#Weeknotes S02 E26

Huh, and there it is, my wit’s end
They brought me out my mind
You know I’m caught beside myself
Pissed off and shit outta luck
–Anderson .Paak, “Yada Yada”

On one hand I should be celebrating. I don’t think I’ve ever posted 26 weeks in a row on any blog I’ve ever maintained. It’s a personal milestone, really — not necessarily about the blogging, but rather proof to myself that I can maintain a weekly discipline of something not dayjob-related, and stick with it while accepting inevitably varying levels of quality.

On the other hand, what a fucking week it’s been in the SFF world…


It looks like a lot of folks — me included — got snagged, like it or not, somewhere in this event horizon of…

  1. Believing all victims enough to take their claims seriously and not dismissing them out of hand, taking a position, and using their platform to support it.
  2. Acknowledging power differentials and that sometimes people in power claim victimization as a reversal tactic.
  3. And yet — see point #1
  4. And for good measure, throwing in a dash of knowing got’damned well that this sort of event horizon looks a fucking hell of a lot different when POC are involved.
  5. To say nothing if you’re one of the “lucky” ones who have literally been at in the same room/same con/same table/same workshop as some of these folks…

I’m only today back in a mental space where I can discuss other equally important stuff (pandemic and the accompanying fascist neo-reactionary wave, anyone?) and some random stuff on the social medias, but this latest round still burns a hole in my mind, leaving me caught beside myself, pissed off, and shit outta luck.

So I think this is all I’ve got this week, aside from a pic of my smol furry daughter Mazikeen looking exactly how I feel.

#Weeknotes S02 E25

Not a particularly cheery one this week, folks.

This is the weekend I would’ve spent at 4th Street Fantasy had it not been rightly cancelled. I took the time off work like I always do, and thought about giving it back, but decided fuck it..

It’s four days later and I don’t feel all that better than I did on Thursday.

Maybe it’s because the world’s gone to pieces and maybe it’s because more rot has been exposed in two industries I love. Maybe my meds are off, or maybe I just spent too much time doomscrolling on social media. Certainly, it can’t be because I’m “working too hard” at dayjob stuff; or, maybe it is, who can say?

Either way, I do feel this is one of those days when I’m just going to feel how I’m going to feel, even though I can objectively point to positives. The world might be on fire, but at least the Supreme Court made a couple of good decisions. It’s better I know whose art I should not spend any more time and money on because they had to go around serially abusing people and giving out bullshit apologies.

My meds are fine, at least by every indicator discussed at my annual physical a couple of weeks ago. No, I’m not working too hard, but I am working hard and have been.

I’ve been reading, too. A ton of micro-memoir and microfiction pieces. I continue to be amazed by Osama Alomar’s work. I swear, some of the pieces I read this week are positively prophetic.

Two pieces in particular stunned me: A story called “Whoever Is Happy” which I felt called me out in a big way, which was immediately followed by “Wolves and Sheep,” in which I think of Alomar doesn’t sympathize with what I felt called out over, he at least understands. You’ll just have to read them, if you can get your hands on THE TEETH OF THE COMB & OTHER STORIES.

We have TikTokers and K-Pop stans doing the Lord’s work while I watch the painfully slow but sure change of things going in the right direction — I guess I wouldn’t know about most of it if I hadn’t been doomscrolling. So no, it’s not all bad. Mostly bad yes, but not all bad. I’ve got my people, I’ve got my cats, I’m in okay shape. And while my favorite Tuesday night pseudo-scientific/pseudo-historical reality TV shows are on hiatus, I guess I’ll have more time to whittle at my TBR list and maybe give some more thought as to why I don’t feel as focused as I should be.

Like Asher and my Filson, I guess I’ll chew on it for awhile longer.

#Weeknotes S02 E24

Back on my bullshit. At least, a little bit. This past week, I just refused to let the details of my life slip by. But I did it the only way I can manage right now: Twitter. Maybe it’s cheating; I don’t much care.

1
Luckily I managed a bit of writing and quite a bit of reading this week. I’ll talk about that in a bit. Otherwise, this might’ve gotten to me even more than it did.
https://twitter.com/DonP/status/1271529518814113797?s=20

2
Granted, I am starting to make trips out for routine medical issues now that places have opened up. Still though, the pictures of crowds at bars and restaurants don’t freak me out nearly as much as the blissful ignorance on people’s faces. Which made me ask myself…

3
The scope creep continues!

The mixer just wasn’t enough for me, so I ordered a ring light which I know is the right thing to do if I want the quality of my dayjob video calls to improve. But why? Why do I want to improve when so many other people — and this is NOT a criticism — seem happy with what they have? When it ultimately doesn’t affect the quality of my work, just the quality of my presentation? Eh, why not?

