Review: Borg vs McEnroe

Borg vs McEnroe (2017)
Shia LaBeouf, Svirrir Gudnason, Stellen Skarsgård.  Written by Ronnie Sandahl. Directed by Janus Metz Pedersen.

In July 1980, the world’s second-ranked men’s tennis player John McEnroe faced the world’s best, Björn Borg, in the finals at Wimbledon, in what many have called the greatest tennis match ever.  I hadn’t yet gotten into tennis, but I had discovered CNN Sports Tonight, a nightly half-hour television program featuring highlights and commentary like nothing I’d seen before.  Until then, my sports highlights existed only in the final five minutes of the local news, or during Howard Cosell’s “Halftime Highlights” on Monday Night Football.

This is when my interest in tennis was born: with CNN’s regular coverage of McEnroe’s serve and volley on the court, and his tantrums on the sideline.  He was the kind of athlete I always favored as a boy. Muhammad Ali, Ken Stabler, Reggie Jackson, John McEnroe. Don’t tell any of those guys what to do, because they’ll just do the opposite, and then beat you while you whine.

I say all this to explain how I was once an avid pro tennis fan, John McEnroe was my gateway drug, there was an era when the characters in tennis were as fascinating as its competitions, and Borg vs McEnroe is a great trip back to a much funner time.  You don’t have to be a tennis fan to appreciate the film; in fact, it might be better for your enjoyment if you’re not. Still, if you are a fan, you’ll appreciate the memories of the stoic Borg, who had won Wimbledon four straight years before 1980, and tempestuous McEnroe, gunning for the world’s top ranking.

Believe it or not, Shia Labeouf is excellent as McEnroe.  I suspect Labeouf identifies with McEnroe in important ways.  You never really think you’re looking at McEnroe’s body or face, but you do get a sense you’re seeing the person.  Svirrir Gudnason looks exactly like my memory of Borg.

The film sets us up for this Wimbledon final with flashes back to each man’s past, framing the confrontation at Centre Court as a meeting of surprisingly similar characters, each with sympathy for the other.  It’s a compelling story, drawn so that rather than foils, the athletes are parallels. If you’re hoping to get a deep psychological exploration of what made these seemingly different men so great at hitting a yellow ball, you’ll think this movie is a tease.  If you’re looking for a little bit of character analysis to go with your service aces, you’ll be pleased.

Viewers are unlikely to agree with my one major gripe unless they enjoy watching tennis on television or in person.  The action on the court is edited in such a way that you don’t see very much tennis. This is utterly maddening. You see and hear the racquets making contact; you see the expressions, the blurs of power and speed.  You sometimes see the ball hitting the court. You almost never see a rally from serve to point, and you see very little of the action from the usual angle, behind the receiver and over his shoulder. With the exception of one series of very cool overhead shots, none of this is an improvement in any way.

You could make the argument that it makes for better cinema and better storytelling, and I might understand.  After all, in Searching for Bobby Fisher, a movie I love, I never complained that chess games (or whatever they’re called)  aren’t shown in real time with realistic flow, because who wants to watch that except maybe chess spectators? However, this is tennis, not chess!

Thank goodness for the film’s ending, which heals some of my wounds.  Where the tennis action fails, the closing scene succeeds, showing us the action and giving us a resolution the competition denies us.  Very, very well done. Stick around for the closing credits too, which treat us to actual photos of Borg and McEnroe. They made me a little teary. 

As a film lover, I think it’s excellent.  As a sports film lover, I think it’s pretty good.  As a sports lover, I think it’s agonizing. For this, I have to penalize the film one point for unsportsmanlike behavior.


Lockdown: It’s not perfect, but it’s real

“You wanna live inside some fairy tale. I’m just trying to make things better.”

I had to get up a bit earlier than I’m used to on a work day. There was a Zoom meeting with the CEO and some VPs in our company to talk about our communication strategies with our emergency relief projects. That meeting was pretty good, but it went an hour, first thing on a Monday morning after a three-day weekend.

I’m equipped to do a lot of things well, but this isn’t one of them. But I think I contributed adequately. Then, in order to debrief, my department moved its daily Zoom meeting from 2:00 in the afternoon to right after the first meeting. That went about half an hour.

