The Bell Shape Curve has many applications in life. I am on the downward slope to 100 years; an age I have no desire to achieve.
This Blog is 8 years-old this week and has had a very good run. It too is on the downward slope traffic-wise and publication-frequency wise. This is only my second post in the oddball year known as 2021.
Bill Bradley, the former Princeton University student/basketball player, NBA player, and U.S. Senator, who had a very influential book in my life written about him while he was still in university called, A SENSE OF WHERE YOU ARE by creative nonfiction writer John McPhee, felt to truly have a proper professional athletic career one must fully experience the bell curve. Put another way, you start out coming off the bench, making a contribution for your team, you have your peak athletic years and score your biggest points at the top of the curve, and then as age creeps in and skills deteriorate, playing time is reduced and you find yourself back on the bench until it is time to retire or go into coaching. For Bradley, what he emphasises is to enjoy the graph of life every blip of the way no matter what shape your graph turns out to be. It’s good advice. I was ten-years old when I read A SENSE OF WHERE YOU ARE for the first time. The only sense I had at that time was that most of my life was ahead of me. I was on the upward part of the curve with not much thought given to what lay ahead on the downward side – the peak years are what I looked forward to.
Traditional books – novels and works of nonfiction – have played a key role in the content of this blog from the very start. The url is peoplethingsliterature.com after all. Books too, by my evaluation of anecdotal evidence, have seen their peak years come and go. My favorite bookshop and coffee shop in California went bankrupt and became a clothing store aimed at millennials in 2011. My favorite and closest book store in Bangkok is now an opticians shop where they sell sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses at a price point needed to pay the high rent. It gets more customers than the bookstore ever did in the last 10 years. Maybe we are more nearsighted than we used to be?
The question I have been pondering, with Dollar Bill Bradley’s help is, do I retire this blog or not? I am not sure.
That brings me to videos. As the Buggles big music hit declared, “Video killed the radio star”. Literary stars have taken quite a hit from video too, unless they are among the fortunate few to have their works put up on various sized screens available to 35% of the world’s population – that is the percentage of who owns an operating smart phone these days. When I ride the skytrain in Bangkok, which is often in the Covid years, that’s what I see people reading addictively – smart phones not books.
One way to avoid taking the hit is to join the video revolution. In my younger and peak years I read a lot of biographies about musicians and their contribution to music history. Now I watch them on Hulu or Amazon Prime. That’s not all I watch in these social distancing times. YouTubers are in, Ted Talks are in, Master Classes and their free substitutes are in, and I find myself watching all of these and many more.
For now I have come up with a middle-path solution. I will no longer be reviewing traditional books on this blog in a written format. What I will do is recommend some of the more interesting video projects out there in cyberspace, with a Southeast Asia theme, and perhaps I will expand on this idea on a broader level in a new project down the curve. Who knows, it might even be a video project.
So, without further adieu, here they are:
Thai Country Living:
Director: Ben Tubby and Dan Tubby. Produced by Tubby Brothers Films and Somboon Vichaisre. Executive Producer: Tom Waller. Research by Joe Cummings.
This is a wonderful short film awarded a Vimeo Staff Pick among other film industry awards, as you can see above, that should be watched by anyone with an interest in Thai / Lao culture and/or world music. The fact that it can be watched for free tells you how much quality is out there for no cost viewing if one only takes the time to find them. Take the time and watch it. You will not be dissapointed.
Chad Bee the entrepreneur of CB Media, a very popular YouTube Channel, will not be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact I was slow to warm to him. Very slow. Chad is uncouth in a 2021 kind of way. The meek may inherit the earth but it is the shameless that will profit in the interim. Whatever you may think of Chad after watching a few of his videos, and I recommend you do, Chad works hard on his Vlog and he plays very hard. Mr Bee is a legitimate YouTube influencer (and I now know what that is) and there is ample evidence that he is pulling in a six-figure USA dollar income for his considerable effort. His hooks run from the familiar and somewhat lame to different and innovative. Chad gets to know the car/racing/flying/drifting scene in Thailand just for starters. Chad Bee has over 300,000 subscribers since starting his Vlog, which he really concentrated on once the Covid19 lockdown took hold. The future is here and the future, like it or not, seems to be the Chad Bee’s of the world. CB Media has over 38 million views and rising.
Book Talk Conversations
For those who prefer couth to uncouth and books over videos, author Christopher G. Moore has a new monthly video series out called Book Talk Conversations, where he investigates the premise that books have shaped people’s lives in various ways and perhaps even influenced their world view. He does this by interviewing various original thinkers. This is Episode 1 with John Allen Paulos the author of Innumeracy and an avid Mad Magazine reader in his youth. It’s an interesting concept by Christopher worthy of exploration.
So there you have it – three video options to consider in lieu of traditional reading.
John McPhee used a very apt title in his book on Bill Bradley, first published in 1965. It is important in life to have a sense of where you are at any particular moment in time. It is much harder than it sounds.
But wherever you may be on that inevitable curvey graph of life, as Hunter S. Thompson wrote in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, and this is as applicable in oddball years as much as it ever was,
“Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion.”
Until next time. Maybe.