Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Reading and Watching and Thinking and Listening To This Stressful Week?

Happy Wednesday! It is rainy and overcast here, I am looking forward to doing a half day of work and then curling up with a book.

I’ll start!

Reading: Finished a Elizabeth George, moved on to reading a bunch of Fox Trot comics, finished them, and now I am starting my first PD James. It’s that kind of cozy overcast weather.

Watching: My parents and I have been doing a Midsomer Murder every night, they are just so soothing. And tomorrow I have another long distance group movie watch scheduled but I haven’t decided what it should be yet. Something on Netflix that is fun and happy for a group. And preferably not super long.

Thinking: On Friday, I am going to have to drive like the wind to make our traditional 3pm start time. But it is SO WORTH IT. I’ve had a stressful week, I am very much looking forward to our happy watching time.

Listening: As I said, stressful week. So time for some Sufi songs!

Now, question for you! As I said, stressful week, what do you do to beat stress?

I have a very set routine. I call my sister and we talk about nothing in particular. Or, if that’s not possible, I watch either Murder She Wrote or Frasier (I’ve seen every episode, so I don’t have to worry about something bad happening. Well, besides the murders). Or if I am with my parents, we watch Midsomer Murders on the couch (as I said, we’ve been watching a lot this week!). Also, I pet my dog.

42 thoughts on “Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Reading and Watching and Thinking and Listening To This Stressful Week?

  1. Reading: Somehow I have ended up in three very different book clubs! So I am simultaneously reading Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Sue Monk Kidd’s Book of Longings, and, for a very political group, Madeleine Albright’s book on Fascism. And because it isn’t enough, I have also started a reading group (not just books, but poetry, short stories, magazine articles, etc) where we don’t all read the same thing, we just share what we are currently enjoying. And of course, it is all on Zoom or some other video call platform.

    Watching: Worst Cooks in America is my current guilty pleasure. We also watch Midsommer Murders, amazed at all the different grisly ways there are to do someone in and also the ineptitude of the detectives, since they usually don’t find the killer until three or more people have died. Our retirement community has reopened to visitors, and that means I have had three different friends over to watch Indian movies (two newbies and one of my regulars!)

    Thinking: How much I miss traveling. Our trips to Providence for the UU General Assembly and then to Star Island for a week of blissful peace were cancelled long ago, and our cross-country train trip to northern California has been re-re-re-scheduled for late September. It’s not just the travel and the vacation itself. I miss the planning, the anticipation, the photo sharing, and the afterglow. But there’s hope: a couple of friends have rented a beach house and invited me (and my mask collection) to join them, and we also have a reservation at a place on the Chesapeake Bay near us for late August. So there’s hope.

    Listening: I alternate between Motown dance tunes and my various playlists of Indian movie songs. But my current fave is Alone in Iz World, by the glorious Iz (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole).

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    • What a lovely comment! I should have said, one of my best stress busters is talking with all of you about happy things.

      Reading: I read Octavia Butler for one of the most interesting college English classes I had. It was a summer class, so taught by a random young associate teacher. He was very free thinking and excited and it was summer so he could do whatever syllabus he wanted, the school didn’t care. He had us read Fight Club and an Octavia Butler for modern American literature and it was fascinating. So much better than if it had been during the school year and we had to read something school approved with a bored teacher who hated undergrads. I’m bad with reading groups, it gets my back up and I instinctively want to read anything but the thing they tell me to read. But right now, I really wish it was something I could do. There was a meet-up group I joined right before lock down, and never had a chance to go to, that was a “Quiet Reading Club”. People gather in a room together and read to themselves for an hour anything they want, then talk to each other about what they are reading. That group has transitioned to Zoom, I’m not sure if it would be the same experience that way, but I am tempted to try it.

      Watching: Midsomer Murders is just The Best!!!! I watched the whole series a few years back during a stressful time I don’t even remember (unpacking after a move? Summer heat wave? Getting over a cold? Something like that), but it’s even better watching it with my parents. It’s the perfect show to watch in a group, you can guess who the murderer is, and give opinions on Joyce’s outfits, and if you trust the Young Lovers or not, and ask “what is with all the incest?” I also love how self-aware the show became. There’s two quotes that I adore, one is from fairly early on, Joyce is trying to get them to move to a village and Barnaby says “villages are filled with blackmail, murder, sexual deviancy, and suicide”. And by golly they are! Every episode! And we just watched an episode last night where the constable says “This village is weird” and Barnaby replies “they’re all weird”. Which is also true.

