Seattle, not only grunge

Destination Unknown

June 14, 2019

Ah, Seattle! Of course you were the father of grunge, among many other things. First with the jazz, then with the rock, music fills your soul and you couldn’t help but let it out. I get it. Kurt, Eddie, Chris, Layne, Dave and their band companions found the answers to many of their existential questions in you, they created and they evolved putting words into music, feelings into sounds, and for some reasons I believe I found some answers too, but although I’ll try and explain them in humble words, I’m sure I won’t be as successful as those who preceded me, and who now are myths and heroes of our time.

I introduced myself to you smiling at the idea that here, it seems, is where people get inspired, and actually can build something. From music, to business companies, airlines and more (just think of Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks!!!) you gave a push to many. I wished for a minute you could be the place where I could get enlightened too. Eh, I wonder. I honestly have to confess that I also laughed at my excitement for being in the city where Grey’s Anatomy is fictitiously set. I guess I can see why now: they needed a city “with some balls”. They surely found it.

I parked the car and I started walking through you letting my receptors open, and you could tell I was receiving by the fact I was walking with a grin, and people were once again noticing me (like in Portland!?), but eventually I understood why. “Nice shirt!” – “I like your shirt!” – “What does your shirt say? I like it!” or simply smiling back at me acknowledging the message it shows: “Less job. More travel.” in the front, and “Quit your job.” in the back. I wonder if someone took it as a sign and eventually followed the suggestion, or if they will do it soon, I need the credits. For sure many appreciated it, and they also had the chance to experience the “open to discussions” version of me. Wow. Big deal. Not really. Well, I interacted with the guys at Starbucks, the musician at the pier, the photographer on the street, a few guys in a car pointing at my shirt laughing and nodding, women and men crossing path with me and explicitly agreeing with the message I was sharing. Fun times. Two girls asked if I could take a photo of them and I basically did a whole photo shoot session for them. They laughed and they kept on saying “thank you, you’re so kind”. I think at a certain point they started thinking I was a freak. But by that time, I already said bye headed back to my car, after a whole day spent walking and stopping at typical places. Such a tourist: I visited the Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, the Pier, a few art expositions here and there, the tall buildings, the viaduct they’re taking down polishing the view of downtown in such a cool way, the first original Starbucks, the Space Needle, and the Native American Art exposition, where I had a very interesting conversation with Cole, about Native Americans, my old studies (but never forgotten) and native stuff in general. Phenomenal.

Aaron, knowing I was coming from LA, tried to convince me that Seattle is better than my city of angels. He said the beauty of it here is not even comparable to LA’s; when the sun is out, it makes everything appear more charming. Here. Hmm. In LA the sun is always there, he continues, (I thought: not this year dude, not this year) so you simply get used to it. In Seattle, you wish for the sun and when it comes out it’s a good day (sounds kind of like me, right?). He talked about the lakes, the mountains, and the sound, meaning the music scene. Everything, he then added, is a short drive away whether you like hiking, skiing, water sports, going to the lake, hanging at the river, chilling close to the center, going to a bar. I objected using the desert card; he said the desert here is East of the mountains at about a 3-hour drive. Damn. He almost convinced me. When he used the music card I could not disagree, and he eventually ended the discussion with “Everything you need is here, and not as spread out as in SoCal“. Good point. So now what? Nothing, I took some (mental) notes down and I’ll used them for future reference.

Seattle touched me deep. We got physical, I confess. To the point I felt dizzy and breathless. Conversations about it were simply too reductive. As our body speaks better than words sometimes, mine could simply feel it all and speak for itself. In Seattle I saw things from the past, transformed into something I can now appreciate with a level of maturity that is palpable. Features almost too familiar accompanied my journey here, and I was safe. Not sorry. Just like staring at the eyes of a stranger sometimes can make you feel at peace and welcomed, Seattle was there to question me, to tackle me, and eventually embraced me with a passion that penetrated my soul. I felt good. It felt good. And if you only knew me, even just the smallest and remotest part of me, you would know that admitting and accepting that I actually felt something (and to say it out loud) is a big big big achievement. It all just came naturally and, despite the apprehension I felt right before introducing myself and even the first few minutes in, Seattle was nice and solid, raw and real, letting my guard fall down and my shields fade away, leaving room for fun times and good memories. Feral but not aggressive, direct but not disrespectful; I allowed myself to be seen by Seattle, so much so that my defense mechanisms failed, and I got “softer“. Just like a kiss, that when you can see it coming it just makes you chuckle, I too giggled and opened up, and people could sense it. I was not hating on every single human as usual. Just a small part of individuals kept on being the same annoying mortals, but it was nothing unbearable and I could handle it pretty well. Seattle allowed me, and I allowed myself really, to enjoy my limited time here, grabbing what I’ve been offered, giving what I could let out, up to a different extent. Thank you Seattle. Steve Jobs said “stay hungry, stay foolish”?! Pff. Amateur. “Stay sober, stay loud, stay real“. Just like Seattle.

We are The Leftovers of society…

Reviews, Tv Series

Be honest! Have you ever felt like there is something wrong with you? Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong place at the wrong time? Have you ever felt like there is a curse over you? Have you ever felt like “a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, ready to start again” like our beloved Katy Perry used to sing? Have you ever felt like you would give anything to end this life and just get reborn, hopefully with just a tiny little bit of more luck? No? Well lucky you, I would say. Yes? To at least one of these questions? Then welcome to the club. Not that being part of this club makes you more worthy of anything but at least you know you are not the only one. Cheers. See? There is always something to celebrate!

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When I started watching The Leftovers, I was going through a hard time. I just had my hips surgeries (Two. Yes, two hips, two surgeries!), I was stuck in bed, yadda yadda, I was binge watching Tv-series and movies like eating bonbons, really, and it literally messed up my mind. Every time one episode ended I had this heavy feeling weighing on me, the music, the soundtrack was so melancholic and sad, terrible and haunting, (well I guess thank you Max Richter) that not even Ludovico Einaudi makes me feel that way  (and of course I used some of the songs in my short, a project for filmmaking class at BC that you can find here) …long story short, it was a total body experience. I definitely needed some music therapy after watching this show. I wonder if this is the reason why it took me so long to start reviewing it? Nah, it’s just me and my procrastination issue. I tried to see if there’s some AP meetings around but no. What do you mean “what is PA”? Procrastinators Anonymous of course. Dudes, dudettes, this is a serious issue you guys. Beware! Ugh uh. Anyway… the ways in which this series captures you (or that’s what happened to me at least, and you’ll see why even more later, going through the plot) are infinite. It pushes you through philosophical reasoning, adding psychological traits that you cannot avoid to take into consideration, picking on social and moral issues, religious ideas, ethical reasons, basically it makes you think, and that’s not something to underestimate nowadays. No wonder you start taking seriously the concept of feeling like an actual leftover of society by the end of the show.

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Like the TAO symbol, (the Ying Yang you all, come on, be smart) the stories entwines two sides of the same coin: faith vs lack of faith. Not only faith in God per se, but the meaning behind the actual act of believing (or not) in something, humanity included (yes, indeed, welcome to the club, like I said).  The unbalance and the mess that reigns in this picture where the world and society have been completely compromised by something supernatural (the sudden disappearance of 2% of the world population) makes you lose faith in almost anything, even you and your power, and your existence. Everything. But, (why, yeah, of course there was a “but” coming!!) the only ones who seem to handle this situation pretty well, are those who believe in God, such as Matt, who sometimes I can’t even stand with all his “manners”… but one thing at a time, we’ll get there.

