Showing posts with label Decluttering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Decluttering. Show all posts

Friday, May 12, 2017

"The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Ron Howard documentary "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years" which was in limited release and is now streaming on Hulu as well as DVDs "A Monster Calls" and "The Edge of Seventeen."  The Book of the Week is "The Curated Closet."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Ikiru"]

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years

A documentary about the 250 concerts the Beatles performed from 1963 to 1966 that includes never-before-seen footage and interviews.

Most of us Baby Boomers were Beatles fans. 

John, Paul, George and Ringo.  The Fab Four.  We all had a favorite (mine was Paul).  I can remember exactly where I bought my first album, how I felt when I saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show (and who I was with - Hi, Linda!) and the thrill I felt at one of their concerts in Detroit in 1965.  The Beatles so affected my young life that when I first started writing this blog, I was compelled to write "Why the Beatles Matter."

And yes, that's me in my bedroom with my girlfriends!

America was in mourning for President Kennedy and the Vietnam War was looming, so with their "long" hair, cheeky attitude and upbeat music, the Beatles brought excitement, happiness and hope and made my generation, the Baby Boomer Generation, feel like we could do anything. 

Using never-before-seen concert footage and interviews, as well as present-day comments from Paul and Ringo and other artists such as Elvis Costello and Eddie Izzard, this documentary was a labor of love from director Ron Howard, who captures that special moment in time when the Beatles were first starting out and took the world by storm.

When the Beatles first got together, things were really simple for them. They paid their dues in the dingy bars and sex clubs of Hamburg.  George reminisces about being 17 in "the naughtiest town in the world."

And Ringo remembered when "Playing was the most important thing."

John recalls that when they would get depressed, he would ask them, "Where we going, fellas?" and they would answer "To the top, Johnny!"  "Where's that, fellas?"  "To the toppermost of the poppermost!"  "Right!" And then they would feel better.

See why we loved them so much?

John was also known for his wit, and in one press conference, they were asked "How do you keep up the zest?" to which John replied "We do the zest we can!"

He was a genius at playing on words.

The film also briefly profiles Brian Epstein, whose parents owned a record shop in Liverpool.  So many people started asking for records by The Beatles that he decided to check them out and when he did, he saw their potential and signed up as their manager.  He thought they had an "untidy stage presentation" so he put them in suits, "Beatle boots" and invented that hair.

By mid 1964, The Beatles were the world's leading band.

When Paul was asked about their impact on Western culture, he replied "How can you ask me that?  What do we have to do with Western culture?  We're just having a laugh."  Little did he know how much influence they would have and how many other young men would become musicians because of the Beatles.  Even women were not immune to that dream.  Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart wrote in their book "Kicking and Screaming" (co-authored by Charles Cross) that they didn't want to be groupies for the Beatles, they wanted to BE the Beatles.

When George Martin came on board as their record producer, he decided that the Beatles would put out a single every three months and an album every six months.  That and the touring took its toll.

And as they became more and more successful, things got complicated, as happens with immense success. 

Eventually, they got tired of all of the publicity and everyone wanting a piece of them.  The movie "Help" was an anthem to that.  They really did need help.  The touring and performing and not being able to hear themselves over the screaming, weighed on them.

In 1966 they had three months off, the first time in four years they had any time off and the four all started to develop other interests.  George had developed an interest in Indian music, Paul was painting and for the first time their personal lives started taking precedent.

Then came the shocking butcher album cover and John's remark about their being more popular than Jesus and a back lash began along with anti-Beatles demonstrations.  It's interesting that the Jesus remark went practically unnoticed in the U.K. but here in the U.S. our Puritan roots got the better of us, especially in The South, where there were widespread record burnings.

