Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Positively Languid 

Before Peloton.
“C’mon people! Let’s go! Let’s do this! You got this!”
- insanely inspired Peloton coach
Am I the only person who finds those Peloton ads actually make me less likely to subscribe to the service? Part of adulthood might mean doing boring things like work or paying and filing taxes but it also means I’m not a child being scolded by teachers, librarians or life coaches. Is there something from my upbringing or childhood that means I would rather push a bullying fitness coach off their stationary bike than put up with their relentless, vociferous positivity?

Why am I so put off by cheerleading? It is annoying but that seems like a universal truth rather than a personal insult. I suppose it’s my own skepticism that makes such an approach seem entirely performative and thus, wholly disingenuous. Am I too cynical to be cheered on by someone paid to cheer me on? I used to wonder about myself, “Am I a pessimist?”, but I don’t think so. I used to say I’m a realist but I think that’s something pessimistic people say to not sound so negative. Rather, I think I am an optimistic person but perhaps I fall on the dark side of optimism. What is the dark side of optimism? Is it like the dark side of the moon, always in shadow and cold beyond imagination? Or is it just the cautious, chill, relaxed view that warns you to not get your hopes up in case everything goes badly?
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Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Dissolution of Dreams 

The Piranesian rec room of my dreams.

I've never been someone for whom sleep comes easily, though I'm not an insomniac either. Once I get to sleep, I'm fine. My natural rhythm, discovered years ago at university, is to fall asleep somewhere between 1 AM and 2 AM and wake around 8:30 - 9 AM. I imagine I get about 6 to 6-1/2 hours of sleep and I know that more than 8 hours of sleep can lead directly to a headache. A bit less sleep leaves me feeling drugged by the afternoon and the only cure is a nap. Too much sleep can lead to a migraine. The only reason I can see this being called "unhealthy" is because it doesn't fit within societal norms.

The other night, I was uncomfortable due to back pain, so I took an over-the-counter muscle relaxant that I know also happens to make me drowsy so I usually wait until bedtime to assess whether I'll take it or not. As I usually wake up with an alarm, I don't often remember my dreams. I think in general, you tend to remember dreams if you awaken either during or just after you were in REM sleep, so you're more susceptible to remembering dreams when you wake up naturally. For me, it's typical to remember my dreams on Saturdays or Sundays when I sleep in.

On this particular night, I had a weirdly detailed dream of staying at a friend's house and finding a doorway that led down to an immense underground concourse full of stairways, landings, rooms, and levels that were open to a very high glass ceiling. Imagine a space similar to a shopping mall that is open and looks down to lower levels. There were many spaces, all in some 1970s style of concrete and rust-coloured carpeting that were full of people doing various things like playing foosball or ping-pong, relaxing with a drink, watching TV or with older people gathered together doing crafts or even one "room" of older women grooming their enormous cats. I eventually found my way back up to my friend's house and when he asked where I'd been I asked him about this enormous (and surprisingly bright) Piranesian space. He answered matter of factly that all the homes in the neighbourhood shared this communal basement, like a big shared rec room and that I was just seeing his neighbours who all live nearby.
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Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Seen in March 

The Last Repair Shop

I'm not sure why this list isn't longer. It's not like I haven't been watching a lot of stuff, but it is true I haven't finished a lot of stuff. I'll make that my goal this month - finish what I start.

The Last Repair Shop
The Oscar winner live-action short documentary is a film that introduces us to the people who work in an LA school board’s instrument repair shop. We meet not just the technicians who tend to these instruments but also the students who wouldn’t be able to afford the very instruments they are learning to play. From woodwinds, pianos, strings, and brass these musical instruments have life breathed into them by technicians and musicians alike. As a result of the film's success, a very successful funding campaign has raised enough money to keep the program running and possibly expand it. It is in the darkest of times that we find we need the arts most of all, not just as an expression from the artist but to give voice to what we all may be feeling.

Pete Holmes: I'm Not For Everybody
Solid stand-up special from reliable comedian Pete Holmes.

Anatomy of a Fall
With several nominations and awards this French, German and English language film about the death of an intellectual’s husband will have you wondering to the very end and beyond, did she or didn’t she? It also features one of the better performances by a dog seen in recent years.

A young boy experiencing war and loss.

The Boy and the Heron
Another typical Miyazaki animated film. In other words, a brilliant and beautiful masterpiece. It's certainly worthy of the Oscar it won this year. Miyazaki is 83 and had already previously "retired" so there are many who believe this is his last film. Among his best-known films, his stories focus on a young child isolated from their family such as in My Neighbour Tortoro, Ponyo or Spirited Away. The Boy and the Heron focuses on a 12-year-old boy, Mahito, in wartime Japan, who lost his mother in a fire at a hospital during a bombing. His father has remarried and moved the family to the countryside. Apparently, traditionally in Japan in the past, it would be normal for a widower to remarry his unmarried sister-in-law and that's the case here where Mahito's aunt becomes his stepmother. Mahito struggles to fit in at school and injures himself to avoid going back. It turns out, that Mahito's aunt is also having difficulty in her new role too, and one day goes missing while a heron tells Mahito that his mother is still alive. This leads the boy and the heron to team up on a journey that begins in an abandoned manor. The entire odyssey can be seen either as an adventure or a period of self-discovery in which Mahito comes to terms with the loss of his mother, his busy and distant father, and his relationship with his stepmother.

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