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I asked myself multiple times if what made me relate so much to this show was the fact that it seriously makes you wonder what is going on in the world today. It shows how society is fucked up, pardon my French, and not only on the fictional level: fanatics are all over the places, believers and non-believers, people who simply can’t take it any longer, others who grasps on each other to survive, and then all the rest that simply exists around us, just –occurring– to us. Fate. Faith. Destiny. God. Chance. What is it all about? We don’t know. And this show tells you exactly this. It is all a real frigging mess.  There is not a psychological process in this. Or better, this is what you want to believe: after all, it is a tv-show, there has to be something, a clue, whatever, to connect the dots eventually, but no. You are left with a disturbing question mark even when, slowly, things start to be disclosed. And always expect the unexpected.

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The Leftovers

Genre: they want to call it “psychological thriller”
Based on: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
StarringJustin Theroux as Kevin Garvey, Amy Brenneman as Laurie Garvey, Christopher Eccleston as Matt Jamison, Liv Tyler as Meg Abbott, Chris Zylka as Tom Garvey, Margaret Qualley as Jill Garvey, Carrie Coon as Nora Durst, Ann Dowd as Patti Levin
Watched on: HBO
Three seasons, Twenty-Eight Episodes binge watched in: I wonder. I watched religiously the first season on SKY Atlantic, if I remember well, then I moved so I must have binged on the second season, and eventually I binged also the third I believe. Oh Oh, yeah yeah, I was in Boston at the time so yeah. Totally.

Mapleton, Ohio. One of the thousands of towns where people suddenly disappeared leaving 98% of the people on Earth… behind. Or alive. Or saved. Who are they? Who are we? We’re The Leftovers.  Among the protagonists of this story there is Kevin Garvey, the chief of police, originally married with Laurie, with whom he has two children. Kevin is trying to ease the tension that recently started to escalate between the town-the “normal” citizens and the members of the Guilty Remnant (GR), who go around town dressed in white, smoking cigarettes 24/7 provoking people into remembering. The point is to think of how life has no meaning, personality is nothing, and you could literally disappear suddenly, without any explanation. The show begins when Laurie has already become a member of the Guilty Remnants but we do not know why, yet.  Apparently the Garveys are all alive, no one in their family has departed (she was pregnant, yes, spoiler, and one moment the fetus is there, a second later he’s gone). After a few attempts of getting Laurie back, and after some shenanigans with Patty (Ann Dowd, aunt Lydia from The Handmaid’s Tale, among other roles),  Kevin gives up (after being forced by Patty to kill her in a very harsh scene) and finds comfort in the arms of Nora Durst, a woman who instead lost her whole family in the sudden event, and she is investigating on the case. Meanwhile Kevin is having nightmares, or so they seem, making him forget where he is and what he is doing, when he wakes up in random places around Mapleton. Moreover, his daughter Jill, a high school girl who seems to have been deeply traumatized by the events, alternates between depression, rebellion, and the need for normalcy, whilst her brother Tommy (who, we will learn, is Laurie’s natural son but not Kevin’s) left home to follow some sort of prophet who has a gift. Kevin’s father, former chief of police, is hearing voices and he gets hospitalized in a mental institution. Nora’s brother Matt, the priest of the town, is taking care of his wife who got hurt by a car without a driver the moment of the departure, and the accident left her on a vegetative state. A whole mess goes on throughout the season until Tommy leaves a special newborn outside his father’s house, giving a sense of relief and a light for a new beginning.

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Uh, but no. When things start to make a little sense, season one ends, and the second begins with Kevin and Nora moving to Miracle, TX -originally Jarden, which has been renamed when census showed in that town no one had departed. Here, where things could finally be “normal” again, hell gets unleashed. First, Tommy wants to belong to the Guilty Remnants to reunite with his mother, in order to dismantle the group and take her home. Then, Meg -Liv Tyler, who was Laurie’s mentor, rapes Tommy who ends up pretending to have gained superpowers and starts a lucrative business with his mother. Kevin and Jill are now living with Nora and the special baby Lily, who is the Prophet’s daughter that Tommy left on their doorstep, and the two adults are in a relationship taking care of the baby. Patti, the leader of the GR who Kevin has killed, starts to appear in his delusional visions. Another priest gets introduced when suddenly his daughter disappears from Miracle, and Kevin seems to be involved through some supernatural ways. The brother of the girl takes Kevin to a shaman who kills him making him go to a sort of visionary purgatory hotel. In this, I want to say afterlife, he gets tested, finds and fights Patti’s ghost, and eventually wakes up, or gets reborn, right after he could see Mary, Matt’s wife, in one of the rooms of the ghost hotel, letting the audience understand she may be living through different realities as well as Kevin.

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Finally it gets revealed that Evie, the girl who disappeared, actually joined the GR so no second departure happened, and the second season ends with the Garveys back together, Laurie included. Kevin though, saw his father through a video screen in the ghost hotel, and he revealed him he knows the truth, and he is in Australia to stop the end of the world and the second great flood: some sort of Apocalyptic natural event that would fix everything back to normal. So guess what? We are in Australia now. Guess where to be precise? Yes, Melbourne, right there, right where part of my soul is still floating, and right where I was before my hips surgery, but anyway, let’s keep going. Oh, and sorry about the spoilers but I could not avoid it. The whole reality situation is messed up again, with the difference that this time, Kevin is living a parallel life where he needs to kill the president, who ultimately comes out to be… him. In this parallel reality Kevin manages to see he has two roles in two dimensions. The Guilty Remnant group is at power, Patty is alive and Meg is his assistant. Apart from the tragicomical scenes where Kevin’s penis is the protagonist, (told you, super spoilers here guys) and that in which he has to kill himself in order to save the world from a nuclear attack (yes, I know this does not make sense at all, I warned you guys since the beginning that this tv-series is pretty mind twisting, to be polite!), Kevin manages to go back to the real world. Here he finds his father who tells him he can stop the flood only if a specific song from the aboriginals will be sung on the day of the Apocalypse, but Kevin has to die again in order to reach the other world. Talking about twists of plots people, things got really screwed up in this series so eventually you end up believing the dystopian version is the truth and the reality is the lie or vice-versa… Where is Nora though? Well, Nora goes to Melbourne as well, but nobody knows, not even Kevin, because she has found a group of scientists who claim to be able to send people to the place where the departed people are, and Matt? Well, Matt has been writing another Bible. Yes, for real. He believes Kevin is the new Jesus and he will save the world. After all, the Great Departure dismantled every certainty in the world so badly that all the confusion that came out of it was simply considered normal, and the more reality is twisted the more life seems to be worth living. At the end of the day, and of the season and series apparently, the world hasn’t ended, Nora is friend with Laurie, Kevin burns the bible that Matt wrote, and a new chapter begins with the Book of Nora.

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Oops, I did it again. The disturbing Sinner.

Reviews, Tv Series

Oh, the times they called me Mary in the past, because in their distorted minds they thought I looked like Jessica Biel, Mary in Seventh Heaven. I was always responding “I wish” (also because I never had either her body or her perfect lips)… then I must have grown up or something and poof, it ended; whatever happened people just started saying I looked like someone else. How about I look like… me? Also, why do you feel like you need to tell people who they resemble more? Did the doctor prescribed you to do so? I mean… But anyway… all things considered, by now I think I should have something around thirty people all looking like my-crazy-self all over the world. I wonder what happened to just those other six of us who should look like us, according to science. Wasn’t there supposed to be only 7 look-alike of ours on planet Earth? Unless I am an alien, and that would actually explain a lot.

