3 Important Things That Recently Happened in My Career

So there’s a major “new father-family responsibility” thing going on in my life, but I’ll talk a bit about some of the good things that happened to me.

1. I Met Creators of Marco Polo!

IMG_1965 IMG_2481 IMG_2496

I should say we, because it was a group work of MetaStory, the NGO. Long story short, we contacted Netflix saying, “We love the fact that you’re doing a show on Marco Polo. This matters a lot to Mongolia. Can we help with anything?” And you know what? They replied. They had producers come in here and we had a chance to meet them. We organized a VIP screening of the first two episodes of the show in a brand new mall in UB, and it was just fantastic. I was enthusiastic about the show from the beginning (I never seen the Sopranos, but Benedict Wong’s got the charisma like Tony Sopranos to me), but watching it on the wide screen was amazing. The mise-en-scene is awesome.

For Mongolians, there’s actually an additional layer of fun because the background dialogues are in Mongolian. And there are lots of bits and pieces about our culture (e.g. the ankle bone game), almost all the characters are based on real historical people.

And I got in touch with the Creator John Fusco, Director Dan Minahan and Producer Richard Sharkey. Their works are very well-known. John’s Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was nominated for Oscars, Dan’s directed episodes in Game of Thrones, True Blood and Six Feet Under, and Rich’s portfolio spans two decades, including LOTR trilogies, Star Wars: Episode I, the Fifth Estate and Fantastic Four 2.  [As an afterthought, I’m wondering if it’s okay to talk about these people without asking them. John, Dan, Rich, if you’re reading this, thanks again for coming! ] Um, so we have big plans for the future. Best not talk about it before they’re actually achieved. You know, Mongolian superstition.

This might be too Natso-centric description of the visit of these important figures in Mongolia. If you’re interested in fuller picture, check out these coverages:

UB Post

Mongol Beat

Ikon.mn aka bonus if you read Mongolian

There are plenty others if you read Mongolian, just google marco polo ulaanbaatar in cyrillic.

2. My Two Articles Were Approved on Cracked.com

OK. I’ve been a Cracked fan since my college days. I even created a blog called Mongol Angle back in 2010, emulating the Cracked humor. But it was only last summer that I seriously worked on pitching articles and writing for them. Since last July, I had been trying to have this “robot article” pitched for a long time then. It’s still not accepted, and I’d have to bring robocalypse closer to have it accepted, but I learned a lot during this period. It took me several months, and I have several drafts stuck in the three levels of critiquing, but here are the two articles that have my name on it.

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Ever Pulled at Famous Landmarks

This is an article that another writer had pitched. The editors told him to scrape off some entries and he was short, so he called for co-writers. I didn’t think much of it, did a little research and brought up an Australian iceberg prank that was done in Sydney harbor in the 80s. And it was accepted! But it’s embarrassing to boast about this, because the entry I wrote got cut off in the final version. The other two writers really did the heavy lifting and had this published, but somehow they put my name in it, even though my entry was scraped.

5 Insane Things Science Just Found Out About the Human Body

This is the article I pitched after reading the Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn. I initially pitched six entries and my idea from the book was that we had taste buds in our stomach (whaaat?!), but that was already covered by Cracked. I pitched a lot of new discoveries and when they were rejected, asked for co-writers. Luckily, another writer (should I name them here?) gave three entries and we had seven entries approved by none other than Soren Bowie himself. The final version had 5 entries though. Eating your boogers is good for your immunity and other posts didn’t make the final cut.

One thing I learned from this is that even when your final draft is submitted and they pay you, the editors still bring it through a stricter scrutiny and cut the parts that aren’t that funny. For the first article, I was really hoping to include this dicksicle joke. Oh well, I guess the world will never know.

3. Book I Gave Technical Advice to Got Published

I’ve been beta-reading and giving advice to an author in terms of Mongolian history and language for some time last year, and the book recently got published on Amazon. It’s called the Broken Sky and it’s part of the Foreworld Saga, a vast universe of fiction in 13th century that focuses on Mongol Conquest and European Shield of Brethren that tries to fight back. It’s written by a group of authors, headed by Neal Stephenson, who did European medieval sword-fighting in the morning and group-writing in the afternoon. C.B. Matson’s (or morf as I call him) several characters are from the Mongoliad, but it builds on it and takes a really different unique stance from the Mongolians. Anyway, if you’re interested, I highly recommend you buy the book here.

Anyway, that’s about it for me now. I feel blessed that I have made some traction. There’s been a time when I felt like I wasn’t going to reach anything, that I wasn’t confident in myself, but these events have given me a lot of courage to move forward. My wife and family have been really supportive and understanding of me throughout this whole solitary writing thing. (if you’re reading this, thank you, love you babe!) And of course, my boy–oops, gotta go. He might wake up. Goodnight, and thanks for reading.