By mid 1966, the Beatles were not happy.  George said it was starting to feel like a freak show and they all decided "That's enough of that" and they performed their last show in August of 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

The film makes the point that because the Beatles started touring at such a young age, their growing up years were stunted, and it was not until after they stopped touring that they started to live, and some of their most creative years took root with the "Revolver" album and culminated in the Sgt. Pepper album, where they musically liberated themselves from the burden of being THE BEATLES.  Sgt. Pepper was on the record charts for three years and in 2012 "Rolling Stone" named it one of the best albums of all time. 

The film also shows the impact the Beatles had on people of color (Whoopi Goldberg shares a moving story about going to see them with her mother), and their refusal to play in front of segregated audiences.  At a concert in Jacksonville, Florida in 1964, seats at the Gator Bowl were to be separated by race, but the band refused to perform until they were assured that the audience would be mixed. Rather than risk a riot of disappointed Beatle fans, the promoters relented and the venue was integrated, setting a precedent for all future Beatle performances.

Paul said, "It's a bit silly to segregate people. I just think it's stupid. You can't treat other human beings like animals. That's the way we all feel, and that's the way people in England feel, because there's never any segregation in concerts in England – and if there was we wouldn't play 'em."

"We played to people," Ringo Said. "We didn't play to those people or that people – we just played to people."

The Beatles only performed live one more time and that was January 30, 1969 on a rooftop in London and fittingly that's how the film ends, the Beatles playing for the last time and people down on the sidewalk listening and looking up, not quite believing what they are hearing.

Director Ron Howard has put together a fascinating look back at a time that is so meaningful for us Baby Boomers and at a band that changed our lives. If you are a Beatles fan and lived through Beatlemania, there might not be much here that you don't already know, but you will delight in all of the performance footage, the never-before heard recording sessions and interviews and the behind-the-scenes look at the making of "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help," and getting to relive it all over again.  But Howard didn't just want to appeal to Baby Boomers.  He made this movie for the younger generation, too, so they could see the impact the Beatles had on an entire generation and how much fun their parents had!

Rosy the Reviewer says...treat yourself to this.  It's a delight!
(This film had a limited theatrical release and is now available exclusively on Hulu but it's worth making the effort to see. If you don't have Hulu, go for the free 30-day subscription).

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!


A Monster Calls (2016)

A boy with a dying mother gets help from a tree monster.

We first hear Liam Neeson's rich baritone voice say at the beginning of the film:

"It begins with a boy too old to be a kid, to young to be a man...and a nightmare."

And young Conor's life is indeed a nightmare.

Conor's (Lewis MacDougall) mother (Felicity Jones) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and Conor is devastated, but he has learned to take care of himself when his mother is at her worst. He doesn't want to face what is really happening.  Besides, he has other problems. He is lonely and isolated, he has nightmares, and he is being bullied and beaten at school.  And when Conor's grandmother (Signourney Weaver) comes to take charge, she isn't much help either.  She is stern and cold towards him.

Lewis's father (Toby Kebbell) arrives to say his last goodbye to his ex-wife, though he doesn't say that to Conor.  His Dad lives in L.A. and has remarried and Lewis wants to go live with him but it's clear he doesn't want Conor to.  Instead Conor is to live with his grandmother.

Everything is unsaid. Nobody, not even Conor, acknowledges the monster in the room - death.

Conor is dealing with a lot of monsters - bullies, death, a mean grandmother, and a Dad who doesn't appear to want him.

And as if Conor didn't have enough to deal with, one night at exactly 12:07am, the large yew tree that Conor can see from his bedroom window transforms into a huge monster with tree branch tentacles and glowing eyes and the voice of Liam Neeson and the tree monster pays Conor a visit. In his loud, booming Liam Neeson voice, he tells Conor that he will return four more times to tell him three stories, and that when he is done, Conor will tell him a fourth.

On each of the next three visits, the monster relates a story that is depicted in the film through animation.  These stories appear to be fairy tales but they all relate to Conor's life and are paradoxes meant to help him see the ambiguities of life and help him cope. Through the stories that the tree tells Conor, he is able to express his anger.

