Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Two nights ago I watched a Polish movie called "Ida," that I highly recommend.

The movie is opens in the 1960s to a young novice, Ida, who has grown up in the convent always thinking she was an orphan. Then, just as she is about to take her vows to become a nun, she is told by the Mother Superior that she was born Jewish, and that she has one living relative, an aunt who has always refused to have any contact with her. The Mother Superior instructs Ida to go and visit her aunt before she takes her final vows.

The more I think about it, the more I realize "Ida" is one of the most perfect movies I have ever seen. Every single shot of the entire movie is visually gorgeous, and yet, by some kind of film miracle, none of it feels over-thought. Each scene must have been so carefully and intentionally filmed, and yet it doesn't have any of the hyper-self-consciousness that so-called art films often have. The two main characters, Ida and her aunt, are played by Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzubechowska with almost unbelievable understatement, but I don't mean unbelievable in the sense that the characters are not believable; I mean it in the sense that you can barely believe how well the actors have mastered their craft. I can't imagine an American director--or group of actors--ever risking making a movie involving so little facial expression.

It's a serious movie; this is a Poland in which the Holocaust is still fresh in the minds of each character (about which I will say no more, so as not to give anything away). Serious things happen in the movie. Complicated and profoundly tragic things arise. And yet, the respect of the camera, and the respect of the actors for their characters, and the way that the film is careful and intentional and so much the opposite of overwrought, all of it combines to make the movie a safe space. I felt, within the first 15 minutes or so, that the movie was not going to inflict something unbearable on me, as the viewer. And I was right. Somehow a quiet promise was made to the viewer early on, and it was a promise kept. Given the movie's content, I'm stunned at the mastery involved in keeping that promise.

Monday, February 23, 2015

text crisis line

My friends, I just today came across the news that there is a text crisis line. The number is 741741.

In other words, if you are in crisis, or even just need someone to talk with, you can text this number. And someone will respond to you within 5 minutes. And talk to you for as long as you need. All via text.

Please spread the word around to anyone you think might find this information helpful.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Actually, I have nothing to say about frogs. But I couldn't think of a better title.

I just listened to a TED talk about mental illness, such as psychopathy. It's not your average TED talk. There's nothing anything specific that the speaker is trying to say. But it's mighty thought-provoking all around. Give 'er the ol' listen. http://www.ted.com/talks/jon_ronson_strange_answers_to_the_psychopath_test?language=en#

The same chap who gave that talk wrote a long article recently in the New York Times, about what happens when a bunch of people gang up on another person, on Twitter, say. Or in other ways. What happens to the psyche of that person. Well worth the read: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad&_r=0

Life here in Sitka is rainy, which I mean literally and not metaphorically. It's very nice for introverts, because without sun you don't really feel any sort of moral obligation to go outside. So that is nice!

And that is all I have to say today.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


I highly recommend the movie "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Highly.

It's not your ordinary Hollywood movie, which frankly is a compliment. And just so that I don't have to make that disclaimer over and over: probably most of the movies I recommend this year won't be your ordinary Hollywood movies.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

round & round & round

A brief update: I've moved from the Jealousy-Inducing House (see previous post) to a house on a lake overlooking mountains. It's a less glamorous house, and a better fit for me. I'm right in town, within walking distance of everything. It's very good. And the couches and chairs are comfortable. And there's a tea kettle (the glamorous house had every kitchen gadget known to humankind, but I could not find a tea kettle--??). I'm grateful to the owners of this house for many reasons, and mostly for asking me to be in their house while they are gone on vacation for the next five weeks.

I've been listening to the Dixie Chicks on the stereo and singing.

I have friends here in Sitka. More friends than I had the whole time I was in the Bay Area (though the friends I did have there were lovely, and still are lovely, and I miss them). There are certain parts of culture in Alaska that make more sense to me than culture anywhere else. Like the way that people loan you things you need. If you need a car, and someone has a spare car, they loan it to you. If you need food, people give you food. If you need a skillsaw, someone will loan you a skillsaw. It's a libertarian culture, which I think outsiders think means that everyone keeps to themselves forever and doesn't want to share. But that's not remotely the case. It's just that Alaskans don't want to be commanded to share. But left to their own devices, at least on the level of friends and community, this is by far a more sharing community than all the progressive places I've lived--and I've lived in some of the most progressive places in the country.

So that's curious.

There are other parts of Alaskan culture that are less awesome. More about that another time.

I now will make a thematic jump. The jump is to a website/sub-website that I found yesterday, by chance. It is a sex sub-reddit community on reddit.com. What this means is that the website, reddit.com (which is like a mega-site for a bunch of other internet site) has a sub-site (like a sub-culture) that is focused on sex.

Now, I want to recommend this sub-site, but I want to state very clearly that this recommendation is not for everyone. This sub-site is within the "sex positive" culture, meaning that it's part of a culture that is embracing of people of "all genders" (queer, gay, straight, transsexual, etc.), and it is also a culture that is also embracing of polyamory (having more than one sexual partner), as well as monogamy, polyandry, polygamy, and all sorts of other sexual expressions and experiences. So if engaging with such a sub-culture does not sound great and awesome to you, I recommend not even clicking on this link.

If, however, you are down with sex positive culture, or at least down with most of it, or at least aware of what "sex positive" means and have pondered it thoughtfully in the past, or at least not offended and upset by vast explorations of sexuality, then I recommend this sub-reddit group!! It seems to be filled with lots of respectful, informed, thoughtful, curious, cool people. I frankly have never encountered any website, especially a website with thousands of visits a day, where people are talking about sex and bodies and relationships in such positive ways. It's crazy! Everywhere from youtube to The Atlantic is full of lost souls saying awful things about women's bodies and women in general and being alive in general.

You can also ask questions on this sub-reddit group. Or just read around.

So, without further ado: http://www.reddit.com/r/sex

Let me add one more disclaimer: By posting the link to this group I'm not claiming to condone or endorse any particular thing that anyone in the group is saying. There are varying opinions and experiences and expressions going down in the conversations there. I do, however, condone lots of respect and lots of openness and lots of listening and lots of acceptance. And that seems to be going down in most of the conversations. And that is very, very cool.

Sunday, February 1, 2015