Still Flying

Much like Mac Miller, trumpeter jaimie branch was a musician whose name I’d heard but whose music I never got around to listening to until after her passing a little over a year ago.

Luckily, there seems to be a lot of stuff out there to go through. Keep flying, jaimie!

Theory and Conjecture

The other day, I mentioned that some time ago I found the complete series of IN SEARCH OF… featuring Leonard Nimoy on DVD at a reuse store for $5. Before the kung-fu movies on cable I enjoyed in my ‘tween years, these were the kinds of UHF weekend shows that caught my fancy.

I hear the background music of wah-wah guitars and Moog synths, see the washed out video quality, and I’m taken back in time to those grainy films shown on the best 8mm projectors my Catholic grade school could buy two decades prior, when John XXIII was the Pope.

Anyway, there was always a disclaimer that came after a brief teaser at the start of each episode…

This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. The producer’s purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones to the mysteries we will examine.

Of course, there are tons of shows in this vein these days, mostly on cable channels that purport to be all about History and Discovery. Only, they don’t seem to bother with the disclaimers much, at least not matter-of-fact disclaimers. When they do, they’re delivered with a wink and a nod. There’s something about it that seems, strangely, like innocence lost.

That’s my conjecture, anyway.

#Weeknotes S04 E06

There was a time when skipping Weeknotes for three weeks in a row would’ve been a source of shame and self-abnegation. I’m over that. Mostly. Life happens, yes — fam, dayjob, a couple days of feeling under the weather, not to mention general exhaustion.

I’ve been feeling like the dude in the picture in the next section.

I saw this picking up a late lunch one day and say a very relatable dilemma. I mean, at a place that’s open 24 hours where you’re gonna have to get this done sometime (whatever this was), I guess broad daylight would work just as well as the middle of the night?

I feel you buddy, I really do.

Can’t keep track of what I’ve seen on which streaming service anymore, but it’s been a month of binge-watches.

  • It’s been interesting watching GRIMM and BLEACH: THOUSAND-YEAR BLOOD WAR, what with all the random German getting thrown around.
  • I finally had a chance to check out what all the fuss about RUSSIAN DOLL was about. I get it! I mean, I find Natasha Lyonne’s work enjoyable anyway. The part where her character describes herself as a cross between Andrew Dice Clay and Merida from BRAVE. I see Sam Kinison, myself.
  • The highlight of my binging was DOCUMENTARY NOW. I missed it when it first came around, but when I saw the episode “Long Gone” being a take on Bruce Weber’s LET’S GET LOST, I regretted it. A send-up of CHEF’S TABLE with Jonathan Gold and David Chang doing cameos? A little Spalding Gray (-ish) thing? Where was this all my life?
  • Awhile back I found the complete IN SEARCH OF… series from the ’70s featuring Leonard Nimoy on DVD for five bucks that I’ve been slowly going through. More reliving my youth, I guess.

I’ve been slacking lately. By slacking, I mean “not knocking out 2-3 books in a weekend.” But like a true book addict, that didn’t stop me from adding two new sci-fi novels from friends of mine, a short story anthology, and a couple of non-fiction books. Because, why not?

Hopefully it won’t be three more weeks, with life happening — the fam, dayjob, a couple days of feeling under the weather, general exhaustion — until the next post. But you know, all that happens when I do manage to keep this up weekly, so exactly what goes on in these fallow periods of mine? I’ve been trying to break that down and I don’t have anything close to an answer yet. Maybe I’ll have one next time.


USA Network’s Kung Fu Theater was as much of a Sunday ritual growing up as going to Mass. Weekend after blissful weekend of kung fu movies, and not all of which were The Classics, either. Probably, most of them weren’t. But one in particular stuck out to me and for nigh on 30 years I’ve been trying to find some trace of it. I’d long forgotten the title, I had no idea who starred in it, when it was made, or who made it. I just remembered the plot, in which a kung-fu master trains a bunch of reprobates for basically a suicide mission.

Googling it was pretty much useless, so I’d pretty much given up hope of ever seeing it again. And then, browsing through Prime Video at an ungodly hour the other night, I found it!!

The film is 1979’s KUNG-FU COMMANDOS aka INCREDIBLE KUNG FU MISSION. Kung-Fu Commandos does have the ring of familiarity. It was the era of G.I. Joe figures and movies like COMMANDO about, well, commandos.

It’s not every day you get to recapture a bit of your lost youth!

#Weeknotes S04 E05: Pressed for Time

I had a couple of “vacation from the vacation” days but after that, this past week was all about getting back on track with daily life. I still haven’t gone through all the photos I took from Boston.

Okay, you know what? Let’s start there, then. I have just the thing, a metaphor for how I’m feeling — a little pressed.

Life-sized diorama of a "pressing" taken at the Salem Witch Museum.

Yeah I feel you, buddy.

