First things first: this is the new YouTube channel, which right now is only barely real. I have managed to confirm that I have at least a basic understanding of how everything works and is a test video and a semi-real livestream that no one watched except for my son in the last few minutes, but I natter on to myself throughout it just for the hell of it. I have some calibrating to do on the TV, which is too dark right now; I’m not sure if the actual video is too dark as well because one of the things I don’t know is how precisely YouTube replicates what I have on the screen.
I also need to make some branding decisions; right now the channel is just called Luther Siler, because that’s how YouTube defaulted things; I’m considering adopting an entirely separate identity for this so I can share it here and with my kids if I want to. Or maybe I’ll lose interest next week and you’ll never hear about it again. Who knows? Not me!
If you do happen to watch the video and have any questions or comments– particularly about whether you can actually hear me as I ramble on– definitely let me know. Preferably as a comment on YT which will count as engagement. Also, if you have any clever names for the channel, let me know.
We finally got around to watching Raya and the Last Dragon last night, which you might have guessed from the telltale “Raya and the Last Dragon” graphic at the top of this post. Verdict: I liked it, but not enough to write a full blog post about it? It’s not up there with my absolute favorite Disney movies (Aladdin) or my favorite new-Disney movies (Frozen) or my favorite Pixar movies (Incredibles and Finding Nemo) but it’s a solid second-tier Disney film for me, where I won’t necessarily actively seek it out to watch but I’ll probably end up stumbling over it and watching it again in the future, that sort of thing. The character work and the animation are great (the character work is really great, actually) but the story itself stumbles a little bit, especially since it more or less starts off with the main character having to find the Infinity Stones. You’ve got to be really careful with any story structure outside of a video game where the character has to track down X of something before the story can start, and in this particular case I’m not even convinced that a lot of the conflict was necessary. But I liked it, and it jerks at the heartstrings appropriately, and it’s the only Disney movie I’ve ever seen where I can honestly say that the fight scenes were super cool. Check it out.
I just wrote a review about a book where I kept using the word “delightful” and emphasizing how heartwarming and life-affirming the book was, so naturally my next choice for reading material was Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, which is about the intertwining lives of two women in Kabul during the waning years of the war against the Soviet Union through to the rise of the Taliban.
This is the third of Hosseini’s books that I’ve read, and I think it’s his third actual novel, following The Kite Runner and And The Mountains Echoed, and … like, I love Hosseini’s books; the guy is a brilliant author, but his books aren’t exactly there to be enjoyed? That’s the wrong verb; it’s not what they’re for, and going from the candy-coated big gay happiness pile of The House in the Cerulean Sea to this was whiplash-inducing, to say the least. You already know most of what the story’s going to be like from the words women and Kabul and Taliban, and it’s not going to turn out that the two women are superheroes who beat the hell out of the Taliban or anything like that. Nah, they’re going to have miserable, oppressed lives, and the story ends on a happyish note but only after several decades of horror.
Is that a recommendation? I dunno. Hosseini is a brilliant writer, as I’ve said, but I kinda threw this book into my brain without thinking beforehand about how it would affect me, and I might have put it off for a while longer if I’d thought about it more.