Page 1
more
more
Standard

baseball. [a month of happy.]

One week from today, the long MLB season will begin. This probably doesn’t make most people happy, but for me, it is intrinsically tied to my mental health. Emily has observed many times that she knows the depression is really bad for me when I’m not even watching baseball. It’s part of the landscape of my life.

Baseball is a game of rhythm and poetry. It’s about the pauses, about what doesn’t happen, just as much as it’s about the beats and what does happen.

It’s often referred to as a sport rooted in the relationship between a father and a son, which is an inaccurate oversimplification, while also managing to be sexist: double whammy!

The truth in what they are saying is that catching the passion for baseball is a learned behavior. It often happens early in life, being around someone who loves the game, then it burrows down into your bones, grabs hold and never lets go.

The feedback loop of baseball is one of increasing returns. The more you watch and learn, the more nuance you see, the better you get at seeing the game, which helps you watch more closely, which makes you fall deeper in love, and on it goes. I know this is true of most things people love, but it’s even truer of baseball. It’s a game of secret languages, of deep minutia and hidden layers of meaning in every facet of the game. There’s a reason why “inside baseball” is the turn of phrase to describe a detail-oriented description requiring specific knowledge to follow the argument.

During the regular season, baseball is ever present. If you have a favorite baseball team, they play nearly every day. 162 regular season games over the course of six months, followed by the playoffs, if you’re so lucky.

Baseball is for people who enjoy a slow burn, it is for people who need to have a constant stream of content to interpret, it is for people who enjoy watching closely, seeing incremental shifts that only mean something if you know what you’re looking for.

Baseball has been my favorite sport my entire adult life. I feel more at home watching a baseball game than I do in most contexts.

To the disgust of many, the Yankees have been my favorite professional sports team since before I have memories. I have a vague recollection of my first sporting event — the Yankees played the Royals at Yankee Stadium. Don Mattingly hit a home run in this memory, but that seems a little too perfect, so that may be the apocryphal inventions of a child’s imagination.

Anyway, every year, Emily and I find a bar or restaurant to watch the first MLB game of the season, which is always on a Sunday. This year, that first game will be played by my Yankees, a team that probably doesn’t have the pitching to compete this year, but who will still be fun to watch thanks to a bevy of youngsters — Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge to start the year, with more on the way soon –getting a chance to try and join the epic list of Yankee legends and fan favorites.

As I write this, there are 6 days, 14 hours, 26 minutes remaining until the first game begins. I’m ready.

more
more
more
more
more
more
Standard

archer noir. [a month of happy.]

We are so close to a new season of Archer. 

Spoilers follow, if that’s even a thing with Archer.

I’m assuming this season takes place in Archer’s mind at the end of season seven, what with the oxygen deprivation and whatnot. Brains are weird even when you aren’t in a cartoon.

That would be a tidy way to have a season that is disconnected from the other seasons. After that, I would assume he’ll be brought back to life for season nine — the whole ‘he was dead for eight minutes’ sort of thing. Since Adam Reed said the show will end after the tenth season, I can’t imagine Archer stays dead.

more
Standard

moonlight. [a month of happy.]

“Who is you, Chiron?”

I would imagine that this may seem a strange inclusion in the month of happy. This film isn’t exactly light fare.

But after watching Moonlight for the second time, the best word to describe the mix of feelings it leaves me with is joy, followed quickly by hope.

For one, its beauty is inspiring. There is no aspect of this film that isn’t beautiful. The screenplay is beautiful, the score is beautiful, the camera work is beautiful, the themes are beautiful, the characters are beautiful. Every actor in the film manages to imbue each character with an amazing humanity and depth, which is especially impressive in light of the fact that only one cast member appears in all three parts of the film.

Moonlight is remarkable and joyful in many ways, it certainly deserves more than this stream-of-consciousness blog response. But, all the same, I wanted to share something that struck me on my second viewing.

This film– in addition to all the huge things it portrays in terms of race, sexuality, and identity — quietly illustrates the immense significance of kindness and hospitality.

The most poignantly hopeful scenes in Moonlight all take place when characters are creating space for each other in small and extraordinary ways.

**Spoilers and whatnot**

As these characters provide a meal, offer a ride, light a cigarette, share a table, make a bed, create a nickname, make a cup of tea, teach a child to swim — as they offer the gifts of touch, warmth, and home, they save a life and create room for a man as he continues the struggle to find himself and feel at home in his own body.

Take the scenes in the film set at tables. These alone are enough to illustrate my point.

With a glaring exception in the center of the film — in the cafeteria when Kevin is goaded into assaulting Chiron — every other scene in which characters share a table with each other is a scene when characters are fighting for Chiron, making room for him in the world.

In a perfect film, which I’d argue this one is, we’re rewarded for paying attention. Director Barry Jenkins doesn’t waste a single gesture or camera movement, every frame plays to the larger story.

Chiron is an easy character to love, but his world is forcefully telling him the opposite.

Again and again, we see characters share various tables with Chiron. They serve him food, juice, water, and wine. They talk and listen, they attempt to coax him out of hiding and toward himself. There’s more to unpack there, but I’m not entirely sure how to do it without a video essay. In part because so much is expressed in the performances.

This film is obviously about much more than this idea of the importance of creating space for people. It would take dozens of blog posts and essays to even scratch the surface. Yet, while every scene is about much more than this, they are certainly not about less.

Moonlight makes me happy. In part, because it helps me believe that there is some hope for us, if perhaps only in the small moments and kindnesses we share with those around us.

I’d love to continue fleshing out more thoughts about this movie in conversation if anyone is interested, but as I’ve learned talking to Emily about it earlier today, I can’t promise not to cry in the process.

more