Anyway, one of the places we visited was the Salem Witch Museum, which starts off with “an immersive look into the events of 1692” using life-sized dioramas and narration that sounded like it was recorded in the late 1970s — kind of like the intro from Tales from the Darkside — to underscore the prejudice and injustice behind it all.

Yes, this is where I got that Margaret Hamilton photo I posted a couple weeks ago.

I haven’t gotten a lot of reading done, beyond poking away at Garielle Lutz’s complete story collection after finishing ESSAYS by Wallace Shawn, which I talked about the other day.

I did make a little movement on this front, though! There were a couple of calls for submissions that I noticed last week, so I put something together for one and am in the process of a new piece for another. Because, why work on the other things you have going right now, when you can just start new shit on the spot, right?

You know, I think that’s all I’ve had in me this week. Along the lines of stuff from the 1970s, maybe what I need now is to rebuild some Cognitive Salubrity…?

Not Approved for Therapeutic Use

I’d buried this tidbit in a Weeknotes post a few weeks back and it’s been bugging me ever since. This really deserved its own space.

The Witch on Horseback Institute for Cognitive Salubrity was a short-lived new age education center and performance space founded in Trumansburg, New York in the nineteen-seventies by former employees of the Moog synthesizer company. These forgotten recordings with disgraced Ithaca experimental psychologist Noving Jumand were discovered at a library sale in Ithaca, New York in the early 2020s, and have been restored from the original LPs by the musical entity known as Witch on Horseback, named in the Institute’s honor.

“This recording has not been approved for therapeutic use,” is the disclaimer that appears at the beginning of each track. I haven’t decided yet. Maybe I should listen to it a few more times…

ESSAYS by Wallace Shawn (2009)

I pulled ESSAYS by Wallace Shawn out of the bowels of my TBR pile. Maybe it was all the times I’ve been seeing him in YOUNG SHELDON reruns lately, I dunno.

Some basic impressions…

  • I read every word in Vizzini’s voice.
  • Be forewarned, a lot of these pieces were written around and about 9/11.
  • Shawn lays bare, in the plainest and simplest English, the stuff a lot of people think but are afraid to say out loud, let alone publish in a book.
  • It takes some balls to publish an interview with Noam Chomsky, but give yourself the last word. But I guess when you star in a critically acclaimed and highly referenced film about hanging out with your boy at a restaurant, you can get away with things like that.

#Weeknotes S04 E04: More Than a Feeling

Last week’s undisclosed location was Boston, MA where I took a much-needed long-term mental health break with the fam. This was the first time in a long time where I took one before (just before) the wheels fell off. My therapist was proud!

This was the first non-convention related trip to Boston (I forget how many Readercons and Boskones it’s been at this point) in over a decade. I guess for that matter, this was my first post-pandemic trip, too. Lotta firsts on this trip. I’ve got enough pics and video, not to mention thoughts and reflections, for several weeks’ worth of blog posts that I’ll probably dribble out slowly. You might’ve noticed I did some experimenting with dribbling out posts over the past week. That’s where the one pier picture came from, btw.

Oh, you missed the pier picture? Not to worry. Here’s a recap.

Still working on THE COMPLETE GARY LUTZ and QUANTUM CRIMINALS. The latter, I’m savoring slowly, like Cuervo Gold. (See what I did there?)

Like most readers I know, though, I added to the long backlog with DREAM TOWN: Shaker Heights and the Quest for Racial Equity by Laura Meckler. I grew up a couple of ‘burbs over, so a tiny bit of my history overlaps with this, so I thought it’d be interesting. And, randomly, I pulled something up to the front, ESSAYS by Wallace Shawn. I dunno, I think it bubbled back up to the surface because of all the YOUNG SHELDON reruns I’ve been watching lately with Wally in them. I’ll push my thoughts out sometime this week.

Back to the dayjob tomorrow, so I’m going to finish out the weekend reminiscing about the trip to what cultural scholar Carl Brutananadilewski calls The Ultimate Song

Birdland, Revisited

I just needed somewhere to pin this memory: When I first became aware of Weather Report’s classic jazz fusion tune, it was only in the context of shitty high school marching band or college big band renditions. So many of them that when I finally heard Weather Report’s original version in college, I couldn’t stand it. Couldn’t hear it without cringing. Couldn’t undertand it. Couldn’t watch it being played by anyone, even if they were trying to be true to the original, without a sneer of derision.

I got a copy of HEAVY WEATHER in college when I was heaviest into my Jazz Phase when the thing that separated the people who took jazz courses for the credits was and the Real Hip Cats(TM) was knowing about the side projects of the people who played with Miles on BITCHES BREW (in this case, Josef Zawinul, Jaco Pastorious, et al.). But I didn’t get it, not really. Not “Birdland,” and certainly not “Teen Town” or “Palladium.”

It’s taken nigh on 25 years to finally get all that out of my system and actually appreciate HEAVY WEATHER and “Birdland” for the classics they are. This shit is in the jazz fusion canon for a reason, and now I respect it enough to NOT want any part of rearranging and playing my own version.