#Weeknotes S02 E13

Doing things in a different order this week. Because I can, that’s why.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
For as much bullshit as comes out of my home state of Ohio these days, I still get occasionally wistful. I was sent an article from SCENE MAGAZINE (oh, I still remember how cool I thought I was in high school carting one of these around every week), “An Oral History of WMMS, Cleveland’s Legendary Radio Station”

Legendary DJ Kid Leo — as famous to me and most Clevelanders as Wolfman Jack ever was — brings to mind the city I grew up in. (If it helps you get into my head, listen to “My City Was Gone” by The Pretenders as you read this section.)

In those days, Cleveland was a joke to most in the national media and therefore to a lot of America. Our sports teams were inept, our mayors were fodder for late night talk show hosts’ monologues and hell, our river even caught on fire.

I only understood a fraction of the shit going on in Cleveland radio at the time, except for the big things like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the ROLLING STONES ballot box stuffing thing, WENZ “The End.” But names like Malrite, Ruby Cheeks, Jeff and Flash; the competition like WCNX, John Lanigan, the Stern show when it came to town — these are motes and flashes of deep, deep memories of good times I remember. (Yeah, I know it’s a Chicago song, shut up.)

Why am I waxing so nostalgic this week? Because this time period was on my mind anyway after reading this article, and others like it, on how Generation X came up with the skills to cope in this time of coronavirus.

Which, as I tweeted, wasn’t necessarily the most ideal situation. I’m not whining, though. Sure, an outsider’s picture of growing up in the ’80s on the “Mistake on the Lake” is probably close to how you envision it. But much like quarantine, isolation, remote work, fear, and uncertainty in 2020, it is what it is.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 1 days for 2 days overall. What do you want, there’s a fucking global pandemic on.

FEEDING MY HEAD
I don’t need any more books, but I got them anyway. It’s been a long time since a writer’s stuff made me happy that they jumped their place in my reading queue like Osama Almoar’s.

ROTTING MY BRAIN
I still think “Replay” is the best episode of Jordan Peele’s TWILIGHT ZONE so far, but I’ll be damned if “A Traveler” doesn’t come a close second.

IN THE WILD
I feel you, Asher. We’re all a little stir crazy. That… that’s my arm, though.

Quickie Review of THE TWILIGHT ZONE (2019) S01 E04: “A Traveler”

An assimilated people still have a line in the sand against a colonial oppressor. It’s just pushed far back. For some though, that line is set all the way… into The Twilight Zone.

I’m sure I didn’t get them all, but just in this single episode there were actual or thematic references to every original TZ episode where…

  • …someone is in a jail cell
  • …it’s all police can do to just keep a grip on WTF is going on
  • …people get paranoid and shit gets crazy
  • ::that Giorgio Tsoukalos meme::

And this reminds me of another strength of the original series. I think part (a small part, to be sure) of the reason people say stupid things like, “Why can’t modern SF/F be apolitical like THE TWILIGHT ZONE?” is because a lot of the stories were crafted to sink its speculative hooks in you so deeply that it practically enabled a shallow viewer to miss the deeply political stuff. Now, I don’t recommend that kind of viewing for “A Traveler,” because you’d miss out on its commentary on colonialism. But hey, you do you!

Other thoughts I had as I watched…

  • This is the Christmas episode, but I get the feeling it’s not going to be “Night of the Meek.” Will we ever get an episode like that in this 2019 iteration?
  • Sure keep showing the Gremlin, Talky Tina, the Mystic Seer — I like merch! But I don’t know… I don’t think the alien with the bling and a Sherpa hat is going to be a thing.
  • Jesus, Steven Yuen dressed like Ross — fucking awesome
  • “Quallinat Christmas sucks”… but as long as you get turkey and pie…? Hey, I’m Fil-Am, I’m not judging!
  • Again, a good depiction of the low key everyday racism that I experienced. (Heh, “experienced.” Past tense… it’s a joke, get it?)
  • Dummy Christmas wrapping
  • A. Traveler.” HAHA I like it.
  • Aggro travelers are a thing…??
  • Love the rotary phone with buttons
  • Oh, now we have some “Monsters are Due” shit going on here?
  • Mayor “Matheson” — okay, I think by episode 4, new viewers know how Richard Matheson is by now!
  • I was fully expecting Greg Kinnear to the be a racist dumb-ass. No, just a bigger egotist than racist.
  • “What the actual what?” is a nice callback to “Wet… what’s, ‘wet’?”
  • “My people are going to intercept them.” What… from Venus?

