Thoughts on Podcasting [VEDA #1]

Context: I got to write and host on a class podcast titled The Web We Weave in an episode centering around Tony Zhou’s Every Frame a Painting. This is a reflection on what I learned from this experience.

Preparing for this podcast was definitely one of the more nerve-wracking parts of my life. I felt as if I needed to prove to myself that I was capable of being in charge of such an episode, of being able to take the stage with my voice after hiding behind the written word for so long.

Photo credit to: https://singingmachine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/stage-fright.jpg

When looking for material to address Every Frame a Painting, I went through first some of the series entries before poking around Vimeo to find every episode of the series uploaded there, before turning to Tony Zhou’s Patreon for EFAP, which offers alternate versions of the episodes for educational use (at a price), and then to Twitter and Reddit, both forums that I used quite often. Showing these different resources to my partner, we both made our own observations. As I watched Zhou interact with his followers and advise them on how to critique the works that had impacted them, I saw how viewer-audience participation worked its way into Zhou’s new media and how it allowed him to continue participating himself despite how long it had been since the series had updated.

I was not initially exceedingly familiar with Every Frame a Painting, nor was my partner Kevin. However, I was familiar with the YouTube scene and personalities like the Nerdwriter, so when we sat down to plan out the episode, we each brought our own impressions on the series and our own contexts (Kevin had previous experience with the Soul Pancake episode of The Web We Weave). Kevin pitched questions to me while I did my best to answer them, and I would then in turn bring up different topics of conversation (such as the Reddit AMA mentioned in the episode and the idea of Tony Zhou perpetuating the participatory culture with his work). Collaboration was more than integral in making this episode what it was. It was also more than reassuring to have someone who was so confident on board and had faith in my work. We worked on applying Every Frame a Painting to the terminology we had covered in class and we put it all into one Google Doc entry.

The document was interesting because it was far more fragmentary and incomplete- when writing for another mode, because it relied much more on my voice and the natural chemistry I had with the co-producer, I found that it was both challenging to not fall back and write out whole monologues or answers to questions without stifling the conversation, and recording became difficult because I found myself worrying that my co-host would feel cramped or cut off. It was difficult to not be overwhelmingly self-aware of everything. This did help my rhetorical composition in the end and I think it’s made me more adaptable than I was before.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Rubber_bands.jpg
Flexible like a rubber band!

The process also felt much faster and immediate than writing, say, this reflection or another blog post or article, which takes me a lot more time. It also felt natural to go faster than with my previous work. While structuring the argument and conversation was both very much the same, it also felt different because I had someone else to bounce off and interact with. In a way, it was like having another person alternating the argument paragraphs- similar arguments that still differed in subtle ways.

I’ve learned that I need to work on my timing- we went over by a lot and editing involved cutting out a lot of material and it was a struggle to finish the episode in time while balancing other obligations. I need to work on my self-confidence as I was exceedingly nervous during the episode, and I think that it is evident that while I eased up as time went along, I still have a long way to go.

But given the chance to work on a similar project? I’d jump at the opportunity.

VEDA- Create Something New Every Day (#0)

To be clear- I am not creating a video every day in April.

But I want to create something new every day in April. I want to branch out, and I want to experiment. I’ve looked at the stuff that people across the Internet are doing and I’m always in awe of them. I’d want to follow into their footsteps, but I’d never feel ready, never have the skills or the right equipment or whatever else.

And I’m never going to have that. Unless I get up and I start.

Recently, I feel lethargic and unmotivated and unhappy. But I’d like to take some small steps and start working on things that I love, and that’s why I’m doing this pseudo-VEDA thing that a ton of YouTubers have done before.

To wit, because some stuff doesn’t fit what I do on this blog, some of it won’t be hosted here. Some of it will be here, some of it will be on my marktheredwood Tumblr and Twitters, and some of it on other platforms.

This should be fun, and I hope you enjoy seeing how this plays out.

-D

Spring Afresh

Things feel a lot vaguer than they did last October.

