Keto, Brainfog & This Week’s Theme

Before I start, I just want to put it out there: I have insane brain fog from my first week of keto. On top of my usual brain fog of course. Or perhaps mixed together, who knows? Either way, I’m basically floating from one thing to the next at the moment. However, I do want to write more, and keep things recorded, in spite/because of this.

So first of all, I want to share a band I’ve been listening to that I randomly clicked on YouTube; Far Caspian. I’ve never heard of them before, don’t know anything about them, and these days I prefer to keep things that way, otherwise I find it colours my view of an artist. But they’re so chill, and worth a listen.

Something I’ve been doing while ironing is watching this English TV show from the 90s called Escape to River Cottage. Another thing I’d never heard of, but it’s strangely addictive. I find myself paying keen attention, in case I miss a tip I will probably never use (like how to make the best of rabbit roadkill, butchering your own self-raised pigs and using every – and I mean every – part). It’s a cottagecore/farmcore dream, and if I were more able-bodied, I could actually see myself doing it someday (“it” being acquiring a small holdings farm in picturesque countryside with lots of traditions and neighbours to trade with). I think a big part of why it’s so compelling is because of the whole community coming together and doing seasonal activities for their livelihoods and enjoyment. And you can see everyone gets immense joy out of their everyday lives, whether it be from raw nettle eating contests or diving for hand-picked scallops. It’s something I feel is very disconnected from modern (urban) life; to be able to talk and work together with strangers so easily and trustingly, unselfconsciously or socially awkwardly, and being ‘all-in’ on everything you do. Something I’d love to do, despite my energy levels and introversion.

I guess it’s all part of the same theme. With living in a small town that I haven’t even begun to explore yet, I’ve already had to take on actual gardens and gardening, and started growing my own potted kitchen garden (in fact, my first strawberry just sprouted!). I like to do my best in all situations, and so I suppose I’m garnering tips from everywhere I can, leading to a sharper interest in things I was already drawn to.

If you have a look at my Tumblr, you’ll see it’s full of mainly cottagecore photos, alongside fashion and things I find cute or interesting. I don’t know why, but I’ve done a 180 from my tastes growing up, (edgy, post-hardcore kind of stuff) to craving a simple, good life. I want peace and quiet, no drama, I want my little family unit to be kind and supportive, to be healthy, and to be based around a haven-like home we create together. Compare that to wanting to be a self-destructive rockstar, I suppose the catalyst was realising that I was, in fact, sick, and not just lazy or moody, as a lot of people kept telling me. Whereas before I wanted crazy highs and lows, now my biggest dream is stability. I want comfort and  simplicity. And that’s my weird segue into Ghibli movies.

Studio Ghibli and Studio Chizu have created the perfect goal posts for this kind of lifestyle. It’s like a more wholesome, better moral-of-the-story version of Disney cartoon fairytale. Not only are their stories layered, bittersweet and compelling, but the imagery and illustration style used is whimsical and beautiful. They can take the mundane and make it look fantastical, and it makes you realise the beauty of your everyday surrounds. That is a pretty incredible feat for modern life. Making an achievable life attractive and desirable, I mean, instead of wishing for your American Dream, or becoming a Princess. It’s a much more healthy goal, and is absolutely tied to my perspective as someone who will never be able to do as much as is pushed on everyone as desirable, and ‘the hustle/grind/get that bread’.

Having said that, I’ve been revisiting some of my old favourite Ghibli movies lately, and realising there are more that I never even knew existed. B and I’s first date was at a screening of a Ghibli movie I’d never heard of; The Castle of Cagliostro, and every year we watch it for our anniversary. I’d become somewhat less enamoured of Ghibli movies than I had been when I first saw them, but now I’m starting to get in the right mindset for them, I guess? Re-watching Pom Poko for example, was much better than the first time I watched, when I found it tedious and confusing. This time, I almost shed some tears at the end, and really appreciated the artwork that went into the scenery.