The Jack Elam Score for “A Traveler” (out of 5):

1: “And this lemon-sucker here…”
2: “Ain’t nobody been exonerated yet, that’s for sure!”
3: “Sharp boys, real sharp boys!”
4: “A regular Ray Bradbury!”
5: “CHECK ‘EM FOR WINGS!!!”

TBR in the Time of Coronavirus

There’s a piece in Alomar’s collection THE TEETH OF THE COMB & OTHER STORIES called “Psychological Barrier” that pretty much encapsules a good 60% of what I talk about in therapy.

Anyway, I recommend the collection!

The other thing I picked up, based on that episode of The Ezra Klein Show I mentioned last week, Jane McAlevey’s NO SHORTCUTS: ORGANIZING FOR POWER IN THE NEW GILDED AGE.

Because dayjob aside, there’s time now… right…?

via GIPHY

#Weeknotes S02 E12 (The Quarantine Episode)

Well, I don’t really have an excuse for this episode being a short one, do I? Between a root canal on Monday and setting up my mobile dayjob office-in-exile while making some desperate updates to my tech, it’s been busy.

I made my PodCastle narration debut reading Vida Cruz‘s “Odd and Ugly.” It was an joy and a privilege to read this! And yes, this was the “writing-adjacent” project I’ve been talking about the past couple of weeks.

I’d known something was up with my ThinkPad X1C Gen 6 battery since almost the day I got it, but I didn’t really register an issue until after my warranty ran out, ‘natch. But over the past 2-3 weeks, I suddenly noticed I was only getting two hours’ use out of it. Of course, I didn’t bother doing anything about it until I needed to use it to work from home and didn’t have the convenience of unplugging. Luckily, I decided fuck it, and got a replacement battery ordered before Amzn shut down non-essential stuff. So all’s well that ends well, although it looks like I probably shouldn’t have put it off for so long.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 1 day, but for 3 writing days total. I know, I know. But I’m ahead of February so that’s a good thing!!

FEEDING MY EARS
This was definitely not the podcast I should’ve put on late one night thinking it would help me drift off to sleep. Instead, I was up listening to this fascinating interview with Ezra Klein and labor organizer Jane McAlevey on how the left builds power all wrong.

ROTTING MY BRAIN
Sorry I missed my weekly post of TWILIGHT ZONE (2019) reviews. I got my review of “Replay,” the third episode, up yesterday. I’ve had notes on several episodes, but just couldn’t find time to organize them during the Andromeda Strain breakout. I caught some shorter things though.

I’m convinced that if an ’80s song sounds good when you take away the ’80s production values, it’s a good song! (Though I do miss Chaka Khan singing back-up on this one.)

Also, I’ll listen to anything sweary Doctor Who Peter Capaldi says about surrealism..

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

IN THE WILD
The “Before” picture from my first root canal. I wish the drugs and pain hadn’t hampered my ability to take pics of that last tooth on the right during the procedure.

Quickie Review of THE TWILIGHT ZONE (2019) S01 E03: “Replay”

Even a magical camcorder might not be enough for a Black mother to protect her son from racism in America… even in The Twilight Zone.

