Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Big Bucket

The Big Bucket

This time, Grad's Bucket List brings you a big bucket full of entertaining stuff from across genres: Awesome Short Stories you can read online, a fascinating video series and a self-compiled playlist. And, everything is just a click away!

READ: Short Stories

Even without having several hundred pages at their disposal, Short Stories can sometimes turn out to be remarkably charming, in their witty, unsparing, ‘every word is precious’ way. And, they hardly take more than a few minutes. There’s almost no excuse to not read them. So this time we have a few short stories for you and you can click on the title to read them. 

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

This Hugo-award winning short-story is narrated in the form of journal-entries by a mentally challenged human-test subject whose intelligence has been increased by surgical means. The entries themselves mirror his intelligence level, where earlier they are fraught with spelling and grammatical errors and general ignorance, they begin to improve. And soon after the protagonist shows positive development, the eponymous Algernon, a lab mouse, the first successful test subject, falls into a state of rapid regression. What follows is a thought-provoking story. 

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

I’ll leave this one to the author himself -

"This is by far my favorite story of all those I have written. After all, I undertook to tell several trillion years of human history in the space of a short story and I leave it to you as to how well I succeeded. I also undertook another task, but I won't tell you what that was lest l spoil the story for you. It is a curious fact that innumerable readers have asked me if I wrote this story. They seem never to remember the title of the story or (for sure) the author, except for the vague thought it might be me. But, of course, they never forget the story itself especially the ending. The idea seems to drown out everything -- and I'm satisfied that it should."
-Isaac Asimov

There really isn’t much to add. If you already are familiar with Asimov’s writings, you have an inkling of what to expect. And this is merely a small, capsule if you like, of the essence of his style of storytelling. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading anything else by him, this is perhaps the perfect starting point. A little peek into what’s in store.

P.S. The website in the link also has a delightful graphic-novel on the same story, as well as the same story with one key word replaced by another, more familiar one. (With startlingly relatable results)

All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein

Things you need to know about this book:
  1. It is not about Zombies and features no Zombies.
  2. That shouldn’t be a problem because it is about time-travel and its paradoxes.
  3. If that doesn’t suffice for interesting, it is also quite screwed-up. 
This was adapted into the movie Predestination, so if you have watched that already you know what the twist is but it should still be a quick, entertaining read.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I think there is something incomprehensibly lackluster about the title that doesn’t justify the story behind it. The titular monstrosity, the Yellow Wallpaper is the mirror that reflects the narrator’s sanity, clearly on a downward spiral into psychosis ever since she’s been confined for rest-cure. Like any self-respecting classic, it is supposed to be fraught with literary symbolism, but I found it to be quite interesting to just read through, as intriguing as madness could ever be. 

Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood

The title looks almost oxymoronic, doesn’t it, ‘Happy Endings’ and ‘Margaret Atwood’ in the same breath? That’s why you should read it. Especially since it’s a short story. It will take less than five minutes to read through but what it lacks in length, it surely makes up for in her characteristic snark and astute, almost gleeful pessimism.

John and Mary meet.
What happens next?
If you want a happy ending, try A.
Well, do try.

A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman

If the first thing that comes to your mind when you read the title isn’t “Wait, this has got to be a crazy take on ‘A Study in Scarlet’ by Arthur Conan Doyle” (thinking of nothing, or “A Study in Pink” for some godforsaken reason, just won’t cut it) don’t read this. Pick up the first Sherlock Holmes story you should have read (A Study in Scarlet, come on!), and sit and read it (If you only read “The Hound of the Baskervilles” because your English teacher forced you to, I cannot help you). Then come back to this, cause only then will you begin to get a few of the references. “A Scandal in Bohemia” is also recommended to be read prior to this. In fact, just read the entire Sherlock Holmes series, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour. 

Sorry for the semi-outburst.

Back to this story. Another Hugo award winning short story, this one is Gaiman’s take on what would happen if the Old Ones from HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos were an established presence in the world of Sherlock Holmes. Everything about it, including the advertisements placed in between (It’s set like a Victorian newspaper story) are bound to tickle your funny bone. The plot becomes a bit predictable, but it’s the quirky twists that make it such a fun read.

Side note: It also has a board game board game made after it, possibly the only short story to have one.

Scheherazade by Haruki Murakami

What I like about any Murakami story is the effortlessness of reading it. I can, at whim or fancy, dive in with no expectations whatsoever and resurface again once it is over, chalk it up to yet another weird parallel to something very mundane, a curious memory shelved under ‘read something familiar and strange at the same time’ and go on about daily life like nothing happened. This just reminds me of that effortlessness once again.

Some others we recommend if you just got addicted to Short Stories: Sticks by George Saunders, Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman. 

Everything is a remix is a 4 part video series by Kirby Ferguson, talking about how so much in our everyday world is a 'remix', created by using earlier content, and modifying it. 

In Part 1, he speaks about music, the world we are most accustomed to hear the term 'remix' in, and how using the music of previous greats is a common theme in successful artists. 

Part 2 is about remixes in movies, something we're familiar with given the amount of blockbusters in the recent years are either adaptations, remakes or a sequel.

Part 3 applies the concept to technology and innovation.

Part 4 deals with copyrights and patents, before John Oliver made it cool, and also brings up Dawkins’ theory of memetics.

This series aims to bring to the notice of the public how almost all art, or any kind of content, is consciously or unconsciously influenced by pre-existing content, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but as a culture so immersed in media, we should be more aware of what all of it really consists of.


This time around we have a list of songs for you, the ones we think are not so popular but definitely ought to be. And no, we're not being hipsters.

Here's the compiled playlist Enjoy!
Warm - SG Lewis
Iron Sky - Paolo Nutini
Gabriel - Lamb
I Could Be The One - Noonie Bao Acoustic Mix
Pop Song - Spose
Magdalene - Bear’s Den
9 Crimes - Damien Rice
Unluck - James Blake
Skinny Love - Birdy (originally Bon Iver)
Nightcall - London Grammar
About to Die - Dirty Projectors
Both Hands - Ani DiFranco
Dream Odyssey - MONO
Loud Places - Jamie XX feat. Romy
Who we want to be - Tom Day
More Than You - Coven
I salute You Christopher - IAMX
Coffee- Sylvan Esso


RG-worthy links galore: