Welcome to the September 2022 edition of...
What I'm Into, What I'm Up To
I might not have time to send this out after today as Hurricane Ian is currently bearing down on Florida, so today suddenly seems like a good day to send a monthly email!
I'm honestly not sure if these newsletters are still getting delivered to everyone, but I will trudge on nonetheless because that is my commitment—and also, it's a good way for me to keep up a monthly journal as I've always struggled with consistent journaling (unlike my grandmother who wrote long journal entries almost every day of her life).
What I'm Working On...
- Mudwash—the never-ending memoir.
- Greysuits audiobook—performed by Google's patented auto-narration service, which is still in beta, but functional. I've wanted to do an audiobook version of Greysuits since the beginning, and I even have an actor friend who was hoping to help me with it (she ran into problems with SAG), but the cost is high for professional audiobook narration and I've always questioned whether I need to go back and make changes to the book first, which I would want to do before having it recorded for all of time and eternity. With Google's automated narration tech being free, and easy to make changes to, it's a win-win situation. The narration is definitely not as good as a pro voice actor, but it's not nearly as bad as the old Stephen-Hawking-style text-to-speech stuff, which my friend Darius somehow listened to an entire book series with.
- Ghost_Layer 'Episode 1' ebook—containing all 20 chapters currently published on Amazon Vella (thanks for the 22 thumbs up!).
- A super-secret non-book project called Anhinga, named for the iconic 'snake bird' which can be found in watery places all over Florida.
What I'm Into...
- Movie and Soundtrack: RRR
If you are a movie lover and you have not seen this one, do yourself a favor and watch it on Netflix (tip: make sure the audio is set to Hindi—then the English dialogue will actually be in English). It is unlike any other movie I have ever seen. At first, it was laughably over-the-top (like the clip of the beefy almost-naked guy running from a wolf and fighting a tiger Netflix showed as the teaser when I first saw the movie pop up), but as over-the-top as the action is, the story is well thought out and the actors are amazing when you realize their ability to do drama, comedy, highly choreographed fight scenes, dancing, singing—all on top of attaining Avengers-like physiques. With blatant themes of patriotism, anti-colonialism, and perseverance against all odds, you might be forgiven for overlooking the biggest theme of the movie: friendship—the kind of touchy-feely heterosexual male friendship that makes us in the west uncomfortable (but which I believe is important for us to see and appreciate about other cultures). If you don't have time to watch the whole 3-hour movie, at least check out the bridge scene https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSxGAoWOxuk and the dance scene https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vktceH8ZA0. Also, the music is amazing and I've been listening to the soundtrack while working, especially the main theme, 'Dosti'.
- Movies: The Man From Snowy River & Return To Snowy River
Two of my favorite movies from childhood, which I feared might not have aged well, but they have! Or at least to me they have. 1880s Australia, a man, his horse, and the courage to go farther than any other. The movies are hard to find on streaming platforms—I had to sign up for a free 7-day trial to watch one of them. I am also now reading the collected poems of Australian literary legend, 'Banjo' Patterson, whose poem 'The Man From Snowy River' inspired the movies.
- TV Series: Rings Of Power
I mean, does anyone need a description of this? I assume everyone knows about it, even if they are not interested in watching. It's a little slow and feels kind of stretched out (like butter spread over too much bread?), but I was genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed being back in Middle Earth. The nostalgia of the original movies is real.
- Book: Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
An expansive, fascinating, brief, sometimes depressing, sometimes hopeful, much lauded summary of human history on planet Earth, as well as a few predictions about our future as a species. One of my friends gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and another gave it 3, so I'll bow to peer influence and give it a nice, round 4 stars.
- Book: The WEIRDest People In The World: How The West Became Psychologically Peculiar And Particularly Prosperous by Joseph Henrich
WEIRD is an acronym for Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic. This is a giant, encyclopedia-sized book, so I don't know if I'll finish it, but so far it's super fascinating. I feel like I should be highlighting stuff on every page (but I never got into highlighting books). Did you know the literacy boom in Europe was brought on not so much by the invention of the printing press as by the founding and spreading of protestantism, which said every person needed to read the Bible for themselves and not depend on a priest to communicate its truths (sola scriptura)? And that learning to read physically changes the brain? The great thing about this book is that none of it is theory, it is all evidence-based and rigorously researched by the author and other social scientists he references.