Finally, the monster calls to say that it's time for Conor to tell him the fourth tale.

Now Conor must face the nightmare he has been having, a nightmare in which he tries to save his mother from falling into a dark hole, but he can't, and through the telling of the tale, he finally acknowledges that his mother is dying, that he doesn't want to lose his mother but he wants the dying to be over. Another paradox. Another lesson for Conor. The tree has appeared to save Conor from being consumed by his mother's death and to help alleviate the guilt he feels.

"I did not come to heal her.  I came to heal you."

It's huge praise from me to love a film starring a child actor, but Lewis is wonderful here.  I believed every word.  Directed by J.A. Bayona with a screenplay by Patrick Ness (based upon his novel), this is a powerful film about death and grieving, and be warned.  Despite the animation and the monster motif, this is not a film for the very young.   

Fecility Jones has few lines but is very affecting as the mother.  Her quiet presence in the film is the centerpiece and being such a strong presence through her expressions alone is the sign of a wonderful actor.

The film is an allegory for the anger and fear of a young boy whose mother is dying and he has no way to express that anger and fear. Our lives are full of monsters but there is no monster worse than being a little child and watching your mother die followed by the monsters of anger and guilt. But in times of crisis, we create what we need to help us through. The tree monster appeared to help Conor face his monsters which in turn allowed him to finally express his love to his mother and say goodbye. Conor was able to hold his mother tight so he could let her go.  

At the end of the film, there is a bit of a twist.  Was the monster real or a figment of Conor's imagination? Let's just say that a mother's love is very powerful.

This is a three hanky film. I think I started crying about 20 minutes into this film, and I'm crying right now remembering it.  Conor is heart-wrenching, and from a young boy's perspective, it's almost inconceivable that his mother would die and that whole concept makes this film a tear-jerker.  And Liam Neesom's voice? Stentorian but kind.  I am starting to cry right now just remembering it.

Do you know the book "The Giving Tree?"  That is a book that I can't even think about without crying.  This movie is like that, and I haven't cried this much in a movie since "Titanic."

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you want a good cry - in a good way - this is a must-see film and one of the best films I have seen that deals with death in such an honest and compelling way.  It's a film you won't soon forget.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is having a rough time in high school and it doesn't get any better when her best friend starts dating her brother.  Ew!

You might ask why I would watch this film.  I am decidedly NOT on the edge of 17.  I fell over the edge long ago.  But I'm not so old that I am no longer interested.  I can remember. 

Nadine lives with her widowed mother (Kyra Sedgwick) and from an early age was bullied at school but then she met Krista (Haley Lu Richardson).  A bestie can solve a lot of problems.  Fast forward and now Nadine and Krista are both 17, still friends, talking about losing their virginity and lusting over cute boys.

Nadine's mom goes away for a couple of days and Nadine and Krista have a two girl party and get drunk.  Despite the fact that Nadine had called dibs on the house from her older brother Darian (Blake Jenner), he shows up and Krista ends up sleeping with him while Nadine is throwing up in the toilet.

So Krista and Darian become an item, and it doesn't help that where Nadine is unpopular and an outsider, Darian is very popular and hangs with the cool crowd, so when it looks like Krista has moved into the cool crowd with Darian, leaving Nadine behind, Nadine is bereft.  Meanwhile, Nadine's mother is having problems of her own and shares them with Nadine, showing that while our teens are struggling with the onset of adulthood, we adults are not making adulthood look very attractive.

Nadine is jealous of Krista and her brother and tries to get Krista to choose between them.  Turns out that Nadine has a bit of a nasty side, but didn't we all when we were teens?  She doesn't have any friends so about an hour into the film she goes to see her teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson). I was wondering why Woody was in this movie and when he was going to get something to do.  So Nadine rants to him about her problems in a scene that does not ring true to me. Despite the fact that Mr. Bruner is one of those really hip, cool teachers that kids wish they could have, I can't believe he would get away with his teaching techniques today. 
When I was in middle school, one of the most popular teachers we had used to have a name plaque on his desk that said "God." But today, that kind of stuff just doesn't fly in today's PC public schools.  Anyway, she goes to see him and they have one of those witty give and takes that really is unlikely to happen in the real world.

