Thursday, October 24, 2019

Happy Discoveries, Vol. 1

I love that my kids & their friends have so
much fun dancing on the streets of Rome, GA.
While many readers may already know James Altucher as the stock market guru or the podcasting author/ influencer of entrepreneurs, I met him via Shaunta Grimes. A top writer for, Shaunta makes a solid income from publishing insightful essays about being human and building your own writing career. She may not have Altucher-level fame, but James once engaged in a series of emails with Shaunta and gave her some solid professional advice. She initially rejected it, later successfully implemented it and finally wrote an essay about the whole experience. Since I'm a subscriber to Shaunta's newsletter, I received a copy of that essay and then headed over to, where I quickly scanned the whole site in an attempt to absorb its essence.

My take away = a free copy of How to Make $2,000 In A Weekend (which contains interesting advice for my instrument company but not really anything uniquely useful to me as a writer), a free copy of Choose Yourself, Guide to Wealth (which contains an interesting anecdote about Eminem's marketing strategy & will become a genuinely invaluable element of my weekly collage-making projects), the desire to invest in the marijuana industry AND a quick guide to living a rich and fulfilling life. Key to this guide are the following four principles:
  1. Do something daily which connects you to your physical body and promotes wellness. (James suggests basketball.)
  2. Do something daily to meet your emotional needs. (James suggests editing your engagements to only be those which deeply fulfill you, as well as cutting draining people from your life.)
  3. Do something daily to stimulate yourself intellectually. (James suggests making a list of 10-20 good or bad ideas.) 
  4. Do something daily which connects you with a greater sense of divinity, whatever you perceive that to be. (James suggests simply listing and reflecting on what you are grateful for.)
    Here I am soon after a women's sweat lodge.
    I'm grateful to participate in this tradition.
    While implementing the idea list recommended in point 3, I decided to incorporate point 4 with this blog, to a degree. Specifically, I am going to scan my daily gratitude lists for happy discoveries--either of creators or their creations.  Then, once a week, I will share those discoveries here with brief summaries and links. You are currently reading Volume 1 of this Happy Discoveries series. Enjoy!

    1. Shaunta Grimes & James Altucher.


    2. Living with Yourself

    You will quickly see that I mine Netflix for happy discoveries. I deeply aspire to see my own work there one day. Meanwhile, I love shows and movies but hate commercials. So, there you are. This week on Netflix, I finished the first season of Living with Yourself, starring Paul Rudd in dual roles as Miles and Miles' clone. I'm attaching an interview here which provides a glimpse of how Timothy Greenberg developed the show--which explores identity and relationships with thought-provoking humor and grace.

    That's my daughter with her hands in the air.
    I'm always grateful for the county fair.
    3. American Horror Story: Apocalypse

    While the new season, 1984, is on network TV now--Netflix recently released last year's Apocalypse. Like many people, I have favorite seasons but love the whole AHS franchise.  The story lines are intriguing, and the way the same actors play different characters both within and across seasons speaks to me. I love it when the seasons (like Apocalypse, Murder House, Hotel & Coven) directly connect. Even when they don't, I draw connections between the many characters which the same actors play, and there always seems to be something to learn about humanity.Within Apocalypse itself, I particularly enjoy the way Kathy Bates proclaims herself to be a "Devil Mama" and the way the people who sold their souls hold worship ceremonies and potlucks stunningly similar to those I experienced in my Baptist church as a child--apart, of course, from the human sacrifice. I'm linking to an interview with Apocalypse's Cody Fern who discusses his role as the antichrist and the influence of working alongside powerful women.

    4. Counting Descent by Clint Smith

    I love poems which show me something I objectively understand from a perspective which I could never hold. I also love it when core truths spill beautifully on a page with a lyrical and subjective sense of realism. This is exactly what Clint Smith achieves in his poetic portrait of what it's like to be black in the USA circa 2017.

    My son won over 1000 points on one arcade game
    & finally cashed in on a "good prize," this
    awesome pixel sword. He felt like a boss.
    5.  Hello Privilege, It's Me Chelsea.

    This Netflix documentary received a ton of criticism from viewers who saw it less as an educational tool than as a publicity stunt for comedian Chelsea Handler to make herself seem much more "woke" than her professional and personal track record suggest that she is. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it and felt that I learned something from it. In my opinion, it plays like a primer in privilege for beginners. I understand that such a thing should not need to exist, but I also understand the reality that it does. So, it's better that we have this than nothing. I think the main problem is not with the documentary itself but rather with it claiming to be anything other than a flawed ally's first step at using her platform to generate meaningful change. Attached is a review which reflects this feeling.

    6. Dave Chapelle's Sticks and Stones

    Personally, I've never been deeply impressed by Dave Chapelle's humor. The primary part of his controversial special was no exception. However, the epilogue moved me. Dave's stories about Daphne, a younger Kamala Harris and his parallel encounters with Prince Charles and Barack Obama will stay with me. For me, the Sticks and Stones routine itself simply provided the context within which the epilogue could be more deeply appreciated. The juxtaposition of the two speaks to something at the core of American society which I'll be contemplating for some time. Oddly, I haven't read anything which speaks to that. Instead, there are some interesting pieces which discuss the glaring disparity between critic ratings and viewer ratings of the special. That is interesting too, so an article about that is linked.

    7. Nikki Glaser's Bangin'

    Apparently, the past week has re-awakened my appreciation for comedians. If you need a reprieve from Chelsea and Dave, Nikki is here. Bawdy, bold (& only a touch political), Nikki creates a hilarious and relatable portrait of modern womanhood.

    P.S. The happy discoveries posts will also be illustrated by photos of some recent personal moments for which I'm most grateful.  

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