I had enormous difficulty focusing for that second meeting. I thought it boded ill for my productivity Monday, but I had a pretty good day. I finalized one of the proposals I worked on in the second part of last week (the urgent one that maybe turned out not so urgent). Did some photo editing for a coworker — an easy task I usually enjoy. In the virtual desktop environment, stuff like Photoshop tends to drag, and on the minuscule work-issued laptop monitor, Photoshop is kind of a pain to work with.

First-world problems, I know.

I worked a little on some acknowledgment letters, and offered edit suggestions for an article written by someone outside our organization.

The day went quickly. Perhaps we should begin every workday with 90 minutes of meetings.

“There’s got to be something more to love than commitment.”

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch and dinner were both leftover turkey chili and brown rice — I finally finished the chili, which was my goal Monday. I didn’t snack at all, mostly because all three meals were pretty darn filling.

I skipped the late-night walk, opting instead to do a little bit of house maintenance, to watch the first hour of Borg vs McEnroe (2017), and to get to bed at a decent hour in anticipation of waking up super early for laundry.

I’m at the laundry now, alone so far after 22 minutes. Here’s hoping!

I did not make a mask Monday as I intended. Brought the materials to the laundry, though, so it’s possible I’ll get it done before I get out of here.

“People have gotten married for a lot less.”

During work, I traded IMs with my coworker Laura about some of the messaging we’re putting out there when we ask for money via mass mailings. It was a good conversation, of the sort I kind of geek out about. It’s part marketing, part writing, and while I am not much of the former, I think I do the latter pretty well.

Away from work, I traded texts with Crush Girl and IMs via FB Messenger with the Friday 5 girl. Not the most connection-filled day, but it feels okay.

“If there’s any kind of magic in the world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone.”

I had a couple of gift certificates from the Criterion Collection, one of which expires at the end of April, so I used them both on Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. It’s a lovely set in a three-Blu-Ray slipcase. It came in the mail today and I’m pretty stoked to rewatch them (I’ve seen all three only once), and of course to explore the extra features, which Criterion Collection is the best at.

I also made an impulse purchase of the Kindle version of Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can’t Live Without Them by Adrienne Raphel, breaking my resolve not to purchase new books while in lockdown. Tuesday is also the day a Kindle book I (right before the lockdown) preordered drops, Sarah Frier’s No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram.

I’m thinking I’ll read them concurrently with an eye on finishing them at the same time.

Now that most of the fresh veggies and most of my leftovers have been cleared out of my fridge, either because of consumption or throwing out, I’m looking forward to cooking something new. 2020 is supposed to be my #yearofcookingshellfishly, according to the New Year’s resolutions I never posted. This may be on hold during the lockdown. I haven’t really thought of my options at the supermarket because I was really looking forward to going to the fish market in my ‘hood and bringing home something fresh, like someone who knows what he’s doing.

That fish market is extremely close quarters. I just don’t think I have it in me, even with prescribed social distancing, to go in there. Those lovely clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops will have to wait.

“I guess when you’re young, you just believe there’ll be many people with whom you’ll connect.”

If you’re frustrated or bummed out by your own New Year’s resolutions being put on hold (or anything else on hold, really), and if you’re going through this alone, please reach out. I’m happy to text, IM, or DM you through it. The world’s a crazy place in normal times; it’s downright maddening now. Don’t be shy; let’s connect.

Lockdown: Don’t bean cruel

I had too much fun not doing anything for a three-day weekend. I’m really not ready to go back to work. Bleah.

I woke up a couple of hours too early, but it was time for the meds anyway, so I had overnight oats for breakfast, popped the meds, and did the L.A. Times Sunday crossword (I’d finished the N.Y. Times Sunday crossword Saturday evening). Then right back to bed for a few hours. It was lovely.

I did a wee bit o’ writing, worked on a couple of chores, and made lunch. I had a ton of string beans to use up. Made some instant mashed potatoes. The beans were really not good. I do a lot of my own cooking, and since I enjoy experimenting, things don’t always come out great. Still, they usually turn out good enough. Maybe I wouldn’t take some of my experiments to a potluck, but I’m fine consuming them myself.

Not these green beans. I ate most of a large bowl of them and reminded myself of a few things. While I’m not wealthy, and while I don’t like to waste food, I make enough to throw something out if I don’t like it. And since I’m eating almost every meal at home, I’m not spending much money on food anyway. So if this dish was terrible, there was really no point in trying to eat it for my next six lunches.

