We’re not supposed to see our superheroes grow old, weak and die
Things I’ve Read
A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting – Sam Sheridan
This companion book to the amazing”Fighter’s Mind” chronicles Sheridan’s eye opening journey through the world of fighting.
He travels to different locales in a travelogue of top fight spots participating, training and being coached by some of the best names in the fight business.
Sheridan’s observations aren’t just voyeuristic, fly on the wall journalistic recounts however – he fully immerses himself, taking his beating and engaging a range of different styles and methods.
But this isn’t just a book about stylistic comparisons neither. It’s both an analytical and philosophically reflective look at the nature of fighting, it’s place in an ever changing society, and the motivations of those who regularly participate in it.
Fighting, Sheridan relates, is many things to different people and cultures. It’s a way out of poverty, a form of ritual, catharsis, self-discovery, a measure of masculinity and a “purity of purpose”.
For others it’s a conquering of fear and a reconcilement of varied dichotomies. Fighting is transcendent and transformative. It’s both a science and an art, a form of violence that ironically, often begets a level of gentleness and nobility in the men that master its arts.
If you liked the existential questions raised by books like “Fight Club” (“how much can you really know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”), searching for a good book on masculinity in the modern age, or are an athlete of any discipline who questions why we do the things we do to achieve the pinnacle of our potential, then I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory – John Seabrook
The “Song Machine” unveils the production process that goes into making a hit song. Serendipitous creativity has given way to the manufacturing assembly line, and the end product is the formulaic, unsatisfying and ultimately disposable “sounds the same” pap we hear on the Top-40 in constant rotation.
This anatomy of a hit song is dissected in the detailed nomenclature of its technologically driven process – comping, syncing, stitching, autotune, “farmed out” track and hooks, describes the Frankenstein-like new way of music making. It’s more “cut and paste” than “drum and base”
Lyrics added as an afterthought don’t even have to make sense (“hit me baby one more time??”) – an artist’s input is less creative and used more as a marketing tool to pitch product to the intended demographic.
It’s a kind of quasi-music designed as well researched, neurological ear-candy – a compilation of sounds that are rewarding to the brain but stripped of its soul, personality and the essential human element.
Seabrook, to his credit, isn’t as judgmental or cynical as I am in this otherwise fascinating chronology of how this present state of affairs came to pass and continues to evolve. He juxtaposes this evolution against the narrative arcs of a number of popular artists that are sure to be of interest to most readers.
It’s both a fascinating and sad state of affairs that made me ponder whether there will ever be another Michael Jackson, Elvis, Beatles or Madonna? The era of the icon is dead. The era of the multi-generational spanning anthem/ballad is dead.
Pair this with Dan Charnas’ “The Big Payback” if you want another superb read about the evolution of rap and hip hop and its inseparable entanglement with big business.
Things I’m Watching
10 Cloverfield Lane
10 Cloverfield Lane is an edge of your seat thriller about a woman kidnapped (rescued?) by a middle aged, retired Navy man (Goodman) who claims that the outside world has been overrun by aliens who have rendered the atmosphere poisonous to mankind.
I don’t want to give too much away here, but I thought the performances in this, particularly Goodman’s were brilliant. Set in the claustrophobic confines of an underground bunker, the tension and pacing are enough to keep you guessing throughout this fast moving film.
(After watching this, I came across a fan theory that blew my mind and made it a whole other (even better) film. SPOILERS in link.
Louis Theroux – A Different Brain
Following on from his “Drinking To Oblivion” episode, Theroux uncovers the subject of people whose lives have been forever altered due to brain injuries; the changes it has wrought on their lives, their personalities and the inspiring carers and relatives that provide for them around the clock. It’s an uncomfortable yet powerful expose of another often sadly hidden side of human tragedy and the lingering question mark over whether these patients will ever recover their faculties. Theroux, as always, brings a level of compassionate dignity to the people he profiles.
What I’m Listening To
Simpsons writers from the earliest seasons of the longest ever running TV show deliver up some hilariously funny backstories, trivia and hidden Easter Eggs you probably missed over its 27 season run. I haven’t caught the show in a long time, but I enjoyed the nostalgic discussion on one of my once favourite shows.
Not wanting to get all Noam Chomsky up in here, but in this week’s “Waking Up” podcast, Sam dedicates the first hour of the show to discussing (eviscerating?) the probable presidency of Donald Trump. An enthralling, logical dissection of the likely unmitigated disaster a Trump presidency will unleash on the world. The world awaits with baited breath the events of November 8th.
Quote of the Week
“Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm.”
Recipe of the Week
Cauliflower and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
An easy to make, nutritious winter favourite. I even like to use it as a dip, or spoon some on top of my wraps or rice in place of sauce.
4 Red Peppers
1 large Cauliflower
5 cloves Garlic
1 Large Onion
5 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Halve the red peppers and clean out the seeds etc.
Cut the cauliflower into small florets.
Place on two separate trays on top of parchment paper and broil in oven for 25 minutes until the skin looks ready to peel on the red peppers.
While cooling, cut an onion, and garlic and fry in pan with some macadamia oil.
Peel the red peppers. Blend until diced.
Blend cauliflower until diced.
Add cauliflower, peppers, onion and garlic to 5 cups of stock in a large pot.
Add in spices (thyme, paprika etc) and salt/pepper to taste.
Simmer for 20 minutes on medium heat.
Remove from pot and puree until smooth mixture in a blender.