Thursday, March 28, 2024


An unbiased interpretation of hurkle-durkle.

Hurkle-durkle. No, not the first draught of the lyrics of Helter Skelter, but a word, of Scottish origin, to describe lounging in bed when one should be up and about. Apparently, some time ago this word became a meme on social media that I clearly overlooked while busy experiencing reality in real life. I realize to those of you with children or more than one job, that the idea of lounging about is not only remote but perhaps even angering. Merely thinking that someone else has such leisure may be triggering for you. I assure you, to those of us without children, that having such time is a luxury that is never unappreciated.

It was on a recent Sunday when I hurkle-durkled my way to idly watch online videos, read inconsequential articles and flip lazily through a book or two. How was it that time, essentially poorly spent, was such a luxury? Just as scarcity creates value, abundance depreciates it. If you have too much free time, it's boring. Only when you're busy do you find the gaps with nothing planned, nothing scheduled, without errands or chores to do, that time feels as luxurious as high thread count cotton. Leisure like this can feel like a pause in a meal when you enjoy the scent of wine in your mouth, or chocolate melting on your tongue.

So it was that I enjoyed the nothingness. I could've easily manufactured some busyness. Laundry could've been laundered, dust could've been swept, bills could've been paid, e-mail read or written, groceries procured, but all of it took a backseat to this most important of tasks. The task of not doing any tasks. The absence of tasks.

I'm reminded of reading about a book, Voyage Around My Room, written by Xavier de Maistre while under house arrest, in which the author describes his room as if part of a travelogue. Within the boredom of his confinement, he discovers an appreciation for the smallest details of life. Sure, some may call it a "stay-cation" but I like to think of it more as a vacation from myself. A holiday from my everyday. It was like I was on an all-expenses paid trip where my bed was the cruise liner.

It should come as no surprise, a fair amount of guilt had to be ignored if I were to truly enjoy this decadence. It seems this kind of guilt is built into a society that despite our many advances believes that your time is better spent by working, regardless of what the work is. This is true in religious communities, capitalist countries, socialist countries and, despite the stated goal of setting the worker free, communist countries. Even in the laziest of modern occupations, the "influencer" is a job where people who found success are quitting as the demand for content has led to a kind of creator burnout. This demand on us to busy ourselves seems to me, to be the single biggest factor in suppressing creativity. Though let's be honest, there is much creative work made while in the middle of a grinding schedule. In fact, there are plenty of people who will say they were at their peak creativity while at the same time, at their peak productivity. Many people, be they entrepreneurs or artists had their best ideas while they were also at their most prolific. Yet that just isn’t sustainable. I’m in this life for the long haul. I’m not aiming to be the flame that burns twice as bright for half the time. I want my creative life to simmer on the back burner, always bubbling at the ready, always warm to the touch. If a little hurkle-durkle helps maintain a frothy fermentation, then so be it.

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Sunday, March 24, 2024

Seen in February 

Peak Cher in Moonstruck with Nicholas Cage.

With the passing of Norman Jewison it seemed appropriate to seek out his better known films. We saw Moonstruck and unfortunately didn't get much further. Lately, I've noticed how many services I pay for but don't use so in the next month or so, I'm going to focus on the "use it or lose it" philosophy of streaming services. Until decision day, I'll probably see how I can spread my time across these catalogues. Will it be like peanut butter, spread to the edge, or a dollop of ketchup on top of your fries? Only time will tell.

With the passing of Norman Jewison, we thought it would be appropriate to watch one of his most popular films, and as it is from 1987, it’s also peak-Cher. I have to wonder if this film introduced a wider audience to many of the Italian-American stereotypes that today would be considered such clichés that you would have to avoid them. Let’s give the filmmakers a pass on that front. Cher plays Loretta, a woman who has fallen in love with her fiancé’s estranged brother, Ronny (Nicholas Cage) while discovering her father (Vincent Gardenia) is cheating on her mother (Olympia Dukakis). This is a reliable rom-com set in fairytale New York but my real problem with the story is the motivations of each character seem slim to nonexistent. Loretta’s fiancé (Danny Aiello) proposes just before leaving for Italy to be with his dying mother. Loretta has agreed to the proposal despite not loving him because he’s a good guy or something. When she goes to meet the estranged brother she immediately upsets him only to decide to soothe him by making him a steak and before the entree is finished they’ve both fallen for each other. Likewise, when Loretta’s mother suspects her husband is cheating, the matter is resolved before the pancakes are cold. While I appreciate that this is more fable than fact (lovers affected by a full moon etc.) I find it hard to believe this was the Academy’s pick for best screenplay. The dialogue is so perfunctory at times it feels like a first draft. No wonder Hollywood fears AI bots will take their jobs.

The Pigeon Tunnel
Apple TV+
This documentary from the formidable filmmaker Errol Morris is an interview with famed spy novelist John le Carré (presumably his last interview before he died in 2020). Le Carré was the pen name of David Cornwell, who not only wrote acclaimed espionage fiction but famously worked for British intelligence in his youth and spent time in Berlin when it was the hot spot of the Cold War. We discover in this film that his ability to write about spying, and the betrayal and lies that accompany it, came not only from his time in the service but also from his own life as his father was a prolific con man who moved on from one scheme to the next, leaving shattered lives in his wake. I found it a fascinating insight into how a writer can tell his own story through the lives of others and, like a spy in the shadows, hide in plain sight.

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