Into the trash the beans went. I finished the potatoes with a little bit of mediocre cheddar and some wasabi oil.

I did some more writing and then the Washington Post Sunday crossword. I thought I’d have a very late dinner, after my walk. I had a few things to mail, so I started with a walk to the nearby stripmall, where there’s a mailbox. Then walked toward Dillingham Blvd, a different route from my usual. Midway there, I was kind of a miserable mess. Cold-sweating and a little shaky; I was really hungry! I had a feeling there was a blood sugar issue, although that didn’t really explain the cold sweats.

Thankfully the McD’s at Waiakamilo and Dillingham was open for takeout. I thought I needed to get some sugar into me quickly, so I had a small vanilla shake, then chased it with two cheeseburgers and a medium fries. They did the trick. At least the weird internal shakiness was gone.

The sweats came back, and while they weren’t really cold, they weren’t the usual warm sweats I get when I’m out for a long walk. I think my body just isn’t feeling right. I considered calling it off and just going right back home, but I definitely wasn’t feeling like an emergency situation, as I had felt before McD’s. So I finished my intended walk, kind of sore and unhappy the whole way.

I got it to 14,000 steps before midnight and tacked on another 4,000 after midnight. I’m planning to hit the laundry super early Tuesday morning, so I may not walk Monday night, and it may be just as well.

I got eight responses to the Easter Song video I sent out, just reciprocal Easter greetings, which was nice, but no real connecting besides that. Easter’s been something of a solo day for me these past several years.

I still haven’t made a mask. I guess I’ll do that Monday!

Note to self: tomorrow might be a nice day to discuss Gus van Sant’s Melancholia.

New week! No real end to this weirdness in sight! If you’re not handling it well and you’re going through it alone, please reach out! I’m here for you, as long as “here for you” is okay via texts, DMs, or IMs. I so seldom have anything of value to lend people. The world is not built for introverts, but this new world may be. If I can lend you some of my introversion and talk you down of metaphorical or real ledges, I’m here for it.

Friday 5s: AKA March 73red; Excitement in the domicile

From here and here.

AKA March 73rd. These posted April 3, so I’ll answer for the week leading to April 3.

  1. What did you have too much of this week?
    Too much bad sleep for sure. I’ve reverted to some bad things in my sleep routine, stuff I thought I had gotten past. But I’m taking Darth Vader off in the middle of the night, which means unhealthy sleep, which means not my best at work.
  2. What did you have not enough of this week?
    Oh, haha. I should’ve saved my #1 answer for this question. I’m going to say that for as much solitude as I had, I didn’t have enough. Those people at the laundry messed me up, and I made two visits to the supermarket when I didn’t really need to make any. Also not enough of Crush Girl’s company, if I’m being honest.
  3. What did you have in just the right amount or number?
    I did well on step counts. The long walks at night have been great for my body and mind. Although I often have trouble making myself go, once I’m moving I can’t remember why I didn’t just jump up and get out. Also, I think I had enough Diet Pepsi for pleasure.
  4. What’s better today than it was a week ago?
    Working from home. I decided on a two-laptop system, using my work laptop when I needed files or apps on the virtual desktop, which isn’t that often, and my personal laptop for the actual writing. I might have been able to ask for remote access on my personal laptop, as I think some coworkers have done, but I’d prefer to leave work stuff on the work computer and personal stuff on the personal.
  5. When they make a movie about last month, what would be a good song for the soundtrack?
    I’m hearing a lot of references to “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by REM, which is a pretty good choice, but I’m going with The Chior’s “Blue Skies.”

    I’ve got a cause I should surely defend
    I hope you will agree
    I’ve got a tire I would love to suspend
    I’m searching for a tree

Excitement in the domicile. These posted April 10.

