Discover more from Follow Friday
The helicopter on Mars, why we need subtitles, and the Studio Ghibli theme park
Plus: Romantic comedies, unpredictable game shows, and sign language wizards.
Welcome to an overdue edition of Follow Friday. I was too busy towards the end of last week to get this done, so this week’s edition is packed full of good stuff. Thanks for hanging in there, and as always for telling your friends about the newsletter!
The single best thing I saw online this week: I’m a couple weeks late to this Vox video, but I can see why it has racked up nearly 9 million views on YouTube: A LOT of people are like me and always have the subtitles on when they’re watching movies and TV shows. This is a difficult, technical thing to explain and Edward Vega does an incredible job — with a vital assist from dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick. The whole situation kind of reminds me of the “Long Night” episode of Game of Thrones, which probably looked great in HBO’s perfectly lit screening rooms but was a dark and confusing mess for 99% of viewers.
The best podcasts I’ve heard this week
This episode of David Pogue’s podcast Unsung Science, “The Mars Helicopter That Would Not Die,” is absolutely delightful. I’m not someone who follows NASA super closely and, truth be told, I didn’t know there was a helicopter on Mars. Pogue characterizes Ingenuity’s survival as a story of “three miracles” and he delivers: I was gripped by each turn in what was supposed to be a much shorter experiment. (Via Mark Steadman’s newsletter The Big Minute.)
As someone who grew up in the 90s, and who was fortunate enough to be taken to the Disney parks, I have a lot of nostalgia for shows like the Main Street Electrical Parade and Fantasmic at Disneyland. If you’ve never seen these shows, then this podcast is not for you, but I loved The Tomorrow Society Podcast’s interview with longtime nighttime entertainment designer Don Dorsey. To my surprise, the most interesting part of the podcast was Don’s explanation of how they figured out the logistics of Illuminations, a long-running nightly show at Epcot in Florida that largely took place in the middle of a huge lagoon.
When I saw that the hosts of the excellent CBC podcast Let’s Make a Sci-Fi were coming back for a new season, I was excited. When I saw that they were pivoting genres and would this year be collaborating on a romantic comedy, I was ecstatic. Maddy Kelly, Ryan Beil, and Mark Chavez are just as funny as ever, and the first episode of Let’s Make a Rom-Com is very promising. As a longtime listener of Story Break (RIP), I love hearing creative people figuring stuff out. I’m optimistic that the ... unusual movie premise Maddy, Ryan, and Mark ultimately land on is going to be something great.
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help i’m addicted to this game show
For months, whenever I find myself on Google’s TikTok
ripoff homage, YouTube Shorts, I’ve been seeing clips from Game Changer, a game show made by the streaming platform Dropout. It’s sort of like an evolved version of Whose Line Is It Anyway, with three funny contestants who don’t know what game they’re going to play when they get to the set. They have to improvise their way into pleasing the host, Sam Reich, and his glee when players either “get it” or do something unexpected is infectious.
If you don’t want to pay for a Dropout subscription, you can find a bunch of episodes on YouTube:
Anyway, I did pay for a Dropout subscription so that I can binge every episode of Game Changer during my downtime. No ragrets.
Let’s take a minute admire the commitment to this joke
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As people on Reddit pointed out, the difference in Tiago’s muscle mass between the first and second clips indicates that this took some time to orchestrate. Bravo.
And let’s take more than a minute to admire ASL interpreters
Easily the most wholesome thing I’ve seen online of late: The full-hearted embrace of Justina Miles, who went viral for serving as the American Sign Language Interpreter during this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, starring Rihanna:
You can watch the entire performance with Miles’ signing here, but in case you skipped the Entertainment Tonight video above: What’s especially cool is that Miles herself is deaf. As a hearing person (like most of the people sharing this video, presumably), I am impressed by the energy she brings to Rihanna’s songs — but I can’t begin to imagine how someone who hasn’t heard those songs can capture them so well. Brava.
The best thing I’ve read this week
As a lifelong fan of theme parks and a recent-er fan of the films of Hayao Miyazaki, I dropped everything this week to read Sam Anderson’s account of visiting Ghibli Park in Nagoya, Japan. He discovers that this is not, in fact, Ghibli’s answer to Tokyo Disneyland — there are no rides, and one of the biggest attractions is a recreation of the ordinary midcentury rural house seen in My Neighbor Totoro. And yet, Ghibli Park embodies the singular values of Miyazaki just as much as Disney’s parks mirror that company’s founder:
Ghibli Park was designed, as the official website puts it, in “close consultation with the surrounding forest.” My guides told me that, amazingly, not a single tree was cut down. Again I thought of Disney World, which was created at the expense of whole ecosystems — square miles denatured and paved to make way for lucrative, user-friendly worlds of plastic and metal. Ghibli Park, by contrast, is largely unchanged forest. Seeing its attractions involves walking, endlessly, through wooded paths.
[…] After a while I told my guides, only half joking, that Ghibli Park seemed like an extremely elaborate way to lure people out into the middle of an obscure Japanese forest.
Yes, they said. That is basically correct.
Palate cleanser: blep
… And the rest
And finally … BANSHEE