There’s some true alchemy in this episode! Like the first two, there were lots of tiny references sprinkled in for the eagle-eyed fans of the old series. But whereas the last attempt to update the old series was a little too on the nose (for me at least), “Replay” took the original TWILIGHT ZONE’s approach to the themes of the ’50s and ’60s and fashioned something completely relevant for 21st century viewers. Especially 21st century viewers of color! So far, “Replay” is the quintessential TWILIGHT ZONE update to me! Here are some other takeaways…

  • I love the sheriff uniform. Reminds me of something…
  • C’mon Jordan, is the Mystic Seer really necessary? I mean, I get it but still.
  • Emmett Avenue, huh? Of course.
  • Kaepernick super-bowl!
  • This is definitely reminiscent of those hitchhiker stories where the ghost keeps reappearing.
  • That’s it — instead of running from the apparition, go straight for it!
  • It’s not often you see subtle racism played out on TV. Sure we all knew the White trooper was racist and going to say “boy” at some point. But up until that point, he’ll sit and chat amicably with people of color. There comes a point in the episode where one might be tempted to think, “Oh, this is when she turns the cop around.” But people of color knew better.
  • Car 1015, eh?
  • You’d think anyone in a TZ with a grasp of the weird shit going on around them would’ve been like “ain’t no thing” when something bad happens.
  • “You’ve never asked for help” — that’s the key right there!
  • I called the ending — but not until it was almost on me. Good one, Jordan!
  • I don’t think I’ve seen a teleplay sum up about 90+% of the struggles of a community in a well-rounded way since, well, BLACK PANTHER.
  • We don’t just get a fleeting visual reference to the spirit of Rod Serling. Thematically, we also get, “It was love, not magic, that kept evil at bay.”

The Jack Elam Score for “Replay” (out of 5):

1: “And this lemon-sucker here…”
2: “Ain’t nobody been exonerated yet, that’s for sure!”
3: “Sharp boys, real sharp boys!”
4: “A regular Ray Bradbury!”
5: “CHECK ‘EM FOR WINGS!!!”

#Weeknotes S02 E11

Going to be a short one this week. Feels like I’ve been saying that a lot lately. Anyway, it doesn’t feel like I have much, if anything, to report but that’s not true. The writing-adjacent project I still can’t talk about yet is done. Just waiting on approvals and final sign offs, and then I’m sure every relevant announcement will be made.

Even though I’m a paper-pusher in the healthcare field by day, work was pretty hectic last week as you can imagine, what with the Andromeda Strain going around the world. Between that and the project I just finished, and yet another grab at another grad school opportunity… I’ve been tuckered out this weekend.

Depending on how long the Andromeda Strain lives, I may (or may not?) be at 4th Street Fantasy in June.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 3 days, but for 5 days total! I’m on my way, I think.

FEEDING MY EARS
I’ve been catching up on podcasts a bit, and caught an old (from about a month ago) episode of CONAN O’ BRIEN NEEDS A FRIEND with guest Keegan Michael Key. You should listen to the whole thing but if you do nothing else, do yourself a favor and listen about 18 min, 30 sec in when they get to talking about Billy Dee Williams. Trust me!

IN THE WILD

Oh, it’s on!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#Weeknotes S02 E10

The writing-adjacent project I mentioned last time? That’s what I’m working on now, so this will be another quick one. Contracts have been signed (by me, anyway); more details when all the Ts are dotted and the Is are crossed… or, whatever.

Slight hint at the very bottom of this post, though.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 2 days, for 3 days total. Which, okay, isn’t a great start for the month but I still have plenty of time to outdo February. And that’s all I’m aiming for!

FEEDING MY… EARS(?)
I debated which section to put this video in. I overthink these things, what can I tell you?

Anyway, I’m still on a Huey Lewis kick so here’s a “What’s In My Bag” interview Huey Lewis did at Amoeba Music on his favorite albums. I, of course, am fully behind his pick of BACK TO OAKLAND by Tower of Power!

FEEDING MY HEAD
I got a few more pages in from Lydia Davis’s ESSAYS ONE. There’s a lot of good stuff in there, but the best thing so far is knowing the variety in what she reads.