Answer to the Riddle (and 3 Literary Books for Expectant Dads)

Dear mediocremeg14, guydreaminglife, honkinggoose, and Batzorig Begzsuren

Thank you all for giving answers to yesterday’s riddle post. Two of you guessed it right, and the other two had it pretty close. [To others: Don’t know what I’m talkin’ bout? Click here.]

Since the next Blogging101 assignment is a letter form, I thought I’d appreciate your feedback and write you four back a letter.

The answer to the riddle is: his son. As explained here:

The portrait is of the man’s son. Many people mistakenly argue that the man is looking at a picture of himself. If he had said, “… that man is my father’s son.” then this solution would be correct, but he said, “… that man’s father is my father’s son.” One way out of the confusion is to substitute the word “me” for the more cumbersome phrase “my father’s son.” Then the statement becomes, “that man’s father is me.”

The reason I posted the riddle yesterday was because my fiancee went into labor and gave birth to a beautiful boy. You might also notice that I put “Important Day” in headlines with a parenthesis. I was waiting outside a maternity hospital.

Yes–I’m a father now! 🙂 It was a lifetime event for me, but since I like to keep things not-so-personal, I’ll spare you my emotional speech.

But, how about you guys? How was your experience of fatherhood/motherhood? It’s a totally unique thing, isn’t it? Expecting a child is a unique experience for the mother, but also for the father. I have been clueless and often counseled the omniscient Internet.

And naturally, I sought advice from the most unexpected resources–literary fiction. Here are three literary books that also helped me shape what expectant dads should and should not do.

Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Yes, it’s about World War I, but it’s also about tragic consequences of what harsh conditions do to a pregnant woman. After reading the book I asked my fiancee to get an ultrasound, because I was afraid for the baby. And as if to warn us, the baby had an umbilical cord around his neck and had high contraption. He needed more calcium. My fiancee consumed dairy products more often since then, focused on resting more and our baby boy came by fine (knock on wood).

Rabbit, Run by John Updike

I think I read it before my fiancee was pregnant, but this book told me what not to do as an expectant dad. It’s about a father who runs away and leaves his pregnant wife for some soul-searching. Not every expectant dad considers leaving his pregnant wife (not me, of course not), but fatherhood has a scary side, too. I couldn’t really relate to this tall, high-school star protagonist (I was recommended this book for its style), but I finished it knowing what not to do as a soon-to-be-father.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Don’t tell anyone, but I cried like a goddamn baby at the end of this book. You know why? Because this book is what being a father is all about: knowing your child is your legacy and sacrificing yourself to protect him and/or her. If you have a baby on the way, read it (and make sure to read the end alone, so no one can see you crying). If you know someone who’s going to be a father soon, give it as a present. They’ll thank you for life. Oh, and also give them a tissue. That’ll be extra thoughtful.

Would you agree with these books? What else would you recommend for dads? My blogging101 assignment was to flip a book at page 29 and pick up a word that caught my eye and incorporate it into my new post, in a letter form. My word was “three”, hence only three books. There’s more though.

Sincerely,

Natso

Different Post Format (Important Day)

My blog posts are usually articles–paragraphs of text. Not today. Ladies and gentlemen. Today, you have a riddle to solve. Intrigued? Read on.

Riddle me this:
A man is looking at a portrait. “Whose picture is that?” someone asks, and the man replies: “Brothers and sisters have I none, but that man’s father is my father’s son.” At whose picture is the man looking?

Let me know what you think the answer is in the comments section below. I’ll post the answer tomorrow.

Fiction vs. Non-Fiction: Which one should I read?

This is a question that comes to my mind often. Obviously I like reading fiction. It lets you have an adventure, or a catharsis at least. Non-fiction? Not so much. Here are their quick pros and cons.

Fiction: Pros

Fiction gets consumed easily, because our brains are wired to listen to stories. Thanks, evolution!

By reading character descriptions, reader actually learns to decode human behavior and improves social skills.

Good novel re-wires the reader’s brain into an altered state, at least for few days. I think it lets you keep the author’s narration voice for a while.

– By reading classics, you can learn of intimate details of people from different time and place, and realize how common idiosyncrasies of human nature are.

– Because the story grabs you, you’re highly likely to read it in bed without dozing off.

Fiction: Cons

– There are so many fiction books that it’s hard to find good ones.

– OK. With all that said, to what extent is reading a book different than watching a movie? I mean, some films are better than the books, because one author can overlook some aspects. (Some books, not all)

– Fiction doesn’t give much factual or insightful information like non-fiction.

Non-Fiction: Pros

– Made under rigorous research, so usually gives you in-depth knowledge of a particular field.

– Can contribute to the economic, entrepreneurial aspect of your life. When’s the last time Anna Karenina helped you earn more?

