Podcast Recommendations- Twenty Thousand Hertz

Because you’re fascinated by sound!

 

Sound is literally everywhere! With sight, you can still block it out by merely shutting your eyes! But sound, it’s almost impossible to completely block-out. At night when you’re trying to sleep, it’s not actually quiet. Yeah? You especially notice it if you can’t sleep e.g. hearing the ticking of an analogue clock, the hum of a street lamp, the hiss of a nearby ventilation system, and when you try to cover your ears in frustration with the blanket and pillo- then you’ll  realise you can hear your pulse in your ears! Ah! And when someone says “Guess what happened in last night’s episode?” And you quickly cover your ears, stopping yourself from hearing them spoil a show that you have DVR and hadn’t had a chance to watch? Well, clamping your hands over your ears only stops you from hearing their voice, but you still hear that seashell ocean affect in your ears. So it’s almost impossible to block out sound from your life.

 

Thus, no matter what you find fascinating in life, shouldn’t we all be fascinated by sound? Because it’s literally all around us?

 

And here steps in the boys and girls at Defacto Sound who are the creators behind the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz! They fill this sound void in the podcast-a-sphere, filling the lack of interest in producing a pod only about sound! **Note: I think they’re the only ones who produce a pod similar to what they have created.

 

Host Dallas Taylor takes you and your ears on an  audible journey through sound, not only is their mode of delivery in an audio only format, but their entire program is centred on the most interesting and recognisable sounds! Like podcasts who go into the history of food, or to the back story and making of your favourite films? But Twenty Thousand Hertz dives deep into the history and back story of iconic sounds- sounds which are totally recognisable but perhaps you hadn’t paid it much heed, but you’ll be so much more aware of after listening to an episode all about It.?

 

In the very first episode of 20KHZ Dallas interviewed an actress who has one of the most well-known voices, but we most likely don’t know her name? Yes, the voice we know as SIRI- did you know that Siri was a real person? Who had recorded thousands and thousands of words for Apple, but why the voice sounds a bit robotic is because the audio recordings had the pitch adjusted upwards ultimately making her sound more digital than analogue. But when she is asked to put on the SIRI voice, it is unmistakingly her!

 

Or one of the first episodes which I listened to when I first stumbled upon the pod was a deep dive into what we popularly refer to as ‘Muzak’, that jazzy non-offensive (while equally uninspiring) music we hear coming out of the tinny speakers of elevators.

 

And the most recent episode I listened to, it was an investigation into the Whoopee Cushion, yes that pink rubber bladder which makes fart noises when someone sits on it!

 

Twenty Thousand Hertz is both informative and whimsical, enlightening and entertaining! So if there has been a sound which you’ve always wondered, ‘how did that come about?’ Dig through their archive, as they’ve probably covered it in a past episode (they have content dating back to 2016). And if you can’t find it there, you can email them about your ear-worm, and they’ll be more than happy to investigate and produce a future show based on your audio dilemma. Or if you’re one of those people who just enjoys the ‘Secret sound’ segment on radio, test your sound memory with their per-episode mystery sound! I thought I was good at recognising sounds, but I haven’t gotten one correct yet.

 

So if you find sound as fascinating as I do, check out Twenty Thousand Hertz, click HERE to begin listening!

Netflix Recommendations- Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City

It’s just like ‘Big Brother’ but way better and definitely less skanky!

Now how many times have you used the above statement, when trying to describe to friends about the Japanese reality TV show you’re watching?

So back in 2015 we started to watch Netflix’s first season of Terrace house, a reality TV show capturing the lives of 6 housemates who have been hand-picked to dwell in a Tokyo share home. And back in 2015, we were pretty clueless. I.e. we were new to Netflix and thought that whole series were uploaded onto the service all in one go; I literally didn’t understand half of the show (as I don’t read subtitles); and when we actually caught-up with the most recent episode (ep 13) we actually thought that the series had abruptly ended there. So much so that we stopped watching, annoyed that all of the story-lines were left open ended and that was that, we didn’t give Terrace house any more thought as we continued on with our lives (i.e. watched other stuff).

