Trigger warning for some talk around World Suicide Prevention Day.
“Harmonious” is one of my favorite Eric Bogosian monologues. In terms of content, this stuff is evergreen! Presentation, though — that can get a little touchy. The piece is from Bogosian’s 2001 one-man show WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE. Apparently inspired by some Deepak Chopra specials he’d seen on PBS, the stage direction reads thus:
A man speaks in a British/Indian accent, deep and resonant with a slight lisp:
So obviously, 20some years ago, that’s how he performed it.
Now, this isn’t a “Gotcha, you colonizing appropriator!” post. I’m just saying Bogosian definitely owes Aasif Mandvi, here.
I come up here and I do the best I can. I give you the best I can. I can’t do better than this. I can’t.
–Eric Bogosian, “I’m Here. I’m Here Every Night”
from TALK RADIO
I used to be one of those people who would come back to their blogs after a prolonged absence, all self-conscious about it, wanting to explain, to pledge to post more regularly, to get on a schedule. I’m over that.
So, the only question is what to write about after so long? I cast an eye inward, but then decided to just let the Story Cubes put my thoughts together.
I’ve been on a huge reading binge lately. I’ve got about 5 or 6 books going on right now, but the top 3 this past week:
- THE COMPLETE GARY LUTZ by Garielle Lutz
- 100 MONOLOGUES by Eric Bogosian
- A DAY, A NIGHT, ANOTHER DAY, SUMMER by Christine Schutt
The thing that’s helped me do all this reading is the Nook Glowlight 4e that I decided to splurge on a couple of weeks ago. Maybe it’s my aging eyes, but my laptop, tablet, and phone screens just weren’t cutting it anymore. Between that and the fact that reading at night no longer keeps me up and is thus improving the quality of my sleep, Nook is the first single-use media device I’ve had in my EDC kit for a very long time.
All this reading has definitely unlocked something. It’s filling me up on the old magic, helping me rediscover things that make me smile. Things like Nathasha Lyonne doing an Eric Bogosian monologue…
No year in review because, I mean why? You can’t do any better that Netflix’s DEATH TO 2020.
— Don Pizarro (@DonP) December 29, 2020
But I won’t leave the year cynically. While I also had moments “when I couldn’t even see the point of steppin’ out the mother fuckin’ house,” I did make it to the new year and so did you, if you’re reading this.
We should celebrate!
This past holiday weekend, I went around with what I call my “Ultraportable EDC-In-Exile.” It’s smart to go with a lighter load every once in awhile, but one thing it does is introduce room for error. In this case, making sure everything I put in there gets back into my real EDC bag, my monster of a Filson 258.
Which, come Tuesday, I didn’t. Which then triggers all of my unresolved control issues and a rant of “Shit fuck goddammit, this is why I should never switch bags, one fucking bag is all I need, I don’t care how heavy it gets, I need everything, every day, all the time, why am I so fucking lazy??”
There’s that old organizational saw that says a weakness is an overused strength. It is a strength that I’ve condensed the gear I need to carry on a daily basis such that I have a good 99% of all essentials with me at all times without much thought. Who can argue with that logic? Certainly not a control freak. And, that’s a problem; not just for my spine, either.
I’m never giving up my Filson. It’s the bag I’ve always wanted, I don’t care how big people say it is! But… maybe I just don’t need every damn thing every damn day. And maybe, just maybe I might benefit from actually choosing (Gasp!) to be okay with going without every once in awhile.
I just need to remind myself that it’s okay to take a load off…
I’ve been meaning to post more besides Weeknotes, and I’m in a mood. So, why not let the two impulses dovetail?
— Don Pizarro (@DonP) January 2, 2020
You know, I used to have more patience for people who protect and defend their fandoms. Back in the day, there was a line to be held with the people who point and laugh for loving STAR WARS, or DOCTOR WHO, or any comic book. There was a good fight to be fought.
But now, I see “real fans” doing the pointing and laughing, targeting poeple with the gall to love what we love, except a little bit differently than how we do? Really?
And if you’re within spitting distance of my age and doing that (Yeah, I see you.), what the hell’s the matter with you? Try aging gracefully, FFS.
Thank god I have the urge to consistently blog at certain times of the year, like Good Friday for instance. Otherwise, I would never know how to come back from long hiatuses.
To be honest, life hasn’t been great for me over the past several months. Keeping up with a Weeknotes habit has been the absolute least of my concerns. I do plan on going back to them eventually, but right after some changes that I’ve put in motion start to crystalize. Basically, I just needed to empty out my head and replace it with things that make me happy… or at least happier in the long run.
Maybe I’ll develop the stones to talk about it in a little more depth. Suffice it to say that the two videos below pretty much spell out what’s happened to me over the past 5 or so months.
Here’s the before picture…
And here’s the after…
It really is amazing what you can do with the support of people who care about you, and the proper therapeutic interventions!
I came across a particularly fan-wankish take on something DOCTOR WHO related that I felt was based on some dubious assumptions. The point, though, isn’t about who’s right. It’s about how much I miss having the space and the energy to geek out over that stuff. I’ve basically let a lot of nerd engagement slowly seep out of my life over the past few years, and it doesn’t feel good.
