Whole of my Heart, by Chris Plaisted, on Kenosha, Wisconsin's harbor

February 16, 2024: “Whole of My Heart,” by Chris Plaisted, on Kenosha, Wisconsin’s harbor.

Another Week: Number 60

by | February 18, 2024

I continue to go through the motions for the sake of motion.

Super Bowl LVIII took place in Las Vegas on Sunday and I watched the entire extravaganza with my eighty-eight-year-old mom. She’s not a football fan, but we both like to dutifully bear witness to national events via television, so I brought some Buffalo Wild Wings, some guacamole, and some Giordano’s “tavern-style” thin-crust pizza and we tried our best in her living room to blend in with our fellow Americans.

It was a slog. In addition to the usual NFL fitfulness of timeouts, and further review, and two-minute warnings, the game was a gauntlet of frustration impeded by turnovers and near misses on both sides. Mom wanted the 49ers to win because the Chiefs had already enjoyed their turn, but that didn’t work out. The commercials were commercials and they were plentiful. There was overtime. I finally left around 10 p.m.

Tuesday was Mardi Gras. Amy and I used to make that holiday our own New Orleans food and music extravaganza. Despite my Polish ancestry, I never bought into the supposed tradition of Pączki Day, which was not a thing when I was growing up.

This year, I laissez les bons temps rouler with a Marie Callender’s frozen chicken pot pie, a baked sweet potato, and steamed French green beans from Aldi. E la ba!

Wednesday was both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday — love and death, hand in hand as the New York Times put it. My valentine is dead, so “happy” is not happening. The last I heard, Amy’s sister has Amy’s ashes.

Wednesday afternoon, I walked the Petrifying Springs loop, smiling at my fellow zombies while I listened to coverage of how Kansas City’s Super Bowl celebration had turned into yet another American mass shooting that took the life of a radio DJ and mother of two. Antonin Scalia died eight years ago Tuesday, but his willful misreading of the Second Amendment’s prefatory clause continues to kill Americans day in and day out.

Early Friday morning, news broke that Alexei Navalny was dead in a Siberian prison, an obvious demonstration by Vladimir Putin that he, at least, does enjoy absolute immunity from any accountability whatsoever — and a test to reveal exactly who is on his leash.

This week I walked 13.31 miles.


Fani Willis hearing

Thursday I spent my workday on my laptop while monitoring the Fani Willis hearing in Atlanta on my TV. It was astonishing the way Willis swooped in like a superhero to put a derailed proceeding back on track through sheer force of will and reason, despite all the cringey muck the Trump attorneys had stirred up to trap her. She ate that frog on national television like it was an exotic appetizer.

Pablo Picasso once said, “You have to be willing to waste some effort. If you want to see a great bullfight, you have to go to all the bullfights.

In recent years, I have wasted countless hours listening to the daily developments of investigations, impeachments, indictments, trials, and court decisions. A great deal of it has been grindingly tedious and has finally come to absolutely nothing.

This, though, was a faena for the ages — choreographed by the would-be victim!



Past Lives (2023)

I have been captivated by Greta Lee after seeing her in Russian Doll and The Morning Show.

Lee stars in Past Lives, and the movie is well-reviewed and Oscar-nominated, so I have wanted to see it for a while. My mom, having just finished some Clint Eastwood film that she loves, made a sour face when I suggested this one, so I watched it alone via Paramount+ with Showtime on Saturday morning.

It’s the directorial debut of Celine Song, and a very impressive one for its quiet tantalization.

The story shares several similarities with Song’s biography. It concerns a 12-year-old South Korean girl who emigrates to Toronto with her parents, losing contact with her young classmate and sweetheart as a result. Eventually, they reconnect online, but it’s on and off — and meanwhile, the young woman (Greta Lee as Nora) marries and moves forward in her life.

This film is a hushed contemplation of that big What-If. Soft summer breezes blow through white curtains while feelings are brought to heel, words are left unsaid, and lives teeter on the edge.

I am reminded of the concept of “modal realism” explored in Everything Everywhere All At Once, in which every fork in every life leads to alternate, valid realities and more forks. In Past Lives, present coincidence is chalked up to in-yun, a kind of fate that is built up through experiences with others in previous lives.

Diverting as those notions may be, we each find ourselves in just one present life with choices to make here and now about which path to take, weighing fulfillment against regret either way.

Past Lives is not perfect. Hae Sung, the childhood sweetheart, lacks definition. Nora’s ambitious career could be depicted more instead of just alluded to, perhaps adding some action as relief from the rumination.

Still, this is a sublime movie — one I enjoyed a lot even though I didn’t think I could watch movies alone.



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