Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy


Experiencing pop culture in a time of grief

When someone you love dies, blogging about pop culture, news, travel, and food drops off the priority list.

Doesn’t mean that these trivialities drop our of your life, though. Just that your relationship to them changes, at least for a time.


You know, if you break my heart I’ll go
But I’ll be back again
‘Cause I told you once before good-bye
And I came back again

Music is an emotional mindfield, isn’t it? I don’t think The Beatles “I’ll Be Back” would make anyone’s list of saddest songs ever, but on a day of bad news, I couldn’t handle it. I frantically searched through my playlists for safer havens. I finally settled on “High Energy”, a gathering of uptempo rock and dance numbers, generally with pleasingly dumb lyrics. I stayed locked on that for about a week and a half, ‘til it finally seemed just too incongruous. (Then I switched to Classical.)

Adam Lambert’s excellent album Trespassing was just the sort of uptempo music I needed for a time


I was interested to discover that I still got hungry, still wanted to cook, was still able to eat. Because certain forms of stress and worry make that difficult for me. But not this one, this situation with a known but sad outcome. While  I didn’t eat more, or drink more—I didn’t find comfort in that—I still enjoyed the routine of preparing and eating meals.

I certainly became a distracted cook, though. Leaving the milk out on the counter, putting the vinegar in the wrong pantry, forgetting to start the timer. Like the energy of pushing the sadness away enough to follow a recipe was not leaving enough mental space to remember anything that wasn’t written down.

Things are now improving on that front.

Movies and TV

While actually going out to a movie seemed like too much effort, watching stuff on TV was an appealing distraction. Since I don’t watch much medical stuff anyway, there wasn’t much I felt I had to avoid. Howard’s mother died on Big Bang Theory (as the actress had in real life), but it was handled with a light touch and didn’t set me off. In picking HBO movies, I decided to skip Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow for now, given its premise of the lead character dying over and over. I instead watched and quite appreciated the comedic In a World, one of the more overtly feminist movies I’ve seen in a long time. Recommended.

In a World trailer


The human interest stories—little boys lost in the snow, Oliver Sack’s terminal cancer diagnosis—were best avoided for a while, but I still found the theatre of politics a surprisingly useful distraction. Especially in Twitter form (about the length of my attention span, at times). I couldn’t truly dig up my own personal outrage at some of what was going on, but I could still appreciate and retweet other people’s. #StopC51 and all that.


Cover of Being MortalSo just a few days before all this my book club had selected Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal as our next book. It’s about getting older and end of life care, and how the medical profession has been dealing with it, and how it should.

Of course, there were days I wasn’t up to reading much of anything at all, but when I did feel up to it, I did read this, I seriously doubt I would have selected this particular book if left to my own druthers, but I feel it was in some ways helpful. It’s an excellent book, anyway, and much of it was more abstract and factual, which appealed to my logical side. Stories did become more personal and touching later in the book, but that was later in this whole saga for me too and—I don’t think it made anything worse. It certainly presented a number of scenarios I’m so glad my loved one never went through.

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Twittering through the US election

On the night of the US election, after blogging about dresses, I decided to avoid all forms of news. Though I felt fairly good about the odds, particularly from Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, I found I was overreacting to speculations of Romney victories. And I knew the results wouldn’t be known, for sure, until kind of late. And I was alone. I just didn’t need the solitary anxiety.

So no web, no TV, no radio for me. I just watched my new DVD of The Who Live in Texas 1975, which was awesome! Then I went to bed, knowing that my alarm, tuned to CBC Radio One, would give me the news upon awakening.

… Though in fact I had to wait, like, 5 minutes while they did traffic and weather and stuff. But then Matt Galloway read the night’s most popular tweet:

Barack Obama ‏@BarackObama

Four more years.

It seems apt that, even though it was through radio, I got the news via tweet, as Twitter as truly been my main source for following this election. The details were in various New York Times, Mother Jones,  etc. articles. Directing me to those were tweets.

So of course, I couldn’t wait to get on and read all the ones I’d missed the night before, when I’d been in avoidance mode. It was kind of like reliving the whole thing in condensed time. Here’s a sampling.

The watching begins

God ‏@TheTweetOfGod

If Romney wins I’m moving to hell.

ThisHourHas22Minutes ‏@22_Minutes

RT @rkgill: Here we go! May the best man or Mitt Romney win! #22USAVotes

Results start to come in

ThisHourHas22Minutes ‏@22_Minutes

RT @markcheck99: RT @roofer_on_fire: Canada secures borders in case Obama wins, anticipates stampede of up to 2 million morons. #22USAvotes

Nate Silver ‏@fivethirtyeight

On The Wall, The Writing.

But Florida remains inconclusive

ThisHourHas22Minutes ‏@22_Minutes

RT @mypolishface: RT @MrBobKerr: Man, remind me not to go out to dinner with Florida. Takes ’em FOREVER to decide. #22USAvotes

Republicans lose some big ones

Alex ‏@AlexCarpenter

“The Rape guy lost” “Which one?” Your party has serious issues if people have to ask “Which one?” #GOP #itstheTwentyFirstCentury

The Daily Show ‏@TheDailyShow

#TDSBreakingNews Detroit votes to let @MittRomney fail. #DailyShowLive

Ricky Gervais ‏@rickygervais

Romney loses Pennsylvania. Apparently The Amish thought he was too behind the times.

And… they call it

God ‏@TheTweetOfGod

You’re welcome.

Jon Schwarz ‏@tinyrevolution

Nate Silver being right brings up the very real and terrifying possibility that climate scientists are too

Gladstone ‏@WGladstone

Your party doesn’t believe in evolution. RT @McCainBlogette Heartbroken. My party has to evolve or it’s going to die.

But Romney seems to dawdle on the conceding

Tabatha Southey ‏@TabathaSouthey

Romney still not conceding. Possibly he’ll build a White House near the real White House & start governing. But his house will be bigger.

ThisHourHas22Minutes ‏@22_Minutes

RT @robbierobtown: Romney, concede. The WORLD wants to go to bed. #22USAvotes#Obama2012#CanadaIsSleepy#TheWorldVotes

ThisHourHas22Minutes ‏@22_Minutes

RT @heyitstva: “Wait…can I just buy more states?” – Romney #election2012#22USAvotes

ThisHourHas22Minutes ‏@22_Minutes

Tell it like it is, bro! #22USAvotes RT @stefquaglia: “The only time we’ve looked forward to a Mitt Romney speech” #markcritch#USvotesCBC

And there is cheer

ThisHourHas22Minutes ‏@22_Minutes

RT @thedarcymichael: America tonight you voted for weed, married gays & a black dude. Basically my sex bucket list. Thanks. #22USAvotes

whedonesque ‏@whedonesque

“Guys, take a moment to deal with this. We survived.”