I think a lot about how we as a culture have turned “forever” into the only acceptable definition of success.

Like… if you open a coffee shop and run it for a while and it makes you happy but then stuff gets too expensive and stressful and you want to do something else so you close it, it’s a “failed” business. If you write a book or two, then decide that you don’t actually want to keep doing that, you’re a “failed” writer. If you marry someone, and that marriage is good for a while, and then stops working and you get divorced, it’s a “failed” marriage.

The only acceptable “win condition” is “you keep doing that thing forever”. A friendship that lasts for a few years but then its time is done and you move on is considered less valuable or not a “real” friendship. A hobby that you do for a while and then are done with is a “phase” – or, alternatively, a “pity” that you don’t do that thing any more. A fandom is “dying” because people have had a lot of fun with it but are now moving on to other things.

I just think that something can be good, and also end, and that thing was still good. And it’s okay to be sad that it ended, too. But the idea that anything that ends is automatically less than this hypothetical eternal state of success… I don’t think that’s doing us any good at all.

Helen Bright (brightwanderer)

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I read it a few days ago. As a divorcee and serial hobbyist it really hits home.

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Trevor Noah on George Floyd, Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper

I watched the following video from Trevor Noah speaking about the protests and I was greatly moved. While I’ve long known that are deep structural problems in our society, Trevor brings a succinct perspective on the events unfolding around America today. I was moved to write out the transcript for posterity and as an effort to better my understanding of the issues at hand. This moment of time will be recorded however it plays out, and Trevor Noah’s words should be part of it.

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Zach Youngs is 'Not Lonely in the Dark'

My dear friend, Zach Youngs is one of the most honest and genuine people I know. Zach’s blog is chock full of cogent movie reviews but his recent entry, Not Lonely in the Dark is a look into his love of movies, problems with relationships and loneliness, and right down into his heart.

At a certain point many of my friends, acquaintances, coworkers, family members, strangers I follow on social media, began pairing off, then breaking up, then pairing off again. It looks really easy, effortless even, but there’s always been something inside me that stops me from saying something, from letting my feelings be known.

Love you buddy.

Mary Neely in Quarantine

since I’m single in the quarantine I’ve decided to reenact moments from my favorite musicals so it feels like I’m in love — first is LES MISÉRABLES

Mary Neely

All of these are brilliant, some of the best acting, directing, and editing I’ve seen lately. But my favorite is Helpless from Hamilton. I’ve watched it more times than I care to admit.

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Jojo Rabbit

I went into Jojo Rabbit not knowing much about the film. I haven’t been paying much attention to movies lately and hadn’t seen a full trailer or read a single review (don’t worry Zach, I’ll be reading yours just as soon as I’m done writing this). And with all that apathy I managed to avoid any spoilers or any real knowledge of it. I don’t say this as a backward “I’m too cool for school” brag. I say it, because sometimes ignorance really is bliss. This just seemed like one I should go into blind and I think I’m happier for it.

If you’re on the fence about seeing Jojo Rabbit, but also think that you should go in knowing less about it rather than more, I’ll say this once: stop reading now and just go see it. You’ll be glad you did. 

For those that want to know more or are reading this because you’re rabid fans of mine (why do I hear crickets right now?), let’s dig in and see what all the fuss is about.

The Facts

Jojo Rabbit is about a ten year old boy living in Nazi Germany. He’s obsessed with Hitler and believes all the worst things about jews. So much so that the film starts with an ecstatic Jojo getting pumped about going to Nazi Youth Camp. Did I mention this is a comedy (albeit a dark one)? Celebratory book burnings and live fire training ensue.

It stars Roman Griffin Davis as Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, Scarlett Johansson as Rosie Betzler, his charismatic, take-no-shit mother, and Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa, a jew living in their walls. Oh, and it was written, directed, and also stars Taika Waititi (of Thor: Ragnarok) as none other than Adolf Hitler, or at least a proxy of Hitler. The story is based on Christine Leunens‘s book Caging Skies.

The film takes a turn when Jojo finds Elsa hidden away in their home, and that his mother has hidden her on purpose. Jojo then begins to questions his misguided beliefs. With the thoughtful prodding of Rosie and Elsa, Jojo eventually comes to terms with the fact that he has been mislead.

The Laughs

Almost every character in Jojo Rabbit is funny. Jojo: funny, Rosie:  funny, Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell): funny, Hitler: funny, Jojo’s friend Yorki (Archie Yates): hilarious. But the laughs aren’t at the death and destruction of war, but despite it. The characters, especially Jojo and Rosie are grasping for levity in a country and city that are surrounded and under attack, from inside and out.

