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.

Thinking Slow Together

That’s how an excellent colleague of mine describes her teaching philosophy. It perfectly encapsulates what I strive to do with my students as well.

The phrase “thinking slow together” echoed in my mind while reading David Sims’s review of Dave Chappelle’s SNL appearance

When watching Chappelle, I vacillated from unconsciously laughing at many of his punch lines to consciously questioning how he set up a few others. A singular talent, I thought he was very funny, but I also experienced some uneasiness and couldn’t give completely in to him.

I didn’t understand why until thinking slowly about it with Sims’s help. And there is the power of the printed word. In a world where faster is always seen as better, writing and reading force us to take time to ponder things, to consider others’ viewpoints, to formulate tentative ideas, and to clearly communicate them.

And as in the case of Sims’s review, that slowing down results in more profound, longer lasting insights than live audio or television generate by themselves.

Do We Need More Therapy Or Fiction?

One of my college besties is a psychotherapist in the city of Angels. I sent him this George Saunders essay, “Could I understand the people who rushed into the Capital?” and then asked him whether we need more therapy or fiction. Of course, the answer is both.

TL/DR. . . yes, Saunders could. And so can anyone who dares follow his lead.

Coming To A Theater Near You

Sometimes A lot of the time I amaze myself.

A movie idea just came to me and no doubt it’s gonna be warmly embraced by Hollywood’s top studios. Let the negotiations begin! Since I’m the ultimate triple threat, they will probably want me to write, produce, and star in it.

The idea came to me Saturday, shortly after Al’s memorial service at The United Churches in our fair city. The service was another amazing remembrance of a remarkable person. Similar to the one for my in-laws last year. At that one, my wife and daughters did a beautiful job capturing what made them so special. If watching a slide show of a person’s life and listening as family and friends reflect on how they left the world better than they found it doesn’t inspire you to consider how to best spend your ever shrinking time, then something’s wrong.

Forget psychedelics, forget chasing fame and money, forget vanity in all its forms, nothing is as inspiring as positive people’s life stories. Just ask anyone involved with hospice care. Al’s three sixty-something daughters told unique, funny, and moving stories about their father. And another friend talked about how Al lit up the retirement community he was a part of and had to be held back when hiking in the mountains even into his 90’s. The quintessential extrovert, Al embraced life to the fullest. He said he would sleep when he was dead. Long live the memory of Al Walter.

Back to my homerun of an idea. Remember Wedding Crashers? Well, how about Memorial Crasher?! Part Ted Lasso, part Ricky Gervais’s After Life, Memorial Crasher is the story of a dude who has lost his zeal for life, meaning it’s the story of most of us. Just can’t find the loving feeling he enjoyed in his youth. He’s surviving sure, but not thriving. He breaks out of his malaise after attending a memorial service for a close friend. As per usual, his resolve to be a better person and live life more fully only lasts a few weeks, then he slowly reverts to his formerly alienated, disconnected, somewhat negative self.

So he concocts an antidote to his default condition. He scours obituaries in local papers and church bulletins, and when he finds particularly inspiring ones, which happens about once a month, he crashes the memorials. No one ever knows he has no connection to the deceased. That way he receives a steady stream of reminders of what’s most important and is continually inspired to be more selfless and daring.

Consequently, his life is transformed. His focus shifts from himself to others. He cultivates gratitude for how little time he may have left. He becomes a much better neighbor, friend, and person.

And picks up several Academy Awards along the way.