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.

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.