Weekly Round Up 13 March 2022

What I'm reading, listening to and watching this week. Featuring The House in the Cerulean Sea, Rocketman, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Beatles.

In a format totally lifted from Tim Ferriss:

What I'm Reading:
* The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
I think people who aren't often exposed to children's literature can forget how deep, layered, and complex these children's books can be. My favorite example of this is His Dark Materials by Phillip Pulman but The House in the Cerulean Sea (technically meant for middle grade, but really anyone at all) is another perfect example.

This is a story about a 40-something-year-old caseworker (an undoubtedly a kind soul, but one tries to maintain a certain distance as a matter of professionalism) who has been posted to investigate an orphanage that is home to some particularly special children. I'm only a 1/3rd in but I've already cried and laughed multiple times.

It's reminiscent of The Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson - another wonderful YA book about a couple of kids who get 'chosen' (read: kidnapped...) by three eccentric aunts who take care of rare creatures on a remote island - which took up shop in my mind over two decades ago and has not yet quite left.

* Tune In - Mark Lewisohn
THE comprehensive history on the Beatles, written by a historian who is known for meticulously fact-checking and refraining from taking sides. This is particularly refreshing in an industry where facts can be obfuscated by foggy memories rewriting what actually happened. This one will take a while for me to work through (being over 1,700 pages) but I am deeply fascinated by how these 4 schoolboys from Liverpool managed to hone their craft and forge a unique path to superstardom.

* 13 Life-Learnings from 13 Years of Brain Pickings

Who I'm Listening To:
* The Beatles (The White Album) (1968) - the Beatles
And thus I continue down my Beatles rabbit hole (though not necessarily in chronological order) with The White Album, a gigantic album that features a whopping 30 songs, and the first by the band to feature 8-track recording instead of 4-track.

I will write up my thoughts once I've digested the album a bit more, but in short, parts of the album have a heavy, dirty sound that's new to their music.

So far stand-out songs (apart from While My Guitar Gently Weeps, a George Harrison classic) are Glass Onion, Blackbird and Helter Skelter, though the whole album is absolutely phenomenal.

What I'm Watching:
* Rocketman (2019) - One of the best movies I've seen so far in 2022. The Elton John biopic is amazing - fun and surprisingly healing and all the things you want in a movie about a music superstar.

I also had never fully appreciated the partnership between Bernie Taupin and Elton John until this movie. Famously, Bernie Taupin has written almost all of Elton John's lyrics; and Elton John's brain somehow manages to hear music as soon as he sets his eyes to the lyrics. If you need any proof of their genius, just look at how so many of their songs (Your Song, Tiny Dancer, Rocketman come to mind) have transcended being attributed to them - they just exist in the collective psyche at the moment. The world has benefited tremendously from them meeting - almost accidentally - in the late 1960s.

* Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) - The Queen Biopic. Though this movie suffers somewhat from a script full of unrealistic one-liners, Remi Malek's performance as Freddie Mercury is painfully breathtaking and his bond with Lucy Boynton's Mary Austin is entirely believable. The movie does fudge with the timeline a lot, but I think to a positive effect overall (I don't think I could have handled watching Freddie Mercury's demise on screen, I was already sobbing near the end). Queen's Live Aid performance in 1985 is arguably one of the best rock performances ever and the movie does it justice.

What I'm Thinking About:
* Offering curated music playlists?

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