So this is the issue with me trying to stockpile posts in advance. I find that I keep changing what I want to say.
What is this podcast of which you speak
For example, on podcasts, first I was just going to point out that I’m late to the party. Because this is a tech-related party, no one here should be shocked. Melissa can’t figure out something that the rest of us have been doing for years and is basically like listening to snippets of NPR??? CLUTCHES PEARLS IN DISBELIEF.
I’m pretty behind on the news generally as well. I tell James and friends that if anything happens in the world, they really need to let me know, because otherwise it could take awhile to filter down to me. Friends smile and give me a figurative pat on the head like a kid freaking out about a monster hiding under the bed with a surprise pop quiz. James nods stoically and tries to catalog news as he hears it because he knows the situation is dire. I’m not proud of this. It is definitely something to work on in 2015.
You may see where this is going. I didn’t learn of Serial until it was over and done and it was already a big thing. I’m actually kind of glad about this for two reasons: (1) I do much better in a binge consuming format instead of patiently waiting for the next installment to hurry up and come out already and (2) I enjoyed it more knowing how it would end. I know some people don’t dig ambiguity. Normally I am one of them, but just knowing that I wouldn’t know made the whole experience OK.
When do you do the cast of pod
Next, I thought, well everyone knows about Serial. Maybe I’ll just talk about when you listen to podcasts. See, I had to figure out a good time to listen. I don’t have a traditional commute. Even when I used to commute, I would usually read WaPo’s free newspaper-let Express. (Man, I heart Express. I couldn’t even look up this link without clicking on two articles.)
I wasn’t one to listen to music on my phone. Being tied to a phone still feels weird, but that’s another story. This drives James nuts, but I’m not good on ambient noise. Ambient noise in this case, much to James’s chagrin, includes music. I LOVE music, but I find it impossible to write or read if there is music (with lyrics) in the room. James would listen to tunes–including an embarrassingly large amount of Brit bubble gum pop–24/7 if it were an option. #sorryjames #notanoption
Despite my focus problems, I found a few times that fit for listening. Playing with Mac on the rare-ish times when Henry is sleeping is a good one. I do talk to Mac, but our less verbal play means the podcast isn’t distracting. And I’m less worried any strong language.
Another time is when I’m editing photos. I edit photos with picmonkey, and I’ve been trying to get better about batching my photo editing time. I find this lower plane thinking click-click task suited to some distraction. It has made something that I’m not wild about something I actually look forward to.
The other day, I even listened to a podcast while cooking! I usually wait to start dinner until James gets home. Cooking with two kids (literally) underfoot is frustrating at best and a recipe for disaster at worst. So James has some time with the kids, and I have some “me time” while cooking. SNORT. But it does feel a little more special to have some entertainment while I’m frantically trying to dice an onion and not burn things.
Why do we podcast anyway?
But this made me wonder, what are we listening to podcasts? And is it a good thing? Doesn’t it seem weird on some level that we are reverting to a form of entertainment that was popular decades ago? At first, I thought, maybe this is good that we are getting a bit more low tech. We don’t need a screen. We just want to listen.
But then I wondered about a more sinister side to podcasts. You’ve seen how smartphones can be bad because they keep us from spacing out? Without down time and boredom, you don’t daydream or have a chance to think deep thoughts.
I worry about our phones generally. I worry about raising my kids around phones specifically. How to balance the good side and benefits with the rudeness and headaches and crappy side?
I’m on the low phone use end of the spectrum. As I type this, I’m not really sure where my phone is. I’m sure it’s around. As the caretaker of two kids, I’ve made a concerted effort to have the phone with me when we go out. But if James is with us, I’ll probably ditch the phone. Is this weird? I don’t know. Probably.
So are people using podcasts instead of phones OR are they using podcasts at times when phones aren’t convenient to squeeze in as much extra media as possible and stave off boredom? You can podcast when you fold the laundry or cook dinner. It makes tedious things more interesting. But is this good? Is it good to have a tool that creates even fewer opportunities to be alone with our thoughts?
But lately, when the end of the afternoon seems to drag on forever, I’ve been playing classical music while I play with the kids. I know. That makes me sound like that mom. I really don’t know that much about classical music. I just know that I get overwhelmed and such if I have music with words playing. I know. Weird. But that’s how it is.
And the music is nice. I’m learning things. Maybe the kids are enjoying it. It gives some pep to a dreary afternoon when we are stuck inside.
Would it be better if we played in silence? I mean, not silence, but just talking to each other all original communication gangster. I don’t know. Maybe sometimes? But I think sometimes there is a place for music. And I think sometimes there is probably a place for podcasts as well.
The train has left the station. What do we listen to next?
