Friday Food for Thought: September 23, 2022

Hello Friends, welcome to Friday Food for Thought. Every Friday I’ll help start your weekend by sharing four people, thoughts, or things that are on my mind this week. These may be books or movies, podcast suggestions, interesting people I follow on social media, music, products, or, well, anything. You may find interesting creativity boosts here, some conversation starters, or just a small dose of entertainment. Click here for my previous post. Feel free to share this with friends, or offer suggestions via the comments. Let’s begin!

1) Deep Thoughts – Carry that weight:

Listening to a recent episode of the Between the Covers podcast, part of their Crafting with Ursula series, Lidia Yuknavitch talked about Ursula K. Le Guin’s Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction. Long-time readers of Le Guin might already be familiar with the theory, but it is a new one to me. In a 1986 essay, Le Guin argued that the container – the carrier bag – was an earlier and profound human invention than weapons. Lewis Mumford wrote something similar in The Myth of the Machine. Try to imagine your daily life without the numerous containers we all use. Viewing the world, and storytelling, from this perspective opens up an entirely different world view. It also means stories, and life, don’t necessarily follow the conventional action-building arcs with a single heroic protagonist and tidy endings. I realize I’ve been subconsciously gravitating toward this in my own work, but hearing it spelled out so clearly is already influencing both how I write and how I read.

2) Soulful Tunes:

I’ve been revisiting my collection of Charlie Haden recordings this week. I have nearly 20 albums featuring Haden and that still only scratches the surface of his vast discography. From the lush noir-ish sounds of Quartet West, to his minimalist duets with Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, Kenny Barron, and others, to his ensemble protest albums with the Liberation Music Orchestra, Haden explored every direction on the musical map. A consummate musician with a strong commitment to social progress, Haden worked with and influenced more jazz musicians than you could ever name. I had the pleasure of meeting Charlie Haden briefly at the Blue Note in New York City, and he was as kind in person as you might imagine from listening to his work.

3) The Cold, Hot Summer:

Even considering the outstanding cast – Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, and Don Johnson – I was a little skeptical that Cold in July (2014) would amount to little more than a toxic-dude-bro shoot-’em-up. And while there is definitely some of that, I’ve just watched it for the third time this week, and the movie goes much deeper than my initial expectations. Adapted from the novel by Joe R. Landsale (which I confess I haven’t read), Cold in July starts off as a conventional “bad guy seeks vengeance over a perceived wrong” story, along the lines of Cape Fear (either the 1962 or 1991 version), but soon goes off in an entirely different direction. The climactic sequence inspired a late passage in my novel Paradise West. I’ll avoid spoilers, but the movie speculates that there might only be one solution to toxic masculinity, and whether we agree or not, we’re forced to consider the question asked by Sam Shepard’s character: Which outcome is more cruel? Cold in July is currently streaming on Kanopy.

4) Fine Print Deciphered:

I don’t read a lot about politics these days, primarily because the choice between fascists and non-fascists is so clear. However, headlines and mainstream media rarely do justice to the legal and procedural intricacies of the many ongoing lawsuits and investigations involving politicians/grifters/suspected terrorists. So I follow Teri Kanefield on Twitter. A prolific writer and former appellate defender, Kanefield breaks down legal issues in terms even this novice can understand. Her writing on the January 6 hearings and a certain ongoing Department of Justice investigation has been especially illuminating. I would venture that her academic background – degrees in both law and fiction writing – helped prepare her to communicate complex matters in a clear manner. If you want to go beyond hand-wringing and rush-to-judgment headlines, Teri Kanefield’s writing can simultaneously calm and inspire you.

That’s all for this week. Have a good weekend!

This post contains NO affiliate links. All suggestions are based on my own personal experience, your experience may vary. Nothing herein is intended to serve as medical, legal, financial, or any other advice for which you should consult professionals and not some random guy on the Internet.

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