Weekly Reading, Nov. 8, 2019

It’s been a minute since I wrote here, and I’m sure exactly zero people noticed that I missed a post of this nature last Friday, in large part because I was embarking on a much-needed weekend bender with an old friend who came to visit.

My brain and liver recovered sufficiently to do some reading this week. Most of it took place in the pages of my GMAT book; I wasn’t joking in this tweet, and I’m planning to take the test next month. I’m not sure what that means, or if I’ll go to business school, but I am sure that I’d like to give myself more options than just sports journalism as I think about the future.

Let’s circle back to the GMAT book for a second. You guys, I am having entirely too much fun remembering eighth-grade math. I love doing math problems. When I was a senior in high school and enrolled in BC Calculus, someone asked me what I thought I wanted my major to be in college the next year. I said I had no idea, but that I’d love to get a job where I did calculus problems all day. Why I didn’t become an engineer, I have no idea. I don’t think there are private equity bros out there buying engineering firms and laying off qualified, trained people in favor of kids who’ve shown proficiency with legos. But again, I digress. The GMAT book is a long way from calculus, but I’m having a blast turning on parts of my brain that have been dormant for a decade. The num of a the interior angles of a polygon with n sides is 180(n – 1)!

If you’re still reading now, congratulations. I did actually make time to consume a few interesting stories on the World Wide Web this week (and last week, pre-bender). My favorite was this profile of Adam Driver in the New Yorker. For an actor whose work I’ve enjoyed for years — I remember being mesmerized by him on Girls, with his weird affect and presence — I knew next to nothing about his life pre-acting. He’s from Indiana! He was in the Marine Corps!

I also loved this Tom Junod essay about being the inspiration for plot behind the Mr. Rogers movie. First of all, imagine being a relatively normal person who happens to have a movie made based on an unlikely friendship in your life. It’s a complete mindfuck. Junod writes beautifully about his time with Fred Rogers, what it means to be a good man, and how much the world has changed. The writing throughout the piece is phenomenal, but try to read this paragraph and not be affected: 

“In 1998, I wrote a story about Fred Rogers; in 2019, that story has turned out to be my moral lottery ticket. I’d believed that my friendship with Fred was part of my past; now I find myself in possession of a vast, unearned fortune of love and kindness at a time when love and kindness are in short supply. I keep telling myself that I don’t know how to answer Theresa’s question, that I don’t know what to do next, because Fred never asked anything of me. But of course he did. I have read his old emails, and I can see that he was very clear about what he wanted from me and everybody else. He never stooped to proselytizing. But he lived a life of prayer, and he wanted us—he wanted me—to pray.”

In other screen-adaptation news, I started watching HBO’s His Dark Materials this week. I read Philip Pullman’s trilogy in the late ’90s, and those three books were some of my favorites as an adolescent. (What’s funny, though, is I don’t ever remember talking about them with anyone, and I was under the impression that they were much less of a phenomenon than they were.) I was disappointed by the movie version of The Golden Compass in 2007, which made me leery of HBO’s adaptation. Still, there’s no way I won’t watch every episode of the thing, and the joy I took in seeing Lyra’s Oxford brought to life on screen in the first episode was only slightly dulled by some of the shortcomings discussed in this very good review on The Ringer. If anything, I hope the show spurs people to read the books if they haven’t; I re-read the trilogy this summer, and I’m about to start the first of Pullman’s new, related books.

Finally, I really enjoyed reading Drew Magary’s NFL column, which is about a lot more than just the NFL — and which appears to have found its post-Deadspin home on Vice.com, at least this week. In the column, the always-great Magary talks a lot about Deadspin‘s demise, and he includes a nugget about an ill-fated job-offer from Sports Illustrated that he fielded over the summer. That probably interests me more than it interests the average person, but still: I’m reading any and all content about what’s happened to sports media in the past month. (Hm, I wonder why I have such an affinity for my GMAT book.)

Ok, that’s it. A trigonometry refresher beckons. Happy weekend.

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