Meta Letta 

“Nomenclature” – That’s what I wrote in the draft version of this section, an aide memoir that I would then fill in when the time came.

Well, the time has come, and I have no idea what I was going to write about it, Past Stephan left me no context clues at all and my brain is molten mush at this moment.

Symptoms of burnout include insomnia, headaches, difficulty in maintaining concentration and sense of time, fatigue, procrastination… There are more, but to be honest, they all end up being somewhat cyclical – the constant stress the brain is experiencing results in poor sleep which increases fatigue and difficulty in maintaining concentration, short-term memory loss, etc. The brain is in overdrive, working on problems it can’t solve, so all these things tend to be interrelated. Now there are coping mechanisms for a lot of these symptoms, little tricks to alleviate the worst excesses: One might, for example, get very good at planning and making notes, learn to do one’s thinking on ‘paper’. One might use these textual musings to argue for or against laying down of some burdens, even if these burdens are equally a balm.

But it’s not enough. No matter how many coping mechanisms are utilised, sometimes the system breaks.

And then all you’re left with is the word “nomenclature”, and a cursor blinking accusingly. 

If only there was a name for that.


On My Screens

Emmy Nominations

There weren’t any real shocks when it came to the Emmy nominations this year; voting tends to happen in blocs and the thinkpieces focus on how many nominations every TV show received. Award shows are treated with some cynicism these days, but the nominations and longlists act as useful reminders and prompts of things to check out. Succession deserves its many nominations, but I’ve been prompted to give White Lotus another go. Ted Lasso and Yellowjackets are already firm favourites, and also received many nominations, but I think I really need to check out Severance. In other Emmy news, Zendaya is the youngest person to get a producing nomination for Euphoria at the age of 25, and Squid Game has made history as the first non-English language series to be nominated for best drama series.


Screen Budgets Everywhere All At Once – Spoiler Free

There’s no getting around the fact that Everything Everywhere All At Once is a massive hit for studio A24. It has shot past the takings for its previous top hit, 2018’s Hereditary, by taking $87million globally. Now, to many this sounds like chicken feed when most box office dialogue is around billion dollar movies. Top Gun: Maverick had a production budget twice what EEAAO took. But the difference here is that everyone’s favourite multiverse movie (!) was made with a relatively tiny budget of $25 million. This is a wire-fu, sci-fi family drama, certainly not devoid of stunts and CGI. And yet the budget in its entirety was equivalent to: One 45-minute episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi or any other Disney+ show. Obviously, franchise-inflated talent costs are a big factor in this, but the difference blows my mind. Low- to mid-budget movies like EEAAO struggle to find investment, never mind reach their audience, while mid-par but hyper-expensive TV shows suck up the cinematic oxygen. 


Everything Everywhere All At Once and the Scott Pilgrim connection – Spoilers

Watching EEAAO reminded me a little bit of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World in one specific way: In both cases, when you take away the fantastical elements, the fights and the clever references and the sci-fi elements, what you essentially have is a fantasist who isn’t very good at their own life, jumping from one elaborately constructed epiphany to another to become a better person. Scott has to learn not to be an arsehole and start taking responsibility for his actions, his preconceptions and easy life need challenging so he can act as a functioning grown-up. 

Evelyn needs to look at her family and truly see them again, as she has become caught up in the parts of her life that bring her neither joy nor support. She has to learn from her husband that positivity and joy are the real tools for reconnecting with her daughter and her whole life. 

Both movies are known for their outrageous plot elements. But take that away, and what remains are truly universal themes. 


In My Ears

The musical domination of Stranger Things continues, Spotify has created an algorithmic personal playlist that will show each user their personal “saviour song” at the very top, followed by additional tracks that could save you from Vecna. What would save me? This Is Love by PJ Harvey, and I’m super-thrilled by it. I’d love to know yours though, so check out the playlist and let me know!

Speaking of playlists… The songs I’ve been playing on repeat these last two weeks have been Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land by Marina(formerly of the Diamonds), and Bons élèves featuring the mighty MC Solaar. 


Photo of the Fortnight

The exercise behind this image was “negative space”, a composition technique that refers to the empty space around and between the subject(s) of an image. It’s a space, an emptiness, that generates a feeling or narrative based on the shape of what isn’t there; it can draw or lead the eye. It gives the duck something to smile at. Sometimes the answer is to be found in something that’s missing. 


Denouement

As I write these final words, it’s the second hottest day of the year, the day before The Great Conflagration. Apocryphal tales abound about warped train lines, melted washing lines, melted tarmac, forest fires and mass deaths, and the whole narrative of a world gone straight to hell. I’m down with that, I love a bit of drama, but it doesn’t feel quite real. Brits love talking about the weather, and how the country is perfectly temperate, unable to cope with extremes. But they do love a good bit of drama.

Me? I’d never write about the weather, what kind of hack do you think I am?

Until next time!