If you haven’t seen Pom Poko, it’s a quirky story about Japanese racoon dogs (Tanuki) in the 60s, when their habitat is being destroyed. They use their apparently well-known ‘pouch’ magic to resist. I strongly suspect at least a couple of Wes Anderson films were based on the structure of this lesser known 90s Ghibli product, particularly in terms of the narration and surreality/casual ridiculousness. Like a lot of these kinds of movies, environmentalism and a Japanese Shinto outlook is a core part of the narrative; of taking care of and respecting the natural order of things and your environment. Just as good for kids as adults, and often without the heavy saccharine overtones of their western counterparts, I highly recommend trying any of them. Just to prove it fits the kitschy 90s era pseudo-Victorianism I talked about in my previous cottagecore blog, Ghibli released The Secret World of Arrietty a few years ago, based on The Borrowers – a staple of my childhood TV.

Next, I want to watch The Cat Returns, which I’ve never seen, followed by one of my faves, Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and of course, Spirited Away.  Not only have we been watching Ghibli films lately, but also another 90s mainstay for me; The Storyteller*. I have no idea what this nostalgia is about at the moment, but it feels nice (that comfort thing again), and I’m going to see where it takes me. I’ve already picked up cross stitch as a hobby – perfect for when I physically can’t do anything else, but still want to feel productive and have something tangible I’ve accomplished.

[*Did you know there’s a re-make in the works with Neil Gaiman? I can’t wait! I hope it lives up to the kitschy, creepy physical effects vibe so synonymous with late 20th century children’s shows]

I’ve started playing Zelda on 3DS, which I never played as a kid – video games are for boys, don’t you know? – and started Assassin’s Creed Origins. How the heck have I not played it before? It’s definitely my cup of tea. I’ve started connecting with more EDS/chronically ill people through Insta, (which I use more than anything else for social media, so follow me there if you’re interested!) with the view to form more of a community. Andd… I can’t think of what else I’ve been up to, apart from working freelance as much as I can, and trying to figure out how to self-publish the books I’ve been writing. Which is extremely difficult, btw!

If you have any suggestions for games, movies, TV, or books that you think I’d like, don’t hesitate to share! Although I can’t do too much, I love connecting with people. I’ll also have to get around to posting about my trip, but I never seem to have enough time versus energy versus dizziness/overheating lately. So fingers crossed, keto will, as it has done in the past, improve a lot of symptoms and I can get down to it asap!

Ta ta for now,

Lola x

P.S. Oops! I just remembered. Because of above-mentioned brain fog, I find I can’t do something I used to do voraciously, which is read. No matter how interested I am in something, I find I’ve been reading the same paragraph over and over after a couple of minutes, without absorbing anything. Which is why audiobooks are a godsend. While I’m doing anything else, I can be listening to a book, and I’ve been going through them super quickly. The last one, which I highly recommend, is The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. He is one of my favourite authors, (he did write my favourite book after all, Coraline), and this is another of his best, in my opinion, of what I’ve read by him.

Another nostalgic/Ghibli themed series has been several audiobooks by Diana Wynne Jones, starting with Howl’s Moving Castle (later made into a Ghibli movie). I actually prefer the book, but stumbled onto it because I found the movie a little meandering and confusing, which made me suspect there had to be more to it. Like all her stories, it’s a little bittersweet, contains some harsh realities and unfairness, and is addictive.

P.P.S. A book I really enjoyed by both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, is coming out as a show on Amazon in May! I seriously can’t wait. From the trailer, it seems like it’s got pretty perfect casting (although I did picture Crowley from Supernatural as the Crowley in this story, too – but David Tennant certainly seems to capture the essence of the character from the trailer) and hopefully it will live up to book readers expectations (although that’s always a loaded thing).

P.P.S.S.(?) Another book series I adored as a kid was Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, and that’s being made into a movie by Disney! Although the commentary from fans sounds pretty negative already. So, we’ll see. I don’t have high hopes, but sometimes that can work in one’s favour.

