Curated Media Vol 2

The best of timeless media since Volume 1. Everything is worth a read, listen or watch - good writng & good content. Enjoy!

The second bakery attack (short story)

The Elephant Vanishes cover art by Noma Bar

Time oozed through the dark like a lead weight in a fish's gut. I read the print on the aluminum beer cans. I stared at my watch. I looked at the refrigerator door. I turned the pages of yesterday's paper. I used the edge of a postcard to scrape together the cookie crumbs on the tabletop.

Murakami is great a creating mystical atmospheres and leaving his stories unsatisfyingly unresolved - one of the reasons I am drawn to his short stories more that to his novels. This one from his collection The Elephant Vanishes, written sometime in the 80s, is a mix of funny wit and his signature sense of mystery and magic.

Book Publishing in the 2010s (n+1)

Crumbled Amazon delivery box

Print did not go extinct, but ebook sales slowed down. This is the context for the Times’ triumphant assertion that “print sales are rising while e-book sales are declining.” Both facts are true, but the former doesn’t necessarily follow from the latter.

A review of how publishing has changed over the last decade, the rise and waning of ebooks, resurgence of local bookstores (reminiscent of hipster coffee shops) and how the incumbents of previous brick-and-mortar decades are catching up.

Big Spenders - Is Venture Capital Worth the Risk? (NYer)

Man in a suit inflates lightbulb like a baloon until shines like a tiny little sun and finally pops

A look at where venture capitalists came from, what good and bad they do for business (which is religously debated from both sides in the tech industry) and how it has affected society as a whole.

The Good

A thriving society needs moon shots, and, in the absence of a literal space race, only venture capitalists have the mandate to throw cash at an improbable success.” however

The Bad

One trend in Venture World has been growing valuations [..] another has been undesirable treatment of employees.

The Uncanny

It’s nice that we’re able to get cheap or free stuff from wildly scaled-up unprofitable startups with venture backing. [..] But how healthy is this norm?”

This reminds me of a talk DHH (creator of rails, CTO of Basecamp) gave in 2015, a satirical criticism of venture capitalist backed startup-izm, titled “Reconsider”.

Don’t just accept this definition of “success” because that’s what everyone is cheering for at the moment. Yes, the chorus is loud, and that’s seductively alluring, but you don’t have to peel much lacquer off the surface to see that wood beneath might not be as strong as you’d imagine.

How To Draw a Horse (NYer)

Sketch of a horse with pointers to all the bodyparts that are difficult to draw

Drawing superheroes, anthropomorphic dragons, and bootleg Pokemon did not prepare me for the body of a horses

One day she sits next to me

  • is that a horse?
  • yes

There is a word I know. But I can’t say it. I can’t think it. I’ll just keep drawing horses.

Impressive how writing about horses conveys so much about what is going on inside the character's soul.

It reminds me of a frame from Drawing Links

So much of my dating life seems to exist in my imagination.

Time Release (Spiralbound)

A cartoon drawing of a plastic box, on a counter, lid on the side, with tons of colorful pills coming out like an explosion. Above it the tilte 'Time Release'

What's in the box

8160 milligrams of Adderall

A drug that made me feel

Simultaneously dead and alive

It was, in retrospective, a terrible feeling

And I miss it terribly

Reflecting on my failure to build a Billion Dollar company

Outline of man, walking out of a dark room into bring light.

We were venture-funded, which was like playing a game of double-or-nothing. It’s euphoric when things are going your way — and suffocating when they’re not.

An account of a venture funded startup that delivered value to its customers and generated revenue - but failed to become the next unicorn. Most interesting is how that affected the life and mental health of employees and founders.

Every year before 2016, there was an improvement in my expectations — in the team, the product, or the company. This was the first time in my life when the present year felt worse than the last.

The anxiety and alienation shows, how truely horrible the feeling of failure is. Failure to meet the externally dictated goal of building a billion dollar company.

There were months where I worked 16 hours a day, but there were also some months where I worked four hours a week. Here’s one way to picture that time:

Graph of linear growth

Can you tell which is which? I can’t. We had a sales team for a few years, then we didn’t. Can you tell when we made the switch? I can’t.

2002 Interview with Tom Waits

By Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love)

Tom Waits is an iconic character. A weirdo. A freak. Who embraced himself, his idiosyncrasy over decades.

It's really hard to describe this piece, just peak into these exceprts:

Dumps, salvage yards, rummage sales, junk shops - these are his special retreats. Waits loves to find strange and resonant objects hidden deep in piles of garbage, objects he can rescue and turn into new kinds of musical instruments. “I like to imagine how it feels for the object to become music,” he says. “Imagine you're the lid to a fifty-gallon drum. That's your job. You work at that. That's your whole life. Then one day I find you and I say, “We're gonna drill a hole in you, run a wire through you, hang you from the ceiling of the studio, bang on you with a mallet, and now you're in show business, baby!” Sometimes, though, he just goes searching for doors. He loves doors. They're his biggest indulgence. He's always coming home with more doors- Victorian, barn, French… His wife will protest, “But we already have a door!” and Waits will say, “But this one comes with such nice windows, baby!”

He remembers the time his daughter helped him write a song. “We were on a bus coming to L.A. And it was really cold outside. There was this transgender person, to be politically correct, standing on a corner wearing a short little top with a lot of midriff showing, a lot of heavy eye makeup and dyed hair and a really short skirt. And this guy, or girl, was dancing all by himself. And my little girl saw it and said, “It must be really hard to dance like that when you're so cold and there's no music.'”

I've never met the woman, and I know nothing for certain about her, except what her husband has told me. Which means that she is a person thoroughly composed, in my mind, of Tom Waits's words. Which means she's the closest thing out there to a living Tom Waits song. He has called her “an incandescent presence” in his life and music. She's “a rhododendron, an orchid and an oak.” He has described her as a cross between Eurdora Welty and Joan Jett.” She has “the four B's. Beauty, brightness, bravery, and brains.” He insists that's she's the truly creative force in the relationship, the feral influence who challenges his “pragmatic” limitations and stirs intrigue into all their music. (“She has dreams like Hieronymus Bosch(5) …. She'll start talking in tongues and I'll take it all down.") He says “she speaks to my subtext, not my context.”

Aadge by Billy Collins (poem)

When it’s late at night and branches
are banging against the windows,
you might think that love is just a matter

of leaping out of the frying pan of yourself
into the fire of someone else,
but it’s a little more complicated than that.

It’s more like trading the two birds
who might be hiding in that bush
for the one you are not holding in your hand.

A wise man once said that love
was like forcing a horse to drink
but then everyone stopped thinking of him as wise.

Let us be clear about something.
Love is not as simple as getting up
on the wrong side of the bed wearing the emperor’s clothes.

No, it’s more like the way the pen
feels after it has defeated the sword.
It’s a little like the penny saved or the nine dropped

You look at me through the halo of the last candle
and tell me love is an ill wind
that has no turning, a road that blows no good,

but I am here to remind you,
as our shadows tremble on the walls,
that love is the early bird who is better late than never.