BSR Favorites of 2018

Written by on January 11, 2019

2018 was a long strange year for many. But in Black Squirrel Radio tradition we like to take some time and celebrate the things that made another (sometimes difficult) year worth it. So from our favorite trends and pop culture to our favorite native fruits enjoy this list of the BSR Favorites of 2018!


Tide Pods

2018: The Year of Our Lord and Savior, the Tide Pod. After the insanity that’s been 2018, I can’t hardly believe the candy-shaped-detergent-eating mania happened this year. Less than 12 months ago, absurd memes depicting the behavior were shared online; Tide issued a statement warning against consuming their laundry products, candy-shaped or non; and news articles describing emergency room visits were reposted by horrified Facebook users who all echoed out the same, desperate cry: What is this world coming to?

Still, it’s harder for me to accept this event’s recency than its actuality. Because after all, how many kids really did eat the things? Some, that’s for sure, and they were rightfully rushed to the hospital–you would be, too, if you consumed a generous helping of alcoholethoxy sulfate and Red 40. But no way did that many people really eat a damn Tide Pod. Not enough to legitimize previous generations looking at ours in shame, at least. After all, we weren’t the ones who normalized eating canned spam or smoking formaldehyde on airplanes. You tell me which is worse for you. At least a Tide Pod will clean you out from the inside (only speculation, can’t confirm).

Anyways, the whole thing began as an obscure joke until it started getting taken too seriously by the population at large–not unlike, I don’t know, Trump running for office. Maybe in whatever bizarre, twist-driven version of reality we’re living in, we should come to expect things like this now.

So what can we expect 2019 to bring? The Year of The Hummus Popsicle? The Year of The John Deere Wheelie Challenge? The Year Our Manic Devolution Finally Reached a Breaking Point? I personally like the hummus one. But be careful what you meme, kids.

(Jordan King, Web Content Writer)


Incredibles 2

I know for a fact that The Incredibles was not the first movie I watched. I was seven years old when it came out in 2004. My mom loves movies and TV, my regular weekend trip was the video store,and I had older siblings who got my twin sister and I hooked on Family Guy,Case Closed, and School of Rock well before 2004. It’s one of the first ones to stick out in my memory, though. It’s one of the first movies that made an obnoxiously precocious, paranoid, and anxious seven (yes, seven)-year-old me feel like a badass. This is exactly why its successor flexes in my mind through the Nomanisan Island that has been 2018 and at times, college, in general.

I’m not sure I would say it was better than the original. That could be a symptom of nostalgia, an entire middle schooler’s lifespan of hype, or my now being a film student and just in general being “the artist who is never satisfied”. I think a YouTube channel pointed out a trend of twist villains always making their way into Disney’s newer plots. I think that kind of dashed the hopes of a broke college student who had to wait until the movie showed at the Kiva. All that waiting for a plot that would follow the trend.

Then “Why is it my all time favorite thing of 2018?” you might ask. I love how Pixar never fails to floor you with their animation, their wit, and how they make you feel. The more we are to grow up and deal with how terrible people, politicians, and the world can be, I’m glad a movie which was not as good as the original still has enough magic to make you feel like a kid and a badass. Pixar’s animation and Michael Giacchino’s score still pack enough of a punch to make you go “God, I love movies.”

In the year where a lot of us lost both the creator of Marvel and the creator of Spongebob Squarepants, I welcome any plot which features an inventive superhero like Voyd, an Elastigirl fangirl with the power to create wormholes. Something about both the invention of that character and the concept of linking two disparate points in the space-time continuum gives you hope for hope that you can make from now to a seemingly disparate happier time for the nation.And it’s all because of a movie that ad you think of a simpler time in your life. Dash at one point observing Violet’s mood swings asked if “she’s having adolescence?” While Violet has that, I’ll have these two movies to provide me with the force field of feeling like I could do and be anything in 2019.

(Julia Stephens, Multimedia Coordinator)


Favorite Native Fruit

This year was one of great growth for me as my professional duality continues. Balancing content-slinging with the never ending educational experience of trying to be a naturalist, I’ve gained knowledge in one area that has no application in the other.

This all changed when Conor announced this article, my favorite “thing” of the year- a vague opportunity to unleash some botanical knowledge. Is it sweet? Certainly. Is it misnamed by early colonizers? Yes! Does it have upwards of seven nicknames (wild banana, prairie banana, Indiana banana, Hoosier banana, West Virginia banana, Kansas banana, Michigan banana, Missouri banana, the poor man’s banana, Ozark banana, banango, and Kentucky banana, simoya, Quaker delight and hillbilly mango)? Of course.

