-300’s at one point. Normal levels are somewhere around 10 – 40.

While many people slap a case on their phones, Josh likes to use a ‘sleeve.’ This doesn’t provide protection against drops while you’re using the phone of course, but it does help prevent scratches when you’re putting the phone down on rough surfaces. Here’s the $9 sleeve that he’s been using (bonus for other vegan folks, it’s faux leather!) [on amazon]

Josh and his wife Vanessa went to Disneyland recently, and Josh couldn’t help but think about his favorite amusement park, Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. Space Mountain at Disneyland brought up memories of another far crappier indoor roller coaster at Cedar Point called Disaster Transport.

Here’s a video about that ride, and the channel has a lot of interesting stuff about old defunct rides too:

Disaster Transport Wikipedia

This episode was edited by Rob. You can forward any complaints to him.


More Coffee!

Hey, it’s Rob.

I know this is a podcast and all, but sometimes I like to dig deep into a certain topic. Sorry not sorry.

You know the wine snobs? Coffee has a much wider variety of flavor profiles than wine does. As far as I know, coffee also has a lot of other variables in the equation from bean to cup. That means there are so many things along the way that influence the flavor it hurts my brain.

What little information I have here, rest assured I’m no expert and there is tons more to learn on the internet!

The beans

Another, more detailed video about coffee processing: YouTube

Roasting the beans

Buy them whole, grind yourself

Gale is LEGIT. She gives a pretty clear intro to what’s up with grinders

Brew it!

Intelligentsia has the best guides I’ve seen. I like them because it’s concise and easy to follow. You can also choose based on the equipment you have:

I think this is the most pretentious thing I’ve ever seen. Peak hipster.

Okay but where to buy some good beans, and what to look for?

This is a pretty good listicle:

Keyword to look for is third wave, which means absolutely as pretentious as you can get. In that list I linked above you’ll find plenty to choose from, but it’s still hard to walk to the grocery store and find any of that product.

Try to go to a fancy café near you and they might have that in their retail section. Alternatively, I’ve been considering some sort of subscription service…

Coffee subscriptions

I’m pretty skeptical of subscription anything. I work for a company that lives off the subscription model. It’s such an easy way to make a ton of cash, but I did try to break down the prices for what you get.

Google Sheets: Coffee Subscriptions

^ Here’s a quick spreadsheet listing all the coffee bean subscriptions I could find and the price by weight of coffee. It’s public, and free for anyone to edit by the way. If you want to contribute, go ahead

As you can see, some places are more expensive, but maybe you get more coffee. Another bonus to some of these is the variety. You could have a rotation of different roasting companies and different regions of coffee to figure out what you like best. I plan on trying this soon. If you know of a certain brand you love and can’t find them in the store, then you could go straight to their website.

I’ll wrap things up here. Like I said, there’s plenty more to learn, but hopefully this gets you started!