  1. In what way have you recently been naughty?
    I go on these long walks through Kapalama, Liliha, and Nuuanu. That’s a lot of walking, during which one often has to relieve oneself. I’ve done this enough over the years that I know where the good spots are: Maemae Elementary, behind the heavy machinery parked in front of Nuuanu Cemetery, the trees at Lanakila Park. Public urination counts as naughty, right?
  2. What’s the closest you’ve been to death-defying these past few weeks?
    I’d have to say shopping at Costco. Listen: I’m through with Costco until this thing blows over. I don’t care if I’m spending twice as much money on things. I was utterly terrified the last time I went in there.
  3. What temptations have you recently resisted?
    I’m telling you, this doesn’t make sense. At least a few times a day I swear I need to go to the stupid supermarket. I don’t need anything! What’s going on in my confused brain? Thank goodness laziness usually outscores panic-shopping.
  4. What’s something you wish you didn’t recently see?
    When I came out of the water Thursday morning, I saw something on the beach that looked a little unusual; I thought maybe it was an oddly shaped hunk of driftwood. I didn’t have my glasses on, so I had to get close to realize it was some kind of dead animal, domestic-pet-sized. It had washed up on the beach, it had matted fur, and sand was stuck to it all over. I couldn’t tell from my short glance what kind of animal it was. *shudder*
  5. What behavior from others are you excusing nowadays?
    People on FB are disagreeing on what’s a legitimate reason to go out. I’m iffy on everything, so I’m passively watching the conversations. None of us really knows. I’m excusing any position that isn’t blatant disregard for public safety. Those ministers insisting on holding public worship services can all go eff themselves, though.

Lockdown: Saturday in the dark

I seriously don’t know where the day went. I slept in, sure. Got up for breakfast (two frozen burritos) and to pop my meds, then went back to bed. That much is clear.

Then, much like Friday, I kind of alternated between the bed and the desk, only I don’t think I have anything to show for any of it, except the Sunday NYT crossword. My one major task was going to be making a few face masks out of old t-shirts, but before I knew it, it was time to get out for a walk. Then I took a nap, and then I went out for a walk. It’s like one moment it was 2:00 in the afternoon and the next it was 10:30 at night.

Lunch was a whole lot of steamed brussels sprouts. Dinner was the homemade bread with balsamic vinegar and the mediocre cheddar. Wasn’t in the mood to break out the blue. Somewhere in there was a snack of tortilla chips and what remained of my fresh salsa.

I love my city at night, but it’s especially beautiful when the mayor declares a curfew for people in cars. It’s so quiet and so safe, and I revel in the darkness. I reeeally think I’m allergic to something in the flora on Nuuanu Avenue, between Wyllie Street and Judd Street, on the Ewa side of the street. I was sneezing and sniffling like a madman again, and only while walking that one block.

Thanks to those 8K steps very early Saturday morning, I got the stepcount to 15,700 steps before midnight, and then added 5200 steps after midnight. The first half of the walk was rough; my body and mind didn’t want to be out there. The second half was really nice, though, my body and mind both loving the quietude.

I listened to a few podcasts, plus my short but decent The Cure playlist and then my short but awesome Easter playlist. I’m kind of hoping that my fellow believers will experience this Easter soberly and deeply, and realize what I’ve been quietly trying to tell them for the past few years. Maybe we don’t need a physical church. Or maybe we don’t all need one.

Didn’t do a lot of connecting. I wonder if that’s why the day seems not to have really existed. Early Sunday I sent a link to Keith Green’s “Easter Song” to a bunch of people and traded a very few IMs with a person I know from Friday 5. Penny texted around dinner time to check up on me. We talked a little about how easy it is for introverts to just do their thing at home alone.

I don’t think I’ll plan anything for Sunday except maybe making one mask just to see if I can. I have a few veggies I’d like to use up too. Maybe send out for a late pizza? Who knows!

It’s Easter, which may not mean anything to you. If it does and you’re feeling separated from the body, alone when you feel you shouldn’t be, I hope you’ll reach out. We can have a Keith Green listening party or something. Through DMs, texts, or IMs, of course!

Lockdown: Remember the Ala Mo

Everything’s beachy keen

If you’re paying attention, you probably figured out I went to bed early(ish) Thursday so I could go to the beach early(not ish) Friday.

Last week Thursday, I tried to park at Kewalo Basin so I could walk through the little mini-park there (it’s there for people who live on the boats) and hit my usual beach. I got there at around 7 and much to my dismay (‘though not really to my surprise) the tiny parking lot there was full, and people were waiting for spots to open up. So I drove to that free parking area behind the Ilikai, behind the lagoon at Hilton Hawaiian Village (I gotta find out what the surfers call that spot) and walked to Fort Derussy. It was nice, but it wasn’t ideal.

They open the Kewalo parking lot at 4, but I didn’t think the dawn patrollers were going to be there that early, since dawn wasn’t until just past 6. So I got up at quarter to five and got down there at about 5:20. Plenty of parking.