In the end, Nadine finally has sex with the hot guy and has a kind of epiphany.  Do 17-year-olds really have epiphanies? That's probably not fair, but like I said, I am not this movie's demographic.

I have not been a big fan of Woody Harrelson (he seems to play the same kind of smart assed stoned or clueless character all of the time), and you know how I feel about child actors, especially child actors who are nominated for Oscars when they are way too young to have paid their acting dues (Steinfeld was nominated for "True Grit" in 2011 when she was only 13).  I also don't like angst-ridden smart-mouthed teenagers.  Been there, done that.

So we have the smart ass Woody, the angst-ridden smart-mouthed teen and a script full of zippy smarty-pants lines. My idea of hell.  But, actually, I was surprised. The movie had some sweet moments.

Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, the film definitely captures the hell that is high school - Steinfeld is very good here, full of teen angst with a combination of self loathing and arrogance - but some of the stuff in this film is kind of cutesy.  I know this film was not aimed at my age group, but I would think some of the scenes would even be too cutesy for 17 year olds.  But you should probably take everything I say about this movie with a grain of salt, because like I said, I am not this movie's demographic.  I can only guess if these kids and their interactions are authentic teen things, but one thing we know for sure.  Being a teen ain't easy and this film nails that. 

One odd thing, though.  This film is aimed at teens and yet it has an R-rating, rated R for sexual content, language and some drinking - all involving teens. Seems counterintuitive that a film aimed at teens would restrict teens.  And what are we protecting them from with this rating? Teens don't have sex, swear or drink? As if.

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite some things that didn't ring true to me, this is a sweet film.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project"

203 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Ikiru (1952)

When a bureaucrat locked in a soulless job discovers he has stomach cancer, he decides to seek meaning in his life before it's too late.

If, when you think of Akira Kurosawa, you think of "Roshomon" or "The Seven Samurai," you will be surprised by this tender drama. Considered one of auteur director Akira Kurosawa's greatest films, this is the story of Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura), a bureaucrat who has been toiling in a Kafkaesque job in a Kafkaesque city office for years, the kind of place where if citizens have a complaint they are sent to one office after another with no one taking responsibility and no action is ever taken.

The film is broken into two parts. The first half of the film shows Watanabe's grim existence, a life with seemingly no meaning. When Watanabe discovers he has stomach cancer and not long to live, he realizes that he is going to die before he has really lived and he decides to change his life.

We can all relate to this story.  What if you discovered you only had six months to live?  Would you continue your life as you have always lived it?

Ikiru means "to live" and that's what Watanabe decides to do. He realizes that he is already dead and decides that he needs to do something important with his life.  He feels that he started out caring about others, but the bureaucratic machine has beaten him down.  He is merely a placeholder in his job, mindlessly stamping forms that will never go anywhere.

As Wantanabe starts to think about what to do with the rest of his life, he forms a relationship with a young girl (Miki Odagiri), who had quit a job in his office because she was bored.  Her quitting reminds him that if he had had the courage, he could have done that too. She is vivacious and full of life. She makes him laugh with her imitations of the people at work and the nicknames she had given everyone. She admits that she had called him The Mummy. He spends the day with her, buys her stockings and takes her to lunch. Watanabe says to her "Why are you so incredibly alive?"  He wants her to teach him how to live. But she is suspicious of his intentions and thinks he is kind of a perv.

When Watanabe tries to tell his son and daughter-in-law that he is dying, the son berates him about the young girl, worried about his inheritance and Watanabe's spending so much money on her.

Things look pretty bleak for Watanabe, but he wants to do something meaningful before he dies.  So he goes back to work but this time to make a difference. He decides to break the chain of bureaucracy and not just be a paper pusher anymore.

