The Delights of Distraction No.60

We hope you had a rejuvenating weekend. This newsletter is dense with links, so to keep it not-so long-winded, let’s get to the links right off the bat. 

Here are our favourite “bric- a-brac” off the interwebz this week: 

To read: A sharp, searing essay on fat-phobia, dating as a fat girl and the enduring, eviscerating culture that de-humanises bigger bodies. As women who are constantly on the losing side of the eternal and proverbial battle against the bulge, this one hit close to bone.  

“Desire for a body like mine meant my partners were irrational, stupid, or resigned to settling for less than they wanted. In the years since my first breakup, I had struggled to accept interest where I found it. No matter how a potential partner looked, no matter how enthusiastic they were, I couldn’t trust their attraction. I shrank from their touch, recoiling from their hands like hot iron, believing their interest to be impossible or pathological. Any intimacy required vulnerability, and vulnerability inevitably led back to humiliation.”

An in-depth article on the important of sound design in film. Fascinating and filled with lovely surprises. “Despite Lievsay’s influence, you have probably never heard of him, and this is no surprise: Lievsay and his team are only a few members of the legions of people involved in film production, who go about their painstaking, essential work far from the public eye. Lievsay is not a household name, but he is famous among people who are. His expertise, fittingly, is what can’t be seen – sound, yes, but also everything else that sound is to the human mind: the way we orient ourselves in relation to spaces, to time, to each other; the way we communicate when language fails; the way our ears know, precognitively, when the dark room has someone lurking in it or when a stranger will be kind. He orchestrates the levels of human perception that most people either fail to examine or lack the ability to notice at all. His job is to make you feel things without ever knowing he was there.” 

To create joy: Scientists are learning that our feelings aren’t hard-wired — emotions are created by our brains in response to what we’re experiencing now and what we’ve felt in the past. Small doses of daily delight can shift our focus away from our worries and give more opportunity for joy to arise. If you know that your brain uses your past in order to make sense of and create the present, then you can practice cultivating positive emotions today so that your brain can automatically use that knowledge when it's making emotions tomorrow. So NPR has gathered some ideas to help you tap into positive emotions, online and offline. Enjoy them in the app, but most of all, get out in the world and try them. 

To joy scroll: Andrea Love is an independent animator and director,  a life long lover of movies, She specializes in stop motion with needle felted wool, and her series of stop motion shorts on instagram are an absolute delight. Their latest one is Lemonade; where the attention to detail, craftsmanship and utter adorability is just “chef’s kiss”.   

A thread on twitter prompted by the question “ Gimme one of your favorite shots in a movie from 2010–2020.” Scroll through for a series of beautiful imagery, ranging from Portrait of a Girl on Fire to Blade Runner. 

To learn: We love this channel for its captivating stories about how our world came to be through the lens of invention and technology. We recently watched, The Struggle of the Original iPhone - The Untold StoryToday it's just so easy to forget how much of a revolution the original iPhone was. In a world where tech reviews complain about bezels and small details in the new iPhone 12, it's important to look back and see where it all came from. From the pain and sacrifice,employees pushed them to the brink of insanity,  to a revolutionary product. 

To listen/watch: Although this song was released by the Goldspot frontman, Siddharth Khosla 7 years ago, we thought it was poignant for the times we live in now - separated across oceans for vast periods of time due to the  pandemic and vaccine bureaucracy. When Sidharth was a child, his parents were eking out a living in the USA and he was in Delhi with his grandparents in the late 70s; where the only form of connection to his mother was through recorded tape cassettes that she would mail to him. It’s a song about sacrifice, longing, forgiveness and the bonds of love the sustain us.  

“If I mistook

The sun for a mango,

I'd fly up there and reach for it too.

It's the story of something older,

And bigger than me and you.

And you told it

In a letter,

In the form of an evergreen cassette.

And I played it,

In the morning,

Till after the sun would set.”