Okay, now bye, for real!

x

Some Awesome TV Shows You Might Have Missed

I am perpetually on the hunt for new, different, exciting and interesting things. Some of those things are food, like Clonakilty Black Pudding (seriously, just try it. It tastes like Christmas!). Some of those things are music, and some are movies and TV shows. Not just that, but I love critiquing and discussing my obscure interests, and yet … Because they’re obscure, there’s not a lot of people to discuss with! But this is the internet, so it’s the perfect place to reach out to people about random obsessions. So without further ado, let’s start with some TV shows I’ve been really impressed by, and I’ll try to avoid any spoilers!

Jordskott

It’s a little difficult to describe Jordskott. I came across it because I was looking for a new Nordic Noir series, after being sucked in by Trapped. It’s like a cop thriller mixed with fantasy … Although that makes it sound like Grimm or Bright or something. It’s not the same. It’s darker and more uncomfortable, although it’s not gory or too violent, but there’s an … undercurrent. It feels like it really taps into ancient beliefs and knowledge, while in the very modern world. All helped along by incredible shots of Sweden’s forests, also similar to some of the nature shots in Trapped. All I can say is, you’ll get sucked in before you realise and wish there was already a third season. You can watch it on SBSOnDemand in Australia.

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Damned

A little different from the last show, Damned is kind of like if The Office was more bleak, with less cringe. It’s a bittersweet representation of the life of social workers in England, similar to another of Jo Brand’s shows, Getting On, about nurses in a hospital wing. It’s sneaky because you don’t realise you’re suddenly addicted to the subtle dark (?) humour, and riveting character interactions. I found it by accident and gave it a go one sick day, and can’t believe it doesn’t have more recognition or acclaim, especially given some of the faces involved. If you like The Office, Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant, or Simon Pegg/Nick Frost, definitely give it a go. You can find it on Stan in Australia. This little blurb really doesn’t describe it or introduce it very well, but it’s just a completely underrated show. I also don’t want to build it up too much, because that would be its downfall. It’s a quiet winner.

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The Terror

I’m not quite sure if this is all that obscure, but no one I know has been talking about it. Weird, really, because I had heard about it first from an Irish pub band in Dingle (Lady Franklin’s Lament) and then through those little ‘Did you Know?’ memes that circulate every now and then, summarising the subject of this show. Not to mention the fact that after 168 years, the shipwrecks were found in 2016. Anyway, this show blurs what we know with a bit of creative licence, a la Lost (don’t worry, it’s not what you think) and Ravenous, in telling the story of what happened to the sailors of the HMS’ Terror and Erebus in 1848. Two ships trapped in the Arctic ice for two years, running out of supplies, and … well, you’ll see. This show is like a never-ending nightmare. It’s always terrifying, at times difficult to watch, and disturbing, but you can’t look away. It’s a true feeling of horror throughout, although I can’t put my finger on why. Quiet horror? Combined with some famous faces, it’s a period drama for people who don’t like period dramas, and apparently another season is being made soon. Check it out on Amazon Prime in Australia.

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Ripper Street

There’s not really that many options for Australian streaming, we always seem to miss out on what other countries (namely USA) get. So I started taking chances with random shows while doing my daily cycling, and chanced upon Ripper Street. It’s got several recognisable faces as main characters, not least of all Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice, and Bronn from Game of Thrones. It paints a really interesting and compelling picture of humanity in London at the end of the 1800s, after Jack the Ripper has gone quiet, and the police who lost his trail. It sounds strange, but mix Call the Midwife with Deadwood and you get a feel for Ripper Street. Catch it on Amazon Prime in Australia.

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Sami Blood | Sameblod

Alright, so this isn’t a show, it’s a movie. But I don’t really watch enough movies to warrant a whole blog post just for those, so here we are. With a cast who have actual Sami blood, this tells the story of a Sami (natives of Lap[p]land) girl in 1930s Sweden. I won’t spoil it, but this is at the height of eugenics and phrenology; things which are almost unheard of post-World War 2, with good reason. It’s a relatively simple story, but the way it’s told and shot is what makes it stand out. At times, you will hate the main character, others you will pity her, but in the end, you will understand her actions. There’s really not much else I can say, except that it really is worth a watch … If you’re in the mood for it. It can be quiet and slow moving, but it is impactful without being too heavy. Watch on Amazon Prime in Australia.