One of the complaints that had come to his desk was about a cesspool that had formed in one of the neighborhoods.  The townspeople wanted the city to build a children's park over it so Watanabe takes up that cause with a vengeance.  He cuts through all of the red tape and wills that park into existence.

The second half of the film, after Watanabe has died, shows his legacy.  Watanabe had discovered himself by actually doing something with his life, he had learned that doing was to live, but at his wake, he doesn't get the credit for what he did do.  Even his own son and daughter-in-law aren't sure. The bureaucrats attending his wake get drunk and start to diminish his accomplishment. No one can quite understand how Watanabe changed from a "mummy" to someone who cared about doing something.  

But then the people who wanted the park show up and Watanabe's son and daughter-in-law see that he was beloved by the people for the park and the bureaucrats are chastened by this show of affection. As they are all getting drunk and trying to figure out why Watanabe cared enough to do something and whether or not he deserved credit, they then get into railing about their own boring jobs that are robbing them of their lives and their time. 

When a policeman arrives at the wake, he tells everyone the story of Watanabe's final moments.  He had died on a swing in the park.  He froze to death there sitting on the swing in the children's park that he had willed into existence, dying knowing that he had lived.

This story and Watanabe's efforts seemed to wake everyone up.  They are all fired up to change.  When they get back to work they are all going to make things happen too...but come Monday morning?

There is an existential quality to the film. Life is meaningless and no one really cares about you, but within that existential framework, there is also an affirmation of life here that says it doesn't matter what others think of your life, if you yourself felt it had meaning. 

Why it's a Must See:  Kurosawa was cinema's greatest humanist, and nowhere is this more evident than in Ikiru..[This film] is immensely life-affirming, even if it is about death and sorrow.  Kurosawa's gift was to show how these moods are not contradictory, but united as part of the cycle of life.  His sincere belief that small things make a difference is both refreshing and touching."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Kurasawa is brilliant - from the framing to the actors to the editing - and so is Shimura's quiet and touching performance, an incredible tour de force.

Rosy the Reviewer absolutely beautiful and inspiring film. I am glad I saw this movie before I died.

***Book of the Week***

The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe by Anuschka Rees (2017)

A closet full of clothes and nothing to wear?  This book is for you.

Well, I thought it was for me, except I am having a problem with the word "closet,"  -- singular.  You see, I am dealing with closets -- with an "s."  But the same question still holds true.  I have more than one closet full of clothes and often lament that I have nothing to wear so I was drawn to this book. 
But let's start at the beginning.

To curate:  When I look up the definition, there are a couple of different ones. I don't think this book is about being a member of the British clergy, so, this book is using the word "curate" to mean "to take charge of (a museum) or to organize (an art exhibit) and for many of us who love our clothes, our closets are our museums and our art exhibits, and Rees promises to help us use our closets to discover our personal style and build the perfect wardrobe by using her simple system.

However, I have to say that Rees' system for discovering my personal style and building my dream wardrobe is hardly simple.

Here's why:

First of all, she expects me to take pictures of myself in every outfit that I wear for a two week period.  Since I am retired and don't do much, I hate to see what that would look like: nightgowns, fuzzy slippers, and sweatpants.  Not a pretty sight. Then I am supposed to look at every item in my closet(s) (my god, that would take me weeks) and make some decisions.  She is also addicted to pie charts and graphs and I have to answer all kinds of questions and make lists and mood boards.  I'm too old for this.

But, OK, I'm game.  I am willing to try to take her advice.

First step - Define your personal style. 

She walks you through figuring out what your clothes say about you.

Not sure what this says about me.

She also tries to get me inspired, help me discover my personal style and put together a style profile.

Then it's on to Step 2 - "Closet Detox:"

Now I am supposed to go through my closet(s) piece by piece and decide on which items are not working, which items I really love, which items are keepsakes and which items I are not sure of. 

