Mario vs. Lord of the Rings, the History of "Macarena," and My Problem With Discord
Plus: The worst James Bond movie, explaining startups to aliens, and an ode to San Francisco.
Welcome to Follow Friday, which is BACK after a two-week break that was twice as long as I had planned. Thanks for sticking with me.
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The single best thing I saw online this week: I’ve recently gone down a rabbit hole of video game music remixes and mashups (watch this space for more on that), and sometimes the YouTube algorithm just gets you, you know? My jaw dropped when this musician, Ryan Leach, turned the silly, bouncy Delfino Plaza theme from Super Mario Sunshine into something worthy of the Lord of the Rings score. His other two creations in this video are also impressive, but the first one is just too good not to share.
The best podcasts I’ve heard this week
For some inexplicable reason, no one has yet stolen my brilliant idea to make it easy to find podcasts about movies you’ve just watched. Which meant, after I finally saw Lawrence of Arabia recently (in a theater! it was incredible!) I had to go looking for this old episode of Unspooled by manually searching for it. You know, like a caveman. Anyway, I don’t listen to it nearly enough, but Unspooled is a terrific film podcast and this episode was the perfect thing to listen to post-viewing. This episode comes from 2019, when Amy Nicholson and Paul Scheer were still watching through the AFI Top 100 list, but they’ve since covered a much wider range of films, so I’d recommend just scrolling through their archives until you find a movie you feel passionately about.
Let’s shift gears from one of the greatest films of all time to … something else. I had long been curious about the non-canon James Bond film Never Say Never Again, which brought Sean Connery back to the role he originated after a 12-year break and was directed by Irvin Kershner, who three years prior had helmed The Empire Strikes Back. How bad could it be, right? Well. The only reason I’m glad I saw it is because I got to listen to the hosts of Kill James Bond rip it apart. I’ve been rewatching the other Bond films lately — the good and the bad — and I’ve looked forward to listening to Alice, Abigail, and Devon after each one.
I don’t know exactly when Spotify restored (some of) its podcasts to non-Spotify platforms, but THEY DID, and IT’S GREAT. I especially missed Rob Harvilla’s 60 Songs That Explain the 90s, and after checking out his February episode about “Macarena” by Los Del Rio, I am convinced he has only gotten better since I stopped listening during the paywall era. His writing and comic timing are stronger than ever, and I learned a ton from this episode about everything from music remix crediting to how to game the Canadian music charts.
One more podcast-y thing: This TikTok about a “guy with a podcast” 👨🍳 💋
help i (want to be) obsessed with discord
As I’ve mentioned here before, my post-Twitter online life has been powered by RSS (news), Substack (essays/opinion), and Discord (socializing) — in addition to my steady diet of podcasts and YouTube videos, which is mostly unchanged.
I want to talk about Discord for a moment. It’s a great bit of software with some features I love, and it’s free, which is huge for anyone trying to make an online community of any size. Earlier this year, I made a Discord server for my local friends to plan things to do together, and it’s working pretty well!
That said, Discord always feels like it’s one or two evolutions away from being something I can recommend to everyone I know. Some of my friends find it overwhelming, and managing all your servers and channels and notifications to make it not overwhelming takes a bit of tech savvy and a lot of patience.
I’m also in larger Discord servers for podcasts like Underunderstood and newsletters like, and I never regret the time I spend in those communities. But if you get a little busy with work and fall behind on what people are talking about, seeing how much you've left "unread" is stress-inducing. That makes it easy to just declare bankruptcy on the whole affair: Not just one server. All of them.
I've skipped all my servers except the local-friends one for the past couple months — even though I love spending time “there” — for this reason, and it’s not the first time. For all of Twitter’s many faults (yes even before Elon), I never felt out of the loop when I dropped in there after a break. I wish Discord felt the same way.
Not everyone needs this level of hand-holding, but I’d love to see Discord get better at explaining how to manage multiple communities, and automatically helping users rejoin the conversation quickly. Until then, I suspect I’ll be in a cycle of dropping in and dipping out.
The latest from LightningPod
Here’s what I’ve been producing and editing this week. For more, follow LightningPod on LinkedIn.
On Grit, Joubin Mirzadegan interviewed Modern Treasury COO Rachel Pike. We learn what makes the company “modern,” why being nerdy about ACH payments can pay off, and the importance of doing it right the first time. Joubin tried out a new question in this episode that I love: How would you explain startups to aliens?
And on The Smart Home Show, Adam Justice and Richard Gunther were re-joined by a panel of experts for part 2 of “Let’s Build a Home Theater.” ICYMI, you can find part 1 here. This time: What screen, projector, and speakers are right for Adam, and what should he do to get the most out of his budget? How should everything be laid out? And is HDR overrated?
The best thing I’ve read this week
As a San Francisco resident, I’m fully aware that the city has problems — albeit not the ones your Fox News-brainwashed relatives think. It’s also a beautiful, fascinating place that I can’t imagine leaving. I fell in love here, and with here, which is why the best thing I read this week is a poem by Alen Nye called San Francisco is not Detroit (no offense to Detroit).
Palate cleanser: Which one of these birds are you today?
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