Running Mode: On Optimism

What’s there not to be optimistic about? It’s almost the end of winter, people. One can already notice how the days become visibly longer. And this is good news, right? A minute at a time, true, but noticeably longer.

I’m lucky enough to get off work relatively early so I decide to make a good use of this wonderful winter afternoon. I go for a run. Not that I avoid running altogether when it’s dark and cold but the spirit is higher with a prospect of a daylight run. It’s also warmed up a bit in the last few days, it’s clear with an occasional foamy cloud here and there. The sun being low – it’s wintertime after all – it casts a magical colouring scheme over the snow-capped mountains. Really, what’s not to be good-spirited about?

 

The pastel sunset colours over the sky seen through the trees during my run

I decide to put some music on. During December it’s been all about Christmas chimes (I can’t help it, I love good old-fashioned Christmas songs) and festive podcasts. This time I choose an almost forgotten playlist that’s been collecting dust in my iTunes library and with every step I get reminded what a great decision I’ve made. Who could resist this? Or this? I hate to repeat myself but what’s there not to be optimistic about?

By now I have already passed the ski jump facility where young athletes are training hard. There’s lots of them, some still little children but all fearless with gleaming eyes and everyone hoping to become the next Peter Prevc. Good for them!

The pastel sunset colours over the sky seen through the trees during my run

 

There are more runners out here than usual. What a great feeling! The paths through the woods are dry and dusty, only a slight puddle every now and then. More a result of hidden streams meandering downhill between the trees and bushes than anything else for the rain has been absent for more than a month now and there’s been no decent snowfall whatsoever yet. Hope it snows soon.

I meet families on the way as well. Children in colourful outfits are bursting within the greys and browns of the winter forest and their parents treading along in a slow pace. Some people never seem to hurry, bless them.

I see people walking their dogs. I see people enjoying the last sunbeams of the day. I see people having a smoke, outdoors being the only resort for their vice. Nowadays I only notice the smokers outdoors: on the streets, in the park, in front of the bars, even on bikes and some behind the wheel of the car or in the old movies and TV series – they’re a rare sight actually.

When I pass the rose garden on my way back home it’s almost dark. The sky is still light blue when I look up and the clouds are a bright pink colour but the dusk spreads all around and tows the murkiness along. There’s a cloud floating above me, a classic funnel-like shape as if the storm might be approaching which seems quite strange on this calmest of days. On the other hand, if I take another look it reminds me of a soft ice-cream fallen from the hands of a clumsy child.

 

What the Hell Is Wrong with Leonardo di Caprio?

It’s been a couple of weeks since we saw The Revenant. I felt kind of doped afterwards. It lingered in my mind for a while, it somersaulted within the curves of my thoughts, I kept stumbling across the associations that reminded me of the film but I couldn’t come round to it. Let me explain.

View of the snow capped mountains that might reminisce of the ones in the film The Revenant

I’m no fan of Leonardo di Caprio, I’m not a movie freak for that matter, I just like to watch a good movie now and then. Preferably European but by all means a serious, driven by quality movie. That said, I don’t mind a Hollywood production as long as it doesn’t insult my intelligence.

When this year’s Golden Globe winners were announced I accidentally overheard Leonardo di Caprio’s thank-you speech being broadcast on the national TV. Some words on indigenous people and the respect for first nations came out of his mouth. I couldn’t make much of it because, well, as I mentioned before, I only overheard it. Come and gone. It was enough though to produce a mental note that this might be a movie to watch.

The small talk at work added up although it was mostly about Tom Hardy, not the leading-role guy. The big trigger for me was Alejandro G. Inarritu. I loved Biutiful and Birdman. I was hooked by the “subtitle” of the latter: Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. Magic. This director certainly knows a thing or two about titles. Among other things.

Luckily, The Revenant is on in our local cinema. Surprisingly so, as it is clearly THE movie and our local cinema is not as frequented. We both hate the gigantic cinema complex in the suburbs and have years ago decided to avoid it altogether. So early evening one Saturday we went.

It’s brutal, butchery, full of blood and slaughtering, it’s as vivid and intense as a movie can be. It was clear to me the first minute that it’s going to be about covering my eyes and ears. And so it was a couple of times during the two and a half hours. But let me tell you: it’s a wonderfully done movie and it goes by in a flash. The sound is fantastic, you hear every drop of melting snow falling off the branches of the trees, the angles and the colours and the rhythm of the sequences and the elements themselves are unforgettable. The countryside and the beauty of the landscape are overwhelming. The story? Here.

