The Snoot Letter
Issue #13 – April 20, 2020
Lucky number issue 13!
To much of the world, the number 13 is considered unlucky for a variety of unsubstantiated reasons. Perhaps it’s because Judas was the 13th person to sit at the table for the Last Supper, which feels pretty far-fetched to me. Perhaps it’s related to the lunar-solar calendar generally meaning there would be 12 moon cycles in a year, so a 13th moon cycle was a notable event.
Personally, I always thought of 13 as a lucky number. That’s probably rooted in my contrarian spirit, but I just discovered that 13 is also considered a lucky number in Italy. According to Wikipedia, “fare tredici” (“to do 13”) means hitting the jackpot, and the Italian unlucky number is 17. I suppose that means the Friday the 13th horror movie franchise takes an inherently ironic meaning in Italy.
Like everyone else, I have no clue what the film industry is going to look like on the other side of the coronavirus quarantine. I can make guesses and prognostications, but I doubt my success ratio would be any higher than any of the other “experts” out there sharing opinions.
But here is one thing I hope will happen. I hope people will realize how short life is, how precious it is for us to be able to collaborate together on works of art, and they’ll choose to stop working with the people in our industry that are awful to work with. Just let the bad apples fade away, unable to understand why they can’t find jobs anymore.
This started as an entry for “This Week’s Recommendations” but it turned into a larger thing.
I devoured Robin Sloan’s “Sourdough” over the weekend, and I loved it. It’s a story about a programmer who is gifted with an unusual sourdough starter, and decides to become a baker. It’s about the sustenance we get from personal creative projects, and how they fit within the jigsaw puzzle of modern life. It’s literally about the intersection of technology and culture.
Robin’s previous novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, is about books and cryptography and typography and secret societies and the deep mysteries of humanity.
I have come to realize that Robin Sloan’s interests and my interests would form a Venn diagram with so much overlap it would appear to be a circle to anyone but the nit-pickiest of doryphores. Hell, I consider Robin Sloan the primary reason that I’m currently writing this newsletter, because I’m such a big fan of his newsletter projects. Right now he has a new newsletter going about the development of his new video-game project “Perils of the Overworld.”
And every day I eat Robin Sloan’s olive oil, which I highly recommend.
A small piece of advice. For the last year, I have set up a rule in my email client to forward all incoming messages that include the word “unsubscribe” to a new mailbox called “mailing lists.” This captures the vast majority of mailing lists, wanted or unwanted. I can then quickly browse through the folder a couple times a day, and decide if it’s something I want to read now, something I want to read later, something I want to delete, or a mailing list I want to unsubscribe from.
This simple change has had a huge impact on how often I check my email. Your inbox becomes much more manageable, and you aren’t constantly shifting mental modes between dealing with direct correspondence and mailing-list correspondence. It has also made me much more likely to unsubscribe from lists I don’t want, and more likely to actually read emails from the mailing lists I enjoy.
Are there things you want me to discuss here in the newsletter? Feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with topics, links, or questions. I’m happy to take suggestions.
~ Keith Calder
This Week’s Recommendations
📖 I also read both of Zen Cho’s fabulous “Sorcerer to the Crown” novels. They’re set in an alternate history of 1800s London, where magic is real and white people don’t get to decide everything.
🎵 I’ve been digging into my record collection, and loving “The Lion of Soweto,” the only album of mbaqanga music I have by Mahlathini. I’ll definitely be buying more mbaqanga albums once this quarantine is over!
🎬 If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to check out Samantha Jayne’s Quarter Life Poetry: Damn I Love This Friday Night.