      Thinking: I know exactly what you mean. There are three things keeping us going in my household. First, for me, is my toe surgery. It’s as much planning as a vacation, and as exciting, and at the end of it I will have a new foot. Also, we got my Mom a Kayak for her birthday, which means now we can read about Kayaks and look up the local Kayak parks and all that stuff. And finally, we are lucky enough to already have a weekend house. The schedule we worked out is two week chunks once a month, which is sort of perfect. We were originally thinking just straight moving there for half the summer, but this is much better, giving us something to look forward to and change it up a bit, and we get to plan activities and pack and unpack and all of it.

      Listening: Motown is the BEST!!!!! When I was growing up, standard cleaning the house music was Best of the Shirelles. For songs about being powerless in your love for a boy, they feel surprisingly empowering to sing.

      On Wed, Jul 15, 2020 at 9:21 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • And the chaotic reading group has a name: Discombobulated Pop-Up Reading Group, or Bob for short. Anyone in the group can schedule a meeting anytime, any platform or location. We can read any genre, any format. Because Bob doesnโ€™t care.

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  2. Reading: Focus group and interview data for writing my dissertation. No time to read anything else other than news.

    Thinking: Breaking no politics rule – What a relief that ICE went back on its guidance about online classes for international students.

    Watching: Moved into a new place and Xfinity gave us a Flex box. It has many movies available to watch for free, so might pick something from that.

    Washing dishes beats everything else when it comes to destressing.

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    • Hey, I did that for my thesis! I got to collate data and then make a bunch of graphs proving that, statistically speaking and based on raw data, Shahrukh Khan Is The Best.

      I will have to try washing dishes. Usually it is what I avoid the most, but maybe that is why I am always so stressed ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Reading: Been re-reading my Emma and A Bride’s Story manga’s by Kaoru Mori. The stories are great and filled with a lot of character, beautiful art and history.

    Emma is set in 1890s England about the maid Emma and the rich man William’s (very sweet) romance with a lot of interesting twists and drama along the way (it’s ten volumes, but only 5 if you get the 2 in 1 hardback). In the manga, there is an Indian character named Hakim who is an ‘interesting’ representation, to say the least, a good character, but not as much fleshed out as the others and he has an entourage of women following him. Yeah, not great overall, but it’s more focused on the life in 19th-century England and the romance than anything going on in the British Raj period in India (the author is a self-proclaimed Anglophile, so no surprise).

    A Bride’s s Story, on the other hand, is about women and marriages and all that in late 19th century Central Asia, which does better in fleshing out the side characters than Emma and is still ongoing. It’s really good and there are a lot of good relationships with the women and respecting the culture it’s showing.

    Thinking: Went with the family to see Tsar Alexander III’s fishing lodge and it was big! Not fancy at all, not much finery, but they did use it a lot compared to his son Nikolai II who only visited once, and even only by his mother’s behest to see that it was cared for. A very nice place overall.

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    • Oh, I’ve heard about Emma! Years and years ago, I think it was one of the first Mangas I read about. Opened my eyes to the idea of romance novel Mangas.

      That fishing lodge actually looks kind of nice. I would stay there.

      On Wed, Jul 15, 2020 at 4:33 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Emma is not so much as a romance novel (I mean, there are legit Harlequin Manga adaptations) as a seinen (meaning young adult up to the age of 30) and even by the covers the two are TOTALLY DIFFERENT. I mean, Mori herself has said “it’s a story about a maid, not a maid story”.

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  4. I watched another random marathi movie from Prime, and man it wasn’t good decision. It’s called Manthan: Ek Amrut Pyala. I chose it because I saw Milind Gunaji on the poster, or as I call him – the only hot guy in SLB Devdas. I wanted to see him playing a good guy but instead I saw him playing a drunkard and a wife-beater. Every male character in this film was a bad person, and I think it also shows almost every bad thing women face everyday: violence, misogyny, blackmail. You name it and this movie has it! So depressing. I was thinking that I didn’t want to watch Thappad but watched this film which I’m sure must be 10 times more depressing. When I’ll learn to read the plots?

