Five Things: March 17, 2022

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Michelle Yeoh on Everything Everywhere All At Once | Rebecca Sun

“We wrote things that were like, ‘I don’t know if Michelle’s going to want to or be able to do this,’ and every single time, she blew our minds. She’s legitimately funny and legitimately heartbreaking in this movie.”

Over the past month, I’ve unexpectedly become a Trekkie after diving into Star Trek: Discovery because I needed more than soccer to justify yet another streaming subscription, and Michelle Yeoh is one of the reasons why. We’re only two seasons in but she’s been one of my favorite characters, partly because you can tell how much fun she’s having playing the role.

Like most reasonable people who like good things, I watched the trailer for Everything Everywhere All at Once last year and got really excited, but I had no idea it’s the first time she’s the main lead in a Hollywood movie. After reading this excellent profile, I realized I didn’t know much about her fascinating background at all, and I’m really hoping she’s a future guest on Hot Ones!

I also can’t wait to see Everything Everywhere All at Once sometime next month.


Why Risk Buying Games When They’re All Coming To Game Pass Eventually? | Eric Switzer

“Remember when you would watch TV, some commercial for a new movie would come on, and your dad would say, ‘That’s going to be a rental’? I’m assuming we all had the same dad that hated spending money at the movie theater – even though movies used to only cost like $8, but I digress.”

First of all, I was that Dad, but only for movies that were obviously going to be bad, and there were a lot of them in the Blockbuster years. Second, it’s really obnoxious to be on the verge of replacing Boomers as the butt of old people jokes. Go back to just ignoring Gen X, please! Now I digress…

I’ve raved many times about Game Pass Ultimate being one of the best subscription offerings in the media business, and with Microsoft’s acquisition spree over the past few years, it’s only getting better. I’m more likely to spend money on a discounted backward compatible Xbox 360 game nowadays — Hello, Conan (2007)! 69 on Metacritic? Nice. — than a brand new game because in many cases, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be able to play it for free within a year, which in most cases, is when I’ll have time for it. In fact, I haven’t bought a brand new game since The Division 2 came out in 2019, but I’ve played several brand new games through Game Pass, including several I would have never given a try if I had to pay $40+ for them.

I disagree with Switzer’s fatalistic conclusion that this will be a bad thing, though. While it’s certainly likely it will shift what kinds of games are successful outside of the subscription model, I suspect it will also mean more interesting smaller games from smaller developers, and fewer annualized releases of formulaic AAA games from overworked developers only able to offer modest cosmetic tweaks… or completely broken launches.

The underlying logic also applies to ebook sales and libraries, where purchases have slightly shifted away from pre-ordained frontlist “bestsellers” as readers realize they don’t actually need or want to own them, but we know book publishers don’t learn from other media. Games are niche, after all!

The answer isn’t to fight Game Pass (or libraries), it’s to embrace changes in consumer behavior and adjust your business model to deal with reality. Smart publishers will evolve and thrive; new publishers will replace those who can’t or won’t. Lather, rinse, repeat.


Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain | Circulating Ideas

“I started off by wondering, why do we even have a brain? Brains are really expensive organs. So that three-pound blob of meat between your ears is 20% of your metabolic budget. So, it’s the most expensive organ you have in your entire body. And I thought, well, why do we have a brain? What’s it good for?”

Steve Thomas’ Circulating Ideas podcast and newsletter are one of my favorites, partly because it embodies the spirit of librarianship rather than limiting itself specifically to library-specific issues. Truth in advertising, it’s all about circulating ideas!

This episode features Lisa Feldman Barrett, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, in a fascinating conversation with guest host, Troy Swanson, that literally blew my mind. The good professor does an excellent job of simplifying and demystifying complex ideas about the brain and will leave you, um, thinking differently about everything you thought you knew about it.


The home office deduction: Why you probably can’t claim it, even if you work from home | Justin Jaffe

“In 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended tax write-offs for home office deductions through 2025. That means if you are an employee who gets a W-2 from an employer, you are not eligible for the home office deduction — even if you’re working from home.”

Although the pandemic made working from home the norm for a lot of people in 2020, it was actually the early warning tremors from F+W Media’s eventual bankruptcy (happy 3rd anniversary to those who celebrate!) that started it for me more than a year before. The satellite NYC office I worked in had already lost several people months before the formal bankruptcy filing and working from home a few days a week was less depressing since most of my direct colleagues were based in Ohio and Colorado. I was hybrid before hybrid was cool!

Thanks to that bankruptcy, I was able to claim my home office for a couple of years as a freelancer and didn’t even realize there was any nuance to it until we were preparing to file this year. Despite finally owning a home and now working for a fully remote company that has no office for me to commute to, like the gods of capitalism intended, I no longer qualify for the deduction. One of so many festering gifts from the Trump administration. Thanks, Obama!


Sevilla, Real Betis is LaLiga’s best rivalry, and in a city that lives for the sport | Sid Lowe

“The two grounds are just 4km (2.5 miles) apart. The fanbases are spread right across Seville and across families too, where béticos and sevillistas live together. They are everywhere and almost equal, which is a key part of the rivalry. This is a city divided, split down the middle.”

Sid Lowe, co-host of another favorite, perfectly named podcast, The Spanish Football Podcast, is also one of the best soccer journalists in the business, and La Liga is his main beat. This ode to one of the greatest local rivalries in world football (or any sport, really) is a great read for anyone who appreciates sports or has an interest in Spain.

Or in my case, both!

While I’m an avid New York Red Bulls fan, when I want to kick back and watch a random game, I’m a much bigger fan of La Liga itself. My brother-in-law lives in Northern Spain, and the last time we visited, we spent a few days in Barcelona, where I caught a match between Messi and friends vs. Sevilla. I also caught Racing Santander’s season opener, his local (then and currently) third division team, which combined a great soccer experience with the intimacy of a minor league baseball game. It was actually better than the almost sold-out Barcelona match, and turned me into a long-distance fan of the club, both in real life and anytime I’m starting a new save in the latest Football Manager.

Growing up a fan of lovable losers like the NY Mets and NY Jets — and for a brief moment, the NY Knicks because I despised Michael Jordan, even though I didn’t even like basketball at the time — I’ve never been a front-runner, so Barcelona and Real Madrid were always non-starters for me. (I did buy a Barcelona jersey, though.) For a couple of seasons, I became a fan of Quique Sietien’s Las Palmas, not realizing at the time that he had a history with Racing Santander. I loved the way he had them playing, and eventually followed him to Real Betis who has since remained one of my favorites, especially this current season.

This summer, we’re going back to Spain and will be spending some time in the south, staying in Sevilla, before heading up north. While I don’t expect to be able to catch a live game this time, I do plan to visit the Benito Villamarín and get a local souvenir or three!

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