Tag Archives: Reading

Still the Best Space Dad

When I came across this article by Nitesh Srivastava on StarTrek.com, I was about to post a longer piece about what Benjamin Sisko… but then I realized I already did that for Father’s Day last year.

Arguably a good Father’s Day watch

Srivastava is focusing on how Sisko is, perhaps, the most relatable of the Starfleet captains, because, although Sisko shares incredible heroism with his peers, he does things we recognize we might do.

Also, I’m pretty sure I could not beat the Borg Collective, even if I just had coffee from a nebula.

Anyway, Sisko is a great character to revisit on Father’s Day (the obvious episode being “The Visitor” or “Explorers” if you want fewer tears)… and also not bad for Juneteenth.

Some Kind of Blue… Always

If someone asks me my favorite color, I usually don’t mention how it’s shifted over the years or how no one seemed to share my favorite color growing up or how I don’t necessarily have a favorite per se now, more favorite several hues and shades over others.

So I just say, “Blue.”

It’s a safe pick, especially when it comes to wardrobe choices (it goes with my eyes). Why, there’s even a quietly subversive children’s play about the color blue.

In any case, I knew I wasn’t alone. However, I didn’t realize how much so until I read this piece by Mark Ellwood for the BBC posted earlier this month. It delves deep into people’s love of colors across ages and cultures and why that might be.

Abnormally color-graded still from The Shawshank Redemption

Now I want some polling data on favorite dinosaurs.

The Industrial Revolution & Comparative Richness of Modern Society

Once upon a time, before the Internet was in full bloom, my dad decided to look through the latest U.S. Army guides on countries (now known as “country studies”) and compile economic data to determine people’s standard of living in various countries based on GDP and local buying power.

He did this for fun. It was how he rolled.

Since I had recently been living and studying in Indonesia (and yes, my dad gave me the army guide for Indonesia beforehand), we talked a lot about his research and how it applied to what I had observed. How far a dollar went in Indonesia (about 2,000 rupiah at the time) was different from how far a dollar went at home, after all. And, naturally, it varied depending on where I was on a particular island.

My dad, too, had experience with these sorts of price differences from travel both inside and outside the United States. I wondered a lot about industrialization, what the “normal” rate of development might be, and how fast and how well developing nations and regions could and would develop.

So I took all of those conversations and ponderings into consideration when I read Dylan Mathews’ interview over at Vox. He’s talking to two economic historians about how the standards of living changed with the industrial revolution — and it gets right at a lot of those questions about what preconditions and conditions there are for development.

Dramatic recreation of England’s industrial revolution from the 2012 Olympics

And remember, there’s all those country studies you can read for free as well.

Prepare Ye the Oral History of Godspell

I’m not sure the “oral history” long-form article became more popular in the social media age, but I certainly have noticed it a lot more in the past 15 years… and I usually enjoy the pieces about seminal stage and screen productions. It’s a good reminder of how, even when we see these works that are exquisite faits accompli, they are the result of hard-working humans, who are on their own journey.

(Alla Dreyvitser/Washington Post illustration; Dick Darrell/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

So I very much enjoyed Zachary Pincus-Roth’s piece in the Washington Post about the 1972 Toronto production of Godspell. I’ve enjoyed the musical since first working on a production last century, but it many other people should find of interest because of the impressive cast of the production, who have gone on to become celebrated performers over the past few decades. And even though the production is half a century in the past, bonds were forged that remain.

So check it out!

(And you may find some of Pincus-Roth’s other pieces for the Post of interest, including one about the enduring love for my favorite film no one else seems to have seen in the theater, The Shawshank Redemption, as well as why the musical Cats became so popular anyway).

Hard Work or Hardly Working: Writers’ Edition

A couple posts I read this past weekend inspired me to update my “Writing” section, but before I get to that, here are the posts in questions.

Ken Levine on the difference between amateur writers and pros.

Ken Levine is, as one might expect of a veteran writer of shows like M*A*S*H and Cheers, pithy and to the point. I’ve heard both the anecdotes before, though I don’t think I knew the sources.

Mark Evanier on the hard work of writing… and the previous post.

In reading these, I wanted to reference my “writing” section intro and in re-reading it for the first time in, well, years, I realized I didn’t make it abundantly clear: I love writing.