This is the hard part for me because, as I have written in the past, I am not just a fashionista, I am a clothes collector...alright, a clothes hoarder ("Confessions of a Clothes Hoarder").  I might not wear that cute little dress but I HAVE TO HAVE IT.


So discarding items is particularly difficult for me, but OK, I did it and I have three boxes to take off to the local consignment shop. (By the way, I have the consignment thing down and if you are interested, I wrote about that too in my blog post "Confessions of a Baby Boomer Consignment Queen.)"

Next, I am supposed to pack away the keepsakes (check!), donate or sell the pieces that aren't working (check!) and of course keep the pieces I really love (check!) 

But here's my favorite step:  For the items I am not sure about, I am supposed to have a "trial separation."  I put them out of sight and once I do that in most cases they really will be out of mind because at my age, it doesn't take long for me to forget about things.  I am still looking for a velvet coat that belonged to my mother that I can't believe I would have sent to Goodwill.  So, OK, I put some things in a box for a "trial separation" and put the box out in the garage.  I do that and it works.  In fact, I can't even remember what I put on trial separation.  So when I remember them again, off those will go, too, to Goodwill or the consignment shop.

At least her method for "detoxing" my closet isn't as scary as Marie Kondo's "Tidying-up" and "Spark Joy" books where I was supposed to talk to my clothes and thank them for their existence and pack my drawers like bento boxes (I rant about her books in my blog post "How to Turn Your Undies into Origami...")

Step 3 - OK, I have done Step 1 and Step 2, so now it's time to build my wardrobe. 

Is this where I get to buy more clothes?

No, this is where I have to analyze my lifestyle by making a list of my activities.


"Repeat after me: Your dream closet should be tailored to your personal style and your lifestyle."

Right, my lifestyle.

My lifestyle consists of getting up at somewhere between 9 and 10am, reading the paper and the odd gossip magazine, shuffling upstairs to make the bed and watch "The View," shuffling back downstairs to have lunch, then heading to the gym (if it's a good day), going back home to watch "Dr. Phil (I am interested in psychology and the misery of others), fixing dinner and then settling in for a night of TV or a movie with the occasional happy hour or concert night out.  Doesn't seem like I would need more than gym clothes, slippers and jeans for that lifestyle. I'm retired, and my personal style is retirement chic on my good days and retirement slob the rest of the time.  But she's right.  My clothes need to fit that lifestyle, so I guess I no longer need my power suits or my pointy-toed high heels...

or these.

Next, she defines key pieces, statement pieces and basics and helps me discover a color palette to build on.  It all culminates in "outfit formulas," a specific combination of items I can wear in different versions, go-to outfits that will help me get ready fast in the morning (for those of you who need to get ready fast in the morning.  As I said, I don't).

But my favorite part of the book is putting together a "capsule wardrobe," 20-40 pieces (not counting accessories, underwear, gym clothes or sleepwear) that is a stand-alone wardrobe.  Other than tweaking it as the weather changes, these are the clothes I would wear most of the time and that I don't mix with my other clothes.  All of the other clothes are on hiatus until the next season or until I get tired of what I am wearing.

And so now after I have done all of the work to define my personal style, detoxed my closet, created a color palette, pinned down my lifestyle (which isn't hard because I don't really have one), etc., I finally get to buy more clothes!

Well, only clothes that fill in some gaps for my perfect wardrobe.

In addition to cleaning out my closet and putting together a wardrobe, Rees also tackles dealing with stress while shopping, how to shop like a conscious consumer and how to stop over-spending. 

Much of the book is just common sense, e.g. when she talks about fit problems and how to fix them.

"The waistband is uncomfortable."  Fix - try a bigger size.  Duh.

But, seriously, if you need to clean out your closet(s), love clothes and want to come up with a basic wardrobe that you will actually wear, this is a helpful tool.

Here is one outfit that made the cut!

