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It was now that Pidge grasped at an understanding of Cooroo's life; they were free, they were unhurt, their legs worked, and there was always hope.” – PAT O'SHEA
Reading from The Secret of KellsAs a youth, I was a voracious reader, working my way (alphabetically, almost) along the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that lined the living room of my childhood home. Easy access to such a plethora of literary riches meant my imagination was shaped by such literary classics as Kidnapped, Robinson Crusoe, Ivanhoe, Father BrownTwenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, Treasure Island, Edgar Allen Poe's Complete Tales and PoemsThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Wind in the Willows, The Complete Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock HolmesWatership Down, and the like. But I wasn't just searching after fame, being just as greatly influenced by a wide swath of lesser known (but equally beloved) works, such as Porto Bello GoldBill Bergson Lives Dangerously, The Psammead Trilogy (indeed, anything created by the powerhouse team of E. Nesbit and H. R. Millar), Swallows and Amazons, The Thinking Machine, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha, and many, many more.

It's hard to quantify just how much of an impact any particular book had on little ol' me, even in hindsight. But there is one notable exception: Pat O'Shea's
The Hounds of the Mórrígan
, whose influence on my imaginative life and interests has been matched only by Flannery O'Connor's essays and letters.

Hounds sparked my first fascination with Irish mythology—for me, nothing has been quite as ongoing an imaginative focus as the Irish—and that fascination was quickly nursed to more robust life by the kindling of Padraic Colum's "The Frenzied Prince," fed by a host of retellings and reimaginings, and stoked to an all-consuming blaze by Lady Gregory's spectacular "Complete Irish Mythology." It was also the work that introduced me to Cuchulain, giving it the "honor" of inspiring  my first (and now, blessedly, defunct) blog. Were it not for O'Shea's book, in other word, you would probably not be reading this today. Whether that's a legacy of blessing or curse is open for debate, I suppose, but its influence in my life is not. (My devotion to The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea, and anything that comes from Tomm Moore? Same source. My love of Irish music? Yup. Of Irish films, both hilarious and horrifying? Guilty as charged. And the list will go on.)

It remains a cherished favorite to this day, and the recent opportunity to share it with David (
Son #4, and the Susanka Pack's resident mythologist) reminded me of just how weird and wonderful a whirlwind it is. A real gem of a story, and one that should be better known.








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WHAT I’M WATCHING
"Yasiel Puig Being Nuts:" This is a really good throw. Sadly, Otherworldly-Freakish Athleticism such as this giveth, and it taketh away; Puig is on the DL at present because he swung a bat so hard that he injured himself.

A Secret History of the American River People, A Documentary About People Who Live on the River: This one's still just a trailer, but it does exactly what a trailer should do, because I really, really want to watch the feature-length film now.

Chuck Jones - The Evolution of an Artist comes from Tony Zhou (and Taylor Ramos) of the wonderful and now (very sadly) defunct YouTube channel, Every Frame a Painting.

Moon: My favorite "hard sci-fi" entry from the last few years, and the reason why I will always give Duncan Jones a look, no matter how bad the reviews may be.
WHAT I'M READING
"When receiving art, be Penelope, not Argos," by Simcha Fisher: I'd say this topic has been on my mind a lot of late, but it's probably more accurate to say that it's always been on my mind, in one form or another. The ending of this particular piece feels much more like a beginning (or a challenge) than a resolution. But that's sort of its point, right?

"Inside Pascal Siakam's 6,000-mile journey to the Bench Mob" is a fascinating ESPN piece on an exceedingly-unusual path to the NBA. How unusual? Well, try this one on for size: "Siakam was never slated to play professional basketball; he was supposed to be a priest. His father, Tchamo, enrolled him in a seminary in the remote village of Bafia, Cameroon, when he was 11 years old. He would remain there for the next seven years, hand-picked to embody his family's Catholicism."

"Lost and Saved on Television," by Ross Douthat: Yes, this one's more than 11 years old, but it was recently brought (back) to my attention by a conversation a friend and I had been having over the ways in with Truth is inextricably tied to Beauty. Pretty sure Simcha's piece is part of that whole conversation, as well. Relatedly, I find some dark stories, movies, and TV shows beautiful because they seem "true" to me while simultaneously finding some sunnier, more optimistic (even sentimental) shows ugly because they seem false to me.
WHAT I'M HEARING
"In Which a Dad Foists Ancient Music on a Defenseless Child," by my pal, Dale McGowan: I mentioned Dale and his work a few blasts back, but this post (and the accompanying playlist) forces me to mention him once again. I am a bit disappointed that he included not a single one the mid-period ocarina sonatas of Mamflamheim, but no one's list is perfect. Also, what a great project. I'm going to have to undertake one of my own.

"The Blood Of Cu Chulainn," by Jeff and Mychael Danna: Most famous, I suspect, for its connection to Boondock Saints, but try not to hold that against it. Just crank this baby up and try to keep your toes from tapping; I dare you!

"A Trio of David Arnold Scores:" David Arnold feels like he gets a bit lost in the soundtrack shuffle. But his work on
StargateThe Musketeer, Independence Day, and (Gulp! Am I actually saying this?) Wing Commander reminds me that he shouldn't be allowed to get lost. ("The President's Speech" is a perfect example of what great music can add to a scene. Without it? A solid-but-unspectacular Crispin's copy. With it, though? Electric.)

While we're thinking about Arnold (and his masterful
Stargate score), here's a great YouTube video that shows how the "Stargate SG:1" theme was created from a quartet of the original film's tracks.


"Malcolm Gladwell debates Adam Grant" comes from the lead-up to Season Three of Malcolm Gladwell's fascinating "Revisionist History" podcast. The entire Gladwell series is fascinating, and I've been greatly enjoying it ever since a friend recommended it to me a few months back. I don't always (or even mostly?) agree with him, but he's thoughtful and engaging and humorous, and who can't get behind that combo?
NO COMMENTARY NECESSARY
THIS WEEK'S VIDEO
Unravel Two: Official Reveal Trailer: I have played neither this nor the original, but I love the premise so very, very much. Almost as much as I love the visual execution.

FROM MY INSTAGRAM FEED

TBT to 2015's most traumatic and most inspiration event: James' less-than-ideal encounter with a calf at a local rodeo. One fractured pancreas and one 6-week recovery later, he was essentially the same as he had been when it all began. I blame the overwhelming tide of prayers and support. And I'm deeply grateful.

Copyright © 2018 Joseph Susanka, All rights reserved.


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