The Heart

There’s no way I get into the heart of the matter without egregious spoilers, and this is no place for that. So I’m just going to say that this quirky, dark comedy is chalk full of heart. I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is easily Scarlett Johansson’s best film. Or at least the best I’ve seen of hers. She exudes caring and compassion in an undercurrent beneath her rough guise of a faithful German citizen.

Couple Johansson’s performance with Sam Rockwell, who plays a gruff but funny and oddly caring Nazi captain who attempts to train Jojo and Yorki, and you’ve already got a film brooding with talent. But we’re not done yet. The young actors also all nail it. Elsa (McKenzie) is meek in her hideout, but fierce when it comes to Jojo’s blind Nazi loyalty. Meanwhile she’s clever enough to prod him into an empathetic direction without being too overt. Even Jojo’s hilarious friend Yorki, is as lovable as a character as I could hope for.

The Feels

After Jojo Rabbit finished, I walked out of the theater and went shopping at Trader Joes. It’s unrelated to the movie except that Joes shares a parking garage with the theater I went to and I was hungry. All of that is beside the point anyway. The point is, that the whole time walking around the store, doing something so trivial as buying groceries, driving home, and walking my dog, my mind was wandered. Much in the way minds tend to wander after something great and shocking and bewildering — clawing for meaning, scratching away the callused parts of my skull.

I was sad and laughing and smiling and crying, all at the same time. If the goal of art is to make you feel something, Jojo Rabbit unequivocally falls into the “art” category for me, and I bet it will make you sad-laugh-smile-cry too.

The Egg

For as long as I’ve known about the Kurzgesagt YouTube channel I’ve been a huge fan. They usually make great scientific videos, but in this team-up with Andy Weir (author of The Martian amongst other fine works) they’ve gone into a whole new, beautiful realm.

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Lanman Adventures

Some dear friends of mine — Rachel and Jon Lanman — have been on a number of amazing skiing and backpacking adventures. Lucky for us, they’re both fantastic writers and have made a blog to tell us all about them (replete with photos). I recommend to start at the beginning and read all the entries, but I’ve pulled some quotes in case you need further convincing.

The trail carries us further distances, carved into a hillside, parting a field of grass. Flowers appear like fireworks keeping my attention busy, as my quads contract, pushing me further from the cities in my head.

Jon Lanman — Big SEKI Loop – Trail Journal: Day 2

The meadow is a popular day hiking destination, and it’s easy to see why. It is a wide and steep valley, about 1 mile in length flanked by granite and snow. We enter the valley from the east – where the trees give way to open fields of flowers. At the western end it knits back together 1,000 ft above the valley floor at the bottom of the Spider Gap glacier. The sound of water is everywhere – coming from tiny waterfalls in every direction. A bubbling creek flows to our left. Flowers and butterflies, lifting fog and sunshine create a swirling, mystical beauty to an already breathtaking place. It’s morning and everything is drying off in the early morning sunshine, ourselves included. We take several pictures and then start making our way up the meadow to the base of the glacier. It’s a strenuous climb out of the meadow, so I put on my game face and start walking.

Rachel Lanman — Spider Gap – Buck Creek Pass Loop – Day 1

Less than a mile from the JMT junction, we notice it’s happening again. Behind us, over the peaks, the clouds begin to darken, moving in our direction. This is to be expected. We move on until the sprinkles gently tap our backs, reminding us of yesterday – “remember us” they say.

Jon Lanman — Big SEKI Loop – Trail Journal: Day 4

When I read their words I can see what they saw, hear what they heard. Their excitement shines through in their thoughtful descriptions, as does the wonder of nature. Thanks for sharing, Jon and Rachel.

How the Moon Was Made

Sarah T. Stewart presents her fascinating theory of how our magnificent moon was made.

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'Fundamentally Wrong'

WARNING: the linked articles contain extreme descriptions of violence.
John Gruber on Daring Fireball writing about the the Verge piece The Trauma Floor: The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America:

There is something fundamentally wrong with a platform that — while operating exactly as designed — requires thousands of employees to crush their own souls.

Blade Runner 2049 – Movies with Mikey

Movies with Mikey is unequivocally my favorite movie review channel. His reviews are more like deep-dives than reviews, but that’s more of what I’m looking for anyway. I don’t suggest watching his videos until you’ve watched the movies as spoilers run very deep. That’s true for his review of Blade Runner 2049 as well. So, if for some reason you haven’t watched that already, go do that first, then come back to this review for greater understanding.

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