Rosy the Reviewer says...though I question that anyone would go through all of the steps that she recommends, if you are serious about your clothes and about having a workable wardrobe, there are certainly many helpful tips and inspirational ideas to be found here.  In fact, I was so inspired, I bought the book (because it's going to take me forever to go through all of the stuff she wants me to do and the book was due back at the library)!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of

"LA 92"


The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project." 

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How to Turn Your Undies into Origami or, Is There Joy To Be Had in Decluttering?

We Americans like fads and obsessions.  We have embraced everything from pet rocks to Tiny Tim to kale


If the success of Marie Kondo's books "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and "Spark Joy: An illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up" is any indication, our latest obsession is that we can only be really happy through organizing, cleaning and folding our underwear so that it looks like origami.  Well, that's how I've broken it down.  It's actually a bit more than that.

But she tells us in no uncertain terms how we can never be happy if we live amidst clutter, and since her books are best-sellers, we seem to agree with her and let her order us around about it too. Remember that book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," where the author reprimanded us Westerners for coddling our children when in fact if we want them to succeed we should be so strict that we threaten to donate their toys to the Salvation Army if they don't play a piano piece perfectly and call them "garbage" when we are displeased?

Well, speaking of garbage, these books about tidying are a sort of "Tiger Mother" of organizing and how to deal with our real garbage.

And don't be confusing tidying and cleaning.  Tidying means you are dealing with your stuff.  Cleaning means you are dealing with DIRT!

Basically Kondo wants you to get rid of everything that does not give you joy - and I mean everything.

"Some people have told me that they had almost nothing left after discarding those things that didn't spark joy and, at first, didn't know what to do."

Well, yeah. If I went on the kind of purging frenzy she endorses, and when I was done everything was gone, I would feel confused too!

She has six basic rules for tidying:

1.  Commit yourself to tidying up

If I could imagine that, I would have done it.

2.  Imagine your ideal lifestyle

My ideal lifestyle is someone ELSE doing the tidying

3.  Finish discarding first

If this means I need to do my discarding first before I can tidy, I don't see tidy in my future.

4.  Tidy by category, not by location

Basically when you do the clothes, you are supposed to gather all of the clothes in the entire house and put them in one big pile.  If you were discouraged by your clutter before, imagine having to deal with a gigantic pile of clothes sitting in the middle of a room.  Remember that scene in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where Richard Dreyfuss builds that mountain in his living room?

I think that mound of clothes would look something like that!

5.  Follow the right order

See what I mean about being ordered around?  We not only have to get rid of everything we have, we have to do it in order: clothes first, then books, papers miscellany and finally sentimental items. 

I would be stymied by starting with the clothes.

6.  Ask yourself if it sparks joy

And here is where she lost me. 

Well, she already lost me when she said I had to gather up all of the clothes in the house and put them in a heap, but now she says to raise the joy level of things we know we need, we need to talk to them: 

"Dear old screwdriver, I may not use you much, but when I need you, why, you're a genius." 

I guess she is letting us keep the screwdriver, but because it doesn't naturally "spark joy" on its own, we have to somehow imbue it with joy.

If I had to do that to everything in the house that I needed, I think I would go crazy. 

"Hey, toilet paper roll, thanks for always being there when I need you because when you're not and I have to hippity hop over to the cabinet with my pants down (and curse Hubby for not replacing the toilet roll), that's not fun"


"Half empty wine bottle, thank you.  I needed that."

We are also supposed to pack our drawers like a Japanese bento box.

Her four principles of storage are: fold it, stand it upright, store in one spot and divide your storage space into square compartments.  Fold clothes like origami - she basically wants you to fold your clothes so that everything is a tight little ball that you can stand upright.

Good luck with that.  I tried. Here is what mine looked like.

It's bad enough that she is shaming us into getting our houses in order, but then she has to add a psychological component: 

"tidying up means confronting yourself."