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Jokes apart, I did it again. I binge watched. Well I never stopped of course, but here I am ready to write it down. Moving back and forth, oceans, continents, cities, towns, flights, houses, annoying people, crazy fellows, foooood, …you know all this being all over the place puts you on hold, but then oops. You’re waiting for your Amazon Fresh delivery to get to your door and you have some spare time, so why not using it to talk about one of the last shows you binge watched lately? Said, done. Why have I started talking about Mary and Jessica Biel then? Why yeah, isn’t it obvious? It is because the tv-show I am going to review here, now, is The Sinner, on Netflix, starring her, Jessica Biel, (who is also an executive producer), Bill Pullman and …others. Dots connected yet?

Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 94% with an Average Audience Score of 85% liking the show, Metacritic stays on 71% but you have to consider there is NO negative reviews so far, and Imdb rates it for 8/10. I mean, The Handmaid’s Tale got almost the same numbers and we’re almost done with season 2. I wonder if there will be a season 2 for The Sinner, but I doubt it will focus on Jessica’s character any longer, for reasons I can’t explain (I don’t need to spoil this for you). Still, there is always a way as they say, the show must go on, and if a second season gets requested either by the network or by the fans (this is going crazy lately having shows getting reborn thanks to popular demand, look at #luciferonfox #savelucifer #bringbacklucifer #luciferreborn etc), one way or the other it will be done.

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I loved Jessica Biel in this role. The whole story is a nice story that, before checking it out, I felt it had to be coming from a book, but if it weren’t for Jessica’s performance, I would have probably quit watching the series. Yeah no, ok, that was a lie. I never quit. I would have watched the whole series but I may have not spent a second to write about it. No wait, that is not true either. I would have probably written about it, complaining and saying how much I hated it. Oh wait no, ok whatever, I cannot know what I may or may not have done, but as far as I am concerned I did watch it and I am now talking about it, so let’s go back to what I was saying about Jessica’s Cora. Something was not quite right during the first minutes of episode one. I thought, either she is failing the role or something odd will happen. Guess what was it? Indeed, the second. So going back to how I felt when I started watching the show now I say: yasss, Jessica. You gave us that feeling of discomfort, of feeling like “why is she acting so weird?” (acting in both senses, literal and not literal) and also of wanting to know what was going to happen next.

She was almost drowning in the water when she eventually comes out looking all twisted; she suddenly kills a guy -she hears a song this guy and a group of friends were listening to that makes her lose her mind- she stabs him, she scares everyone to death and boom, we are not even halfway through the episode and you think “hmm, interesting“, now I see. “The title was misleading, she is not the sinner, wanna bet?” No. Don’t. You’re wrong. The whole sinner reference will come up with the passing of the time and the new episodes, just be patient. What actually overwhelmed me a little was that the setting of the show is today, but it felt like it was set in the seventies or something. The story goes back in time, we see Cora and her disturbed and disturbing childhood because of her religious fanatic mother, we see her through adolescence and up until now,  but the most important time frame is no longer than five years, from 2012 to 2017. But then again, it’s 2018 and we still have people believing the Earth is flat and stuff like that, so I don’t know why it would surprise me that a similar family would actually exist during the nineties and the beginning of the twenty-first century… but it does, ok? It shocks me. Fine, I’ll kneel on little rocks and ask for forgiveness.

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The show focuses on Cora’s motive to kill this guy who, since the beginning, you basically want to hate because he is accused of raping her in 2012, although it is a lie and we get to know this right away. To be honest, it seemed like Cora was hiding something, willingly, making up motives, excuses, wrong memories, mismatching not only facts but also names, but you will eventually feel a sort of relief by the end of the series. I particularly appreciated how a story that started as a simple whydunit (after all we know who did what, how and where) turns out to be the story of a traumatized person who eventually loses it, and it is not even her fault. I want to underline this is not at all related to actual murderers, and I am not even justifying murderous impulse on sick people. What appeared from the very beginning of the show, although of course she actually killed someone at the end of the day, was that this Cora girl was somehow half innocent, we just needed to know more and figure out how we can even think of a killer as “innocent”. I promised not to spoil this to those who haven’t seen it yet, so I cannot go further into details, except from saying this, and it may or may bot be linked to the series, so no blame: there will come a day when people will pay for their own actual mistakes without having someone else cover for them. Not only “to cover up” in the sense of hiding the truth, but also letting someone else destroy his or her life because of the consequences that these mistakes have created to the third parties. I don’t know if I made sense with this, but trying not to spoil a movie or a tv-show by talking about it, is hard, folks. Hard.

Trauma and traumatic experiences, the way they act on the human brain and the tools that our psyche uses to cope with it (and I will never get tired of repeating this), is something that we need to study, to understand and to let people be aware of, just like what is happening with mental problems, suicide, depression and mental health awareness. I feel like this show was all about trauma, abuse, violence, drugs, and yes, even mental health, so really, get a chance and watch it, and if you want to make ME happy, just binge watch it right away: 8 episodes go by rrrreally quick.

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The Sinner

Genre: they want to call it “crime-mystery drama”
Based onThe Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr
StarringJessica BielChristopher AbbottDohn NorwoodAbby MillerBill PullmanJacob Pitts
Watched on: Netflix
One season, Eight Episodes binge watched in: one afternoon, evening, night.

Let’s see, how am I supposed to review this series? One word: disturbing. As I said before, what started as a crime investigation on a sudden murder committed in public on a beach, turns out to be an investigation on abuse and sick events that hijacked a person’s mental stability and life. Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel) is married to Mason, they work at the Tannetti’s company and Mason’s mother takes care of their little child. Cora seems to be tired, (maybe a postpartum depression? you would think) something is bothering her as she is on medications and she does not seem to enjoy sex with her husband anymore. One day, they are at the beach, Cora goes for a swim and she is not coming back when her husband starts worrying. Eventually she gets out of the water and she starts feeding her child, cutting fruit and chatting with her husband, letting the audience sense a little envy while they watch two couples having fun next to them, playing music, kissing and flirting. The most obnoxious girl in the world (ed.) plays a song on her phone (which I actually kind of liked) and starts kissing the guy veeeery passionately, I mean, not be prude, but in public you could at least be a little more discreet. This seems to trigger something inside Cora, along with the song she seems to recall in her head, and she starts being delusional, she runs towards them and she stabs the man with a fruit knife 7 times, killing him. There is no apparent reason for her to do so, just a sudden homicidal instinct.

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When Cora is taken to the police station, a detective sees something in her behavior that does not link to her accuse of premeditated murder, and he starts researching until he’s led to find out the truth taking out some traumas from her past. Each episode disentangles details from Cora’s youth and life ruined by a mother who is a religious fanatic who claims that Cora’s actions are the cause for her sister Phoebe’s (Nadia Alexander) lymphoma, and she needs to constantly pray and be a good girl in order for her sister to heal (now seriously how f* up is this? Sick!). Even more twisted than their mother, Phoebe seems to be taking a little bit too much advantage of her sister with the excuse of being sick, to the point that she forces her to go out with guys and more. She creates an online profile where she picks up her sister’s dates so they can rob them and save money to leave home and go to Florida and we also see when sick (literally and mentally at this point) Phoebe forces her sister to masturbate her in order for her to feel what it is like. After all, she stole all her mother’s energy in the womb and that’s why Phoebe is sick, so she owes it to her. See? Disturbing. Super sick. We’re pretty much at the stage where we start to sympathize for this poor girl who yes, has killed a guy, but she was also raised in guilt and abuse and whatsoever, so no wonder she is traumatized. All the things that happen later with J.D (Who?), Maddie (what?), Frankie (Really?), private club houses (wait what? sex?), masked abusers (now, seriously?) and odd detective’s behaviors (oh come on!) cannot be disclosed for spoiling reasons… just watch it and then we can discuss about it. Enjoy.

