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day 66: “Undone” and “Devs”: love the way they stay in the mind

Two good things to note about this spring: we’ve watched some series that generated really interesting conversations about existence and its possibilities. Last night we watched the finale of Devs (spoiler alert: it’s actually DEUS), and we’re still wondering what exactly it meant. Does the kinda creepy tech wizard messiah dude (played by Nick Offerman) get to live forever, as long as his blank-faced automaton girlfriend (Alison Pill) keeps the switch turned on? But what about the gamine, feisty, super-smart heroine Lily (played to perfection by Sonoya Mizuno)? Is she doomed to live in the messiah dude’s version of paradise? That could be nice, as is suggested by the sweet embrace with her hunky boyfriend (Jin Ha) at the end. But what if somebody turns off the switch?!!!!!

Undone, which we saw earlier this spring, was/is even better. In Undone, the heroine Alma (Rosa Salazar) struggles with “mental health” in ways that put a bite into the words–what’s so healthy about reality as we know it? (It is worth noting that her very name is inspiring: “Alma” has several meanings in a variety of languages but the gist is this child “feeds one’s soul” or “lifts the spirit”.) Even though the images are animated, Alma feels very real; her presence is what the French call tonique.

Alma’s situation is so interesting that I can’t wait to see Season 2 of Undone. I guess it’s what we all wish we could do. Sort of. Sometimes… She is able to see and talk to her dead dad. She sees him pretty regularly although with startling irregularity to her: he comes and goes at whim, played with spot-on timing by Bob Odenkirk, who has the most familiar voice from all those seasons of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, that you totally believe he’s the dad, or an uncle, or somebody you know.

The comedy/tension of Undone comes from watching this dazzling Latina heroine toggle between the two worlds: on the one hand, there are the moments of Zen awareness brought on by her dad and his teachings, but they are marred by the anxiety of wondering if he is messing with her for his own designs. On the other hand, there is Alma’s sweet (maybe too sweet?) boyfriend, played adorably by Siddharth Dhananjay. But wait a minute: what’s with his not telling her about their break-up before her near-death experience, amnesia and unwitting reconciliation? Is he intolerably weak, to be dropped immediately, or heart-breakingly lovable and to be married at all costs? Is she really going insane (again)? The possibility of wisdom hovers on the horizon, now and then you hear words you wish you could write down when the dad is talking or they’re walking in outerspace… But Alma’s sharp tongue keeps you on edge; she’s just irrational enough to make you wonder about her.  (Or identify with her!)

In short, it’s a slice of Zen 101 alongside funny scenes from a super-smart girl’s life, coping with the messy real-time stuff we call today. It is complicated, surprising, and philosophically complex.

Both Devs and Undone pounce on the power of humans to persuade each other of stuff, as does Sneaky Pete, another good series we watched recently.  (Hmmm… seems like the zeitgeist is on to something) All these shows stay with you long after the lights are out and bring on lively conversation—c’est un tonique!


Time to walk, now, and another day of sewing!


And yesterday’s face mask production, fyi

Face masks made on May 23 2020


Undone image By Source, Fair use,

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day 64, seen in the neighborhood

Arrow to the Left May 22 2020

Open to your many interpretations, be they philosophical (“What about free will!?), political (“Do all paths converge to the Left?”), geographical (“Where the heck is that road?”), or whatever comes to your mind today…

Also seen in the neighborhood:

And yesterday’s face mask production, fyi

Face masks made on May 21 2020

Happy Friday! see ya tomorrow

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Letting go: on moving, death and the untidy garden

One of the poignant things about moving is letting go of things we once held dear. I’ve been abandoning books right and left (to the bins managed by Better World Books, but still…). Rich has abandoned his garden, once a crowning achievement which fed our family for weeks in the summer. Gazing out on the garden this morning while meditating, I savored its lovely untidiness, which brought up the connection to one of my favorite quotes of all time, by the French Renaissance philosopher Michel de Montaigne.

Thought of the day: Letting go is healthy and delightful (even if it feels wrenching at times).



“I want death to find me in the garden planting cabbages, but not afraid of her, and even less of my imperfect garden.”

“Je veux que la mort me trouve plantant mes choux, mais nonchalant d’elle, et encore plus de mon jardin imparfait.”

Michel de Montaigne, Essais, 1580


Imperfection and letting go are key concepts in Zen philosophy as they are in T’ai chi. As Bob Klein writes, “Many people are drawn to T’ai-chi-Ch’uan because it enables them to let go of their tensions permanently. Without tension, anxiety and worry, life is a lot more enjoyable. … to release this tension, you must go through the nervous system, for it is a nerve, constantly sending its signal to a muscle, which causes that muscle to tense. You are making yourself tense. Tension, therefore, is not released by doing something extra, but by letting go of something you are already doing.”  (Movements of Magic, 16)


Did Montaigne know of Zen philosophy?! Or perhaps the Stoics before him? sure seems like there is a connection between East and West deep down …

At any rate, Bon dimanche!