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The Bridge | Bronn | Broen

Okay, this one is pretty well known, especially in Nordic Noir circles, but I waited off to watch it for some reason, and now I don’t know why. Perhaps I read a poor description, which is why hopefully this one will do the opposite and convince you to watch. Once again, it’s a Scandi thriller, starting on the bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Swedish and Danish detectives have to work together to solve a murder, and … It sounds like just about every other odd couple buddy cop movie ever, right? It’s definitely not. Nothing is as it seems, and there will be some head scratching moments, but you’ll be racing to finish the season, and then jumping into the next as soon as you can. Both detectives, although brusque in their own ways at first, become endearing in very different manners, and their dynamic was some of my favourite parts of the show. I really can’t get any further into it without spoilers, but you can find it on Stan or SBSOnDemand in Australia.

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Midnight Sun | Midnattssol

A collaboration between French and Swedish police to solve an unusual international murder in the Arctic Circle during the Swedish summer, when the sun never sets. There’s a Sami theme here again, which led me to find Sami Blood in the first place. There’s a lot packed into this show, and the suspense lasts until almost the end – not that it ties everything up neatly in the last five minutes – that leads you to guess and second-guess everything. The scenery, the small deliberate movements, choices and character actions, and the story at the centre is what makes this riveting. There are some complex issues at hand, and even more complicated characters, which makes it (again) difficult to describe. Is this why these shows aren’t more mainstream? I feel like I’m saying this for every item in the list! Anyway, you can watch it on SBSOnDemand in Aus.

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Trapped | Ófærð

This is the OG for me, the one that got me into Nordic Noir. Set in Iceland just before the roads get cut off during winter, body parts wash up, and the tiny town’s police set out to uncover what’s going on. Featuring some incredible scenery that highlights the isolation of the place, and a conspiracy that connects some unexpected players, it’s a story that starts off a little slow, but by the end of the first episode you’re the one who’s trapped… in an endless binge of episodes that will have you as thoroughly converted as I am. Find it on SBSOnDemand in Australia.

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Blue Eyes | Blå Ögon

More political than a “simple” murder mystery, this one has several layers, not least of which are the racial tensions and rise of neo-fascism in Europe, and indeed the rest of the world, currently. It’s a story of several different characters who, knowingly or unwittingly, are connected to each other somehow, and the outcomes of a series of decisions that could have just as easily gone the opposite way. Frustrating, thrilling and an uneasy simmer, it’s also easy to see why these characters who can’t seem to do any good make the choices they do as the ones who pathologically do the right thing, even at the cost of their own happiness. Check it out on SBSOnDemand in Australia.

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Ronnie Chieng: International Student

Yes, let’s get out of the heavy, depressing or scary ones, and into some comedy! If you haven’t heard of Ronnie Chieng, look no further than Crazy Rich Asians, the Daily Show, or his own standup. Portraying the lives of international students in Melbourne, this show is understated brilliance. Look forward to the bubble tea episode. I’m not sure global audiences would completely understand the Australian references, but that doesn’t take away from it. If anything, it would be a great export of Australian humour and culture, rather than crabs like Neighbours or Home and Away. If you like Flight of the Conchords and Taika Waititi style humour, you should definitely give it a go on Netflix.

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Yu Ming is Ainm Dom | Yu Ming is My Name

Ok, so this one isn’t really a show, it’s a short film. But it’s so wholesome and adorable, and it’s very close to my heart, as someone of Irish descent who has lived in Asia, and now learning Irish myself. A Chinese guy stuck in a job he hates decides to learn Irish, and the rest is a spoiler. Side note: I tried to watch the only Irish language show Netflix has, An Klondike, or Dominion Creek, only to find that they’d dubbed over it in English! What in the hegg is that even about?! Especially when there are dozens of shows in different languages on Netflix. Oh my gosh, I could go on and on but I shan’t. Suffice to say it was very upsetting. Anyway, check out the short film below!

