Five things that are worth your time: December 6

Five things that are worth your time: December 6

This week’s five things are highly movie-inspired, as I share articles on two of my all time favourites—or is it three of my all-time favourites?—plus the latest on the Marvel Universe. I also share some advice on an important soft skill, and one beautiful story of a Holocaust survivor, which—for obvious reasons—is an important story to share right now as we wind down 2017.

Remembering the Wonderful Little Idiosyncrasies of Good Will Hunting on Its 20th Anniversary

Shea Serrano, The Ringer

Good Will Hunting is one of the my favourite movies. Shea Serrano is one of my favourite writers. There was no doubt this was making the list this week! Shea nails the truth of Good Will Hunting here: For all of the things that we remember about the film that make it memorable and enjoyable, it’s the little things between the lines that make it a classic. I love “Here’s ya fuckin’ double burger” sooo much. But Shea missed a couple: Billy’s “That’s a good takedown” when Will and Chuckie are wrestling at the batting cages; and Morgan’s Brando-inspired “I swallowed a bug” as he extricates himself from the scene when Skylar finally approaches Will at the bar.

A quote: ”The way Will leans in to propose a fight with Clark. That’s how you know he was serious about fighting. If Will wanted to just show out for the girls, then he’d have been really loud and blustery so everyone could see and hear the confrontation. He wasn’t, though, which is why you see Clark get filled with fear so quickly. As soon as Will lowered his voice and proposed stepping outside, Clark was like, “Oh fuck, this guy really wants to fight.””

Secrets of the Marvel Universe

Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair

Speaking of things in my wheelhouse, here’s the great Joanna Robinson with a great “state of the union” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a look inside exec producer/architect Kevin Feige’s head. It’s a little light on actual “secrets,” of course—Marvel and Disney guard those details as if they were actual infinity stones—but it’s still a fun read, and the photos of everyone in costume are brilliantly outrageous.

A quote: ”One day on set (of Fox’s X-Men, 2000), (Lauren) Shuler Donner and Avi Arad, then head of Marvel Studios, watched as an exasperated stylist, at Feige’s insistence, sprayed and teased actor Hugh Jackman’s hair higher and higher to create the hairstyle that would become the signature look of the character Wolverine. The stylist “eventually went ‘Fine!’ and did a ridiculous version,” Feige recalls. “If you go back and look at it,” he admits, “he’s got big-ass hair in that first movie. But that’s Wolverine!” The experience stuck with Feige.”

Debate Club: Which is Better, Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back?

Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, SyFy

I am a big fan of Tim Grierson and Will Leitch’s movie reviews (and also, possibly, their podcast, of which I’ve saved every episode but have not yet found time to listen to). Here they tackle the age-old debate: What’s the best Star Wars film? For most of my life I’ve leaned slightly towards Star Wars, because even though Empire is, technically speaking, a better film, how can you top the original? But this article makes the case for Empire, all while neglecting to mention one thing: The music. And as much as I love Luke’s theme, and as memorable as the Star Wars fanfare is, Empire contains the one piece of music that may in fact be more famous than the Star Wars fanfare: the Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme). It’s also got Yoda’s music and Han and Leia’s theme (used to great effect in The Force Awakens trailer). So yeah. With that in mind, I think I’m giving Empire the slight nod. For now.

A quote: Empire is enhanced by Lucas settling into his more comfortable position as producer and overseer, hiring Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan to work on the screenplay, and bringing in director Irvin Kershner and cinematographer Peter Suschitzky to give the sequel a more layered, somber tone. Also, Empire introduced some of the franchise’s best characters, including Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett, and Yoda, who’s the movie’s spiritual center”

I Have a Message For you

Matan Rochlitz, The New York Times

This is the story of Klara, a Holocaust survivor from Belgium; specifically, her escape from a train taking her to a concentration camp, and who she had to leave behind on that train. And of a message that she receives many years later. It’s more important than ever to pay attention to and share these stories like this right now, of course, since Nazis are all but running the United States, but even setting that insanity aside, it’s just a lovely story and it’s beautifully presented. Here’s Rochlitz with some more detail behind the story.

A quote: ”You know what those cattle wagons are like? There’s a little window, like this. I put my legs through and turned around and I slid between the two wagons. The train kept going and going. It was very difficult because the SS would shoot at us. I waited a moment. Then I put my hands up to protect my head. And then I jumped from the train.”

Here’s the Key to Great Conversation in 1 Sentence

Wanda Thibodeaux, Inc.com

Most of the time, when someone’s talking to us, we’re listening—but only so that we can respond. We’re focused on what we’re going to say next, not what the other person is saying. And that sucks. But active listening is a skill that takes time to master. There are some good tips here to help. (Just try and ignore the typo in the first sentence…)

A quote: ”Formulate your answer only after the other person has finished talking. Embrace the silence that happens as you think. Your partner isn’t going to care about the pause if you give a thoughtful answer that demonstrates respect.”

