March Staff Picks (Intern Edition): Podcasts, Manga, and Aussie Rock!
Words By F(r)iction Staff
This week I’ve been diving into Alice Vincent’s Rootbound, which I love. Reading about Vincent’s gardening experience in London—which strikes close to home—and how she found value and peace in tending plants and growing things in such a busy and severe urban environment is inspiring. I’m a keen, if inexpert, naturalist myself, and a big believer in the value and importance of green spaces, so I’ve found a lot to mull over and consider in Vincent’s sweet and thoughtful memoir.
The other thing I’ve loved this week is Carla Geneve’s new song “Dog Eared,” which is an instant anthem with some insane guitar riffs. It doesn’t hurt that she’s insanely cool and from my hometown of Perth, Australia, either. If you’ve ever been a disaffected teen or twenty-something, keep an eye out for her debut album, Learn To Like It, in a few months.
I’m super into the impact that stories can have, regardless of medium, and one of my favorites will always be the Balance campaign from The Adventure Zone. The Adventure Zone is an actual play Dungeons & Dragons podcast hosted by the McElroy brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin and their father, Clint.
I first listened to Balance, the first DnD campaign in The Adventure Zone, a few years back after falling down the McElroy Family fandom rabbit hole. While it has been years and I’ve since consumed at least some of almost everything the McElroy Family has to offer (and that’s a lot of podcasts!), I always find myself coming back to Balance. Balance was never designed to be a full campaign (it was never meant to exist in the first place) but it became a full campaign and so much more. The storyline grows and evolves as the saga continues, and by the end, it feels like catching heartfelt lightning in a bottle.
I don’t want to give away anything because the story is best experienced as spoiler-free as possible, but Balance is a beautifully queer, heartfelt saga full of magic, laughter, love, chaos, and tears. It begins with crazy jokes and weird comedy bits and ends in the most satisfying way ever. I can never recommend this weird, wacky, incredible podcast enough—the narrative has stuck with me for years, just as it has for everyone who recommended it to me and everyone I’ve recommended it to. If you find any value in storytelling and understand the power a good story can have, you’re going to love The Adventure Zone: Balance.
Koe no Katachi or, in English, A Silent Voice, is a widely acclaimed film. But what many do not know is that the film is adapted from a manga by Yoshitoki Ōima. While both of these should be seen/read as two separate works since the characters are slightly different in each one, I still recommend the manga over the film.
Koe no Katachi revolves around the story of Shoya Ishida, a boy who bullied his Deaf classmate Shoko Nishimiya in elementary school. A few years later, he coincidentally runs into Shoko, who is still greatly affected by Ishida’s past actions, and he seeks to rectify his wrongdoings.
While I’m not usually a big fan of redemption stories since many of the ones I’ve seen and read have placed too much burden on the oppressed rather than the oppressor, I believe that Koe no Katachi does a beautiful job portraying Ishida not as a guilt-free party, but as someone who works towards redemption without expecting Shoko to accept his apology.
I believe that this manga draws readers in with its beautiful art, multi-faceted characters, unapologetic messages, and hard truths.
Ten minutes into listening to the first episode of No Such Thing as a Fish, I was hooked. The podcast spawned from the comedy quiz show QI and is presented by four of the QI researchers or “QI Elves;” Dan Schreiber, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski, and James Harkin, with an occasional, equally amusing array of guests.
Every week, they each share an interesting fact they’ve researched. While that might sound a little like an impromptu school lesson, the facts, and the conversation they spark, are hilariously entertaining. For instance, did you know that every year in Japan there’s an anti-Valentine’s march led by a group called The Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men? Or that the White House only got the ability to print on double-sided paper in 2016?
With the rambling conversation, add on facts, and good-humored mocking, it’s like chatting to a group of old friends at the pub and even if my sporadic bursts of laughter draw some odd looks from the people around me, it’s definitely worth it. If you haven’t listened to No Such Thing as a Fish before, I highly recommend it. It’s an awesome, weekly hour of entertainment that leaves you feeling a little more intelligent and a lot more amused.
I have a habit of putting on music or a podcast when I’m cooking. My tastes range from fiction to historical crime, but most recently I’ve been listening to You’re Wrong About, where two journalists look into incidents and people who have been misremembered by the cultural zeitgeist. Topics include the Satanic Panic, the O.J. Simpson trial, and the life of Princess Diana, among a myriad of others. Most of the episodes address events that happened before I was born, or that I was too young to remember fully, so it has the added bonus of teaching me interesting tidbits of history that I wouldn’t have thought to seek out on my own. The hosts have a wonderful rapport and it’s one of the few podcasts I’ve found where the banter genuinely adds something to the experience. It’s fascinating to listen to two experienced authors and reporters do deep dives on topics I’m vaguely familiar with but never looked into myself, and question my own perceptions versus the facts of what actually happened.