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Social anxiety is fueled by ego, it’s fueled by that terrifying sense of ourselves as the center of everything. It’s huge burden to be the core of the world. It’s no wonder we freeze with terror at the thought of doing anything at all, of standing out, of creating ripples that might be felt. The thought that there are other worlds out there just as fragile and large as ours can make the terror and dread even worse. What if… Read more »

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Sadness is such a difficult part of ourselves. Life, it often seems, would be better without it. But that’s not exactly true. I kind of like my sadness, as long as it’s balanced. When things go wrong, I’d rather just be quiet with it than to feel nothing at all. It can feel good to hurt, or to at least bring the hurt up to the surface enough to get it out through tears, words or hugs. Life itself is incredibly tough, and that’s why we need sadness to get us through. If we ignore it too much, the world takes on a dishonest veneer, and we feel a bit dishonest ourselves. We need to just talk, listen and rest sometimes. Sometimes we just need to say, simple as it is, “Yeah, it’s sad.” Pete Docter’s Pixar animated film Inside Out examines this importance of sadness in a way that’s never been done before on screen, maybe never been done before at all.

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Amy Winehouse drank herself to death with vodka while watching videos of herself on Youtube. That fact, a fairly simple and sad demise labeled as a “misadventure” by the British coroner, came out two years after her death. Before the official report was released there was a lot of speculation about what transpired on Amy’s last night on Earth, and which drug, or drugs, was the one that took her away from us. Most of us, her parents included, didn’t want to believe that it was alcohol, the legal, highly marketed toxin most adults imbibe fairly regularly. We wanted it to be a “harder” drug, something more complicated and difficult to procure. Her parents seemed to want to deflect, to deny that it was anything at all, to say Amy had been doing well. Despite their will to believe otherwise, her public appearances shortly before her death seem to point to the fact that Amy was doing worse than ever. Her only drug at the time may have been alcohol via episodic binges, but that’s more than enough. If her parents couldn’t truly see her, how could she expect anyone to?

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“How do you cope with life?” he asked me. I could smell him before I heard him. It was the smell of the streets, the miasma of a kind of life I feared. It was a life that was waiting just around the corner for me. Some people, people I’ve known who didn’t truly know what they were talking about, thought it was a more honest life, a noble life. I just wanted to always have blank beige walls to come home to, no matter what. I wanted soft, warm covers to envelope me and a glass of water at my bedside. I lived a comfortable horror, and I could not imagine attempting my life without these slight and simple amenities.

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We forget that the subjects of our myths are humans. Whether we ridicule or exalt them, idols of the American Dream (or Global Dream) float like symbols through our consciousness. We hear their voices, see their faces, and absentmindedly play through a narrative of their lives we’ve heard, an anecdote, a quote. They are embedded in us, but when we try to pick apart what they mean to us and why they mean it, we see a shivering person there, not an untouchable god or monster at all.

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“She’s not autistic,” Caleb says to billionaire mad scientist Nathan, who’s asking him to evaluate the artificial humanity of his robot Ava. That’s an interesting comment for him to make, and runs through the heart of all the questions this film asks. While we’re trying to figure out if we can create electronic, artificial conscious and emotional beings, some of the humans these simulations are supposed to emulate don’t pass all the tests. As programmable and predictable as we humans are, we are still a bit beyond our own understanding, and maybe we really can’t replicate ourselves until we better understand ourselves.

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Harold and Maude, now streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime, deals with a timeless issue: the crushing morbidity of precocious young people. When our brains are getting used to being alive, we can’t help but confront some of the hypocrisy and misery we see around us. If you’re sensitive and dramatic as well, everything can seem wonderful and horrible and you can’t imagine how anyone does this life thing.

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If you haven’t watched A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night on Netflix yet, you’re missing out. It’s an elegant mashup pastiche of everything from spaghetti westerns to Fellini. The backdrop is a nowhere U.S. western town where everyone speaks Farsi and a girl vampire can hide under a batlike chador.

The shots are breathtaking, the music is intoxicating, but the cat, played by the film’s producer’s cat Masuka, steals the show, charging a bewitching energy through the entire movie.