Oh well, I just found out in August I’ll have to binge watch season 2, where there will be Carrie Coon, you know, from The Leftovers?! Wait, haven’t I reviewed it yet? Bad BWQ, bad. Now I know what to do next.

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Give Hugh Laurie a #Chance

Reviews, Tv Series

Well, I binge watched this show that has now been canceled and I am not sure what to do next. I mean, shall I write a petition and ask Hulu.com to pay for another season or something? After all, if I have to tell the truth, I was watching it because Hugh Laurie was playing the part of a doctor, a different one from the one we used to know, not a new House M.D. style, so… maybe, the fact that I was not focusing on the plot that much, should suggest that it was time for the series to have a break. Or maybe not, I don’t know. What do you think?

The Coping Mechanism

In this series Laurie plays Eldon Chance, a forensic neuropsychiatrist from San Francisco, CA who treats his patients in an “alternative” way: he evaluates them from a psychiatric perspective to finally send them to other specialists depending on what he finds out about their lives, their habits and their -of course- mental problems, details that will eventually be passed to the police. Differently than Gregory House, Eldon has a family, although he’s going through divorce, he has a daughter who will get into trouble with the developing of the season, and he has some money issues that will force him to do some stupid things and to get into trouble as well. Father and daughter will eventually find out that they have more in common than what they have been thinking so far.

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Although there is no evidence that Chance was done considering Laurie’s previous works, I can’t help but find similarities in these two characters that are, at the same time, so different. The way Chance makes his reasonings, his mental speeches, the way he processes details, and how he evaluates situations considering all the information he can gather from not only his knowledge but his senses as well, resembles House in a striking way, at least to me. Also, in whatever way you want to put it, some actors can play roles that only fit to their appearance. I will always remember the shock I had when I watched the movie with Robin Williams, One Hour Photo (2005) where, instead of a cool character, he was playing a psychopath molester. No. Nope. No way. Uh, uh. There are actors and actresses who are flexible not only in their art but also in the way they look, and then there are others who simply cannot. Chance seems to fit Laurie’s predisposition to represent smart, wait… wise men, maybe tormented as well, and I believe he was the right fit for this role. (But who am I? I know, I know… ) Chance seems to be not only a well trained doctor, but a person with high values and wisdom. The torment seems to begin when his new patient, Jaclyn, comes into his life with her dark secrets and mental health issues. Moreover, it is not a chance -no pun intended- if this Chance is being accompanied by a sort of strange superhero, D., a huge bear-like man who looks a little isolated, asocial and probably a former mental health patient, who is above all, some sort of martial art skilled fellow, clearly bright but misunderstood, a calculator, with a baggage of knowledge about psychological reactions, combat and tools that make him survive in any case of potential scuffle. Eventually D. will become Chance’s reference point (I’d say a-real-friend) to fix his excruciating situation.

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Chance

Genre: they want to call it crime “drama”, I would go with psychological thriller
Based on: Chance by Kem Nunn
StarringHugh Laurie, Ethan Suplee, Greta Lee, Stefania LaVie Owen, Clarke Peters, Diane Farr
Watched on: HULU
Two Seasons, Twenty Episodes binge watched in: 4 nights

I almost said it all (about the plot) for the first season while trying to depict an image of this character, so please just take note that the second season will focus on Detective Hynes who will blackmail poor Chance and Darius (D.’s real name that will come out eventually) in order to find a serial killer, while they get into even more serious trouble and heavily dangerous situations. In fact, Chance’s life has gotten even more screwed up while he is trying to bring justice to his patients who had to go through abuses and bad management of their conditions under the lead of the authorities. Chance turns into a violent sort of “vigilante” after we found out that violence has maybe always been part of his DNA, because of some mental health issues he may have had as a young man. This features are later mirrored in his daughter who acts in weird violent ways to protect herself, scaring her mother to the point she believes her daughter has inherited some psychological deviation from her father.

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I can’t tell, and actually I can’t even guess, how the series will or would end as it was interrupted after season two, and there is no word on the street about a new season coming anytime soon. For what is worth, it was great to see Hugh Laurie back in the game again and most of all, appreciating his usual way of portraying badass men. Knowledge is power people, never forget this! The more you know the better, oblivion keeps you numb but social, knowing more makes you a little isolated maybe… but again, who am I to judge, so make your choice. Take your chance to grow, if I can say so. Oh and please, give Laurie another chance to play another cool role, I mean do it for yesterday! But first go binge watch the series…

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The Future is here, but it is not what you think: #ThePath

Reviews, Tv Series

If I could describe this tv-show with one quote, I think the most fitting would be F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s “So he tasted the deep pain that is reserved only for the strong, just as he had tasted for a little while the deep happiness” from All the Sad Young Men (1926). I am probably biased, as I’m only focusing on one character in particular (Eddie Lane), but I can stretch this a little and make it fit to some other members of this series and the religious movement it portrays. What is this series though? The Path. Yes, I am finally going through my to-do list and this tv-series has been finally ticked as “binge watched”. Moreover, the third season in up on Hulu.com now, so once my binge watching session was over, I continued watching it religiously (duh) every Wednesday, which is the day it airs on the platform. May I also say that, somehow, I felt drawn to it? Yes of course I can, who can stop me? So yeah, I did feel the urge to watch this show although the title was not really convincing. Eventually I fell in love. They got me at “Aaron Paul” and could not stop watching ever since.

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The show is set in Upstate New York, no wonder something told me I had to watch it. I lived in Saratoga, NY and the surroundings you detect through the setting of some of the episodes were strangely familiar and strikingly real. In LA, one of my previous house windows opened above the parking lot of the big blue building belonging to Scientology: I was always curious to know more, just for the sake of it, so I started reading something about this cult. Later, when I read “bla bla bla the Meyerist movement, a sort of Scientology” going through the series synopsis, I couldn’t help but smile, and just yield to the excitement of watching… The Path. I have to be honest (as always after all): watching the first couple of episodes I actually wished this movement were real: the bliss on the serene faces of these Meyerists, these “real believers”, the philosophy they believe in, their lifestyle and their manners are as charming as the devil, but they could also be -unfortunately- a sort of utopia. You see right away that everywhere you go, even among the shiniest commune that may exist in this world, there is always something rotten hiding behind those who are in power. I’ll go straight to the A|R because the whole point of all this is to show you how interesting this TV-series may seem.

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The Path

Genre: they want to call it just “drama” as cult drama would not be appropriate
Created by: Jessica Goldberg
StarringAaron PaulMichelle MonaghanEmma GreenwellRockmond Dunbar, Kyle Allen, Amy Forsyth, Sarah JonesHugh DancyPaul James
Watched on: HULU
Two Seasons, Twenty-three Episodes binge watched in: One week, plus season 3 airing now (13 episodes)

Transparency, honesty, and the research of The Light is the focus of this community, willing to fight negativity in order to receive enlightenment, and to be ready for The Future, which is near and apocalyptic, basically a sort of Judgement Day. In order to climb The Ladder in the sky -that is apparently made of fire and it goes from the Earth to The Garden, i.e. Heaven, the followers of the Meyerist movement have to go through 10 stages, each one represented by a Rung (of the Ladder) while following the Light and The Truth, which is a way to say God, in my humble opinion. Cute is the symbol of the movement: an eye with eyelashes that look like the rays of a shining sun. I mean, wouldn’t you think too that this is kind of cool? I would totally start believing in this Truth and I would totally be an adept of this cult. No wait, “it is not a cult, it’s a movement!” as they repeatedly say whenever someone accuses them of being another among the many religious cults in the world. And then Cal happens. And no, Cal does not stand for California. Cal is R10, the last stage of the climb and he is a charming fellow in disguise. Tormented by a past he cannot (or does not want to) recall, he seems to be acting weird and completely far from the movement’s directions: he drinks, he kills, he lies, he basically does everything wrong, but he preaches correctly. Duh.

