The Habitat Podcast – The True Story Of A Fake Planet

I get a lot of questions about space from my five-year old, many of which I’m not equipped to properly answer. He has high standards when it comes to explanations. The Habitat, a new podcast from Gimlet, has helped me formulate some more convincing answers. It’s also a fascinating experiment.

On a remote mountain in Hawaii, there’s a fake planet Mars. Six volunteers are secluded in an imitation Mars habitat where they will work as imitation astronauts for one very real year.

The goal: to help NASA understand what life might be like on the red planet—and plan for the day when the dress rehearsals are over, and we blast off for real.

Host Lynn Levy has been chronicling this experiment from the moment the crew set foot in their habitat, communicating with them through audio diaries that detail their discoveries, their frustrations, and their evolving and devolving relationships with each other.

There are seven episodes at around 30 minutes each.

Listen to The Habitat podcast.
Read a review of The Habitat.

The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster

If you read only one book this year, make it The Trauma Cleaner.

“A poignant and powerful celebration of one remarkable woman’s unrelenting drive to make order from chaos,” it tells the story of Sandra Pankhurst, a trauma cleaner. But before she was a trauma cleaner, she was many things: a husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman and trophy wife.

As a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, Sandra just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.

Sarah Krasnostein spent four years researching and writing this award-winning, extraordinary biography. If you are not moved by this book, your heart is likely made of stone.

For those in Sydney, Sarah Krasnostein is speaking about The Trauma Cleaner at the Sydney Writers Festival on 5th May.

Read an extract.
Read a review.
Learn more about The Trauma Cleaner.

Wild Wild Country – A Wild Documentary on Netflix

Wild Wild Country is a six-part documentary on Netflix about the controversial Indian guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho), and the community, Rajneeshpuram, he set up in Antelope, Oregon, in the early 1980s.

Well, he didn’t set it up. He didn’t do much in the early days except make an entrance at important moments in a Rolls-Royce, wearing lots of bling, and reaping all the glory. Sometimes he would dance. Mainly with the women. Ma Anand Sheela, Osho’s right-hand lady, was responsible for all the important bits. She was the brains behind most of it and is the real star of the show.

I don’t want to reveal too much about what goes on except to say that as a result of the locals resenting the commune/city, it all goes downhill very quickly, in a spectacular way. And it’s a thrill to watch.

Don’t read the reviews (they are good) because if you’re like me and knew little about this story, you will be gobsmacked and thoroughly entertained with the twists and turns it takes.

Watch the trailer.

Watch Wild Wild Country on Netflix.

Safe Harbour TV Series – A New Psychological Thriller on SBS

Safe Harbour is a psychological thriller about a group of friends whose sailing holiday alters their lives forever after they cross paths with a struggling fishing boat overloaded with asylum seekers en-route to Australia.

The Australians decide to tow the refugees, but when they wake the next morning the fishing boat is gone. Five years later they learn that someone cut the rope between the two boats, with tragic consequences.

I’ve been in a bit of TV watching slump since The Crown and two episodes of Safe Harbour has pulled me out of it.

The four-part series from Matchbox Pictures stars Ewen Leslie (Top of the Lake: China Girl), Leeanna Walsman (Seven Types of Ambiguity), Joel JacksonPhoebe TonkinHazem Shammas and Jacqueline McKenzie.

Watch the trailer.

Read more about Safe Harbour or watch it now on SBS On Demand.

THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD – A Bold Dark Comedy TV Series on Netflix

The new TV series on Netflix,  THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD, takes you into the dark and confusing lives of teen outsiders James (Alex Lawther – Black Mirror, The Imitation Game) and Alyssa (Jessica Barden – The Lobster, Ellen, Penny Dreadful) as they embark on a road trip to find Alyssa’s father, who left home when she was a child.

It’s hilarious and deeply unsettling in equal measures. Jessica Barden as Alyssa is incredible – she’s terrifying yet vulnerable and you just want to hug her. I wish I had half her confidence level and disregard for others opinions during my teenage years.

The show is based on the award-winning series of comic books by Charles Forsman and consists of eight episodes around 20 minutes each.

Watch the trailer for The End of the F***ing World.

Watch the show.

Zucchini and Caper Spaghettini Recipe – Fast, Fresh and Vegetarian

After too much fancy festive food the past couple of weeks, I’ve been craving simple pasta dishes, preferably vegetarian, and this Zucchini and Caper Spaghettini recipe from the Marie Claire Fresh + Fast cookbook hits the spot.

The following serves four and you will need:

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 medium zucchini (courgettes), grated
  • 300g spaghettini
  • 10 oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons small salted capers, rinsed
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 70g grated parmesan cheese

View the full recipe.

The Movie ‘Call Me By Your Name’ – An Outstanding Romantic Drama

Call Me By Your Name is a romantic coming-of-age-drama based on the novel by André Aciman. It’s directed by Luca Guadagnino and is the third and final installment in his ‘Desire trilogy‘, following I Am Love and A Bigger Splash.

In the summer of 1983 in Northern Italy, Elio, (Timothée Chalamet) a 17-year-old American spends his days in his family’s villa transcribing music and flirting with his friend, Marzia (Esther Garrel).

Then along comes Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old graduate student and research assistant to Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an eminent professor. What transpires is a sensual and transcendent tale of first love and inevitable heartbreak.

Read a review.

Watch the trailer for the movie.

In select cinemas now.

Sunshine – A TV Crime Drama Series

Set in Melbourne’s outer-west suburb of Sunshine, the four-part TV crime drama series, Sunshine, follows Jacob, a young, aspiring South Sudanese-Australian basketball player who dreams of making it to the NBA.

He’s on the cusp of being picked up by scouts for the US college league but his future is put in jeopardy when he’s drawn into a criminal investigation.

Sunshine features a line-up of renowned and seasoned Australian actors including Anthony LaPaglia, Vince Colosimo and Kim Gyngell, alongside a stellar South Sudanese Australian cast being seen for the first time on Australian TV.

According to The Guardian, “Sunshine is one of the standout Australian TV shows of the year.”

Watch Sunshine now on SBS On Demand.

Dark TV Series – A German Supernatural Thriller on Netflix

Netflix’s new supernatural thriller, Dark, is set in a German town in present day where the disappearance of two young children exposes the double lives and fractured relationships among four families.

True to its name, the content is fairly dark and given the storyline, comparisons with Stranger Things, The Missing and The Returned are inevitable.

It does take a few episodes to wrap your head around who’s who and how they are connected as the show jumps through various points in time but you are rewarded with a thrilling series and excellent soundtrack.

Watch the trailer.

Watch Dark on Netflix.

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