#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.

#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.

#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…

#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…

#Weeknotes S02 E08

Well, whatever Andromeda Strain I was fighting off for the past two weeks knocked me out last Thursday and Friday. Stayed home from work because I wasn’t capable of doing that much else except sleeping. I did get some writing in when I could; it was only a little bit but more than I’ve managed in awhile.

Still waiting to hear on an iron that’s been in the fire for a few weeks now. Added another iron in the form of a writing-adjacent submission. I don’t expect anything to come out of that one, but you never win unless you play, right?

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 4 days with 5 writing days total!

On track for my basic, ultra-low bar of “just write more days in February than you did in January.” Because that’s where I am right now. It’s keeping my fingers warm, looking over old projects, adding a little here in there just to keep myself writing. The important thing is to keep doing it daily. And I know, “You must write every day” seems prescriptive and ableist, and it is if you mean it as general advice for everybody, for all time. Still, I’m compelled to keep trying for that goal. The only difference is not judging myself as weak if I fall off the horse.

FEEDING MY HEAD
I forget exactly how I stumbled onto the Backstory Cleveland newsletter, wherein editor and writer Matt Winkam reads his way through every novel set in Cleveland. That alone made me bookmark the link. I have some of the material he lists, and I’m curious to see this take on it.

FEEDING MY EARS
Wrote up a little thing on WEATHER, the latest album from Huey Lewis & the News

I’m also finding myself diving into my collection of Chick Corea Elektric Band albums, and hearing things now that there’s no way I could’ve comprehended when I pretentiously got these albums after college. I’ll probably distill some thoughts on them soon.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

IN THE WILD

I’m ashamed that despite being the hard core TWILIGHT ZONE fan that I am, I didn’t shell out for CBS All Access to watch this, and so I missed out. But I’m rectifying that now! Episode reviews coming soon, rated with my customized “Jack Elam Score,” in honor of the actor in my favorite Twilight Zone episode ever, “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”

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! CHECK ‘EM FOR WINGS!”

#Weeknotes S02 E07

It’s gonna be a short one this week. Last week was a struggle. I got hit with something — not 2019-nCoV but some other nasty thing going around work. I managed to get through my workweek, though. All I had to do was sleep 9-11 hours per night as soon as I got home. Hey, if nothing else I’ve banked more time off that I can theoretically to go 4th Street Fantasy maybe.

I was thinking of maybe skipping, but I realized that this weekend marks the second Boskone in a row I’ve had to miss for money/logistical reasons. As if it didn’t suck bad enough, I find this piece of nostalgia on their website this year. I miss you Boskone. I WILL RETURN! (Well, gods willing and the creek don’t rise.)

Bet you can’t find me in this picture!

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 1 day.

I’ve decided that for February at least, it’s not so much about the chain, as much as getting more links in my calendar than I did in January. If I can do that much, then I won’t feel quite as bad. Maybe. At least I can accomplish that, though.

FEEDING MY HEAD
Inspired — okay, guilted — by 12 Books from My Backlist I Swear I’ll Read in 2020, I’m going to come up with my own list this week.

I’ve taken just as much artistic advice from musicians as from writers, even in matters of writing. A lot of it is really applicable. Case in point, Chick Corea’s 16 Pieces of “Cheap But Good Advice for Playing Music in a Group” (1985)

9.Guide your choice of what to play by what you like–not by what someone else will think.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Because Dot’s always been an inspiration.

#Weeknotes S02 E06

I was in the mood to listen to the kind of music you’d hear on a lazy weekend day wandering through the type of hipper-than-thou record store that sells the “For Tobacco Use Only” paraphernalia behind the sales counter. So right now I’ve got Jefferson Starship’s BLOWS AGAINST THE EMPIRE in my ears. Mmm, I can smell the packaged incense in the air.

In other news, it looks like I have another serious shot at another potential job opportunity. More to report when there’s more to report!

Other than that, it’s been a rough week. Lot of craziness this week, what with everyone in my day job field worried about 2019-nCoV. Which didn’t leave me with much energy after the 9-to-5 to do much besides read a bit and idly kill things in DESTINY 2.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 1 day. And that was the only day I wrote this week. I suck, I know.

FEEDING MY HEAD
I did go through some of the books on my TBR pile, but I discovered these pieces that I missed the boat on when they first came out…

I’d never heard of the surrealism of photographer Grete Stern, but I plan to look for some.

…Stern produced a photomontage that recreated some aspect of the reader’s dream. These illustrations usually depicted women struggling to free themselves from the oppressive patriarchy of Argentinian society.

I’m always curious about artistic beefs, especially in music and literature. From a NEW YORKER piece on writer Joanna Russ

Privately, to mutual friends, Russ accused Le Guin of being accommodating to men, of refusing to write as a woman. In some ways, Le Guin conceded the argument—she claimed to write under the influence of her male “animus”—but in other ways she resisted. After all, wasn’t her freedom not to write “as a woman” precisely the point?

Not that I ever could imitate George Saunders, but there are some tips in this piece in THE PARIS REVIEW

…one of the most important aspects of the Saunders aesthetic is something that might be termed “bonelessness.” A boneless story doesn’t begin with an idea for a central conflict, or with an outline, or with any other structural design. A boneless story has no skeleton. That doesn’t mean that there’s no action. To the contrary, Saunders’s stories are packed with incident. But the stories accumulate beat by beat. As a general rule, Saunders doesn’t conceive of plots in advance, but rather tries to write one funny, interesting moment, and then another funny, interesting moment, and so on. A Saunders story grows like a fungus.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
On the price of being an early adopter…

IN THE WILD

If only I could….

