Friday, 7 February 2014

Fancy Things Friday: The Podcast and The Audiobook.

Welcome to Fancy Things Friday, where I talk about things on a Friday that I think are fancy!!

No peeps, as awesome as the title might suggest, this isn't a children's book based around a friendship between two audio pals and their exciting adventures together. Sorry to disappoint. I will endeavour to think about creating said children's story however, if the demand is big enough... or if I'm bored, either way.

Audiobooks and Podcasts have never really been things I've been into, up until this month. I've always been more of a fan of the 'picking up and reading pages' technique that comes with reading, or the 'just listen to the original radio show instead of routing around for an abridged version of it, days later' type of person. However, recently I had a conversation with Younger-Brother-Daniel whereby I was complaining about the lack of Data Allowance I had on my phone, due to wiling away the more boring hours of my day (commuting etc) by watching Netflix and Youtube in non wifi accessed areas.

Younger-Brother-Daniel, being the technological guru that he is, recommended the world of podcasts and audiobooks to me. That way, I could download said podcast/audiobook whilst at home and in a wifi area, and then listen at my leisure with absolutely no damage made to my data allowance.

I was skeptical at first. The audiobook idea almost repulsed me, as I was only just getting over my disgust with the ebook, instead of a nice paperback copy. Of course, I had to change my mind on that one, the moment I published an ebook myself, as to slag off said mode of reading, I would essentially be telling people not to buy my book. Initially, I lied through my teeth about how e-reading was so much more convenient than holding an actual book, but soon found that I did enjoy being able to access a novel on my phone, thus making it possible to read in a packed train, for example. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer the feel of holding a real book, but I can get on board with the convenience of the electronic version.

Regardless, as I didn't feel that I had evolved enough as a human being to be done with the reading aspect altogether, I was not ready for the prospect of an audiobook. It seemed to just take away the joy that comes with reading. So, with that being said, I decided to try a podcast instead.

And try it, I did. It didn't take me long to catch the bug. My choice of preference was the comic podcast, and there is nothing I love more than a good ol' British comic. Overall, they tend to be weird, slightly unhinged, angry about menial things, and just generally sarcastic. Obviously, that is a massive generalisation of what Britain has to offer in the form of comedians, but let's just say that there is definitely a lot of choice available should you want anything of the above persuasion.

So I hit the itunes top chart and began my journey. Guys, I think it is safe to say that I have now wasted a ridiculous amount of my January on the listening of said podcasts and have come to following conclusions in my short, yet incredibly extensive, experience.

1. I freakin' love that it's freakin' free. 
It's like I'm cheating someone out of money, only no one seems to be offended and apparently it's all completely legal. However, due to the fact that I do love a bit of excitement, and as I don't really do anything exciting, I tend to just pretend that I do. I like to think that it is illegal and that my listening to it means that I am throwing caution to the wind and being awesomely devious.

However, for some reason, podcasts are free. But, given the way our economy is going, I don't trust that this will be the case for long, as there are very few things that are free anymore. So, if you would like to get on board with the amusing free underworld of the podcast community, sign up now and cram as much in your brain as you can.

2. It will be hit and miss.
I have found some incredibly hilarious podcast series in my short period of searching for them. I will be listing these later and fully expect each and every one of you to find all on the list and give them each your undying attention.

Having said that, my journey to find these have meant that I have become subject to listening to those that aren't that great. You see, the downfall/joy of the world of podcasts, is that there is just so much to choose from. Yes, they have the top charts, so as to provide you with some form of guidance. But obviously, your personal preference might not match the general consensus of the world, or you are desperate to be unique and want to find the underdog podcast, just so you can say that you were one of the first to love them, before the world takes over and makes them big. That way, you can have that beautiful sense of self-importance and are fully justified at all future get-togethers, when another person brings them up, to nod smugly and say, "I was a fan from the beginning, before anyone had even heard of them. You don't need to tell me how good they are." I have only one band that I can boast that of, the amazing and talented duo that is Flight Of The Conchords, who I discovered very early on, and used to spend an unhealthy amount of time obsessing over, long before anyone had even heard of them... in fact, I'm pretty certain that my entire group of friends, who now all (naturally) love them, all came to know them due to my insistence of playing every illegal bootleg copy of their songs I could find, due to nothing being available in the shops, at the time.