See, last October, I bought a shiny new notebook to record my schedules, my ideas and some journal entries. And the priorities there were so clear (I was primarily focused on launching a new blog called “The Citizen’s Compendium”, which would host a series of essays and editorials concerning issues and grievances under the Trump administration.)

The ideas and plans I’m trying to follow now were only vague notions, just as the ideas that I have are now. They’re vague ideas blurred like my eyesight if I’m not wearing glasses or contacts. Slowly, some voice, some words will come forward and speak. Things will slowly become sharper and sharper or just slowly float away.

Hopefully, these plans will sharpen and solidify a bit.

At any rate, the true game plan.

I’m going to be focusing on schoolwork for the most part today, getting things done and trying to work ahead. Some of that involves working on coding for the website, and afterwards, I’ll be watching Photoshop tutorials. Some of that involves writing. Tomorrow, I think I’ll be practicing what I learned.

One last thing I’ll be doing tonight! I’ll be writing one page of fiction every night before I fall asleep. Doesn’t matter how bad it is, but I just want to start on this story idea and build on it, because I feel like although things are unclear right now, they’re not gonna get any clearer unless I start.

I’ve got a lot of other things on my mind, but I think that’s for something slightly better than a progress report.

Until next time!

-D

Hell Week: A Mental Breakdown

Entry #6.5 – February 25, 2017

Dear Kath,

Now, this is where it gets nasty. I have several projects, presentations and exams all at once. These are the low points of uni and truly make me question whether or not I belong here since my tolerance for such bullshit has progressively shrunk as I’ve dealt with it more and more as I progressed over the years.

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Photo credit links here!

Naturally, I need to do preparations over the weekend but it’s Sunday night and I haven’t done close to enough at all, leaving this week even tighter on time than I normally am at my tortoise-like pace. In very simple terms, I’m falling apart at the seams, hahaha.

So if you’re in the mood to watch or read a mental breakdown, then you, my friend, have come to the perfect place.

9:00-10:00 am- I jolt awake from a long forgotten dream and feel everything ache. One of these days, I need to travel all the way out to Bed Bath and Beyond to get my hands on a mattress pad because the current bed is literally only made out of springs- I might as well be sleeping on the floor. Hopping out of bed, I move to brush my teeth and prepare for the day ahead.

10:00 am-11:00 am- I jog through campus just in time for the cafeteria to open for breakfast. It’s shitty as usual and the cafeteria worker who always gives me a smaller portion is on duty. Ain’t life great? I love paying for food that I’m never going to eat.

11:00 am-12:40 pm- I next trek to the library and settle to my work. I manage to study for my oncoming midterm ’til about 12:40 before I can’t focus anymore. Word to the wise, British Literature ain’t as fascinating as it sounds. Gulliver’s Travels as a satire is interesting enough. The Hobbes and Locke debate plays out pretty well and Mary Astell’s sarcasm and feminism are on point. William Wycherley and Daniel Defoe are undoubtedly the driest authors I’ve ever had to read in my life. (I have tried to finish Robinson Crusoe eight times. I have fallen asleep all eight times.) There’s a lot more to this, but this is what I tried to retain today for my exam. I’ve got a notion of everything except Wycherley and Crusoe.

12:40-2:40 pm- This is where I would say I began to lose control of my life and my break ran far too long. It was at this point that I got up and moved back to my dorm’s study lounge. (This timeslot entry makes me sound like the narrator of The Stanley Parable.)

2:40-5:00 pm- Putting on Merlin and an assorted list of YouTube videos in the background, I managed to work my way through my creative writing readings and draft markups. Success! I did not manage to write the letters, but that’s alright. Those don’t normally take too long to complete.

5:00-7:00 pm- Fuck my life. Ate like 8 pieces of ham for dinner. That counts, right?

7:30?-12:00 am- went to my room for a brief break. Fell asleep for five hours.

//giphy.com/embed/uHnSotTFpWCmQ

via GIPHY

Past me, about future me

Which brings us up to the present day! This very moment! Hooooo joy!

(…what the fuck am I doing?)