It’s not a free lot, but it’s a dollar an hour, so it’s totally worth it. I paid for three hours (just in case). Almost everyone already parked there was either a surfer or a standup paddleboarder. And the regulars at Ala Moana (especially the SUPers) all know each other, so it was a chatty crowd at an hour when I just wanted some quiet time.

But yay. The sun came up, everyone made the trek to the beach, and I trailed behind. I jumped in at what was my usual spot for years, and swam two buoys down and back. It. Was. Lovely.

I don’t usually swim on that end of the beach anymore. I’ve found the other end, just beyond the pavillions on the Magic Island end, much nicer lately. The parking’s not quite as close to the water (because the beach is wider) but there’s more parking at sunrise and more room in the water for spreading out. The water movement’s a bit mellower too, most of the time. Oh, and the shower on that end is much better. There’s one showerhead with amazing water pressure — the regulars usually wait their turns for it, or they’ll jump beneath one of the other showerheads and move over when the good one opens up.

I love showering at the beach. I took the showerhead off my shower at home so I could emulate beach showers. And I usually take cold showers too for the same reason, even when I’m at my parents’ house and showering there.

I’m chatty; can you tell? It was a good day largely because of the excellent beginning, and I’m feeling pretty good.

There were still a few open parking spaces when I left at quarter to 8 (or so). Maybe last week was a fluke. Or maybe Friday morning was a fluke. Guess we’ll find out sometime next week!

I picked up breakfast on the way home at Pancakes & Waffles. A Denver omelette with a short stack. It’s not the best thing on the menu but I wasn’t interested in anything exciting. I wanted something simple and filling. What I really wanted was a Subway sandwich, but the last time I tried to get to the Subway in my ‘hood, I pulled up at 8 and the store was still dark. I get it, and I’m trying to be patient, but don’t people know how much I love my Subway sandwich after a good swim?

Eat. Sleep. Write.

I ate breakfast while I read the news, then went back to bed. It. Was. Also. Lovely.

I pretty much spent most of the day moving between the bed for lazing horizontally and the desk for lazing vertically. I really wanted to write my review of The Lighthouse (see entry below!) and do some other writing, but the review took most of my writing time. Ridiculous.

I skipped lunch again. Snacked on some potato chips (Kettle Bourbon BBQ again). Dinner was some of my fresh bread with slices of mediocre cheddar. I’ve got some decent blue in my fridge and I think I’ll break it out for the rest of this bread Saturday.

Regrets, I’ve had curfew

I cut myself a little slack on the walking because of this morning’s swim, but still thought it would be nice if I could hit the daily goal. I didn’t. Took way too long getting out the door, so I only got it up to 7400 steps before midnight. I think next time I go to the beach an hour before sunrise, I’m going to walk along Ala Mo Blvd and get in as many steps as I can before jumping in the water.

I got 8100 steps after midnight. It’s quiet out there after 11! Unheard of for a Saturday night. I stepped into the 7-Eleven at Nuuanu and Kuakini, the one I usually walk right past because there are always at least four customers in there no matter what time it is, and it was so slow that the lone clerk (there are always two, but not tonight!) had parked his SUV right in front of the store in the customers’ parking, and was hanging out next to it with the door open.

I have to say the curfew makes the walking much, much more pleasant. As long as the police chief says it only applies to driving, I think I could get used to this.

I listened to some podcasts, my short but awesome Foo Fighters playlist, some songs from I Am Abomination (inspired by an email I got from the band about the new album this month, which I backed on Indiegogo two years ago!), and the first few tracks from the new Nightwish album.

I suspect Nightwish fans aren’t going to love this one, but I think it’s really interesting, perhaps their most interesting album (so far) since Floor Janssen joined the band.

Connecting points

Friday I traded a few texts with Ali in Boston (no holiday for her), the friends from the engineering firm (Suzanne braved Costco! Nooooo!), and Sylvia (we had chatted about how we each wanted to go to the beach this weekend so I sent her the photo I’ve shared here). Swapped a few DMs with my uncle in San Diego — he’s still working at the office but will work from home some days. And there was some IMing with the person I met from Friday 5 (in Wisconsin) about lighthouses, and with Laura about The Lighthouse because she’s the person who pretty much made me watch it.