    Thinking: Maybe this time I will be able to go to Poland. Our flight has been cancelled few times already but maybe this time we will be happy. The flight is this Friday. Keep your fingers crossed please ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reading: The secod volume of Warriors. I bought the books for my son but I think I’m more excited to read them ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I also joined online library and the first book I chose is Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Bronte. Can’t wait to start reading.

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    • Yeah, I bet Thappad would be less bad. At least the film sides against the Bad People and there is a hopeful ending.

      I really really hope you can go to Poland! I will keep my fingers and toes crossed for you!

      Is Warriors the one with cats or the one with Owls? I remember seeing the covers of the books, but I never read them.

      On Wed, Jul 15, 2020 at 5:01 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Update: I didn’t board ๐Ÿ˜”
        We were at the airport already but didn’t have one of the documents and couldn’t check in. What a disappointment! I We have never had so many problems with flights like this year.

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          • Oh I hope so! I would be going crazy if I were stuck in a different country from the rest of my family.

            On Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 9:20 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • None of us boarded because we are or together or we are not going.
            I’m disappointed because we had everything ready, and we almost did it. It was almost like in a movie. My husband did a crazy ride airport – home – airport (we live 50 km from airport) and brought the missing document but the lady at check in already closed ๐Ÿ˜”

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          • Years from now, this will be a fun story to share.

            On Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 9:40 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Watching: finished Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. over a few nights. I didn’t like it that much as a movie, but wow that is my favorite Boman Irani performance now – never would have imagined pairing him with Shabana Azmi but they played off each other so well. Also the first time I remember sitting up and noticing Kay Kay Menon. Interesting casting all around. Then I went looking for more details about all of these people and realized Shabana is married to Javed Akhtar and is Tabu’s aunt? So that made me curious about that whole branch of the Indian film family, which led me to this 101 post: https://dontcallitbollywood.com/2020/01/18/hindi-film-101-javed-and-shabana-an-interesting-couple/. Thank you, past Margaret. Only it has no Tabu. Where does Tabu fit in?
    Also watched

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    • YES! Boman is SO GOOD in Honeymoon Travels. I think HTPL is Reema and Zoya’s first movie, and I know it is the only movie that they tried to direct together. Usually they write the script together, but one of them is designated as the Director and gets final veto power on everything. HTPL is kind of a mess, so I think they were missing that veto power person to pull it all together.

      Tabu doesn’t fit in at all! The Azmi side is very big on welcoming people to the art world and Bombay and they aren’t too fussed about if they are nieces or cousins or what. Which leaves the rest of us very confused. Shabana has one brother, Baba Azmi, who is married to Tanvi Azmi. Tabu is from Hyderabad and was raised by her maternal relatives who were academics. How she is Shabana’s “niece”, I have no idea, but I suspect it is a cousin relationship at Shabana’s generation and once Tabu became interested in acting, they became much closer.

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      • Boman’s hair in that movie! Who would have thought he could make long hippie hair look so right?

        Interesting about Tabu, I did think there was a bit of a family resemblance.

        I realized I mostly recognize Shabana because I loved her so much in Loins of Punjab. I should probably see one of her serious, award-winning roles one of these days :).

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        • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a serious award winning Shabana movie. I enjoy her whenever she shows up, but she does so many fun quirky unexpected films (like Loins), I am just happy with those and let her fancy famous stuff pass me by. Oh! I have another Shabana movie for you! Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola. It’s a really good movie that didn’t get as much attention as I thought it should, a rural comedy/romance with Anushka and Imran Khan and Pankuj Kapoor and Shabana having a fabulous time playing another evil powerful woman.

          On Thu, Jul 16, 2020 at 11:55 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. Argh, pressed the wrong button and now my comment is in anonymous purgatory! The second part was going to be this:

    Also watched Badmaash Company because I let the kids choose, and again I didn’t like it that much as a movie but I got interested as I was watching in how this role is kind of a warm up to Shahid’s performance in Kabir Singh. Allowing for Anushka’s character being way more active and colorful than Kiara’s, but even the ending with the heroine is the same, along with the general plot trajectory of a topper in everything who drives everyone he loves away and has to hit bottom before he can begin to change. (Other than that my main reaction to Badmaash Company was how do you make a film like that with Shahid and not give him even one big dance number? Not even the end credits song? Unacceptable!)

