by Marrion Ball
Last April, we brought you reviews of our favorite podcasts of many different genres and styles. (Check out the previous article here). As the creation and discovery of new podcasts never cease, however, I now bring you a second installment of podcast recommendations.
Description: “Gravy shares stories of the changing American South through the foods we eat. Gravy showcases a South that is constantly evolving, accommodating new immigrants, adopting new traditions, and lovingly maintaining old ones. It uses food as a means to explore all of that, to dig into lesser-known corners of the region, complicate stereotypes, document new dynamics, and give voice to the unsung folk who grow, cook, and serve our daily meals.”
- Southern Foodways Alliance
My take: Gravy by the Southern Foodways Alliance is a deep and explorative dive into minority southern cultures through food. Touching on fascinating cultural and political issues, it’s like if NPR ran the Food Network.
Description: “John Green reviews facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale.”
- WNYC Studios
My take: Anthropocene is a witty, funny, and somehow emotional look at random things.
Description: “ars PARADOXICA is a love letter to physics, fiction, and the future. It's a disorienting journey through spacetime and the Cold War. It's a tome of secret history you stumbled across in a library in the dead of night.” - The Whisperforge
My take: ars PARADOXICA is an excellent fiction podcast. It is one of my favourites due to its being well-written with believable characters. And it ended recently, so it's extremely bingeable.
Description: “WOLF 359 is a radio drama in the tradition of Golden Age of Radio shows. Set on board the U.S.S. Hephaestus space station, the dysfunctional crew deals with daily life-or-death emergencies, while searching for signs of alien life and discovering there might be more to their mission than they thought. Tune into your home away from home... seven and a half light years away from Earth.” - Wolf 359 Writers
My take: WOLF 359 is sadder and a little more mature than ars PARADOXICA, but it keeps the same momentum through all 4 of its seasons. Like ars PARADOXICA, it ended recently and is extremely bingeable.
Description: “The number one podcast for those involved or just interested in the production of beef animals and dairy herds.” - The Beef and Dairy Network
My take: The Beef and Dairy Network Podcast is hilarious and surprisingly immersive.
Description: “Scott & Forrest have been called the 'Click and Clack of esoterica' by their listeners. Their mission is to take a look at legendary strange and unusual events from throughout history and interview people who've had close encounters with the unexplained. They strive to bring you everything that's entertaining about those stories and remind you that it's ok to laugh at scary stories and respectfully, even the people that tell them.”
- Astonishing Legends
My take: If you like cryptids, urban legends, or conspiracy theories, this is the podcast for you. One word of caution, however: though extremely entertaining, it is also extremely long.
by Azilee Ball
“A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Amendment II of the Bill of Rights
Little pigtails tied up with pink bows
Attached to a little head with eyes wondering
Little feet walking on the hardwood floor
Little hands grazing over death machines
A gun closet in a old house
A little girl the age of 6
This is where these horrific inventions enter her life for the first time
A house of the wild
Animal heads cover the walls
Animal bodies are skaters
Animal skulls line the shelves
There is softness under her
A brown bear
An old house filled with taxidermy
A little girl
No sight of guns but she know they did this
She is so high off the ground
He sits in a small chair next to her
He holds a gun
His eyes move fast
His finger pulls
Sound hurts her ears
The pretty deer is dead
An old hunting stand
A girl and her father
Dirt covers her
She looks at the fake animal
Her heart is racing
Tall men are watching
She pulls her finger
The tall men cheer
A young girl
A piece of paper with a deer on it
They wear invisible clothing
She has her weapon
As does he
Her camera shutter
He is mad
Sound scares away the food
A brother and sister
A hunting stand
She just wants to take pictures
She is a ball
A steel ball
But not protected
She sees his eyes
They look so cold
Man with a gun
This is where these horrific inventions enter her life for the last time
A weeping family
He looks around
He goes home
He wears orange
He hears his mother's cries
He leaves home
Then he yells
“Enough is Enough”
As he clutches his sister’s spirit
Enough is Enough
by Azilee Ball
Redbird, Wyoming. The definition of middle of nowhere, yet a place so dear. There are no other people or buildings for 25 miles, and the closest town is the least populated in the US. The solitude is tranquil, acres of land with only a barn, small house, and an abandoned cabin which was once a rest stop for a cowboy. This cowboy’s work was strenuous, and he dedicated his life to nurturing the cattle and protecting the land around him. Bunnies, deer, antelope, and horses roam free. Seeing how free these animals make me realize how free I am in this glorious place. Each way you look there is a whole new landscape. A mountain range that makes you realize just how small you are. A forest, an animal's home that is comforting. A prairie scattered with lone trees. An artesian goes to work every night to paint the sky with all the warm colors on the spectrum. There is coldness all around besides on my face where that last pure ray of sunlight hits it is warm. Then the sky is replaced with starlight, the Milky Way melts into your eyes as if it where the candy bar.
Sedona, Arizona. A place of true wonder. The geology is mesmerizing, and there is meaning behind all this geology, much more than your eye can see. The energy vortexes and ley lines are a wonder to the energetic world. The energy courses through the veins of everyone that has the privilege to live in this place, reflected in the culture of the city. These people chose this place to live in because they understood the value of the land and all it has to offer. The geography is still remarkable and any way you turn, there is orange and red. The mountains look like the first two layers of the rainbow. Then, when the day turns into night or night turns into the day, the mountains are reflected in the sky. They blur together like milk and coffee. I was sitting in awe, watching them blend together. I told my brain to take a picture of this moment because no camera could capture this all around beauty. The cup of coffee I held warmed my hands to fight to cold. The feeling was pure happiness; I wanted to see this sky forever.
