Dec 11

“Almost Everything” by Anne Lamott

Those who enjoy Lamott’s consistently self-deprecating humor, vulnerability, and occasional nuggets of positivity will enjoy her latest; others will be adrift. Publishers Weekly, regarding Almost Everything by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott‘s newest book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hopewas written “as a gift to her grandson and niece,” notes Kirkus Reviews. This particular series of essays, states Kirkus, “is an obsessively inward-focusing hodgepodge of life stories, advice, and ramblings.”

Although not for everyone, Lamott is certainly loved by many. Here’s a sampling of quotes from Almost Everything:

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

Could you say this about yourself right now, that you have immense and intrinsic value, at your current weight and income level, while waiting to hear if you got the job or didn’t, or sold your book or didn’t? This idea that I had all the value I’d ever needed was concealed from me my whole life. I want a refund.

There is almost nothing outside you that will help in any lasting way, unless you are waiting for a donor organ.

Peace of mind is an inside job, unrelated to fame, fortune, or whether your partner loves you. Horribly, what this means is that it is also an inside job for the few people you love most desperately in the world. We cannot arrange lasting safety or happiness for our most beloved people. They have to find their own ways, their own answers.

We believe that we are all in this together. This was the message of childhood, that being together meant connection, like an electrical circuit — think school recess on the blacktop, summer camp, and all those family holiday gatherings. Ram Dass said that if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.

The world is Lucy teeing up the football.

This country has felt more stunned and doomed than at any time since the assassinations of the 1960s and the Vietnam War, and while a sense of foreboding may be appropriate, the hate is not. At some point, the hate becomes an elective. I was becoming insane, letting politicians get me whipped up into visions of revenge, perp walks, jail. And this was satisfying for a time. But it didn’t work as a drug, neither calming nor animating me. There is no beauty or safety in hatred. As a long-term strategy, based on craziness, it’s doomed.

Certain special people of late have caused a majority of us to experience derangement. Some of us have developed hunchbacks, or tics in our eyelids. Even my Buddhist friends have been feeling despair; and when they go bad, you know the end is nigh. Booker T. Washington said, “I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him,” and this is the most awful thing about it. Yet part of me sort of likes it, too, for the flush of righteousness, the bond to half of the electorate. Who would we be without hate? In politics, breakups, custody disputes, hate turns us into them, with a hangover to boot, the brown-bottle flu of the spirit.

Haters want us to hate them, because hate is incapacitating. When we hate, we can’t operate from our real selves, which is our strength.

I have known hell, and I have also known love. Love was bigger.

I have taken the path of liberation: kindness.

Aug 08

“Hunt For the Wilderpeople”: “Outlaw” Kid

First, while at the theater for another movie, I saw the preview for Taika Waititi‘s Hunt For the Wilderpeople, a previously unknown entity to me, and was surprised by its charm. Even more surprised to find out how well reviewed it is—currently at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.

And then I actually saw it and joined the ranks of fans (though the New Zealand accents are a bit tough).

Here’s the trailer that had pulled me in:

Miriam Di Nunzio, Chicago Sun-Times, sets up the story: “The kid in question is pudgy and feisty Ricky Baker (the endearing Julian Dennison, in what’s sure to be his breakout performance), who’s spent most of his 13 years on earth moving from foster home to foster home, learning to be that tough little kid on the outside, while writing and reciting haikus to reveal his true inner feelings. We meet him as he’s being ‘delivered’ to his final chance at a normal life, the farmhouse of his ‘aunt’ Bella (Rima Te Wiata in wonderful turn) and her partner Hec, the …cantankerous sixtysomething (Sam Neill in a marvelous performance).”

More about this family: “The couple lives a bucolic farm life, with only the occasional slaughtering of wild boars with knives and their bare hands, and taking in rescue dogs and, in the case of Ricky, a rescue child. There is much love on the farm, thanks mostly to Bella, and life is good until her sudden passing sets in motion the rest of this darkly humorous film, based on the best-selling novel ‘Wild Pork and Watercress,’ by the late Barry Crump.”

And the same reviewer concludes that it’s “all about life-changing moments and the people who are catalysts. It’s about learning from those around you, regardless of age or circumstance. It’s about learning to trust in yourself and the meaningful people around you. It’s about family and realizing the only ‘normal’ family is one filled with love and understanding and discipline and strength of character, and sometimes tragedy.”

Other Selected Reviews 

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: “Charming and funny, it is a drama masquerading as a comedy about an unloved boy whom nobody wants until someone says, Yes, I’ll love him.”

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: “Every once in a while, a small, unheralded film comes along, so smart and funny, such a pleasure to experience, you can’t believe your luck. ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ is such a film.”

Tirdad Derakhshani, Philly.com: “…magically taps into the logic, thought processes, and emotions of a child. It’s a rich, strange, and wondrous world.”

Tom Long, Detroit News: “‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ is a hoot with heart.”

Brian Tallerico, rogerebert.com: “’Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ becomes a road movie with no road, a film about two people who may seem entirely different but have both been discarded by society.”