Sometimes, I wonder what you’d think of me now, Kath. And I don’t mean that in some wise old philosophizing bullshit kind of way, I mean as in you saw me as this wise, studious, focused person with a stick up his ass. And I kind of was that guy. Look at me now. Unfocused on work that bores me to death and on work I enjoy.

Like this post, for example- it started out as a look into how a normal day of mine goes and quickly decelerated into silly, unfunny jokes, and falling asleep.

At any rate, nobody likes moody grunge or emotional reflection, so I shall leave it off here for tonight. And I shall pick back up with a real essay tomorrow. Hopefully get my life back together, but that’s a long shot. Like “A Beatles getting back together long shot.”

I wonder what you would have thought of a letter like this since I was oh-so-serious and cringey all the time back then….

Thanks for listening.

-D

The Freedom of Expression

Entry #2 – February 19, 2017

Dear Kath,

A question that’s been plaguing me as of late concerns where the line is when it comes to the freedom of expression that has been granted to us.

See, last year, I would not have even considered the idea that there is a line to be crossed. I wrote about my frustrations concerning the lack of freedom of expression when it comes to opinions held by a minority on my college campus, and my editorials often expressed those opinions and argued towards an absolute free speech that should be unchecked and unregulated by anyone or anything.

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I didn’t say that, motherfuckers. (Photo credit here)

I quoted Voltaire like any pretentious pseudo-Ivy League Student would. You know that quote that everyone uses- “I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (Funnily enough, Voltaire never actually said that. Does that make us university students look more pretentious? It certainly makes me feel that way.)

I still stand by this statement, but at times, I do question it.

There is an answer to my question, of course.

The minute free speech becomes an issue is when the speech is crafted to hurt others.

Last year, when I wrote my grievances about the limitations that political correctness placed upon my freedom of expression and when I wrote about how the reactions to the chalk graffiti on my college campus were blown out of proportion, I confess that was out of line and that I remained insensitive to the legitimate fears of the people (which have only grown in light of our new president). I was in the wrong, and I hurt them, even if that wasn’t my intent.

I own that mistake and apologize for it.

I revisit these thoughts in light of the recent drama surrounding Pewdiepie and the anti-semitic accusations against him. I see that his content has hurt others, and I see him paying for his mistakes. But I also see that his content was taken out of context and manipulated. So it makes me think.

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This is the face of an antisemite (and this is sarcasm). (Photo credits here)

So perhaps I should amend my question. How big of a role does context play? What do we do with free speech when the intent was not malicious? Does the message matter more than the intent, and what does one do when the original message is twisted out of existence or disappears completely?

But that’s a question that I don’t really know how to answer, so I shall leave that for you and for others to decide.

Thanks for listening.

-D

Return to Regularity

Entry #1 – February 18, 2016

Dear Kath,

While I came to terms with the fact that you are gone a long time ago, I still have a lot of things on my mind and a lot to say. So I hope you don’t mind if I address some of these thoughts to you.

The one thing that I want to work on at the moment is a sense of regularity and consistency. During 2016, I’ve written less than I ever had, I’ve read less than I’ve ever had, and I’ve had the lowest amount of motivation that I’ve had in years. It feels everything I’ve built up and learned in the past few years has come crumbling down.

So the only thing I can do is build again. I have to learn the right lessons this time around, and I have to build up the good habits that I struggled to learn before, and I have to be better. And one of the things I’d like to rectify is not writing regularly. So this (daily? I don’t know how often this will update) journal will help with that.

Regularity. I think you’d like that (Remember when you wished me a normal life with a family and crazy in-laws and a white picket fence?). But before I even think about the future (whatever it is I want or will want), I should focus on the present.

In one of my low points, I wrote you a much more detailed apology. But for the sake of completion, and of moving forward, I want to apologize again for driving you to leave.

I understand why you did what you did.

I hope you’ve found some happiness and satisfaction in your life that we both lacked when we knew each other.

And I’m sorry. I hope I can honor you in how I live the rest of my life and in this work, which I address to you.

-D