07 Sep

Five More Things I Like

Another day, another Trump blast. Yes, it can be more than a little exhausting keeping up with a guy who seems to wake up every day with a self-aggrandizing agenda peppered with the various “ism” of the day. That’s life though.

In the midst of the stress brought on by negativism, I wanted to take a moment to think about some things that are truly cool, or good, or otherwise excellent in some way or another. I did something like this a couple weeks ago, and that worked well enough for me that I figured I would try it again.

Here are a few things I like:

1) Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History

Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast is always highly rated, and rightly so. He’s an interesting guy with interesting ways of looking at situations. I like his ability to point to something, find its core idea, and present that core idea in a logical and generally data-based way. His series on education was fascinating in multiple dimensions. His Exploration of the social stigma associated with shooting free throws underhanded was revealing, and his episode on creativity should be required listening for any artist on the planet. Completely fascinating—and those were only a few episodes of the first season. Season two was just as good.

2) Galaxy Archives

This archive holds pretty much every issue of one of the most important magazines of the age of pulpy science fiction. 356 issues (per my search) from 1950 through 1976. Totally amazing. I don’t remember how I came about it, but now I’ve got it stored in a bookmark, and about once every week or two I’ve been opening a volume at random and scanning a story. Some of them are, of course, aged. Most of them, really. They are sometimes poorly written, or sometimes filled with people with—let’s say—the social attitudes of the time. But that’s not really the point here, because at the same time they are all those things, they also are coming from many of the pillars of the field, and as such as sometimes still absolutely brilliant.

3) Brownies:

Yeah, it’s a gimme. I get it. So what? Brownies are delicious and full of chocolaty goodness. When you bake them yourselves you get both the smooth softness of the middle pieces and the hard-edged gloriousness of the parts in the corners. They are like the gifts that keep giving.

That’s why brownies are on the list of things most excellent.

4) Remembering Ozzie Smith at Short Stop

There’s this thing about baseball in which you watch partially because you know there’s a chance you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before. Ozzie Smith was the epitome of that. He was the purest possible silk at a position that dominates baseball defense. Watching these kinds of highlights is always a blast, but having the Wizard of Oz in the 6-slot was so much more than his highlights. Still, the highlights are what folks remember.

That stop at 0:25, for example, is amazing. It’s old film, so you can’t hardly see it unless you know what’s there. But I remember it because I was watching the game that day. The ball took an odd hop, and Ozzie (in mid-dive) reached up and bare-handed the play.

Amazing. The prince of all short stops.

5) Stephen Colbert Monologues

Yes, this one borderline breaks the negativity comment above, but again, such is life. Lisa and I have taken to staying up to watch Colbert’s openings. Sometimes we hang for the guests, Maggie Gyllenhaal was interesting the other night, for example. I can’t speak for Lisa completely on this, but I think Colbert’s real-time commentary on that’s happening is the closest thing we have to a Jon Stewart these days, and the episode I linked to is about as direct as it gets.

Your mileage can vary here, of course, and I’m sure that those of a particular persuasion won’t agree with my choice. But for me, the stuff Colbert is doing is as good for the quality of its construction as it is for its content.

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