No. 01 // Distractions & Amusements

First of all, Happiest of Holidays to everyone! I hope you all had a relaxing and fun time with family and friends in any form they may take!

P and I jetted off to Indianapolis to spend Christmas with his family and we've been loving the time. We feel like we've finally gotten a chance to relax and catch up with his side of the family, which we were sorely missing. We've already had an amazing Christmas Eve dinner (I had the most INCREDIBLE dish of Chilean Sea Bass at Flemming's Steakhouse... I can't even describe it. It was heaven, every single bite! I'm dreaming of eating it again), a fantastic Christmas day (french toast casserole and mimosas all day) and fun (and crowded) trip to the mall for a few gift exchanges. I've loved not having anything planned out and being able to relax and work a few remaining kinks out of the blog and catch up on work for a few of my wonderful clients. I feel calmer and I've gotten some much needed restful sleep. Merry Christmas to me, indeed!
 

We miss the girls terribly, but we're still glad we've gotten to spend time with our far flung family since we get to spend time with my family all the time. We're back in Durham on Monday so we've got a few more days to enjoy, but in the meantime, I wanted to compile a few things that have been catching my attention lately.

An incredible article that follows the departure of a once dedicated member of the Westboro Baptist Church (the hate filled "church" that often protests military funerals and is famous for the "God hates fags" signs) and the circumstances that led to her disillusionment and ultimate decision to leave. A fantastic article that delves deep into the soul of why we believe what we believe and what it would take to change that.

Have you seen the Tonight Show's Kid Theater with Tom Hanks? SO PERFECT! I've had this one in the background at work for when I need a moment to cool down. Also, when did Tom Hanks get so old?

A fun and visual walk through of common writing and grammatical mistakes from Benjamin Dreyer, the VP executive Managing Editor and Copy Chief of Random House Publishing Group. I love finding these! I'd like to think I'm a grammar nerd, but I haven't been a copy editor in so long that I make the same mistakes I hate seeing in print. A nice and fun reminder of several of the most common copy issues we'll all encounter in our daily writing.

Honestly the most delightful thing I've ever seen. Let this sweet Orangutan enjoying a magic trick warm your heart this chilly season!

Finally... GO SEE STAR WARS! It's absolutely AMAZING! J.J. Abrams did an excellent job in taking on such an enormous project. Plus: LADY JEDI!! Also BB-8 is absolutely perfect!

Who's a podcast addict? This girl!

As a graphic designer, my days are filled with really tedious work that requires long periods of really intense concentration interspersed with stretches of time where I need to be able to focus in on something other than my work (or else I'll pull a nutty).

One thing I've found incredibly helpful to my creative process, is to have something playing in the background while I'm working on a design. It allows me to keep focus, but also allows me to be just distracted enough that I don't lock in on the unnecessary details and obsess about them.

My all-time favorite thing to play while working is podcasts. Let me just say: I LOOOOVVVEEE podcasts. Like, really. LOVELOVELOVE podcasts. I'm a book nerd, stories are right up my alley. Podcasts are a great way to consume all kinds of material, and, lucky for me, there are lots of people out there willing to create podcasts on just about anything. My nerdy little knowledge hungry heart can fill to the brim with great content and I looooooovvvveeee it!

A good while back, I shared some of my favorite everyday podcasts. For the most part, I still keep up with those podcasts, for sure. But recently, I've been really digging into the iTunes store and searching around for new ones to listen to and I've dug up a few really incredible nuggets that I wanted to share. Here are a few new podcasts I've been really digging lately:

 

This one got my started me on a my big dig for great fictionalized serials. To be honest, I hadn't really listened to any fictionalized content before this one, a bad experience with a terrible audiobook really turned me off to any audio fiction. I'm glad I gave it a try because this one is REALLY interesting. The podcast is a fictionalized audio report– a la Serial – about a town (Limetown) where – after a mysterious incident that brought the police and US government to it's grounds – the entire population of the town vanished without a trace. The narrator, Lia Haddock, is trying to track down what happened and slowly, weird things start to happen around her as dives deeper into the mystery. This one is a great mystery. It's a bit... trope-y (as one of my fellow Serial-obsessed friends pointed out on Facebook),some of the things that happen are slightly eye-roll, but, stick with it. The mystery and story really hooked me in. I finished all the available episodes and one sitting and am eagerly awaiting the next. I love the creepy vibe and really great sound design. An excellent toe-dip into the world of serialized podcast fiction.

(Subscribe Here)

 

 

 

I literally JUST finished this podcast's first season and I'm totally hooked! This one is another fictionalized serial that follows the investigations of Alex Reegan into 'The Strand Institute', a mysterious organization that –along with it's enigmatic leader, Richard Strand – investigates paranormal phenomena with the aim to debunk it. The podcast is a great slow burn, creepy detective story with each episode focusing on a new "Black Tape" that contains a case that Dr. Strand hasn't been able to solve yet. The best way to describe it is a creepy Serial. I love that it's a great mystery with horror story stapes and it's really beautifully crafted as well. If you like a good horror mystery, this one is for you.  (Subscribe Here)

 

 

Probably my favorite recent find! I was introduced to this one in a Slate story and was hooked in the first 10 minutes. The story follows a codebreaking firm that is tasked by the US government to decode a message recorded in the mid 1940's that seems to have an extraterrestrial origin. With curses and weird happening attached to the recording's history, the narrator, Robyn, follows the team assigned with it's decryption as they try to figure out where the message came from and why it was sent. A really REALLY fun fictionalized series and great listen that combines fantastic recording quality with excellent sound design, story, structure and characters. This one is for mystery lovers that enjoy sci-fi. The most recent episode took a turn into really interesting scifi territory and I'm chomping at the bit to find out what happens next – always a good thing (Subscribe Here)

 

 

 

This one is a bit different than the first three. It's a history podcast that features true stories of the strange, creepy and macabre. I love the way the narrator, Aaron Mahnke, delivers these truly spine tingling bits of history. He's a writer IRL and it definitly shows in the way he weaves the imagery together. Beautifully recorded with some great original music as it's background, this one is for lovers of the weird and esoteric. I discovered this on in a Flavorwire article suggesting podcasts for horror lovers and am SO GLAD I looked it up.  (Subscribe Here)

 

 

 

– BONUS –

 

I just started listening to this one. It was featured as a special announcement on the twitter page for 'The Black Tapes' podcast and I loved TBT so much that I wanted to give this one a try. This one is interesting as well. I just finished the first episode and it deals with the legend of Tanis: a land that may be the home of the Garden of Eden, a gateway to hell and the place that inspired one of Dante's levels of hell. So far I'm really digging it. It's structured the same way as TBT podcast, with the same great quality and really intriguing story. While this has the same weird story vibe as TBT, this one feels more like a scifi mystery. With bits of history, legend and scifi running throughout. I'll report back on it more after I've dug in a bit, but for now, I'll say give it a try, so far it's hooked me in.  (Subscribe Here)

 

 

 

How about you? Any great podcasts that you're loving right now? Any that you don't see on this list or the one in this prior post that I should check out? Since I spend nearly all day at my desk with my headphones on, I'm always on the lookout for great new content to consume!