To listen: “Louis Armstrong passed away in his sleep in the early hours of July 6, 1971, 50 years ago. He spent his final day in his den listening to music and dubbing records to tape. What was the final music he listened to? This Virtual Exhibit will tell the tale of Louis Armstrong’s final tape.”

To watch: In a family house, Mathieu Stern found a box of treasures hidden away by a little girl some 120 years ago. Inside was a pair of glass plate negative images of some pets, which Stern developed using the cyanotype technique. Film development is just straight-up magic. It seems, even across centuries, human beings were even then, preoccupied with chat photos, and like the little girl, we all take photos of things we love most, so that they may never be forgotten. 

To cook: In search for a sugarless summer dessert (as we are currently going through a no-sugar phase,which don’t worry, won’t last long!)  we came across this gorgeous recipe for Mango Lassi souffle. With relatively simple ingredients and your favourite mango blitzed into a pulp (or any fruit you like - the recipe is flexible), this recipe results in a dessert that is “tangy, fruity, super light and airy… and just melts in your mouth.”

To use: Living in certain parts of Delhi, either close to its large parks or small watering holes, means that you might be pleasantly (or unceremoniously ) jolted out of bed due to vigorous morning bird songs. If you’re wondering what bird you should thank (or curse) for their tunes, download this phone app that identifies bird songs. Merlin does a  great job identifying birds from their sounds, even when they are far away, and even when more than one bird is singing. It’s basically the Shazam for birds. And it’s free for Android or iOS.

To life hack: When ever you’re reaching out to someone to make a request, especially if in email format, make it brief and simple. Respecting their time and energy will improve your responses.The message needs to be short and easy to answer.

Don’t get bogged down with too much praise and pre-amble:

Hi, this is me, this is how i can help you, this is what I want from you, this is how you should proceed, let me know.

Basically, get straight to the point and make it as easy as possible for the recipient to give you the answer you want.

To End: For a lot of us, at the beginning of the pandemic, the concept of aging and death became a haunting obsession. We all had various coping mechanisms to deal with the world crisis : from baking sourdough bread to adopting street puppies. For Karla, the author of the following poem -  she began fixing every crack and bruise around the house with a hope to expand the longevity of these items. 

Her poem made us reflect on how desperately we want the trappings around us to exist forever, but that there is a limitation   to our fixing. Instead, we can only marvel at the magic and evolving beauty of aging. 

We are all trying so hard to repair our fractured worlds, and yet and there is still beauty to be found in imperfect things and their heartbreaking ephemeral qualities. 

Everything Needs Fixing

- Karla Cordero

in your thirties everything needs fixing. i bought a toolbox
for this. filled it with equipment my father once owned
to keep our home from crumbling. i purchased tools with
names & functions unknown to me. how they sat there
on their shelf in plastic packaging with price tags screaming:
hey lady, you need this!  like one day i could give my home
& everything living inside it the gift of immortality, to be
a historical monument the neighbor’s would line up
to visit even after i’m gone & shout: damn that’s a nice house!
i own a drill now, with hundreds & hundreds of metal pieces
i probably won’t use or use in the wrong ways but what
i’m certain of, is still, the uncertainty of which tools repair
the aging dog, the wilting snake plant, the crow’s feet
under my eyes, the stiff knee or bad back.
& maybe this is how it is—how parts of our small universe
dissolve like sugar cubes in water—a calling to ask us
to slow our busy breathing so we can marvel
at its magic. because even the best box of nails are capable
of rust. because when i was a child i dropped
a cookie jar in the shape of noah’s ark,
a family heirloom that shattered to pieces.
the animals broke free, zebras ran under
the kitchen table, the fractured lion roared by
the front door & out of the tool cabinet
i snagged duck tape & ceramic glue. pieced each beast
back to their intended journey.  because that afternoon
when my father returned from work i confessed
& he sat the jar on the counter only to fill it with
pastries. how the cracks of imperfection mended by
my hands laid jagged. chipped paint sliced across a rhino’s neck.
every wild animal lined up against the boat—
& a flood of sweet confections waiting inside.

May your week be flooded with sweet confections of your own, 

Viv and Ami 

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