Fast-forward to the present day, everyone is spending more time at home and out of curiosity I clicked on the latest series of Terrace house on Netflix, by this stage they’re onto season 4- but the crew is back in Tokyo. And because I was viewing it from my phone (where I have Speech/Voiceover turned on) all of a sudden I had Siri reading out all of the English subtitles, and for the first time I actually knew what was going on! No longer was the Fuji TV panellist’s rapid fire Japanese a blur for me, and no longer was I just relying on brief descriptions from my wife on what was going on from scene to scene- but now I was able to follow each conversation and exchange between the housemates! Sure, at times it was confusing to work out who was actually speaking (as Siri dims the audio when she speaks), but that was half the fun of it! Trying to work out who were conversing with each other based on the content of their conversations alone. And once I had knocked over 20 odd episodes of the current season- I started to wonder how it would be like to re-watch Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City, now that I could understand the dialogue.

And shock horror! I then found out that all those years ago, we had prematurely given up on it thinking the season had ended abruptly, but in reality we had only caught-up to their most recent episodes and all subsequent episodes were released on a weekly basis. *Smacks hand on forehead*.

So it was like walking down memory lane, reliving the 13 episodes which we had watched 4-5 years ago, and then proceeding onto the episodes which we had never seen before. And the unique thing about Terrace house, is the fact that the housemates are free to come and go as they please. It’s not like ‘Big Brother’ where they’re locked inside a compound, unaware of what people are saying about them in the real world, only leaving the home when they’re eventually evicted by a people’s vote. But housemates in Terrace house go about their regular lives, maintaining their day-time vocations and they’re even free to view themselves on TV (when the episodes eventually air) and check-out online forums where fans are gossiping about them. It’s all pretty weird (yet fascinating) as private discussions among the girls re who they’re interested in, would eventually become public knowledge within the home in a matter of weeks after the episode airs on national and international television. So the show is interesting in that respects, as the dynamics in the home change, as they gain more information about each other (in person or in delay).

And the other interesting fact of Terrace House is that the roommates are free to leave the show/home at any time. Therefore although only 6 housemates reside at the home at any one time, during the 46 weeks of filming 17 housemates actually went through the place at one point in time. And each time someone leaves and another person comes and replaces them, their inclusion often changes the dynamics of the home again. For example, new hot girl arrives- all of a sudden all the guys are interested in her, to the annoyance of the original female housemates; or a more outspoken housemate joins the home- and steps on toes and shakes things up a bit; or a more outgoing fun individual moves in- and the energy of the home changes for the better; or a new guy enters the home- and romance ensues. So the house evolves and changes over-time, so much so that when I reflected back to the original 6 housemates and the overall feel of the home in the first 13 episodes, the house and the show was completely transformed by the end when episode 46 wrapped things up. So that fact alone, still blows my mind!

And the most interesting element about Terrace house, is the simple fact that we’re given an insight into one of the most interesting, unique and quirky cultures in the world! From their formal and polite interactions with each other; the fact that they hardly engage in physical contact; their obsession with having purpose and continued growth; their various festivals and customs; the interesting little day trips that they take around Tokyo and its surrounds; and right down to the meals they cook and dine out on, everything is so interesting and uniquely Japanese!

So if you just want a change of ‘scenery’ after consuming all that American content? Or if you’ve always been into Japanese culture- check out Terrace House! It’s so addictive and different! Once it’s safe to travel again, we’re so going to Tokyo! But for now, our local Japanese restaurant will suffice.

To binge watch all 4 seasons of Terrace house, click HERE

**Note: If you’re not much of a fan of reading subtitles, consider watching Terrace house (and other foreign films/shows) on your phone, with Speech/Voiceover turned on.

Podcast Recommendations- Decoder Ring

When you just need something less heavy to listen to.

