What we watched April 2020

I never expected to have this much time to watch stories on-screen, but it’s coronavirus social isolation time in Michigan, and time is mostly available!

Giri/ Haji (Duty/Shame)
Linda’s recommendation: Watch if you like the avant garde
I really enjoyed this series. Set in Tokyo and London, it follows a detective from Tokyo searching for his brother in London, and the assorted cast of characters he meets. I especially liked how the director was unafraid to frame shots, and even film long sequences, differently. The pace was slower which I appreciated in a story like this with lots of characters and tangled storylines. And the casting of Charlie Creed-Miles as Abbott, the impatient, tattooed hoodlum is just genius.

Kingpin
Linda’s recommendation: Not my style
This is the goofiest film I have seen in years, with moments of crass and touches of genius. With this movie, one of my many movie guidelines has fallen and one still stands. “Films with Bill Murray do not appeal to me.” That remains true. “I like any film with Woody Harrelson in it.” Cannot really say this with 100% certainty now. (Also the credits have Woody Harrelson’s name misspelled?!?!)

Three Identical Strangers 
Linda’s recommendation: interesting and worth watching. 
This 90 minute documentary is carefully constructed to not reveal all its secrets right at the beginning. Looks at the question of nature versus nurture in the raising of children.

Unorthodox (Netflix)
Linda’s recommendation: interesting and worth watching
This 4-part series is about a woman breaking free from her orthodox Jewish community, and fleeing from Brooklyn to Berlin. The star, Shira Haas, is mesmerizing- it’s impossible to look away when she is on the screen. (The “Making of” video is also good.)

Bosch (Season 6)
Linda’s recommendation: Always
This series, on Amazon Prime, has been consistently enjoyable. I like the use of older actors in the show, and the collective experience of the ensemble really adds polish to the show. The 10 episodes of Season 6 went by very quickly.

Get Low
Linda’s Recommendation: Yes
Robert Duvall is Felix Bush as well as the executive producer on this film that was satisfying on many levels. This film is not complex, all the questions posed are answered, and it’s not very sexy; it is just one of those small films that are a treasure.

Arundhati Roy article in the FT

The entire article is here.

“Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality,” trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.

“We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

Arundhati Roy

Time to Be Real

On 60 Minutes Sunday night there was a short clip of Wynton Marsalis talking about his dad Ellis who died last week from the coronavirus. In his comments, Wynton said that Ellis would have asked: “Let’s see if we are who we said we were before we had to deal with this.” In regular times it is “easy to be full of arrogance and commentary; now we have to be for real in our morality, our concepts, our integrity.”

Take Aways – Daniel Levitin, Successful Aging

This post summarizes the main take away points for me from a talk given by David Levitin, author of Successful Aging, given at the Commonwealth Club on February 5, 2020 (Link). Also sponsored by the Buck Institute on Aging in Novato, CA whose mission is to live better, longer.

  1. A key to successful aging is to identify those things that are important to you (at any age) and then make time for them.
  2. Curiosity is a big predictor of life satisfaction at any age. Curiosity is a personality trait. Your genetics give you a propensity for certain personality traits but you can change these at any age through religion, meditation, athletics, disease, etc. (See the example of Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins)
  3. Dopamine is part of the brains’ reward circuitry that rewards you for exploring your environment, and may fuel curiosity. You begin to lose your dopamine production every decade after 50. [This explains my lack of motivation at times, as Parkinson’s is a dopamine production problem.]
  4. We didn’t evolve to be 80 years old. Natural selection has not caught up with our living longer, so we don’t know what our limits are or what we can become. 
  5. There are a lot of myths about aging that aren’t true. Many of these myths are the stories we tell ourselves. For example, when you’re 20 and you misplace your keys you tell yourself you have too many things on your plate. When you’re 80, you tell yourself that you’re losing your mind.
  6. The most important aging factor is this: moving around, outside.
  7. It’s important not to allow your insulin levels to spike too often. Remember also that eating should be fun. Dr. Levitin eats a spoonful of ice cream every week, but usually not more than one because of the law of diminishing returns.