I blew through Serial. But then what? So then I thought, ooo, maybe I should write a “How to Find Your Next Awesome Podcast Listen” type post. (I’m trying to get better about formulating attractive titles.) But then I would need advice on how to find interesting podcasts. Luckily, I have devised a two-step formula:
- Listen to what your friends like.
- Once you discover a podcast you like, track all of that podcaster’s work.
Here’s the formula in action. I stumbled onto StartUp, “[a] series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one,” from a Modern Mrs. Darcy recommendation. (A virtual, you’ve never actually met “friend” also works for the formula.) As someone who has toyed with writing a book called something like What Happened to All the Entrepreneurs?, I’m hooked.
After StartUp, I tried Gimlet Media’s other show, Reply All, a show about the internet, hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. I like it. It touches on pieces of the internet I’d never otherwise encounter. In my can’t-even-keep-up-with-current-events state, it makes me feel a little savvy and cutting edge.
After I caught up on Reply All, I decided to check out PJ Vogt’s and Alex Goldman’s previous show TLDR. This show is shorter. Usually seven-ish minutes of perfect potato chip snacking. I usually can’t eat just one. Again, none of this is info I need to know, but some of it is downright interesting.
Which brings me to TLDR Episode #10, One Hundred Songs in a Day. Here, the hosts profile Matt Farley, a musician who instead of making one big hit song has made thousands of no-hit-wonders. These songs add up though, and Farley makes over $20,000 in royalties a year.
And THIS led me to Farley’s genius work, Poop Into A Wormhole:
(Henry watches the video and says, “That snail is doing a great job!” Poop = snail. Apparently.)
James doesn’t understand why I am so tickled by this song. But I definitely am. (Which is convenient considering it is going to be all poop humor all the time at this house soon.)
I think the chorus has a sort of Too Many Cooks catchiness.
I think the words are really witty. If you are too scared to go into the wormhole, it TOTALLY makes sense to send your poop inside. A stinky surprise!
But maybe I’m tickled for the same reason the TLDR hosts love it. I love that this song exists at all. It is like if I took the random songs I make up during the day, actually added music, and then shared them with the world. I don’t think I’ll be doing this, but I love that Farley is. Things like this make me love the internet all over again.
And that is how podcasts led me to Poop Into A Wormhole. Maybe I should just stick to drafting real-time posts instead of crafting you 1500 word odysseys that end in poop.
Do you podcast? When do you listen? WHAT do you listen to? Please let me know; I need to work the formula again!
11 thoughts on “Podcasts led me to Poop into a Wormhole”
I don’t know if it is a true podcast or just an NPR show but I love “wait wait don’t tell me”. It is a news quiz show. So you learn about world news and funny, all in one hour a week.
Ooo . . . that would be perfect. I’ll have to check that out.
I started listening while processing data, which can be extremely monotonous. Now I listen on my commute. I listen to some of the typical NPR type stuff, which is better than what’s actually on NPR at that time of day: This American Life, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. I used to listen to Car Talk. If you are not familiar, it’s worth a trip through the archives. Not that car repair advice is particularly exciting, but those guys are funny. All of these are of course kid friendly unless marked otherwise.
A while back, a friend introduced me to Stuff Mom Never Told You. It’s produced by the How Stuff Works people at Discovery Communications. (How Stuff Works also has a podcast, but I find it kind of eh.) SMNTY focuses on women’s issues. The topics can be kind of hit or miss. I tend to like their pieces on social history (history of panty hose or forgotten women in astronomy) better than their examinations of modern trends (vocal fry, Taylor Swift) or medical issues. The language is generally kid friendly, but the topics are sometimes kind of heavy (domestic violence or cervical cancer for example).
I also listen to several skeptically themed podcasts. Skepticallity is a series of segments on dubious claims (psychics, UFOs, chiropractors, etc.). I’m not necessarily on board with all of the activism they advocate, but interesting to know about none the less. Always safe for kids. Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe is the same topics, but different format. This is more of a talk show with 5 nerds in discussion. There is very occasional rough language, but otherwise safe for kids. Penn’s Sunday School is the ravings of Penn Jillett (but not Teller). It is also a talk show format, and it is quite entertaining, but the language is never, ever safe for delicate or impressionable ears.
Really fascinating subject–I totally agree that time for our minds to wander is becoming a “lost art”…we need to decompress and that’s not possible when our brains are focused on something all the time! That said, my days are long and very quiet and sometimes it’s. Ice to have human voices to listen to while I do dishes, workout (I prefer podcasts to music now when I workout!) or run errands. I wish I could suggest something “high brow” like some of your other commenters, but I’m kind of addicted to The Sports Junkies from back in DC. 🙂
This post and comments has given me some new motivation to branch out!!