Welcome to What’s Good, ManMade’s monthly Show and Tell day, where we let you know what we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to.
Here’s what’s good this month …
I mostly recently finished Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way. If you’re wondering if you really can fill two hundred pages on the subject of firewood, the answer is an absolute yes. The felling and chopping aspects are definitely interesting, but what most compelled me was the exploration of what building and stacking of these wood piles each year means for these cultures. It’s a fascinating look that I suspect most North American readers hadn’t really thought about, but from which we can all learn a lot.
I recently picked up an old, well-illustrated book called “My First Summer in the Sierras” by John Muir while sitting in a sierra club cabin in the middle of a snowstorm on Mt. Shasta. I read the book by headlamp and I can’t think of a better way to experience his The way that this man describes his journey through the California mountain ranges over 100 years ago is compelling. I don’t how anyone could read this book and not be inspired to venture out and see a bit of the great outdoors. I highly recommend developing a spirit of adventure, and this book is guaranteed to stir it up in you.
I just finished The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt which is kind of a pop psychology book taking a look at ten of the “Great Ideas” on happiness espoused by great thinkers and religions throughout history and examining their relevance and practicality in light of modern psychological research. I certainly enjoyed it and walked away with some new mental frameworks and processes. However, last week I listened to Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and it rocked me. An engrossing and personal letter written to the author’s son about the realities of living with a black body in America. It’s very much in the style of Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and is something I feel like everyone should read.
This article from Quanta Magazine pretty much blew my mind. In it, cognitive scientist David Hoffman makes the case that our perceptions of reality are, in fact, nothing like reality, and that they are nothing more than adaptations developed to maximize evolutionary fitness. In other words: we’re living in the Matrix. Or something like that. Read it and tell me what you think.
Nothing! I know. I’ve been out of town a lot a lot over the last four weeks, and haven’t been able to dedicate any time to watching. I haven’t been to the movies in almost a month, but the one I saw was The Invitation, a chamber thriller I thought was super creepy and well done. The last TV show I watched was Catastrophe season 2, but everyone already knows that’s great.
With such great weather in California I’ve taken a hiatus from screen time for the most part. But I’m still down to watch a few Salvage Dogs, and Fixer Upper. These shows are great to see how others approach making, fixing, and the very best upcycles I’ve ever seen.
Through a weird twist of events and random connections on Twitter, I ended up at the premiere of The Last Days in the Desert and got to talk to some of the cast and crew about their experience making the movie. I found it to be a profound experience and the movie is great fodder for good conversation. Ewan McGregor plays both Jesus and the Devil as Jesus finishes his fast and interacts with a family on the edge of the desert before beginning his ministry. Also, I saw The Lobster (without knowing anything about it) and it was the perfect way to experience the film. Truly bizarre and anything I’ve seen. Go see it!
My phone, as a million messages, photos, videos, and voice calls come through on WhatsApp. Yeah, I know, right? Who uses WhatsApp? Everybody, it turns out, in other countries. I’m in Argentina this week visiting relatives and I can’t believe how completely ubiquitous WhatsApp is here. Literally everybody has it, and uses it constantly. I’m not sure why it hasn’t caught on as much in the U.S (yet), but it’s pretty awesome, and I recommend you check it out.
A Man Alive by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, over and over. Holy cow. Thao Nguyen has been on and off my radar since her first EP; she’s one of those artists where I’m constantly Shazam-ing or looking up on movie or TV show soundtracks, only to find out it’s her. Her first few albums are a very successful funky, folky, indie pop-y, anthemic blend that hits all the sweet spots, but “A Man Alive” is a different beast altogether. It’s a beat and bass heavy album, helped by production with Tune-yards’ Merrill Garbus, and the content is all about an estranged relationship with her father. It’s fantastic.
It’s a mix of the Lumineers, Weezer, and a bit of Echo Smith and Modest Mouse. My taste in music has been a bit ecletic this month as I spent more time on projects with a set of headphones in, and I look for rhythm and a bit more acoustic layering with music right in my ears.
Just Real Love Baby by Father John Misty over and over again.
Carlos Gardel, Los Chalchareros, Jorge Cafrune and other Argentine folk music spilling out of every cafe and taxi cab. As I mentioned, I’m in Buenos Aires this week, and I find the city bathed in autumnal light, a cool breeze, and a sort of lingering nostalgia that has no origin or destination. Just two old men wrapped in scarves, huddled around a little speaker, having their afternoon merienda at a cafe, listening to something like this:
What are you reading, watching and listening to this month? Share your favorites in the comments below.