Staff Picks Special Edition: Solo Dance Parties, Post-Apocalyptic Farmers, and Melodrama

Why is this staff picks a special edition? Well, because…

These very special picks are exclusively from our fantabulous Fall 2019 Interns! Learn even more about these new Brinkeroos in their very own Q&A on Monday.

Ally Geist

Lately, Ralph’s 2018 album, A Good Girl, has been my go-to pump-up music to start off my day. I heard Ralph perform live in Toronto a few months ago, and ever since I’ve been hooked. One of her songs (“Living For Yourself”) was inspired by the lovely RuPaul drag queens, and is the perfect song to have a solo dance party to. The album has a song for pretty much any mood, including some heartfelt songs that may induce a spontaneous sob-fest. But who doesn’t love a good catharsis after a hard day, am I right? I love supporting Indie artists, and Ralph is definitely a badass babe boss who fits the bill! Ralph perfectly demonstrates how you can grow through hardship and find self-love and passion on the other side of it. 

Jaclyn Morken

You know when you read one of those books, the kind that plow right into your heart and nest there forever? Lately, for me, that book has been Leah Bobet’s YA fantasy An Inheritance of Ashes. I read it earlier this summer, and I still think about it all the time. I’m a bit late to the scene—the novel came out in 2015—but it stayed with me for so many reasons.

In a fantasy/post-apocalyptic world vividly realized through lush prose, I found sixteen-year-old Hallie Hoffman, months after a devastating war in the south, trying to convince her sister to take on a hired hand to keep their struggling family farm afloat. It’s a story about family and friends old and new, learning how to face the remnants of the war everyone thought was over—and, most importantly, how to move forward from the darkness of trauma. The characters and relationships are brilliant and beautiful—from the sisters’ mutual need for reconciliation to Hallie’s slowly budding romance based on consent and honesty.

If, like me, you’re looking for a fantasy that focuses on aftermath, that shows the ways love and community can heal, then this book is definitely for you.

Venus Davis

Melodrama is the sophomore album of singer-songwriter, Lorde. To me, this album is mine. Music should feel so personal that it’s like someone is stealing a page from your diary. Melodrama crept slowly into my ears and I haven’t stopped thinking about that haunting feeling of being twenty and not twenty-one or nineteen. I make it sound like this album has made me think negatively of myself, but I want to stress that this album empowered me. When Lorde talks about feeling like a disaster, but still being there for herself to pick up the pieces, as if she’s her own romantic partner in “Liability;” when she calls out romantic interests and lets them know how she would write about them in “Writer in the Dark;” how she creates a chillingly accurate caricature of herself and young adulthood . . . I felt that so much it was like a second skin. I highly recommend listening to this album with a juice box and a journal in hand to reminisce and write about how you feel about growing up and your relationship with the word love.

Abi Mechley

I’m sure many more avid gamers and game reviewers have already said their piece about Horizon Zero Dawn, the PS4 exclusive open-world game that debuted in 2016. Far be it from me to claim that my take is wholly original or groundbreaking; nonetheless I hope that—if you have not had a chance to play it—you might give it a try.

Essentially, Horizon Zero Dawn is a world inhabited by monstrous machines and vast tribes. You play Aloy, a young woman fighting for recognition in a tribe that has left her an outcast since birth for being motherless. The game is deeply and clearly influenced by the power of relationships, and the core of Aloy’s story is one of family, particularly shown in her attempts to unravel her past by searching for the mother she never knew. The worldbuilding, the random notes and letters and interactions with NPCs . . . all of it is intertwined with this idea of the bonds and relationships we have with others. It was an incredibly meditative experience to sit down with Aloy and explore this world, get to know these characters, and confront the mysteries hidden just beneath the surface.

Horizon Zero Dawn—E3 2016 Trailer | Only On PS4

Viengsamai Fetters

I’ll say this up front: podcasts are hard for me. I struggle to focus on auditory input for long periods of time, especially if I’m not doing something that requires the rest of my attention, like driving; often I find myself having to rewind in order to catch key details that I missed the first time around. This podcast isn’t like that, though—I’m enthralled the whole time. The Strange Case of Starship Iris is an audio drama, a tangle of mysteries that keeps getting bigger. It’s sci-fi for those of us who don’t see ourselves in sci-fi. It’s chock-full of queer and trans and Asian representation—voice acted by people who share similar identities—and while that’s what initially drew me in, I binged the show because I love the characters and boy howdy, do I want to know what’s next!

Starship Iris is set soon after Earth narrowly defeats aliens in an intergalactic war; the podcast follows Violet Liu, a sarcastic and dauntless (but also terrified) biologist as she adjusts to life after the title ship is mysteriously destroyed . . . leaving Violet the only survivor. I can’t tell you more for fear of spoilers, but Violet and her newfound allies soon have some major conspiracies to unravel. The episodes are still coming out, albeit with a little distance between them, and I, ever impatient, somehow don’t mind the wait.