All that being said, your search for said 'undiscovered genius' will mean that you might stumble across the mundane, stupid (not in the good way) and downright disturbing podcasts along the way. Endure this peeps, it's worth it when you find a good one... either that, or just check what everyone else is saying on the internet.

3. Once you find a good podcast, be aware that obsession may follow.

I have two types of reaction to the podcasts I am currently following. There is either the list of podcasts that I, for some reason can't stop listening to, even though I'm not too sure it's actually good, and there is the list of Podcasts that I catch myself waiting for the new installment of with baited breath and an excitement akin to how most people might greet a loved one, or real life people, if they weren't me.

I'm going to recommend two from this type of podcast now. If you would like laughs a minute and don't mind people on public transport assuming you're the littlest bit crazy due to the spontaneous laughing you are doing, despite being clearly on your own, then please do subscribe to the following:

A: The X FM Josh Widdicombe Podcast: You can actually listen to the entire backlog of these podcasts, which are just under a year's worth, and you will most certainly fall in love with James Acaster. If you don't, I do not know what is wrong with you.
NB: X FM was where Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant first started working with Karl Pilkington, on the very same show that Josh Widdicombe now hosts. Oh yes, I'm all about educating you today.

B: Do the Right Thing: I can't even... there are no words... I have never laughed so hard on listening to a show in my life. It's a panel show and, again, you can listen to the entire backlog. It is simply amazeballs. Go now, download it, and LAUGH. You are very welcome.


And now I come to the audiobook section of my Fancy Things Friday. Despite my earlier mentioned protests, I found myself this week, having gotten through all of the backlog of my favourite podcasts, at a loss for what to do with my now excess time.

This was coupled with the fact that Older-Brother-Glyn, in an attempt to offer constructive criticism over my process of writing (which consists of sitting and doing nothing, getting inspired and typing 5 chapters all at once, before sitting and doing nothing again), suggested I needed to read more from other authors. Looking back, I'm not quite sure why he brought this up, given that he didn't know my current process of writing, and also had never read my book (I know! Shocker, my own brother!) and so had nothing to draw on in order to criticise. Don't get me wrong, I loves a good constructive feedback sesh, however, I do feel that the person offering the feedback should probably have read the material they're feeding back on, in order to form.. well any opinion on it.

I did explain to him that, as I work a full time job, am finishing a second book, have a freelancing editing job and currently write a blog five times a week, I really have little time to do much else. He was adamant however that I should make time, because clearly I wasn't doing enough and I should make this a priority (we have high standards in the Harries household). It was about this time that I silenced him, and said that, as he had not been able to find time to read a book written by his own sister, he clearly was in no position to talk.

However, he is an English teacher by trade, and so, after a month of stewing over this conversation, I decided that perhaps I would be able to factor in reading extra books, by trying the audio version and using that wonderful ability we women have, called 'multitasking.'

So I bit the bullet earlier this week, and downloaded the Audible app, thus securing my one free credit, and went on to searching for a book to listen to. I opted for Miranda's 'Is it just me?' Probably not what Older-Brother-Glyn had in mind when he suggested I read other people's work, but I couldn't help myself. I have just finished it, and laughed heartily as I thought I would. I was also incredibly delighted to hear that I was not the only one who has, from time to time, staged imaginary scenarios whereby I am being interviewed by famous TV interviewers about my flourishing writing career. Miranda Hart also did this, and now she's actually being interviewed, so clearly my overactive imagination is not deterimental to my health, as per The-Family's opinion, but rather something that successful people do before they become successful. Huzzah! Quirkiness wins over, yet again.

Incidentally, if you haven't read Miranda's book, I heartily recommend it. If you don't know who Miranda is, you'll want this link for education purposes. You are welcome, once again.

I've just purchased my first fictional audiobook, and so will reserve the review of how that one goes for after I've finished it. But I'm hopeful. And maybe, just maybe this will give me Older-Brother-Glyn's approval, finally.

Peace out my lovelies

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