Illustration by Isha Khanzode.

Illustration by Isha Khanzode.

Podcast: The Black Tapes

If you love (and perhaps also fear!) Ouija boards, ghost stories, and TV shows like Supernatural and The X-Files, this serial docudrama podcast is for you. The host, Alex Reagan, intended to do a podcast about interesting jobs. That all changed when she met Dr. Richard Strand. Dr. Strand is the skeptic behind the Strand Institute, which has been offering a million-dollar reward for proof of the paranormal. Alex becomes fascinated by Dr. Strand’s “black tapes.” The tapes are a record of supernatural incidents Strand has yet to disprove, but only (he claims) because he doesn’t have the technology yet. (Dr. Strand is delightfully frustrating in his refusal to believe.) Alex uncovers, explores, and connects stories of ghosts with upside down faces, sacred geometry, demon boards, exorcisms, a mysterious old order of monks, and the “unsound,” which people supposedly die within a year of hearing! On top of that, there’s the ongoing mystery of what happened to Dr. Strand’s wife, who disappeared almost a decade ago. The podcast is fictional (or is it???) but scary enough that I only listen during the daytime, and I still occasionally fast-forward through really scary parts, just in case. The show is on hiatus until May. Because it is highly binge-able listening, now is the perfect time to catch up on the first one and a half seasons. Scare the crap out of yourself, and begin to unravel the mysteries surrounding the black tapes. —Stephanie Kuehnert

Short Film: Blue Girls Burn Fast by Amandla Stenberg

Just when I thought Amandla Stenberg couldn’t be any cooler, the 17-year-old hero released a new 19-minute film called Blue Girls Burn Fast. The NYU-bound activist shot, wrote, and directed the movie herself (with help from an awesome crew including her friends November Rivera and Bailey Wait). Aside from having breathtaking cinematography and an amazing soundtrack, Blue Girls Burn Fast tells a brilliant coming-of-age story of teens Andy and Lea. Andy meets Lea after she fails at an attempt to run away from home. The story then follows the pair in their quickly developing friendship. My favorite thing about the short is how honest and sincere it is. Amandla knows how to perfectly articulate the intimacy and vulnerability of teenage relationships; how everything can feel so fragile, and bigger than oneself. Andy and Lea are complex characters that are beautifully illustrated through their interactions. It was very easy to connect with them as an audience member. Blue Girls Burn Fast made its way into this teen’s heart! —Lauren Tepfer

Newsletter: Display Images

When I was a kid, I would go to my grandparents’ house each Sunday and immediately ask my papa if he had bought the Sunday paper. While I was excited about spending time with my family and the homemade pie that would eventually find its way to my stomach, what immediately captured my attention during each visit was the Sunday paper’s comics section. But as I aged, the magic of this experience was lost somehow. I moved on to graphic novels, knowing full well what was in store as I skimmed their covers and flipped through their pages. That surprising experience of seeing new comic artists in the paper each week was gone. Then I found Hazlitt’s comics newsletter, Display Images. While I adore the comics featured on Hazlitt’s regular website, the newsletter form brings back that feeling I once had the pleasure of associating with comics. Curated by Anshuman Iddamsetty, the newsletter introduces a new comic to your inbox every week. Sometimes they are one-offs that begin and end in a single email, but some of the comics are part of series that string you along with the passage of time. Occasionally—like with Kris Mukai’s work—the newsletter explores the capacity of digitally presented illustration by featuring comics with moving images. The movements are ever-so-subtle, not quite animation, but they draw me in even closer. While I admire comics in their traditional forms, Display Images allows comics to go even further. —Rachel Davies ♦