Listen: Welcome to Night Vale
Seeing as I just finished my top 20 albums of the year, it’s a touch redundant to recommend music. Instead, I’ll recommend a podcast that you’ve likely already heard of, but are maybe finding a bit tough to find a foothold.
Welcome to Night Vale is a glorious, weird, occasionally hilarious 30 minutes each fortnight. Presented as a radio-era news broadcast, the announcer walks the listener through local politics, school-board meetings and traffic become bizarre stories of hooded figures, tentacled creatures and strange, murderous lights in the sky, and all conflicts therein are resolved during a closing musical interlude.
It’s undeniably pretentious, but it’s so good it entirely justifies the pretence.
Superman seems to be having a moment. After the worst-film-in-twenty-years disaster that was the recent Man of Steel, and the upcoming Affleck-bearing Superman vs Batman (honestly though, how do those two exist in the same universe? Superman’s enemies could wipe out Batman with a heavy sneeze), now seems an ideal time to read Superman: An Unauthorised Biography.
Glen Weldon (who some may know as the curmudgeon-in-residence on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, is a comic book aficionado of long standing, and brings his considerable experience and wit to bear on a forensic, but fun, look at the history of that most American comic book character, and how he has evolved along with, and ahead of, his birth nation.
And for kindlekin, best you fork out for the analogue book – anything about a comic book hero is going to inevitably have some gorgeous images in it.
It was never going to last, but Treme’s abbreviated, five-episode final season is a sad way for it to go. Nonetheless, it is screening now in the US, and will find its way to your questionably legal sources soon enough. So take this chance to familiarise yourself with one of the more gentle TV pleasures of recent years. At 30 episodes so far, it’s not a big commitment.
The creation of The Wire’s David Simon, Treme tells the tale of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While lacking the easy narrative push of cops and dealers, it unfurls at its own pace, following over a dozen key characters as they set about rebuilding after their home was literally wiped out.
While it rarely reaches the kind of heights The Wire did, it moves at the kind of pace one imagines the town itself does, languidly and charmingly. This stateliness lends the moments of pathos and drama incredible heft. Simon’s love of the music shines through absolutely everywhere, right down to the (occasionally overdone) cameos by legitimate local legends.
Either way, while Treme will no doubt wind up little more than a pleasing historical curio, take a chance to check it out while it’s still warm.