That’s all for this week! Come back next Wednesday for another five things.

PS I’ve changed my mind already. I still like Star Wars more.

Five things that are worth your time: November 29

Five Things: November 29

For the past year at Brainrider my colleague Jon Kane and I have been putting together a weekly internal newsletter, sharing five cool things we’ve read (that generally have some relevance to what we do at Brainrider) with the entire Brainrider team.

At its core it’s just curated content with a little bit of commentary. We send it out on Friday and then we share one thing a day via our intranet the following week. The whole thing was Jon’s brainchild and I give him all the credit. But I like the idea so much I’m stealing it for myself! (OK, I asked his permission so it’s not really stealing. But it’s more fun to say it that way).

On to the things! This week they’re I have four fairly long long reads to share; you might want to settle in with a coffee. But I am very, very certain that all of them are worth your time. And I wrap it up with a video that I am also certain is worth your time.

Luke Skywalker Speaks

Dave Itzkoff, New York Times

I love how totally at ease Mark Hamill seems with his life; he became a mega-celebrity right at the start of his career, and it probably completely derailed said career but he’s just steered into it, owned it and enjoyed it. I think there’s an obvious lesson in there for all of us.

A quote: “Mr. Hamill isn’t bitter or jaded, and he isn’t Luke, though he has retained some of that character’s incorruptibility. He’s gone from a new hope to an old hand, with a lined, expressive face and a gray beard, beneath which lurks a mischievous sense of humor, a yearning to perform and a joy in sharing “Star Wars” war stories.”

Gal Gadot Kicks Ass

Caity Weaver, GQ

Super-hero movies have become pretty formulaic these days, and Wonder Woman isn’t really all that different… except for its star. Gal Gadot embodies that character in a way I don’t think any actor in a super-hero role has done since Christopher Reeve in Superman (whoops, just aged myself there). It’s like she was born to play the part. This profile seems to indicate she’s just as awesome in real life as she was on screen.

A quote: “Gal Gadot is very hands-on. As in: When you meet her, she will put her hands on you many times, in many different places. Israeli culture is so touch-oriented that guides for Americans traveling there warn they may feel their personal space is constantly being violated in formal settings… Even as Wonder Woman sequels and spin-offs propel Gadot to new heights of global stardom, she probably will not lose this habit of touching, because she is a charming, beautiful woman, and it will never occur to people to shrink away from her.”

“That’s My Justice”

Jordan Ritter Conn, The Ringer

Brenda Tracy was raped by four college football players in Oregon in 1998. It took her more than a decade, during which she battled depression and contemplated suicide, before she realized she had within her the power to effect change in the rape culture found among men’s athletics, and football in particular, on college campuses. This story is equally horrifying for what Brenda went through, and uplifting for what she’s trying to do now. My words can’t express how impressive this story is.

A quote: “Tracy realizes she may have offenders in her audience. She targets her message, though, to the vast majority of the players in the room who are unlikely to ever perpetrate a violent act but have the ability to shift the culture among their peers. At Houston, she says: “You might think to yourselves, ‘I don’t commit rape. I don’t beat on women. Why is this my problem?’ I’ll tell you why it’s your problem. Because if women could stop sexual violence, we would have already done it. Eve would have done it. The first woman on the planet would have done it. And do you think that rapists are going to stop it? No. Of course not. So it’s up to you, the 90 percent of men who would not commit rape, to put an end to it.”

Promethea Unbound

Mike Mariani, The Atavist Magazine

This is one of the best things I’ve read in a very, very long time. It’s the story of a child prodigy and the challenges she and her family had growing up. You’d think that a girl who started taking college classes at age 8 and earned her degree at 13 would have it made, but young Jasmine (later Promethea) encounters one challenge after another, climaxing in a tragic act of violence, that derails her future.

A quote: “Solomon posits that “being gifted and being disabled are surprisingly similar: isolating, mystifying, petrifying.” The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t cover prodigies, and the rationale seems obvious: These children are overequipped for normal achievement. Yet their unique requirements for learning and the extraordinary burdens placed on their families make prodigies resplendent doppelgängers to developmentally challenged children.”

When every word doesn’t belong to everyone

Ta-Nehisi Coates, YouTube/Random House

What do words mean to different people; different groups of people, different races or genders? And why are some words acceptable in some groups but not others? The amazing Ta-Nehisi Coates explains why white people using the N-word is problematic, and why, if you’re not black, you need to be OK with not using it.

A quote: “My wife, with her girlfriends, will use the word “bitch.” I do not join in! I don’t do that. I don’t have a desire to do it. The question one must ask, if that’s accepted and normal for groups to use words that are derogatory in an ironic fashion, why is there so much hand-wringing when black people do it? … Why do so many white people have difficulty extending things that are basic laws of how human beings interact to black people. And I think I know why.”

That’s all for this week! I’ll have five more to share next Wednesday.