Rhetorician

Blog

Tacit Endorsement #7

Week of 7.3.2016

A critic by training and by temperament, I am quick to find fault. In everything. I like to think of mine as a lovable sort of pessimism, the kind that helps us more fully appreciate those very few things in life that aren’t completely the worst — by dwelling on those things that are. The Tacit Endorsement series is my attempt to turn my frown upside down. Here I work to identify a few things from the past week that I — what’s the word? — enjoyed.

:::

Two slices of Dimo’s Pizza with spinach, feta, and tomatoes. After a 10-mile run, I wrote this off as a necessary refueling rather than a guilty indulgence. Feta for protein, carbs for… carbs. The folks at Dimo’s are always equal parts welcoming and pierced. I think I heard the woman at the counter address me as “my dude,” which I found quite charming, if a little mid-00’s.

:::

A little NPR nugget about Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ got me thinking about the power of simplicity (200 words), the use of proper name as accusation, and the chilling myths we construct from tiny fragments of everyday life. I haven’t spent all that much time listening to or thinking about Dolly as such, but the fact that this is her second appearance in Tacit Endorsement has not escaped my notice (see: Tacit Endorsement 3, note 5).

:::

A silent movie with live organ accompaniment.

:::

Cold-brew coffee.

:::

My 4th of July celebrations were modest — a few sparklers in the driveway with the niece and nephew, accompanied by seasonally appropriate Sousa marches coming from my phone’s speaker. (Sous-iphone?). Once the kids were worn out, my brother produced a round of grown-up root beer floats for the adults. Root beer, bourbon, vanilla ice-cream. Ok, America. Ok.

:::

Skipping the fireworks.

:::

Consuming media texts with the kiddos, aged 4 and 7, is a bit disorienting. During any given weekend visit, it seems they have two or three newly favorited movies playing on an endless loop. (Although sometimes, regardless of the season, and for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend, one of the films resuscitated for heavy, fragmented rotation is The Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.) The stream starts and stops as needed to accommodate meals, naps, and other activities, so a visiting uncle is likely to catch the middle 30 minutes of one feature, the final 20 of another. It’s much like the way one might experience an art film screened in a gallery, but with better snacks and comfier seating. So I have good things to say about Zootopia, but can speak with authority only of the first two thirds. The bit I saw hinted at some surprisingly timely and sophisticated social commentary.

:::

The movie Lilting (2014) is streaming now on Netflix. A gorgeous exploration of grief, loneliness, guilt, and responsibility, the film centers on Richard (Ben Whishaw), as he attempts to deal with the sudden death of his boyfriend by connecting with the boyfriend’s grieving mother, Junn. But Junn doesn’t speak a word of English and doesn’t know that her son’s “roommate” of four years was anything more. Lilting is a ‘coming out film’ that expands the genre, complicating the notions of transparency and truth-telling on which those stories rely. Watch it.

Lilting.jpg

:::

A long phone chat with an old friend.

:::

And another.

:::

Matryoshka measuring cups.

:::

Some new Field Notes notebooks. I prefer grid ruled. Jotting things down in these particular books makes me feel like I live in a Wes Anderson movie, I suspect because of the heavy use of the Futura typeface on the notebooks and in his films. But please don’t go buying them all up; the guy at my local shop said he’s having trouble keeping them in stock. You know what? Forget I even mentioned them.

While we’re talking film & Field Notes: 

:::

A summer thunderstorm.

:::

Yoga by the lake. Yeah, I know. Might as well call it “twee pose." But it’s really, really nice.

:::

In the wake of a turbulent Pride month, the podcast 99% Invisible devoted an episode to Remembering Stonewall, playing an audio documentary produced in 1989 about the events of 1969. A remembrance of a remembrance.

:::

The week was also made better by one Metra train, a handful of Divvy bikeshare bikes, and a few good-old-fashioned city busses. I won’t deny the convenience of that one Uber I found myself in this week, but when there are solid public transit options available, cars always feel to me like cheating. A slothful, decadent hack. An impressionable year long ago, living young and broke in New York City, taught me that cabs are only for rich people, tourists, and emergencies. I know that Uber has transformed (nay, “disrupted,”) the world since then, but is that any reason for me to revise my fundamental (arbitrary?) principles of city living?

:::

Easy Mac. Not even real Easy Mac from Kraft. The generic version. Just add water. Three minutes in the microwave. Don’t look at it too long before you add the orange powder. Don’t look at it too long after. Lesson: never underestimate the power of starting with low expectations.

:::

A better use of the microwave? DIY microwave popcorn. The plain brown bag makes you feel like you’re in olden times. Except for the part where you’re microwaving popcorn. I add a tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon or two of sriracha after popping. Because I am hard core.

:::

Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. I don’t think this is what the cool kids are drinking. But it’s very tasty. And when you’re on a sunny roof deck, no one will see you.

:::

Moody Tongue Brewing Sliced Nectarine IPA. Is this what the cool kids drink? It’s local. #drinklocal

:::

While we’re drinking summery drinks: a Venetian Spritz. At a sidewalk cafe. Where everyone will see you. #drinkfoppish

:::

Some episodes of Veep.

:::

A peaceful protest.*

:::

A long run on a lovely day. Running into friends on the trail.

::: 


* Footnote: It’s been a few years since my last Tacit Endorsement post. This week felt like the right time to resume the practice, not because it was a good week, but precisely because it was such a tragic one. Maybe it is profoundly irresponsible of me to be writing about trivial delights when there is so much to be outraged about. But if I may hazard: perhaps spending time in appreciation of the things that make life bearable is also a means to feel more richly the impact of life taken away so violently and senselessly. If we don’t pay attention to  good, beautiful, human things, we lose track of what we have to grieve when it’s gone. Maybe I'm thinking about Jack Gilbert's poem — "Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. .... If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction, we lessen the importance of their deprivation. We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil...." I don't know. I don’t know as much about Alton Sterling and Philander Castile as I should, but I know they found things in life to be delighted about, and I know they’ll never enjoy those things again. And my heart breaks. And I am outraged.