Things I like this week, volume 17.

Imaginary Worlds
I came across this podcast purely by chance because I’m a listener of 99% Invisible and it was featured this week in a special episode. After that episode and one more, it has become my absolute favorite new thing, full stop.

Imaginary Worlds is a show “about sci-fi and other fantasy genres — how we create them and why we suspend our disbelief”. It’s filled with great contextual audio clips, a lot of humor, and a ton of heart. I’ve listened to exactly two full episodes–the one featured by 99% Invisible, “Fixing the Hobo Suit”, and 1977, which is part one of a five-part series on the effect Star Wars had on our collective cultural consciousness.

It. Is. Delightful. I can’t wait to listen to the rest of the archives. I’ve been exploring other kinds of podcasts, and this one is a really great surprise. If the rest of the episodes are half as good as the ones I’ve heard, it’s going to be wonderful.

Imaginary Worlds (iTunes)

Things I like this week, volume 16.

Hours Time Tracking
Things have been well, crazy lately, in the best way possible. I have a ton of new responsibilities that I’m trying to balance, and Hours has been absolutely instrumental in keeping things straight and accounting for my days lately.

It’s an iPhone app with Apple Watch integration that tracks your time in a really attractive and flexible way. It’s highly customizable and has a ton of options, and there’s even more on the way. Tapity is working on extending the app to the Mac and including team functionality, which is going to be huge.

The app is (as of today) free for a limited time as the company prepares to expand it. If you have any reason to want to track time, whether for work or personal reasons, it’s definitely worth checking out. And Tapity is throwing its full weight behind it going forward, so you can trust that it’s going to continue to be great for a while.

Hours Time Tracking

Things I like this week, volume 15.

Byword
I first purchased Byword years ago and was pleased with its clean and elegant UI. I’ve bounced between Markdown writing apps quite a bit since then, but recently downloaded it again on all my devices (iOS and OS X) just to play around. Not too much seems to have changed at first glance, but significant iOS 9 changes have made it a great option again, with additions like Spotlight integration and multitasking/split screen support.

It won’t do all the things an app like Editorial can do, but it’s great at what it does. It’s decidedly simple, but that’s not a bad thing at all. I’ve been using it for certain types of personal writing (still using Drafts with custom actions for blogging) and I’ve been delighted with the updates.

iOS / Mac

Aimee Mann’s ‘Bachelor No. 2‘.

Right around the time she did the Magnolia soundtrack, I fell hard for Aimee Mann’s solo career. Something about the place I found myself in my life combined with the smart and scathing songwriting she’s so great at just broke my brain in the best way and I was infatuated. Ever since, I’ve studied her successive albums and pored over every note, every chord change, every sardonic and heartfelt lyric. Her music’s changed the way I think about songwriting in a way that few other influences can claim.

Bachelor No. 2 (Or, the Last Remains of the Dodo) is quite possibly the canonical collection of songs that exemplifies the best parts of her craft. There are a ton of songs among the albums that followed that absolutely crush me, but the set that appears on Bachelor is so perfectly organized that it defies understanding. From start to finish, it swings poppy hooks tempered with the gravity of lyrics that paint pictures from the cheeky to the utterly melancholy. The vocal tracks are layered in such exquisite ways and the songs move along at a perfect pace, carrying you to the end of the album without even realizing how you got there.

She’s an incredible artist, and continues to release fantastic work. But Bachelor is the album I return to time and time again to wallow in a perfect sadness, surrounded by brilliant song structure and melodies. I was listening to it again today for the millionth time and wanted to put some thoughts down on it. If you appreciate great songwriting, it’s worth your time.