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At Years End: Our 2020 Favorites

The criteria for our 2020 favorites is simple.

What media did we revisit multiple times in 2020?

Let’s find out.

Interview:

Art of Manliness podcast #587:

How to Get More Pleasure and Fulfillment Out of Your Reading with Professor Alan Jacob and Brett Mckay.

This interview rejuvenated my reading life.

Here Professor Jacobs presents reading on a Whim. The idea that one should read what interests them, rather than what “you’re supposed to”.

Professor Jacobs argues reading shouldn’t be a chore, but rather a pleasurable experience.

You don’t have to read according to an assignment or according to a list of approved texts. Enjoy your freedom. Go out there and follow your whim. And by that, I mean follow that which really draws your spirit and your soul and see where that takes you. If it turns out that you spend a year reading Stephen King novels or something like that, that’s totally fine. That’s not a problem. Read your Stephen King novels, but there are also really good novels.

But whatever it happens to be, if you’re reading young adult fiction for a year, read young adult fiction for a year. After a while, you probably got to have enough of that. But don’t go around making your reading life a kind of means of authenticating yourself as a serious person. It’s just no way to live. So, I would always tell them, “Give yourself a break. Don’t make a list. See where Whim takes you.”

Professor Jacob’s reading advice to his students

YouTube Video:

Kevin Kelly’s 68 Bits of Unsolicited advice

Kevin wrote this as a letter on his 68th birthday as a gift to his son (He practices the Hobbit tradition of birthdays).

Thankfully, he recorded and shared the advice on his YouTube channel. It is a word of encouragement for us all:

There is no limit on better. Talent is distributed unfairly, but there is no limit on how much we can improve what we start with.

– Kevin Kelly

Book:

On the Move: A Life By Oliver Sacks.

This book took 5 years to finish, not because Sacks’ memoir isn’t compulsively readable, but because there were other books I thought I should read instead.

Sack’s life is one to emulate. Not by becoming a neurologist and cultivating a British Accent. But rather by seeing life, all of life – love, career, hobbies travel, failure, success, as an adventure to pursue.

At one time, my father had thought of a career in neurology but then decided that general practice would be “more real,” “more fun,” because it would bring him into deeper contact with people and their lives.

This intense human interest he preserved to the last: when he reached the age of ninety, David and I entreated him to retire-or at least, to stop his house calls. He replied that home visits were “the heart” of medical practice and that he would sooner stop anything else. From the age of ninety to almost ninety-four, he would charter a mini-cap for the day to continue house calls.

Dr. Sack’s on his father’s career

Article:

The life of Philip Glass, by Dan Wang

Dan Wang’s article on Philip Glass’ memoir –Words Without Music was inspiring.

Learning that Glass drove taxis, and was a self-taught plumber proves there’s no shame in taking day jobs to support one’s calling.

Learning that Glass didn’t succeed as a full time composer until his forties served as a reminder.

Stamina can take one to the impossible.

Glass didn’t work just as a taxi driver and as a (self-taught) plumber. He also worked in a steel factory, as a gallery assistant, and as a furniture mover. He continued doing these jobs until the age of 41, when a commission from the Netherlands Opera decisively freed him from having to drive taxis. Just in time, too, as he describes an instance when he came worryingly close to being murdered in his own cab.

Movie:

Paterson: written and directed by Jim Jarmusch

Kylo Ren’s new life as a bus driver poet?

I’M IN.

I’m more and more captivated by movies where the stakes aren’t the end of civilization. Paterson is a entertaining example of this idea.

Paterson was also a gateway to the poet William Carlos Williams. Who somehow I’d never heard of before 2020.

Twitter Feed:

Ted Gioia, @tedgioia.

Who else can recommend 4 books they “consult often” on Duke Ellington? Next level stuff, that.

Gioia’s Annual 100 favorite albums list is a must read. Here’s 2020’s:

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Kevin Kelly – Success is Overrated. Greatness is Overrated. Find your own slot.


Master questioner (is that a word?) Tim Ferris brings all the good stuff out of Kevin:

When you think of the word or hear the word successful, who’s the first person who comes to mind?

Kevin Kelly: Jesus.

Tim Ferriss: Why would you say that?

Kevin Kelly: There aren’t that many people who’ve left their mark on as many people in the world as he has. I think what hewas up to, what he was doing is vastly been twisted, misunderstood, whatever word you want, but nonetheless, what’s remarkable is … and here’s a guy who didn’t write anything. I think success is also overrated.

Tim Ferriss: I’d love for you to elaborate on that.