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The story takes a wrong turn when Eddie goes to Peru, where the founder of the movement eventually moved to pursue his final passage into the Light (he shouldn’t die as a normal mortal as far as they are concerned) and to look for answers and connections, in order to finish what appears to be a sort of Meyerist bible or book guidebook he personally wrote. In Peru, Eddie goes through a ritual practice which uses ayahuasca, referred to as the juice of “sacred herb,” and starts having visions: there is no Light, Steve is dying, the movement is based on mere lies. When he gets back home to Sarah and the other members, Eddie says nothing and tries to keep his secret, as he starts to not believe in anything, anymore. From now on, what once was a slightly slippery slope kind of situation, turns into a vortex of lies soaking up everybody’s life and basic certainties.

What happens then? Watch it yourself. I promise you though, that after a couple of episodes, you’ll start getting familiar with their verbiage, and I want to help you a little prior to your binge watching session: when they talk about The Ladder they are referring to their foundation. The reason why they want to be part of this movement can be found in the 10 different rungs of this Ladder, each one indicating the “level” of awareness and of “enlightenment” of its members. A Possible is someone who is interested in the Meyerist Movement and cannot be considered an IS -ignorant systemite- anymore. A Denier, as Eddie will be (no spoiler, you’ll see), is someone who decided to leave the movement because he or she does not believe any longer, and to the eyes of a Meyerist, this is really, really bad. To avoid and beat the deniers, basically. Then there’s what confused people at the beginning, making them believe the show was about Scientology: the Meyerists use a machine, similar to the Scientology’s E-meter, which is necessary to re-align the spirit of the believer after a damage (emotional trauma) or a sinful event, which is called Transgression. 

Liminal Twilight

Catholics have confessions, Meyerists have the Unburden: basically the same concept of purging and confess, in order to expiate your sins. You can resist to this practice, or you can offset, doing some good to overcome what you did wrong. Then something really funny (to me) comes up:  the IRP. What and why is so funny? Well, the IRP to me was the Independent Research Project I had to write in Graduate School to get my Master Degree. We “literally” did spit blood, it should have been our calling card to apply for a doctorate, long story short, it was a pain… in this show, IRP is the Infidelity Rehab Program. I don’t know, is it just me laughing? I bet this could be at least as painful as my IRP was. If you cheat, you may be forgiven (I’m sorry, but I’m still laughing…) but you have to go through counseling and purges and some other bla bla bla. I swear, I can’t stop laughing but …whatever. I would rather go through Realignment a thousand times then, at least you’re forced to eat fruits and vegetables (which is something that sounds pretty awesome to me!) and you are not allowed to leave your assigned room in the compound (the area assigned to the movement for its members and families to live in). Basically a vacation to realign with your soul. I’d take it anytime.

The Red WallI will totally skip on the fact that Kyle Allen, who plays Eddie and Sarah’s son, is the spitting image of my beloved Heath Ledger so it is definitely worth watching the show at least for his presence (and beauty), or on the fact that Prison Break‘s C-note, plays the role of an undercover FBI Agent who gets involved in the movement, let’s just say, on several levels… and we’ve already said that it is definitely worth watching because of the themes and the atmosphere in it, so I would only add the soundtrack for now -good old music-, oh and …did I mention Aaron Paul?

 

 

Master of None, Italian drift

Reviews, Tv Series

If you watched Master of None you may have noticed there is a hint of Italian (both language and culture), and  most of all in the second season, where basically Italian viewers who do not speak English almost do not even need subtitles for part of the episodes of the series. Almost. Because there’s always that old issue about Italians not speaking English, and “talking moving their hands” all the time, showing that sign, you know, that way of sticking the fingers of one hand together as if they had to do some shadow puppets show or something… so they all (right?) need to be guided in watching a tv show or a movie. Sure.

Dev and Francesca

Watch this scene here 

Ok, I have to be honest. More than an Alternative Review this will eventually appear like a rant or so, and you will see why if you’ll keep on reading. Apart from the clichés, which is something that I cannot really stand in cinematography and co. (Italians, pizza, pasta, mandolino, to be explicit), I am not actually appreciating all this trying to make tv-series more “exotic” by introducing the Italian “on call” who gives that hint of… what? Italianism? (Yeah, making up new words has always been a prerogative of mine so let me be!) Romance? Stereotypical view of a foreign (or not so foreign) culture? I mean, Aziz Ansari, could you explain to me why you too thought it was necessary to borrow the art of making pasta for your show? How about the art of basket weaving we inherited from indigenous people? Or the heavenly -for those who do not actually work in the field, considering it is exhausting and hard, in each and every sense- cinnamon peeling from Sri Lanka? I don’t now, these are just the first two “typical” things that pop into my head but then again, who am I to suggest anything?

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I am just saying… even Shonda Rhimes felt the need to introduce Stefania Spampinato to Grey’s Anatomy, as the eccentric doctor who is specialized in female orgasm and its effects on the human brain, so… why? What pushes directors, screenwriters and whoever gives ideas on these shows, to say: << oh hey, let’s introduce a character who will be Italian, or of Italian descent maybe but it HAS TO speak Italian, and see what the public says? I’m sure they’ll love it.>> Yeah, no. Not really, although I’ll keep on watching your show. But that’s certainly not the main reason why I am doing it.

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Going back to Master of None in the specific, if you haven’t seen the seasons, please do. It did win awards after all, and it is multicultural (on several levels) so give it a try. But please, please, do not do it just because most part of season two is set in Italy and << Aw, it really reminded me of when I was studying abroad and I miss it>> or << Aw, it totally depicts a portrait of Italy I never experienced in that shit hole of my small hometown (Pardon my French, you know me though!)>> so… am I right? Ok.

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Master of None is set in the Big Apple. You scored already. We’re in New York, we see what is going on today, the time of social networks, of futile relationships and the fear of a very uncertain future. Aziz Ansari, the creator, plays also the role of Dev Shah, a guy in his thirties who wants to be an actor but struggles to have parts that actually satisfy his needs. While he works now and then for small acting roles, he simply lives his life with friends, he goes to random dates and has (interesting) tv watching sessions (go, go binge watchers!). Nothing too heavy, nothing too mental to be understood or processed, the first season passes by smoothly, and you probably liked the fact that, indeed, it was a nice easy series to be watched on weekends. Nothing to be binge watched, unless you’re the bingewatching queen, then you’ll have to watch both seasons in a whole weekend. Said and done. Thanks. You’re welcome.

MV5BMTIwNzk5MjE5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODU2NTIzMQ@@._V1_UY317_CR51,0,214,317_AL_The second season is the one that everyone is praising for Aziz’s choice of setting it in Italy, at least for the first two episodes, and eventually bringing Italy to the US through Francesca (now seriously? How cliché is this name? As if all Italian women were named Francesca, come on!!!) and the titles of the episodes together with the soundtrack which keep on representing the culture of the “”il Tricolore“. Dev goes to Italy to learn the art of making pasta (roll eyes!) and he experiences the typical (as assumed by the outsiders) Italian lifestyle. Aziz tries to speak Italian as well: funny, you get some points on that too. Still cliché-y though (Yes, I made that up too!). In Modena Dev will meet Francesca, played by the super Italian Alessandra Mastronardi and for every girl’s sake we will also see Riccardo Scamarcio playing Francesca’s boyfriend. Meh. Why meh? Well, the girl eventually goes to New York (no spoiler alert yet, don’t sweat it!) but what has never been clear to me is: was she really in love with Dev or did she simply like the idea of having a love affair in a foreign Country, in a city she loved and far from the Italian routine? Eh, I wonder. I would love to talk more about this Italian haunting presence in today’s serials but I’d rather leave this A\R like this, so that you can simply message me your thoughts and then we can chat about it. I will not even touch the recent news about Ansari being charged of sexual offense so do not expect this article to say more about it.