Folks, we are talking of the Paw Paw, a native fruit tree that produces fist-sized green-yellow pods of squishy, sweet native sugars around 5 black seeds forming the titular paw. Despite being the largest fruit indigenous to the American Midwest, the Paw Paw isn’t found in grocery stores- it spoils far too quickly too be profitable. It also is most associated with Appalachian Ohio, where a large community festival is held every fall to honor the Paw Paw.

The Paw Paw is what we should all strive to be in the coming year. Existing for personal merit, not dollar value. Delicious. Community-binding. Sweet. Wild.

Paw Paw can be found throughout Ohio, with peak season in mid-September. The author recommends a trip to Wayne National Forest where Paw Paw are both fairly common and foraging for wild edibles is allowed. If going elsewhere, consult their guidelines- this tree may be under more stress in certain places than others.

(Evan Harms, Multimedia Director)

Sawbones podcast

I found myself kind of struggling to pin down my favorite ‘thing’ of 2018, this really was a very long and rather strange year. For these pieces, I usually attempt to pick some tv show or album that came out this year that I really loved. But the thing I found myself leaning on most of this year was podcasts. As a radio person, I’ve long been a big fan of podcasting, I even host one for BSR. But this year was the first one in a long time where I started listening to them again like crazy and the main one I’ve loved is Sawbones: a marital tour of misguided medicine. The program idea is a simple one, a married couple one a doctor and one very much not, discuss the many strange and sometimes ill-advised ideas that have come out of medical history. The show has touched on some of my all-time favorite interests including Wilhelm Reich, The Mutter Museum, Mary Roach, and resurrection men. It’s also introduced me to some new favorites like Pliny the Elder, the dancing plague, Ghostwatch, and more.


Our hosts are Dr. Sydnee McElroy joined by her husband Justin McElroy of the wildly beloved podcast series My Brother, My Brother, and Me. I had, of course, heard of MBMBAM it’s even been featured on one of our previous favorites of the year lists but I had surprisingly never listened to it before. But once I caught Sawbones fever (perhaps a new ailment to discuss on the show?) I finally gave MBMBAM a listen and my goodness it has only increased my newly renewed podcast obsession. The show’s wild popularity is enough to get that it’s probably quite fun and entertaining but bless these very charming boys and their ability to continually bring up most of my favorite weird pop culture references.

Though the whole McElroy family of podcasts are quite enjoyable my first love and favorite thing of this year has been Sawbones. 2018 has been an excellent year for the program, the pair wrote a
Sawbones book (that I’m still holding out hope I’ll get for Christmas or my birthday) and they even did a whole episode on another item on our list this year, Tide Pods. They, of course, warned everyone to not eat them (seriously don’t eat Tide Pods, no one should have to tell you this but just in case, BSR does not condone eating laundry soap even if it looks like candy). The couple also touched on various new trends in ‘medicine’ like the dangerous and unfortunately locally born “Jilly Juice” and at home DNA testing kits as well as timeless entertaining topics like the medical ailments you face in Oregon Trail and a whole Thanksgiving special all about normalizing herpes. Some of the best parts of podcasts are learning new things or being entertained and unlike many other podcasts, Sawbones does an excellent job of combining the two. They not only succeed in delivering actual data and history about various topics but they do so in an interesting way. The pair can even tackle hard issues, in one of the best episodes they discuss mental illness and their own experiences with anxiety and depression. 2018 was a long and stressful year and I can honestly say that Sawbones made it better.

(Brooke Forrest, General Manager)


If We Were Villains

If there’s one thing that got me through 2018, it was reading a book all about characters that had it so much worse than I did. Recommended to me by my local library, I was intrigued immediately by If We Were Villains because it had such high praise both online and off. The story follows seven different characters, Oliver, James, Meredith, Richard, Alexander, Filippa, and Wren, as they study at an elite Shakespeare Conservatory. The deep friendship between these incredibly dramatic students becomes strained when a casting for one show throws everything out of whack. When a rivalry turns deadly, they are forced to use their skills to prove that they are innocent. This book was so well written, I found it so easy to get lost in the pages and forget all about the crap that was happening in my own reality and focus instead on the awful reality of these characters. The author did such a good job with writing each character as their own person, and had me holding my breath at every twist and turn. The ending was predictable, but even then she manages to throw in one last curveball. I absolutely loved reading this book, and I highly suggest everyone give it a shot.

(Karlie Hirter, Program Director)


Celebrating Black Culture

Something that really took my heart and mind by the reins this year was the celebration of black culture. You’re probably wondering, what does that have to do with a 19 year old girl from Russia? Well after educating myself over the years, I’ve come to realize that I also know what it feels like to not be wanted in this country, to be considered less than by another group of people. The only difference? I have had the ability to blend in.

Everyone has the right to their own opinions, and the choice to take action and stand up for what they believe. Throughout 2018 I chose to not sit back and watch. I chose to support a culture that has been fighting for their rights, just as I have. I have encouraged others to open their minds, to watch a movie, or just read. Due to a veil over themselves, people are blurred from the idea that they can make a difference too. It makes it hard for them to wonder what can they do to help. They aren’t black? Will it seem weird to support a cause they have no attachment too? Well to find an answer to those questions I believe the first step is educating oneself.

Here are some of the impeccable icons of 2018 worth your time:
Movies: Sorry To Bother You; Moonlight; Black Panther; BlacKkKlansman; Blindspotting; The Hate You Give; If Beale Street Could Talk

People: Colin Kaepernick, Shaun King, Tabria Majors, Brenda Lawrence, Tarana Burke, Laverne Cox, Jackie Aina, Ryan Coogler, and soooo many more

Books: So You Want To Talk About Race; Between The World and Me; White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism; When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

These movies, books, and people have helped open my eyes, and allow me to not be afraid to fight for what’s right. They on their own, have spoke for years of hurt and pain, have expressed the needs and wants for a better future. So with these words I have made 2018 a year of action. I hope you, whoever is reading this, makes 2019 one too.

(Sam Salkin, Music Coordinator/Design Director)

Writer’s BlockCast – Michael McKee Green Interview

This past semester was my first semester as a DJ, and I have greatly enjoyed being a part of BSR so far. One of my favorite things that happened in 2018 was getting to interview Michael McKee Green, the winner of the 2017 Stan and Tom Wick Prize for his first book of poetry, Fugue Figure. It was awesome to have an in-depth conversation with Michael about his work, which challenges the traditional forms of poetry in a unique way. What made this conversation even better was that we got to share it with our listeners. This was one of our earlier shows of the semester, and it showed me just how much fun having the show was going to be and how much I could learn in the process.

(Nina Palattella, DJ, Writer’s BlockCast)

The Maine’s Lovely, Little, Lonely Funeral

If anyone knows me personally, they know that Maria Serra is a HARDCORE fan of Arizona alt-rock quintet The Maine. These boys have revolutionized rock and roll and have been a staple of the Warped Tour lineup for several years.

This year, the band did something extraordinary, hilarious and “extra” as some fans lovingly called it. The group hosted a “funeral” for their 2017 album Lovely, Little, Lonely this year to end its era.

The Maine hosted a full house of fans at the Fillmore Silver Spring in Baltimore. They requested that every fan wear red and bring fake flowers lay on the stage. The best part is that they rented a real casket and placed it at the entrance of the venue. It was a great concert supported by pop punk group Grayscale.

After the show, the group announced they would take time to work with Matt Squire down the road for their seventh studio album. I loved this show with my whole heart and cried more than once. They may be extra, but I love me some of The Maine.

(Maria Serra, Web/Music Coordinator)

The #3 Show of Fall 2018 and a Shave

Fitz and Spinell hit the ground running this semester, and we never looked back. Teaming up with Mitch was the best decision I could have made, although it almost didn’t happen for a hot second (but it did, so that’s a story for another time).

Overall, we did well together, both of us slowing the other down, and finding someone to bounce ideas of off for the both of us. Our overall success lead to us being ranked #3 at semester’s end (to the surprise of us both) and as I promised the listeners and those on twitter that I would shave off my beard if we got into the top 10, we did, and I kept my word. And by the way, the beard is back as of typing this.

On my end, it’s being able to be in the booth those two hours (and can I petition for a third? Lol) that allows us (and I know Mitch has said similarly) to entertain listeners, give and gain perspective, debate, and wake up to do something we’re both passionate about as a potential career. That’s what made my semester for BSR.

(Sean Fitzgerald, Co-Host of Fitz and Spinell)



Krasinski’s Home Run

A Quiet Place is a kick-ass thriller, plain and simple.

Aside from a magnificent performance by John Krasinski (kudos to his directing abilities too) and Emily Blunt, the concept felt refreshing. For a movie that possess such little dialogue, it resonates strongly with viewers. That can be accredited to the dreary atmosphere, great acting, and an overload of suspenseful moments.

What are these creatures that hunt by sound? What is the next move for this seemingly doomed family? I was on the edge of my seat for most the movie and that theatre surround sound damn near gave me a heart attack. I was so impressed by the film, I had to see it twice.

My favorite scene in the movie has to be the dance scene between Krasinski and Blunt. As “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young begins to play, the couple hold each other close. The song and their affectionate movement does all the talking for them, showcasing yet another beautiful pairing between music and cinema.

A sequel has been scheduled for release in May 2020.

(Christopher Ramos, Web Staff Writer)

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