Jake Gyllenhaal

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Jake Gyllenhaal, man, mystery, actor. Most known for movie roles such as Donnie DarkoJarhead, and Prince of Persia. But what is the mystery about the man known as an actor? One woman takes on the case of finding out just exactly how tall is Jake Gyllenhaal?

If you didn’t already have a crush on him, this episode of podcast Mystery Show will probably seal the deal for you. Hosted by Starlee Kine, and though short lived, proved there is no mystery too great to solve. Every week she tackles a mystery, “mysteries you can’t solve online, mysteries you can’t solve yourself.” 

It sounds kind of silly, but I found Mystery Show to be extremely well written. It was named by Apple as the Best New Podcast in 2015, and one of the episodes was even listed as #1 in The Atlantic’s top 50 podcast episodes of 2015.

Here is the episode if you have the time to enjoy it:

 

This episode actually gained so much traction, that Conan had Starlee on his show to talk about it.

Here is a clip of the follow up from the Mystery Show episode:

 

And if you want to listen to any other episodes of Starlee’s Mystery Show, here is a link to the rest of the episodes:

Gimlet Media’s Mystery Show

Life and Death

It was Christmas, 2015 that the explosion happened at the dinner table. My brother and I, my parents, my aunt and uncle, and two younger cousins. We might have been having fun, wearing tissue paper crowns and racing wind-up penguins across the table. It was much later and the two younger ones were locked into their electronic devices, the rest of us remained at the table, wine glasses close to empty, listening to my uncle tell stories. And then my brother snapped.

I dont remember how old I was when I finally began to understand the kind of person my uncle was. My mom tells me she saw the look that crossed my face the moment it happened. That my aunt saw it too. 

It took years for my brother and I to finally decide we’d had enough of my uncle. My brother had packed his things and nearly drove home that night. It took an hour long, heated conversation for him to finally come out and say he wouldn’t do a family gathering that included my uncle again. My brother was eventually persuaded to stay, but it was the last Christmas we would spend with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.

December 2017, right before Christmas, my last grandparent passed. Some time before that my mom and I had gone to lunch and she’d told me what my grandma’s life had been like. How hard it must have been. It was lovely to hear she’d had a smile on her face when she passed. That perhaps my granddad had finally taken her hand and that they were reunited.

And it was that passing that finally brought us all back together. To raise a glass to celebrate her life and love, together.

Not present, was my uncle. 

Five days prior, the doctors had discovered cancer in his bones and lungs. They told him he had a few months at best. That day he stopped eating. My aunt believed he had given up hope. She called her eldest daughter, away at college, and told her she needed to come home as soon as possible. And that afternoon we helped my aunt get ahold of hospice.

I’ve struggled to remember the anger I felt, to remember why it was important. Maybe there is a reason it all happened like this. My sweet and endlessly loving grandmother, hanging on to life for so long. No one knows why. Perhaps it was for this. Perhaps it was to bring us all back together at this time when love and support was needed. Perhaps this was her lasting gift to us.

The Drive

It is dark when I set out. My small jeep and my small family. The road is long, like 280 miles long, but its a road I’ve come to know well. I program Google Maps to give me directions. A route I easily know by heart, but perhaps so the journey wont seem quite so lonely. Another voice to me, where the cats will only meow. I have my podcasts cued up, 6 hours worth. Usually something of an educational nature, or sometimes mystery crime stories. Something to keep my brain engaged, where the dark monotony would pull me into sleep. 

In the darkness, the world seems small. Just two strips of pavement and a steady stream of white and red, like two string lights side by side, bending and curving along. The rain is falling, making the windshield explode with white and red light, like a muddied fireworks show, instantly whipped away with each sweep of the wipers. Its possible I get lost in it, the kaleidescopic patterns flashing before me, just following the stream of red lights. The cats each claiming a side of my lap. The voices of the podcast suddenly lost to me, something about math and physics and the birth of the universe… and then I notice red lights flashing more rapidly. Red and blue..

I pull over, out of the way, but the lights remain behind me. I continue to pull over. I hit the rumble strips as I pull off to the shoulder. The slowing speed rouses the cats. I watch as the flashing red and blue follows me off to the shoulder. I don’t have the tightening in my chest, or the pit in my stomach, the way I did the last time I was pulled over. Over 10 years ago, sorrowfully driving back to college. The year I dropped out and moved to Oregon. 

The flashlight beam illuminates my passenger window. A police officer and my uncaged cat lock eyes. I roll the window down and am informed I’m being recorded. He asks me if I was aware I had been going 70 mph. 

“No. Not really.” I respond, blandly. 

“Whys that?” He asks.

“I guess I just wasn’t really paying attention.” 

He asks where I’m going and I tell him Seattle. He scoffs and says I have a long drive. After having just gotten off the most patience draining 8 hours of work, I simply nod and say, “yeah…”

He lets me off with two warnings. One on paper, the other by telling me he didn’t want the next time he drove up to me to be at my traffic accident. I laugh, but he reminds me that he is being serious.

“Watch your speed when you pull out.”

I watch him as I pull out, adhering to the speed limit, unsurprised when, after a few moments, I see his lights go on again, for someone else.

The rest of the drive is unremarkable. My speed slowly creeps back up. I follow the lights, like lights guiding me to an exit. One cat settles across the center console, my empty Red Bull can crinkling under his weight. The other settles between my thighs, face resting in my stomach. We drive like that for the next four hours. Occassionally the voice of Google Maps will calmly remind me which exit to take.

The road gradually grows smaller. Three lanes, to two lanes. The white and red lights grow fewer. And the trees begin to close in. Until eventually I am alone, on a two way road with a yellow line down the middle, cradled in the green embrace of the trees. I am listening to the sound of an old man’s voice recall the murder of his daughter. My speed slows as I come to my first stop sign in 6 hours. Both cats perk up. Soon enough, we’ll be there.

Saturday

I believe there is no magic in my life, because I have no faith in anything. I close my eyes and all I see is darkness. There are three orbs, swirling around each other, like a giant atom. Each one flashing images like crystal balls. Underneath is a large deep bowl, cracked and broken, draining its contents onto the darkened floor. My broken heart, unable to hold a feeling or a hope..

I never hear voices or callings. Not the way some people say they do. Not even in the way other people say they do. I am neither faithful nor crazy. I simply don’t hear anything. I don’t feel anything. I have no direction. I have no guidance. I make foolhardy decisions because I don’t know what else to do.

I had heard a story once of a religious man feeling a pain, behind his ribs, real pain that seized him. And then nothing. He couldn’t explain it, but he suddenly no longer believed in God. The faith just shut off, like switching off the blasting television. Just silence. He ended up going on a personal journey, to find himself, to renew his faith. In the end, he completed his journey, returning home, never having found his faith.

It is not to say that I don’t want to believe in something. I want to believe in something so deeply. But the more I reach down, the more I feel nothing. There is no magic in my life. There is only me. Every decision is me. Every success is because I worked. Every failing is my own mess up. I can only hold myself accountable.

And it terrifies me to feel so completely alone as I do…