Stuff We’re Into: Throwbacks and Dubious Advice

Nora: The Princess Bride

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What it is: Boy meets most beautiful girl in the world, girl bullies boy until they fall in love, boy goes off to sea and presumably dies. Girl is too beautiful to stay single, gets engaged to a prince. At this point she is kidnapped by a trio of characters, in turn pursued by a mysterious man in black. Hijinks ensue.

Basically the most perfect love story ever invented if you pretend feminism doesn’t exist. If you’re willing to swallow THAT, there’s the most perfect story of revenge ever written, and enough Andre the Giant to make you overlook the glaring character deficiencies in the female love interest.

Why you should watch it (presumably for the 100th time): It still stands, and will always stand. The metaplot of grouchy sick kid getting read to by his grandfather is priceless, and Cary Elwes has some kind of blue eyes…Add to that Billy Crystal and Carol Kane’s matrimonial disarray, some truly spectacular sword fighting and Andre the Giant rhyming.

Each character has a great backstory, the cast is out of this world and the writing is quick and clever. It’s based off a spectacular book that has a bunch of author commentary making it worth the read, even though the movie captures the spirit of the story perfectly.

Eryn: Dear Hank and John

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What it is: a weekly podcast (I know, right? I threw y’all off last time by doing a book) by Hank and John Green. If you don’t already know who those guys are, you can Google them–but you don’t really need to. All you need to know is the two brothers are both writers and internet creators–one with a humanities background (John) and one with a science background (Hank). They have a podcast where they “answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week’s news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon.” (That’s Mars, the cold dead rock, and AFC Wimbledon, the fourth third tier English football team.) John also reads a short poem, Hank tries to be interested in it, and the topic of mortality comes up more than you’d think.

Why you should listen: Dear Hank and John is a salve to soothe the sorry soul. This podcast’s balance of goofy humor and earnest sincerity is a balm in what feels like an especially stressful and hopeless world. The listener questions may be silly or serious pleas for advice, or they may be scientific or philosophical thought problems, and the Greens and their production team do a great job of crafting a good mix of all the above. Though the brothers claim their advice is dubious, in practice it is often quite wise and thoughtful. Hank and John share a fundamental commitment to curiosity, kindness, and “imagining others complexly” that colors all their work with a rosy warmth that will make you believe in humanity again, and also like, hope and nuance and stuff. This shared worldview, paired with their otherwise very different personalities and sets of interests, makes for a funny, engaging, and loving dynamic that works just as well in a podcast as it does on YouTube. Feel free to start anywhere, though the show has accumulated some inside jokes that will make more sense if you jump in earlier! Starting from the beginning also means you get to observe the complete arc of John’s reactions to AFC Wimbledon’s incredible recent season–it’s beautiful.

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