#Weeknotes S02 E05

Unlike Anderson .Paak, I’ve never had The Best Teef in the Game. I had a minor dental emergency this week. Parts of a back molar around a filling I’ve had since I was a child started falling off. No pain or anything, but it did bring me to a dentist for the first time in, well, a long while. I’ll have to go back in a couple of weeks, but in all likelihood it’s just due to the inevitable bone loss that comes with age. No cavities! (I generally don’t get cavities, not since I had those fillings when I was a child.)

The tooth will likely have to be extracted. If it does, I’m going to ask to keep it as a shank. Maybe tie it to the end of a pole, like a spear.

Oh well, at least my back is doing better!

I’ve been tapped to be part of a task force at work that I really can’t talk about. Not “I’d tell you but I’d have to kill you” top secret, but I’d rather not be another angle someone looking for more information thinks they might be able (inappropriately) pursue. That’ll make my next week interesting.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 2 days, but 4 days overall!

Not really a lot of a lot of progress on revisions for Short Story 01, but I’ve worked a lot developing a couple of fresh ideas. Better than being stuck, I guess.

ROTTING MY BRAIN
I wanted to like the film 1917, I really did. Just wasn’t for me, though. I didn’t really glean anything that I hadn’t already seen in BLACKADDER GOES FOURTH, the DOCTOR WHO episodes “Human Nature”/”Family of Blood”, and series two of DOWNTON ABBEY.

Caught up a little bit more with THE EXPANSE. I’m 3 episodes away from Season 3. I’m still a little taken aback at the show’s plot scope and intricacy!

FEEDING MY HEAD
Kit Reed’s STORY FIRST: THE WRITER AS INSIDER is, in the first three chapters, a pretty succinct distillation of the sort of writing truths that most other writing books tend to start talking about halfway in. I’d only ever met Kit Reed in passing before she left us, but I did see her do a few convention panels. So I can actually hear her voice in my mind as I read…

I should say at the outset that if any of you are going to make it in show biz, that is, if any of you are going to write fiction that pleases anybody besides yourself and possibly your most doting relative, you are going to have to develop the habit of rewriting.

So yes, stuff I’ve seen before (i.e. rewriting) with nuggets that are new-to-me sprinkled in (i.e. writing as show biz).

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

(Okay, maybe having Crumb actually would open one up to demonic possession….)

IN THE WILD
Fjallraven Kanken No. 2 backpack I love it when retail therapy dovetails with actual, practical need. I decided I needed a lighter load to carry on days when I have chiropractic appointments after work. It wouldn’t be bad if I had a car, but I’m a bus/walking person, which you can be in the town I live in.

I still needed a smaller, lighter back for my Ultraportable EDC-In-Exile but slightly bigger than the STM bag I was using, that was simple enough that I don’t leave essentials behind when I need my full loadout, yet something that would still be kind to my back while I’m going to a chiropractor twice a week.

I’ve had my eye on this particular Fjällräven Kånken No. 2 bag for awhile, and decided I had nothing to lose by trying it out. It’s been a week and so far it fits the bill completely. I’m still not giving up my Filson, though!

#Weeknotes S02 E04

I spent the majority of my writing time this week engaged in some writing practice, which is to say “the practice of writing.” I’m surprised I had time at all; for a short week it sure didn’t feel like one at work. But I got myself caught up, so maybe just having a lighter psychic weight paid off. Carrying a lighter physical weight might be helping too — my back, at least. Unfortunately, I haven’t followed through on the process of letting go of old tech, but it’s on the list!

No, it’s not you. Just diddling around with the formatting a bit for this post. Might keep it. Might not.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 1 day; but 3 writing days overall. That’s progress, right?

Revisions on Short Story 01 continue, but I’m also spending that writing time “sketching” so to speak in my notebook. You can thank Lydia Davis and some of the things I read in ESSAYS ONE.

ROTTING MY BRAIN
As promised, I did a Quickie Review of KNIVES OUT. It was so good!

Much like my To Be Read pile, I decided, Fuck my To Be Watched queue and took in the first couple of episodes of something deep in the backlog, season 3 of WYNONNA EARP. And after that, I plan to catch up with THE MAGICIANS.

The next few things on the list:

  • A couple of weeks of DOCTOR WHO Series 12
  • Season 2 of THE EXPANSE
  • A couple of weeks of the HARLEY QUINN cartoon
  • The first episode of STAR TREK: PICARD

FEEDING MY HEAD
Just picked up a bunch of things in a curated Write Now! Story bundle. And I’m starting with Kit Reed’s (may she rest in peace) STORY FIRST: THE WRITER AS INSIDER. I knew it was a good choice when I came upon this passage…

You don’t have to be a hatchet murderer to write about one. At some time in your life you’ve had murderous feelings. Use them.

Also, the aforementioned ESSAYS ONE.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

I remember writing an entry on an old blog that didn’t seem to make it over to this one about Jim Lehrer. The man helped build and maintain a PBS institution and still managed to get writing done. And that’s always fascinated me. A novel a year for twenty-someodd years? I haven’t read a single one, but if you assume for the sake of a thought experiment that they were all bad, just getting them done on top of everything else is quite the accomplishment!

IN THE WILD