Final Space

If you like Rick & Morty, Invader Zim, Coheed & Cambria or Futurama, you’ll love this. Fresh from Youtube comedian/director Olan Rogers, who’s had me in tears laughing for years, is a cartoon space odyssey about saving the universe. Made with Conan O’Brien, my particular favourite part is an angsty Footloose inspired dance sequence, although there are plenty more. It’s something I could watch over and over and can’t wait for the next season. You’ll find it on Netflix in Australia.

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The Almighty Johnsons

This one might be a bit of a tease. I first found it on Netflix a couple of years ago, but they’ve since taken it off and I can’t find it anywhere, except for a scratchy streamed version down a long spiral of links. Which; is it even worth watching then? The answer is YES, if you can get your hands on it. It may be low budget, but this comedy about reincarnated Norse Gods is hilarious, and not only that, the story is really interesting and keeps you guessing. I don’t even want to give anything away more than that, but New Zealand definitely has had some gems in the past few years, and this is one of them. Keisha Castle-Hughes from Game of Thrones/Whale Rider and Dean O’Gorman from the Hobbit are some of the more recognisable characters, but the rest of the cast is just as great. I wish I could tell you where to find it, but if you really want to watch it, I’m sure some of you are better internet treasure hunters than me.

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Forever

I have no idea how I stumbled on this, or why I decided to watch it, because I’m sometimes hesitant of actors from SNL and their comedic style, but I ended up being really surprised and impressed. Although it has an interesting premise, not a lot really happens in this show, and yet somehow, it’s super addictive. Starring Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen in the main roles, it’s co-created by Alan Yang of Master of None. Faced with the question of what happens when you die, the answer is even more ambiguous than the meaning of life, and I can’t wait to see a second season, if it’s on the cards. Catch it on Amazon Prime in Australia.

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Trollhunter | Trolljegeren

Another one which is not a show, but a mockumentary. Featuring typical dry Norwegian humour, it runs in much the same way as the Blair Witch Project, although it’s not really scary. It’s a little like those Discovery Channel ‘documentaries’ on mermaids or dragons, and looks at what would happen if there actually were trolls in Norway, with a forest ranger being followed by a student film crew. It’s not some amazing show like a lot of these others are, but it’s certainly worth a watch. You can find it on Stan in Australia.

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Norsemen | Vikingane

If you like Vikings, The Last Kingdom, The Office or Monty Python, you’ll probably appreciate this. It’s less epic, and more about the realities of life in Viking times, with an awkward comic spin, of course. Although it’s set and made in Norway, with an all Norwegian cast, it’s completely in English. You won’t find a Ragnar and Lagertha epic, or a King Eggbert, but there is a sociopathic Jarl, a slimy duo who care more about ‘the arts’ than defending their village, and a sweet love story set against all odds. There are two seasons so far on Netflix in Australia.

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American Gods

Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, season two returns this March on Amazon Prime. Perhaps it’s not so obscure, but I only know a couple of people who are into it. It explores a hidden subculture of the world’s ancient gods in human form living in America, up against globalisation and the modern world, personified. Although it veers away from the novel quite quickly, I don’t think it takes away from the greatness of the story at all. They’ve just done it really, really well, and sometimes better and more cleverly than how I had imagined. I hope the high bar set continues to be reached, because several of the creators and Gillian Anderson have left before the upcoming season. I guess we’ll find out, but in the meantime, definitely give it a watch! You’ll be drawn in as ever by Ian McShane, and kept there by the rest of the star-filled cast. My particular favourite is a scene involving a deadly game of chess, juxtaposed against a sweet lullaby.

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Well, that’s all I have for you at the moment! Hope you enjoy and check out a few if they appeal to you, and let me know if you think there are some shows that I’d like, too!