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Archive for December, 2018

A Listener Reviews: Within the Wires

Merry Christmas! This has nothing to do with Christmas. I arbitrarily chose Tuesdays to release these, so here we go!

Within the Wires

Episodes: 28; Season 3 is ending soon.

Length: Generally around 20-30 minutes, but they seem to be getting shorter.

How I Found It: From Welcome to Night Vale

I’ve listened to…all posted episodes.

The Premise: You are learning about this strange world through audio recordings that have slipped into our world. Each season follows a different set of recordings from a different set of characters, but take place in the same universe. The first follows a woman listening to relaxation tapes in an unusual facility. The second a series of audio guides for an artist’s museum collections. This third season follows taped memos from a government official. Each one adds a little more depth to the world.

The Good: I enjoy this style of worldbuilding, the unfold as you go approach, so it really kept me intrigued. The unknowns in each season definitely keep me listening for more pieces to the puzzle. Writing is solid, voice acting is great. It comes from the same folks as Welcome to Night Vale, so the overall quality is very high. Which makes it a joy to listen to. They tend to be a little more meditative in tone, so I do have to be careful I don’t fall asleep (the relaxation exercises in season 1 were really bad for this!), but I like the calmer tone compared to other podcasts I listen to. And the fact that it stays so engaging with such a laid back style is really remarkable.

The Bad: It feels like there are a lot of ads? I usually don’t mention this (because, hey, you gotta make money) but with the episodes seeming to get shorter, it feels like there is less meat to make room for more advertising of other podcasts and sponsors. Also, the first season is by far the best, so far, and the revelations from subsequent seasons have not been as interesting. This is due in large part to the mystery and exploration element of the first season. Now that I know a bit about the world, the additional things I learn are less exciting.

My Rating:  Season 1 – Always up-to-date. Since then? I’ll get to it when I get to it.
For me, it’s a bit middle of the road, but always feels like a nice break. I know I’m going to learn something new and  continue piecing together not only the season’s story, but also the world.

You should listen if…you are interested in hearing some alternative history and reality that makes you work for some of the information, but ties it all together nicely in an unruffled package

Want to know what this is? Why I’m doing it? What my arbitrary rating system means? Read this post here for all the not-so-juicy details.

A Listener Reviews: Girl in Space

To read the review in its original format, click the “Read More” link. Otherwise, enjoy this updated style!

Girl in Space

Episodes: Currently 12, but ongoing.

Length: Generally around 30-40 minutes

I’ve listened to… All that I can!

The Premise: Girl in Space follows a girl in space. I know, right? It starts aboard her ship, and you quickly realize that, while not always the case, she is now completely alone. The mission, however, is clear: to monitor the nearby star, Ra. However, things begin to get weird when a fleet of ships shows up, turning things on their head and opening up a lot more questions about who she is, what Ra is, and what exactly has been going on.

My review: Girl in Space. This one is special to me in a lot of ways. First, because on of my very close friends heard it and sent it to me to listen to. They know me way too well, because I was hooked from episode one. And then because I listened to it right around the time my little one was born. Honestly, I planned to save it to listen to after she made her grand arrival, but after a couple episodes, I couldn’t stop listening. I had a bit of the baby blues in the weeks after she was born. Nothing serious, but I wasn’t really feeling like me. And I was crying a lot. An episode came out about a month after she was born, and it was one of those things that helped connect me to who I was and who I have become since I became the full-time caregiver to a tiny human. Plus, when anxiety and stress and sadness tried to keep me awake during the few precious hours I had to sleep, I could let myself ponder this world and relax. So, I have a very personal connection to this story because it came around right when I needed it.

Beyond that, it is excellently written, recorded, acted, and whatever else goes into making a podcast. The story grabbed me almost immediately and has yet to stop. That’s primarily because worldbuilding is some of the most artful I have listened to. Rather than taking a break to explain some concept or idea, the characters naturally discuss it and leave it to the listener to put things together. It does so in a way that is easy to follow and understand, but does not rely on spoon-feeding via expository sections.

On top of the curious and exciting world being developed episode by episode, the characters are truly engaging. They are not one dimensional, but each has their strengths and weaknesses. Which means even the good guys are bad sometimes. The way they handle intense topics is also enhanced by the diversity of their characters. There are some heavy things, and each character seems to have their own way of dealing with them, from healthy to very unhealthy. As one more positive in this already glowing review, the creators integrate a healthy dose of humor into the episodes, appropriately breaking up the tension when needed.