It’s a very strange time in our world’s history ATM, pivotal events which are changing the fabric of our society as we speak. And only time will tell if the will of the people can force a positive change in our society. However as a result of this, everywhere you turn to, there are some heavy intense topics out there- resulting in most of my favourite news and worthwhile journalistic pods all reporting on the same weighty topics.

But if you need a break from all of this, even for a half hour or so (while not wanting to sacrifice on quality)- I have a perfect recommendation for you!

Decoder Ring by Slate podcasts.

Decoder Ring is hosted by Willa Paskin, where she ‘Cracks cultural mysteries’ wide open! In approx. 30 minutes time, she lays-down the foundation of the cultural phenomena their looking to crack; include interviews with primary sources to get deep into said topic; then the team uses their investigative journalistic skills to untangle fact from fiction; before explaining the cultural relevance of this obscure topic to our present day existence.

I’ve only listened to a handful of episodes, and in that small sample size I’ve been exposed to Unicorn poop and  rubber duckies;  influenced to listen to ‘Friday’ every Friday afternoon, and now I’m dying to watch the 90s romcom ‘You’ve got mail’.

Sure, if you don’t end up listening to Decoder Ring, your life will still go on as normal, but if you did listen to Decoder Ring- I guarantee that for a half hour at least you’ll have a smile on your face and you’ll be that little bit more clued in  to the weird world around us.

Episodes don’t drop all that often (around one per month) so it’s all about quality over quantity, however there’s a 26 episode archive you can binge-listen to! So why not give it a go, your sanity will thank you for it! *nods*.

To start listening to the Decoder Ring now! Click HERE!    

Product Recommendations- Nest Wifi

Because you need reliable connection everywhere!

Now that we’re working from home and spending more and more time within our own four walls, reliable internet connectivity has become even more critical! So we’ve been living in the same apartment now for almost 8 years, and ever since we’ve been here the internet connection in more than 50% of our apartment has been non-existent. I’m not talking about being bad, I mean 0 bar, non-existent!

We’re talking about a home study with 2 large study desks within it, with no internet connectivity; a master bedroom with two occupants within it, with no internet connectivity; an en-suite with a very comfortable toilet seat within it, without internet connectivity; and a second bathroom with an equally comfortable toilet seat within it and very good ventilation, without internet connectivity! How can anyone in the 21st century live like this!? So primitive!

The reason for the lack of connectivity, is where the telephone line comes into the apartment, the port is in the centre of our living room. However between this point and our study is 2 double brick walls! Likewise, another 2 double brick walls in-between the modem and the master bedroom, the en-suite, and the second bathroom. Grrrr! And for 8 years we’ve put up with this. But 6 weeks ago, I said “No more of this!” With the confinement to our homes due to Covid-19, I couldn’t take being confined to only the living room as well! What are we? Animals!?

The solution? A mesh router!

So I started doing some research, there are many companies out there producing mesh routers, however as we already have a Google Home, and 2 Google Home Minis- it made a lot of sense to purchase a compatible device which could be easily integrated into our existing ecosystem.

So in the peak of Covid-19 lock-downiness, at Easter we finally managed to get our hands on a Nest Wifi (as many stores had already sold-out by then).

Out of the box you know its out-of-the-ordinary, for a router at least. Usually these things look like an old-school car radio player which someone had boosted straight out of a vehicle (with all the dangling wires) – but the Nest Wifi has a simple modern design and easily blends in with your existing home décor.

To me, it reminds me of a jar of lanolin, like some jumbo tub of hand cream ready-to-be-used. And the best thing is that you can hide it, or proudly display it for all to see – on your shelf – right among your other knick-knacks!

