I recently listened to a Longform podcast where the guest was Jesse David Fox, a comedy critic for Vulture magazine. Fox shared his unexpected journey into the worlds of comedy writing and watch collecting. His comedy adventure started when a friend took him to a Hannibal Buress show, sparking an obsession with the comedy scene and leading him to attend more shows and engage with related podcasts and readings. This passion and expertise would lead to a career at Vulture.
During the pandemic, he became interested in watch collecting. He started by watching clips of porn stars’ conversations on TikTok, which led him to YouTube for more content from them. These porn stars started recommending Antique Roadshow clips. He watched a particular clip featuring a Vietnam war veteran who brings a watch which he has never worn once but kept since the war. It gets valued at a million dollars and the man falls to the floor ecstatic. Fox is captivated and this leads to a deeper exploration of watch-related content on YouTube and the Internet.
Fox draws parallels between his interests in comedy and watches, noting how both fields appear mundane from the outside but are rich and complex upon deeper investigation. His expertise in both fields emerged from his obsessive consumption of relevant content about them. Fox’s story exemplifies the “Zulu Principle”.
The Zulu Principle was coined by Jim Slater. It’s the title of his financial investment book (2008) based on an insight he had as a result of his wife reading a four-page Reader’s Digest article on Zulus. He stated that if she had gone to the local library and borrowed all the available books on Zulus she could find, then she would become one of the leading experts in their city on the subject. If she had travelled to South Africa and lived in a Zulu kraal for several months and studied all the literature on Zulus at a South African university, then she would have gone on to be one of the top experts in the UK and possibly in the world.
Slater believed that the more you focus on an area, then, the easier it is to become an expert in that area. This expertise gives you a competitive advantage over others. The power of compound interest.
The Killer (2023) – This is one of the best movies I have watched this year. Michael Fassbender portrays a contract killer who seeks retribution after a botched mission leads to his handler commissioning a hit on him as punishment. The movie highlights the professionalism, diligence, and patience required in being a hitman, featuring a lot of waiting. The killer is depicted as a predator, coiled and ready for the ideal opportunity and time to strike its prey. This film reminds me of a classic revenge thriller, “Payback” (1999). Fassbender’s performance is cool and detached, contrasting with Mel Gibson’s manic and raging portrayal in Payback.
My favourite scene is the dialogue between the killer and the expert (Tilda Swinton) in the restaurant, which is very Tarantinoesque. Swinton, in only a cameo role, is fantastic, making the most of her limited screen time. The film’s use of inner monologue is refreshing, as it allows the viewer to get into the killer’s head.
There are some humorous inner monologue descriptions of two cities visited by the killer in the film:
“A place with a thousand restaurants and one menu!” (New Orleans)
“Where else can you find so many like-minded individuals outside a penitentiary?” (Florida)
American Symphony (2023) – This documentary features the talented married couple Jon Batiste (musician) and Suleika Jaouad (writer). It focuses on the juxtaposition of Batiste organising a concert (American Symphony) while supporting his wife through chemotherapy. The film explores the grace and strength of the couple as they navigate the highs and lows of their lives. Jaouad had successfully fought leukaemia in her early twenties and was ten years cancer-free before it returned in 2021. She created a powerful TED talk about her first leukaemia experience, discussing her struggle to adjust to a new reality of being cancer-free. Watching the TED talk and American Symphony made me realise that the line between the healthy and the sick is as fragile as a spider’s silk.
World Music Radio by Jon Batiste – This is the first music album review to feature on this site, primarily because I don’t listen to as much music as I should. I must admit, I didn’t know who Jon Batiste was until I saw the trailer for the Netflix documentary “American Symphony”, which prompted me to check out his songs on Spotify. And wow!
World Music Radio truly exemplifies its name, featuring Batiste collaborating with international artists from Spain to Nigeria. I particularly enjoyed Batiste’s radio show-style disc jockeying outros on several tracks, where he announces and introduces the next track. This album is a fun, good-vibes pop collection. Kudos to Batiste for producing such an album, especially considering the challenges in his personal life. The album is a fusion of jazz, gospel, soul, funk, R&B, and hip-hop – a delectable musical medley!