Archives for February 2017

February 28, 2017 - Comments Off on ‘What You Read Matters More Than You Might Think’

‘What You Read Matters More Than You Might Think’

An interesting read on your brain's response to short and vapid writing versus deep and meaningful writing. The outcome is obvious, but it's worth remembering.

On the benefits of reading fiction:

Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies—and that makes a writer excellent at creating multilayered characters and situations. Not much research has been conducted on the theory of mind (our ability to realize that our minds are different than other people’s minds and that their emotions are different from ours) that fosters this skill, but recent experiments revealed that reading literary fiction led to better performance on tests of affective theory of mind (understanding others’ emotions) and cognitive theory of mind (understanding others’ thinking and state of being) compared with reading nonfiction, popular fiction, or nothing at all. Specifically, these results showed that reading literary fiction temporarily enhances theory of mind, and, more broadly, that theory of mind may be influenced greater by engagement with true works of art. In other words, literary fiction provokes thought, contemplation, expansion, and integration. Reading literary fiction stimulates cognition beyond the brain functions related to reading, say, magazine articles, interviews, or most online nonfiction reporting.

That's an activity worth pursuing.

February 23, 2017 - Comments Off on A Case for Going Caseless

A Case for Going Caseless

Kind and poignant words from Brent Levy regarding an older piece of mine on ‘Scratches and Scuffs’. Levy uses my thoughts as a jumping off point to talk about brokenness, reflecting on his own desire to always protect his annually-updated phone:

Every new iPhone has to come with a new case. It’s just the way it is. I can’t let the shiny jet black iPhone, already prone to “micro-abrasions,” show any signs of wear and tear. It must remain pristine. I know. I’m ridiculous. Stop.

But now, thanks to this article from Drew Coffman at Extratextuals, I’m thinking about ditching the case.

I glance at my phone and see a long, deep cut right in the middle of the screen, an imperfection picked up somewhere along my journey, essentially unnoticeable when the screen is turned on but obviously apparent when it’s off.

This is — and I mean it — totally fine.

It’s strange to me, how we baby our technology, using cases and screen protectors and everything else in an attempt to keep that which we use every day as pristine as possible.

The scratches and scuffs, the dents and the scrapes, the cracks and the imperfections all show signs of adventure and life and love. Each one has a story to tell.

Our cracks and imperfections and dents and scrapes do, too. There’s beauty in the brokenness. We call that grace.

February 22, 2017 - Comments Off on Cool Games, Inc

Cool Games, Inc

I just discovered my new favorite podcast. Nick Robinson and Griffin McElroy (who I’ve fallen in love with through their excellent Car Boys YouTube series) have a show where they take suggestions for video games and then spend a solid hour finessing the idea until it's super strange but also…kind of perfect?

The first episode has them crafting a rogue-like dungeon crawler where you play pasta (possessed by a pasta shaman) that needs to be cooked to perfection. It’s called 'Grandma Likes It Al Dente: Grandma Needs it Al Dente’.

I can’t stop listening.

February 21, 2017 - Comments Off on Drop the Rock

Drop the Rock

I recently read through ‘Drop the Rock’, a book focused on removing character defects using steps six and seven of the 12-step program. Though I have not personally gone through the 12-steps, we all have character defects worth looking at, and I was interested in the perspective offered.

Read more.

February 19, 2017 - Comments Off on I See You Never

I See You Never

Read this still-too-timely short story by Ray Bradbury. Only a few pages long, Bradbury captured (in 1979) the despair of those with expiring visas.

The soft knock came at the kitchen door, and when Mrs. O’Brian opened it, there on the back porch were her best tenant, Mr. Ramirez, and two police officers, one on each side of him. Mr. Ramirez just stood there, walled in and small.

“I see you never.”

February 18, 2017 - Comments Off on Legion

Legion

There hasn't been a TV show that's felt so very 'made for me' in a long while than Legion.

I'd long given up on the superhero genre as a whole, watching it turn from one of the most self-reflectively profound genres of cinema  into one of the most self-indulgently complacent.

Yet I watched the trailer for Legion, completely unaware of its superhero origins or Marvel-owned status, and felt immediately engrossed. While Legion’s peers have decided to busy themselves with the wanton destruction of cities, again and again, the new FX show is more content with considering the profound psychological damage having strange and unlimited powers would likely dish out.

It’s also one of the most beautifully shot television shows I’ve ever seen. Give it a watch.

February 17, 2017 - Comments Off on The Internet is Making Us Sick

The Internet is Making Us Sick

Over at Extratextuals:

My wife Kristine just completed Whole30, a monthlong diet/cleanse of sorts which is intended to help you recognize what foods you have a hard time digesting. Those on Whole30 drastically scale back what they can eat (essentially just to meats, vegetables, and fruits), slowly introducing other food groups back into their lives to see what their bodies disagree with. In explaining the program, the creators of Whole30 likened it to living near a tree which you have an allergic reaction to. If you lived in the area for years, you might totally forget that the allergy exists, dealing with minor (but real) problems day in and day out. Yet if you took an extended vacation away and came back to your home, you just might realize how much that tree is making you sick.

Read more.

 

February 17, 2017 - Comments Off on Jesus’ Son

Jesus’ Son

I haven’t read a story in a long while that’s impacted me as much as Denis Johnson’s ‘Jesus’ Son’ did. With a main character who’s been described as an addict graced with an intuition of heaven who still lives in hell on earth, this series of interconnected short stories manages to provide a narrative that’s surreal but also incredibly grounded.

I also highly recommend the audiobook, read by Will Patton. He plays the part with chilling perfection, giving a better voice to the main character than my own mind did. His reading of certain lines is not to be missed.