We purchased the Nest Wifi with 1 point – for $379 (AUD). The router itself already gives our apartment a much stronger Wifi signal than we had beforehand. But adding the point and placing this in our study, has given us 4 from 5 bar signal in all corners of our apartment! Gone are those 0 of 5 bar black spots in more than 50% of our home, now from wall to wall in all directions we have connectivity that we’re satisfied with. Which means our study can be used as a study again! The sleeping quarters can now be used to view Netflix and Youtube – late, late into the night! Hindering our REM sleep of course! And now we can be consuming all of our medias while on the …. Well…… You get the idea……..

The router has a second Ethernet port, so if you need to be tethered for super-fast internet speeds, you can connect one device directly to the source. The Nest Wifi utilises the same Google Home app as all of your other Google Home devices, so set-up and continued maintenance was easy-peasy. Not to mention the actual physical set-up of the devices took less than 10 minutes, using QR codes to recognise your new devices- to be connected to your existing Home set-up. And did I say ongoing maintenance is a cinch? With Nest Wifi now in your home, you now see a Wifi option on your Google Home app – interacting with this option allows you to view what devices are connected to your Internet (so you can easily kick-off any unwanted freeloaders); here you can prioritise which device gets preferential treatment if multiple devices are pulling and sending data at the same time (so Super VIPs in the home i.e. my wife, can always have perfect connection all-the-time); you can also set-up parental controls on specific devices (so limiting said wife from Bosistos’ online store); limit internet time for select devices (so internet is switched-off during bed time i.e. 2am-4.30am); and the feature I love the most is the ability to perform speed tests, both testing for the performance of your Home internet, and the performance of your actual device in the given spot that you’re in – it can be quite addictive (so we’re proud to report that we get 11.1 MPs down, and 0.8 MPs up. Woohoo!).

And the last aspect which I’ve fallen in love with, is the fact that our Google Home ecosystem has grown by another one speaker. Since the Point (that extends the internet signal into the dark recesses of our home) is also a Google smart speaker with ‘Ok Google’ assistant, this means that not only do we get internet in every room in our 2 bedroom apartment – but we also now have a Google Speaker in each room (including the 2nd bathroom). So when you group together all these devices in your Google Home app, you can now play music throughout your apartment! I mean throughout your apartment!

I’m at the front door, the music is literally right there coming out of the 2nd bathroom!

I’m in the living room now, and the music is right there as well!

I’m in the hallway in front of the study and the master bedroom, and here I can hear the music playing from both the study and the bedroom, but because it’s an ecosystem- they’re actually playing slightly different things, because now your music is playing in stereo! Left ear, right ear kind of stuff!

It’s so crazy, I find myself just walking around the apartment, taking in and enjoying the music from each aspect of our home. Yes, a little bit extravagant and unnecessary, but its wild I tell you! WILD!

For more information about the Nest Wifi, click HERE!  

**Disclaimer: This is not a paid post, and yes, I’m aware that our upload and download speeds is rubbish- so rubbish that it has become a bragging point!!!!!!!!

Netflix Recommendations- The Last Dance

All hail Michael Jordan! We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!

Wow, how was that? A walk down memory lane! Sitting here thinking about it now, I must have been in Year 5, perhaps 9 or 10 years old in 1993, when I was first aware of Michael Jordan. Sure, he had been a world-wide phenomena for 9 years by that stage and had already 3-peated by then……. But I was growing up in Australia, in the Western suburbs of Sydney, and back in those days, kids like us were only interested in Rugby as a sport. Not a whole lot of basketball was being played out there in those school yards back then.

However in Year 6, when I changed schools to a more affluent Inner West educational institution, everyone there had NBA and Michael Jordan fever! I remember at the back of the classroom where we kept our bags and boaters, our teacher used to allow us to stick-up our favourite posters – no surprise, MJ’s dunk from the three throw line was one of those glossy posters up there. And all of a sudden I too was a basketball fanatic! I remember trading in my old NRL Rugby league trading cards for Upper Deck NBA Basketball cards, and my mum even enrolled me into after-school basketball classes (which I utterly sucked at). And I remember how we used to take running jumps, to randomly reach for and touch low hanging beams pretending to dunk like his Airness, and everyone in my class wanted to be like Mike!