4
It’s been a binging week…

  • Binge Watching: #BLACKAF — fuck this is a good show!
  • Binge Reading Beth Ann Fennelly’s micro memoir collection HEATING & COOLING
  • Also, David Lehman’s ONE HUNDRED AUTOBIOGRAPHIES
  • Also, Osama Alomar’s THE TEETH OF THE COMB & OTHER STORIES

I’ve decided microfiction/micrononfiction is all my brain can make literary space for right now. And it’s where my writing’s been for the past couple of weeks.

5

+++

That’s about it for this week. That actually felt like a lot of work given my quarantine/world-on-fire fugue I’m in (that most people I know are in). I might fall off the wagon for next week but you know what — fuck it. Props to my therapist for that one! So until next time, kids…

  • Black Lives Matter.
  • Stay home, or at least wear a fucking mask.

#Weeknotes S02 E23

Feels like the US has stopped pretending, right? Naked police brutality, unmarked brute squads positioned at the seat of the government, attacking journalists, knocking down old people, macing kids. And if the unmarked brute squads weren’t enough, we’ve got folks breaking out compound bows, swords, busting Captain America moves with their round riot shields, semis plowing into people… who can even keep up with it anymore? It’s like this is the world now, 1918, 1968, 2020 all rolled up into one.

George Takei said it best…

I find myself checking out now and again, especially when it was clear I was mostly doomscrolling when I wasn’t working or sleeping. Good for self care, but not good for trying to keep a handle on what I do week to week. But last Sunday was the wrong time to be posting about the little bit of writing I did, the stuff I read, etc, if I even had the presence of mind to track it in the first place. Barely feels appropriate to do now, so let’s get back to what’s important:

Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.

#Weeknotes S02 E21

It doesn’t really feel like a long holiday weekend. Now, I’ve never been really big on “celebrating” long holiday weekends beyond reveling in the bliss of having an extra day off work. But in this work-from-home pandemic world, even the stress of the nine-to-five has transformed, at least for me. When the line between work and not-work gets blurred during business hours (e.g. this is the time of year when I’d be streaming Roland Garros between meetings at my desk which I wouldn’t have to do if it were still on), what exactly does “a day off” mean these days?

Still, some of the novelty of the novel coronavirus has faded. It’s probably overstating it to say I’ve “adjusted,” but I’m definitely further along the process than I was. Now, what that process is exactly or where it’s going? Hell if I know. But I know what “further along” looks like: catching up on stuff outside of work. Getting bits of reading done… trouble is, I didn’t really bother tracking on what I’ve read this week. But the point is, I’m doing it and that’s a good sign.

Getting my TV in, too. I just finished Season 3 of THE EXPANSE and Season 4 of KIM’S CONVENIENCE (with Mr. Mehta’s approval). And I promise I’ll wrap up my 2019 TWILIGHT ZONE reviews before Season 2 starts up. Maybe.

Okay, Chrisjen, I’m getting to it!

MISSING WHAT’S MISSING
It’s not just Grand Slam tennis tournaments that have to adjust. In lieu of the sci-fi/fantasy cons that would ordinarily be starting up in meatspace about now, there are a bunch of online versions this weekend. I kind of slept on registering and attending; they just slipped by me. To be honest though, I couldn’t see spending even more time in front of Zoom than I do during an average work week these days, awesome audio setup aside. I’ll probably look into the “podcast edition” of 4th Street Fantasy where I was headed in June, since I already took the time off work. Particularly, for the panel “This Is Fine: Making Art While the World Burns.”

I’m trying not to fixate — at least, not as much these days — on how hard it is to do things while the world burns. All things considered, me and mine are getting by so much better than a lot of folks. But it’s okay to take a moment and miss what’s missing. Maybe I need to do more of that this week.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
COVID-19 epidemiology, in terms geeks like me understand…

https://twitter.com/DonP/status/1263456274076794884?s=20

Wash your hands, wear a mask, have a safe and non-infectious Memorial Day Weekend!

#Weeknotes S02 E20

Wow, twenty of these. Twenty weekly posts in a row. That’s a pretty solid blogging record for me, even if you discount the occasional post I’ve done in between Weeknotes posts. Clearly, gone are the days when I start a year with “I’m gonna blog more” and quit after two or three posts until June.