    Partial list of things that help me relieve stress: happy music, petting the cat, the part of cooking that involves chopping different sized and shaped food items into neat piles, taking a walk outside, back channel wisecracks with my coworkers, and chocolate.

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    • I rescued your comment!

      I have never seen Badmaash Company, and you are just confirming for me that it was the right decision. Blech! Why would I watch a Shahid movie that doesn’t have dancing? Although I guess Kabir Singh didn’t either and I didn’t mind that.

      Chopping things for cooking increases my stress. But I think that is just because I have a bad kitchen. So for me, chopping means “clearing off just enough counter space, and then standing slightly hunched because it is too low and chopping very carefully because if it falls off the side of the board, it will be lost forever among all the things I have to store on the counter”.

      On Thu, Jul 16, 2020 at 12:51 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Badmaash Company is skippable (kids chose it because they liked the cars in the trailer, but they wandered off). I did like Anushka’s character though, it’s one of her strong, sassy types, like JTHJ but with more of a conwoman edge. And I liked her and Shahid together. (Then I realized I liked him with Alia too, and maybe he’s just a good co-star.)

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        • I think Shahid is a good co-star. Him and Abhishek, something about the way they play scenes always sells me on the chemistry and makes their heroine look good with them.

          On Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 12:01 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Vikrant Massey alarm!
    Netflix announced 17 new indian releases and I’m super excited because one of them is Ludo. I have been waiting for this film but lost hope, and now suddenly it was announced.
    I was even more happy to see that one of the movies will be Vikrant Massey’s romantic comedy I’ve never heard of: Ginny weds Sunny. The photos look promising : fun and colorful.

    Please write a post about this announcement if you have time ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Oooo, thank you for the alert! The only ones I remember hearing about are Ludo and Kargil Girl, which either means everything else was always intended for streaming, or that everything else was set to be released now and hadn’t cranked up promotions yet before lockdown.

      On Thu, Jul 16, 2020 at 4:13 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. Showed my niece and nephew Bang Bang! on my tiny chromebook because niece loved the Tu Meri song and they had to see it. Perhaps it is the best action movie ever made, even if Telugu action scenes are more beautiful. What a movie. Well worth the fighting over who got to sit where and how to angle the screen.

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    • Bang Bang is truly magical. And I am so glad your niece and nephew get to be with you! Am I remembering right that they live far away so this is special? Or is it more normal nice?

      On Thu, Jul 16, 2020 at 7:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Haven’t watched much of anything since last week, so still thinking about Bulbbul. One of the other things I thought was really interesting: no parents or people of the older generation (I guess Rahul might be a generation older than Tripti, but he doesn’t function as an “older person” in the plot). It really sets it off from something like Chokher Bali, which takes place in a multigenerational haveli, and the older women are sort of controlling everything. Here the parents are setting everything in motion but then they disappear, which I guess shows the problem is patriarchy and not particular old people.

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    • I saw it as the lack of parents being part of the problem. I got the impression that both brides (Paoli and Tripti) were from poorer families with parents who were happy to marry them off and forget about them. And Rahul had been allowed to rule the family in an unnatural way, a grown man surrounded by children of various kinds (his child bride, his child brother, Paoli’s traumatized child personality, and Twin Rahul’s mental issues), and resisting bringing in any other adult. But then, I guess, that also turns back to the traditional structure. The idea is that the elderly parents of the household would hold the reins while the children wait years to be responsible and grown up. Remove the parents, and you are left with children who are not expected to be responsible and wise or anything.

      On Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 2:25 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  10. Friends of mine have just reminded me that โ€œourโ€ Indian film festival in Stuttgart is running this weekend. Itโ€™s online this year:

    https://indisches-filmfestival.de/

    So all of you have the chance to enjoy the awkward German English of the organizers, score some recipes – and even watch a selection of documentaries, short films and some feature films if youโ€™re willing to pay 5โ‚ฌ. There are English subtitles on almost everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh cool, thank you! And you can read my reviews of the three Malayalam offerings, Uyare and Kumbalangi Nights and Julayi.

      On Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 8:08 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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