What Lies Within Us

What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.           ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Covid-19: Dr David Price on Protecting Your Family

This is an informative video that you may not have seen, and that gave me a sense of how to take fight back against the coronavirus. I made this written summary at the request of some of my family and thought it might be helpful to you.

The video is here, and is titled: Covid_19_Protecting_Your_Family_Dr_Dave_Price_3_22_2020

Dr Price is at a 1,200 bed hospital in NYC. They triage at several stages, Dr Price decides who gets ventilators and who comes off them. In a unique position to comment on this situation.

Why make this video?

Physicians are angry at people not taking this seriously but also they also want to empower people to learn about the facts of this disease. Three months into fight against it, his hospital is almost exclusively Covid 19, and they know alot and are learning every day. Don’t be scared – you can protect your family.

What is Covid-19?

Covid-19 is a virus, from common cold family, but new to humans. Looks like fever, cough, sore throat. Affects lungs mostly. 80% of people who get this will just “not feel good” with mild cough, headache. Most people in this group start to feel better after 5 to 7 to 14 days or so.

How to protect your family?

We get this disease through sustained contact with either a) someone who has disease (people with fever, aches), or b) someone who is about to become sick. Almost exclusively transmitted from hands to face (eyes, nose, mouth). May also be transmitted in air but that likely requires 30 minutes sustained contact with sick person. Know this: Covid-19 is in your community right now. Use these four rules to protect yourself:

  • Become a fanatic about your hands – know where your hands are and keep them clean at all times. Use Purell. It is okay to touch things, just Purell it immediately.
  • Work on psychological connections between hands and face. Stop touching your face. Be aware. Start wearing masks (or a bandanna) when you leave the house – it will help you to stop touching your face.
  • You do not need a medical mask. (He only wears a N95 if he is in room with sick patients)
  • Distance yourself when in public – six feet rule is good.

Don’t be scared of outside world. Don’t be scared of people. Use these facts to stay healthy.

Socially you must shrink your social circle. Find your little group and set firm boundaries. No others traipsing in and out. Okay to go to store using four rules above.

What do you do if you get this disease?

Most transmission throughout world is from one family member to another. If you develop fever but are otherwise fine, just isolate yourself. Stay in your room, use separate bathroom if possible. Inside the house the sick person wears the mask outside the bedroom. Wash hands after anything touched. Just minimize the sustained contact. Let them take their own temperature. Seven days in, most people will start to feel better.

If you think you have a cold, take the Covid-19 precautions, then if you feel better in two days, you will know you had a cold.

However – If you have vulnerable person in your home, be ultra cautious. The elderly and those in chemo.

When to go to hospital?

If you feel short of breath go to the hospital. Not just because you have a fever or aches. Not because you think you have Covid-19. Dr Price’s hospital sends most people home to finish course of disease. Of all the people who get COVID-19 about 10% need to go to the hospital because they have shortness of breath. Of that 10% perhaps two or 3% of those need to go on a ventilator. Majority come off ventilator in 7 to 9 days.

Answers to Questions:

  • Kids under 14 are not getting critically ill. Not clear if they are transmitting it.
  • Should I get tested? Depends on availability of tests in your area.
  • Okay to go outside. Don’t get sloppy. Follow the rules.
  • Use caution on things others have delivered to you. Don’t have to wash packages, etc if you follow the rules.
  • How long to wait to contact your hospital or doctor if you get sick? Call, don’t go in, doctors using telemedicine. Only go to hospital if you are having trouble breathing.
  • This disease affects everyone who is older than 15. NOT restricted to older adults or those with co-morbidities. Follow the rules.
  • They are not using ibuprofen in hospital anymore. No Advil. Tylenol only.
  • Social distancing will likely be continued, but don’t give into fear. You know the rules.

Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda

“Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.”

― Pablo Neruda

Q1 2020 What We Watched

bank of televisions

This year I thought I would start tracking what we watch, by quarter. I did not realize, in January, how truly different this first quarter of 2020 would be, from all other periods in my life. Perhaps that contributes to what may be the most eclectic collection of videos and film I’ve ever viewed in one three month timeframe (listed in order viewed).

