Recent Items 5

If you like camping, The Dyrt is trying to provide updated information on open and closed campsites around the nation.

Or maybe looking for a new podcast?

If you like to journal, and you’re female, the National Women’s History Museum is interested in your CORONAVIRUS journals.

Saying “No” more, from a 2014 article in the Huffington Post.

Paris, books, c’est l’amour. Used book shopping along the Seine.

And, to soothe the weary soul, the orchestral stylings of composer John Williams, streaming for free until the end of June.

Weekly Rundown

Another week without work. Another week of soul-searching. Another week of pandemic fears and of normalcy obliterated.

I’ve worked consistently in at least one job (usually two or three) since I was twenty years old. Not having to report to work has been playing mischief with my… well, my everything.

I wish I could say that I’ve stuck to the routine I established for myself while staying up in Alaska. I did not. Between traveling and avoiding people, I feel like a clandestine operative sneaking back into my own country.

Likewise, fishermen are looking at returning to Alaska, but there are concerns over whether the smaller fishing villages will be able to handle an outbreak. That means the state’s top three revenue streams (oil, tourism, and fishing) will have all suffered this year.

Back here in the lower 48, one thing I’ve noticed is my sleep schedule is currently all akimbo. I’m anxious to make it somewhere consistently and attempt to hack my sleep. That’s been my focus for much of this week.

To remove distractions while writing, I’ve been utilizing the app White Noise. Between that and my noise-canceling headphones I can usually omit any superfluous noise around me.

And, Andrew Lloyd Webber has been showing one filmed show a week, which I’ve caught a couple of. Not to mention National Theatre’s productions on YouTube. Lots of theatre to take your attention, if only for a couple of hours.

Recent Items 3

On investing your time wisely.

On starting (and keeping) a journal. I bought my first Moleskine circa 2006. While my writing was haphazard at best to start, I eventually found a rythym. In 2015, when I first began The Artist’s Way, I wrote my morning pages with a religious zeal. Admittedly, I fell off the wagon time and again, having to start anew and began collecting continuous days of writing behind from scratch. I’ve now been journaling the better part of six months daily, and have every intention of continuing.

When the smartphone starts taking over your life, here are some ways to curb its useage.

And finally, when burnout sets in, it’s time to recover.

Recent items 2

Why time is so distorted in our minds right now. (In all fairness, my sense of time is usually distorted, but I guess even more so now.)

With the time you have, art Critic Jerry Saltz writes on how to stay creative during isolation. It’s been a challenge for me, but not only me, and as Jason Diamond writes, “…there is still something to be taken from this: we are all lacking for sources of inspiration these days.”

Changing your routine is likely necessary right now, and here are some tips from Life Hacker.

When it’s difficult to fall asleep, try these techniques from Art of Manliness. Again, a constant problem for me which I’m trying to tackle even now.

And for when getting outside seems impossible, virtual hikes that you can enjoy from anywhere.

 

Weekly Rundown

Some thoughts about the week:

Traveling now is crazy. Surrealism at its worst. A mixture of mask-wearing and social distancing; half-empty airports and planes. I don’t know if the extra room is nice or discomforting.

Parts of the country are reopening. It’s another mixture of weighing safety and practicality. Are we ready to resume eating out? Or is it still a bit too nerve-racking? With limited seating, maybe it too feels entirely surreal.

Essential work is something of a double-edged sword. While I miss working, I’m thankful for the security of having seclusion. Those who are out still and doing jobs that need doing – you can’t help but hope for their safety.

Models for assessing the scope and fatality rate of Covid-19 are constantly evolving, and the only thing certain is that no one seems to know anything. It’s a lot of conjecture as the science catches up with reality, but it is a public health threat and we should be careful.

The post-pandemic world is one that is highly anticipated, even if we’ve no clue what it’s actually going to look like. For now, I guess, we stay safe and try to remain creative and hopeful.

Recent items of interest

In lieu of the weekly rundown, which I’m still toying with how to make it more interesting, here are some things of note I came across over the past few weeks:

Some interesting things for quarantine

Some interesting curatorial things have popped up over the last few days:

First, Bookshop, a marketplace for books from independent booksellers around the country. I love bookstores. I love bookstores, and libraries, and any place where the smell of ink and old pages seems to blend into something ephemeral.

However, I also like the convenience of shopping online, coupled with the availability of just about any book, in print or otherwise, given you’re willing to pay the price. And, often, the prices tend to be a little cheaper on Amazon.

The price factor may not sway towards Bookshop’s favor, but the sudden increase in online availability could be a boon to struggling booksellers during this COVID-19 crisis.

I’ll explore some of the elements of competition between Amazon, Bookshop, and brick-and-mortar stores at a later date. That’s a lot of info to cull through. But, if you’re interested in buying books, give Bookshop a chance.

Second, if you’re not in a place financially to purchase new books (hello unemployment waiting period…), visit The Internet Archive for their National Emergency Library! I love this place. I haven’t done a lot of actual reading, beyond just browsing digital collections. But, wow. There is so much material here that it’s amazing. And right now, it’s complete access to library collections due to the crisis.

Third, this hefty article on productivity from Stephen Wolfram. The man knows his stuff. Back around 2014, I was introduced to a lot of the neat features of the Wolfram Alpha programming that helped my iPhone’s Siri function.

I’m constantly trying to improve my productivity and routines, partially because it’s so easy for me to fall back into bad habits. At times, it’s difficult for me to… SQUIRREL!

But seriously, making little improvements to how you spend your day is in your best interest, always.

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: