I think I only just discovered the podcast 99% Invisible in the last year. It hasn’t been long, I know that. Considering how much of a podcast junkie I am, I’m not sure why it took so long to cross my radar, but once it got there I celebrated every new episode.
The strange thing about this show, and definitely about the individual episode summaries, is that on paper it doesn’t seem like it would be that interesting to me. I mean, I like design and all, but if I didn’t know better I would totally skip over an episode about perfume AND YET…this last week’s episode was FASCINATING. It is part of the “Articles of Interest” series that covers “things we wear” and that whole topic sounds boring to me on paper, I’m not a fashion/perfume/makeup person, but I listened to this episode TWICE. I mean…Paris fashion history? Why do I care? IT TURNS OUT I CARE BECAUSE IT’S EXCELLENTLY PRODUCED TO MAKE IT THE MOST INTERESTING STORY IN THE WORLD.
The things is, this show has been on FOREVER. There are 400+ episodes and I didn’t start going through the backlog until the pandemic. There is something about Roman Mars and stories about curiosities in design that really relieves some of that anxiety I’ve been having every second of every day.
At bedtime now I just randomly scroll and click “play” on an old episode and then put the sleep timer on. When I wake up inevitably, I do it again and sometimes I listen to the whole episode and other times I just use Roman Mars’ voice talking about design to distract me enough to lull me to sleep. But without fail, every morning over my first cup of coffee, I replay whichever one I listened to last to start my day with a benign but fascinating story about some element of design I’ve never considered.
I’ve gotten so hooked on it that I now want to try to – VERY DELIBERATELY – go through every episode. They’re not too long, even shorter in the beginning when they were more “radio segment” productions, so I might start at the beginning but I’m not sure.
If you’ve never listened to it, I highly encourage you to give it a try. If you don’t mind a little bit of “pandemic content” the recent episode about different scientists/researchers that are excited about what they can learn in their field during the pandemic, I recommend 401: The Natural Experiment. If you like behind-the-scenes movie stuff I recommend 284: Hero Props. If you didn’t know separating your garbage/recycling could be interesting then you need to hear episode 213: Separation Anxiety. And then there’s 370: The Pool and Stream Redux (a follow-up to episode 265) which is one of the many episodes that is about a bunch of different things. Mainly? The history of skateboarding and empty pools…but also? Fate and inspiration and destiny and it is SUCH A GOOD EPISODE.
I honestly could go on and on. This show has been my salvation. It’s the distraction I need when my anxiety is spiraling. It’s interesting and beautiful and gives me great conversation starters with my kids and my husband which we sometimes need considering WE ARE ALL SO VERY TIRED OF BEING AROUND EACH OTHER ALL THE TIME.
I don’t know, y’all. It’s funny what has changed in my “escape content” resources during the pandemic. I haven’t listened to some of my favorite podcasts in months, but this one? This one is my go-to for every moment I need a distraction. AND THOSE MOMENTS ARE FREQUENT.
I just thought you’d maybe like something similar in your life. If you stumble upon a great episode, let me know. There are so many and I’m struggling trying to figure out how to make my way through them all.