Fast-forward 26 years, and we’re all locked down due to Covid-19 isolation, where no live sports are being played – but for ESPN and Netflix’s ‘The Last Dance’!

The Last Dance is a 10 part sports documentary, focusing on the Chicago Bulls and that man – Michael Jordan! The title of the documentary doesn’t spell out ‘Basketball’, but it was named as such, as entering the 97/98 NBA season, after winning 5 of 7 NBA championships, the 97/98 Bulls were told that this was going to be their ‘last dance’, as after the conclusion of the season their team would be disbanded. Thus they had one last shot to complete a two time 3-peat, a rare feat in any sport!

The documentary uses archival footage, from as early as the early 80s (even before I was born); behind the scenes footage shot during the 97/98 season; and interviews with 90 people who were all present during the 1984 – 1998 timespan. Even 2 former Presidents and 1 Playboy centrefold were interviewed!

Aside from capturing MJ’s life through the years of his basketball career, through an interesting method of telling the story of the 97/98 season, it also told the back story of the team and it’s key players by travelling back in time to the start of Michael’s career. And slowly telling his story, the story of those around him, until the past catches up with the present day (1998). And through that re-telling, it pretty much re-told our own life stories as well, as we cast our mind back to where we were in our own maturations, when all of these events unfolded. E.g. the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where the Dream Team were assembled for the very first time – that was the first Olympic Games I could remember as a child. Or the off-season when Michael was filming Space Jam – I remember being in Year 7 eating chips and collecting Space Jam TASZOS as in-packet collectables. Or stimulating a memory of the days when I used to play video games, i.e. NBA Live 96 and 99 – and feeling so devastated that in both of those years, Michael was retired thus I couldn’t play as the Bulls with the man MJ as my avatar. D’oh! All these memories flooded back thick and fast as I watched the Last Dance, so thank you, thank you Jason Hehir for this experience!

And if you want to experience the Last Dance in a more in-depth way? You have to re-watch the series, and listen to the companion podcast- Jalen & Jacoby- the After Show! Where former NBA star Jalen Rose and commentator David Jacoby host a podcast that dissects each episode of the Last Dance, immediately after its airing (or ‘Hehirring’, according to Jacoby). And it’s not just two fan boys chatting about what you had also seen, but they have behind the scenes intel, as each episode they’re joined by the Director of The Last Dance – the man of the hour, Jason Hehir! And after you hear from the man himself, you appreciate the 10 hour show even more, and my respect for Jason has utterly gone through the roof! He is one cool, measured man – and is a fantastic story teller.

From the pod, I learned that even though the documentary is pretty much a 10 hour homage to Michael, the production crew had only interviewed him twice, once as red shirt and once as blue shirt. And I learnt of all the effort the production team had put into the soundtrack of the documentary, that each montage showing one of Michael/Bulls runs- the music which was playing were tracks taken from that exact year to heighten the authenticity of what you were seeing and hearing. And ‘no way, how could Michael be the only one who got food poisoning from eating that mid-night pizza in Salt Lake City?’ When he was in a room with a bunch of boys playing cards? But I learnt that MJ often spat on his food, ensuring that no one else could eat from it, thus it was plausible that he was really poisoned ahead of game 6 of the 96/97 NBA finals! So if you want to learn all these truths for yourself, you’ll just have to listen to the After Show pod HERE!

The documentary filled in a load of gaps for me – sure, as a pre-teenage kid I picked up some of the detail which was going on at the time. But the doco fed me those facts again, and I was able to take it all in as an adult – which has now clarified and deepened my understanding of those iconic Bulls teams, and of Michael. And I guess, the one thing which I didn’t want to learn about MJ, which we all have now learnt, is the fact that Michael was probably a bully, a jerk, and a man who used to love to rub people’s faces in it. It’s a bit disappointing to have my image of him tarnished by firsthand accounts from people who knew him intimately, but hey! I guess you need to walk over others, to get to where you want to be.

