Idiot Boxing

The Great Flattening continues. Even when the city was burning, even with protests to attend and petitions to sign and causes to donate to, it’s still all blending together a bit. (I’ve come to appreciate the #WhatDayIsIt tweets from Steve Portigal.)

I moved during the initial lockdown period in Minneapolis, and I’m in a larger space now with a dedicated living room separate from the rest of the space. That, plus the general weirdness of the days themselves, has changed my relationship to the TV screen. I find myself seeking out more soothing, intellectual, independent, and vaguely artistic things to watch (especially compared to my usual TV diet of sci-fi . Broadly, you might categorize them as “quieter” things. It feels like the … intensity? … of daily life has been turned down quite a bit. The blaring, chaotic energy of slickly-produced TV shows and Hollywood movies feels incongruous against this quietness.

The broad genre of street life gets a lot of screen time now, especially videos exploring creative street foods at various markets. I miss the feeling of being alone in a crowd and of wandering around a new city. And honestly, at this point, it feels downright alien to watch people just … existing together! Being together, chatting, sitting on curbs, eating over crowded picnic tables. Eavesdropping! God, remember eavesdropping?

I found a furniture restoration channel I like. Lots of quiet scraping, sanding, painting, and highly-satisfying little woodworking magic tricks.

We got the Kanopy app installed, which lets you stream things from your local library system, and have been choosing some indie and art films and documentaries at random. A three-hour documentary about life in the New York Public Library system made for two nights of viewing. It’s deliberately slow-paced, with long uninterrupted shots of people talking at various public meetings and book clubs and such. Which sounds boring, and it kind of is, but in a way that was delightful and soothing and scratched an itch I didn’t know this pandemic had caused.

Our most recent choice was the excellent and new-to-me play Small Islands, streaming through an initiative from National Theatre Live. You wouldn’t think a recording of a play would be engaging, and maybe it would seem less so if we could, you know, go to actual plays, but I was fairly enthralled watching this.

Games are still in the mix, but less so. Lately I’ve been enjoying the relative gentleness of the SNES version of Yoshi’s Island through the Nintendo Online service. It’s nice to finally play this game in sequence, instead of one random half-level at a time in the electronics section of Super Target while Mom shopped for groceries.

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