I wanted to share a short playlist of five songs which I have been listening to, when I feel anxious, upset, and stressed. I know that many of you (including the faculty, staff, and students at my university) are feeling pretty stressed out as well, and I sincerely hope that listening to this uplifting music helps in some small way. Maybe you’ll even find a new song to help you get through the tougher times in your life!
Today is officially Day 324 since I first began working in self-isolation from my apartment for my university library system, and frankly, I think I am starting to lose it.
I am finding it hard to get out of bed, hard to get moving, and hard to get any productive work done (despite looming deadlines). And I am feeling inordinately cranky, tired, and just absolutely, positively FED. UP. with dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and all of its consequences, both anticipated and unexpected.
My mental health has been taking a dreadful beating over these past few weeks in lockdown, and I am ready to scream myself hoarse and shake my puny fist at the universe. And YES, I most certainly will use this blog as my soapbox, to vent my frustration! (Better than keeping it bottled up inside…and we’ll return to my regular reporting on social VR and virtual worlds with the next blogpost, I promise!Thanks.)
Nearly three decades after its premiere, the 1993 movie Groundhog Day has reached a new level of relevance under COVID-19. The world’s locked-down, working-from-home millions often report that they feel trapped in the movie’s plotline of an unending, inescapable time loop. “It does have this feeling like we’ve done this before. We’ve been here before. There’s nothing new on the horizon,” psychologist Steve Joordens told the Canadian Press last week.
Now, I must confess that I have never actually watched the movie Groundhog Day from beginning to end (not being a particular fan of Bill Murray, either the actor or the man). Perhaps it’s time to add it to my Netflix viewing queue. What I have been watching in the evenings are two long-running murder mystery television series, one Canadian and one British.
Murdoch Mysteries (CBC website, Wikipedia) is a popular, long-running CBC TV drama set in Toronto during the late 1890s and early 1900s, which has just been renewed for its 14th season in 2021. I have access to the first 13 seasons on Netflix, and I am currently binge-watching season 7.
The lead investigator, William Murdoch, has a scientific bent, and often finds ways to incorporate newfangled inventions and technologies (e.g. X-rays) into his sleuthing, assisted by the highly capable coroner Dr. Julia Odgen, who is William’s off-again, on-again love interest throughout the series. (I peeked ahead, and yes, William and Julia do finally land up together…at least, by the end of season 13! We’ll see what happens during season 14…)
The other murder mystery series that is currently keeping me somewhat sane and entertained in lockdown is the venerable Midsomer Murders (ITV website, Wikipedia), which started in 1997 and is is now the U.K.’s longest-running contemporary detective drama at 22 seasons long! (Mind you, British TV seasons tend to be much shorter than North American ones.) I am currently watching season 8 on Amazon Prime Video.
Now, I do find some of the murders and their resolutions, in some of the episodes of Midsomer Murders, to be a bit contrived, but I quite enjoy the characters, especially the lead investigator, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (played by the wonderful John Nettles), as he sorts out the suspicious deaths which take place in the many small countryside villages located in the fictional English county of Midsomer. Also, I am a big fan of picturesque English villages and cozy village murder mysteries! I treat every episode like a mini-vacation in England.
And, of course, I am also greedily consuming every. single. crumb. from season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race—I even watch Untucked! to get more of the behind-the-scenes drama! I’m also watching season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K., which has seen some jaw-dropping eliminations of drag queens every week. I quite regularly pop into in the subReddits for both shows, chatting and kiki-ing with other fans, who discuss all the twists and turns in these reality TV shows. (I catch both these shows through a streaming subscription to OUTtvGo, Canada’s LGBTQ television network, easily the best CA$39.99 a year I have ever spent!)
I am just completely fed up with living under a code-red, province-wide pandemic lockdown, so I was more than ready to enjoy a brand-new comedy special I watched this evening on Amazon Prime Video, which left me with a great big grin on my face, called Yearly Departed, in which a succession of female comedians give eulogies to various things we lost in 2020: rich girl Instagram influencers, pants, casual sex…
If you are as fed up as I am, you might find Yearly Departed to be just the tonic you need to help you grieve and process your pandemic-induced losses! Be sure to watch until the end for a special surprise guest, plus a mini making-of coda! Highly recommended viewing.
Ladies and gentlemen (and fabulous people of all genders), I am now in day 84 of self-imposed pandemic lockdown in my apartment, the weather is cold and overcast, my eczema is acting up, Donald Trump is somehow still in office, people are still protesting, and I am in a mood.
Sometimes I think the only thing that is keeping me sane lately is RuPaul’s Drag Race. I need to buy this T-shirt for sale on Amazon, which pretty much sums up my life lately:
Drag queens are my real-life superheros: people who don’t give a damn what you think, they are going to be here, to represent, and to entertain! So I decided that, instead of writing about social VR platforms and virtual worlds when I am in such a foul and cranky mood, I would instead share a few recent favourite drag videos with you. (Please bear with me. We will soon return to our regular programming.)
Drag queens are responding to the pandemic (of course!) by hosting livestream drag shows on Twitch and other platforms, where each performer puts on a small show from their home, and this absolute gem of a lip-sync is by Asia O’Hara: Whenever I hear this song, it is 1980, and I am sixteen years old again, listening to 45s on a record player, singing and dancing with my high school friends in somebody’s basement rec room! I still have all my old 45s and I cannot bear to part with them.
The next video is a mashup of several well-known drag queens from various seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race: Alaska (full drag name: Alaska Thunderfuck 5000), Manila Luzon, Adore Delano, Jinkx Monsoon, and Sharon Needles. It perfectly illustrates the in-your-face, confrontational attitude that is also a part of drag culture. Remember, drag queens were among the protesters who fought against the police in the Stonewall riots, a key event in queer history that helped launch the gay rights movement, and the reason many cities celebrate Pride every year in June.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is my favourite reality TV show, and it always cheers me up when I am feeling down. Between the recently-concluded Season 12 of RPDR, Untucked, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 5 (which just started last Friday, and promises lots of drama), RuPaul’s Celebrity Drag Race, and the upcoming Canada’s Drag Race, RuPaul’s production company is here to feed the children during this dumpster-fire year of 2020, and I am here for every second! We are indeed blessed.
I leave you with some vintage RuPaul:
If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else! Can I get an amen?