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Master of None

Genre: they want to call it “comedy drama”
Created by: Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
Starring: Aziz Ansari, Noël Wells, Eric Wareheim, Kelvin Yu, Lena Waithe, Alessandra Mastronardi
Watched onNetflix 
Two Seasons, Twenty Episodes binge watched in: One weekend

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As we said earlier, it is the story of Dev, a guy, originally from India, who lives in New York with an entourage of international friends: Rachel, a “white” funny-crazy girl who wants to be free and independent; Arnold, a Jewish guy who shows off his childish tendencies; Denise, an Afroamerican gay girl, very smart and direct; Brian, an Asian guy who takes life easily and without worrying too much; Benjamin, the only one who got married and he’s not even happy about it, apparently. Although we know of Dev’s friends for the relationship he has with them, we never know about their lives in details. It is Dev our main character and focus of the series. They are necessary though, as it is thanks to the experiences he has with them that he reflects, he acts and contemplate about his life and the way he approaches it. It is a story full of stereotypes, to make people laugh (maybe?) and realize that most of the times we act because influenced by these clichés indeed. It shouldn’t surprise me that Francesca, as well, is portrayed in the most common way someone describes a citizen of Italy. Nevertheless, while the others are just part of the frame, it seems that this Italian hint was necessary to underline maybe a message that, to me, remains unknown. Whether or not it were actually -necessary – to add another character to the series we do not know. I guess I’ll have to ask Aziz. Meanwhile, watch it and let’s see what you guys think of all this ranting… well, chit-chatting maybe.

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Germans do it… as good as Hollywood: Dark

Reviews, Tv Series

Dark-TV-Show-Character-ListDid I really say it? Am I trying to say the Germans outsmarted Hollywood’s geniuses? Uhm, not necessarily so, but I am honestly taking my hat off, chapeau! We are so used to the Hollywood style, or at least I am, that it surprised me to watch such a good TV show that captured me since episode one. As the binge watching queen that I am, when Netflix warned me about this new show coming on air I put it on the list back then, but wasn’t sure about it, most of all when I read “the German Stranger Things“. Now, yes, I liked Stranger Things and I will be watching the second season when the time will come, but not to the point that I am dying to watch something similar to that creepy show. At this moment, since I actually watched Dark, (one week after release day) let me say it out loud: it is NOT like Stranger Things, at all, folks. It is not!

Dark-01I would rather put it on a list where I would also add The O.A. (which I reviewed here!) considering the themes that can be listed as touched by the storyline, such as time (in the unusual way of traveling through it), family, trauma, grief, violence, guilt, and the metaphysical sphere of the unknown. Apart from the awful dubbing (I mean, Italians have been doing it for decades and decades so they mastered the art of dubbing, but English speakers? No way, no. Watch it in German, the original language, with English subtitles! It is way, way better like that!), I seriously found no negative sides of this show. It is charming, addicting, and the story is so messed up that although you may have guessed since the beginning what is going on, there are new elements added episode after episode making you expect the unexpected, and you still get overwhelmed by the end of season one. Good job Germans! Yes!

8c177a79f366ef305f7534fe8bae7009dd1d2407Apparently, there are secrets in a small town in Germany. Children are disappearing and weird events are repeating after a certain amount of years. When we get familiar with what could be the cause of the disasters occurring (i.e. there is a nuclear-power-plant which may be the direct link to these strange horrifying events), the attention is moved to something else, a diversion in the storyline: lights fading, animals falling from the sky, people appearing in places that are not from their time clearly by the way they are dressed…  we are only certain about something haunting this German community but nobody talks about it, except for those who are labelled as crazy. It sounds a little familiar actually, considering what is going on today in the world, but this is a different story.

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Dark

Genre: they want to call it “science fiction, thriller drama”
Created by:Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese
StarringLouis Hofmann, Maja Schöne, Oliver MasucciStephan Kampwirth, Angela WinklerJördis Triebel, Daan Lennard Liebrenz, Lisa Vicari, Moritz Jahn, Paul Lux, Karoline Eichhorn … and many more.
Watched onNetflix 
One Season, Ten Episodes binge watched in: One night, like a whole night.

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Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci) is a police officer and father of three. He cheats on his wife with a woman whose husband commits suicide right at the beginning of the show. One night, Ulrich’s youngest, Mikkel disappears, just like someone else before him, leading the police to start researching if local youths are being on the spot for criminals and serial killers. Something weird happens every time there is a child’s disappearance: birds drop dead from the sky, lights flicker and old residents recall older times when they were younger and weird things were happening similarly to the present events. We also start wondering about what is going on when a scene shows the line on the newspaper saying “Where is Mikkel?”, crossed out with “When is Mikkel?” and that is a very good question! For the rest of the plot, watch the show!!!

medium-cleanTime travel, mystery, police knowing but not telling, old people revealing truths and other details entwined in the story, reminded me of my beloved Lynch’s Twin Peaks: supernatural lies underneath what we see and what we perceive as reality because there is something else… beyond us. Maybe this is what makes of these TV series a sort of more than fascinating shows, worth binge watching on a Saturday night. You get lost in the time of your binge watching session and you get lost in the complicated plot they try to mix with a good dose of soundtrack and colors. Cinematography is growing wiser, sexier and more interesting, or am I growing fonder because I am growing older? Nice question. No answer. As of right now, I am going to giggle at the idea of having another Country, Germany, producing amazing pieces for TV which are adding up to what Hollywood has been offering us. More work for me to do. More binge watching sessions, more food for thought, more nutrition for my majestic curiosity and visual need for detachment from this… reality.

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Golden Globes 2018: BWQ is back to black

Reviews

timesuppinI’m back. Well, I just spent a whole bunch of time binge watching shows, and actually, I also invested many hours catching up on movies I could find on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, any platform really… long story short, I had to be ready for the Golden Globes last night, and oh, I was so ready. Stating the obvious, no matter all the great winners that went up on the stage to thank their family, friends, co-workers, etcetera, I believe the actual winner was the pin everyone was wearing, the one showing the words: time’s up. The winner is not the pin itself, you fools, but the meaning it brings, because yes, the time is up. Time’s up on what? Anything. Anybody. As many posts on the world wide web show now, time’s up on silence, on waiting, on tolerating abuses, on lack of respect, on people of any gender having to say “me too” when someone else finally has the gut to speak up and say: this person has violated me. We are free to say what we need to say.

