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The Only Things You Should Read, Watch, and Do This Week: Oct 31

The books, movies, music, podcasts, and other media on our radar

Andy Irons surfs in Bali, Indonesia, in 2006. (Photo: Getty Images)
Andy Irons surfs in Bali, Indonesia, in 2006.

We're too good to acknowledge that it's Halloween weekend. Wrong! We're not missing our one opportunity of the year to embrace the scary side of the outdoors—and we don't mean BASE-jumping scary.


'Overview' by Benjamin Grant

The title refers to a life-changing feeling—sometimes referred to as a cognitive shift or state of mental clarity—that astronauts get when they look down on the little blue marble of earth. The book is a collection of super-high-quality satellite imagery that was taken over 15 years, now stitched together and presented with a focus on human activity viewed from on high ("Where We Play, Where We Extract, Where We Live). Our favorite section, though, is "Where We Are Not," which includes some unreal images of the earth's more isolated places (see a few shots from this section below). 

Overview won't change your life (you'll have to ask NASA for more information about that), but there's something about seeing humanity's footprint and a few natural wonders from such a tidy, distant perspective that makes this a compelling collection.

Dendritic drainage systems are seen around the Shadegan Lagoon by Musa Bay in Iran. The word ‘dendritic’ refers to the pools’ resemblance to the branches of a tree, and this pattern develops when streams move across relatively flat and uniform rocks, or over a surface that resists erosion. (DigitalGlobe, Inc.)
Nishinoshima is a volcanic island located 940 kilometres (584 miles) south of Tokyo, Japan. Starting in November 2013, the volcano began to erupt and continued to do so until August 2015. Over the course of the eruption, the area of the island grew in size from 0.06 square kilometres (0.02 square miles) to 2·3 square kilometres (0·89 square miles). (DigitalGlobe, Inc.)
Rub’ al Khali, or The Empty Quarter, is the largest sand desert in the world. It covers 650,000 square kilometres (251,000 square miles), and includes parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. In the centre of the desert there are a number of raised, hardened formations that were once the sites of shallow lakes, thousands of years ago. For a sense of scale, this Overview shows approximately 350 square kilometres (135 square miles) in Saudi Arabia, near the border with Oman. (DigitalGlobe, Inc.)

Reprinted with permission from Overview by Benjamin Grant, copyright (c) 2016. Published by Amphoto Books, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Images (c) 2016 by DigitalGlobe, Inc.

Available Now


'3,000 Cups of Tea'

The discussion around the fall of Greg Mortenson, the protagonist of Three Cups of Tea and founder of the Central Asia Institute, continues. A new documentary, 3,000 Cups of Tea, is a defense of Mortenson from filmmakers Jennifer Jordan and Jeff Rhoads, and a criticism of 60 Minutes and Jon Krakauer, whose reporting raised questions about Mortenson's story and his work with the nonprofit CAI. Jennifer Dobner explores the controversy: 

“That he was able to build the number of schools he did was an incredible achievement,” Jordan said during a Salt Lake City radio broadcast. “There are mistakes. Greg has owned them, the board has owned them. But the bottom line, I think, particularly given where we are in the world right now, is that the education of these villages, of these people, is crucially more important than trying to put an American sensibility on this area of the world.”

“Absolutely it matters,” Krakauer argued. “People need to believe. They need to believe that the leaders of [nonprofits] are telling them the truth.”

Read more


'Andy: The Untold Story of Andy Irons'

On November 2, 2010, hugely accomplished but troubled surfer Andy Irons was found dead in a Dallas hotel room at age 32. As the anniversary of the athlete's death nears, Teton Gravity Research has released a teaser for an in-the-works film about Irons's life. “It has definitely been touchy for me, but it has also been therapeutic,” Irons's younger brother, Bruce, said of the film in a press release. “We aren’t going to sugarcoat it. We’re going to tell the whole story.”

Because filmmakers Steve and Todd Jones didn't want any corporate influence on the documentary, they're running a Kickstarter campaign to raise $150,000 for the project, now through November 12. 

Support the Film Here


‘The Great Indoors’

We'll just say this: Outdoor Limits, the magazine at the center of CBS's new sitcom, looks awfully familiar. Just how familiar? 

See our fact-check

Outside Reads

The Horror of the Outdoors

Heather Donahue in a scene from the film 'The Blair Witch Project', 1999.
(Photo: Lauren Film/Getty Images)

Quick read: In horror films that take place in nature, the monsters aren't real (we hope) but the what-not-to-do-in-the-wilderness lessons are.

And a longer read from the archives: a classic real-life horror story from Joshua Hammer, set in one of America's most iconic national parks.

Having decided to begin their search in the immediate area, the squad split up into five groups. Kidd and four other members of the search party walked the woods along Crane Creek. Beneath the hot noonday sun, they bushwhacked through dense brush, watching for rattlesnakes and looking for signs of the missing woman. After only a few minutes, they spotted footprints, broken saplings, trampled ferns and grass—all evidence of a recent run, perhaps a chase, through the woods. Suddenly one of the rangers noticed something metallic. "What's that?" he asked.

In a narrow ditch filled with three feet of still water, Kidd spotted a key ring glinting in the sun. Just beyond it lay something else: a woman's body, clad in a white T-shirt and blue jeans. As Kidd drew closer, he noticed something that nearly made him gag. "Jesus," he said, and ran back to the ranger in charge. "We have an 11-44," he said, using the police code for a dead body. "And she's been decapitated."

Read the rest

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