Hi guys, here are my March Favourites. Sometimes I ask what these are for, and tbh, I think they are mostly for me. I have been consuming things but not processing them, and this helps me kind of be tethered to my present reality, if that makes sense.
I hope it’s helpful and enjoyable for you, though!
Fire Emblem Warriors: 3 Hopes
When I got COVID, it was thankfully very mild. It lent to a lot of restless days, and eventually, I ended up finally purchasing this game. Fire Emblem: 3 Houses is my favourite game of all time, so while I did want to play this game, a part of me was apprehensive because I knew it was unfair to place such high expectations on a game that was going to inevitably be quite different from the game I loved (and played through at least five times).
Initially, I was really upset with the change in gameplay. I do not fare well with games that require precision and like, combat reflexes. The original FE:3H was a turn-based RPG and my favourite parts of it were the storyline and the way you skilled up your players throughout, through turn-based combat where you tell a character how to attack or defend against a foe (based on their stats) and they do it. It was essentially very forgiving in terms of skill. FEW:3H needed a little bit more from me on that front, and so I thought I would hate it.
ANYWAY. I got over it. (I think?) I got pretty good. I think the best part is learning about the three territories more, apart from their involvement with the Church of Seiros. The timeline is basically kind of that lost period between the end of the Officers Academy and the war in the original game, but it does seem to have a bit of variation.
TL;DR: it’s good, I loved it, I am happy it kept me company through COVID, and that it continues to do so. I played the Golden Deer story first, and am in the middle of the Blue Lions one, with a more challenging tier. It’s so good, I love everyone.
Eliza Clark’s Penance
My flatmate works in a bookshop on Saturdays and luckily managed to get an ARC for Penance, which I luckily was able to borrow. I breezed through this book, because it was telling the story of a sort of sordid small town murder, but also the point it was coming from was quite compelling.
I think we are definitely in an extended era of consuming true crime, but we are very much not quite in a place that questions the ethics of such consumption or, more accurately, the ethics of the production of this kind of content. It’s predatory, not unlike vultures circling around rotting meat, and we’re all guilty of perpetuating this approach to the “investigation” of such stories, which more often than not, are really just ways to get the best goss.
I haven’t read Clark’s earlier novel, Boy Parts, though that was met with much praise, too. I really appreciated the complexity of her characters in Penance, and it gave me much to think about.
Rin Usami’s Idol, Burning
As some of you may know, I have been a fan of k-pop for a few years now, and the fervour of the fans — as evidenced by “stan Twitter” — is often unmatched. In Usami’s short novel, the protagonist is a stan with an oshi (or, ult) who runs into a bit of a scandal after allegations of him striking one of his fans. Akari, whose life is anchored in her oshi, slowly begins to unravel while coming to terms with what is closest to her heart, but what which is ultimately, distant and unknowable.
Because I am pretty familiar with these oshi-led feelings, I can’t tell if this novel would be relatable to people outside of this world. I did borrow it from aforementioned flatmate, and I would count her as one of the “outsiders” with a sort of stability that I can’t really grasp myself. She recommended Idol, Burning to me, so I suppose there is some stretch of recognition of universal human feelings present here. I admire the exploration of longing, complexity, and (though implied) mental health in this book, done succinctly and compassionately, seen through Akari’s eyes.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Oh my God. This was top notch. Do you remember that tweet about the film course where a student watched Puss in Boots: The Last Wish six times in the cinema? I wish I had time and money to watch Puss in Boots: The Last Wish six times in the cinema.
I loved the clarity with which the people who made this film see their characters. I love how they remember Puss is, foremost, a cat, and made him behave as a cat would. I love the metaphors, the delving into their respective psychologies through the map. I love that they managed to make this Shrek-adjacent without making a Shrek film. And I love that Mark recognised the Papa Bear voice as Ray Winstone.
“What? He’s famous.”
Justin Vernon’s cover of Sharon von Etten’s “Love More”
So, in like, an effort to select a fairly innocuous and safe playlist at work, I typically just put on Bon Iver and listen to him for eight hours. One day, this song came on and I just could not shake myself from it. I think Sharon von Etten’s version is also amazing; this one just imprinted on me very strongly.
I’m not sure people in the shop appreciate Justin Vernon wailing a lil bit, but that seems like a “them” problem.
The Second Structure of Feeling is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I started rewatching The Magicians whenposted asking for recommendations for fantasy, world-building shows to binge-watch, and a friend of hers mentioned The Magicians. I watched it when it came out, and never realised that I did not actually finish the series?
So, for March, I’d been watching it from start to finish (S3 has some of the best episodes of T.V.) and now that I’m done, I’m rewatching it again. I think parts of it are really corny, but I do think that’s quite deliberate. Depending on how it’s done, I almost always prefer it to self-serious television that ends up looking goofy anyway. At least The Magicians knows it’s goofy.
I haven’t really read Lev Grossman’s books, apart from the first one, but the show and the source material are very, very different, both tonally, and apparently, narratively. Interestingly, most fans of both prefer characterisations of the T.V. characters, though of course there are book purists who do not like the show at all.
They really do get super creative with the structure of a television episode, the possibilities and limitations of magic, and the bureaucracies that surround certain institutions. Some characters and acting are a lil annoying, but what do you expect, really, from a book and show that was billed as “Harry Potter for adults”? Worth a watch, if you can get through the potentially off-putting first impressions. I mean, I’m watching it again.
DO NOT WATCH THE TRAILER, LOL
tardibabe on Instagram
Have you ever seen anything other than your high school biology plates under a microscope? I came across tardibabe on Instagram because of a video of different sand from different parts of the world — as seen under a microscope. She is a microbiologist (former drummer) with two cats and a powerful microscope, satiating our curiosity of the tiniest worlds.
My favourites are of tardigrades (obvs) but it’s soooooooooo surreal seeing just how much life exists in magnifications we can’t process. She films and edits videos of magnified fruits and food, pond water, sand, feathers, house dust (!), among other things.
I watch her reels when I can’t sleep. I think she’s really good with music selections, too.
Okay, that’s it, that’s everything, I think. I know the boygenius album and film came out in March, but I kind of feel like it doesn’t count, so they’ll probably be in the April letter.
Just another thing: I’ve opened the option to pledge support as a paid subscriber, though you basically get the same things you would get as a free subscriber. I just wanted to present the option, but not like… segregate the posts, you know? Anyway, no pressure, of course. Everything — from email opens to clicking my Twitter link — is all appreciated by me.
Yay glad to follow you on Substack, Carina!!
I gotta watch it now for real!!! My dad loves it!