Weekly Rundown

Still getting settled here in Ketchikan, AK. Ketchikan is the sixth largest community in the state, with a population of around 14,000-15,000. For the summer, I’m adding my name to that list.

Currently reading The Starless Sea By Erin Morgenstern. I read The Night Circus, her first novel, back in 2014. I was in DC at the time. This new novel tells many tales, and weaves back and forth in a book lover’s revery. It’s entertaining and captivating, and I’m waiting to see where it leads.

Beyond that, there’s fears over the Coronavirus. Best to stay safe out there, take care of yourself, and wash your hands.

Weekly Rundown

  • The Outsider… I wanted to watch this show but was waiting. I waited until I heard the Fresh Air interview from Terry Gross with Ben Mendelsohn. I hadn’t known he was Australian. The series is adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name and follows the story of a detective investigating a homicide that was committed while the main suspect was sixty miles away on camera. Supernatural and mysterious, the season finale airs this Sunday night on HBO.
  • Super Tuesday. There’s a lot of talk about this day being the day that a clear frontrunner emerges from the primaries. But, where did it come from? This brief history from NPR’s Domenico Montanaro gives the rundown of the term from its start in 1980 and illustrates which elections since then have enjoyed an absence of nomination battles.
  • A quote worth mentioning: “But the traveler’s world is not the ordinary one, for travel itself, even the most commonplace, is an implicit quest for anomaly.” – Paul Fussell
  • Stock Market ups and downs. It’s been an odd couple of weeks, with China being hit hard by the novel coronavirus, and pandemic fears reaching across borders. But, incredibly interesting to watch.
  • And a little bit more from Knives Out director Rian Johnson, this time on why a villain in a movie won’t use an iPhone.

 

A New Rundown

Postponed the Rundown for me to ruminate on six months of daily posting yesterday. I still can’t believe it.

My goal with the weekly rundown was to share things of value, and not waste anyone’s time. I’m not sure that it’s been exactly as I intended. Most weeks I struggle to find something to at least list as what I’m listening to or doing. And they’re not actionable by anyone reading. Beyond that, I’ve been delinquent in monthly reading lists for December and January, so I need to rectify that as well.

What then should a weekly rundown from me look like? As I consider it, I’ll probably try a few different things. It’ll likely change with Alaska influencing me as well.

Anyway, here are just a couple of things I’m sharing with you this week.

Zombies

Heard this piece from The Why Factor on BBC World Service, all about zombies. It was the noise at the start that got me – this sort of clicking, vocal low growl. It was a little unsettling. But listening through, it got me thinking.

It seems that AMC’s The Walking Dead led this current phase of popularity, and while I thought that maybe the zombie was waining, it seems to still be going strong. Last year’s Zombieland 2 (which I still haven’t seen), popular games like The Last of Us, and the white walkers from HBO’s Game of Thrones all point to a strong showing by the reanimated corpse.

The zombie, and the wider horror genre, is a cyclical beast. While zombies have been en vogue starting from the October 31, 2010 airing of Days Gone By, the first episode of The Walking Dead, they were made popular first, and in their current iteration, by George Romero in his 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. Though Romero lost the rights to that film, it became a lucrative franchise for him as he created five more films in his Dead Saga. Dani Di Placido at Forbes wrote this history of the zombie legend following Romero’s death in 2017.

Before Romero, Americans knew of the zombie mostly from White Zombie, a 1932 film about a Haitian honeymoon with voodoo and raised corpses. The Haitian zombie wasn’t bloodthirsty – it was merely a resurrected person to be used as a slave by a sorcerer. Director Wes Craven revisited this aspect of the zombie legend in 1988’s The Serpent and the Rainbow. In A History of Zombies in America from NPR’s Rachel Martin and Rund Abdelfatah, the Haitian beginnings of zombies are explored in depth.

Through the 80s and the 90s, zombies got more of a B-movie treatment. Slasher films were the mainstay, with films like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Sleepaway Camp following up on the popularity of 1978’s Halloween. The masked killer got a revamp in 1996 with Wes Craven’s Scream, ushering in a smarter, meta-version of the slasher film.

While the film industry wasn’t doing great with zombies, video games were killing it. The Resident Evil series, started in 1996 for Playstation, was immensely popular and eventually got its own film adaptations as well. Additionally, new life for the zombie came in the 2000s, including the 28 Days LaterShaun of the Dead, and the 2004-remake of Dawn of the Dead. In 2003, Robert Kirman began the long-running series Walking Dead for Image Comics, which would be adapted to television by AMC.