Steamboat, Colorado. This place is so close to home, but it looks like a new planet. In front of me, the sky is pastel pink, blue, and purple. The enormous ridged mountains are no longer brown and green: they are dark gray skater with bright snow. The lake below the mountains is a mirror perfectly reflecting the grand mountains above. Behind me, the sky is a bright orange and green, and the dark blue fades into the pastel blue in the front. The hills that block the sun are pure black like a pulp. There is a raging fire which brings warmth to the faces of my loved ones. My brother is tending to the fire frequently, as though if it went out then so would his love for this place. My dog is snuggled up next to me and I hear the music that brings me right back to this magical moment.
Am I a Westerner? The sun is either setting or rising. That is what these stories have in common, and though I have seen the sun set and rise all over the world these are the ones that have stuck in my mind. The West has so much beauty and I have been amongst that beauty my whole life. I dislike the heat, so the initially West did not seem so appealing. But Redbird, Wyoming; Sedona Arizona; and Steamboat, Colorado—these are some of the places that have changed my perspective. The Pacific Northwest, like the true West, has a beauty that I feel drawn to. The lush forest, the deer and their behavior, the water, the flowers, the weather, the culture, everything draws me in. In truth, I don’t know if I am a Westerner. A true westerner seems so passionate, a cowboy tending to his cattle with so much love, and people who would do anything to live in the energetically rich Sedona. A boy at his happiest among the geology of the west. I can't imagine ever leaving the West, yet I can’t imagine staying here my whole life either.
by Liran Dor
Two months, 3 weeks, and 4 days ago, I left for Israel on scholarship called the Impact Fellowship to study Jewish history at a boarding school called Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI). The organization that funded my trip is the Jewish National Fund, or the JNF. Their goal with funding my trip (as well as 4 others) was to create the next generation of Jewish leaders and ambassadors for the school. They did this by interviewing many Jewish students and seeing which of them showed leadership traits. They then selected these kids to go on the program. While on the program, we went through multiple classes designed for leadership training, public speaking, etc. Some of the things that I did and continue to do now for the Impact Fellowship include writing 1 to 2 blog entries a week, speaking at local Jewish communities about the program, recruiting students to go. Generally, I have a responsibility to spread the word about the school.
Though JNF had a goal of me spreading the word about the school and recruiting, they sent me for another reason that was more of an unspoken reason. They wanted me (and the other students) to experience, and in the end to love, Israel. This is because the people who are running the JNF are all Zionists. A Zionist is a person who believes in the unquestionable connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel and the right of the Jewish people to return to and live in the State of Israel, including the development and protection of the Jewish people and state (Israel). Another example of a Zionist organization would be the people who run a program called Birthright. They send Jews from all around the world on a completely free trip to Israel just so that they can connect with Israel and its history, and Judaism. These free trips have been proven to work, and it absolutely worked on me.
While I was gone, and even though I had lived in Israel for a year before, I started to further appreciate Israel's culture much more than I have before, especially finding things that I like more about Israeli culture than American culture. I started realizing the large differences in the people that you would meet in your day-to-day life. The absolute biggest trait that stood out to me was the complete honesty that Israelis have and that Americans tend to lack. I started noticing that Israelis have less of a “social intelligence” and more of a “harsh” and sometimes even “brutal” way of conveying their message. Of course, when you first experience something like this, it seems like a big deal, but even though Israelis tend to come off as rude I started to really enjoy how I always knew what they thought of me or my opinions. You know where you stand. An American tends to be a lot more sensitive and less honest which creates an (in my mind) unnecessary struggle of trying to understand their opinion. Now, before your mind starts jumping places, remember that this does not apply for all people, but I found it to be absolutely true for the majority of people in each of these countries.
The second biggest thing that I noticed in culture difference was how accepting Israelis tend to be of any situation. When I was in Israel during the first week, I was at a Synagogue. While everyone was celebrating a holiday and dancing with the Torah, some person from outside the walls threw a rock into the very crowded area. When it became obvious that an act of hate had happened with the intention of hurting someone (most likely for celebrating Judaism, later published in the news) there was a slight panic in the crowd and I assumed that we would be going back to our campus to a more safe area. To my surprise, the crowd simply reported the crime to the police and continued dancing as if nothing had happened. I was really surprised about how a group of at least 100 people could so easily disregard a clear danger, but then I realized something. These people every day are under the fear of a rocket being shot at their home from the surrounding countries, Gaza and the West Bank (Arab-controlled areas). These people know how to not let a clearly uncomfortable situation affect how they are going to live their lives. It seems a little crazy to me, but I really admire how easily they got over such a thing vs. here in America. I have had experiences that have been much less dangerous and impactful that people even years later are still scared by or affected by. I really do believe that being able to get over something is important, having the ability to “move on” from a situation is vital. It's important to not let negative experiences affect you in the future so you can continue living.
These are just two of the many examples of reasons why I love Israel and its culture. My trip to Israel through AMHSI and the JNF was the most impactful and just outright amazing trip that I have ever been on during my entire life. Now, this means nothing to you if you don't know how many family and educational trips I have been on. But, between being a Watershed student and having a family that travels a lot, I have had a great deal of travel experiences. After this entire experience, I am just absolutely so happy to be an ambassador for the school and Israel and am really working hard to motivate kids to be part of it because of how amazing it was for me, regardless of my responsibility to do so. I learned to love Israel and its people while making amazing friends and traveling all over the country seeing and experiencing things that I could nowhere else. So please, if you read this and have someone in mind (absolutely does not have to be Jewish) who would be interested in going on this trip, refer them to me for more information or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to be of help to anyone looking to have the experiences that I had.