Almost every paragraph in this entry begins with the word I, something I didn’t do on purpose. In fact, I usually try to avoid it. I think this is a sign I am tired and should go to bed.

Looking forward to accomplishing even less Saturday than I did Friday. If your Saturday isn’t looking great, or if your outlook overall isn’t great, I hope you’re not going through this alone. If you are, please reach out. We can text, IM, or DM about whatever. Just please don’t despair.

Lockdown: A little bit later and a little bit worse

Okay Thursday.

Thursday is already a blur and it’s only Friday night. Evidence that if this is important to me, I need to log this stuff with minimal delay.

Breakfast was overnight oats. I kind of skipped lunch because I had breakfast a little late, and I kind of dragged it out all morning. I had turkey chili with brown rice for dinner, and I made a loaf of bread in the bread machine. Had that for a late snack. Somewhere in the middle were a handful of Kettle potato chips, the Bourbon BBQ flavor. They were yummy.

Traded quite a few texts with JB, who asked me if I could help him find some poetry to read. You know I love a question like this. My usual response is to ask someone some poems they remember enjoying (not as many people say Shel Silverstein as you’d expect; I wonder if people feel silly naming him), and go from there.

He said he liked “The Raven” and some other poet I hadn’t heard of. So I started him on “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and “The Highwayman.” He liked “The Highwayman.” Then I shared “Reflections on a Gift of Watermelong Pickle Put Up by a Friend Called Felicity” and “The One Girl at the Boys’ Party.” He was pretty amped and wondered why he never got into poetry before. I resisted the urge to say, “Because you didn’t have me as a teacher.”

Also traded texts with Crush Girl, which was nice. I called mom and dad on the phone. They seem to be in good spirits, although I can tell my mom’s getting a little restless.

I skipped the walk so I could get up early Friday for another try at Ala Moana. More about that in a few hours.

Work was pretty productive. I didn’t get those revisions on the proposal done until very late, like around 11:30 in the evening. It was slightly distressing as I was trying to get to bed early. But I feel pretty good about the work. Haven’t heard back from the fundraiser yet for feedback, but I kind of expected that. It’s a holiday, after all.

The mayor of Honolulu declared a “pilot” curfew for the long weekend. 11:00 in the evening until 5:00 in the morning, beginning Friday evening and ending Monday morning. He’s worried the Easter weekend will be too tempting for people who are already incapable of social distancing. Nobody on the roads for the entire island unless they’re driving to get medicine or driving to or from work!

Luckily, the police chief says if you’re out on foot, you’re probably okay. She just doesn’t want anyone on wheels. I’m about to test this when I go out for a nice long walk in a moment.

The mayor also said he and the police are ramping up their enforcement of the stay-home mandate by hitting the beaches hard. We’re still allowed to go into the water, to cross through parks and across beaches to get to the ocean. We just can’t linger. Can’t hang out. Can’t congregate. His edict was accompanied by a slide with an illustration of the beach. Crossed out with red Xes were a couple of beach chairs and several peaches. “No peaches on beaches,” he said, which is incredibly clever for this mayor. He was either really inspired or he’s got a pretty good writer on this team.

Hawaii’s new cases continue to hold at about the 25 new cases per day line. I’m trying not to be encouraged by this, but I’m encouraged.

I’m so grateful for a three-day weekend. Spent today taking it easy, if you can call writing my first film review in MONTHS taking it easy. I swear, sometimes it’s like opening a vein. I struggled with it all day and it’s still not very good. And then I had to lie down for a couple of hours after.

I might have to do a review every day, even if it’s a short one, to get those muscles back into shape. It shouldn’t be this difficult but I think that part of my writing brain is atrophied.

It took me four days to watch The Lighthouse twice. Partially because of business. Partially because of lack of attention span. I’m okay with this. On my walk this evening I’m going to decide what to watch next!

Hey listen. The news has been optimistic these past couple of days, but I think we’re at least three weeks from really being optimistic. If that’s a challenge for you, please reach out. I don’t know why, but I’m handling this pretty well — it’s almost as if I’ve been practicing for it for years. Get in touch if you could use some encouragement. And no peaches on beaches!

Review: The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse (2019)
Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson.  Written by Robert Eggers and Max Eggers.  Directed by Robert Eggers.

