Cool Internet Stuff (Gessen on fatherhood, Niemann on learning the piano, and more)

What I think I’m doing here: time for a links post.

  • Artist/illustrator Christoph Niemann describes trying to learn classical piano during the pandemic (“I know I will never produce anything at the level of a talented 8-year old on YouTube”). His Instagram is one of my favorite feeds. I have not learned the piano in the past year, but I did pick up the guitar with more discipline than I have in many years and found some of the same benefits (note: not too much discipline – basically I’m just happy to have some calluses again).

Still there was something in sports that I had not found anywhere else. The summer that Raffi was born, I was trying to finish a draft of my second novel, worrying about money and trying to manage my literary career, such as it was. But I was also on two excellent beer-league hockey teams. Each team was headed for the playoffs. The email messages celebrating our victories flew back and forth. I wanted Raffi to have this too — this life outside his life, this group of friends dedicated to a common cause. In short, of all the things that I felt I could give my son, the one I most wanted to give him was sports.

  • I’m on a good reading run right now (I love it when it happens – I’m like a 17-year old at an all-you-can-eat-buffet after a basketball tournament) – Dana Gioia’s Studying with Miss Bishop, Declan Walsh’s The Nine Lives of Pakistan, Alex Christofi’s Dostoevsky in Love (among others). I’m sure some of them are going to show up here at some point in some form (I have something about Charles Portis started in my drafts), but my Goodreads feed stays up to date with what I’m reading right now.
  • Andy Crouch delivers some advice on calling and writing, as a sort of footnote to his post from a few years ago on the “Three Callings of a Christian.” I have drawn encouragement from the first post over the years, and have mixed feelings about the second (may try and dig into it here on the blog at some point), but take and read for yourself.

Please, sit down. I’ve got a whole bag of Cool Ranch Doritos here: electric blue, plump as a winter seed, bursting with imminent joy. I found it up in the cupboard over the fridge, where by some miracle my family had yet to discover it — it had slipped sideways behind the protein powder, back near the leftover Halloween candy — so now I’m sitting here all alone at the kitchen counter, about to sail off into the salty seas of decadent gluttony. The next few minutes of my life, at least, are going to be great.