Burbank, CA

Destination Unknown

End of July 2019

It rained yesterday morning. I know, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but in Los Angeles it is always something cherished. By others. Not particularly by me. Yesterday though I enjoyed the rain to another level. I did not need a break from the heat, I did not need to have clouds in the sky covering up the sun. I need the sun. It is an actual necessity for someone like me who thrives when the sun is shining. Nevertheless, when Leo woke up and it was time for our morning walk, despite the few drops of rain, we left the house and we walked in the rain (just like in that book my brother gifted me a long time ago The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein). Something told me to bring with me my iPod so we walked in the rain, while listening to the songs that accompanied me in my road trip, and it was phenomenal. Epiphanies started happening at every step. The dog too seemed happier. It was spectacular. The plants and the trees all around us were releasing their scent all over, and the typical ozone smell was cleaning the air. It felt like we were going for a natural cleanse for our senses, Leo was clearly smelling the air, the grass, the flowers, the tree trunks, but he wasn’t forcing his stops on me. He did not need to linger on specific spots for long, because it was all around him, all around me, and how can you not weep when perfect mother nature is embracing us creatures in such a smooth way? Indeed.

Once again –because it happened before, I could feel my cells cheering at the sounds filling up my skull through my ears. One minute I was in Burbank, the other I was in Santa Cruz, sitting by the dog beach, enjoying the Pacific. Then I was back in Seattle. I closed my eyes and recalled the moments. Goose bumps. Then again that song that I never thought I could like. I feel 17 again and I can’t help but go back in time and back to Boston, where 17 was the way I was feeling basically every other day. The dog and I danced through the streets of the Burbank hills, and there was almost no one around: who would go for a walk in the rain? So the few people we were encountering on our path were making eye contact, and we would smile at them, acknowledging we were on the same page. We were happy to be alive and we had to celebrate it. Can you tell how much I’ve changed? I think I can.

A walk that lasted an hour and a little more, that felt too short at the end, but it lasted an eternity that felt amazing. Time is a construction of men, yes. Because in these moments there is only a “now” that you can’t really quantify. I started thinking deeply, I recalled teachings from the past, from when in high school we were studying philosophy, or even geography in elementary school. History back then was a burden: I could never remember dates. What I cared for was the way the story was told, and not a lot of teachers were good story tellers at the time. But I felt lucky. Oh if I felt lucky. All these subjects that in other places in the world are not even considered part of your academic curriculum, where I am from, they are taught to you. Mandatorily. Who would teach Epic in school? Yeah, no, you fools, not the adjective to say “dude, that was epic”. No. Epic, like literature, those long narrative poems that talk about heroes from the past and their story. It’s a middle school subject for us. Middle school. Let that sink in. Or at least it was. I really wish it still is. Italian peeps, is it still taught as school? I should ask my aunts Rita and Gloria, they would know. Oh goodlordwhatishappeningtome? I have tears streaming down my face thinking about how lucky I was. I am. I swear I always thought it was a curse to be born in a place where I could not be a rockstar by the age of 16 like Billie Eilish, but then… this? I’m sorry, it’s priceless. I had such an education (basically free in my home country) that I am so mad I can only now appreciate at such a deep level. Silly goose.

I’ve spent the first days in L.A. catching up with the episodes of tv-shows I had on my watch list. I binged those and then I thought “what about all those books you got and thought you could read while road tripping?” so I brought my box of books from the car, inside, and I started binging on these instead. Being able to get all the references without having to read the footnotes –as I already know about this or that philosopher, this or that historical character, this or that rhetorical figure, this or that episode in history, is making me feel dumb. Why am I only now realizing this? Where have I been these past 20 years? Was I even being part of this world? Oblivious. That’s the only word I can think of, but rain or not rain, road trip or not, I feel different now. I’ve always been an observer, but I have never felt the connection. I knew it was there, but I felt distant. Explained why I always felt like there was something missing in me. I could not belong. I could not relate to most of the people around me. No matter how many books I read, no matter the Divine Matrix, the “being all and one with the whole”, the “coming from the same source, the Big Bang, and we’re one”, I got it, but I wasn’t feeling it in my body. And I am not saying that all of a sudden I am now in touch with everything. Hell no. But even sensing a little bit of what it feels to be one and everything was magical. And I am glad that, to share it with me, there was another magical creature: a perfect beautiful dog. (God spelled backwards, I know).

If you haven’t read them yet, take some time to read these books. They may or may not help you, but I need to leave them here as they are now part of this journey I started as a houseless person. I can’t share photos of beautiful places because I am stuck in just one for now, but I can share music and literature: how about that? Find my Spotify playlist as well, if you want to feel young inside, as these are the songs that are currently played on the radios (mostly pop … I know, I know). If you do follow my suggestion though, let me know what you think, k? Cheers for now.

Find the books on Amazon by clicking on each image.

A book a day, for now we have:

Suggested by my friend Silvia

Wife of Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda (who designed the cover)

Stumbled into this by chance. Worth reading.

Gifted by Aunt Gloria 🙂 .In Italian.

Got it in Boston never had the chance to finish it. Done.

My Road Trip Playlist

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.

House-MD-Colore-Pillole-Spettacoli-TELEVISIVI-Classic-Silk-Poster-Art-Decorazione-Camera-Da-Letto-2141.jpg_640x640

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.

hugh-laurie-returns-as-a-doctor

Chance

Genre: they want to call it crime “drama”, I would go with psychological thriller
Based on: Chance by Kem Nunn
Starring: Hugh 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.

636060266937973119-Chance-Laurie-Mol

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…

house_md_wallpaper_by_wolf13th-d3eua8o

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.

519763325

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!)

perception-4ff442079ec33

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
Starring: Eric McCormack, Rachael Leigh Cook, Kelly Rowan, Arjay Smith, LeVar Burton, Scott 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.

zoqbj

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.

d2f027e767318e52ec33dd78676f865a--tv-series-crime

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.

maxresdefault

BoJack Horseman

Genre: they want to call it “adult animation sitcom”
Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Voices of: Will Arnett,  Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, Aaron Paul
Watched on: Netflix 
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.