Every couple months, I publish a short newsletter called GOOD THINGS. Essentially, it's a thoughtfully curated list of four recent discoveries. Items might include an album, a film, a podcast, a book, an essay — anything that brings joy or perspective. See samples below, and then subscribe to GOOD THINGS.
You're going to love it. Promises.
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Short film. Silly, absurdist, but nonetheless meticulous, Wednesday With Goddard is a short film by Montrealer Nicolas Ménard. Awarded the top animation at SXSW, the film tells the story of a protagonist’s search for God amidst an existential crisis. Along the way he gets help, falls in love, and finds exactly what he’s looking for — well, sort of. See it here.
Life skills. There are many things we want to ask from other people. We want to ask for a job, for money, a chance to collaborate, a kiss. But we often don’t ask because of a little thing called fear. Why should a ‘no’ – such a small and innocuous word – prove quite so painful that we’d rather silence ourselves than face it? Watch this.
Family history. Lola lived with Alex Tizon in America for 56 years. She raised him and his siblings without pay. He was 11 before he realized who she was: a slave. Read (or listen to) the story of how Tizon, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, made sense of this inequity — and what he did with her ashes.
Relationship advice. What kind of data would emerge if you asked hundreds of couples their advice for successful partnerships? Blogger Mark Manson did just that: he polled the readers of his highly-visited website, and the results were incredibly repetitive. (But in a good way.) These 13 lessons might transform the way you engage in your own intimate relationship.
Television. The trend in television these days is to create hyper-real, flawed characters. (I’m looking at you HBO’s Girls.) Yet, as a viewer I just want characters that I can root for. That’s why I adored Please Like Me, a cutting-edge sitcom that has emerged from Australia. The lead character, Josh, is goofy and smart and imperfect. He's navigating a complex world while helping to care for his bipolar mother. The results are amusing and surprisingly touching.
Meditation. How do I stop the chatter in my head? I ask myself this question at regular intervals. In the past, I have employed a few techniques: some healthy (yoga classes) and some perhaps less healthy (bottles of red wine). Recently, I’ve dabbled with an app called Headspace that guides users through a daily meditation. I promise you that it’s not new-age baloney.
YouTube Clip. There’s something especially tender about old erotic. An image of a couple in coitus in the early 20th century has an amusing burlesque element — but it becomes disquieting when we consider that they are long dead. Because sex is the ultimate activity of the moment, perhaps old pornography is inviting us not to care about our own mortality. Not convinced? Watch this clip by The School of Life.
Film. Shot on location in India and Tasmania, Lion tells the story of a lost five-year-old Indian boy who is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. A few decades later, using Google Earth and piecemeal memories, he sets out to find his first family. The film taps into a universal human desire: understanding where we come from.
Album. Chris Staples, a Pacific Northwest singer/songwriter, creates the musical equivalent of a candlelit kitchen with soup on the stove. His 2016 album, Golden Age, centres around the myth that our pasts are idyllic, and offers a selection of poetic nuggets. Key lyric: “How can I say without sounding too cliché that I want to live each day like it’s my last?” (From a track called Park Bench.)
YouTube Clip. David Foster Wallace departed earth too early. The writer was haunted by a state of depression that ultimately led to his suicide. Yet despite his struggle with mental health, he was able to observe humanity with a rare clarity. This quote hit close to home: “Hip, cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human.” In an age of cultural disparagement and Instagram aloofness, perhaps we could all benefit from some good old sincerity. Watch this video.
Beauty. Lizzie Velasquez was born with a rare congenital disease that, among other symptoms, prevents her from accumulating body fat. Ever since she was dubbed the "World's Ugliest Woman" in a video posted on YouTube, Velásquez has spoken out against bullying. In this three-minute clip Velasquez tells a short story that will simultaneously wrench your gut and inspire you.
Legend. The title of Leonard Cohen’s latest (and last) album, You Want It Darker, is tongue-in-cheek for those who relish in his favourite subject materials: loss, infidelity, death, sex. Delivered in his trademark gravelly baritone, the songs have an unmistakable darkness to them, yet they also brim with his patented luminosity and life. This is his final testament, and he exits the stage as the dark saint of song writing. Godspeed, Mr. Cohen — and thank you.
History lesson. At the Olympic games in 1968, a powerful moment occurred when two winners put on black gloves to protest what was happening in the USA during the civil rights era. Most people don’t know the story of the silver medalist, an Australian named Peter Norman. The host of The Young Turks, breaks it down in this must-watch video.
Essay. A small but detailed study of young adults found that participants were using their mobile phones five hours a day, at 85 separate times. The endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke Andrew Sullivan. His eloquent tale of trying to reclaim his brain is of my favourite articles of the year.