I’m just a little older now than my father when he came to this country. When I got into comic books as a kid, he once told me about his experience with comics in a way that was a little wistful but distinctly long gone. Which made sense; it didn’t occur to 8 year-old me that he could, would, or should still be into them.
People went off on what Bill Maher said after Stan Lee died, and rightfully so. But this bit got to me…
…the assumption everyone had back then, both the adults and the kids, was that comics were for kids, and when you grew up you moved on to big-boy books without the pictures.”
I cringe when I read that because I’m part of a generation of nerds that came up around that attitude, from both the adults and the kids. Luckily, I’m also part of a generation that realized after a certain point, no one could really stop you flying your nerd flag so fuck that noise. But that didn’t mean the feelings of “Just grow up, already” went away.
So yes, I am older, maybe a little wiser, but definitely more tired. I’d love to list all the ways the writer of that WHO article was “wrong,” but not today. No, I’m not looking to turn in my nerd card. But I guess what I really need to do is take a good look at my place in a field that’s changing in ways that I’d have loved to see 30 years ago but is also in some ways–and this is not a complaint, just an observation–maybe leaving me behind a bit because of my inability to keep up. I know there’s a “circle of life” thing where the olds sometimes just need to step out of the way and let the kids have their fun. But does that really mean I can’t have fun anymore? Probably not. But the question is, how?
Look, just as long as I don’t turn into this, okay…*
(*this = a gatekeeper harshing on a younger person’s geekery)
I’m in Cleveland in the house where I grew up, and I dug up that picture of my sixth birthday. It brings to mind a couple of things. First, my mother who we lost before the holidays, which necessitated traveling a week before I’d planned. Second, it’s a pretty funny reminder to myself that the struggle is real. That’s right, Don, raise that fist!
It was a collision of blessings and curses. Things gained, things lost, people lost, opportunities gained, lost, and re-gained. My writing life all but halted this year. It was only because of the connections I have with my friends and allies in the SF/F/H writing community (You all know who you are!) that kept me going.
The first part of 2018 will be finishing up all the old business (mine and my mother’s) from 2017. And then I’ll ease back into my backlog of short stories in preparation for rejoining proper society (read: the SF/F/H community) at Boskone in February. As for the rest of it…? Well, I’m usually further along at this point in formulating a loose idea of what my resolutions will be for the new year than I am right now. What can I tell you, it’s been a busy few weeks. And anyway, I’ve become less and less of a “Resolutions” person over time, and more of a “Here’s a GTD Projects List for the Year” guy.
2017 had its way with us. And if you’re like me and most people I know, we need some get back (metaphorically speaking) in 2018. How? Well, Mom might not have said these exact lyrics to me, but if I boil down everything she’s said to me over the years, it all comes down to the same good advice…
I’m hoping we can skip the usual apologia this time. We’ve heard it all before, right? New job role/title + ill family members + all the things = not enough time to blog. I knew you’d understand — thanks. So, let’s catch up…
NERD CORNER. I’ve never had so many personal objects at the dayjob, but since this is the first private office I’ve had, why not? I’ve been waiting for someone to call me out for daring to have THE PLAYBOY BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY at work, even though nothing in it comes close to being as salacious as the DANGEROUS VISIONS books. I’m curious to see what would happen if I was reported to TPTB for having AGAIN, DANGEROUS VISIONS which has a piece called “The Big Space Fuck.” Could I get nailed for a book having a story written by someone who’s sort of a big deal in the institution for which I work?
CURRENTLY READING. The memoir LITHIUM JESUS by Charles Monroe-Kane who tells the story of his path through mental illness, missionary work, faith healing, activism, and various forms of self-medication in (judging from the 3/4 of it that I tore through in two days) every sense of the word. I heard about this book from Monroe-Kane himself in a video from a MOOC I took — he had me as soon as I heard Northeast Ohio (where I’m also from) and faith-healing in the Philippines (because, Filipino) in the same sentence.
BINGE WATCHED. A throwback to my early 2000s late night cable anime viewing RURONI KENSHIN on Netflix. I was nostalgic, what can I tell you? There’s a lot more humor in it than I remembered there being when I caught it (half-awake and sometimes drunk) after midnight on Toonami back in the day. I recalled a lot more angst, but that might just been a reflection of my life at the time. After a few episodes though, I realized that the series resonates with me and my life at this point in time, as a person trying to make my way forward a decade after a dark period.
ALSO BINGE WATCHED. Thanks to Amazon Prime and my Smart TV, THE NEW YORKER PRESENTS. I have more thoughts on it, which I’ll save for later.
LEN WEIN. I can’t tell you with any certainty just how many Len Wein comics I’ve read in my decades of comic book nerdery. Just that I recall a distinct period where I saw his credit so many times, I thought he wrote all the comics. It’s foolish obviously, but I still had that same childhood sense of awe when I approached him a few years ago at the 2013 Rod Serling Conference. RIP, sir.
Thanks for the title, Rick…