Unfortunately the fog of coronavirus brain has really hit me bad this weekend. Not like the week was uneventful. I mean, just yesterday I got a better-than-expected quarantine haircut, because I still have to appear in professional Zoom meetings on a daily basis — the audio for which sounds really good now that I’ve tweaked my mixer settings. Watched some good TV (season 4 of KIM’S CONVENIENCE) and some bad TV (THE LOST GOLD OF WORLD WAR II and THE CURSE OF SKINWALKER RANCH). Read some things. Dug up some old tutorials about recording and editing audio. Other stuff, too — the week’s details are just, well, foggy. So I’ll come back next week, how about that?

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

Quickie Review of THE TWILIGHT ZONE (2019) S01 E07: “Not All Men”

As if men needed another reason to be horrible… in The Twilight Zone.

If there’s a message in this one, it’s a little lost on me. But I think it’s hard to see the forest for the trees because the trees are pretty damn compelling. This TZ iteration gets the societal dark side of the human condition almost note perfect (In this episode: women who feel weird saying “no,” white knighting as a pretext, men who don’t take no for an answer, etc.), in the way that the original series never could — that is, under network and advertiser scrutiny. It makes me wonder how much further “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” or “The Shelter” would go if they were made today.

The difference is, a lot of those original episodes were about a turn. There was at least an illusion that your neighbors maybe weren’t paranoid or racist or would turn on you, which a strange occurrence would then dispel. But even though tiny meteorites are as good a catalyst as aliens manipulating the power grid or a nuclear false alarm, there’s no surprise in “Not all Men.” There’s no shock as “Not All Men” reveal themselves.

I almost rated the episode lower than I did until I realized: Maybe that’s the point. Maybe this is THE TWILIGHT ZONE of the 21st century, where the real shock is that there wasn’t that much illusion to dispel after all — which makes it poignant on its own terms! On the other hand, I didn’t rate it higher because even if I’m right about the point, I still feel like I had to reach a bit to get to that conclusion.

Other takeaways:

  • “The Martians might be coming.” — not the Venusians?’
  • Calling someone “a jobsworth” is definitely something worthy of a Serling script.
  • All the acts of violence men do, great and small, are all compressed and on display in one episode.
    • Patronizing men. And the women who enable it.
    • No surprise that Zeke the Geek is an asshole, “He used to be so bullied.”
    • “It’s just assholes being assholes.” Boys being boys.
    • “I guess I gave him a confusing vibe.”
    • “I just didn’t say anything.”
    • “At least the men are just as aggressive to each other, too.”
    • Yes, even the gay men.

The Jack Elam Score for “Not All Men” (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 E19

A REDISCOVERY OF SOUND
If you’re following me on Twitter, you’re probably sick of pictures of the new mixer setup. But I just had to show off this hack (cramming the mixer on a book stand so it stands up) that allows me to reclaim some desktop real estate.

I finally have it set up right so that the audio for my Zoom calls really is good. But I discovered an unintended benefit this week — pumping music from my laptop through the mixer and into a set of monitor headphones cranked up to an unwise volume actually took me back in time.

See, in the days before iPods or other devices connected to Bluetooth speakers, decent portable music depended on how big a boombox your arms could handle and how many tapes or CDs you were willing to cart around. The sound was as good as you could get (depending how much money you were willing you shelled out), but it was never as good as plugging into an actual stereo system. You know — those huge components connected to a turntable that your older relatives (or young, obnoxious hipster friends with turntables) have that play music when put together.

I spent a lot of time in my ‘tween and teen years with a set of headphones plugged into my dad’s stereo. For me, the joy wasn’t just in the so-called HiFi audio quality. It was hearing things you never heard on the radio — the things that used to creep into studio recordings that could make a studio performance real like chatter or odd reverbs. It was hearing every single instrument part being played. Studio chatter in between and sometimes underneath certain tracks. It really was a world I would regularly get lost in.

I’d gotten used to listening to “good enough” audio over the decades, same as everyone else. I’d basically quit bothering tweaking audio levels on the computers I’ve owned; maybe I could’ve been doing this all along. But stumbling back into the joys of audio — where even the shitty 192 kbps .mp3s I’ve accumulated but never re-ripped over the years sound good — actually put me back in touch with something deeper this week that I’d forgotten about.

FEEDING MY EARS
The latest episode of KCRW’s UNFICTIONAL breaks my heart.

