Hello there, welcome to another issue of Morning Coffee, my weekly roundup of interesting writing.
Issue #27: Superhero costumes, movie posters, and human robots
This week’s issue takes a pop-culture turn, with some really interesting pieces on comic book superheroes and Star Wars characters, but there’s also room for some more grounded pieces. Enjoy.
Alexander Chee writes about the sartorial choices of Jessica Jones and Supergirl:
Jessica Jones mocks this stereotype in a flashback. Her best friend and foster sister, Trish, having decided Jones should dress the part of a superhero, tries to give her a makeover. She pulls out a white, strapless jumper with royal-blue trim framing the décolletage that looks stolen from Olivia Newton-John’s wardrobe for Xanadu, then puts on a matching, glittery-blue carnival mask, even proposing a name to go with the look: Jewel. “Jewel is a cheap stripper name,” Jones says, rejecting it outright, and to prove the impracticality of the mask, she walks over to Trish and with one playful slap to her head twists it around — and the mask is suddenly a blindfold. The lesson is clear: Jessica Jones is not going to die for your idea about what a superhero looks like, Trish.
That was a great scene. I have to say, Jessica Jones is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time.
Gorgeous selection of movie posters. I don’t know many of the films, but now I want to see each and every one of them.
Fantastic profile on Anthony Daniels, the actor who’s portrayed protocol droid C-3PO in every Star Wars movie, including the upcoming Episode VII: The Force Awakens:
J.J. Abrams first saw Star Wars when he was 11, and grew up in an age when fandom went from lonely obsession to superhero multiverse. Now he’s gotten to direct its aging stars — action figures come to life. The most loyal among them is a former stage actor who auditioned reluctantly for “some low-budget sci-fi movie” and wound up a golden robot for the rest of his life. Daniels can be a prickly ambassador, publicly tweaking the Ewoks, the suit, the actors, and Lucas himself. But what true fan, Abrams included, hasn’t had a beef with the franchise? Like 3PO and R2-D2, Star Wars and Daniels have something deeper than love: commitment. “People say, ‘What’s it like to go back to C-3PO?’” Daniels says. “Well, I never left him.”
So great. I can’t wait to see the movie.
Another great piece by David Cain:
We ought to devote a subject in grade school to certain social micro-skills: how to finish a sentence without tapering off; how to make non-threatening eye-contact; how to ask questions people actually enjoy answering; how to move a conversation along when it starts to stall; how to ask for something; how to say something dumb and not make a big deal of it.
Building these skills reverses the direction of the shyness feedback loop. It is not an overstatement to say this: these skills make nearly every aspect of life easier, every day, forever.
Super thorough analysis on the advantages and disadvantages of renting vs. buying a house. This piece assumes you live in the US, but many of its principles are applicable worldwide. If you’re thinking about buying a house, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
Great two-part series by Shawn Blanc on the concept of margin:
When you think of margin in your life, think of health. Physical health, emotional health, mental health, relational health, financial health, creative health.
Margin in your finances means you’re living within your means and even have a rainy day fund.
Margin in your schedule means you have time to do the things you need to do as well as the things you want to do.
Margin in your emotions means you don’t live constantly on the edge — losing your temper or your patience at the drop of a hat.
Margin for your thoughts means you have the wherewithal to make clear decisions and focus on your most important work.
Tyson Robichaud has been quite vocal in his love for the Panasonic GX7 Micro Four Thirds camera. In this in-depth article he compares it with the new GX8 and tries to find out how much of an upgrade it really is:
While it has been a wonderful couple of years with my GX7, I feel that the torch has successfully been passed. For me, the combo of the GX8 and the GM1 (which will stick around for a while longer as my compact, 2nd body) will provide me with the best 1, 2 punch for the system as I need it to function. The new 20.2mp sensor is a solid upgrade in most every way and while it hasn’t necessarily been seen as such by many reviews I’ve read, I feel that I didn’t really start to see the advantages until I really dug in and explored the files in varying situations.
Steve Huff names the new Leica SL as his Camera of the Year 2015. That’s a bold claim, but I’m sorry, I’m not buying it. While I usually agree with Steve’s picks, this time around it appears he’s working extremely hard to give the SL the edge over the Sony α7R II, which beats it in pretty much every area, except for the EVF.
He even brushes aside the fact that the SL has banding problems at high ISO settings, which in my opinion would be a deal breaker right there, especially considering the price of the camera. At $7,500 body-only, issues like banding are simply unacceptable.
I get that Steve is excited about the SL, but you can’t gloss over these important issues just because you don’t want them to ruin the glowing tone of your piece. I’m sorry to point this out because, as I said, I respect Steve and usually agree with him, but this review made very little sense to me.
I’m writing these lines on a cold Friday evening in Madrid, but by the time you read them, it’ll be at least Saturday, and I’ll probably be in Plasencia, most likely inside our favorite local bar, definitely drinking wine with my dad.
Earlier in the week — on Tuesday, to be precise — my dad turned 70 years old. It’s an imposing number, even though he doesn’t look his age at all. It’s also an opportunity for reflection, and for appreciation.
He’s acting like his birthday isn’t a big deal this time around, as he invariably does every year. He may be right — the world just keeps on turning, as the song says — but I disagree. I say turning 70 should be a big deal. It should be as big a deal as it freaking gets.
There are not many chances to celebrate in life, even if you’ve been fortunate. Even if it doesn’t look like it right now. No matter how many times you say it, you can still say it a few more: life is good, sometimes.
Say it to your friends, say it to your partner, say it to your mom, and your dad, while you still can.
Life is good, sometimes.
Thank you for reading, and have a great weekend.