– Personal development and autobiographical non-fiction lets you learn from the giants and get inspired.

– Timely research from cutting-edge field catered to the mass. And still better reads than research papers.

– If you sell it after you read it, there’s a higher chance someone will buy it.

Non-Fiction: Cons

– Damn it, fell asleep reading Bill Bryson’s Short History of Everything again.

– Is text really the right medium to explain scientific concepts? Mendeleev proved even tables can do better–in his dream.

– Speaking of tables, the only protagonist to tie all these mumbo-jumbo is — the Table of Contents.

What do you think? Agree with my list? I’m, of course, going to uncharted water when I talk about non-fiction. I don’t read them much. So I’ll appreciate your input on non-fiction or general feedback. Muchos gracias.

Fanalyzing Fight Club’s … (Ow!) Fwo Fhemes

I juf got punched.

In the feif.

By myfelf.

Just kidding. Sorry, I’m a sucker for alliterations. It’s a Mongolian thing.

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk. You probably watched the movie or even read the book. Aside from the mind-blowing twist, which if you haven’t watched or read, I’ll try not to spoil, its philosophy touched many people and helped it become a cult over time. The ideas just makes you want to get mad, start an underground bare-knuckle fight club, or at least throw your mail-order catalog out the window. But some of the quotes are coming back to me and as a fan I felt like reflecting on the following two themes.

I’m not criticizing him, though. I’m a fan. I’m analyzing. You could say–see the headline?–fanalyzing. And if you think you can trademark this word, you can’t, because I just did.

1. You Are Not a Unique Snowflake

“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

This one touches close at home. We all grew up thinking we’re special. But we’re not. We’re all same, and we’re all gonna die someday. But let’s focus here a minute. Sure we’re all same, but generalizing on the level of organic matter is a little too much, don’t you think? I mean, it would include plants, animals, fungi, and tardigrades, which are really different things. OK, within humans, we’re all same. Except, our genes are a mathematically exponential tree structure where a mother’s and a father’s gene. Even each conception is unique; its chromosome pairs are arranged by a magic lottery ball machine, so that the siblings are not clones.

fallopiantube

So, the fleshes are pretty unique (well, of course there are coincidental similarities like Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel). Even the brain. The wiring of our brains is so unique that it contains our whole identity. All our experiences, skills, memories are stored and made by the path of transmitters. They even came up with a new word to name the map–connectome. Ah, he probably meant the software–our mentalities. We’re all mass educated so we think the same things. Yeah, we are really all singing, all dancing crap of the world.

In this sense, each of us is a unique, weird and colorful “snowflake”.

2. You Are Not Your Job

You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis.

This is a very acute observation. Your job, savings and car are supposed to express your status (wallet and the khakis are a little too much). He means we are obsessed with expressing ourselves through the products we use. In our modern society, there are products/services that people buy for status reasons, usually the more expensive and rarer, the better. Take Apple’s annual iPhone craze, for example. It’s ridiculous.

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Their next product is only $899.

Then later I read this (quite literally) kick-ass motivational article. Here’s what David Wong from Cracked.com said about this quote:

Tyler said, “You are not your job,” but he also founded and ran a successful soap company and became the head of an international social and political movement. He was totally his job.

OK. David took the quote out of the context, or rather, he’s refuting the people who’s been using the quote of context. Chuck is saying, “Stop, get over your insecurity! Just any decent car will do.” But David is saying, “People treated you bad because you drive a jalopy? Suck it up, because that’s how the world works.” As you can see, these are subjective interpretations. But I think the difference is on whether the rejection of status-seeking, as advised by Chuck, actually leads to any rejection from others, as cited by David.

If it doesn’t, scoff at the new iPhones and have an actual life outside your job. In other words, don’t live behind your suit. Or better yet, get a new job, not for the sake of its status or prestige, but your intrinsic preference. But if you choose to become an artist instead of a lawyer and it does lead to rejections, that’s the reason you should fight for status, you know for survival and good life.

Now, let me ask you, dear reader. Chuck’s saying, “You’re not your job! You’re you!” and David’s saying, “You are your job! Welcome to the harsh world.” Which one of these ideas do you like the best? Which one of these would you like to uphold in your life? Let me know in the comment below.

If you’re from Mongolia, make sure to read my “Fight Club” book review in Mongolian.

“Reclaiming the Power of Storytelling”

The earliest evidence of my hostility towards television could be found in my diary from seventh grade. I don’t own a TV now, I try to catch up the news from the Internet.

The video above explains the overview of the TV industry and its impact to society. He also talked about the power of social media and how we’re NOT using it. Very interesting talk. I highly recommend this video.

I also updated my “About” page. You can check it out, if you have the time. But who has the time these days, right?