For a psychological horror film, The Lighthouse is quite watchable if you (like I) shy away from such pictures.  It’s unlikely to give you nightmares or to gross you out, so it’s worth a shot, because this is one compelling and gorgeous movie.

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson play Thomas Wake and Ephraim Winslow, lighthouse attendants on a remote island in the north Atlantic.  Wake is the barnacled veteran with a pirate’s aaaaarrrrgot, a grouchy taskmaster to first-timer Winslow. Their relationship begins tenuously and continues contentiously, the men’s interactions swinging from testy to amiable depending on how much alcohol has been consumed.

Wake and Winslow are stationed for four weeks, but a vicious storm extends their stay.  The men’s quarters are cramped, and they spend just about every minute together. This reality is heightened for the viewer by the film’s 1.19 to 1 aspect ratio, a frame that’s practically square, much narrower than a high-def television screen, even narrower than pre-HDTV television screens.

The acting is fabulous, but excellent performances by the principal actors highlight one of The Lighthouse’s major obstacles.  When great actors overact in service to the movie, we have to work out a certain tension.  When skilled writing goes over the top, we have to decide whether or not to accept it. At the height of one conflict, one character accuses the other of being a parody, so Pattinson, Dafoe, and director Robert Eggers are clearly aware of these issues.

Eggers’s commentary track reveals meticulous research and thoughtful filmmaking, so I’m inclined to accept the film on its terms.  Accepting the acting and writing makes it easier to accept the other strange sights and developments; my advice is to appreciate everyone’s considerable chops.  There’s almost no way the film satisfies if you can’t.

The Lighthouse is compelling and gorgeous.  Block off two evenings because it rewards a second viewing.


Lockdown: Azooming the position

I’m going to try to make this a quick one because I’m super tired.

I proposed

I think it was a productive day at work. A new proposal popped up for a major gift and I turned it around really quickly. I was told it’s urgent but as I’ve said, I’m learning there are different levels of urgency so I’m not totally sure. I thought I did good work but it looks like I’m going to have to redo a whole section or two, which is totally fine.

I suspect my employer values the proposal writing much more than the other kinds of writing I do, but the proposals are probably the easiest. The challenge is in figuring out what the fundraisers want, because some tend to be really unclear, and when I push them for direction, I don’t think they know how to give it.

This one I did Wednesday is fine; I think the fundraiser is a good communicator. I just went with an angle I thought was most compelling based on the material I have, but she knows the potential donor, so of course she has a better idea of what will work.

Telling someone’s story is far, far more challenging, and it’s too bad it’s not as valued a skill, because I think I’m pretty good at it.


Breakfast was turkey chili and brown rice. Lunch was two frozen burritos. I had a snack of tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Dinner was two hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut. I ate a late snack of a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar while on my walk. Mmmm.

Tomorrow’s about fresh veggies I think. I’ve got a bunch I need to use up before they turn.

Step this way

I came suuuuuuper close to not going for a walk. I just wasn’t feeling it. I went to the supermarket instead, for just like a few things I don’t really need, like cinnamon for my overnight oats and more Diet Pepsi so I don’t have to think about pacing myself if I don’t want to.

But the rain let up to just a little drizzle, and I already had shoes on, so what the heck. At about 11 I just set off. I got rained on but it wasn’t unpleasant, and the rain was pretty much done after half an hour. The late start meant only 9,300 steps before midnight, but I walked another 5400 steps after midnight.

Listened to a few podcasts and a ton of Foo Fighters music. Thursday’s ESPN Daily podcast is an excellent story of Darko Milicic’s post-NBA life. He’s an apple farmer in Serbia now. It’s really, really well done.

Reaching out

I joined our daily conference call via the Zoom app on my phone for the first time. Everyone else is videoing in, but I’ve only been calling in via audio on my phone. It didn’t suck. I also had a short phone meeting with my supervisor, and a phone call with that fundraiser to talk about the proposal.

Traded a very few texts with a friend / former student in San Diego, the friends from the engineering firm, Crush Girl, and JB. Sent a very late text to Faye. Didn’t call mom and dad, so I’ll do that Thursday.

Friday is a holiday, so I’d like Thursday to be really productive.

Hope anyone reading this is thriving. If you’re not, and if you’d like someone to chat with (IMs, DMs, or texts) please reach out! Any way you’re feeling in these weird days is totally valid and meaningful. If it’s wearing you down, though, you don’t have to go through it alone.