I was a fan of Davy Crockett, Robinson Crusoe and the likes when I was a child. I read the books like crazy and of course there came a time when reading was all about adventure in the glorious past times. I think I read Tom Sawyer in the same period. Angelika as well to be honest.

However, Hugh Glass, The Revenant, was not after adventures, I can tell you that. Nor were the Arikaras. Or other fur trappers. Or the armies. The adventures simply happened to them when they didn’t pay enough attention or they paid too much of it. Not sure about Fitzgerald though. He was kind of seeking trouble all the time. You know: asking for it. And here we go taking sides.

The actors are outstanding of course. The directing is superb. Well done. There’s not a second of boredom, none one too many detail. The rest is what you would expect in a Hollywood drama: a dramatic survival story, a constant underdog struggle, a wholesome manly power, to-be-anticipated turns of fate, and a flexible notion of justice.

So, let me ask again: what’s wrong with Leonardo di Caprio? Does anybody know? There must be something he’s done (or hasn’t done) to not get the Oscar continually. He’s an extremely good actor, excellent to be exact, so I guess he must be hard working and devoted and everything by the book. He gave numerous fantastic performances; he grew on me in Revolutionary Road and I found him very convincing in every role that followed. In fact, I can’t think of any disappointing performance by him. But should he get IT for The Revenant it just wouldn’t be just.

 

After the Break

If I could offer you one tip for the future (paraphrasing Baz Luhrmann) reading would be it. But I can’t, can I? Offer just a single one that is, so I’ll just add two more: travel and pay attention.

One of the beauties of holiday season is you get to read a lot more. You know, staying in bed having your usual morning cup of coffee between the sheets, all cosy and warm and not rushing anywhere, and catching up on the newspapers of the past couple of weekends. Well, catching up on old news that is, old indeed. The lucky fact is that by this time you’re not looking for news anymore, you’re beyond this point, you’re on holiday, for heaven’s sake, so you engage yourself in some in-depth reading, a good old fashioned one, brain gym of some kind, collecting other people’s thoughts, ideas and insights: a regular Sunday morning treat but extended throughout the holidays.

I was kind of unawarely, at first at least, hooked on by this article by Simon Kuper titled How to be a 21st-century dad in FT. I enjoyed reading it as I almost always do all his columns and I thought I’d forgotten all about it but then noticed how it shadowed over me all the time. I caught myself applying the author’s remarks to the people I met, the colleagues, and friends, trying to check the plausibility of his writing. How modern times’ dads are willingly and consciously putting their children and family before their ambition and work. I’m glad the author and his sources can see the change (well, it’s backed with some research, it’s not pure speculation) because I must admit I don’t. This has surely to do with where I live where the trends tend to arrive with a decade or so of delay. (There’s some exaggeration in this last statement just to prove the point.)

It’s high time the fathers got a lot more involved in parenting and housekeeping (those two go hand in hand on numerous occasions) but is it not just another self-worth thing that’s going to get all soggy in the end? On the other hand, mothers are traditionally still obliged to understand the demands of their spouse’s ambition before their own. Hopefully, the Western societies will endorse daddy hens and not marginalize them. It’s a happy, heart-warming thought. Let’s all of us do our best to keep the trend for the sake of our future well-being. We do all strive for the better place for everybody, the healthier relationships, the prosperous future, don’t we?

To spice things up here’s another one that caught my eye and mind during the festive season. True, it’s the title that got my attention at first, Time to spice things up, and the drawings of the glass containers.

I thought I might get some info on ginger syrup as well as I was looking for some suggestions on how to use up the ginger syrup save in cocktails and simple fruit salads (it’s delicious with pomegranate seeds) but no, it’s not that kind of article. Nevertheless, it’s interesting enough if not intriguing how the spices trade brought the critical change in economical development. What I found intriguing though is the implication of where this limited liability thing has brought us. Impatient shareholders of the world: slow down a bit and think again. To all: happy New Year!

 

Note: This text was written on January 2nd, 2016 when I decided to start blogging and was meant to be my first post. Hence, the belated best wishes.