Oh, I just picked up this anthology today because (a) free (at least for a little bit) and (b) how awesome is an anthology based on…

Three short lines, fired over social media in response to questions of why Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the floor of the United States Senate, for daring to read aloud the words of Coretta Scott King. As this message was transmitted across the globe, it has become a galvanizing cry for people of all genders in recognition of the struggles that women have faced throughout history.

Download the Nevertheless, She Persisted Short Fiction Bundle For Free, Starting This International Women’s Day.

Yes, she was my preferred candidate. Yes, I’m going to vote blue, no matter who. Don’t @ me.

ROTTING MY BRAIN
Like last week, I didn’t have a lot of TV time. I only got in one episode of Jordan Peele’s THE TWLIGHT ZONE. Here’s my review of “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet”.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

IN THE WILD
Fulfilling my contractual obligation…

Quickie Review of THE TWILIGHT ZONE (2019) S01 E02: “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet”

An airline passenger has a dire warning for Flight 1015 in a story that doubles down on “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” — at least, as much as one can for only going an additional 10,000 feet up… in The Twilight Zone.

My first thought heard when I first heard this episode’s title was, “Really?” After all, I’d heard that this iteration of TZ would swear off direct remakes. But now it wouldn’t surprise me to eventually see yet another updated version of “It’s a Good Life.” Not that I’d complain, but still. Here are my other impressions…

  • Easter eggs abound in this episode: References to each of the folks who were a distant second and third for number of original TZ episodes written (Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont), to a familiar company that ended up making mp3 players, to the original “20,000 Feet” episode via a deliberately placed callback like the one in “The Comedian“…
  • …which is what makes me suspect that I was supposed to have my “Really?” reaction. Okay TZ 2019, you got me!
  • Ah, the risks of traveling “Privileged class”… for the traveler and everyone around them.
  • Wow, do I feel called out over my obsession a year or so ago over SERIAL.
  • You know what they say about how the more something changes…?
  • I don’t want to get spoilery at all, so I’ll just say that I don’t get the ending. Rather, I don’t see the logic for this story’s particular ending.

The Jack Elam Score for “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” (out of 5):

1: “And this lemon-sucker here…”
2: “Ain’t nobody been exonerated yet, that’s for sure!”
3: “Sharp boys, real sharp boys!”
4: “A regular Ray Bradbury!”
5: “CHECK ‘EM FOR WINGS!!!”

#Weeknotes S02 E09

A quick one this week. I’ve been a little scattered mentally and trying to catch up. So, remember that “writing-adjacent submission” I mentioned last week? Well, stick in a pin in that. Have to get my signature on some things first! That’s about the biggest thing to report this week. Here’s the other stuff….

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 1 day, but for 4 days total. What’s important here is that I ended February having put in more writing days in than I did in January. This month, all I have to do is one-up that!

FEEDING MY HEAD
You couldn’t have told me in the ’80s that I’d be reading about Huey Lewis in THE NEW YORKER.

Who doesn’t like free stuff like high quality images from The Smithsonian?

I only learned about poet David Lehman’s latest book ONE HUNDRED AUTOBIOGRAPHIES last Monday when I read that he was going to do a reading last Thursday. I went to it.

And of course as if I don’t have enough of a backlog, I stumble onto a book from an author I know nothing about but whose jacket basically told me I needed to read it, RUST: A MEMOIR OF STEEL AND GRIT by Elise Colette Goldbach. I’ll turn in my book report once I finish it.

ROTTING MY BRAIN
Not a lot of TV time this past week, except for my slow binge of Jordan Peele’s THE TWLIGHT ZONE. My goal is to do a quickie episode review per week — here’s one for “The Comedian”. Next week will be one for “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.”

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Could there actually come a moment when my parents’ naturalization certificates won’t be worth the paper they’re printed on?

IN THE WILD
I hate feeling beaten to the punch…