So, it has a good world, it has good characters, and finally it manages to mix up those two pieces in a unique and dynamic plot. Like many good stories, every time a question is answered, a couple dozen pop up to replace it. When I think I’ve finally started to piece things together, some new element comes in to shine a different light on the situation.

The main criticism I have is the irregularity. I know, that one’s rich coming from someone with a blog that sat empty for months at a time. I get it. I mean, I’ve never tried anything nearly as complex as a podcast, but I get that life and creativity don’t always mesh. That said, I wouldn’t be being fair if I didn’t note that. The update schedule is very intermittent. There are often months between episodes. This didn’t both me so much when I first listened because I binged the first 10 episodes. But now that I’m having to wait for new ones, I find it hard to keep all the relevant details in mind. So I’m sure I’m missing things. It also makes me nervous that this fantastic story is going to fade away unresolved, questions unanswered, characters unfulfilled.

But, until that happens (and hopefully it never does!), I will be eagerly awaiting each and every new episode. This is the one podcast I have set up to automatically download new episodes, and I will be waiting to listen anytime they are able to get an episode out. It’s just that good.

Find them here: Girl in Space


Hey! A new project has appeared!

Well, the cobwebs sure have gotten thick! I see the last post was last October. Not a great look. I guess a brief update is in order. About a year ago, I found out I was pregnant. A few months back, I gave birth to a happy, healthy, wonderful little girl. To be honest, pregnant me was not really feeling much up to writing, and new mom me was feeling it even less. But, life is settling into a little more routine, and I’d like to get back to a few things. But I also think I need to ease into this. So, I’m thinking of something new. Mainly because I have a newborn, want to get back into writing, but don’t quite have the brain/will power to work on things more comprehensive right now. I’ve got ideas, but the idea of sitting down and crafting them out right now just seems….overwhelming. So, for a bit, I thought I’d write some reviews. Not that they don’t take time and energy, but they are less labor intensive for me, at least. And I like sharing my opinion on things, so why not?

I’ve thought about this for a bit. About two years ago now I volunteered to help out one of my work’s locations with therapy while they were low staffed. It meant having an hour one way commute for about 9 months. (It was supposed to be three, I was supposed to get paid for travel, I won’t be volunteering again!) During that time, I started getting into podcasts more seriously. I had been listening to Welcome to Night Vale for a while already, probably 2-3 years at that point, but I wanted something more to keep my attention. And since then I’ve gathered a healthy collection of podcasts that I enjoy, some I dislike, and some I’m still figuring out. While I’m sure there is no dearth of podcast reviews on the internet (I bet you there’s even a podcast of podcast reviews!), I figured why not add my voice to the din. It’s my blog, after all.

So, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts. I’ll only review something I’ve at least listened to three episodes of, because that’s generally my mark for determining if I’m going to keep listening or not. Most of the ones I’ll review I’ve listened to much more, but there may be some outliers. I figure I may as well be trendy and come up with an interesting rating scale, so I’m going to base it on how likely I am to listen.

  • Top of the Queue – For podcasts that are so good, a new episode preempts whatever else I’ve been listening to.
  • Always up-to-date – I know listening will be good, and so I’m definitely going to listen within the week so that I can be ready when the next episode is out. A few standouts may jump ahead of it in the queue, but I’m not going to miss it!
  • I’ll get to it when I get to it – I find it interesting, but I’m not captured by the story or waiting anxiously for the next episode. It may get shuffled lower in my queue a few times, but I eventually get caught up.
  • If there’s nothing else – For those podcasts I keep around with the idea that, if I finish listening to everything else, I’ll go back to it. Something redeemable, but not that engaging.
  • Unsubscribe – Pretty self-explanatory. There are some that I’ve listened to and decided it just wasn’t for me. Time to hit the unsubscribe button, because I’m not interested in going farther.

So, be looking for those to hit the….internet. I guess. I have a few already done that I will be adding, probably on a weekly basis. Tuesday seems a good day to drop a podcast review, right?

They all have roughly the same format, and so I hope to be able to continue as I add more podcasts. My review list is already….23 podcasts long. And I guess if someone is actually reading this and you put out a podcast, you can let me know. No guarantees, but I can usually manage to  listen to a few episodes and spew my unsolicited opinion. 🙂

And, fingers-crossed 2019 bring a little more time to write. You know, with an infant and all….