“For a plain, hard-working man the home is not the one tame place in the world of adventure. It is the one wild place in the world of rules and set tasks.” – G. K. CHESTERTON
One Wild PlaceThat Chesterton quote has long been one of my favorites, especially the "one wild place" sentiment. Even now, when my work is just about as busy as it can possibly be, the office is mild in comparison to the pandemonium that awaits me at home.

Sure, there are ways in which my work could be described as chaotic; many of them, in fact. But "a state of complete confusion and disorder" doesn't always mean "unpredictable," and it's the unknowable-ness of day-to-day life in a large family that really brings the "wildness" home.

Is that wildness the result of a household that's 7/8 boys? Surely, in at least some measure. But it's also (or maybe even mostly) the result of living with a group of young people who are finding out—defining, really—what it's like to live "in their own skin" each and every day. 

This email is a day late, but not because I live in a (near-constant) state of disorder and confusion at work. It's because my home is a wild and adventurous place that never ceases to throw a wrench into whatever plans I might be making at any—every, actually—
given moment.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

P.S. I'm still taking on subscribers, of course, so go ahead and spread the word, if you're so inclined. Tell 'em I've only been late once, so far. (Don't tell 'em how many I've sent, though, because one tardy email is a lot less impressive when you're talking about a library of exactly three.)
Interstellar Isn’t About Space, It’s About Home” isn't a new article (or video essay), but it's one of the few things I've seen that seems to address the emotional core of Nolan's film, rather than the environment in which he's operating. (The Q&A that followed the film's showing at last week's Ebertfest2018 would be another example.) I don't agree with everything in either piece (of course), but at least they've found to right tree to "bark up," in my view. Nolan is often criticized for being too cold; too emotionally distant; too clinical. But this has always felt like a stylistic criticism disguised as one about content. Sure, he's not terribly effusive or bubbly or heart-string-tugging, for the most part, yet I (at least) find his films highly emotional and deeply personal. Fundamentally, I think he's being punished for the way he presents his emotional topics rather than for the actual topics themselves, and Interstellar is probably the perfect example of this disconnect—a film that proposes that love is an actual force in the universe; that we don't sacrifice and risk and push ourselves forward through some altruistic attachment to The Human Race, but because we love (and are loved by) individual humans.

Insomnia: Given the claim I just made about Nolan (and his actually-non-clinical-yet-disguised-as-clinical approach to storytelling), there's something ironic about the fact that the particularly film I'm recommending here just might be the toughest sell in Nolan's entire filmography when it comes to this very issue. But it  popped back up on Amazon Prime this week, and recent re-watch confirmed two things in particular. The first is that he's an incredibly confident filmmaker, even in his earlier works. And the second? That he's using a fairly traditional (seemingly) thriller to talk about the usual things that fascinate him: the role of truth and falsity in our lives, the ways in which they influence our morality and our decision makings in trying of circumstances, and the importance of staying true/not losing one's way. OK, fine. One more. He's doing another one of his "multi-film" arcs. Insomnia is basically the answer to the ethical question he raises in Memento (as someone once said).

International Trailer for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote: I've been waiting for this film for the entirety of my cinematic life, pretty much. Lost in La Mancha, the fantastic documentary on its troubled production (which began way back in 2002) was one of the first films I rented from Salzer's Video, the video store I mentioned back in JGS1, and I've been keeping an eye on it ever since. It still might not happen, apparently. But I've been hoping and praying for so long, there's no reason to stop now, right? (Truth be told, I highly doubt it could be better than the documentary, which you should search out and watch ASAP. But if it does end up being made, it'll be one of the greatest "Travail Turned Triumph" stories of all time.)
"10 Gateway Anime Movies for Studio Ghibli Fans:" The first "Let’s Get Animated!" column from the folks at SlashFilm takes on a topic near-and-dear to my heart. As a lover of All Things Ghibli (and of all Top 10 lists), I'm always on the lookout for suggestions. I've only seen two of the ones on the main list—Millennium Actress (which I love and appreciate more and more each time I see it) and Tokyo Godfathers (which is by the same director, Satoshi Kon, and is also well worth watching and re-watching, but which I don't quite love in the same way)—but I've seen all of the "Ascend to Next-Level" titles.