When Fedelina Lugasan moved to the U.S. from the Philippines for work, she was comforted by the fact that she’d start her new life with a family she trusted. But her life and job were not what they told her it would be, and she was cut off from family back home. When an opportunity presented itself, she took her freedom into her own hands.

There, but for the lucky circumstances of me and my family, go I. Not that my mother ever experienced this, but Nanay’s voice in this piece (Lugasan and the woman doing the transalation) reminds me of Mom. And not just because this is the story of an older Filipina, but because the horrors in this story check off a lot of the boogeyman scenario boxes that my parents put into my head as a young kid about how Filipinos could be treated if we stepped out of line, but for the occasional intervention of other Filipinos, which justifies the “us vs. them” mentality that immigrants with the barest measure of privilege sometimes have.

On the brighter side, though, here’s a 10-minute discussion with a friend-slash-my favorite writer ever, M. Rickert, on THE COODE STREET PODCAST.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
For any of you out there thinking about applying to Viable Paradise

There was more to my week, but not much more. So I’m gonna wrap it up and knock some more things off my to do lists. Stay safe, wash your hands, and don’t let anyone tell you not to wear a mask!

#Weeknotes S02 E18

This process might take a licking, but it keeps on ticking. 18 of these in 2020, huh? I actually didn’t think I could keep this up longer than 6 to 8 weeks. Anyway, this week I felt like I had just a little bit more brain capacity than I’ve had during the quarantine times. So, here we are! Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first…

FEEDING MY HEAD
I knocked out a few more pages of RUST: A MEMOIR OF STEEL AND GRIT by Eliese Collette Goldbach and of course got distracted by a shiny thing of a non-fiction writing how-to anthology edited by Lee Gutkind, KEEP IT REAL. Okay, more than distracted; I’m about halfway through it.

FEEDING MY EARS
I heard about this a few day after the fact but once I heard it, I swear my mental fog started lifting this week: the Free Nationals doing their first on NPR Tiny Desk Concert since appearing in 2016 with Anderson .Paak and the release of their self-titled debut album, which of course I immediately got! Check it out and do yourself a favor — don’t skip ahead to the Anderson .Paak tune. You’ll be cheating yourself, trust me.

ROTTING MY BRAIN
I totally missed the boat on the anime PARANOIA AGENT when it made the rounds on Adult Swim in 2005. It’s back now and… well, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing when I saw the first episode last week. But I’m hooked now. When they call this a “psychological thriller” believe it — it really is a fucking psychological head trip of a thriller. There’s a reason this shit is on at 1:00 am.

CORONAVIRUS JOURNAL
Ugh, I hate using that term, but let’s just call this section what it is…

This year’s 4th Street Fantasy convention is postponed until next year, which I’m sure was a difficult decision for the organizers but the correct one, all things considered. It was the one and only con I’d planned on attending this year, even before the plague came upon us. They’ve offered to roll registration fees forward for 2021, which I took them up on. Also, this would’ve been the first weekend of the local annual Friends of the Library Book Sale, and yesterday would have been Free Comic Book Day. My attendance to either has been sporadic in recent years, but boy it really makes a difference when the choice not to go isn’t yours.

Aside from the impact on the social/SFFH part of my life, my adjustments to the new remote work world order have crystallized finally. Thanks to various webapps, I’m able to conduct 99% of my worklife in Ubuntu using Firefox (and a couple of official and non-official Linux versions of a couple of standalone apps) and, as usual, the rest of my life in Chrome. It’s a good enough demarcation line.

When I had no clue what I was going to be putting up for this week’s Weeknotes, I started a write-up of my work-at-home gear and workflow. But maybe that’s for another time. I will mention a new addition that finally arrived this week. It’s on the right…

I maintain this new USB mixer is not a coronavirus hobby purchase, because (a) I’ve been thinking about getting this exact model ever since I recorded readings for the ‘zine LAKESIDE CIRCUS and (b) I’ve been wanting better audio for my Zoom calls. Okay, maybe that does make me a little bit of a tool, but a different kind of tool than people who decide to start a podcast while in quarantine (which, if you believe the social medias, makes you a huge tool).

And you know what, if maybe a year or ago, I started the very beginnings of a rough idea of a sketch of what a very short monthly podcast might could possibly look like… still not a coronavirus hobby purchase!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

That’s all I’ve got this week. Stay well, wash your hands, and if you really, truly, in good faith don’t think going outside is going to endanger you or the vulnerable in your community, wear a fucking mask at least, huh?

Even better though, stay inside. Really.