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It is not me, it is you crying. Sobbing at every word spoken last night by either a man or a woman (mostly women though), either on or off stage, winners or not of that Golden Globe’s Night that opens the awards’ season in the entertainment industry. On a side note, artists, or how I call them “people of a certain depth”, already have my respect, so please do not judge me if you’ll notice that I am totally “Hollywood team”. I cheered, I cheer and will always do, always. I had so many haters, so many “grounded” people -as they like to be called- disliking my particular predisposition to support this category and most of all this area of the world that apparently you can either hate or love, no in between. Ugh, who knows. I grew up imagining myself in a different world than my own, surrounding myself with alternative realities portrayed in motion pictures, so I am sorry but I am not sorry for taking a stand with and for them, for liking and sharing the same ideas and ideals.

big-little-lies-golden-globe-win-ht-jef-180107_12x5_992We are back to black. How? Black is one of my favorite colors. It is considered to be the absence of light, or better, the absorption of light that can no longer be reflected. To me, black is at the same time power, mystery, authority, fear, elegance, formality, death, evil, aggression, sophistication… rebellion. You need black to have depth and variation of hue in any other color. You all other painters over there, do you agree? You do, don’t you? Black is often given a negative connotation. As many said last night, when Natalie Portman and other goddesses of mine started sharing the hashtag #whywewearblack, black is for mourning, for the losses we had since these stories of abuses came to surface. No, to me black is strength, it means being serious when bright cheerful colors need to shut up for just a second. Of course then I need my beloved deep blood red and my relaxing smoke gray… but now is the time for black. This is why I wore black too, last night: I was not mourning, I was celebrating freedom, of speech, of choice, of being.

golden-globes-2017-1I won’t talk about the nominees, the winners, the host Seth Meyers who had a tremendous monologue, the series and the movies because these are basically details that turned out to be futile in such a night of revelation, of empowerment and awakening and, hopefully, this will last until it becomes normality. Not a movement, not a revolution. Normality. As for the reviews of movies and series that were competing for this year Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s award we’ll have to wait until Thursday, as the day of Thor is the designated weekday for the Binge Watching Queen’s Alternative Reviews. 

Liebster award: discover new blogs

Haircut Madness

typewriterPrince, founder and author at the World Writers Hub just nominated me, the Binge Watching Queen, for the Liebster Award. Thank you Prince, after all, you’re Prince and I am a Queen… Big laugh. Jokes apart, if you were wondering what is this Liebster award, what I can say is that it was created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers and welcome them to the great blogging community. But please, do not be shy, and if you want to know more, feel free to take a look here, and you will find also the official rules of this project by clicking here.

I hate chains, so for those who know me this would sound like a nonsense, but the reason why I accepted the nomination is simple: it is not just a way to promote ourselves, it is a way to promote others. In the blogosphere many are struggling: we may have great voices and amazing things to say, but at the same time we may not have the right networking entourage. A little help is always much appreciated. Spread the word you all, we need everyone’s help!

Prince’s blog, for instance, is about writing. Easy as that.

“It intends to function as a guide that will help you to understand life extra carefully and lead you through its hot tracks”.

As part of this nomination we have to answer a few questions to help others know us a little better, most of the times referring to our beloved blog or our muses and mentors. Here are my answers to Prince’s questions:

  1. How did you pick your blog’s name? I realized I have always been a binger, I binge on books and tv-series, movies and videos. Food. So it just came out naturally, I am the Queen of Binge… Watching!!!
  2. What’s your blogging quote? Don’t really have one.
  3. What are three things you cannot blog without? Sun, Silence, Sunkist
  4. Who is your favorite blogging father? You mean, Mother? I started working “professionally” for Facciunsalto, go check it out, if you know Italian. Otherwise scroll down and find the FUSion column where we wrote articles in English.
  5. Describe yourself in three words. Pensive, Imaginative, Misunderstood
  6. What is your guiltiest pleasure? Not sure I get what you are asking for. Chocolate?
  7. What is your most prized possession? Moral strength
  8. What single quality do you most appreciate in people? Honesty.
  9. What do you love most about blogging? Being appreciated for what I say&think.
  10. What’s the favorite post that you’ve published? (Link, please!) Not my favorite but probably the most important is a post about Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. You can find it here. Missing him every single day.

Now, let’s have a look at the nominations.

Blogs I nominate for The Liebster Award

Now, with my Academy Awards’ best voice, please let me introduce you to the nominees for the Liebster Award:

Congrats to my fellow nominees! If you choose to accept this nomination, you have to answer the following questions, and write your blog post adding the link of the blog that nominated you (the Binge Watching Queen, duh!) followed by the other 10 you chose to nominate. Add your 10 questions and let’s keep rolling.

1. Who is your favorite writer (blogger, narrative, film…)?
2. Where do you blog from?
3. Who knows about your blog?
4. What famous person (dead or alive) would you go to dinner with?
5. When was the last time you cried watching a movie?
6. Have you ever binge watched a TV-series? If so, write me a message and explain.
7. Who do you want to become thanks to your blog? A more famous blogger? An influencer?… 
8. Would you spend a year on a space station? A month? A week?
9. Which Countries have you lived in or visited?
10. What would you suggest to your fellow bloggers to improve their followers?

Great! Now it is your turn. Make us all proud. Remember to link your referrer and your nominees. Good luck. Talk soon,

The BWQ. 

Travelling

 

Perception and mental wellness

Reviews, Tv Series

To begin with, why have I used wellness and not health? I will quote what the UNC webpage of Advisory Committee to the Chancellor for Employee Health and Wellness says with regard to this: “According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” So, mental health is the general term to refer to our emotional, psychological, and social …well-being. Mental wellness, as I am calling it here, is yes a synonyms of mental health, but I want to give it a slightly more positive connotation. The way our brain works affects how we think, feel, act and also how we make choices. Mental health is what makes us work properly in our society. Mental wellness, to me, is how we feel and if we feel -fine enough- to work, act, exist …in our society.

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There are several internal and external factors which contribute to a person’s mental wellness, including relationships with friends, loved ones, financial issues, workplace environment, and those that are called “coping behaviors” and skills. I wonder if I am interested in these topics because of my previous studies in psychology, but then I would have to ask why I was interested in psychology in the first place, back in the days. In this case, I would need a couple of years to go through this argument. So, no thank you. What remains though, is the fact that I just needed a word, perception, to be sure I would have binged watched another tv-show. Duh! And yes, the fact that Eric McCormack was the protagonist was a huge incentive because of Will and Grace, that kept me company during my first years at University, many, many years ago. (Oh, and by the way, a brand new season of Will and Grace is now showing on NBC, oh yeah!)

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I am going to introduce the plot of Perception-the series before continuing this digression on mental wellness:

Perception 

Genre: they want to call it “crime drama” …I would add something psychological too, but meh.
Created by: Kenneth Biller, Mike Sussman
StarringEric McCormackRachael Leigh CookKelly RowanArjay SmithLeVar BurtonScott Wolf
Watched on: FOX Italy
Three Seasons, Thirty-nine Episodes watched in: a couple of months.

Dr. Daniel Pierce is a neuropsychiatrist who teaches neuroscience at the (fictional) Chicago Lake Michigan University (CLMU), and his interest in neuroscience stems from his own long history of paranoid schizophrenia (everyone is interested is what touches them the most, I guess). He also works as an expert consultant for the FBI assisting closely a very Special Agent, Kate Moretti, who is a former student of Pierce’s classes back in the days. It is thanks to his hallucinations that, most of the times, he can pick out the clues allowing him and Agent Moretti to solve the crimes they are investigating. Lewicki, Dr. Pierce’s teaching assistant, is a fundamental asset for Prof. Pierce’s mental well-being, because he knows how to handle his crisis and his obsessions. Last, but not least, (considering she was in another tv-show, The O.C. another favorite of mine) Natalie Vincent played by Kelly Rowan, is the most favorite Pierce’s hallucination who manifests herself as a result of his schizophrenia, but who also serves as his counselor, clue collector and, of course, best friend. How the story “ends” in the last episode of season three is up to you to find out. No spoilers here. #Sorrynotsorry.

