Hey Patreons! It’s a new year, so here’s your members-only exclusive roundup of what I’m reading, watching and listening to at the moment. Let me know what you think & give me reading/watching/listening suggestions in the comments below!

Books I’m reading
After so long on the road in 2016, I’ve spent most of my time since returning to Perth trying to sort out what little I have left here – giving away what I don’t need & digitising everything I do so it’s easier to travel.  So truth be told I’ve mostly spent this month reading my OWN stuff, as I’ve been going through 5 years of handwritten journals trying to pick out the important ideas & perls of wisdom I’ve scribbled down. And when I haven’t been reviewing my journals, I’ve been ignoring my kindle to focus on reading the few physical books I have left on my shelf.

God, The Moon, and the Astronaut by Jacques Arnould – Jacques Arnould is a former Dominican Priest, Agriculture expert, and now the world’s only “Space Ethicist” employed by CNES (French Space Agency) to investigate ethical challenges found in space exploration. I met Jacques back in 2014, and  given my huge focus on the “Why?” of space exploration have always been intrigued by his work. I had the honour of doing an interview alongside him for ABC in early 2016 (where he signed this and another book for me) and we caught up again at IAC2016 . 

I’ve always found Jacques has a great way of explaining things, so I’m not sure if it’s because it’s been translated from French translation but I found “God, the Moon, and the Astronaut” a tough read. It’s obviously very focussed on Christianity’s relationship with space exploration, but it’s full of humour and I especially loved his argument for parallels between the Greek Daedalus/Icaros myth & the biblical serpent in the context of exploration… but the phrasing is really challenging to follow at times. A great one for theology students interested in space, but definitely not an intro to theology for people in the space industry

TV I’m watching at the moment
Archer
– After introducing it to a friend who’d neverheard of it before, I’ve been revisiting Season 4 of Archer a little lately (back when they were still called “ISIS”). It’s surprising how easy it is to rewatch some cartoon series and pick up little things you never noticed before. Speaking of which…

Rick & Morty – With IMDB listing the Season 3 premiere for January 9th I’ll almost certainly be re-visiting Rick & Morty over the next few weeks. Same as with Archer, Rick & Morty is so unbelieveably packed with jokes that it’s impossible to catch everything the first time around. Both series are also highly accessible AND highly intelligent: there are plenty of base level stupid jokes, but there are also layers upon layers of insanely intelligent jokes weaved inbetween that add so much more if you pick them up.

As I try to reduce my physical possessions to be more mobile though, my one minor gripe about Rick and Morty is that you can buy Season 2 on Blu-ray since July 2016, but it still isn’t available on Google Play :/

Movies & Documentaries I’ve seen recently
Being at my parents at the moment (with their ridiculous entertainment system) it’s been nice after a long day writing to jump on the rowing machine, have dinner, and then wind down for the evening with a movie I’ve probably already seen.

Moon – I’d been warning a friend that this is pretty depressing, and to prepare yourself before watching it. Rewatching it with them I realised it’s not THAT dark, I just probably shouldn’t have put it on during a space movie marathon a few years back… Definitely worth the rewatch, but it’s still grim.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Probably an unpopular opinion, but this really wasn’t great to watch again. I used to list Ferris Bueller among one of my favourite 4 films of all time (alongside Shawshank Redemption, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Grosse Point Blank), but it definitely felt off watching it recently, and agreed with the friend I was watching it with to skip half the film just to show them the classic “trampoline bounce” shot in the final scenes. This is probably a bit like re-watching the original Ghostbusters – lots of fond memories for a childhood 80’s film that now feels really dated.

Grosse Point Blank – Now THIS is still brilliant… probably because it was made in the mid 90’s. It still looks dated in parts, but it also owns that – it’s a 10 year high school reunion film, so it’s always going to be tied to the period it’s set in. Still great, but not as great as I thought it was when I discovered it in 2012 approaching my own 10 year high school reunion…

Gravity – Now I LOVED this when it first came out in cinemas… but I also knew straight away that there was some twisting of the laws of physics to make it. It’s glorious and beautiful cinema, and I maintain it’s still a great way to show people some of the current technology & risks of space exploration… but unfortunately it’s now hard to not cringe at the story or some of the details. Rewatch The Martian or Interstellar instead.

2001: A Space Odyssey – Rewatching another film to introduce a friend to a classic, this is still absolutely extraordinary, and if you excuse the 60’s decor I can’t see it looking dated until we ARE colonising the Moon and sending human missions to Jupiter. Particularly entertaining was watching my friend sit there mouthing “What the actual fuck” for the final 20 minutes as Kubrick tries to freak out anyone watching this on acid.

Approaching the Unknown – This was the only new film in the last month, and it was… okay. I guess. I mean none of the technology or the physical journey makes real sense (some how he unexpectedly winds up in a nebula… on the way from Earth to Mars?), but there is a really interesting element in the psychology of it all: how much will you risk stepping into an unknown environment without hope of return? If you watch this as an incredible character study that asks what kind of commitment does it take to accept a one-way mission to Mars, rather than as a cool space movie about going to Mars, then you’ll get a lot more out of it.

Music I’ve been listening to recently
When I’m writing (or transcribing journals) I can focus a lot more with earplugs in rather than headphones, so there’s not a lot to report from there (other than the muffled taps of my keyboard). However I have heard a few gems while I’ve been out and about or on the rowing machine.

Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Will Dailey – I loved Arcade Fire’s album “Funeral” but never really got onboard with their followup “The Suburbs” that the original “Sprawl II” featured on. Will Dailey’s acoustic cover is heart-breaking and stunning though, and I’ve shamelessly kept it on repeat at times dozing off to sleep.

El Camino & Turn Blue by The Black Keys – The one thing I’ve missed most since switching over to Spotify has been The Black Keys. I was a rabid Keys fan for years and loved seeing them live at the Crystal Palace in London back in 2012. They kept their latest 2 albums off Spotify for years though, so when I switched over I also stopped listening to them. As soon as I saw Patrick Carney’s tweet saying they were finally releasing them to Spotify I was straight on their listening to them again 🙂

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