Keri Russell Knows Herself

I’m always impressed with people who know their limitations and are comfortable with them. Probably because of the rarity of such intrapersonal intelligence.

Russell was amazing in The Americans and is currently staring in Netflix’s The Diplomat. This exchange is from a recent interview:

Recently you’ve done such a wide range of characters, from The Americans to Cocaine Bear. How do you find your characters?

I don’t know. My guy [Russell’s husband, Matthew Rhys] is a really serious actor. Like he can do German accents and s*** at the drop of a hat. He’s legit. And I am not like that. I have to read something and have an immediate, instinctual thing where I get it, I understand it. I can’t do everything. I have a limited amount I can do and I kind of go, “Oh, I know what that is. That’s funny to me,” you know? I’m not one of those people who goes, “Oh, my gosh, I’m gonna play a Russian drug addict. And I’m gonna get the accent. And I’m going to shave my head.” I know my limitations, and I think there’s just something about this character that I got immediately. This is closer to who I am than like a sly, cougar-walking Elizabeth Jennings from The Americans.

You Go Girl

Lauren Daigle, according to the New York Times, has crossed over into the pop world with greater success than anyone since Amy Grant in the early ’90s

She comes across as very likable in the Times profile. And what a voice.

This paragraph is funny.

“She wrote some songs with Shane McAnally, a Nashville hitmaker who is gay. And because the themes on her album are less faith-based than in the past, she knows some will count what’s referred to in the CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) world as JPMs (mentions of Jesus Per Minute) and find the music too worldly.”

“Don’t Let Em’ Hold You Down”

Some of what I’m watching, reading, and listening to.

  • Film. The Quiet Girl. Made explicitly for people like me who don’t need anything blown up (apart from my emotions). I can’t remember the last movie that hit this hard. Maybe it’s the Irish in me. Couldn’t get up from my seat afterwards. Exquisite doesn’t quite do it justice.
  • TV. The Last of Us, Succession, The Crown, Beef. An eclectic collection, but all enjoyable in their own way.
  • Book. Vladimir: A Novel by Julia May Jonas. The nameless narrator is a 58 year old English professor who lusts after her new-to-the-department 40 year old colleague. Strong undercurrents of the MeToo movement, the sensitivities of today’s college students, and marital conflict. In the end, I decided I didn’t like the narrator all that much which detracted from the journey.
  • Pods. Pivot, Kara Swisher (liberal) with Alyssa Farah Griffin (conservative), “Trump Arrest Fallout”. And Morgan Housel, “Play Your Own Game”. Derek Thompson, “Why the Cult of Achievement in Schools Is Making People Miserable”.
  • Music. Spotify’s “I Love 90’s HipHop.”

North Dakota is Anti-Gay

North Dakota’s lovely weather is, of course, a powerful magnet. Not to mention the affordable real estate. But Taylor Brorby paints a depressing picture. “The Real Reason North Dakota Is Going After Books and Librarians”.

He writes:

“The summer after graduating from college, when I was outed by my aunt, and my home was no longer a safe space, I searched the stacks of the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library for stories of gay people disowned by family members to help me find my own way to stable ground. During those evenings, I would settle into a plush armchair with a pile of books and magazines and read. I read authors like Kent Haruf and Amy Tan and Mary Karr. I would listen to classical music CDs to try and calm myself. I was free to roam, peruse, and free to be myself, at least privately.

North Dakota is a part of a growing national trend. Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 of last year, the American Library Association recorded 681 attempts to ban or restrict library resources. . . . According to PEN America, 41 percent of books banned throughout the 2021-22 school year contained L.G.B.T.Q. themes, protagonists or prominent secondary characters. Bills similar to North Dakota’s have also been introduced or passed into law in states like West Virginia, Texas, Mississippi, Montana, Iowa, Wyoming, Missouri and Indiana.

Under Missouri’s new law banning the provision of “explicit sexual material” to students, school districts removed works about Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; comics, such as “Batman” and “X-Men”; visual depictions of Shakespeare’s works; and “Maus,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust.

But let’s be honest: It’s not the Venus de Milo these laws are going to come for first. It’s books with L.G.B.T.Q. stories, or books by L.G.B.T.Q. authors — the kind of books that have provided so many queer young people with a lifeline when they needed it most. I don’t know where I would have ended up if I couldn’t read my way out of despair. My heart breaks to think of all the kids now who won’t have that option.”

One large step backwards.

In Praise of Ireland and Irish Actors

I’ve been in Ireland lately, thanks to Apple TV’s Bad Sisters and the film, The Banshees of Inisherin. All five “bad sisters” made it imminently clear that they were Irish after The New York Times referred to them as British. In Bad Sisters, the Irish seaside is amazingly beautiful, especially the place where everyone open water swims. There’s some beautiful architecture too. Just a feast for the eyes.

I like everything about Bad Sisters and I’m looking forward to Season 2, except for one thing, the five sisters do not look nearly enough alike. Maybe they were adopted?

Everyone’s movie interests are different. I like to be transported somewhere far away. And then dropped into a unique community with quirky characters. Add in equal parts realism and existential questions about what’s most important in life. No need to blow anything up. In other words, I’m an outlier in that I like the exact kind of films that today’s movie studios are passing on.

So what a joy when my exact type of movie is made. It was amazing spending two hours on an island off the coast of Ireland in 1923. All I’ll say about Farrell, Condon, Gleeson, Keoghan, Flitton, and Lydon is the same thing I’d say about the “bad sisters”, they can feckin’ act.