This is Pishkin.
This is Pishkin.
I only started listening to podcasts a few years ago. If you’re new to this world, it can be difficult at first to find what you’re looking for. When I found a podcast I really liked, I often went back to the beginning and listened to the entire back-catalogue. Sometimes it’s worthwhile. I did this for The Bugle and Hello Internet (you should probably do the same). Sometimes I found new podcasts because I liked the guest on a podcast I was listening to. Sometimes podcasts recommend other podcasts. Slowly I’ve built up a small multitude of podcasts I check in on regularly. There are a few that I catch every episode, others if I like the topic or the guest. I listen to some only now and again, just to see what’s going on.
I’ve done a few blog posts of podcast recommendations. I started grouping podcasts together with themes. All the while I was adding more podcasts to my feed, listening to new things, pruning and selecting. Some things I listen to at double speed, others at normal speed (pro tip: if it’s comedy, you need the timing to be right). I wanted to sample everything that was out there. If I was a real social media hawk, I would be posting about every episode I listened to. I’d be joining in the conversation. But this is more my style, having a low-key website that no one really knows about, keeping a secret diary of all the little things I think are cool. I like whispering in a world of shouting.
If you have never listened to a podcast before, my recommendations might be a good place to start. Or maybe you won’t like anything I recommend, that can happen too. In the words of the great David O’Doherty, please please lower your expectations. One thing you will need (whether or not you like any of my podcast recommendations) is a good podcasting app. Overcast is the app I use for listening to podcasts. Sometimes I listen to podcasts by the independent app developer (and podcaster) who developed Overcast, Marco Arment. He does a tech podcast called Accidental Tech Podcast. He also gave this speech in 2013 at XOXO festival, where he first announced he was developing Overcast. Towards the end of this video, Arment really elucidates the appeal of podcasts as a format, and the benefits of the open decentralised RSS-based distribution model.
With my tendency to over-subscribe to podcasts and then prune over time, Overcast’s playlist functionality has helped me to manage this weird little workflow that I use to find stuff I like. Big thanks to Marco.
We all spend years criticising anyone who shoots vertical video, and then IGTV comes along and says vertical video is the way to go. God damn it. Guess I’m making vertical videos now. Or am I? Can I get behind this? I recently completed a 16:9 video for the song ‘Bang Goes The TV’ and as an experiment I decided to try and verticalise it (going that crazy/wrong 9:16 ratio).
I took the existing 16:9 video and chopped off the left side and right side, sticking them down the bottom in different hues. It is a bit of a hack, but kind of works in the context of the song and the general weirdness of the video. I have no idea how this works.
It was a bit of a struggle outputting the right format. Turns out I can do that with Motion. Vertical video needs a custom format, I went with 608 x 1080. Most output formats are .mov files but IGTV needs .mp4. You can do it, it’s just tucked away in the Share menu [ Share > Apple Devices > Mac and PC ]. Always with the technical issues, I still haven’t got a way to embed IGTV in WordPress. Anyway, you can click here to watch the completed vertical video on IGTV.
The human mind has a staggering capacity for pattern recognition. We see familiar patterns wherever we look, even when they are not present. The most familiar pattern is the human face, or any face, it could be an animal. Some little part of our brain is dedicated to constantly scanning our visual field looking for two eyes, a nose and a mouth, or anything even close to that.
In complex systems, we can’t help it, we perceive pattern matches that arise from sheer randomness. In billowing smoke and flame, we can see devilish faces flash in and out of existence. If we stare at the ground in leafy shade, we see mysterious visages and hear them creaking in the wind. In the textures of nature, we always see ourselves, our best friends, our worst fears. We all see Mustafa in the clouds.
There are plenty of other places on the internet where people have compiled whole libraries of exactly this… things that look like faces. It’s a human obsession. I like to snap the faces I see, or rather the things that look like faces. It’s an infrequent habit. So I’m going to share some of my own on this website. This is what catches my eye when I’m out and about.
Showing them to people is oddly banal, like telling someone your dream. We all think our dreams are interesting, no one else does. But Things That Look Like Faces is at least a lot quicker than dreamsplaining. It only takes a sideways glance. I get giddy little thrills from seeing things that look like faces, from realising that I am seeing things differently, engaging in an unconscious leap of imagination. So I reach for my smartphone… my cameraphone… I think it’s safe to just call it a phone now.
This has been the first exciting episode of what will probably be a recurring series. I’ll be back next week or next month or whenever with another blog post (this one was so boring!) and some more of my very own… Things That Look Like Faces. I may change the format. The new format will be… a new format every week. Look, it’s a blog post. No, it’s a podcast. Nope, it’s a video. Whoosh, it’s a vertical video. Anything is possible because things look like faces.
There could be nothing more Ireland in the eighties than the incident at Ballinspittle, County Cork, where a statue of the Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, was said to have moved of its own accord. Nobody had multi-channel in those days, so there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation. My parents bundled up the five kids and we drove for more than an hour. We all sat on a hill waiting to see a holy vision, like hundreds of other pilgrims replete with hang sangwidges, bockles of orange and picnic blankets.
Let me tell you, if you’re five years old and you stare at anything for a whole minute (let alone several hours) you will think it’s waving at you. You will hallucinate out of sheer boredom and suggestibility. The Wikipedia page says Many visitors claimed to have observed the spontaneous movements. The Catholic Clergy in Ireland maintained a neutral stance in regard to the authenticity of the claims. I don’t know anything about the original claims, but I think when I was there the only witnesses were young children (myself included). The statue was a cheap babysitter and a cheap day out. The rumour was probably started by a local shopkeeper to sell more bockles of orange and rosary beads. It was like something from an episode of Father Ted.
It’s amazing I turned out so well adjusted, when you consider I believed such silly nonsense. You see, I was raised in a country where a fanatical cult run by hypocritical monsters shielded and facilitated paedophilia and other abuse for decades. That kind of dawned on me (and everyone) in the nineties. That was the last real decade of the rosary bead (though the old folks still carry on the old ways). I’m not nostalgic for a time when Catholicism had such a hold on people’s minds in Ireland. But I could murder a bockle of orange.
I have a few strongly-held opinions on copyright. I support the idea of some kind of mechanism to provide artists with monetary compensation for their labours. We all need money to live. But as a creator, I also want to be free to remix and explore the work of others through my own work. It all hinges on ‘fair use’, a concept whose interpretation has been stretched on both sides of the debate.