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One of the things I like the most is when a tv-series’ episode typically begins with a scene of the protagonist giving a lecture (missing academia much?), or introducing a sort of metaphysical problem, concerns, whatever, about an aspect of humanity that usually leads to the development of the plot itself (Grey’s Anatomy is another show that does something similar, I love you Shonda Rhimes). In this case, it is a brain fact or factor that becomes significant within the story, and reaching the end of the episode, the observations that the professor explains to the students about the paradoxes of human perception end his lecture. Brilliant, I know.

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Perception was canceled after the third season and there were controversies saying it passed a wrong idea about the schizophrenic disease. Now, seriously? The big issue for some was that the main character chose to go off of his meds whilst still managing to work and teach his students, having reasonings with his hallucination-friend, sharing the wrong idea that getting off of your meds is okay. Ugh, no. I bet this is not the message, as eventually Prof. Pierce is just an adult who sees that therapy is needed, but cannot be abused. Schizophrenia is a disease, a complex one which needs to be studied deeply, still. Also, not all the people diagnosed with schizophrenia are alike. The symptoms vary and the age when they first appear makes a huge difference for the prognosis. So every time we judge a tv-show, let’s remember the viewpoint and the actual fact that -this is fiction-, with a few hints of reality, yes, but basically fictional stories.

perception-eric-mccormack-1In conclusion, why was this show important, from my perspective? Because it opened a door on the so called “mental illnesses” that can be part of a person’s life without interfering so very much with their social life. I am not saying it does not affect their own lives, because it does, but it creates no harm, no danger for their social behavior if taken good care of and most of all, if responsibly studied and handled. An important part of mental health is how we perceive the world around us. A person with a mental disease may perceive things much differently than another person, but that does not mean it is the wrong way of perceiving it. Wouldn’t you sound crazy if you had X-rays in your eyes and told others you can see through their skin? Indeed. In many cases, therapy can help interpret and detect these perceptions, but these do not necessarily need to be corrected because someone evaluated and categorized them as distorted. They are simply different ways of perceiving the world around us that may make sense to a different being with a different sensibility, and sensitivity, than others. As they say, a word to the wise is unnecessary and If the cap fits, wear it.

Ghostwriters, anonymous geniuses

Reviews, Tv Series

Ghostwriter-2Another day, another interview. It happened by chance that I got to know the existence of an actual profession, the ghostwriter. I applied to a job post that was asking for a content writer, a passionate thinker, yadda yadda yadda. A few days before my interview, while browsing new series on Netflix, I found this interesting animated sitcom I decided to binge watch …just because. I started watching BoJack Horseman, attracted by the presence of Aaron Paul (although as a voice-over only), on a warm summertime weekday in LA, after taking some time off my job hunting routine.

It did not take long to realize another TV-series, another binge watching session, would have inspired another post. It is like when you see your whole life scrolling down right before or after a sudden event: pre-death experiences or whatever they call it. If you never experienced it, welllllll, I would not suggest trying it, but it means you definitely did not get hit by a car when you were a kid, flying for a few feets, thinking “oh shoooot, I’m dying”, touching the ground, sliding on the stoney side of the road, getting back up to see the world around you stopped for a second, until you noticed the broken windshield of the woman’s car who just hit you. It was her fault, but no one will ever know, as she moved you and her car while panicking, canceling any trace of the accident, making it hard -if not impossible, for the agents to declare …anything.

EXT. SS CITY. AFTERNOON.            
              
              TEEN GIRL
Did I do this, did I break your car's window? 
               WOMAN
     yes, you don't remember? 
              TEEN GIRL
         No, I'm so sorry...

Diane_NguyenOnce the flash-back was over, I realized the main character, the one I was supposed to “get introduced to” at this moment of my life was not BoJack but Diane. Diane is a ghostwriter. She was hired by BoJack Horseman to write his autobiography. She is an wannabe writer, who feels like nobody actually understands -or even sees, her potentiality, she is originally from Boston, and she is dating famous actor and BoJack’s rival, Mr. Peanutbutter. Yes, apart from the romance, the other details are pretty familiar.

Diane is one of the characters in BoJack Horseman who is portrayed as an actual human. She reminded me of Daria Morgendorffer right away. Never seen Daria, you all? Go check it out, now! Diane had a hard childhood, growing up in a family she did not feel like she belonged to, she attended Boston University (BU? Why not BC? Go Eagles!) with a major in Literature (and Equine Studies, but those are details). She moved to Los Angeles, California and she worked at a Starbucks, where she met her wealthy boyfriend, a star of the movie industry. Again, apart from the romance…

ce313c1c82b20d82e6c9c13a69f6c7b5--aaron-paul-hot-amazing-eyesBoJack hires her to ghostwrite his autobiography when, at a night party, he gets fascinated by her personality. By the end of the very first episodes you forget you are watching an animated series, and I personally watched the rest of season 1, 2 and 3 as if I were actually watching a normal, human based, show. Aaron Paul‘s voice triggered my imagination to the point that I was actually seeing his face instead of the cartooned character who was awkwardly too similar to Breaking Bad‘s Jesse Pinkman. But how did I get here? I was halfway through the first season when I had my Skype call with the recruiter. She asked me the usual questions: could you tell me your story? How do you see yourself in a couple of years? Why would you be the perfect fit for this job? And last but not least: who is really LG? How would you describe yourself? Honestly, it felt like she just asked me “Who is Gossip Girl?” …How would you answer? How would I answer? I am… me. I clutched at straws for a couple of minutes until she answered for me. “You are the Binge Watching Queen, you want to be heard, your voice is captivating, your blog is nice to read… and you will never bend to be a ghostwriter”.

…and this is why I am not the perfect fit for this job. Well then thank you. For reading my resume, for taking the time to take a peek at my blog posts, for telling me the truth, and yes, for making me feel fine, (just a little) hearing you claim, out loud, “you are the BWQ”! But I haven’t got the job. It was not to be “just” a content writer. I had to be the voice of a person who has a famous face. If they cheered at her, at her words, her posts, they would cheer at me, without knowing it. The recruiter saw that I could not be the anonymous creator of somebody else’s fame, career and respect. A living Diane, who eventually ends up writing a book ABOUT BoJack, not his autobiography that was supposed to be written as if it was him the writer who used the right words, the appealing style, the pleasant ideas. No… way. So I gave in to never finding a job where I can perfectly fit, I ordered some Indian food and binged on BoJack Horseman ’til the end.

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BoJack Horseman

Genre: they want to call it “adult animation sitcom”
Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Voices ofWill Arnett,  Amy SedarisAlison BriePaul F. TompkinsAaron Paul
Watched onNetflix 
Three Seasons, Thirty Seven Episodes binge watched in: Four days, nights included.

The story takes place in Hollywood, actually Hollywoo after the D gets stolen. BoJack is a former sitcom star, and he is a horse; Diane, his biographer, is a human and she will get married to a dog-actor; BoJack’s agent is a cat; Todd is a human in his mid-twenties who lives with BoJack in his house and sleeps on the couch, but gets little to no attention from his roommate; all of the other characters are either humans or animals, without interferences. BoJack was the star of a 90’s sitcom called Horsin’ Around, but since then he lives out of his old fame. Through BoJack’s shenanigans we get philosophical, psychological, societal and generally intellectual perspectives. No matter the several mistakes and flaws that become BoJack’s trademarks, the whole series seems to be based on the justification of the movie industry’s environment, which is misleading and toxic for many. The series includes sensitive topics like acting teen’s addiction to drugs and alcohol, unexpected pregnancies, abortions, sexual abuse, depression and other so called morally unacceptable behaviors treated on different levels of perception and judgement. Don’t believe me? Take a look and see for yourself.