Final Straw: Food Earth Happiness
Linda’s recommendation: See it because it matters
Inspired by the book The One Straw Revolution, this film weaves together stories from some of the world’s foremost figures in the natural farming movement. Together they give modern-day relevance to age-old ideas about food, environmentalism, and happiness. It really is both art and documentary.

Cold Case: Dag Hammarskjold
Linda’s recommendation: See it if you are bored
Weird and complicated, this investigative documentary just gets more so as it progresses.

Dead to Me (Netflix)
Linda’s recommendation: Fun to watch
A twist in every episode in this drama series as you uncover the characters’ secrets.

Salt Acid Fat Heat
Linda’s recommendation: Watch this if you eat or cook
Terrific. Samin Nosrat’s enthusiasm for her craft is catching.

The Rise of Amazon (Frontline)
Linda’s recommendation: Good grief
Great illustration of how executives come to believe their own lies. Hard to watch if you want to keep ordering from Amazon.

All the King’s Men (1949)
Linda’s recommendation: Good but only after you read the book
Based on Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name, it is impossible to capture the nuance and complexity of the book.

Honeyland
Linda’s recommendation: Must See
Previously reviewed on February 19th on this blog. Terrific, touching, meaningful.  I loved this film.

Little Women (2019)
Linda’s recommendation: I wish I had the time back
Everyone loved this but me. Boring, just like every other version ever made of this story.

The Highwaymen (2019)
Linda’s recommendation: If you like buddy films, this is terrific
About the relationship between two former Texas Rangers as they attempt to apprehend Bonnie and Clyde in the 1930s. Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson play Frank Hamer and Maney Gault, in a film that deepens as you watch it.

Helvetica
Linda’s recommendation: Watch if you love typeface
A documentary that is an ode to the font type that is Helvetica, mostly by advertising types. It was good but not great. If you want some thing about fonts in general this is not your film.

Tiger King (Netflix)
Linda’s recommendation:   No!
This is Netflix’s contribution to the end of civilization. A peek at a world you didn’t know existed, don’t want to be part of, and hope ends soon – inhabited by some of the most confused and sad characters ever on screen.  Let me also just also note: there are only 4,000 tigers in the wild, while the U.S. has another 5,000 locked in cages, many in “private” zoos.

Ford v Ferrari
Linda’s recommendation: Predictable, but enjoyable
When a movie is based on a true story, I guess that means you cannot say it was formulaic, but that is how this one felt. The sound quality was poor – spoken words were mumbled, the engines were roaring. Finally, I just didn’t feel that the relationship between Carroll Shelby and Ken Davis was flushed out very well in the 2.5 hours it took to tell this tale.

How to Get Ready to Retire?

Get healthy.

This article is in the context of Covid-19 crisis, but its point – that the vast majority of Americans are not healthy – is a call to action for each of us individually. “Only 12 percent of Americans over age 20 are considered metabolically healthy — that is, with optimal measures for waist circumference, blood sugar, blood pressure and lipids, and not taking drugs to control these risk factors.” Even without Covid-19 our healthcare system was about to be overwhelmed.

The single most important thing to do for yourself is to get and stay healthy. Also, probably the single most difficult thing to accomplish.

Life After Coronavirus

Yuval Noah Harari wrote a very interesting article in the Financial Times recently about how the choices we are forced to make quickly today – to save lives, to expedite medical supplies – will have lasting impact on how we live post-crisis. Does our future hold totalitarian surveillance or citizen empowerment? Nationalist isolation or global solidarity?

Contrast this with the kind of thoughtful decisions we have been making, or should have been making, all along. Like the ones described by Ozzie Zehner in his book Green Illusions. Do we have the wherewithal to lower our energy demands significantly, immediately, and to live more lightly on the earth in multiple contexts? How do we set ourselves up to make our species successful?

One thing for sure. There’s no going back to “normal.” We are forever changed.