And books as well get the zombification treatment, with popular novels like Max Brooks’s World War Z, Stephen King’s Cell, and M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts, not to mention the Seth Graham parody mashup of Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

So while I echo Romero’s sentiment that the zombie genre has become overrun in recent years, there is still plenty of material to pull from for a bevy of stories to tell about the living dead. I suppose horror, and its fan-base, is just waiting for the next resurgence – maybe it’ll be Universal Monsters this time around.

Further reading:

Weekly Rundown

I’ve not been wholly satisfied with the Weekly Rundowns, so I may be changing them a bit here in the near future. Still playing with form, so we’ll see how it lands. But for now, here’s some stuff for you:

Reading: Locke & Key Vol. 1 from IDW Comics, written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. And there he was again, this Joe Hill. Son of Stephen King, and prominent storyteller himself, has created a lot of buzz with Netflix’s adaptation of Locke  & Key. I think I became familiar with the series while reading the recent Hill House collaboration with DC Comics: Basketful of HeadsDaphne Byrne, et al. NOS4A2 was on AMC last year, and now Netflix has Locke. I watched it, I enjoyed it, and I wanted to see how close it got to the source material. I read Volume 1, and it’s close enough to be familiar, but different enough that I enjoy reading the comics even after watching the series.

Listening: Honestly, nothing with any repetition. No new music this week, though Flora Cash’s Somebody Else and Fun.’s 2012 album Some Nights have been in my head this past week.

Doing: Packing. With my months away quickly approaching, it’s been important to put as much as I can in storage, free up space around the house. I wanted to have a yard sale before leaving, but it’ll have to wait until I get back.

Sharing:

Weekly Rundown

A Valentine’s Day rundown. Mostly worked this week. But, some things:

Reading: The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle. This had been on my to-read list for a couple of years, and I couldn’t remember why I originally put it on. What started as a novella on a Harlem street-hustler (in a moderately magic-filled world) spiraled into Lovecraftian horror. I enjoyed it – a fun, quick read – though I still can’t recall what was it that made me jot it down originally…

Listening: Bach’s Cello Suites. My favorite is 1, which is a ubiquitous piece, but all of them are lovely. I’ve always enjoyed cello music. I’ve been told it’s because the cello makes a sound closest to the human voice of all the instruments. I don’t know if that’s true, but I wanted to revisit some cello music, particularly Bach.

Learning: About Alaska. Currently looking over some information regarding the 1899 Harriman Expedition. Apparently, Teddy Roosevelt was an admirer of the reports of flora and fauna being assembled by the team of the expedition, but it didn’t stop Roosevelt from dismantling Harriman’s railroad company in 1904 in antitrust litigation.

And more on personal libraries, following up from the earlier post:

One of the lists

There are many things I’m interested in. A bunch of them come across here on the blog. The vast majority of them in fact.

In trying to sort through the stuff I’ve accumulated, and my finances vs. my debts, and my time management obligations, and my work and gig schedule, and everything else that I do or plan to do – mostly it ends up in my pocket Moleskine at some point.

So what am I interested in? My list is partially in response to this article on building your own personal library.

I recall having a conversation with someone who at the time was helping me through a very rough patch of life. I was looking at a book, Akashic Records for Dummies, and of course, I didn’t need it. But I told her I’d planned on leaving a library of books after me. When I died. She said that any meaningful library left behind probably wouldn’t have a collection of For Dummies books. She tended to say smart things like that.

So here are my interests, more or less, of topics which may or may not appear on the blog, and which are listed here in no particular order:

  • Travel
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy
  • Esoteric Studies
  • Work (How to work better, smarter, and for more money)
  • Finance & Investing
  • History
  • Japan, and to a lesser degree other Asian countries (focus on history, philosophy, language, and culture)
  • Art (Theatre, Visual Arts, Other Performing Arts)
  • Arts Management
  • Self-Help
  • Fiction (Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Action, Literary)
  • Writing Studies
  • Videography and Photography
  • Memoirs, Biographies, and Autobiographies
  • Mythology

In looking at this, I realized how broad it all seemed. There are so many facets that can fit into each topic; some that overlap topics. I write this out now as I work on honing in onto what this blog will look like – especially over the next six months while I’m in Alaska.

Anyway, I’ll keep posting. And maybe someone will read it. And that’s about all anyone can do.