"A Spirituality of Fundraising," by Henri J.M. Nouwen: Work-related, sure. But really worthwhile, all the same. The notion of fundraising as ministry seems counterintuitive, at first. But the more I think about it, the more it starts to make sense to me—"a confident, joyful, and hope-filled expression."

"Total Political War:" I started reading this piece because it was written by a friend of mine. But I finished reading it because something about it seems scarily accurate, especially in my (amateurish) assessment of what's going on in our country at present. And because it cast light on the even more important question of how we got here in the first place. "Blame President Trump all you want," he says. "He didn’t actively work for decades to create a 'post-truth' era. Our educational and cultural leaders did. He didn’t 'weaponize' communications technology or the federal government. His predecessors did. He didn’t destabilize democracy. That happened under the long and increasingly decadent watch of our ruling class, which is now irrationally blinded by rage that their house is on fire. President Trump didn’t start the fire. The fire summoned him."

"If You Think You Hate Puns, You're Wrong:" This particular Esquire article is being included almost exclusively for the sake of my friend, Dom, whose abilities in this particular field are perhaps best described as "punishing." As someone who has frequently and publicly embraced Dryden's claim that puns are "the lowest and most groveling kind of wit," it is safe to say that this article runs very much counter to my own thinking on the matter. Or does it? Because much as I love to hate puns, it is hard for me to argue against this piece's claim that "the dirty secret of puns is that people like them when they're terrible as much as they do when they're great." Logically, I suppose that line could be true and I could still hate puns, but the fact is that I actually do sort-of love the worst ones Dom makes. (I'm never going to tell him that, though, because it would give him too much power over me. ...Oops.)

"What In God's Named Happened To Ricky Gervais?" is a question I've asked myself a number of times  over the past few years, yet it's one that I'm not entirely sure I've wanted answered as accurately (and inescapably) as this article does. Somehow, it manages to be the written version of Gervais' breakout work, "The Office:" almost-uncannily accurate and insightful, occasionally (and meanly) hilarious, but above all, deeply sad. (This one comes with a bit of a language warning. Unsurprising, I suppose, given the subject. But be warned.)
"Six Concertos for the Margrave of Brandenburg," by J. S. Bach (and Trevor Pinnock): The recording Pinnock made with the English Concert is one of my most prized musical possessions. I consider it absolutely definitive. This one isn't quite as good (on the first or second listen), but that might be due to a lack of familiarity rather than quality. Wonderful stuff.

“Digital Box Set,” by Nick Drake: As I listen, all I think (over and over and over) is that he was taken far, far too soon. The creative influence he has exerted over subsequent musical generations is obvious from the get-go, but that's not the main take-away from listening to his work. Mostly, it's that his music is so wonderfully charming and easy on the ears (if not on the heart). ...which is probably why he exerts such influence in the first place.

“Suite One from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex,” by the incomparable Erich Korngold: There's a bunch of Star Wars in here, especially as we get into the middle sections. But it's what Korngold does orchestrally that really caught my "eye" on this one. Specifically, the "thrumming" he uses in this moment at 1:18. Keep listening for a couple more seconds after that, and you'll hit several distinctively Korngoldian flourishes that clearly influenced John Williams a great deal. I'm not sure it's fair to say that these specific moments served as inspiration for some of Star Wars' more memorable incidental moments, but they're certainly stylistic elements that appear in Johnny's work with great regularity. Also, just to be clear, Williams has sited Korngold as an enormous influence in his work, so he's certainly homaging/borrowing, not stealing. (By the way, Korngold was a musical genius, as this music from his ballet, "The Snowman," will remind us. It's not my favorite melodic material, by any means, but Erich was eleven at the time, so let's cut him some slack, OK?)

"Three Records From Sunset," an episode of the 99% Invisible podcast that deals with Drake and his (distressingly brief) discography.
Here's The Plan: A married cat-dog couple of cupcake bakers dream of opening their own bakery. One day their oven breaks and they have to postpone their dream in order to earn money and replace it. Somewhere down the line, they drift apart from their dream and from themselves.


As I walked back from Mass this past Saturday night, the sun broke through the clouds and illuminated one of Lander's most distinctive spots: The Purina Tower. Not a bad place to live (or photograph), if I do say so myself.

Copyright © 2018 Joseph Susanka, All rights reserved.

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