She says, "The responsibility for mess and clutter lies 100 percent with the individual.  Things do not multiply of their own accord, but only if you buy them or receive them from someone else.  Clutter accumulates when you fail to return objects to their designated place.  If a room becomes cluttered 'before you know it,' it is entirely your own doing."

Geez, and we willingly buy and read books that sound like our parents scolding us?

Kondo also asks, "What sparks joy for you personally?"

Well, it ain't decluttering and organizing, that's for sure.  More likely wine, a new outfit and losing 10 pounds. 

I think her rules are a bit extreme. I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson when he said, "Moderation in all things including moderation."

So I have only a couple of organizing and decluttering principles that I live by:

It is important to have everything in its place so you can find it again. 
My Dad used to say, "Leave things where you find them." He expected to find the scissors in the drawer when he needed them and there was hell to pay if he found them in my bedroom.  I learned that lesson early on.  My Dad should have written this book.  He would have made a fortune.  So true to my upbringing, nothing makes me madder (well there are some other things) than something not being where it's supposed to be.  I mean, I may be retired, but my time is still valuable and there is hell to pay if I find the scissors in Hubby's office. So I definitely learned my lesson from my Dad - "Leave things where you find them."  Hubby does not live by that principle.

I also think a messy desk at work represents a messy mind.  How can you possibly think or even write anything down with crap all over your desk?  I can't, anyway.  Organizing and decluttering your desk can also be a work task that you can do when you are bored, but make you look like you are busy.

Don't leave your shoes where someone can trip over them and possibly die.

That's about it.

But to have to analyze every object in my life to decide whether it "sparks joy," to have to defend my TV or toilet's worth in my life is kind of nuts.

Does everything in our homes have to spark joy?

Some things might be in our lives as sad reminders of those we have lost. 

Some things are just comforting, like 75 carefully chosen jackets (hey, I can shop at home)!

And some things can't be explained, they just are...

And for you messy people out there. 

You know very well if you are messy, it's unlikely you are going to change now.  Messy probably works for you.  If you haven't minded dust balls under the bed or a bathtub ring before, you probably aren't going to change now.  And if you are a true hoarder, the kind where cat poop is under layers of old Life Magazines that you have had for over 40 years, then you don't need these books, you should seek professional help.

Why do we feel so insecure that we need a book to "sort us out," and why do we dwell on these superficial things? 

Who cares if my drawers are as neat as a bento box or my closets all have matching hangers or if I have stuff that I'm not sure why I have it?

So I question these little obsessions we get that come and go.  Cleaning and organizing now.  What's next?  Finding delight in dirt?

I am not immune to obsessions as you well know: reality TV, speaking correct English, collecting underpants with the days of the week on them (TMI?), dogs in costumes.  

But that aside...

Do we dwell on the superficial so we don't have to dwell on what scares us or is difficult?  Instead of spending time arranging our undies into a bento box, should we be spending our time improving our lives and the world in other ways?

If Kondo thinks we need to confront ourselves about tidying, I certainly think there are some other things we need to confront ourselves about and if we need obsessions, here are some I would like to see.

  • We become obsessed with voting at EVERY election so that we have a voice and don't suddenly find people in Congress who we can't figure out how they got there

  • We become obsessed with reading so we are an informed nation

  • We become obsessed with the importance of our public libraries because we realize they are the backbone of freedom of speech and we support them vigorously

  • We become obsessed with helping and being thoughtful of others instead of being so focused on ourselves

  • We become obsessed with being kind and realizing that everyone we meet is fighting a difficult battle (and I'm not talking about how hard it is to get your underwear into a bento box)!

Those are the kinds of obsessions where joy can be found.

I will let you add to that list.

In the meantime, I had better get to the library and return the "Spark Joy" book.  There are over 100 people waiting for it.

And when I get home I am going to imbue my television with joy and thank it for always being there when I need it and give some self esteem to my favorite chair when I plop down into it to watch "The View."

"Thank you chair, for your many hours of service!"


Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of the new movie 


 The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 I Die Project."

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