I like actually writing. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying motivating myself isn’t hard on occasion, but when I get into a flow, in that Csikszentmihalyi way, I absolutely LOVE it. Maybe when I’m in that flow, loving writing, the end result isn’t my best writing. I’ve heard that when you go back to a piece of writing, you can’t tell the passages from your “good” days from your “bad” days and my personal experience rings true — but the reason I write is because of those good days. I love writing.

Now for the idea that many writers hate writing, but love having written. I get it. I also get a tremendous amount of satisfaction –even pride– at having completed a work. I’ve written about the importance of finishing your writing. But, of course, one of the reasons I don’t “love having written” the way other people seem to express it is because that finished script, that finished story is just sitting there, waiting to be revised. It could be better. It could always be better. I know this in my bones.

So, I suppose I’m okay when it comes to which type of writer I am. As long as I keep putting in the work.

That Piece on Focus You will Forget to Read

This interview, by Vox‘s Sean Illig with journalist Johann Hari, came out in February… and then I finally checked it out in March… and now I’m only posting about it in May.

via Vox (Getty images)

The way I finally got to it was actually to listen to it, because the article is actually a summation of a more detailed slightly-more-than-an-hour audio interview.

It’s full of useful insights especially… dang, I might need to listen to it again.

The New Streaming Squid Game & the Contraction of Creativity

So based on last week’s post about the schadenfreude over the disruptor Netflix being disrupted, here’s a piece by Joy Press for Vanity Fair about the changing landscape of streaming TV.

Illustration by Derek Abella

Now, once you read the article, you may find the title above a tad click-baity, but the article is predicting possible directions for the industry to go. Many of those directions look to be safe, one might even say traditional, avenues in terms of greenlighting programming. One of the more interesting aspects is that the broadcast vs. streaming are, while obviously different distribution channels, not zero sum distribution channels. As the CEO of CBS points out, “the average age of people watching Survivor on CBS is 60—and 37 for those streaming it on Paramount+.”

So, give it a read and consider how your selection of streamers might be changing their strategy –or not– in the year ahead.

Ted Lasso and the Turn, Turn, Turns of TV Seasons

Note: This post and the related links abound in spoilers for Ted Lasso, season 2.

This past weekend, my wife and I finally finished the second season of Ted Lasso, the comfort-food comedy-drama that is nominally about soccer, but really seems to be a backdoor effort to assemble a Gen X mixtape playlist whilst making equal numbers of jokes and pop culture references every single minute.

The gentle yet foul-mouthed comedy of season one remains, but makes room for not only elements of fantasy (hello, Santa), but several storylines about mental health and, in some cases, the inability to accept the need for therapy (hello Gray Nate and your unresolved issues with your father).

It’s hard in this day and age to avoid spoilers, especially for buzz-worthy shows and films, so I knew that some people who adored season one of Ted Lasso were rather negative about season two. Now finally I can check out all the digital ink spilled about the season.

via Apple TV+

Once again, the always insightful Emily St. James over at Vox has a great piece looking at Ted Lasso, the season two backlash, and my favorite part: some musing on how series evolve over time both on their own and in the estimation of audiences. Give it a read (after finished season two, of course).

Micronations: The Amuse-bouche of International Affairs?

It could be because each micronation origin story is chock full of ingredients ripe for a quirky biopic, but I love learning about micronations. And there appear to be no end to them popping up. In fact, the Internet seems to have given some of them a new lease on life… or sovereignty.

I mean, the flag is different, but I’m not sure how many people will want to fight under it.

Over on BBC Future, Jessica Mudditt explores the ongoing existence of micronations, with some particularly deep dives into the origins of Atlantium, a micronation smack dab in the island-continent-country that is Australia. They also touch on Ladonia and a few others, which is nice because when was the last big news about Sealand? I’m still holding out for literature-inspired micronations as Terabithia would be just and right to found here in Virginia.

Schadenfreude, thy name is Netflix

So, the news that Netflix lost subscribers last week has generated more online articles this week than… well, new shows dropping on Netflix any given week (spoiler: it’s a lot). It seems many people are delighting in the fact that the streaming disruptor is now finding its plans disrupted. Now, I’ve been a Netflix subscriber going back to when they were only DVDs by mail. In fact, I still get DVDs by mail in addition to their streaming (as some titles aren’t streaming anywhere). So as I value the service, I want to see how it gets through this.

And we’re going to get the next season of The Dragon Prince, right? Right??

One of the more in-depth ones is a long-form article by Josef Adalian for Vulture, which I found a worthwhile read.