But yeah, thank you Jason Hehir for giving this gift to us, while we were in iso. When I think back in a further 26 years’ time, to these weird days of 2020, I’ll always remember the experience of watching The Last Dance for the very first time! Woohoo! I’m so going to watch it all over again! To stream the Last Dance now, click HERE!

Disney Plus Recommendation- The Mandalorian

This somewhat explains the Boba Fett cult following!

The jewel of the Disney Plus crown has been their first Disney Plus/Star Wars original – The Mandalorian! But is it enough to keep DP subscribers maintaining their monthly DP subscriptions?

For those who haven’t heard of ‘The Mandalorian’ before (like me, prior to my 7-day free Disney Plus trial……..), The Mandalorian is Star Wars’ first live-action series, which features a Mandalorian – a bounty hunter who is adorned head-to-toe in rare hard-to-destruct Mandalorian armour. The story is set in a time period after ‘Return of the Jedi’ and before ‘The Force Awakens’, in a genre which has been described as an out-in-space country-western. The Mandalorian travels the galaxy alone in his space ship, taking up bounty contracts to hunt down and exterminate (when required) individuals for clients. The first bounty that we witness as viewers, is the capture (and extermination if needed) of a 55 year old ‘child’ of the same green race as Yoda. And after locating the child, and bonding with him after a near-death experience, the Mandalorian not only refuses to deliver the child to the Client, but takes him across the galaxy as his protector and caregiver (It’s like ‘Daddy Daycare’ – in a  galaxy far far away!).

Sure, it all sounds a little bit corny, but hasn’t Star Wars become just that ever since Disney acquired Lucas Films? But it still has all the elements which appeases the most hard-core Star Wars fans, and with a touch of cutesy – The Mandalorian pretty much appeals to all people!

Like I’d mentioned before, prior to starting my Disney Plus free trial, I had never heard of The Mandalorian series before. The first I’d heard of the  series was when I was surfing the net, reading up on what is recommended viewing on the new streaming service; and I even told one friend “NO, I’m not into Star Wars” when she asked me if I had gotten DP for the Mandalorian, when she heard that we started an Disney Plus account. But out of curiosity, I started viewing it, and even my wife got into the series – although stuff like this usually doesn’t appeal to her.

The series really is epic! You can tell that they’re working with a budget which is usually only reserved for the big screen, not for Tele-series. And after reading the history of the series’ production, you know and can see that nothing is held back because it’s a small screen production. The sets, the costumes, and the effects are all big-time, except for the lack of a star studded cast…..

Each episode has a distinct start, and a resolution before the screen fades to black, while the on-going story of the Mandalorian and the Child is always there throughout Season 1. As the series unfolds, we learn more and more about the man behind the Mask/Helmet, and on several occasions we almost get a chance to see who this guy under the T-shaped visor is! But alas, the chin strap remains resolutely fastened under his chin, and we have to wait for the ‘Disney Gallery’ of The Mandalorian, a behind-the-scenes series which documents the making of the series, before we finally spy the actor who plays Mando (i.e. Pedro Pascal).

From my opinion, the Mandalorian was fun, it has re-ignited an interest in Star Wars for me (currently watching Episodes I through to IX), and it provides DP with a true asset which can’t be viewed anywhere else, making me wanting to keep my DP subscription until the release of Season 2 in October 2020. And who hasn’t enjoyed all the whimsical ‘Baby Yoda’ memes out there!? “Aw, he’s so cute for a 55 year old!”

So now, this kinda explains some of the Boba Fett fandom which hangs around out there, which I never quite understood as the dude was a minor minor character! But the whole T-shaped visor, the armour and the jetpack all makes a bit more sense now! If this doesn’t make sense to you? Then check out The Mandalorian – you can literally be binge-watching the 8 episode series for FREE right now! Just click HERE to start viewing!