Podcasts are just the thing for shelving, I find, but I often struggle to find good ones. So I was excited to find four that I really enjoy. Like a lot of my recommendations, they err on the side of the creepy and/or mysterious. All are free and all are available on iTunes. All have quality voice acting and excellent production values.
The Black Tapes
Borrowing Serial’s format, this (fictional) podcast follows Alex Reagan, a reporter investigation Dr. Strand, a mysterious figure who’s offered a million dollars for scientific evidence of the supernatural. The podcast takes its name from a mysterious collection of tapes that contain footage that Dr. Strand has never been able to definitively debunk. What seems a straightforward assignment takes Alex (and the listeners) on a strange journey involving mysterious deaths, sacred geometry and Dr. Strand’s missing wife.
Tanis is made by the same people who make The Black Tapes- both in real life and in universe. Like The Black Tapes, the podcast follows a single journalist, Nic Silver, as he investigates the mysterious concept or place or conspiracy known as Tanis. Nic is searching for a real mystery in the internet age – like Alex, he finds a lot more than he’s looking for. While TBT focuses on the supernatural, Tanis skews more to strange conspiracies. Nic relies on the services of Meerkatnip, a hacker who spends as much time wryly dealing with Nic’s naivety as searching for information on the hidden side of the internet.
Both are in their second season, so there’s a plenty to catch up on.
Limetown’s my pick for the best of the bunch – once again, a journalist seeks to find out the truth, this time behind the mysterious disappearance of over 300 people from a small town in America. Like Tanis and TBT, the journalist gets a lot more than she’s bargained for; the tense atmosphere starts at episode 2 and doesn’t let up until its shocking conclusion. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of a second season, but there may be a TV show in the future and the creators are working on a prequel novel.
Alice isn’t dead
Like the previous three, Alice isn’t dead follows a narrator chasing after a central mystery; what happened to her wife, Alice, whom she had presumed dead. Unlike the others, the narrator isn’t a professional journalist; instead, she’s a long haul truck driver, transporting mundane domestic items across America. The podcast consists of her audio diaries, which she narrates to Alice. Along the way, the narrator encounters many other strange occurances and people, some of which are connected to the central mystery of Alice, others which are not.
Stand Still, Stay Silent is probably one of my favourite webcomics ever – which is surprising, since I only started it on Friday. I read it through in one sitting, and I keep going back – there’s stuff you miss on the first reading. This summary is taken from its website:
“It’s been 90 years after the end of the old world. Most of the surviving population of the Known world live in Iceland, the largest safe area in existence, while the safe settlements in the other Nordic countries; Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, are small and scarce. Countless mysterious and unspoken dangers lurk outside the safe areas, the Silent world, and hunters, mages and cleansers will spend their lives defending the settlements against the terrifying beings. Because of a great fear towards everything in the Silent world no official attempts to explore the ruins of the old have been made, and most of the information about it has turned into ancient lore, known by few. But now, at last, it is time to send out an research crew into the great unknown! A poorly funded and terribly unqualified crew, but a crew nonetheless.”
The title comes from a piece of advice for dealing with the strange beasts that lurk in the Silent World, which neatly sums up the comic’s creepy atmosphere.
“If you come across a Beast, a Troll or a Giant do not run or call for help, but stand still and stay silent. It might go away.”
There’s an awful lot of weight in that might, hmm?
Despite the grim sounding premise, the author also describes the comic this way: “(this) is a lighthearted, Nordic postapocalyptic adventure with a lot of friendship, some magic and a little bit of horror and drama.”
There’s a large amount of humour in this comic, as the various team members try to work past cultural differences and language barriers, their own inexperience and the fact that some of them are just plain weird, to accomplish their mission, or at the very least, survive. The Beasts, Trolls and Giants are truly terrifying, but luckily they have mages, a kitten and an Icelandic shepherd. You’ll have to read the comic to work out that last sentence. It’s also great to see fiction based in the Nordic countries – something that is rare and intriguing, since the author skillfully weaves Nordic mythology through the comic.
And the art. The art is stunning – lush, beautifully coloured, unique – a style which manages to convey both the humour and the horror of the setting. It’s clearly a labour of love, and the love of the characters and setting is obvious.
The other thing to love about this webcomic is its regular update schedule – every day, although obviously time zones come into play. It’s a small thing, but it means you won’t be left hanging around waiting for the next installment.
Today is your last day to vote if you haven’t enrolled yet – and it’s easy! If you just turned 18 recently and haven’t enrolled yet, or for any other reason you’re not enrolled, it’s not too late. All you need to take with you is some ID, like a driver’s license, and you can enrol and vote on the spot! But you can only do this today, not tomorrow. If you are already enrolled, tomorrow is the voting day and it’s your last chance to vote in this year’s election. Here is a list of voting locations for both today and tomorrow: Information for voters: the who, when and where
Your vote is worth exactly the same as anyone else’s, so your vote is tied for first place as the MOST important vote in this election! Check out this neat comic about how important your vote is: The most valuable vote in New Zealand
And I know it can be so tricky to know who to vote for. Sometimes party policies are hidden under layers of publicity and personalities, and it can all get a bit confusing. But there are some great (and fun!) tools to help you work out who to vote for. On The Fence and Vote Compass are two tools which quiz you on what is most important to you, and they will tell you which parties most align with your own views. You might be surprised at the results!
There is another interesting website called Ask Away which allows you to submit questions you want MPs to answer, then the MPs from different parties answer the questions so that you can see which party/parties you most agree with the answers to. And best of all, On The Fence and Ask Away were both created by design students from Massey University! Here is a neat interview with the designers: Getting voters off the fence
So what are you waiting for? Go on and get off the fence and vote!
Weekend newsflash: The latest film from Studio Ghibli (and the last film directed by Hayao Miyazaki before his retirement!) is showing this Sunday at the Embassy cinema! It’s called The Wind Rises and it tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II. Check out the trailer below and book your tickets over at the Embassy website.
If you shoot a satellite into space, give it a camera and nothing better to do, it takes really great photos of earth.
(Found via metafilter)
In honour of the Academy Awards yesterday, here are some rather searing, searching personality tests for you to try out.
It’s snowing at the moment. This means we all need something interesting to watch while we are stuck inside drinking cocoa. Like this video about how language shapes our perception of colour from the BBC.
Regular service will resume when regular weather resumes. Good luck out there, Teen Blog-kateers!
This week I was going to write a post about the regular theremin, but after finding the video below, that post can wait.
This man, Ken Moore, has made a homemade theremin out of a wiimote, LED gloves and a Roland synthesiser. It’s that kind of forward thinking that earns you the title of “Synthesiser of the week”. He has a blog here with more theremin related goodness.
Obviously I am a big fan of synthesisers, it is after all how I got my name! So it gives me great pride to present to you perhaps the most unusual synthesiser of them all, the Oramics Machine.
Designed by Daphne Oram in 1957, the Oramics Machine uses strips of 35mm film that shapes can be drawn on to create sound. The shapes modulated light that was then captured by photocells and, well, I can’t really explain the science, but pictures make the sounds! There is only one Oramics Machine in the entire world and it will soon be on display in the London Science Museum, book your tickets I guess.
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