Kevin Kelly: Greatness is overrated. I mentioned big numbers, but it’s more of the impact that they had on people’s lives. I think we tend to have an image of success that’s so much been skewed by our current media, just like our sense of beauty of women. In terms of all possibilities, it’s in a very small, narrow, define … ritualistic in a certain sense. I think our idea of success is often today it means you’re somebody who has a lot of money, or who has a lot of fame, or who has some of these other trappings, which we had assigned, but I think can be successful by being true to, and being the most ‘you’ that you could possibly be. I think that what’s I think of as when you think of Jesus, whether you take him as a historical character or anything beyond, was about … He certainly wasn’t imitating anybody, let me put it that way. I think that’s the great temptation that people have is they want to be someone else, which is basically they want to be in someone else’s movie. They want to be the best rock star, and there’s so many of those already that you can only wind up imitating somebody in that slot. I think to me the success is like you make your own slot. You have a new slot that didn’t exist before. I think that’s of course what Jesus and many others were doing, but they were making a new slot. That’s really hard to do, but I think that’s what I chalk up as success is you made a new slot.

Tim Ferriss: What is your new slot? You knew that was coming.

Kevin Kelly: Who says I’m successful?

Tim Ferriss: I’m not. I’m trying to not make any assumptions here. Or what would be your slot?

Kevin Kelly: My slot would be Kevin Kelly. That’s the whole thing. It’s not going to be a career or you would really ideally be something that would … you had no imitators. You would be who you are, and that is success actually in some sense is you didn’t imitate anybody, no one else imitated you afterwards. In a certain sense you have, if you become an adjective, that’s a good sign, right?

Tim Ferriss: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kevin Kelly: I think success is actually you make your own path. If they’re calling you a successful entrepreneur, then to me that’s not the best kind of success

Whenever I need an encouraging kick in the ass I listen to this interview.

Kevin isn’t saying that one shouldn’t have ambition. He’s saying that our idea of success – money, possessions, lifestyle, is narrow.

That attempting to live someone else’s life is narrow, foolish even.

Listen to the 3-Part interview below:

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Marginalia Yo

I dig the marginalia in my used copy of A Moveable Feast as much as the original text. It makes me think of the books history, of the previous owner.

Was he or she a grad student? An aspiring writer? A college freshman trying to pass Literature 1?

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Drawing Exercises with Peter Han


These exercises are perfect if you’re not sure how to improve your drawing skills.

Peter also provides a practical regimen to follow.

Remember – make mistakes and rack up the mileage.

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Sketchbook Peek with Master Cartoonist Noah Van Sciver


Who doesn’t love a glimpse into an artist’s sketchbook?

It’s like reading a diary.

It’s like reading a journal.

It’s like reading a MIND.

Noah Van Sciver was open enough to let Frank Santoro and us take a peek.

Have a watch:

And the full interview:

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Four Panel Friday: Usagi Yojimbo #60

Aftermath

Digging into the long boxes…

By: Stan Sakai

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Amateur Search Bar Shortcut

If you find yourself searching for a specific topic on a blog or site more than twice then this short cut will be helpful.

Say the topic is dinosaurs, navigate to the search bar, type dinosaurs and click “search”.

Once the query finishes, save the query string to your bookmarks.

PRESTO.

All posts tagged “dinosaurs” will be located in one query string, updated and available to you when needed.

It’s a simple short cut that makes returning to specific topics quicker.

You got this…

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Downtown Sounds

Coins clink. High heels trot.

Jackhammers punch open stone.

Downtown awakens.

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Earth Views

I stepped closer. I stepped further away.

I squinted.

There’s something here. This is not your standard, rusting, industrial trash-bin.

Look closer.

Ahhh. There it is.

It’s a shoreline.

A scorched shoreline at the edge of a prehistoric desert.

As my imagination flickered and spun, I could see it closer.

I could see the foam washing up against the red stone shore.

I could see the ocean water darken as the ocean floor falls deeper.

I could even see the pelicans swooping down, nose diving for their morning catch.

A wandering imagination is the back door to new worlds.

Go ahead and open it.

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Excuse my manners. Drawing with Adam Savage pt. 2

How could I publish a post about Adam Savage’s guide to drawing, but not post any of his drawings?

Charlatan!

Imposter!

Traitor!

False testifier!

Please allow me to redeem myself:

finished piece?

Chewbacca’s purse is called a bandolier. Bandoliers exist not only in futures far far away, but in the present day.

From the dictionary:

bandolier / n. a shoulder belt with loops or pockets for cartridges. ORIGIN – from Catalan bandolera (from bandoler ‘bandit’)

Adam’s hand written font in the top left text box stands out. Adding some variety to the lettering transforms a diagram into a near finished piece.

rib caged

The Raven’s ribs are 8 simple curved lines attached to the spine. But a small amount of foreshortening adds depth.

I wonder if Adam added another set of ribs in the final sculpture.

Don’t disregard the notes.

Near the foot: MAGNET TO ATTACH TO PERCH

In the skull: HEAD TOOTIGHT!

teen angst

Even his brainstorming sketches have a bit of weight. It’s worth adding shading, even to the quickest doodle.

I’m inspired. Get out and draw today. Or sketch. Or doodle.

Buy Adam’s book – Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It, or check it out at the library. I checked it out twice before finally buying the book.