a new Monday feature

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would like to be doing with this newsletter. Mostly, it’s been a place for me to put the things I feel like writing but don’t have a platform for, and I’ve been enjoying that, so there will certainly be more little essays in the future. I’m also toying with the idea of doing some serialized fiction, but that will take more time to form.

In the meantime, I do want expand on something I’ve sort of already been doing: consistent feature where I share media that I have found interesting/funny/beautiful/well-crafted. Basically, the good stuff! At risk of sounding a bit special, finding joy in things is such a novelty to me. A while ago I was telling my therapist that I was having a hard time telling if my depression was improving on a new medication. She asked me to simply tell her some of the things that I thought during the day, and I told her that I kept thinking about how beautiful the mountains are, and that every time I saw them I felt happy, she said “that doesn’t sound like a depressed person to me.” It was a landmark moment in my little life, and now each time I look at the gorgeous mountain peaks in Salt Lake City, I feel a surge of joy. So, on Mondays I will be giving you the Peaks— the art/music/film/culture/food that has made me happy recently. The first installment is below!

I would be lying if I told you that anything has made me as happy recently as this clip of Keanu Reeves sharing how much he loves movies:

My lil bro pointed out that Keanu ends this with a “prophet growl”— a little joke for my LDS friends there.

Speaking of my lil bro, he has been living in the living room of my apartment the past month, as he is working a summer job here in SLC and hasn’t been able to secure housing. This has been a blast, because not only does he take out the garbage and make Indian food from scratch, but he also is a fun human! He has sprouted new life into the little keyboard in our place (he’s a musician), so I often come in to hear him trying to replicate this:

It’s not a bad thing to hear.

Lil bro also had me play Inside and FOLKS. I am obviously a couple years late to this but I was FLOORED. This game was immediately engrossing, and so, so beautiful. The animations and sound design are stunning, and the physics and weight your character feels incredibly realistic. The mechanics of the game are also super simple. It’s a lateral movement puzzle game, and non-gamers (such as myself) could easily play it. The puzzles are intuitive even when they’re difficult, and consequently amazingly satisfying.

I hesitate to say anything about the story, because the journey and discovery is the whole point, but it’s a dystopian horror. It is also not for the faint of heart for as beautiful as it is, it gets disturbing. But man… this is sort of the vague, surreal, experimental, atmospheric sci-fi I dream of writing.

Moving on!

I saw Rocketman the weekend it came out, and while my initial response to the movie was more of a “that was fun,” I keep thinking about it! I think I underestimated how fun it was! While the story itself may have been a touch cliche, there’s simply something to be said for great music and inventive visuals— as well as real sincerity. Also, Taron Egerton’s performance is nothing to sneeze at. Anyway, I will be seeing it again. In the meantime, Matt Zoller Seitz wrote a great little bit on the movie. (I appreciate how MZS can thoughtfully approach the most pop of pop culture— his review of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is a classic)

In other movie news, Late Night was a delight in many ways, but mostly EMMA THOMPSON! The inimitable Hunter Harris of Vulture explains.

Another thing that has made me happy this week is all of my friends who are writing and creating beautiful things!!! My screenwriting group was a blast this week, and I’ve also had the chance to read some of my friends’ work and do some collaboration and it’s just lovely. I can’t share my friends’ writing here, but what I can share is some gorgeous art done by none other than my lil sis! Here is concept art she did for a video game pitch:

Yes, that second pic is a reference to The Third Man, I AM SO PROUD.

Last but not least, AURORA released a new album! A Different Kind of Human (Step II) is great, and, I think, better than Step 1 in the series. Here she returns to more of the atmospheric soundscapes, darker sounds, and folk/world music influences. I’m especially loving “Hunger”:

That’s it for today! I’d love to hear from you if you have thoughts about any of the above, or would just like to share your own happy things, so reply to this email or comment via the website. Have a lovely week!