Not a Newsletter 004: Empathy and rigorous preparation


Happy Thanksgiving (weekend)! Maybe this wasn’t the case for everyone, but the holiday seemed to arrive sooner than expected this year. Is it because we’re so rarely in a holiday state of mind these days, even when we probably need a break and diversion more than ever?

To stop and consider what we’re thankful for right now feels like kind of a trite exercise when nearly every day seems to be a fight with something. But maybe it’s more important than ever to think about such things.

For most of this year, I’ve been trying to prioritize what I truly feel is important and accept that I let some things in my life become more oppressive than I should have. I am most certainly thankful for the opportunity to take time to look inward and outward, and try to become a better person for it.


Yet the impulse to jump back into bad habits — taking a job that would’ve been bad for me, not showing enough empathy and patience, expecting too much from others, not accepting what I can’t control, to name a few — and forget what I’ve tried to accomplish over the past five months is a recurring struggle.

I hope I don’t write so much about trying to find a balance that it comes off as whining,  me being some kind of headcase, or any sort of self-help speak. I might not be writing as much professionally as I’d like, but I do feel like I’m in a better place — both for myself and the people around me. And I have to believe that I’ll yield some benefit from that eventually.

In the meantime, you stopping by to read this helps tremendously. And I am definitely thankful for that.

Reading to Go With Your Pie

** How many people had salad on their Thanksgiving tables? According to this diagram, virtually the entire Western part of the United States goes that way. (Although I wonder if “salad” means greens, etc., rather than some gross Jello-based “salad.”) We did not have mac and cheese, despite living in the South. [FiveThirtyEight]

** Why wombats have cube-shaped poop probably wouldn’t have been appropriate Thanksgiving dinner conversation. (But if anyone tried, please let us know!) I enjoy imagining the engineer studying this having to explain what she does to family and friends while making small talk. [Popular Science]


** Among the many touching tributes written for Stan Lee in light of his death, the one by Brian Michael Bendis (illustrated by Bill Walko) stands out, especially because of a touching bittersweet note among his memories of Stan.  [New York Times]

** I haven’t watched The Ballad of Buster Scruggs yet (just add it to the pile of movies and TV waiting for me on Netflix). But I remember that it was rumored to be a TV series at one point (which the Coen brothers dismiss). Is movie storytelling better than TV storytelling? Joel Coen thinks so. [Los Angeles Times]

** Amanda Hess had somewhat similar thoughts, but expanded them beyond movies and TV. Franchises and intellectual property reboots mean that certain characters and their stories are never finished. On social media, tweets from someone’s past are often unearthed to their detriment. Memories are revived, sometimes for seemingly no reason at all. Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends? [New York Times]

** Fans of classic, foreign and independent films were heartbroken when FilmStruck announced it was shuttering. The streaming service apparently wasn’t making enough money for corporate overlord Warner Media. Criterion Collection will launch its own streaming channel for the great films it has. But we should still probably be mad that it came to this in the first place. [Flavorwire]

** Before so many podcasts offered interviews with artists, athletes, politicians and more, there was Terry Gross with Fresh Air. (And with the downfall of Charlie Rose, she may be the top stop for in-depth interviews.) Gross might have the best job in America and does such great work. Here’s some insight into how she works. [New York Times]

** I’m not a Kobe Bryant fan, but his desire to define himself beyond his basketball career, love of storytelling and constant desire to learn about it from the masters is intriguing. But can someone who wasn’t known for collaboration trust others — and learn to play nice with others — in the creative process and “chasing the perfect story”? [Washington Post]

** Ezra Miller is one interesting cat. (Not too many guys playing superheroes would likely dress as he does in the photos accompanying this article.) I certainly hope he gets to play the Flash in a standalone movie during the next few years. But maybe that’s not the role that will help him achieve stardom. [Playboy]

** She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is now available on Netflix. (There is so much to watch on Netflix, more than any of us could be expected to see.) Rather than a spinoff meant to attract female fans or a fantasy still catering to men, this reboot has an all-female writing team creating stories better suited for young women. [Los Angeles Times]

** Recently, my mother told me that she didn’t know a podcast was until I began doing one. Then I attempted to explain how it could really be any kind of audio program (interviews, commentary, storytelling, etc.) and the definition expands each day. For example, Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This and its chronicle of Old Hollywood history. Not sure I’ll get Mom listening to that, though. [The Atlantic]

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